Tyne and Wear HER(15338): Heaton Colliery to Wincomblee Waggonway - Details
Heaton Colliery to Wincomblee Waggonway
The High Main Coal Seam outcropped towards the western edge of Heaton, dipping eastwards into the Tyne Basin. Early extraction of this coal will have occurred along its exposure in the deeply incised valley of the Ouseburn by quarrying and drifting. As more easily worked areas were exhausted, pursuit of the seam was continued by the sinking of fairly shallow pits above the valley edge and as far east as the pumping technology of the day allowed. This probably began around the mid 1720s following the 1717 leasing of the mineral rights of the western part of Heaton Royalty from the Mitford family to William Cotesworth and George Liddell, the founding partners of the Grand Allies. Two areas of mining have been identified over this period (Turnbull 2009, 32-34); one to the south, perhaps already worked by the Mitfords’ known as Byker Colliery, and one to the north known as Heaton Banks above the eastern slope of the Ouseburn. A map of Heaton Banks Colliery, probably from the mid 18th century (Turnbull 2009, 34) shows 18 pits as well as four pumping engines. What is not shown is the waggonways which ran to the pits. It is certain, however, that they existed and will have formed a branching pattern as was common at this time elsewhere. A map of the adjacent Walker Estate of 1745 by Isaac Thompson shows the southern portion of the waggonway to these Heaton pits running from staiths at Wincomblee to the west (Hope-Dodds 1930, 436). The colliery closed in 1745, flooded out and superseded by Longbenton West Colliery. A waggonway is also shown on Thompson’s 1745 map of Walker Estate running north towards this new colliery (route 31).
Alan Williams Archaeology, July 2012, Waggonways North of the River Tyne - Tyne and Wear HER Enhancement Project; Les Turnbull, 2009, Coals from Newcastle: An Introduction to the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield; M. Hope-Dodds, 1930, Northumberland County History, Vol 13; Turnbull, L, 2015, A Celebration of our Mining Heritage