Selbys Coal Pits
Axwell Park, Gateshead
8 Sept 2021
Sir William Selby (17th c), Robert Bewick
Sir William Selby had four working coal pits at his White House estate around 1633. One was at the end of the waggonway (HER 13589) near to Hag Hill Farm, one was near the south-east angle of the walled garden of Axwell Park, one was in the front garden of 26 Axwell Park Road and the fourth was in the south-west angle of Blaydon Leisure and Primary Care Centre. By 1636 the pit drainage system proved inadequate and water began to accumulate in the pits. The dam at Winlaton Mill was employed to solve the problem. The tailrace was altered to lead into the Selby watercourse to make a bigger millpond at Axwell Park. His neighbour John Clavering needed water for his own mills and found that water had disappeared. He began a six year legal battle by suing Sir William Selby and his partners (Sir Robert Hodgson and Robert Anderson). Robert Bewick was brought in the run Selby's colliery after the death of his son (also called William) in a dual with his cousin in 1636. Thomas Gillerie was the colliery overman. His son John took over the job in 1681 under Sir William Blackett. During the legal enquiry Selby admitted that he had ordered 'engines' but didn't say how many or where they were placed. He argued that the water in the Derwent belonged to Winlaton. This was not true. Above Damhead half of the water belonged to the east bank owners. In 1645 the matter was settled by James Clavering (son of John) who agreed that Winlaton could have full use of the river until the closure of the colliery.
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