Tyne and Wear HER(5947): Sheriff Hill Way - Details
Sheriff Hill Way
Although it is not known what happened to the Bensham Way in the 1720s and 1730s, it may have continued operating for collieries on Gateshead Fell. In the 1760s there was certainly one operating this route, using the old staith at Trunk, although the name of the colliery is unknown. The waggonway is shown on a plan of the Shipcote Estate dating from before 1768, and is shown on the first edition ordnance Survey 6 inch map running from Kells Lane down, what was then, Back Lane to Shipcote. In 1768 Gateshead Park Colliery was replaced with a new Sheriff Hill Colliery on Gateshead Fell called Parkmoor. The Bensham Way was rebuilt to carry the projected output. A better approach to the Tyne was built, apparently using part of the old Windmill Hill descent down Pasture Banks upstream from Trunk. Much of it survives today and is used as a footpath; the remainder of the line must have followed the Old Bensham Way. ,Part of a later redevelopment of the Bensham Way, made possible by deeper shafts. A redevelopment of Parkmoor Colliery on Gateshead Fell in about 1790 required better staiths to be built. They were provided at Friar’s Goose on the Felling Boundary. To reach these new staiths the line left the old Bensham Way north of Shipcote and swung east in an arc above Gateshead town. It remained in use for at least ten years after the next (Sheriff Hill Way III) was built in about 1805, but had disappeared before 1820. A new Sheriff Hill Colliery, Ellison’s Main, was sunk at Beacon Lough; it was the largest and most important of all Gateshead collieries. A much shorter waggonway was constructed direct to the river using the new technology of the self-acting incline. The inclined plane appears to have joined an old Heworth Way, taking advantage of the closure of the old Heworth Colliery and its staiths, which now became Sheriff Hill Staiths.
<< HER 5947 >> G. Bennett, E. Clavering & A. Rounding, 1990, A Fighting Trade - Rail Transport in Tyne Coal, 1600-1800, vol 1, p156 R.L. Galloway, 1898, of Coal Mining and the Coal Trade, volume 1, p 373 M.J.T. Lewis, 1970, Early Wooden Railways, plate 50 A. Williams, 2004, A Fighting Trade - Review and mapping of routes; unpublished document for Tyne & Wear Heritage Environment Record