Tyne and Wear HER(5389): Longbenton West Colliery Waggonway - Details
Newcastle and N Tyneside
Longbenton West Colliery Waggonway
Longbenton West Colliery was opened by the Grand Allies in the later 1740s, a northwards advance from their Heaton Banks Colliery to exploit relatively untouched areas of the High Main Seam in Longbenton. A map of 1749 (Watson 20A/9) shows the colliery, with the waggonway branching to eight dispersed pits. The map also includes very valuable illustrations of pit-head buildings and coal waggons. The southern portion of the line is shown on a map by Isaac Thompson within Hope-Dodds 1930, 436 connecting with route 30 to the south and running to the River Tyne at Wincomblee. The central sector of the line is conjectural. Exactly how it negotiated the grounds of Little Benton House is not known, although Thompson shows the line curving sharply to the west just as it ran from the Walker Estate. Also shown on Thompson's 1745 "Map of the township of Walker". It runs through open fields belonging to Sharper's House Farm called "Benton Nook", "Sore Bellies" and "Calf Close". It is possible that by 1745 this was already a disused route as it is referred to as an "old wagonway" in a lease of 1744 of a shop in Walker. By 1788 the wagonway had disappeared. An archaeological evaluation in September 2003 in the grounds of Walkergate Hospital, recorded the truncated remains of the embankment and trackside gullies. The embankment, made of imported industrial waste, lay directly below the grassed surface and was 6m wide, and had been truncated by ploughing. The track bed and timber sleepers would have been above present ground level. There were drainage gullies either side of the embankment. The western gully was 3m wide and 1m deep. It had been re-cut and maintained throughout the use of the wagonway. The eastern gully was 5m wide and 1m deep. A 1m wide ledge was into the western slope - perhaps a walkway?
Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2003, Walkergate Hospital, Benfield Road, Newcastle, Desk Based Assessment; Thompson, 1745, A Map of the Lordship of Walker in the County of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Archive Services, D/NCP/19/21; NEIMME: Plan of Long Benton Estate etc. Belonging to Lord Carlisle 1749, Watson 20A/9; Hope-Dodds (1930) Northumberland County History vol. 13; Turnbull 2009, Coals from Newcastle: An Introduction to the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield, pp 38-9; ASUD, 2018, Cochrane Park, Evaluation; AB Heritage, 2019, Walkergate Hospital Site, Benfield Road, Archaeological Evaluation Report; AB Heritage 2019, Walkergate Hospital Site, Benfield Road, Desk-based assessment