Stellarton, Dorrington Softball Complex

Today it’s the Dorrington Softball Complex but it used to be the site of a coal mine!

The first of the Bye Pits, where the ball fields are now, was sunk in Stellarton in 1827 by the General Mining Association, which had a monopoly on most Nova Scotia minerals from 1827-57.

The Bye Pits were 200 yards west of the Store Pits, the first coal mines the GMA built in Nova Scotia, also in 1827.

A powerful steam-pumping engine allowed the GMA to go deeper at the Bye Pits than it had at the Store pits, while two 25-horsepower winding engines, made in the Albion foundry, hoisted the coal. The mine was ventilated by a furnace.

In 1842, the Bye Pits workings were described as being "in as perfect a state as I suppose to be possible. There is ample provision for drainage, for ventilation, and for clearing off the [methane] gas.”

Despite this rosy description, the Bye Pits were plagued with fires and explosions throughout their years of operation. The first fire broke out within a year of opening and others followed. An explosion in 1861 took three lives. The next six years brought another fire, another explosion, and in 1867, an inferno so severe that the pit had to be abandoned.

Coal from the Bye and Store Pits was sold by children so the fact that the site of the Bye pits is now a place for kids to play is a reminder of how much things have changed in the past two centuries.

The Dorrington Softball Complex is home to the Stellarton and Area Minor Girls Softball Association, an organization that provides females ages 4-18 the opportunity to play fast pitch softball at the recreational and competitive levels.

The Complex is named for Aubrey Dorrington, a coal miner at the Allan Mine (now the site of Sobeys’ headquarters in Stellarton). Aubrey’s father, also a coal miner, died in an accident and Aubrey left school at 13 years of age to work underground. At 26, he enlisted to serve in WWII but was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was not able to go overseas. He passed away in 1976 at the age of 63.