Aspen Colliery and Coke ovens


Growth Lancashire was approached by Historic England to assist in removing this rare piece of Industrial Heritage from the Heritage at Risk Register.

This is an unusual site as Historic England’s Press Release shows(!): “Landfill, fairies and the coal industry seem an unlikely trio, but they came together in the rescue of Aspen Colliery in Oswaldtwistle – a rare remnant of Lancashire’s industrial past which has been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.”

A postcard showing Aspen Colliery in 1908, Copyright Accrington Library

Growth Lancashire’s approach was to firstly establish an understanding of the significance of the site, and we enrolled the services of Historic England’s investigation and archaeology team to research the history and development of Aspen Colliery and Coke ovens as an industrial complex.

The resultant report on Aspen Colliery’s significance outlined what a rare survival it was, identifying that the Aspen site demonstrated the evolution of Coke oven design and technology.

The report concluded that alongside just one other site, Vobster Breach in Somerset, the Aspen coke ovens “are the only known examples in the country to survive alongside aspects of their parent colliery as well as their canal-side setting complete with engineered infrastructure…. The survival of a complex of this date is considered rare.”

In addition, the report found the Aspen colliery coking ovens to be the most complete 19th century example in the North West, and one of only 11 to survive in the country. The survival of the coke ovens in their colliery and canal-side setting illustrates how coal was mined, coke produced and how the product was then distributed along the canal network.

Growth Lancashire co-ordinated the project, initially securing Historic England investment towards a condition survey. With an understanding of the extent of works required to stabilise the coke ovens, Growth Lancashire subsequently made a successful application to WREN’s FCC Heritage Action Fund to cover the cost of repairs. Growth Lancashire again negotiated with Historic England to provide third party funding, which was essential in securing the WREN grant.

Growth Lancashire oversaw the delivery of the project and was also instrumental in securing a section 17 agreement where the Local Authority committed with Historic England to the ongoing maintenance of the site.

Cathy Kierans at Hyndburn Council said: “Hyndburn is proud of its industrial heritage and the unique contribution that Accrington and its surrounding townships made to the industrial development of the nation. We thank Historic England, WREN and Growth Lancashire for enabling this lesser known part of our industrial heritage to be brought more into the limelight and preserved for our future generations.”

The surviving Coking Ovens before the project

The Coking Ovens on completion of the scheme