Tyne and Wear HER(13576): Winlaton, medieval coal mine - Details
Winlaton, medieval coal mine
Coal Mining Site
Coal was sent from Winlaton to Windsor Castle for lime burning in 1367. The deposit may have held half a million tons, which could have been quarried in a century. Clavering and Rounding state that the likely location of this deposit was Winlaton Hill, where old workings and corves were found during road building in the 1930s. Despite two divisions of the land at Winlaton among the lords of the manor, the coal was not shared out and was worked as a single 'Winlaton Colliery'. Winlaton Hill was split into two by a west-east fault. The northern half had further fractured into four blocks which had sunk irregularly, allowing only limited working from 'the dip', its lowest point. The breaking of the strata reduced the extent of the coal crown, bringing about early shaft mining. In 1425 there were two pits leased. These were probably on the western side of the hilltop, north-west of the church and north of the principal fault, sunk to the Hutton seam. The output may have been 2000 tons a year each. In 1551 Cuthbert Blunt, Richard Hodgson and others took a 30 year lease from the Earl. Coal was mainly worked on Snookhill, south of the fault, in the Westfield, west and south-west of the church, and in Upper Lands SE of the church. This is the first systematic development of a colliery on Tyneside, as opposed to multiple small mining enterprises. A large area of the Ruler was drained by an adit, the Watergate in Garesfield Lane. The route of the underground watercourse is not known. Accounts of 1582 show that the principal partner was coal magnate James Lawson's daughter Barbara Blunt-Scrivener. While most Winlaton coal went to Blaydon Staiths, she had a river port of her own on the River Derwent at Swalwell Ford. It is possible that in the colliery's heyday output may have approached the 1,000T (tens of chaldrons exported) mark. This is significant as the Tyne's entire export was in the order of 4,000T. William Selby took over from his aunt Barbara. New sinkings were made in the 1580s by Selby, most likely in the Horsecrofts on the north face of the hill. A map of 1600 shows pits on Blaydon Haugh and on the Derwent. In 1603 the output was likely to be up to 1200T out of a total Tyne export of 9000T. Selby also had pits in Whickham Grand Lease. He was an MP and the most important coalowner of his day. In 1605 he handed the business to his son George. He sub-let the Winlaton workings which maintained an output of 1200T. By 1622 there was development of the self-draining seams at the foot of the north or east faces of the hill. In 1627 exports probably reached 1500T, but Winlaton was being overtaken by Whickham Grand Lease and Stella Grand Lease. Sir George Selby died in 1625 by which time most of the coal had been extracted and decline was inevitable. The last sector of Winlaton Hill (now in Axwell Park see HER 13581) was exploited by William Selby III. Pits were sunk at Shibdon in 1643 and a shaft sunk at Stampley Moss on the south side of the hill in 1648. But Winlaton Colliery was never the same scale again as the coal was almost worked out. In 1675 Sir William Blackett, merchant and Hostman, acquired Selby's share of the Winlaton coal.The sale included 'all Mills Engines', which may refer to the east bank of the Blaydon Burn at Brockwell, where the shafts date to around 1670, together with a millrace and mill. In 1669 the Blacketts also acquired the Hodgson share of the coal. Blackett was working at Brockwell, 2 miles from Blaydon. The coal workings were dependent on William Selby's Winlaton or Brockwell Waggonway.
Eric Clavering and Alan Rounding, 1995, Early Tyneside Industrialism: The lower Derwent and Blaydon Burn Valleys 1550-1700, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 5, Vol XXIII, pages 249-268