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Smugglers Hole, coal shaft


54.979738, -1.645927





Entry Created:

16 Nov 2023

Last Updated:

16 Nov 2023




Description (or HER record listing)

NEHL - Within St Nicholas' Cemetery is a mine shaft known as "Smugglers hole", named so as two illegal stills were found in 1822. They contained 200 gallons of wash, a long brick chimney and a complete distillery apparatus worth £50 to effectively produce moonshine.

It was covered over and screened by undergrowth, with the bottom of the shaft reached by a long descent. Past the entrance a large cavern featured the apparatus. It was noted there were connections to adjacent pits which the coal not fully worked, but had a healthy supply of water.

The shaft was is shown in situ on the first Ordnance Survey surveyed in 1858, though by the 1890s it had been capped and closed. a circular mound surrounds it however which may be related.

It also isn't known who owned or operated the shaft. Given the proximity, it isn't unfair to suggest it may be part of the Elswick Colliery workings, given they may have been working back in the 18th century however this is speculation.

Nowadays the shaft has been covered over.

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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