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A book on Netherton was kindly loaned to me.

Written by Steven Martin it gives details of the coal seams but I find I am confused .

High main

Low Main



Some seams are 4 feet thick but which ones.

Which seams are nearest the surface?

It seems there are lots of pits sunk on Netherton Moor so many names !

John Birkinshaw 1841 goes to Canada leaving the Coal Co to his two sons who get into financial trouble .

Birkinshaw (John) is said to have been helping himself to Iron Company funds!

So many things to learn about right here in our town.

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Look in the Durham mining museum history site and it gives the seams in the Howard and the Francis pit shafts when they were first sunk to the nearest inch but the shaft isn't near as deep than the shafts were before the pit closed in 1974. so therefore there are seams not mentioned such as the 3/4, the Harvey, the Busty and the Brockwell. The book fascinates me, could you tell me when it was published and who by please? I'd really like to try and get hold of a copy.

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The booklet was published maybe in the 80's

It was in a series about Bedlington by Steven Martin who was Evan Martin's Dad.

I have handed the booklet back tonight so sorry I cannot give exact details.

The library may have a copy.

Worth trying Morpeth library too.

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I posted on here a while ago a link to maps of the geological survey of our local seams ... these sectional plans showed the various strata and their depths (in fathoms, I think).  I'll do a search later to find them.


Here it is:


"Have a look here for the 1871 British Geological Survey of our local pits ... all the details of the different strata and where the coal seams are and the depth of everything. There's also data on how the pits relate to each other ... same seams, etc. You can zoom in and navigate across the chart to read the details."

www.largeimages.bgs.ac.uk/iip/historicmaps.html?id=1003563 "



It was posted in this thread:



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Thanks for the book Foxy  I've had a quick read and it's great. I think it's got one thing wrong though. The author says he thinks Yard row was named as such because it had yards but I tend to think that it was named after the Yard seam as the Yard seam drift was still there when I was a kid after Yard row was demolished. We used to squeeze through the metal gates and take our torches down it as far as we dared go. The entrance was near the pit end of where the Yard row would have been. I think Plessey row was also named after the Plessey seam. Funny enough I spent the sixteen or so years before I retired in surrounded by three high rise blocks of flats at Blakelaw named the Plessey, the Beaumont and the Brockwell towers   

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The coal seams are at different heights in different places .

Names change depending on the colliery.

It is an interesting subject particularly when you read Steven Martin's book and realise how many many pits were sunk.

The drift mines or ventilation shafts can appear as 'sink holes' and cause damage to property.

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The coal seams are at different heights in different places .

Names change depending on the colliery.

It is an interesting subject particularly when you read Steven Martin's book and realise how many many pits were sunk.

The drift mines or ventilation shafts can appear as 'sink holes' and cause damage to property.

Hi Maggie!

                Did ye hear aboot thi bloke at Nedderton Village,who had driven up his drive,and put he's car away in the garage for years....and one day he had just done that when he heard a roar and rumble,and when he looked back....he's drive had just caved in!

Aal the specialists came,and found it had been an old shaft,covered by wood boards and concreted owa!

Moral is........divvent use plywood ti cover ya shaft owa when yi've finished wi it!

That was a canny few years ago,but it made telly news and the press also.

Just as ye gaan through the village,where the ground starts ti dip,[heading for Stannington],there were more than 40 coal mineshafts,very shallow bell pits,scattered around on either side of the road.

At one time,in latter years,like in the 1940's,there were 76 proper deep-mines,in Northumberland alone!

Due to folding of the land many many years ago,the result was that the strata rises to the west,and dips to the east.

The 2nd West coalface,in the  Beaumont seam at Choppington High pit,stopped well past the official boundary laid down by the surveyor's,and was less than 25 feet from the surface.[among the woodland area over Choppington fields]

The seam was 600 feet down,when the shaft was sunk in the 1800's!

A fella who worked at Choppington high pit,had found the place where the ground had caved in,and could see the arched girders forming the roadway!!

He planned on going down the hole to salvage the girders for scrap metal,but next time he went,it was all concreted over...someone else had reported it to the council. 

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       Sym,and Maggie,if ye study thi cross-section of Choppington pit,[not the Anne pit-cos that was the "Low" pit,doon at Scotland Gate],but the shaft on the left.

Zoom in on it,and ye will see that the Beaumont was,at that time,2ft-9inches high,of which 6 inches was foul [or bandy] coal, leaving 2ft-3inches of clean coal.[it was also approx 600 feet down,as I said before].

Many years later,due to the seam rising steadily,it was 10 feet high at the Mothergate end of the face,going down ti 5feet high at the Tailgate-end of the face.[in 1960,when I was a 16 yr old transport lad,taking all the heavy machinery ,and pipes and cables,conveyor belt installation structure..etc...really heavy manual labour!]

Within the next year or two,the coal was 10 feet high at the Tailgate end also,and one day,it fell away,[or,as we used to say...it "lapped owa"],killing a dear old canny fella just 10 minutes after I was talking to him,on his way inbye.

Can you imagine the shock to a young kid,[i should have said a young MAN!],when the word came out  that this had happened,I couldn't believe it.

R.I.P. Old Walter Grey.

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I remember the shaft cave in in the fellows drive at Nedderton village. I seem to remember another one at Westlea when I was a bairn. My dad told me, I don't know how true it is, that when he was a young lad working in the Hall pit There was a place where they had little shaft that the management didn't know about that went to bank in a hollow in a field. He said they were the best bait times he ever had, sitting in the sunshine with his marras. 

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I remember both the shafts but cannot remember which years they appeared.

I wonder if they were drift mines or ventilation shafts

One was opposite the entrance to Westlea and the other in a drive at Nedderton, who knows when others will appear.

I understood lots of the farms were bought by the coal companies because of subsidence claims.

The geological facts and the reality based on first hand knowledge is very interesting.

How the seams fold, widen and are given different names is an area of knowledge just waiting for this generation to investigate.

Obviously with the help of people like HPW and helpful hints from books like Steven Martin's

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I would love to find and be able to explore the High pit one over the Choppington fields!!

Pity it was concreted in,I would have seen all the girders,conveyor belts,coalcutter,etc that I took into the coalface when I was a young lad of 17yrs-on!!

Over in the Whitewood,near Seaton Burn,the remains of the entrance to the Whitewood Drift is caved in and exposed,revealing the arched girdered roadway for a few feet.

My Son,who often goes mine exploring,mainly over Weardale,[Fluorspar,Fluorite,1700's mines..etc,],went over to see the Whitewood drift,after I told him that I went down the drift to the coalface,in 1959,as part of the preliminary training course,for young recruits.

After a bit of exploring through the woods,he and his marra came across the cave-in,and climbed down into the roadway to photograph it,a couple of years ago maybe.

I was chuffed to see the girders  that I walked under,as a 15 yr old trainee!!

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The miners had to get their pit-claas on at Seaton Burn pit baths,collect their caplamps and glennies,and pooda,[explosives!],and waak  haaf a mile doon the main road,then across the fields ti get TO thi drift,then waak aal thi way doon,and inbye ti thi face,before even filling a nugget of coal!!

They were soaking wet at loose,["Lowse"-end of shift..],up ti thi eyes of clarts,and had ti trek aal thi way back owa ti thi pit at Seaton Burn again....they were caad in thi winter![but they were used ti it!]

Younger miners dinna knaa thi haaf of it!!

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Heh heh! Thanks Maggie,I enjoy telling me stories,but me family have heard them 92 million times owa,so it gets a bit tiring,especially for me Wife,every time a meet up with an ex-miner,whether I know him or not,there is a common bond between miners all over,so when the coal starts being flung aal owa the path we are waaking on...me Wife's eyes start rolling stryght away!!

It's taking me ages,years,to try and get my life story book finished,before I turn senile!!

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My understanding Symptoms is that no one knows where they are and how they have been sealed until the hole appears.

Subsidence around any Mining area needs careful watching.

I suppose it is no different to 'sink holes'

One appeared on the main A 21 to Hastings this year.

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Wilma, for those of us who have absolutely no experience of the pits, your stories are fascinating. If you want to write that book let me know, I'm an effective ghost writer!


Now, I live at Choppington (right next to the famous speed camera) so where was the pit you refer to here? Would it have been behind my house?

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                       Stand on the path ootside your hoose,and face the road leading up the Whinney Hill ti Guidepost.

Waak alang sae far,and ye will come ti the opening driveway,that takes yi ti the welfare building on the right side,[up this side opening on ya left,mind!!]

If ye keep waaking up that drive on ya left,off the main road,ye'll come ti a gate leading inti Choppington Woods.

THAT ROAD ya standing on,was the entrance ti Choppington A Pit...[referred ti as the "Low" Pit]

The pit was set back off the main road,aboot a hundred yards or so,mebbe not even that far.

If ye waak reet up the path up the woods,ti thi far end,ye cum ti thi place where Choppington B Pit was..[referred ti as thi "High Pit"]....and THAT'S where aa started as a 15 year aad laddie from schyuul!!

Rake aroond on thi groond wi ya byeuts ,and ye'll find bits o' coal,and bandy stone,which is the remains of the pit heaps after they flattened them wi heavy plant machinery.

Yi might find bits of coal wi a lot of yellow bands in them,[sulphur],which came from the Beaumont  seam,[at 10feet high,there were more bands of shale, and ironstone,than there was coal!!]

Noo if yi waak doon the aad tarmac from the woods,[remains of the original High pit road,which I travelled on every day for six years!!],yi cum ti thi main road leading ti Morpeth,from Guidepost.

At the entrance ti that aad road,off the Guidepost road,cars might be parked,and there is a big information board,showing flora and fauna which can be found or seen,in the woods.

Another info board shows an aerial photo of Choppington High Pit................!...only........it's NOT the High Pit!!

....it may be the Low Pit,but after showing a lot of my old Marra's a photo of it,none of them recognise any of the surroundings at all!!

I have zoomed it,and sat for an hour or two,studying the image,and can't place it at all.

The reason I am sure it isn't thi High Pit,is cos thi High Pit was a tetty pit,built with corrugated iron sheets,a hundred years ago,and when my Father started there in 1929,[aged 14 yrs],and I started in 1959 [aged 15 yrs],nowt had changed,the sheets were rusted through,and used to bang and flap about in the wind,the Steam winding engine house was old and built with huge blocks of stone,typical of the period.[but a lovely engine within!]

The info board pic shows a more modern brick-and -girder - built set of buildings.

The layout is totally different,the screening plant is in the wrong place relative to where it used to be,it is just a totally different pit altogether.

There must have been no available pics of the High Pit,or else it was too ugly a pit,literally falling to pieces,to attract people to the area!

The exception being the brand new Electric Winding Engine house,which was built prior to closure,as a means of deeming the pit "uneconomical",as 

they did with every other pit in the 1960's....invest where no investment was necessary!!

All the electric  winder did for thi High Pit,was slow down coalwork,cos the winding speed,and acceleration of the cages,was much,much slower than the fine old steam engine which it replaced.

I got a big spanner over my knuckles for thoughtlessly daring, to just lean, on a polished copper cold-water pipe,[by the old winderman.]...[the "Brakesman"]....well....I was still fresh from school,at 15 yrs!!

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I forgot to say many thanks for your kind words ,Merc!,I used to live just over the Bridge on the left side,as you go up the bank,to thi Barnt'n road 


Storey's Buildings was a terrace on the left side.

I lived there from almost birth till I was aboot three and a half yrs old1944-ish to 1947-8 -ish.

I was christened in the Church next to you,St Paul's.

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