Mine Shaft



New Member
HI Everyone, I'm after some thoughts and opinions.

We've been looking to move to a particular large estate in our town in Derbyshire for a number of years. Unfortunately it is fairly sought after and (nice) homes rarely come up. In fact, looking at Zoopla, a lot of them haven't been sold since they were first bought or have only exchanged hands once or twice.

A house has just come on the market which we have viewed and love, it ticks every box. However, during the viewing the owner dropped the bombshell that there was an 1800's mine shaft at the bottom corner of the garden, approx 11 metres away from the property, it's closer to the house at the back then ours but in theory is still within our boundary. She told me it had been capped, and is subjected to inspections every few years but it couldn't be found on the last inspection (she didn't say about previous inspection and I didn't really question her on the topic because I didn't really know what to ask at the time).

This completely threw us off, especially as I wasn't even aware that the area had been mined. I've looked at the coal authorities interactive map and sure enough, there are 30 disused mine shafts on the estate, I can't zoom in enough be it seems to be a mixture of shafts in the street and shafts within property boundaries. The interactive map shows that it has been treated but doesn't give any details but this is in line with what the owner has said. I've since found out that the area was a unlicensed shallow coal mine in the 1800s. I've also spoken to a local who used to farm the area before it was purchased for development. They remember the drilling rigs coming in to find the shafts, those that were found were filled and the area was back filled, although they said not all shafts could be found and some undocumented shafts were found.

We've purchased the relevant Coal Authority reports which state that the shaft is 18mtrs deep and that they would only give this if it was known. The report then goes on to say the shaft was searched for in 1993 before the development but could not be found and there are no records of it being treated.

Our concerns are that obviously it will open up - we have two young children and secondly what this means for the value and sale-ability of the house in the long term.

We've done lots of 'googleing' and your read nothing but horror stories, although it seems most come from the south in the Cornwall area. However there are plenty of examples of people struggling to sell homes or get a mortgage.

I've spoken to our current mortgage lender, HSBC who don't seem too concerned as long as the reports don't say it would affect the house - although the report does say the property would likely be affected if there was an issue but the chance of this is very low- this seems standard wording. It think they meant if it was under the house. The local estate agent doesn't seem bothered either as there are other mines around and I asked on a local forum to people living on the estate what they thought and they weren't bothered either - although I highly doubt most of them would have one within 20mtrs never mind in the back garden.

What is everyone's thoughts and opinions - should we buy or run a mile? If we don't buy we might not find another house for a number of years and this one is slightly unique with a larger garden area. If we do buy are we going to be 'shafted' in 20 years or so when we come to sell. I know there are no definitive answer so any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.


This is a huge quandary because it is obvious you are very keen on the property but concerned. Let's not forget, this will likely be your biggest ever investment and you need to have as much protection as possible. Have you spoken to solicitors about this issue? While the risk does seem to be minimal, if one of the mineshaft was to open up it would be you would pay the price. Tread carefully.


New Member
Hi, I am by no means an expert but as always, knowledge is key. Can you acquire any local info on these mines, perhaps the local FB page, or even their parish council notice board, as a couple of examples to put out a plea?
I know as having had kids myself your concerns as despite a team of experienced adults searching in vain, give a couple of young kids a sunny afternoon while you're relaxing and you can bet your bottom dollar, they'll find shafts if they're there. Perhaps a letter or approaching forums on mining in the UK could raise an interest from people who love looking for such things and perhaps even going down into them, possibly 'go pro' armed. I know all these suggestions are time consuming and you want to crack on or leave it but finding your dream home where you want it and within your financial grasp, doesn't happen too often.
All the best. A


Have there been any formal investigations into the local mine shafts in recent years? Surely the housebuilding company would have done their own local land surveyors to see what was below? If the danger is high, how did this development application get through?


New Member
Over the last couple of weeks I've been trying to do a little more research to alleviate my concerns.
  1. I've had further discussions with the Coal Authority, which got escalated to various departments until I spoke to one of their geologist who had the abandoned mine map from the 1800's in front of him (I can't remember the exact date he said now). I expressed my confusion that the reports we purchased state the the depth of the shaft was known and that this would only be given if they had that data, but they then go on to say they don't know if it has been treated and that it couldn't be found in 1993 a few years before the house was built.

    He said that the mine shaft was recorded on the abandoned mine map from the 1800's and on there, the depth was given. As it appears on this map, they have a duty to report it. However, he said that the accuracy of these maps is not great. He confirmed that they held no details of treatment and that the contractor they employed to find the shafts in the area when it was being developed couldn't find it. This is a destructive search, so they will dig to find it. Interestingly, they said they instruct contractors to search within a 10 metre radius. So we have some comfort that the shaft isn't in the garden at all. That could obviously put it under the house but could also just a much put it in someone else garden around us. The problem being is that it will forever be marked as in our garden. The homeowner said that during the last inspection of the shaft, the inspector thought it was further north in line where all the others are (the coal authority told me these are undertaken ever 10 years and are just a visual check for sinking etc, they are not destructive) but unless there is massive problem, no one will ever know.

    They said they shaft would likely have been treated by back filling it with the waste product as was common and that this wasn't a licensed mine. In essence, as the coal is very close the surface, it was locals basically digging a big hole to steal the coal and something that was pretty common.

    I have even been provided a personalised letter from them stating all of the above and that the risk is extremely low. They couldn't have said enough times how it is nothing to be concerned about and that if they were dangerous, houses wouldn't be built anywhere near them.

    They also said that mine shafts have only become a problem since the financial crash in 2008 where banks started to restrict lending, and one of the ways they did this is restrict properties near mine shaft. They said that the problem is the solicitors just don't understand the mine shafts and don't bother to do any in depth research, they are now setting up a team solely to deal with solicitors and are working on improving their reports.

    I don't want to forget that this shaft hasn't been seen for 150 years and the likelihood is it will never be seen again.

    My hope of course is that if we buy, when we come to sell the house, mine shafts just won't be an issue again just like they weren't prior to 2008.

  2. I posted on a local Facebook group asking if people had any mortgage problems or were bothered about the shafts. I got quite a few replies, not one person said the shafts bothered them or that they had any mortgage problems. However, I suspect that most people don't know how close they are living to one and that as many of the house haven't be sold for many years, aren't likely to have noticed any issues with their mortgage all those years ago as it wasn't as much of a concern to lenders.

    Interestingly, someone did reply who said her dad used to farm the fields the estate is now on. She can remember huge machines digging for the shafts, really tearing the place up and filling them with concrete when they were found, she also recalled not all the shafts could be found, but didn't have any specifics around which were found or not.

  3. We now have our house on the market, and the house we are interested in still hasn't sold, we know it has had more viewings and we suspect the owner is telling everyone about the shaft and they are running a mile. This is of course one of my main concerns for the future and we might be in the same position (if we mention it). My wife isn't bothered and to some respect I agree. Why worry about that when we could live in this great house for 30 years with no issues, we might not even be around anymore to sell the house.

  4. I have also contacted the contractor who undertook the work and searching of the mine shafts in 1993 but have yet to get a reply, and I doubt they will be able to tell me anymore.

So that is where we are at. I don't think we can do any more research, and the research that I have done has put me at ease. The future saleability of course is a complete unknown and there is a little risk here that we might have trouble, I'm just not sure it is worth worrying about.

With all the reports and letters I have from the Coal Authority, it should help anyway.


New Member
Is there anything else you think I could do?

If you were looking to purchase a house and the homeowner told you about a potential mines shaft but also gave you all the extra detail to explain that it really isn't something to be concerned about, would it change your mind?


Active Member
There are two ways to look at this, as soon as somebody mentions a suspect mineshaft next to a property whether or not it is actually there, this will concern people. However, have you not thought that as the suspected mineshaft does not appear on official documentation that it may well have been filled in? The lady who replied on Facebook mentioned some mineshafts had been filled in. Maybe these actions weren't recorded because the mineshaft was not officially recognised in the first place?

This must all be very confusing for you!