Its been there for a long time, well, from 350 to 300 million years to be imprecise; The coal measures were laid say 100m years before the dinosaurs and 280 million years before the Himalayas were formed. Bituminous coal, the compressed product of decomposed vegetation is present at different levels (seams) in this area and has played a significant part in the life of this village.
The earliest written record is found in the Manor Rolls copied in the Thoresby book ‘The History of Methley’ where at the Manor Court in 1341, Hugo Wyland was accused of digging up coal, he claimed that he did not know that he needed a licence of the Court and he was fined half a mark. Further references to early mining can be read in the Coal Extraction section of Manorial Rolls on this site. A later description of the sale freehold of Methley Grange in 1862 advertises there being mines of excellent coal on this estate.
Despite the lack of any earlier records before the Manorial Rolls, it would seem likely to me that shallow mining would have taken place certainly as far back as roman times and possibly earlier.
A picture of the Methley Coal mine which was located during the reconstruction of the canal/river was taken with Barry Seage. I can well remember skating on a pond at the apex of a triangular field adjacent to the railway line. Even then, information was handed down by older kids that we were on top of an old shaft which had been boarded over, The new top of this shaft ventilates to the atmosphere at that same position. A number of other smaller pits were worked in Methley prior to, and at this time. Major deep mining commenced with the sinking of Methley Junction pit in the 1850’s and then Savile Colliery was sunk in 1874 and Newmarket round about the same.