19 Aug 2020
Wideopen, North Tyneside
This is a
Current status is
Site now occupied by housing.
'Wideopen Colliery appears on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map, with a shaft marked on the main site and a tunnel and shaft to the north west at NZ 2433 5730, which probably make up the secondary access to the mine. Begun in 1825, with initial sinking to 80 fathoms at the High Main, the first coals were drawn in 1827. It was linked to the Brunton and Shields Wagonway. The site was described by T.H.Hair in 1844 as having workshops, a saw mill and a "recently constructed" gasometer to provide gas to light the screens at night. The mine had three shafts, two coal drawing and one pumping. It was worked in 1844 by Messrs Perkins and Thackrah. The site is now a motor scrap-yard, the site boundary clearly discernible.' (The site is now housing, and Google Maps shows the site during construction)
'The hamlet of Wideopen is about 5½ miles north from Newcastle, in the parish of Long Benton. The colliery is situated on the east side of the great north road, and is worked by Messrs. Perkins and Thackrah. Sinking was commenced here in April, 1825; and the first coals were drawn in May, 1827.
There are two shafts, contiguous to each other, for the drawing of coal, and another for the pumping engine. The depth to the High Main seam, which here averages 3 feet 10 inches in thickness, is 80 fathoms. This is the only seam yet wrought here; but, 25 fathoms below it, the next seam is 3 feet thick. A boring was made from the High Main to the Bensham seam, which is here 76 fathoms lower; but its thickness was found to be only 10 inches of good coal, and consequently not workable. The working engines are of 18 and 24 horse power respectively; and the pumping engine is 74 horse power. The screens are covered in, so as to protect the men and boys working at them from the weather; and they are lighted at night by gas, for which purpose a neat gasometer has been constructed near the pit.
In addition to the workshops usual at collieries, here is a saw-mill worked by a steam-engine of 6 horse power. The waggons used here and at Fawdon colliery differ from those at other places in size and shape, each containing only half a chaldron, and being rectangular in form. The total length of railway from the colliery to the Tyne, near Percy Main estate, is 9¾ miles 193 yards ; and there are five standing engines upon it; but there are also several locomotive engines used. The coals are called in the market "Perkins' Wallsend;".'
- Views of the Collieries (1844), retrieved from Durham Mining Museum
The two maps illustrated above are the Ordnance Survey maps from the latter half of the 19th century. The 1864 map further above shows Wideopen Colliery at the south eastern extremity of the village, close to the Great North Road. The Colliery was a relatively small site compared to others in the area, with a couple of small sidings and a shaft. Much of the site seems to have been made up of the pit heap. The Fawdon Waggonway doesn't seem to have been built by this point, the boundary has been designated across the A1.
The 1898 map has the single line colliery railway over to Fawdon adjacent to the colliery. The lack of labelling and the 'old shafts' suggest the colliery is out of use by this point, as the sidings have also been pulled. All the buildings remain however, and probably lied in situ for a number of years.
Even by 1921, the site is still lying extant close to the village. The buildings must have either been occupied or completely in ruins by this point as there is no way such old mining buildings would have lasted this long and not shown as disused on the map. The heap likely remained also as well as the shafts. Baring in mind the decades that have passed since its use, its impressive how little has changed in the area.
Illustration of Wideopen Colliery by Thomas Harrison Hair in 1844. The drawing is illustrated from the south looking north, as a number of wagons can be seen crossing a railway line from the west and the pit heap can be seen to the right, correlating with the Ordnance Survey maps produced in the 1850s.
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