|Site Location (click to enlarge)|
This one is a bit self indulgent, being from the place I have called home for eighteen years: the former Isabella Colliery village within Blyth.
The Durham Mining Museum website lists the beginning of the sinking of Isabella Colliery as the 30th October 1848. At its most productive in the 1930s the colliery employed 917 men. Coal was first deep mined in Cowpen in 1793 by a partnership of speculators that would eventually become the Cowpen Coal Company. This is from the Northumberland County Histories:
In 1840, the Cowpen owners took the coal under the properties of Messrs. M. J. F. Sidney and William Harbottle at Cowpen, on which they sunk the Isabella pit in 1848, to open out the Low Main at a depth of 1 1 1 fathoms. They connected it with the railway, which had, in 1847, been made by them between Blyth and Hartley for the purpose of securing an outlet to the Tyne along the line constructed from Seghill to Hay Hole in 1840, and subsequently extended to Hartley, the whole system forming the Blyth and Tvne Railway.
|1st Edition OS of Isabella Colliery c1860|
With the establishment of the pit villages, generally in remote places, the first to be housed were the shaft sinkers, followed by the jerry builders who erected the long rows of one-up, one-down cottages, to house the incoming miners. With sinkers employed at the opening of a colliery, their accommodation consisted of small stone cottages built from the first stone raised from the pit shaft as it was being sunk. The line of cottages were often called Stone Row or Sinkers Row. The sinker rows were often much larger and commodious than any of the other colliery stone cottages, although still small to accommodate a large family. As progress was made towards the full operation of the pit, permanent colliery housing was built and eventually the sinker huts were replaced and the ‘raws’ were taken over by the colliery owners.Having housing nearby to the Isabella Pit the colliery owners probably did not feel so hurried to construct dwellings for their workforce, although this had taken place by the time of the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map of c1897. This map shows eight dwellings on what was to be later named North Row. The original sinkers and engineers houses are clearly larger and more "commodious" than the four later additions to the row. North Row was demolished by the mid 20th century and so far I have been unable to trace any existing photographs of the housing.
|Isabella Colliery c1897 2nd Edition OS Map|
|Beginning the Shaft at Ellington 1912|
|Sinker Protective Clothing|