East Holywell Colliery
3 Sept 2021
13 Jun 2023
East Holywell Coal Co. Ltd. (1874), National Coal Board (1947)
Description (or HER record listing)
"East Holywell Colliery, Fenwick Pit, served by wagonways (HER 1051 & 1059). 2nd edn OS mapping shows expansion of internal wagonways, buildings and spoil heaps. Opened in 1828 with the sinking of the Clennell or A Pit (at the same site). In the 1850s the owners were Plummer, Taylor, Clark and Lamb, later Hugh Taylor & Co, and then East Holywell Coal Company Ltd.
The Fenwick Pit or B Pit was sunk in 1874. There was another pit called C Pit at NZ 311 749 (in Northumberland). A mineral railway was built to serve the colliery and a pit village of four terraces was built. An extensive spoil heap grew on the east side of the colliery. Pithead baths were opened in 1939. After the coal industry was nationalised in 1946 many of the buildings were rebuilt or refurbished. Production gradually declined and by the late 1960s the houses had been demolished. The pit closed in August 1973 and the railway was lifted. In 2013 the colliery buildings were recorded by Durham University. They are in a vandalised state. The older buildings are brick, the later part of the workshop/store is walled and roofed with corrugated steel sheets. The winding house has a pitched roof covered with corrugated asbestos cement sheets. The shed on the west wall first appears on OS maps after 1961.
The L-shaped office building of painted red brick dates to 1957-1961. It has a projecting porch and tall chimney. Flat concrete roof, extended at the south-west corner into a canopy supported by steel posts. The electrical transformer building is painted brick. It was built after 1940 and is probably contemporary with the winding house. The building It has a flat roof with louvred ventilator shafts. There are ceramic ducts in the walls and channels in the concrete floors to carry large electric cables. The workshop/stores is the largest building on the site. It has been created by linking three older brick buildings. Two of these have open steel roof trusses. A concrete block over a door is dated 1953. The buildings were altered and extended with a steel frame after 1972.
The winding house is the tallest building on the site. It housed the engine that raised tubs and men up and down the pit shaft. The original winding house, for a steam engine, was replaced with this one in 1946. The date is on a stone in the west face. Tall square brick building with gabled roof. Single-storey buildings adjoin the building, including the support for the angled steel legs of the winding gear.
The older brick buildings are linked by a steel-framed shaed with corrugated cladding. Tall metal-framed windows light the upper storey. This housed the 450 hp Metropolitan Vickers electric motor, the winding drum and brake gear. These are now in No.2 winding house at Woodhorn Colliery. High on the east wall are two bells and a keps indicator. The bells told the banksmen when the cage reached the surface or the pit bottom. The indicator showed that keps or dogs were in position to lock the cage in place at the top of the shaft for loading or unloading."
The information above is from Sitelines - some may be out of date, as all buildings except the winding house have been demolished. The colliery railway between Backworth and Holywell still exists as an excellent footpath (WW17).
Ordnance Survey, 1898
Fenwick Pit, 1910. Source: Billy Embleton, Flickr
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The Fenwick Pit in 2023
Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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