Heworth Colliery

Mention ‘The Pit’ to the younger generation of the area and they will either look confused or refer to a piece of scrub land were horses are tethered. There is very little evidence left of a once thriving pit community which once covered the site and the surrounding area. All that remains today is the locally known Deputy and Sherriff’s houses, the manager’s house and a public house, none of which reveal their former links to Heworth Colliery.

High Heworth Colliery was first sunk in 1710 on land near the present Fiddlers public house on Albion Street, under the ownership of Mr Blackett. This pit was worked out by 1819, so new shafts were sunk on a new site not far away on land adjacent to the present Whitehill Drive, which was ready to work in 1821. This pit had 3 shafts, John, Ada and Fanny, the old shaft from the original workings, which was used as the ventilation shaft for the new pit. The concrete ‘cap’ over the Fanny shaft (the original 1710 pit) can still is seen today on the field opposite the junction of Barton Road.
Heworth Colliery had 5 owners over its 142 year history; Mr Blackett who owned the original High Heworth Colliery and oversaw the opening of Heworth Colliery in 1821, had the colliery until the 1850’s when it went into the ownership of J B Pearson & Co for the relevantly short period of 10 years, when it then passed to Henderson, Anderson & Co in the 1860’s. The next owners had the colliery from 1883 until1906.  The Heworth Coal Co Ltd ran the colliery from 1906 before the colliery was taken into public ownership of the National Coal Board (NCB) in 1947, who eventually closed the pit on the 29th June 1963.
by Marie McNichol

This fencing is still on the site today

Title:  Ada Pit and Chapel, Heworth
Photographer:  Unknown
Date:  Date Unknown
Reference Number:  GL000438
High Heworth Colliery, on Albion Street, was worked by the Blacketts from about 1701. The High Main seam, reached in 1762, was nearly exhausted in 1819 and a new pit was sunk, a little to the south east, on the road to Whitehill.


Heworth Colliery was a typical mining village, being clustered around twin shafts (one of which was the Ada Pit), the walled pit yard and the growing slag heaps near Whitehill. The first terraced rows were built in the 1860s. By the 1870s there was a Primitive Methodist Chapel at the pithead, a National School, two pubs and a smithy.

Heworth Colliery from the Beamish collection of photos

Heworth Colliery had a bustling community with houses for the miners and their families, First Street, Second Street, Third Street, Fourth Street (see street plan below) and Chapel Square  as well as houses for the ‘Deputies’ (overmen or supervisors) and Sheriffs , (managers).

The colliery also had a blacksmith, stables for the pit ponies, a colliery store (part of the Windy Nook Cooperative), a Primitive Methodist chapel, a school for the miners children, a Miners Institute (on the site of the old Cresthaven Aged Peoples Home, now bungalows on Millbrook) , 2 public houses, to refresh the miners, the Ravensworth Arms (now the Fiddlers pub) and The Cumberland Arms    (re-sited on Sunderland Road , Felling) an ambulance station and a sub police station attached to Felling police station. The colliery had its own football team and colliery band for the miners to enjoy and relax in order to get away from the tough job down the mine.
The coal from the pit, which at the turn of the century produced 1,200 tons of coal per day, was transported to the staithes at Pelaw, on the river Tyne, on the Ouston and Pelaw wagonway or the ‘Dilley Line’ by way of taught wires which pulled tubs up and down the line (this line was opened in May 1809 and closed in 1959).
When the colliery closed, the waste from the slag heap was used to fill the disused quarry on Watermill Lane (the site of the present Felling Cricket Club) and on land at Windy Nook (commonly known as The Fort).
by Marie McNichol

Heworth Colliery..loading coal into wagons to be shipped to the Tyne via the Dilly line

John Pit Heworth Colliery

Pithead Baths,
(now Whitehills Centre, a community venue)

Colliery wagons involved in a derailment at Heworth, 1930

Pelaw Main Staiths Bank Head. The hut on the right is the weigh cabin. The sloping structure between the tracks is possibly covering a wheel which carried the rope for the self acting incline to the Teeming Shed, Jack Ridley is standing beside this structure. These tracks went down past the weightbridge into the dish to make sets to be hauled to Heworth Bank Foot. The tracks passing the shed were sidings for stowage but had a main track to Heworth Colliery Staiths. Note the slip hook in the centre of the track. The Staiths Masters Office (not in the picture) was just to the left of the throw over switch lever.

Interior of Heworth Colliery PM Chapel

Heworth Colliery PM Chapel Soup Kitchen 1921

Heworth Colliery workers/staff off on an outing

Heworth Colliery Cricket Club, 1921
Reference No: GL006946

Heworth Colliery Soup Kitchen, Heworth, 1926
Reference No: GL010702

Heworth colliery relief committee with colliery workers during the miners strike.

Heworth Colliery workers at Durham Miners Gala

Heworth Colliery by Marie McNichol

The managers of the colliery lived in large houses called East View, known locally as the ‘Deputies’.  The grander of the houses, which has a marble fire place and ornate wood work belonged to the manager and the plainer, of the houses which has a slate fire place and much simpler woodwork belonged to the under manager.  The manager of the colliery moved into a larger property, High Heworth House which was vacated in 1923 and became a branch of The Windy Nook Cooperative Store, but was more commonly known to the miners and their families  as ‘The Colliery Store’, when the store closed the building had a number of uses which included a Pease Pudding factory!, but is now The Whitehill Christian Fellowship. 
 The terrace next to East View is East View Terrace or the ‘sheriffs’, these houses belonged to the overmen or supervisors at the colliery.
The miner’s children were taught at the colliery school, which could hold 200 children (the colliery employed approximately 1,000 men at the turn of the century). This however, closed in 1883, and the children transferred to the newly built Windy Nook Board School on Albion Street, which opened on the 7th May 1883. In the early 1920’s the Reverend C L Gwilliams, the vicar of St Mary’s Church, Heworth turned the empty school building into St Cuthbert’s Mission which had a Sunday school, reading room and club room for the miners and their families, this closed in the 1950’s near the end of the life of the colliery.

The Times
7th September 1926
Miners' Strike 1926

Struggle at Gateshead Mine. Women Join in the Attack on Workers

Exciting scenes were witnessed at the Fanny Pit, Gateshead owned by Heworth Coal Company this afternoon, when 50 men, who had started in the morning were leaving work. The men had descended the pit unmolested at 6 o’clock in the morning on the agreed terms of an 8 hour day and a 10% reduction in wages. A crowd began to collect at the pit head in the morning and by 2 o’clock, when the men came up from their work, it had grown to over 2,000. Three miners who tried to get away were caught by the crowd and severely handled. A small number of police were present but were unable to cope with the crowd. A woman was knocked down and had a leg broken. Some of the miners ran for a tram car, but the vehicle was surrounded and 6 windows were broken by stones. The women in the crowd were more infuriated than the men and kicked and clawed at the miners. Mr John English the agent for the colliery was knocked to the ground and several attempts were made to kick him. Police reinforcements were rushed to the scene and the crowd disperse.

The miners were striking against the reduction in their wages. 

Accidents and Tragedies
Approximately 116 men have been killed at Heworth Colliery in its 142 year history, the first deaths being recorded in 1826 and the last man being killed in 1957. There is no monument to their passing.
Some of the worse and tragic events being;
On 5th September 1826 an explosion occurred killing 3 men and 2 boys, the youngest being only 7 years old. “About 6 o’clock in the morning an explosion took place at Heworth Colliery. 3 men and 2 boys were killed and 10 others were scorched and bruised. The explosion dashed to pieces the stoppings, brattices and props and brought down the roof in several places. Some of the men working in a distant part of the pit were unhurt and even unconscious of the accident until being bought to bank”  (as quoted in the Newcastle Courant, 9th September 1826)
The victims were William Bailey, Joseph Hunter (pitman), John Scott (master waste man), John Southwell, and John Tulip (aged 7). 
On the 25th February 1834 a corf (or basket) in which four men were travelling down the shaft in, became unhooked and fell down the shaft, killing all four men they were John Forster, John Gilchrist, Thomas Lumsden and James Rayne.
On the 6th March 1930 three men were killed by a sudden inrush of water from some old mine workings. They were Michael Farrell (16), Joseph Natteress (33) and Thomas Sharpe (18).
The last man to be killed at Heworth colliery was Samuel Bygate aged 49 from Longrigg, on the newly built Leam Lane Estate, on the 29th November 1957.
The first Bevin boy was killed at Heworth Colliery, (Bevin Boys were men, who instead of being conscripted into the armed forces during World War Two, were sent down the pits to mine coal vital to the war effort and to replace miners who had joined up, so called after Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour) Henry Robert Hale (18) was killed only one month after completing his training in 1944.
On the outbreak of World War one many of the miners from Heworth colliery joined the armed services to fight against the Germans, many of them losing their lives. Major John English, who served in the war and the Reverend C L Gwilliams raised money to build a war memorial for the men who were lost in the war from the colliery. The Heworth Colliery War memorial was unveiled on 16th July 1922. The memorial is now sadly lost, but a Roll of Honour still exists.
Some awards for gallantry were awarded to some men from Heworth Colliery;
John Copeland        19th September 1934   Carnegie hero Fund Award
John Clark               19th October 1950        British Empire Medal (Civil Division)
Richard Atkinson     19th October 1950        Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct          

Heworth Colliery

More Tales from Around The Felling – George Law
Heworth in The Great War – Joan Hewitt
Durham County Records office
Durham Mining Museum
Book of Remarkable Occurrences –M A Richardson (1844)
Gateshead Post (Gateshead Library Archives)
Photographs- Authors own (modern)
     Present owner of East View House, Nigel Ellam

List of men who died through accident at Heworth Colliery
Name                                            Age                    Date of Death

William Bailey                                                          5th September 1826
John Bell                                       24                      24th April 1899
John Bell                                       19                      21st February 1902
Thomas Bellerby                             15                       4th January 1889
Richard Bray                                   48                      15th July 1906
George Brown                              33                      13th December 1921
Joseph Brown                              36                       22nd October 1886 (St M)
Thomas Burn                                42                       27th October 1921
J Burnham                                    40                      16th August 1938
Samuel Bygate                             49                       29th November 1957
Joseph Carter                               46                        6th February 1931 (St M)
Leslie Charlton                             15                        4th January 1922 (St M)
William Cooper                             13                       27th April 1882
George Corbrick                           32                      19th April 1902
Edward C Cowell                          14                       22nd June 1918
James Cullen                                33                       12th September 1923
John George Davidson                 14                        4th January 1904 (St M)
Richard Davidson                         14                        24th February 1904
John Robert Dawson                    30                        14th January 1904 (St M)
William Dean                                 34                        17th June 1955
Robert Dixon                                 38                        30th July 1859
Elias Dodds                                   24                        12th February 1946
Robert Turnbull Ellis                      30                         1st October 1904
Michael Farrell                               16                         6th March 1930
George Fenwick                            35                         4th August 1880 (St M)
James Fenwick                              26                       19th May 1918 (St M)
James W Fenwick                         50                        13th September 1915 (St M)
William Fleming                             16                        28th April 1944
John Forster                                                               25th February 1834
George Scott Foster                       38                        27th September 1929
John Gair                                        68                        16th September 1890
Joseph Gardner                              54                        13th January 1899 (St M)
John Gilchrist                                                             25th February 1834
John Kay Gofton                             20                       24th February 1904
John Thomas Goodfellow               23                        4th February 1937 (St M)
Thomas Graham                              48                       13th September 1934
J B Gustard                                      24                        1st March 1934
Robert Guy                                       43                       25th May 1921
Henry Robert Hale                            18                        4th May 1944
John Hannen                                    21                        1st August 1882
Robert Gray Harker                          27                        5th September 1929
John Hawkins                                  14                         6th March 1876
William Robert Hindmarsh               38                       18th April 1933 (St A)
James O Hopes                                27                        7th September 1921
Men who died through accident at Heworth Colliery

Name                                              Age                       Date of Death

Joseph Hunter                                                             5th September 1826
John Noble Hymers                        31                        15th July 1929 (St M)
James Jefferson                             23                         5th June1928
John Arthur Johnson                      20                         3rd June 1914
George Kennedy                            40                         24th September 1904
George William Kent                       14                         15th August 1900
James Stanley King                        15                         30 October 1923
John Large                                      49                         23 September 1902
T A Lee                                            68                          1st August 1878
Thomas Lotam                                19                         17th July 1879
John George Lowe                          15                         18th November 1924
Thomas Lumsden                                                         25th February 1834
James Mackin                                 15                          21st August 1915
Joseph Mains                                  30                          25th June 1930
Michael McParline                           17                           8th June 1902
Peter McSparrow                             17                         30th September 1895
Charles Milburn                                17                          7th May 1952
James Mossop                                 27                         10th November 1955
  Mould                                                                            30th July1859
Percy Murdoch                                 21                          24th September 1880
William Murphy                                                              26th March 1895
Joseph Natteress                             33                           6th March 1930
Henry Noble                                      29                          21st June 1871
John Parsons                                   52                           6th August 1893
Joseph L Place                                 14                           23rd May 1922
Thomas Purdy                                  36                            5th July1906
John Race                                         59                            7th December 1905
Thomas Ramsden                            16                           17th March 1911
James Rayne                                                                   25th February 1834
T Rigby                                             40                           30th July 1931
George William Ritchie                     24                           17th March 1879
William Robson                                 55                           27th July 1918 (St M)
William Rodgers                                36                          27th December 1836 (St M)
John Rowan                                      17                            5th November 1890
John Scott                                         33                            5th September 1826 (St M)
Thomas Sharpe                                 18                           6th March 1930
George Shipley                                 14                            6th December 1882
Charles Simpson                               44                          21st March 1839
George W Simpson                                                                      1915
P S Simpson                                     27                          26th July 1943
William Smith                                    61                           4th May 1914 (St M)
John Southwell                                                                5th September 1826
Benjamin J Stockton                         31                                     1920
Edward Storey                                   26                          27th December 1836 (St M)
List of men who died through accident at Heworth Colliery

Name                                              Age                                 Date of Death

William Stubbs                                59                                8th February 1922
Matthew Summers                          28                               24th April 1943
Abraham Taylor                               37                               5th May 1896 (St A)
John Tulip                                        7                                5th September 1826 (St M)
Richard Gardner Turnbull               41                              17th June 1955
Michael Erwin                                 16                               29th June 1899
Robert Urwin                                   34                               9th October 1952
Thomas Usher                                 52                               2nd May 1912
Thomas Walker                                                                  15th February 1829
William Thomas Walker                   19                              10th October 1877
Thomas Walton                                51                              26th April 1887
John Wardle                                     31                               3rd July 1886
James Watson                                 16                              16th November 1909
James Watson                                 14                               6th November 1937
George Welsh                                  43                               17th February 1933
R West                                              17                               4th October 1939
George White                                    59                               15th November 1905
Edward Williamson                          17                                3rd November 1869
Richard Wilson                                  14                               18th June 1897
Hugh Winning                                   48                                21st December 1927
E Wood                                                                                        1920

A further 6 men have died at Heworth Colliery but their names are unknown-
1 man on the 30th May 1851, 1 man on the 8th March 1853, 1 man on the 31st May 1861,     1 man on the 16th November 1863, 1 on the 26th February  and 1 man on the 20th April 1864.

(St M) – Men who are buried at St Marys Church, Heworth.
(St A)- Men who are buried at St Albans Church, Windy Nook.                                    

A search for Heworth Colliery at gatesheadlocalstudies will bring many results

Heworth Colliery Photographs brought to you by

     The Felling Heritage Group