Tyne and Wear HER(8416): Blaydon Burn, retaining walls - Details
Blaydon Burn, retaining walls
Multiphase wall containing stone, brick and concrete build. First appears on the 2nd edition OS (1896) and continues to expand until 1950. Initally built to retain slag heaps behind the coal screens, probably during the construction of the adjacent wagonway, later replaced by the aerial cableway as the need to dispose of coal further afield increased. The wall has been heightened and strengthened at various times but began as a well constructed sandstone structure (16a) built of roughly squared and coursed sandstone blocks held in a grey lime mortar and capped by rectangular dressed ashlar blocks (Plate 18). This runs along the entire length of the wall (approx 21m) and measures just over 2m high (dropping down to 1m at the eastern end) but has been extended at various stages (Plates 19 to 22). This first phase of construction probably dates to Priestman's expansion of the colliery in the early 20th century. The retaining wall, and that set behind (16e) are both almost certainly associated with the construction of waggon tracks shown on the 1914 OS map to convey coal away from the coal screens below. Above this wall at the western end was a short section of yellow brick walling (16b), similar to that used in 15d and probably contemporary with this phase of build. Abutting this wall to the east is a large timber joist (Plate 18). At the eastern end of the main structure the wall has been heightened and faced with concrete (16c) (Plate 20) and set with three iron girders (sawn off) which may have had some association with the incline (4) running between the coal screens and the upper terraces. Adjacent to this was a phase of later modern brick walling (red house brick) (16d) probably a recent attempt to consolidate the wall at this point (Plate 19 and 20). On the terrace behind wall (16) was another sandstone retaining wall of a similar build (16e). This runs for 12m and stands 2m high and may date to the same period as the first phase of wall construction (16a). To the east of the former incline, the retaining wall continues, terminating at the base of the aerial cableway (Plate 13). The short section of wall behind the cableway appears on the 1896 OS map but not the northeast facing elevation. However, this area is shown as a mixture of banked slag heaps and quarries at this time which would have almost certainly warranted a retaining wall to protect the coal screens below. The lower section of this wall is constructed of roughly squared and coursed sandstone and may date to this phase (part of 16a). It includes a set of stone steps (Plates 21 and 22) now truncated by an addition 2.25m of caste concrete wall (16f) which runs from the former incline along the whole course of the wall to the base of the aerial cableway (over 50m).
Northern Archaeological Associates & Northern Counties Archaeological Services, 2005, Blaydon Burn, Gateshead - Archaeological Desk Based Assessment and Building Survey of Industrial Structures