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Smudgeinthebudge

Netherton Lonnen

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I saw a couple of posts here that mention "Netherton lonnen" and I thought it would be worth opening it as a topic in it's own right. When I was little the Francis pit shaft tower, built of stone was at the top end of the lonnen as you approached the bottom end of the colliery rows. When we moved back to the colliery when I was 8 the Francis pit shaft was surrounded by a brick wall with railway lines cemented over the shaft. The lonnen I knew as just the lonnen but I was surprised to find Bedlington lads calling it the waggonway. When I was 15 and working as a mining apprentice I had to work for a fortnight in the colliery office where one of the clerks (I think there were only two at that time) showed me a bill of sale showing that Netherton coal had been shipped from Blyth to London in 1714. After a bit of research I think my memory might be wrong and it must have been 1814. But this man also told me that they had found cut stone railway sleepers in the field across the main road at the bottom end. That's in the dip between Bedlington and where Choppington station used to be. I've now got a map which shows the Netherton waggonway following the course of the lonnen to join Barrington waggonway to the east side of the field which went to The Bedlington ironworks. Bells ranch was at the top of the lonnen on the right hand side as you approached the houses. Mr and Mrs Bell lived next door to my grandma and granda in third street. I hope this is of interest AB.       

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Us Barnt/n lads always called it the White Lonnen,suppose that would have been the cement it was made with.

We used to birds nest all the way up from Barnt/n then owed the heaps and back down the burn to Barnt/n.

The little brick building half way down the lonnen was the

Pits high explosive store.

Little stream beside Francis Pit is the Green letch.

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I remember the explosives store, in fact, I've been in it. Someone used to take us down there in groups to show the Lads it when they started the Pit. The Green letch has always been half dried up since they built the houses at Westlea and opencasted the field upstream between Netherton and Northridge. My mother always told us how much deeper it was and how the kids in her day used to catch sticklebacks and minnows in it. It ran through a culvert under the lonnen just before the explosives store and we thought it was a great adventure to go through it. upstream you could nearly walk in, but the rounded roof got lower and lower so that you had to wriggle on you belly to get out the other end. AB  

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I beleive the Francis pit shaft was bricked up and covered with girders/Railway lines in the early 50's after Granny Watson's son (20 third street) fell in and died there.

We Always called it Choppington Lonnen, to distinguish it from the 'other' lonnen that went past the club and on towards Short's Farm and Hepscott. That was sometimes called the Black Lonnen but more often than not it was simply called the Lonnen.

Edited by Canny lass

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We in the colliery used to think that it must have been named after a canny old couple that used to live there but that was totally wrong. It was originally called something like the Bobbin Gin pit as the winding gear was horse powered in a gin gang (at least I think that is what the building was called.) they used to have them on farms for threshing and you can still find them dotted around the countryside. There were probably more lonnens around Netherton than in Newcastle (silver lonnen, two ball lonnen). We had the Lonnen, or Choppington Lonnen, the clarty lonnen, the club lonnen or black lonnen, the farm lonnen and the miner's gate lonnen. Does anyone remember the two footpaths to Bedlington - The high fields and the low fields? 

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Smudgy,the original Bell's ranch was on the left side of the lonnen,as you walked up towards the houses,and later on,Mrs Bell bought the land,including the little old chapel,which was on the right side,which you rightly mention.

I think I have mentioned in other threads,that My oldest Sister married Mrs Bell's Son Raymond,[now deceased..R.I.P. Ray..],and I used to enjoy helping Ray to collect the vegetable peelings from all the neighbours,and putting them in a massive witch's set-pot,built up on bricks,lighting the fire underneath,filling the  pot with half a milllion bucket-full's of water.[...a knaa,it shud read "buckets-full"....but aam an aad pitman....!],and cooking the swill for three days day and night.

As you came up the lonnen,you were greeted with the smell of the loveliest vegetable soup which money couldn't buy!!...and we say animals are dumb....it's us that's dumb,chucking oot the best part of wa dinna!

We used ti have ti help the sow to feed her litter,sometimes seventeen,when she didn't have enough udders ti tek aal the little we-ens,by lifting the greedy little buggers off the teat,and putting the weaker ones on.

It was interesting fun,being a twelve year old laddie,helping ti rear young turkeys,ducks ,hens ,geese,pigs,and wat-not.

We knocked out the floor of the chapel,and patiently broke hundreds of bricks into small pieces with a pit axe [as you did....!],to make hardcore for the floor,prior to concreting it,to make indoor pig-sty's,which was better than cramming dozens of pigs into sheds which were too small to house them properly.[as they had been]

Mrs Bell had a lovely green Morris Oxford car,which was a rare sight in those days!

My Sister worked for old Doctor Hickey,[who brought Me,and most of old Choppington and guidepost folks,into the world!],at his surgery,in Scotland Gate,in 1955-ish,where she met Raymond,who was "on the bins" at the time.

When they married,they lived in a caravan next to the old chapel,on the right hand side,can you mind of that ,any of you canny folks on here?

Us kids used to slide across the rails over the Francis pit shaft,and throw stones down,listening to the booming sounds which came up the shaft as the stones bounced from side to side on the way down.....what entertainment for a laddie.!!!

There we sat on the rails,straddling the rail like sitting on a tree  branch!!...no fear!

Imagine kids playing like that nowadays!

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It was also good fun to to roll up a news paper, light it and drop it down the shaft and see how far it dropped before the light went out, some lads actually squeezed through the rails (one rail was bent just far enough to let thin lads through) and bird nested in the shaft itself. (The only concession to safety was a clothes line tied around their waists) I never did that. I did a risk assessment and decided it was too dangerous. Very faint memories of the caravan. We didn't move back to Netherton until 1958 but before that I spent loads of time there visiting both sets of Grandparents which is how I remember the tower. My Dad told me that when they were lads they used to climb to the top of the tower and work the big stones loose and push them down the shaft. But of course in those days they had even less H&S than we had as kids. My Dad also said that at the Choppington end of the lonnen a ragman known as Rammy had some land which is where the expression "it's like Rammy's ranch in here" comes from. 

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On the Ashington side of the Sheepwash bridge you can walk to a farm that has no road access and is in a beautiful setting. It is a ruin now .

I wonder if anyone else has explored this isolated spot.

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Aye years ago I had a walk over Sheepwash Bridge up to where Sparrow HOUSE Farm was. Then decided to have a look at the old Farm I could see from my side of the river.An old lady told me it was last inhabited in the 1940s.

Her granny had worked there and every Xmas got an invite up to Bothal Castle with the rest of the hired help for the Xmas party. She said it was in the Portland Bothalhough Estate.

Also said the Bothal Vicar at one time resided at Sheepwash and walked up to Bothal every day along the river. Alas it is no longer there

the local kids demolished what was left of it.l asked the Farmer to let me try my metal detector on the land but met a refusal

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A builder-friend of mine told me that when he was on the team that renovated the rectory[?] at the Ashington side of Sheepwash bridge,beside the traffic lights,they found loads of boxes of ancient records and financial documents,plans,etc in the loft of the house.

How old is that property,Alan,thought you would know..!

Don't know what happened to the documents,I presume they would surely have given them to Woodhorn colliery museum.

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Don't/ know exact date but it was hospice for weary travellers in mediaeval times as the road was the main coastal road North.

When they built the new houses on left side some very old skeletons were uncovered said to be monks who ran the hospice.

A few years ago the man who lived there told me the kitchen was being renovated and a big pile of flagstones were stacked up for the next day and the door locked.

On going in the next day they were strewn all over,he moved shortly afterwards. A secret tunnel is said to be rumoured .l think the road split the hospice in two.

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That's interesting,Al,never knew about the skeletons ,and the "poltergeist"? activity.

On the subject of Netherton Lonnen,a think it's a disgrace that it was allowed ti be closed doon ti allow toxic waste ti be tipped so close ti the Barrington Burn,for the risk of leaching...which the contractors promised wouldn't happen!!

The lonnen was a smashing place ti walk up on summer's days,and a haven for blackies in the autumn!!

The Burn is filthier noo,than it was when Choppington High Pit was ganning,and we pumped aal the minewater oot the pit inti that burn!

It runs Greeny-Broon aal thi time noo,God knaa's wat's in it,but a bet tha's nae Burn troot in,like there was even up ti thi 1970's.

Can anybody mind Jimmy Mitchell,the pit band-leader?[Netherton pit..i.e.]

He was the Home Guard Instructor,during the war,and was the Uncle of My Brother's Wife,also from Netherton pit village.

Robbie Cowell [?],had the garage on the entrance ti thi village,if my memory is correct,I only knew cos he was my friend's Uncle,and we used ti go up and cadge windscreen wiper motors,off aad cars, ti experiment with,to further our knowledge of the principles and uses of electricity!...[ aged aboot 13years!]

We used ti strip the wire off the coils inside,and use it ti build other projects,not your average 13-year-old s normal activity![ I had friends who,at thi same age as me,were still playing "Jappa's and English"...!!]

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With reference to Alan Dicksons question about the "Bob and Jones", I used to walk down there for years with my Dad but thought it was Bobbin Jones. However there is an article on Sixtownships that mentions the Iron Stone and Bob & Joan Pits at Netherton - see attached!

Not sure if this is the real answer though!

Our colliery villages netherton 1873 - Sixtownships & Six-T Media.pdf

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The description of the lonnen or wagon way as I knew it as has been pretty accurately described I have mentioned elsewhere that I must have walked up it countless times, mostly in the dark and after midnight after missing the last bus! I learned how to ride a bike then a motor bike and a car down there.But it wasn't until I be came interested in early railways and waggonways that I looked at it in a different light and realised we had early 1800's technology on the doorstep.

Starting from Bells ranch end it drops steadily around a gentle left hand curve past where the Francis pit was and by this time it is level. It straightens out then turns a rather sharp right hand bend again on the level and crosses the culvert over the Green Letch. Just before the top 'powder fund' (as we knew them. There were two the other was at the bottom about half way) there is a fairly sharp drop on the concrete part but not on the verge next to the powder fund, the verge remained a steady fall. Why? Well, when looked at closely, had the levels for the full waggons been kept at a steady fall between Bells ranch and the Sunniside houses it would not have suited either the horses nor the leaders as there was insufficient fall to keep the wagons moving and at the same time the leader would have to keep coupling and uncoupling the horse. The use of the sharp dip therefore was as an accelerator ramp that would give the full wagons enough momentum possibly to reach as far as the Sunniside houses without coupling up the horse again. Probable load would be 3 or possibly 4 loaded chaldron wagons of 53cwts each net. 

Different coming back with the waggons chum however where a gentle slope was required hence the difference in levels between the concrete road and the verge. Why not concrete the verge instead of the slope? the verge only needed to be the width of a wagon and the verge didn't go from top to bottom only past the sharp dip which suggests that there was a passing place and the wagon way was single track. 

Could there have been a dandy cart for the horse? This is speculation but there is a good chance that there was. 

Finally the wagon way was laid with horse drawn Bedlington Iron Works fish bellied malleable rail, how do I know that? Because I have a 15ft length of it from the waggonway on my back garden!

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This is a photo of the Francis Pit near the 'lonnen' at Netherton. I have never seen another but surely there must be one. 

It was taken with my first camera and I was attending Stalag Luft Guide Post so that makes it about 1956.

Sorry about the quality but a Lord Snowden I aint!

56a4fb7839085_FrancisPit.jpg.8854769a9cd

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Very nice photo!

I remember it well. Can you remember it being demolished after 'Ganny' Watson's son fell down the shaft and died? I have vague recollections of the talk that Went round about him having been 'nibbled by rats'. I was terrified of the lonnen (which we Always called Choppington Lonnen) a good while after. Must have been shortly after this photo was taken.

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Great pic!

Brings back loads of memories of my childhood playing up there and on the shaft rails!

We did thi syem thing doon at aad Barn'ton pit shaft,cos it was covered with rails also..

Aa was 12 years aad in 1956,and that's when a used ti gaan up ti help Raymond Bell [me deceased brother-in-law],ti feed the livestock,and dae other jobs aroond the ranch.

A might a knaan ye Barby!!

There was some aaful stories that went aroond aboot the poor lad who fell doon thi shaft.

As laddies gaan,it didn't stop us from playing dangerous games in dangerous places like the shaft.

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On 05/04/2014 at 20:33, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

 

On the subject of Netherton Lonnen,a think it's a disgrace that it was allowed ti be closed doon ti allow toxic waste ti be tipped so close ti the Barrington Burn,for the risk of leaching...which the contractors promised wouldn't happen!!

The lonnen was a smashing place ti walk up on summer's days,and a haven for blackies in the autumn!!

 

I have had loads of blackberries from the sides of the 'toxic tip' and enjoyed all of them in all sorts of pies and crumbles.

So what? You glow in the dark for a day or two after you have eaten them but you get ower it!

 

 

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Heh heh!....like wat ticks on thi waal.....ticky paper!.....[in Chernobyl....!]....ughhh!

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