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
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
(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 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.
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
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
Name Age Date of Death
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