Hebburn, South Tyneside
Hebburn Colliery, A Pit
8 Jun 2020
Hebburn, South Tyneside
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
The site is now occupied by housing and a small park.
'Hebburn Colliery is situated about a mile west of that at Jarrow. Coals appear to have been worked here at an early period; and these mines probably formed part of the supposed passage alluded to in the following extract :—
"In 1656, a mad design was entertained by — Clavering and Adam Sheppardson, to contrive a way from the cole-pitts, about two miles from the castle (of Newcastle), underground to the castle of Tynemouth, for to relieve the enemy with provisions if need required, and for that purpose there was a great store of provisions laid in, and to be laid in Hebburne-house, and eighty firelocks and a great number of stilettoes laid in Fellen-house."
The present colliery was commenced in 1792. The winning was considered one of the most arduous and difficult that had up to that period been attempted, the quantity of water drained amounting to upwards of 3000 gallons per minute, until stopped back by the then infant art of wood tubbing. The strata here are identical with those at Jarrow. In "Forster's Section" is a table of the strata sunk through to the High Main, from whence it appears that the Monkton Seam, 3 feet thick, lies at the depth of 20 fathoms; that ten insignificant seams of coal, varying from 1½ inch to 1 foot 2 inches in thickness, occur between it and the High Main; and that the latter, 6 feet thick, is come to at the depth of 129 fathoms, 4 feet and 11½ inches. The Bensham Seam, as at Jarrow, is about 45 fathoms below the High Main. The Heworth Band also prevails in this colliery, where its thickness, in the line of Hebburn Hall, amounts to a preventative of working the seam as a whole; and the workings in that quarter are therefore carried on in the bottom part only, being about 3 feet thick. The Main Coal was always considered of excellent quality, bordering upon Wallsend colliery along the mid-stream of the river Tyne.
The difficulties to which the working of this colliery has been exposed, were singularly great and diversified, in the first place, the cost and risk of winning were considered enormous at that period. The quantity of inflammable gas also, evolved during many years of inexperienced practice, caused innumerable and heavy explosions; and the workmen, hardened by custom, frequently saw without alarm streams of blue flame emanating from the furnace. At that time, the business of the colliery was principally carried on by steelmills, upwards of 100 of which were in daily use; and the ventilating current, according to custom, was carried entire through all the ramifications of the mine, being stated to run a course of 30 miles between its entry and departure. About the year 1810, a general creep overtook the whole colliery, which suspended all coal-working for a considerable time. During its continuance, when the discharge of inflammable air was too great to admit of ventilating furnaces, the expedient of an air-pump was tried. It was 5 feet square, was wrought by one of the steam-engines, and produced a considerable current; but, from the nature of the application, was, of course, liable to irregularity and stoppage.'
- Durham Mining Museum
Listing Description (if available)
Above we can see the first two editions of the Ordnance Survey from the latter half of the 19th century. The first, further above from 1862, shows the colliery set against the Tyne and surrounded by terraces, accomodating the miners who worked there. The site utilised the C pit waggonway which was just west of the A pit, and using staiths now close to the Marine Unit of Northumbria Police.
This area of Hebburn was relatively new, as the traditional village is closer to Hebburn Hall. Much like other mining villages like Bedlington, the centre of the village shifted with industry.
The 1898 map shows a dramatic change in the landscape. Housing and industry now dominates the area and not a single parchment of land can be seen. The colliery, once the main feature of the town is now a figment of it, being one cog in a giant engine of Tyneside industry.
By the 30s the A pit was winding down and had eventually shut in 1932. This scene, first surveyed in 1938, shows the pit as extant, featuring all its buildings and sidings. Perhaps the site was still in use for one reason or another, or due to the war it simply hadn't been demolished yet.
Illustration of Hebburn Colliery, undated. The grainy image shows the engine house in full power raising baskets from the bottom of the pit. A number of vintage waggons can also be seen in the foreground. This illustration is likely a representation of the early 19th century.
Retrieved from jimscott.co.uk