Hood Family and Coal Mining

Newton Parish - New Statistical Account

Newton:  1-Topography and Natural History  |  2-Civil History  |  3-Population  |  4-Industry  |  5-Parochial Economy


New Statistical Account for the Parish of Newton

Part 4 - Industry




Agriculture.—With the exception of the policy at Edmonstone, and some plantations of the Duke of Buccleugh, the whole of the parish is under cultivation, and that according to most approved methods of farming,-every improvement being forthwith introduced, so soon as brought in to notice and tested by experience. It is unnecessary, however, to enlarge on this head, the system pursued in the Lothians been so well understood. Before four shift rotation is that generally followed; but on the largest farm in the parish, the Berwickshire system, of allowing the land to lie two years in pasture, has been introduced, it is believed, with advantage, and probably would become more general, were the fields provided with sufficient fences, which is not the case at present, as never been required.
There are above 80 acres of wood in Dalkeith Park in this parish, planted at different times chiefly with oak in a very thriving state, and, as may be supposed, under the best management. There is also some fine old wood in the policy at Edmonstone.
The average rent of land is from L.4 to L.5 per acre, Scots measure, and it is all arable. Rate of labour is nine and ten shillings a week for day labourers, and 9d. per diem for women. In the collieries, labourers, such as banksmen, &c. have twelve shillings. Farm servants who are engaged by the year are allowed 6½ bolls of oatmeal, 3 to 4 bolls of potatoes, L.16 money, and when they can stack and sow, &c., L.18;-grieve L. 21, with the foregoing in each case, and in addition, a month's meat in harvest.
The land as already stated, being all under tillage, there is no rearing of stock with the exception of a few horses. On the farm already alluded to, where grazing has been introduced, the stock is purchased from year to year to be fed for the butcher; and there are only one or two cows kept on each farm for a supply of dairy produce to the respective families.
The leases are all of 19 years' duration with the exception of the Buccleugh property, where they are limited to fourteen. The state of the farm buildings is generally excellent, and steam power is now being extensively introduced for the thrashing mill. The same, however, cannot be said for the enclosures, since practically they are of little or no benefit. The hedgerows wherever they exist, are kept with the greatest neatness.
The principal improvements, of late years, is frequent furrow draining, which has been entered on with spirit, and will no doubt be carried into effect wherever its introduction may be deemed necessary or beneficial. The expenses exclusively defrayed by the tenant, and it is believed to be an improvement that will soon repay the outlay. As an instance, a field so drained, being in potatoes the year after, produced a crop of 75 bolls per acre.


Quarries and Mines.—Of the former there is none, and of the latter coal mines only, which have been wrought in this parish for at least 200 years, and form its chief riches. The edge-seams lying as formerly mentioned, in the north-west quarter, were first wrought as from their position and the nature of the ground a considerable winning could be obtained by a day level, which was afterwards extended to a more considerable depth by a sea-level. The crop of the flat seams was then wrought by the same means, and afterwards steam engines were erected at different parts of the field in succession, always father to the dip, till the whole has been wrought out but what lies in the south-east quarter of the parish, where a great quantity of valuable coal still remains to be wrought, but which cannot be affected to a much greater extent by the present engines. The value of such a field may be estimated by calculating from following data:-, the average thickness of which may be taken at 4 ft, produces 15,000 tubs of four cwt.., which, at 5d. per cwt., or 8s. 4d. per ton, gives L.1250 as the gross produce. Then there are rough and splint seams, thicker than the Jewel, but of inferior value. Taking the average thickness of both together to be only 4½ feet, and the price 4d. per cwt., or 6s. 8d. per ton, we have L.1125 per acre for each; and in addition there is the beefy seam, of inferior value still, which if taken at only 4 feet in thickness, and at 3d. per cwt., or 5s. per ton, gives L.750-in all 4250 as the value per acre when brought to the pit mouth. When the four-foot and diamond seams are found, the value of course is considerably more; but this does not apply to what remains to be wrought.
The coal is now up all wrought on the long-wall system, by which means the whole is excavated without any stoops been left, which gradually sinks as the workings advance, and by which the surface to a certain extent is affected, especially as this takes place unequally and produces what produces what are called sits. These are frequently such as to render the drainage of the fields worse than useless, as the water can no longer find its way for want of level, and occasions a stagnation which it costs both trouble and expense to remedy. In general, however, the surface resumes its relative position at a somewhat lower elevation, exhibiting the astonishing effects that may be produced by the labours of man, for thus no inconsiderable part of the parish, at a depth of from 50 to 80 fathoms, has, by these workings, at three several distances been undermined, and let down by separate stages to rest permanently at a lower elevation that originally occupied.


Produce. — The following is an approximation to the average gross amount of raw produce raised in the parish. The prices of grain are the average fiar prices for the last seven years.
To the above there ought perhaps to have been added the Straw, which is regularly disposed of; but this is held by the farmers to be a set-off against the manure, which, in consequence, they have to purchase, instead of making it, by having the straw consumed by livestock, and no return of it has been received.





© 2012   A Russell