Pits in Gateshead
Links to sub pagesAddison Colliery
Men have been digging for coal under Gateshead for 8 centuries but its only since the 18th Century that deep shafts were sunk.
In the early days there were drift mines where tunnels were dug into the sides of hills. Digging downwards was done by ladder and coal winched out.
Naturally coal sought by these methods ran out and that brought about deep shafts and greater danger to the miners, indeed many fatalities occurred through roof falls and explosions of gas. Mines were owned by wealthy people who regarded the ordinary miners as dispensable and every improvement to working conditions was hard fought for.
Noteworthy people are in this People section
but the opportunity is taken here on this link page to talk about social reformer/pioneer
Thomas HepburnPelton lad Thomas Hepburn formed an association nicknamed Hepburn's Union and managed to secure shorter hours. There were further strikes for better wages and an end to being paid in tokens which were redeemed in shops owned/preferred by the mine owners. Ultimately, Thomas Hepburn lost his job and survived selling tea until Felling pit took him on but only on condition that he never again indulged in Union activities. A major secondary school in Felling bears his name (see one version of school badge below) and every year a memorial service is held in Heworth churchyard where he is buried
Several Colliery banners carry his picture and name. It's Westoe Colliery in this photo. Murton, Easington and Felling also carry his picture
Felling banner being paraded at Beamish Living Museum
School badge showing miner's pick and a book representing Hepburn's interest in working men learning to read and the establishment of libraries
Social Reformer Thomas Hepburn Stamp
Sculpture at Easington bearing image and name of Tommy Hepburn
A search for coal pit at gatesheadlocalstudies will bring more than 150 results
This Pits page is brought to you by
The Felling Heritage Group