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Bk2 William, Samuel and Joseph Mayes. IRONSTONE WORKERS

Mayes, William, Samuel and Joseph. IRONSTONE WORKERS


In Ringstead People, the first book based on this website, we told the story of John Ball who was killed by a fall of earth in a quarry in Islip in 1886. Ironstone had been mined along the Nene Valley in Northamptonshire in small pockets since Roman times at least. Most had been small pits which were quickly abandoned and little sign of them or the smelting remains. We only see the warm brown ironstone blocks in some of the older local houses, built before the local brickworks and then the larger ones of the Whittlesey area went into production. The ironstone once again became valuable with large-scale coal mining and the coming of the railways which made fast, cheap transport available. The building of the railways also revealed the iron ore deposits not far beneath the Northamptonshire soil. This ore was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and ironmasters were attracted to Northamptonshire, mainly from the north. At first ironstone went to Derbyshire and Yorkshire to be smelted but then Derbyshire coal started being brought south, first to Islip and then to Corby.

A quick count through the Ringstead Censuses gives some indication of the short duration of quarries in the village and the surrounding parishes. There were quarries at Great Addington, Woodford as well as briefly at Raunds, and along the north side of the Nene. We cannot be sure, therefore, that all the men shown in the Census worked in the Ringstead Quarry. We know that John Ball was a Ringstead man, and that he was killed near Islip and it seems likely that men also came into the parish to work. Nevertheless the figures do mirror the rise and fall of the local pit. In 1871 there were no ironstone labourers but by 1881 there were twenty-eight plus Low Smith who was an ironstone contractor and Frederick Green who was a clerk in an ironstone works. By 1891 this number had reduced to thirteen, only five of whom had been working in 1881 and by 1901 this had reduced to seven. The younger men seemed to be looking elsewhere for work. Of course, some men stayed on and so the workforce aged from Census to Census but this was only a part of the story and by 1901 none of the workers were under thirty years old. The Ringstead Quarry near Cotton Farm (Ringstead Grange) had closed in 1891 and presumably some would have worked clearing the site and levelling the ground after that. Nevertheless the Ringstead men in 1901 would have been travelling out of the parish, probably to the Islip area, to work.

We will mainly concentrate on one local extended family to see how those members who became ironstone labourers fared. The Mayes or Mays family name was a well-known one in the Ringstead Parish Registers. The first entries for the name are twin girls, Mary and Martha, born to Thomas and Susanna May, who died in January 1772, a few weeks after their births and Mary Smith May, daughter of Thomas and Jane May, baptised on 3rd April 1773. There is also a Daniel Mays, son of Michael and Sarah, baptised on 22nd January 1792. There is no other sign of these families however. The first entry for the children of George and Katherine (or sometimes Catherine) is for the baptism of a son, John, on the 15th July 1787. It is this couple who seem to have been the main source of the name in the parish throughout the nineteenth century although there is another smaller branch of the family emanating from William Parrish, or Parris, Mayes who may be related in some way to George as both sides of the family make use of Fairy or Farey as a first or second name. However, Fairey, and its variations, was also a common surname in the area so this may be due to a number of intermarriages. The Mayes surname grew steadily in the parish until there were 58 with that name in the 1901 Census.

Of course not all the family remained in the parish and it is one of these travellers who we will look at first. William Mayes was the sixth child of George and Katherine and was baptised in the Ringstead Parish Church on 10th September 1797. He married Mary Currell from Great Addington on 13th July 1818 and their first child was George baptised seven months later. Seven further children followed of whom five died in childhood, including twins Matthew and Mark. George married Elizabeth Bugby in 1840 and they had two children, William soon after their marriage and Daniel who was baptised on 28th July 1843 on the same day as his mother was buried. Daniel died too four months later. George remarried, to Ann Ball in Ringstead, on 14th October 1844. Ann(e) was one of the few children of Daniel and Phoebe Ball who did not either emigrate or join the armed services and so leave the parish. George and Anne then had a further ten children, of whom four were baptised as Wesleyans, but it is William the only surviving child of George’s first marriage that we will be following first.


William seems to have remained apart from the new family after the death of his mother Elizabeth for in the 1851 Census he was a ploughboy, living with his grandparents, Thomas and Mary Ann Bugby, in Higham End, Raunds.  His grandmother died in 1853 and in 1855 his grandfather married again, to Susan Black who was some twenty-five years younger than him. William was with them both in 1861 and he was now a farm servant. Thomas Bugby was shown as a farmer of 40 acres so it may be that William was working for his grandfather. A description of someone as a farm “servant” rather than farm labourer usually meant that the person “lived in”. (Thomas Bugby and his second wife died within a few weeks of each other in 1874.)

On the 16th January 1862, William married Elizabeth Adams from Raunds, (although born in Northampton). It appears that the couple moved to London some time before 1869 because both of their eldest children were born in Old Ford or Bow in the East End. Their eldest son, William, was born in 1867 and a second son, Frederick, was christened Frederick Fairy Mayes on 19th December 1869. At the time of his birth registration the couple were living at 11 Usher Road (now near the 2012 Olympic Park) and William’s occupation was just recorded as “labourer”.

We next encounter the family at 59 Railway Terrace in New Marske, near Redcar in the North Riding of Yorkshire. New Marske, as its name implies was a small village which had been built recently to house the ironstone miners of the local pits. The discovery of workable iron ore deposits in North Yorkshire had coincided with a depression in agriculture in the East of England. Men flocked to the area from Cornwall, Wales and East Anglia and some of the ironmasters sent their agents down to the agricultural fairs to try to hire labourers for the mines. The couple are there in 1871 with the two boys but it looks as if they tried their luck again in London for in the 1881 Census when they are back in New Marske, now at 26 Dale Street, the two youngest children, both daughters,  Elizabeth (3) and Eliza (1) are both shown as being born in Bromley in London. This almost certainly refers to Bromley by Bow which is not far from Usher Street. There are two middle brothers, Daniel who is eight and Albert who is five, who were born in New Marske. It seems therefore that the family were there from about 1870 until 1877 going back to London until 1880 before returning to Marske. Of course, it is possible that Eliza went to London, perhaps to a relative, to have her two daughters but it would be very unusual for this to happen at the time and it seems most likely that William and Elizabeth moved each time with their young family, looking for a better life and failing. We know that the youngest son, Albert joined the Marner Road School in Tower Hamlets on 18th August 1879. He would have been four, a little later that year, on the 15th October.

Others from the East Northamptonshire area also tried their luck in the Yorkshire iron-ore mines. In the 1881 Census there is a George Mayes at Marske in Guisbrough who was born in Aldwincle. William’s half brother George, baptised in Ringstead in 1850, seems to have tried his luck in the Marske area. He was a shoemaker by trade and in the 1881 Ringstead Census he is an army shoemaker again. He is living in Church Street with his wife Ruth and daughters Florence, Hannah and Eliza. The eldest and youngest girls were born in Ringstead but Hannah was born in Marske by Sea in about 1875. We cannot be sure but it seems that this George was lured by the chance of better wages, but, not surprisingly, found the work was not for him. Perhaps he left when William went back to London to try his luck there again.

William is, in 1881, once again an ironstone miner in Marske. His eldest son, William at thirteen years old, is still a “scholar” but his school education was soon to be over. We know that some time that summer he became a “Trapper” at Upleatham, one of the local ironstone mines. The trappers were the youngest boys employed in the mines. At one time children as young as six did this work, often remaining in the mine for eighteen hours a day and so, for much of the year not seeing the daylight from Sunday until the Saturday following. A Children’s Employment Commission had been set up and its Report shocked the Victorians with its firsthand accounts of the treatment of women, girls and young boys in the mines. Samuel Scriven was one of the Commission Inspectors who looked at conditions in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He wrote:

The children that excite the greatest consideration are those who stand near the doors to open and shut them for the “hurriers” to pass. They are called “trappers” who in the darkness, solitude and stillness as of night eke out a miserable existence for the smallest amount of wages. In the best appointed pits the air is rarified by a fire which is kindled at the foot of the upcast shaft, the atmospheric air being directed down another called the downcast shaft and then made to pass the remotest corners of the pit by doors place at intervals in the main gates or byways.

The trappers are therefore made to stand at the back of these holding a cord in their hands all day long. I can never forget the first unfortunate creature that I met with. It was a boy of about eight years of old which looked idiotic, like a thing, a creeping thing peculiar to the place. On approaching and speaking to him he slunk trembling and frightened into a corner under an impression that I was about to do him some bodily injury and from which neither coaxing nor temptation could draw him.

The Commission led to the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 which stopped the employment underground of females and boys under ten years old. A further Act in 1870 made 12 the lowest age that a boy could work underground and also reduced the maximum working week for under-16s to 54 hours. So conditions had improved a little by the time William became a trapper but it was a miserable, boring, cold, lonely job carried out in almost complete darkness with, perhaps, a single candle for light and comfort. It was also a dangerous one. Boys had been injured or killed when they “deserted their posts”. William too wandered from his post, whether from boredom or to stretch his limbs and on the 29th September 1881 and just a few months after he had left school he was crushed between the “tubs” and a pit prop. He was buried in the churchyard of St Germain’s in Marske-by-the-Sea. It was an open windy spot near the cliff edge and beyond the churchyard wall was the wide expanse of the sea. Only the tower and spire of the church now remain and there is no sign of young William’s grave.


This is an earlier drawing but although very young children had been stopped from working underground the trapper’s life would have been little changed.

Perhaps it was their son’s death that decided William and Eliza to try for a new life. William, with the older boys, Frederick and Daniel, sailed from Liverpool on the City of Berlin, an “intermediate” ship with three masts and a funnel. They arrived in New York, via Queenstown in Ireland, on 3rd September 1886. They were obviously the advance party for, on the 25th June 1887, the British Princess with Eliza and the younger children, Albert, Elizabeth and Eliza aboard, docked in Philadelphia. It would not have been an easy life for the family in its new home. The 1890 Federal Census was largely destroyed in a fire but the 1900 Census shows William and Elizabeth with sons Albert (24) and a mystery son called Earl who is 20 and born in October 1879. "Earl" may be a clerical error and, perhaps, it is Eliza. William is now 59 and they are living in Old Forge, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. He is a day labourer but owns his own house. The 1910 census shows him as a widower living on his own in Old Forge. His age is given as 67 years but he was actually 69 years old and his occupation is shown as a miner in a coalmine The anthracite pit of the area was what put the township of Old Forge on the map, (although it also had many Italian immigrants and is known today as the” Pizza Capital”), but mining is no occupation for an old man. His son, Albert was also living in the area with his family and was also a coal miner. We must leave the family there.

City of Berlin

Courtesy of the Norway Heritage Collection: .

Source .

If we return to Ringstead we find two other members of Mayes family who were ironstone workers. There were some shallow mines in the Northamptonshire iron ore fields but at Ringstead the ore was quarried. The ironstone was taken from a moving deep trench, the topsoil taken off first and then any overload of subsoil or rock was barrowed precariously on planks, two or three inches thick and 12 – 15 inches wide, over the trench to a parallel spoil heap behind. These planks, supported by trestles, could be as much as 45 feet above the ground although it is unlikely that they would have been anywhere near this height at Ringstead. The ironstone beneath was removed by blasting and picks and loaded into trucks on a track which ran along the bottom of this trench and was occasionally shifted sideways as the quarry face was cut back. The land would be reinstated behind the trench so there would not have been a large hole in the landscape but, rather, a deep scar creeping across the hillside. The workers would not have had to suffer the claustrophobic, cramped darkness of the mine nor the perils of flooding and bad air but it was still a very dangerous occupation and accidents were commonplace.

An Ironstone Quarry near Burton Latimer (probably in 1890s).

This picture show the planks only a few feet above the ground but there are concrete supports on the extreme right of the picture which probably indicates that the "gullet" becomes deeper. We can also see the mess beneath the planks on which man and barrow might fall.

With the kind permission of Burton Latimer Heritage Society


As we saw with the death of John Ball at Islip, the overload of soil would be undercut by digging and the earth allowed, or helped, to fall so that it could be barrowed away and the ironstone strata exposed. Only too often the soil fell prematurely and men were engulfed and killed. In 1889, young Ringstead man was nearly killed in the same way as John. The Northampton Mercury reported under the "Ringstead" heading:

On Thursday, July 18th, a young man, named Major, of this village, had a very narrow escape from death. He was at work in the ironstone quarries, near Ringstead Station, when the ground above gave way. He just noticed it in time to run out, but not before a portion of it caught him on one side, inflicting serious injuries, though, fortunately, no bones were broken. He was immediately placed under the care of Dr. Mackenzie, of Raunds, and is doing well.

Of course, the reason that the men took these risks was that they were paid by piecework at a rate of about 3d. to 4d per cubic yard of iron ore. These rates included:

. . . excavating the cover and wheeling it to the dump side and, in some cases, removing topsoil and subsoil separately. levelling the ground and putting it back into cultivation.

[Notes to accompany an Industrial Archaeology in Northamptonshire Exhibiton at Northampton Central Museum in 1970]

It is difficult now to imagine what an industrial area parts of the Nene Valley were. The first modern ironstone quarries were opened in the Wellingborough area in 1855, (although there was a small earlier pit at Woodford), and 74,084 tons of ironstone were excavated in Northamptonshire. This increased to 1,412,255 tons by 1873. Thomas Butlin worked out how to smelt the difficult Northamptonshire ores but good, cheap transport was a vital factor in making the extraction viable and the coming of the railways to the area made this possible. The other factor was the opening up of the Derbyshire coalfields which the railways could bring to the area. C.H. Plevins was a coalmine owner in Derbyshire and with his partner John Kidner he opened up the Islip blast furnaces.

There were several quarries in the Ringstead area. One, run by the Newbridge Iron Ore Company, operated from 1873 to 1881. It was near Glebe Farm to the west of the bridleway going northeast from Willy Watt Mill to Woodford. It had a tramway operated by a small locomotive, to sidings near Willy Watt Mill. It linked to a tramway from the Addington Quarries, run by Thomas Walters, which were just to the north and midway along, the road from the mill to Great Addington. There was also a tramway which brought the ore from further west, via a level crossing on the Great Addington to Little Addington road.

There was only one quarry, however, that was in Ringstead Parish in this period. It was operated by Butlin, Bevan and Company and was open from 1871 until 1891. Looking at the Ordnance Survey 25inches to a mile map (1st edition 1885) produced a few years before the site was closed, the quarries are not mapped, but it does show a horse-drawn narrow gauge tramway with a short southern spur. There had been two quarries south of Ringstead Grange (Cotton Farm on Eric Tonks map) and perhaps this spur was a siding or led to the smaller western quarry. This tramway led down to sidings to the east of the railway tracks near the station.

Map of showing Ringstead Quarry and trial holes for future work (1876)

Based on 1840 map with relevant details added in 1876.

With the kind permission of Northamptonshire Record Office (Ref: C(S) 164.)

We cannot be certain of the exact process by which the ore was loaded into the railway trucks but it seems likely that the quarrymen would have loaded the ore manually into the tramway “tubs” and these would be taken by gravity down to the valley beneath. A brakeman sitting at the front would control the speed with a simple brake block system. The horse would probably trot behind, perhaps tethered to the last truck. At the bottom the load would be dumped, probably using side-tipping trucks. It was believed by Eric Tonks, who wrote the definitive books on these tramways, that the ore was calcined, probably in the valley bottom. This was best done in kilns with the air excluded but it is likely that at Ringstead the ore was just made into large clamps over a bed of coal and mixed with slack coal and set on fire. The coal would have been brought in by railway and the calcining clamps may have been made where there is a break shown on the map between the tramway and the standard gauge sidings.

This process burnt off much of the moisture and carbon dioxide content and made the ore lighter and thus more valuable, cutting down on transport costs. Once the ore had cooled it would be loaded again by hand into standard gauge trucks. Some mechanical shovels were beginning to be used but it is unlikely that they would have been employed in a small quarry like Ringstead. The job of loading up the calcined ore was dusty unpleasant work and the men doing it would have been recognizable as they walked or cycled home by the layer of red dust that caked their faces and arms. There would have been no pithead baths for them.

The empty tramway wagons would be taken back up the slope by the horse or horses ready to be filled again.

It would have been hard, back-breaking labour in all weathers. There would also have been smoke and fumes from the clamps always drifting around the area. It was said, of the ironworks at Islip that it made pigs and old men.



Ringstead Quarries.

Map and tramways based on Ordnance Survey 25 “to mile 1st Edition 1885 (NRO). Quarries based on map by Eric Tonks (see References). [Note: Cotton Farm now Ringstead Grange].

In the 1881 Census Joseph Mayes is shown with his parents, George and Anne. As we have seen after the death of Elizabeth, mother of the William who went to America, George remarried, to Anne Ball. Both Joseph and his cousin Samuel, son of George’s brother John, are ironworkers in the local quarries. We can only guess that it was at the Ringstead quarries near Cotton Farm. It certainly would have been the most convenient to walk or bike to. We said that the quarry gangs had a preferable life to the underground miners but the winter of 1880/1881 had been one of the bitterest on record. The Mercury reported on 22nd January 1881:

THE WEATHER.- The frost set in here on Tuesday last week and had, at the time of writing, continued with increased severity. On Wednesday and Thursday from 12 to 14 degrees of frost were registered. The severity of the frost further increased. Before sunrise on Saturday morning the thermometer had fallen to eight degrees Fahrenheit. The water in the meadows was all frozen over on Friday and Saturday and great numbers repaired thither for skating and sliding. Scores were congregated on the ice on Sunday. On Monday the river was all frozen over and the ice was so firm and good from Raunds meadows to the Ringstead Paper Mills that a fine piece was opened up for skating and hundreds of people of both sexes from the surrounding villages of Raunds, Ringstead, Stanwick, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, and the Addingtons (Magna and Parva), assembled and disported themselves. A bonfire was lit on the ice and hot coffee and other refreshments supplied. Tuesday was one of the roughest and most inclement of the season. A strong wind prevailed from early morning, and, blowing from the east and northeast was bitterly cold and searching. This increased to a gale in the afternoon, when a snowstorm also set in. Tuesday night may be pronounced to have been one of the roughest nights ever experienced in this locality for a great number of years. The storm continued more or less all night so that on Wednesday morning the streets and roads were completely blocked with drifts which lay on the roads to a considerable depth and the traffic along some roads had to be altogether suspended. The snow-drifts along the Ringstead, Chelveston and Hargrave roads were from four to six and a half feet deep, and a gang of from 30 to 40 men were employed in cutting a way through them for vehicles to pass.

Would the men have been working and seen from the quarries this laid out before them? Certainly, in the terrible storm in early 1877 that killed the three boys on those same hillsides, it was the quarry men who came to the collapsed barn and tried to rescue the boys. [See story of the Gale Tragedy in Book 1]. At times they might have settled for the moderated temperature of the mine rather than the intense bitter cold and wet of winter or the baking heat of summer.

The two Mayes cousins would have found the work hard and tedious, as much labouring work was. It was also, as we have said, dangerous, with the fear of being buried alive. The tramways themselves were also another hazard and, as with young William in the mine, a moment’s inattention could be fatal. On the 4th March 1882 the Wellingborough News reported:             

One day last week a labourer on these works [Ringstead Ironstone Quarries], was knocked down by several wagons descending an incline. The whole of the wheels passed over both his legs nearly severing them from his body. It appears the poor fellow remained where the accident happened for nearly three hours before any doctor arrived. He was then removed by rail to the Peterborough Infirmary where it was found necessary to amputate the left leg above the knee and the right leg below it. He is progressing as well as can be expected from the serious nature of the injuries.

One wonders if a man could survive for such a time with such a loss of blood that an accident like this would have led to unless someone gave him some first aid. We described earlier how the wagons were loaded and moved and it may be that empty trucks rolled back down the slope and knocked him over. It they had been loaded it seems certain that they would have severed them completely. Perhaps the brake failed or had not been properly applied. We can only speculate. I have tried to find out who it was that sustained these terrible injuries and what happened to him but so far without success.

For whatever reason, Joseph decided that quarry work was not for him and he moved to Wellingborough. It was there, in the parish church, that he married Elizabeth Craddock on 11th March 1888. He was twenty-eight years of age and living at 19 Gold Street. He is shown as a labourer and it seems likely that he was now a bricklayer’s labourer for that is his occupation in the 1901 and 1911 Wellingborough Censuses. In the year after his marriage he was summoned by Mr. Ford, relieving officer of the Thrapston Union to show cause why he should not contribute towards the support of his mother, Annie Mayes who was “chargeable to the common fund of the Union”. His financial position was discussed and he was ordered to pay the 10d a week that he had been originally asked to pay by the Guardians.

Joseph and Elizabeth had four children and he died in Wellingborough in 1930 age sixty-nine years.

His cousin Samuel, some ten years his senior, was the son of John Mayes, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Susannah. John and Susannah had at least seven children and Samuel was the sixth, baptised on 26th May 1850 in the Ringstead Parish Church. In 1851 he is with his family but they are all living with Elizabeth Roughton, Susannah’s widowed mother, who is a pauper. John and Susannah and their family move into their own house and by 1871 they were living in London End, that triangle of poor cottages where Back Lane met the Denford Road.

Samuel’s grandmother, Mary was buried on 22nd July 1873. In November 1875, Mary’s widower, William Mayes, now seventy-eight years old, blind and living alone after the death of his wife, becomes increasingly depressed and one Monday morning he cuts his own throat. An inquest was held at the New Inn and the jury heard that his behaviour on the previous evening had been very strange. Their verdict was, “That deceased committed suicide while in an unsound mind.” William, unlike poor Thomas Bates who took his own life in similar fashion in 1840 was allowed a church service before his burial in the churchyard.

There was another serious accident at the quarry when a twenty-one-year-old local man, Herbert Coleman was wheeling a barrow of ironstone over a plank ten feet above the ground. If you look at pictures (see end of chapter on John Ball, Ironstone Miner in Book 1),which show the way the men pushed heavily loaded barrows across the narrow planks over the ditch to the spoil heaps behind , it would seem that  accidents were inevitable. Herbert fell to the ground onto his head and face: The Northampton Mercury of 3rd October 1890 reported:

Dr. McKenzie of Raunds immediately attended and found the upper lip completely cut through and lying on the right cheek and the chin all separated from the lower jaw. The wounds were stitched up and dressed and are progressing favourably.

Herbert, who was the illegitimate son of Ann Coleman before she married elderly widower, William Major, some forty-five years her senior, was still an ironstone labourer in 1891 but Samuel had become a navigation labourer. Samuel was still living with his parents. He was a bachelor and remained so all his life. His father John, at 70 was described as a cottager, which by this time, especially after the loss of the Ringstead Open Fields in 1841, was a rather archaic term. It probably means that he had a small piece of land round his house and kept a pig and some hens. Traditionally he would have had to do some day labouring and John’s entry does record that he also did some general labouring to give him a little income.

By 1901 Samuel had returned to ironstone labouring. The Ringstead pit closed in 1891 which may have forced Samuel to look for other employment. It may be that he was now working in one of the pits north of the Nene but because the name Mayes was so common locally we cannot be sure which one. He could have been the Mayes mentioned in the "Woodford" section of the Northampton Mercury on 30th August 1895 but we cannot be sure:

On Saturday a man named Mayes, at work at the ironstone pits, was driving a peg to loosen the earth. It suddenly gave way and caused him to fall a great distance with the earth on the top of him. One of his legs was seriously injured.

This photograph is labelled "Five men digging ironstone at Woodford House". On the back, the men are named (assuming names are as if looking at photograph)  Man with head cut off by photographer: J. Major (possibly Ringstead man James Major who was an ironstone labourer born in about 1850). and then from left: G. Saunders, G, Mayes, E. Manning, W. Riddle.

With the kind permission Of Northamptonshire Record Office. Ch(H)127

We do know that by 1911, now aged 61, he has become a jobbing gardener. He is living in what seems a spacious six-roomed house with his widowed sister Elizabeth Sawford keeping house for him. It is perhaps a surprise to see that Samuel, who would have been born too late to attend the Ringstead School, writes and signs the 1911 Census form with an assured neat hand.

The Mayes surname was widespread in Ringstead and the neighbouring villages by the end of the Nineteenth Century. We see it in the local musical entertainments including the Ringstead Brass Band, parish events, football teams, bell ringing and on most local committees. We have looked at three members each some ten years apart in age who at some time were ironstone labourers. The quarries were short-lived and so it was not a job for life and only the unmarried Samuel stayed in Ringstead. His widowed sister, Elizabeth Sawford died in 1924 and Samuel followed some three years later.

The Ringstead Quarries near Ringstead Grange have long gone and it is almost impossible to make out where once there was noise and dust and the occasional crack of an explosion, nor the trucks clanking behind the horses on the way to the sidings where it is possible that the ore was calcined (or burnt). I am writing this on 23rd April 2013.and, as I stand on the bridleway, all I can hear is birdsong and the occasional sound of traffic on the road below. In the distance there is the urgent cry of a cuckoo trying to herald in a late spring. If you look carefully you may be able to see that at one point where the bridleway crosses the old route of the tramway that the ground is lower than the hedge. That is all. Like Mallows Cotton, the quarry sites have gone. Who would now want it back?


View from Mallows Cotton bridleway, near the site of the quarries.  23rd April 2013

Authors’ Photograph



My thanks to Vivienne Marshall for alerting me to the death of William Mayes in Marske and for checking the Mayes family details. My thanks also to Philip Morris for his advice on the tramway workings. Any mistakes are, of course, mine alone.

Ringstead, New Marske and other Censuses. ( and ).

United States Federal Censuses. (

Ringstead Parish Registers. (NRO and ).

Northampton Mercury. ( ).

Newsclips 1882 – 1884 – Ringstead ( ).

New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957. ( ).

Durham Mining Museum: death details and information on Trappers. ( ).

Information on death of     William Mayes junior. ( ).

Children’s Employment Commission. Ian Winstanley. The Coal Mining History Resource Centre. ( ).

Mines and Collieries Act 1842. ( _Collieries_Act_1842 ).

Child Labour in Mines ( ).

Ironstone Railways and Tramways of the Midlands. Eric S. Tonks. (Locomotive Publishing Co. Ltd. 1959).

A Century of Ironstone Mining in Northamptonshire. Ron Sismey. (Journal of the Camborne School of Mines 1986 Vol. 86). My thanks to Tony Hammond for finding this for me.

Ordnance Survey 25 inches to 1 mile map 1885 1st Edn. (NRO).

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