St. Aidan's Open Cast Lake and breach in river Aire.
About 12.30 pm on Saturday 19th March, 1988, mining operations in the
St. Aidan's Open Cast coalmine broke the banks of the River Aire and
water flooded into the void caused by the open-cast mining. A 300ft
breach resulted and water from the River Aire poured 200 ft down into
the workings - a massive waterfall. The water level between the mine and
the river was not reached until the Tuesday and by this time a 200ft
deep, 190 acre lake had been created, covering 2 million tonnes of coal.
On the Sunday, March 20th, the river lost pressure (because of the
outfall) in its downward flow and the River Calder flowed upstream from
Castleford. The site was evacuated on Saturday the 19th without loss of
life or limb, or machinery. At its level with the river, the site
contained 4 billion gallons of water, with a maximum depth of 70 metres.
The position of the Lemonroyd Lock houses was very precarious. There
were fears of pressure causing a canal breach as there was only 25
metres between the River Aire and the canal banks. Lemonroyd Lock houses
were evacuated on the Saturday night but the residents returned on the
Sunday. The bank was temporarily reinforced by stone revetments in
cooperation with the Yorkshire Water Authority.
Footnote: Various options were put forward for draining the site in
subsequent months, even years. The lake was still there in January 1993.
A plan to combine the river and canal into one channel on a new route
was favoured, following village protests and campaigns, and general
village discussions and meetings.