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Mining Gallery, Benwell





Entry Created:

3 Sept 2021

Last Updated:

4 Dec 2023




Description (or HER record listing)

Evidence for early coal mining was identifed during excavations at Sunnybank Avenue, Benwell. Two possible bell pits (HER 16262) and extensive drift mining galleries were revealed dating to the medieval and/or early post-medieval period. The galleries had been excavated in a north-west/south-east grid pattern following the pillar and stall method of extraction. This is an early form of mining which exploited rich coal seams closer to the surface before the introduction of deep coal mining in the late 16th century. The workings were an interconnected network of galleries extracting coal from a seam up to 2m thick. The galleries varied in width from 1-1.7m. Some of the galleries terminated abruptly, despite the presence of further coal deposits beyond which may indicate the presence of an estate boundary. There was no evidence of pit props, shoring or flooring.

NEHL - This is likely one of the Benwell Manor pits from the 17th century. By 1611, Benwell was one of the most important mining areas on Tyneside. By this year, there were 22 working pits in 7 different collieries which extended as deep as 192 ft, giving an impression it was more than just a pit. Within the next twenty years, an entire hierachy of viewers, hewers, bankmen and overmen developed into a recognisable colliery structure.

These pits were likely owned by the partnership of Newcastle Hostmen - Sir Peter Riddle, Thomas Surtees, Robert Shaftoe Snr & Jnr, William Hodgson, Henry Chapman and William Jennison. Richard Richardson also opened a number of pits at Stumplewood nr Benwell. One pit produced around 15,000 tons annually in these days, which only intensified by the 1660s with pits sprawing both the freehold and copyhold lands.

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