The first mill established at the site of Swinefleet Peat Works was Bennett’s Moss Peat Company in 1886, and since then it has been run by several different firms including Fisons, and Levingtons and Scotts, before its closure in 2000, though peat was taken from the site and processed at Hatfield Works until 2005.
Fisons Horticulture division was separated from the Agrochemical division in 1977. It produced and marketed amateur and professional gardening products, and its strengths were in peat-based products, especially the popular and well-established Fisons Gro-Bags self-contained, nutritionally balanced soil sacks. The peat operations were extended with a new plant in Yorkshire
My father was a peace worker at the works in the 1980s, he worked on the large boom that used to extract peat from the moors bogs, it was then dried and then put onto the wagons (or tubs as they were known) and taken to the works to be milled and bagged.
In the 1950s, horses were gradually replaced by locomotives as the means of moving wagons around the system.
The steam locomotive which worked on the tramway was built by Webster, Jackson, and Co. who were based in Goole. The Goole Times newspaper carried a report on 7 June 1895 of a visit to the line by the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union. It commented that the visitors had been transported to the works on flat wagons, with their legs dangling over the sides, and although the train reached their destination fairly quickly, several were somewhat shaken by the experience
One recorded death that my father talked about, and has been later confirmed in an old paper extract was that of Mrs. Ethel Jackson (41) who was found dead in the crushing machine, sadly on her 42 birthday.
More recently, in 2002, a planning application was submitted for a change of use to a composting and recycling facility, though the application was withdrawn a few months later with the agent for the applicant noting that “consultations with the residents of Swinefleet suggest that they do not wish the site to be developed”.
R4 has purchased the site and is attempting to get permission to turn the now decaying site into waste treatment and storage site.
Over 1,000 objections were lodged to East Riding Council after the application was unveiled.
Councilors hit out against the controversial plans amid fears for children who use an access route to get to school, as well as for the structure of homes that could be affected by increased traffic and the risk of pollution.
4R Group, the company behind the application, wanted to use the seven-acre site to treat biosolids, store, and process waste.
The plan was to run the facility six days per week although planners have now scuppered the proposals over fears about traffic and the impact the development would have on residents.
“Our plan is to bring the site back into use through reusing the existing buildings and adding storage tanks for liquid materials and storage bays for solid materials to the external yard areas of the site.”
As I write this now, R4 has again resubmitted their application, we will wait to see the outcome.
This site is just a few miles away from where I live, I cannot believe within the 20 years it’s now been abandoned that I’ve not visited it before. The buildings lay decaying and a dangerous state.
Upon visiting the site it’s fairly obvious it is been used for fly-tipping, there are several areas of intense burnt rubbish in and out of the buildings. Much of the building’s upper levels are now unreachable due to the fact the lower metal has either been removed deliberately to stop access or has been taken and sold as scrap. One large Hein, Lehmann Dusseldorf machine still remains in the tallest building, am presuming this was some kind of screening machine.
Following the demise of commercial activity on Crowle and Thorne Moors, they became part of the Humberhead National Nature Reserve. The tramway tracks were removed, but various equipment was left at Bank Top, including one of the Simplex locomotives and some bin harvesters. A society was formed, initially called the Crowle and Thorne Moors Peat Railway Society, with the aim of restoring the locomotive, and using the maintenance shed at Bank Top as a base for a short running track. It would also serve to promote the history and heritage of the peat railways.
The Crowle Peatland Railway Society was given £10,000 to restore two diesel-hydraulic locomotives and help raise awareness of the heritage and history of the moors.
The funding was awarded by North Lincolnshire Council and the Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership who are looking to raise awareness of the project and work on the development of the railway itself.
The locos originally built by the Schöma locomotive company of Germany in 1990 and 1991 were operated by Fisons, Levingtons and ultimately Scotts from both Swinefleet and Hatfield Peat Works. Peat extraction on the moors came to an end in 2002 when the government bought-out the extraction rights from Scotts to form the National Nature Reserve.
The restoration programme will also include the development of an information centre about the wildlife, history and industrial archaeology of the moors.
The society already own a Simplex locomotive (40s302) that had been given to them by Natural England. It is hoped that in the near future a running track will be built on Crowle so that the restored locomotives can be operated as a reminder of the peat extraction industry that previously existed.