Tyne and Wear HER(3196): Rainton Bridge, Timber Waggonway - Details
Rainton Bridge, Timber Waggonway
Two branches of this waggonway existed in 1777 (shown on a plan surveyed for the Dean and Chapter of Durham by J.C. Mowbray NRO 578/321) within land owned by a Henry Walton, Mr Maskell and Mr Rotherham. It served a pit which lay south of the later Nicholson's Pit and North Pit. The waggonway is also shown on a manuscript plan of Rainton Colliery Grounds of probable late eighteenth century date (NRO 3410 Wat 34/18) and on Greenwood's plan of 1820. With the opening of the Rainton to Seaham Railway (HER 2976) in 1831 the waggonway routes would have lapsed. Only the section south-east of North Pit remained in use, linking into the new line. Three trenches were dug across the waggonway by Pre-Construct Archaeology for Geoquest Associates in July 2001 in advance of the construction of Rainton Bridge South Business Park. The route of the waggonway was defined by two parallel ditches and rudimentary fence lines, and a posthole alignment indicated a more permanent boundary between the waggonway wayleave and the neighbouring land. In trench 2 parts of two timber sleepers survived - a section of oak tree branch pierced by holes for the dowels which would have pegged the rails to the sleepers. A timber drain was recorded. After the abandonment of the waggonway, there were a series of dumping events. A final phase of excavation was undertaken in November 2002. This proved that the waggonway was a double way, diverging to form a four track system approaching the pithead of North Pit. This may represent a marshalling area as opposed to four loading platforms. This wagonway may be the earliest example of a colliery wagonway to be excavated in the country.
<< HER 3196 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey map, 1861, 6 inch scale, Durham 20; Northern Counties Archaeological Services and Timescape Services, 2001 "Rainton Bridge South, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland - Desk-Based Assessment and Geophysical Survey of the Archaeological Potential"; Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd for Geoquest Associates, 2001, "An Archaeological Evaluation at Rainton Bridge South, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear"; Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd, 2003, "An Archaeological Excavation at Rainton Bridge South, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear"; Gavin Glover, 2005, "Rainton Bridge South Waggonway", Industrial Archaeology Review, XXVII: 2, pp 235-244