Tyne and Wear HER(6959): Scotswood, Kitty's Drift - Details
Scotswood, Kitty's Drift
Underground Railway Tunnel
Kitty's Drift was an underground railway, built in 1770 to transport coal underground from East Kenton Colliery to the staithes at Scotswood. It was a single track wooden waggonway with passing places for horsedrawn waggons. The route was abandoned in 1805 and replaced by a surface waggonway, but the drift continued in use as a main drainage level for many years. The entrance was close to Montague Colliery, View Pit (HER 4059). The Mickley Coal Company therefore utilised part of Kitty's Drift in the 1930s to take coal from Caroline Pit (HER 4289) to the screens at the closed View Pit. Originally Kitty's Drift used a massive steam winder to haul the tubs the 2.5 miles to the View Pit screens, but in 1933 this was replaced by a 250 horsepower electric winder. The Mickley Coal Company intercepted Kitty's Drift with Bates Drift, at a gradient of 1 in 3 from the Beaumont seam. And the Fan Pit Level Drift, which was 980 yards long, carried tubs from the shaft up to Kitty's Drift and on to View Pit. This created a complex and extensive underground endless rope haulage system in places up to 6 miles in length. The Montague Colliery (and therefore Kitty's Drift) closed again in 1959. The exact route of the underground railway is not known - it is shown as a "Subterranean Tunnel on Lambert's map of 1807). Said to have been the westernmost end of the Coxlodge Wagonway (HER 1134). Possibly the earliest underground railway in the world.
James T. Tuck, 1997, The Colleries of Northumberland, Vol 1; Lambert, 1807, Plan of the Rivers Tyne and Wear… also a plan of Newcastle upon Tyne; R. Welford, 1879, A History of the Parish of Gosforth, p. 84-87; Alan Williams, 2012, Waggonways North of the River Tyne: Tyne and Wear HER Enhancement Project; Turnbull, L. 2009 Coals from Newcastle: An Introduction to the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield, p 132