Tyne and Wear HER(15339): Lawson's Main to St. Anthony's Waggonway - Details
Lawson's Main to St. Anthony's Waggonway
c.1785-1811. This waggonway ran south from Lawson’s Main Colliery in Byker to staiths at St Anthony’s on the River Tyne. There were many dispersed pits in Byker over the first three quarters of the 18th century (shown on maps in Turnbull 2009, 9, 108) but with only limited evidence for the waggonway system serving them. Some pits must have sent their coal along a waggonway running east, probably to staiths just south of Wallsend in Walker (route 104) and others to St Peter’s to the south (routes 34 and 94). These earlier routes were replaced by this waggonway certainly by the mid 1780s as Lawson’s Main Colliery was opened up. From the 1790s, the line was linked with Heaton Waggonway (routes 98, 100 and 114), becoming a through route for coal from Heaton Main Colliery as well as Lawson’s Main. This is shown on Casson’s map of 1801 and in more detail on Watson 27/13 of 1805. The combined waggonway became what was probably the first iron railway in the north of England when its wooden ways were replaced by cast iron rails and stone sleepers in 1797. Part of the line also functioned as an inclined plane. Lawson’s Main Colliery was flooded out in 1811 and abandoned. The waggonway was closed in the same year and its components sold off (Turnbull 2009, 54-5). Heaton coal was then re-routed on a more direct and independent line to the east (route 33). A section of this waggonway was archaeologically excavated at Lancefield Avenue by Pre-Construct Archaeology in 2011. The colliery waggonway ran on a NW-SE alignment across Area B. The majority of the track had been truncated by later landscaping activity, and the waggonway survived largely as a pair of parallel trackside ditches filled with coal waste. Parts of four poorly preserved timber sleeper impressions were recorded, with tentative evidence of associated wooden dowels for securing rails.
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, pages 9, 54-5, 108; Casson 1801: Map of the Rivers Tyne and Wear; North East Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering, NRO/3410/Watson 27/13: Plan of the line of Heaton Colliery Waggonway. 1805; Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd, Dec 2011, ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE LIGHTFOOT CENTRE, WHARRIER STREET, WALKER, NEWCASTLE, TYNE AND WEAR, Post Excavation Assessment; Jennifer Proctor, 2013, Waggonways and brickworks: insights into the industrial heritage of Walker, Archaeologia Aeliana, Fifth Series, Volume 42, pp 269-304