The history of Pudsey’s Treacle mines and the now sadly forgotten coal mines go hand in hand.
Pudsey’s rich coal seam sits on the North West tip of the Yorkshire coalfield. Once an important resource it has been mined for generations and well into the 20th century. It can be found close to the surface even in the town centre, but was mainly extracted in the Fulneck valley by a series of pits that ran out through Tong and Drighlington and across into Holme Wood.
One unique feature of the Pudsey coal seam is the rare dark and sticky fluid that oozes out from underneath it. How this oozy fluid forms is not well understood, however the Townsfolk quickly discovered that it was sweet and delicious. “Treacle” was used back then to describe many things that were dark and oozy, not all of them pleasant! For want of a better word the name stuck (literally).
For many years the valuable coal was dug out and the treacle only used to glaze the hog roast at the Pudsey Feast. That was until Havercakes (large flat, frankly boring oat cakes) became a staple part of the local diet. Havercake bakers at Greenside discovered that adding Pudsey treacle to the mix cheered the cakes up no end and made them a delicious treat. Interest in mining and refining the treacle boomed, as the easier to reach coal deposits became exhausted so the treacle became economically the more viable option.
To preserve this important resource from outside exploitation, its workings and refining are kept a closely guarded secret by the Treacle Miners of Pudsey
Owing to the huge weight of the coal and rock pressing down on the treacle, when released it flows with tremendous pressure. To keep this pressure nice and even for pipeline extraction, there are several release valves, one can be found in Library Square, one at Bankhouse Lane and another in the lane outside Nesbit Hall.
Occasionally the treacle will well up to the surface and form a treacle pit, whilst these look attractive, they should be treated with caution because if you fall in its very difficult to pull you out (without a long plunger).
Owing to their clandestine nature and secret identities, spotting a real live Treacle Miner <<above ground>> is notoriously difficult to do. Having said that they hate to miss out when there’s fun to be had and have been known to turn up at Pudsey Carnival. The largest single sighting of the Miners en masse in history occurred back in 1988 when Pudsey Carnival was revived :
The residents of Longfield Road prepared a float in the procession around the theme of treacle mines, but it was only later that it became aware that they had persuaded some of the secretive miners to take part. In a letter to the Pudsey Times on the 26th May, 1988, the Pudsey Treacle Miners told at their delight in contributing:
We are writing to say what a marvellous time we had on Saturday at the Carnival.
We hope no-one recognised us, we tried to disguise ourselves thoroughly – nobody must ever know our identity! We had to shut down the mine for the day, but we will soon make up for the lost productivity. Our float was a great success and we would like to thank all who helped us, namely Rush and Tomkins, YEB, Coal Board, Tate and Lyle, and Valplas Plastics.
We couldn’t thank them personally because of the risk involved!
Hope next year’s Carnival is just as wonderful.
The Pudsey Treacle Miners
With thanks to Tate & Lyle, Pudsey in Bloom, Pudsey & District Civic Society, Pudsey Treacle Miners Re-enactment Society, The Treacle Mines visitors centre at the Royal Hotel, and last but not least the Miners (you know who you are!).