Washington Colliery

Disasters in the collieries of Washington are recorded as early as 1736.
Daniel Defoe wrote letters which were published as A tour through the whole island of Great Britain in the 1720s.
He was given an account of an accident near Lumley Park about 3 miles south of Washington. A new coal pit was being dug at a depth of 60 fathoms (108 metres) when the workmen came to a cavity from some other pit. In the explosion almost 60 people were killed and some were blown out and found dead upon the ground.

View Washington Historical Statistics on Vision of Britain

Washington Colliery - The 1862 map shows Brandy Row and an old engine windlass. Washington B Pit and L Pit (or I pit) were open, but other old pits closed. The area is now called Albany, with Brandy Lane and Windlass Lane as reminders of the past.
Durham Mining Museum - Washington Colliery history
Maps of Washington B Pit -
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3056 - British History - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps -
National Grid Reference NZ3056 or NZ 30 56 is equivalent to coordinates 430000, 556000

Washington F Pit Colliery - opened in 1777 and closed in 1968.
The Winding House is a Listed Building No.456/2/71
Durham Mining Museum - Washington F Pit history.
Maps of Washington F Pit -
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3057 - British History - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps -
National Grid Reference NZ3057 or NZ 30 57 is equivalent to coordinates 430000, 557000

Washington Glebe Colliery - The Glebe Pit opened in 1904 and closed in 1972. It does not show until the 1920s map.
Aerial photographs show the grass area where the workers of Glebe Pit once brought coal to the surface.
Durham Mining Museum - Washington Glebe Colliery history
www.geocities.com/washington_glebe_pit - The Washington Glebe Pit 1901 to 1972, by Audrey Fletcher
Maps of Washington Glebe Colliery -
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3056 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps -
National Grid Reference NZ3056 or NZ 30 56 is equivalent to coordinates 430000, 556000

North Biddick Colliery - The 1862 map shows Botany Bay on the west bank of the River Wear by the Victoria Bridge.
Later maps show North Biddick Colliery which had the nickname of the Botany or the Butney.
Durham Mining Museum - North Biddick Colliery history
Maps of North Biddick Colliery -
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3154 - British History - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps -
National Grid Reference NZ3154 or NZ 31 54 is equivalent to coordinates 431000, 554000

Oxclose Colliery - The site is now the A182 Washington Highway and the car park near the Galleries shopping centre.
Durham Mining Museum - Oxclose Colliery history
Maps of Oxclose Colliery -
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ2955 - British History - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Wikimapia - Google Maps -
National Grid Reference NZ2955 or NZ 29 55 is equivalent to coordinates 429000, 555000

The Washington Waggonway to Washington Staith
A Bill to make the River Wear navigable received Royal Assent in 1717. This broke the monopoly of Newcastle over the export of coal. In May 1860 three large American vessels all grounded together on the bar of the River Tyne, while three vessels of the same size had gone safely into Sunderland.
(from A History of Newcastle-on-Tyne by RJ Charleton, published about 1885)
A waggonway ran from the Washington collieries to Washington Staith on the River Wear, where the coal was dropped into keel boats which sailed down to Sunderland. The coal was then loaded into larger sailing ships or colliers for the journey to London. This track survived to be taken over by the National Coal Board.
In the 1881 Census of Penshaw, William Mushons was a Keelman Barge Man living at Low Lambton Staith.
In the 1881 Census of Barmston, John Robertson was a ferryman. There was a ferryboat across the River Wear between Washington Staith and Cox Green until the footbridge was built in the 1950s.

Washington Staith - By the 1890s map the coal was being diverted on to the main line at Washington Station.
Maps of Washington Staith - Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3255 - Microsoft Virtual Earth

The Oxclose Waggonway - This ran from Oxclose Colliery and joined the Washington Waggonway to go to Washington Staith.
On the 1862 map this old waggonway ran from the Lamb Pit and New York to Oxclose Colliery.
The site is now the A1231 Sunderland Highway, the A1 motorway interchange and Crowther Industrial Estate. The waggonway route continues as a footpath passing Biddick School and becomes Oxclose Road to Washington Station.
Maps of Oxclose Waggonway - Old Maps - Keys to the Past

Washington Station - The Stanhope and Tyne Railway was built in 1834 from Stanhope via Consett to South Shields. After financial problems the line east of Consett was renamed the Pontop and South Shields Railway.
Powerful steam locomotives hauled iron ore from Tyne Dock via Washington Station to Consett until 1966.
The chemical works of Hugh Lee Pattinson were next to Pattinson Town.
Only the rusty tracks remain at Washington Station.
Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3155 - Microsoft Virtual Earth

Victoria Bridge - The Durham Junction Railway built the Victoria Bridge across the River Wear in 1838. The main arch has a span of 160 feet (about 48 metres) and is the largest masonry railway arch in England. It is also known as the Victoria Viaduct. There is a larger span railway bridge in Scotland.
Trains from London on the Leamside line began crossing the Victoria Bridge in 1844. They had to go via Brockley Whins to continue on to Gateshead along the former Brandling Junction Railway. The journey from London to Gateshead took over 12 hours.
The bridge is a Listed Building No. 456/4/17
Maps of Victoria Bridge - Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3154 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - GoogleMaps
The Microsoft aerial photograph of Victoria Bridge is distorted where 2 images are merged (the camera never lies?).

Map of Usworth and Washington Waggonways and Railways

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
Please observe the COPYRIGHT of this website.
Printing and copying should be for personal use only and NOT for commercial purposes.
http://sites.google.com/site/waggonways - Maps of Northumberland and County Durham showing each waggonway (or wagonway), tramway, mineral railway, colliery, coal pit, lead mine, fluorspar mine, ironstone mine and quarry.

View Larger Map

Wooden Waggonways

Harraton wooden waggonway
www.pre-construct.com - Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited have done an archaeological survey of wooden waggonways at Harraton Colliery near Washington, June 2009.

Lambton wooden waggonway From the Industrial Archaeology Review, Abstracts of Volume XX 1998:-
"The timber waggonway tracks at the site of the former Lambton Colliery or Bournmoor D Pit at Fencehouses, near Sunderland are the best preserved and most substantial early wooden railway remains yet to be uncovered in this country".
The eighteenth century waggonway was discovered in 1996 during land reclamation at the former Lambton Coke Works. Coal would have been taken by horse-drawn waggons to the River Wear.

Railway Magazine No.1235 Vol 150, March 2004
There is an article and photographs of this wooden waggonway by Dr.Michael Lewis and Ian Ayris. The gauge of the track is 4 feet 2 inches (1270 mm). The points or switches have modern style check rails and two point blades. Earlier track junctions are thought to have had only one long point blade to keep the way clear for the horse as it walked between the rails.

Bournmoor, wagonway, from the Don Wilcock Collection on the Tomorrows History website.

SINE Project - a detailed description and photographs of the wooden waggonway discovery at Bournmoor.

Durham Mining Museum - Lambton Colliery history.

Maps of Lambton Colliery D Pit - Old Maps - Keys to the Past - Geograph NZ3150 -

Microsoft Virtual Earth - aerial photograph of Lambton Colliery D Pit site. The archaeology is covered to preserve the wood.

Further reading about Usworth and Washington:-
The People's History around Washington
by Stuart Miller and George Nairn 1998, ISBN 1902527305
Published by The People's History, Seaham, County Durham SR7 0PW