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National Coal Mining Museum

Wakefield, Yorkshire

Quick Guide
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The National Coal Mining Museum is in a rural setting, complete with nature trail, but covers the history of mining. You get the chance to go 140ft underground in one of Britain's oldest working mines, see various collections, and see two pit ponies and a shire, now retired, on the surface.

It is based on the site of the old Caphouse Colliery at Overton in West Yorkshire. This mine was worked from at least 1789 until the seam was exhausted in 1985, following the UK Miners' Strike (1984-1985), and work was started to convert it into a museum. The men were transferred to Denby Grange Colliery at nearby Grange Moore.

It is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage.

The tour underground, where models and machinery depict methods and conditions of mining from the early 1800's to the present, lasts approximately one hour and each visitor is provided with a hat, belt and battery, so that the true atmosphere of working life underground is captured. Experienced local miners guide the tours around the underground workings and they share their mining experiences with you. They don't allow you to take a camera underground.

Exhibitions cover not only the coal face and underground mining, but mining work on the surface, and home life of miners. Communication between miners underground and the movement of coal has its own areas.

The new exhibition '1842 - a faithful picture?' is in a small historic building at the heart of the Museum's historic core. The exhibition illustrates the history of women and children in the coal mining industry throughout England. It allows you to compare and contrast work at coal mines with other types of work that women and children did in the 19th Century. You then move on to discover what happened to women at the pit and the continued work of women on the pit top, before considering other women workers at the pit, in the canteen, offices, nursing and more recently mining with the repeal of the act.

See the steam winder, experience the sounds and smells, and the pit head baths. The mine railway has been reinstated and you can ride it between Cap House Colliery and Hope Pit.

There are two colliery's on this site,  the newly restored Hope Pit (opened 2005) has restricted opening, see below, it is a fascinating colliery complex, which was once connected to Caphouse underground. The buildings focus on the science of mining and give an insight into how a small pit ran. Hope Pit houses another shaft development of the 1830's. There are several typical historic pit buildings, including the Inman Shaft pumphouse, the electric winding engine house, compressor house, fan house and colliery workshops. On open days there will be line shafting, winding engine and blacksmith demonstrations, please contact the Museum for details.

Future development include the development of a Victorian miners cottage, and enhancing the underground tour.

Location:  National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield, Yorkshire

Grid Reference: Ceremonial County: Yorkshire

Map Link:

Aerial photo:

Getting there: Located on the A642 halfway between Wakefield and Huddersfield and sign-posted from the M1.  For more route directions if required click here

Website: own      PDF 9 page handout including map of site   Virtual tour  
Other Useful Websites: wiki
Address: National Coal Mining Museum for England, Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield
Postcode: WF4 4RH Telephone: 01924 848806

Opening Times: Open daily 10am-5pm. Closed December 24th, 25th, 26th and 1st January.   See also events details

Hope Pit  (the second mine) is open at weekends from 1pm-3.30pm.

Charges: FREE ENTRY  (may have charges on events, but most appear free) See also events details     Free car parking.

Nearby Locations:

Other Location Pages:

Living History Section

List of Living History Museums

Living history museums introduction


Children under 5 years of age are not permitted on the underground tour.

During school holidays arrive early for the underground tour which is often fully booked by midday.

As this is a real coal mine warm clothes and sensible flat shoes are recommended.

No. Smoking materials and battery operated equipment such as cameras, watches and mobile phones are not permitted underground, but may be safely deposited in the lamproom.


CIN Page Ref: national_coal

Classification: Living History

Date Updated: 07/2008

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