Wreck of the lovely Nelly- 1861

On January 1st 1861, Cullercoats Lifeboat was asked to save life on a brig called “Lovely Nelly”. The description below was written a few years after the event by Richard Lewis. The illustration is a painting called “The Women”, painted in 1904 by John Charlton, and rather dramatically shows the women of Cullercoats pulling the lifeboat through a blizzard to launch it near the wreck.

On a New Year’s morning some years since, a severe tempest was experienced on our north-east coast, and soon after daybreak, the coastguard-men on the look-out at the Spanish Battery, Tynemouth, saw the brig “Lovely Nelly” of Seaham, deeply laden, with a flag of distress flying. She was struggling to get to the northward, but struggling in vain, and driving rapidly in upon the coast.

The coastguard-men followed her along the shore with the rocket-apparatus, and, as they went on, the people of the villages turned out to join them : so that, ere long, each headland had its anxious crowd of lookers-on. It was a very sad sight to see. Some of the vessel’s sails had been blown away, and she grew more unmanageable amid the heavy seas that broke around and over her.

At length, abandoning the desperate effort to get to the northward, her crew, as the last chance of life, ran her for Whitley Sands, five miles north of Shields. She was so deeply laden, that she struck on a ridge of sunken rocks and was still three-quarters of a mile from the shore. It was impossible to reach her with rockets. Only one hope remained – the Lifeboat!

As fast as they could run through the snow, driving wind and rain, Life-boat men and fishermen made off to Cullercoats for the Lifeboat belonging to the National Life-boat Institution. Six horses were fastened to her carriage and down they came at a gallop to the sands. She was speedily manned – by a gallant crew of Cullercoats men, who pulled out as for their own lives; not a moment too soon did they reach the ship, which was now broadside on to the sea, her crew in the rigging, and the waves breaking over her half mast-high.

Cleverly and deftly was the Life-boat laid alongside; the vessel was grappled, and the boat held to her by a strong rope. Instantly, the crew made towards their deliverers; but even as they left the rigging, one man was much cut in the face and the head, the mate had his shoulder dislocated, and three of them were swept into the sea. The Life-boat was handled with great skill; two of the crew were at once picked up, and as the third man went down to his death, a strong hand seized him, with a grasp of iron, by his hair, and dragged him up to life.

Did any remain on the ship? Yes: how overlooked, how so left to die, we know not – but the little cabin-boy remained. The boy’s cry for help grew very pitiful: for some time he dared not venture out of the weather rigging; at last he did so, and was seen in the lee shrouds: “he had got wounded in the head, and his face was covered with blood”.

One of the Lifeboat’s crew has since said to the Author that every face around him grew pale, and tears came from eyes little used to shed them – “They clenched their teeth, and with their own lives in their hands”, dashed in their boat to save him. The sea beat her back. They dashed in again, to be swept back once more.

Again and again they tried; the poor boy, meanwhile, crying terribly in great loneliness and despair. He was so young, and the coast was so near! But the vessel began to part, and the unstepped mast must fall, and would crush the Life-boat if she stayed one minute longer in her then position. Then, sacrificing one life to save many, a brave man gave the order, in a hoarse and broken voice, to “cut the rope”. In an instant she was swept away under the vessel’s stern – not a second too soon, for at once the mainmast fell, on the very spot she had just left, and the vessel immediately broke up. The boy – “his face covered with blood” – fell into the sea. Clenched in agony or clasped in prayer, his little hands were seen once – twice – lifted above the waves! The Life-boat again rushed towards him, but the tempest swept away his boyish cry before the roar and tumult of the winds: he did not rise again. The LifeBoat was pulled back to the land.

The crew of the lifeboat that day were Coxswain John Redford, Second Coxswain John Taylor, Bowman John Chisholm, William Dodds, William Harrison, Thomas Mills, Joseph Robinson, John Smith, George Smith, Robert Storey, Francis Storey, William Storey, William Stocks, Barty Taylor and Robert Taylor. In addition, some believe, the Chief Boatman of the local Coastguard was also aboard. He was called Lawrence Byrne.

The cabin-boy’s name was Thomas Thompson.

The Mystery behind the Wreck of the “Lovely Nelly”

The Boat
The brig “Lovely Nelly” was in her 57th year when she was wrecked. A collier brig was said to have a lifespan of about 60 years. Owned by a Seaham Harbour company since 1856, she had seen previous service with Wright & Co of Kings Lynn in Norfolk, during which time she was insured through Lloyds of London. This insurance policy did not continue under the new ownership, who presumably sought cover elsewhere.

The Owner
Her new 1856 owner, James W Watson, was born in Gateshead in about 1829. He was married to Mary, a year younger than himself, who was born in Burnopfield a small village a few miles southwest of Gateshead. In the census of April 1861, they are not shown as having any children. At the time of buying “Lovely Nelly”, Mr Watson and his wife were moving into a newly built house in Marlborough Street in Seaham. This was a middle class part of town and the residents were all well-to-do. In other words, it was a posh place to live.

The Prelude to the Fateful Voyage
“Lovely Nelly” was normally captained by Sunderland-born Wilkinson Bond, who was aged 36 at the time of her loss. His mate was Henry Stanbridge (aged 38). These men had charge of “Lovely Nelly” on her voyages immediately prior to her loss. She shuttled back and forth between Seaham and London from July until December of 1860 when she bypassed Seaham and berthed in Sunderland on the 4th of that month. She idled her time in Sunderland for several weeks and on the 14th of December, her captain and mate were discharged from the ship, while the remainder of the crew were retained on the ship’s books. Later in the same day, the mate (Stanbridge) was re-instated and promoted to Captain.

Why should there be such a commotion over appointments which seem to have worked perfectly well in the past? Were the captain and mate concerned over some aspect of the ship’s condition? Did the mate later recognise an opportunity for advancement which he could not afford to ignore? Stanbridge did not formally gain a mate’s certificate until 1864 (three years after the loss of “Lovely Nelly”), when one was issued to him at Seaham Harbour.

Fully laden with coal, the brig sailed from Sunderland on December 28th 1860, bound for London with Henry Stanbridge in control.

The Final Voyage

“Lovely Nelly” set out for London and was reported to have reached Flamborough Head when she had to turn back, apparently because of a heavy leak. This incident took place on the morning of Sunday, December 30th 1860.

(Was this issue of seaworthiness the background to the dispute between the owner and the captain earlier in the month?)

The weather worsened but Stanbridge, who must have had many years’ experience of the sea to be entrusted with the command of a ship, attempted the run to Sunderland – some 62 miles – rather than put into any of number of nearer ports. As time passed, the storm grew stronger and “Lovely Nelly” was swept past Sunderland, whither it seems that Stanbridge had sought to shelter while, perhaps, having repairs carried out.

This strategy failed and he and his ship were driven further north, missing the entrance to the Tyne. Watched from the shore on New Year’s Day, “Lovely Nelly” continued past Tynemouth and Cullercoats with alarmed observers calling for the emergency services of the day (the coastguardmen) to “do something”. These fellows followed the ship with their rocket equipment, ready to bring it into play should the opportunity arise. Eventually, the crew of the brig realised that they losing the battle against wind and sea and turned their craft towards Whitley Sands. While threequarters of a mile offshore and still heavily laden, the boat struck a reef – beyond the range of the rocket apparatus!

Nothing would do now but to send for the Cullercoats Lifeboat and its crew. This was speedily fetched and the gallant crew put out into the storm to attempt a rescue.

The rescued crew were:

  • Henry Stanbridge (captain) aged 38
  • George Kirby (mate) aged 40
  • Robert Bond (mariner) aged 37
  • John Adamson (mariner) aged 24
  • John Walton (mariner) aged 20
  • Henry Watson (mariner) aged 20,
  • while the only fatality was:-  Thomas Brown Thompson (apprentice) aged 12.

    The Aftermath
    The survivors were treated well by the shore party, dried out and warmed and, upon recovery, made their way home. Thomas Thompson’s body was soon recovered from the sea and returned to his family for burial in his home town of Seaham.

    The owner of “Lovely Nelly”, Mr Watson, you may remember, lived in a well-to-do part of town. On March 25th 1861, he re-located to The National School, Church Street in Seaham. This school had been set up in 1848 but by the early 1860s it was so neglected that it very rarely qualified for its annual Government grants. The headmaster, John Hetherington, was also a shipowner and was well noted for keeping both eyes on his profits from the sea. It would seem that Mr Watson had suddenly fallen on very hard times indeed, to have moved from his respectable and comfortable home to take up some form of lodgings. Had he been bankrupted by the loss of his ship? Presumably, she had not been insured and he had been forced to meet the demands of his creditors from his own pocket.

    Final Resting Place
    Tommy Thompson was buried on January 13th 1861 at St John’s Church in Seaham Harbour. A re-organisation of the churchyard in the 1950s led to the removal of the old headstones without a plan being made of their previous whereabouts. Thus, the final resting place of the real victim in this story will now never be known.

    “Lovely Nelly” still lies off Whitley Sands, opposite the Brier Dene, three quarters of a mile from the shore. There are several more wrecks to keep her company now. Maybe sports divers will one day identify her position more accurately and recover some relic or memento.

    This information has been made available to me by Mr Alan M Gregg of Chester-le-Street. He researched the ship, the crew and the owner, including paying for the use of a professional researcher in the London maritime archives.
    Pictures and text from Brian Slee

    Russian Cannon

    Article from
    Of Saturday, August 28th 1858


    cannon2Few, if any, of our seaport towns can boast such youth and vigour as the harbour of Seaham. Less than thirty years ago it had no existence. A bold rocky foreshore, with little inlets and sandy bays, indicated its site. No fishermen’s huts crowned the banks ; no boats lay basting on the beach. As far as progress was concerned, all was at a dead stand. Now and then a few women from the neighbouring town of Sunderland might be caught sight of among the rocks in search of bait; or a stray artist, sketch-book in hand, in quest of the picturesque. No sounds reached the ear other than the scream, of the gull or the constant chafing of the waves against the rocks.
    Happily, other eyes than those of the painter scanned the place, and other drawings than those for mere ornament were made. The energetic mind of Charles Stewart, then Marquis of Londonderry, conceived a nobler destiny for this rocky shore than pictures and shellfish. He saw here a suitable place for the shipment of his coals for the London market. Battling with every difficulty, blasting out of the rocky cliff a dock, carving out a harbour, protecting it by piers, and indicating its bearings by a lofty lighthouse ; laying down an iron road from his coal-mines; planting powerful steam-engines; erecting whole streets of workmen’s dwellings and suitable workshops: in fact, starting Seaham Harbour, properly equippel.
    As a natural consequence, ships crowd the dock and harbour; factories, houses, shops, schools, charitable institutions, churches, chapels, and public buildings, have sprung up, and visitors are now whirled to and fro on the railway from Sunderland. Thus has the great scheme of the late Marquis been crowned with complete success. Seaham has now 7000
    inhabitants; and it is no un¬common occurrence for seventy vessels to leave at one tide.
    cannon1Like a true-hearted English lady, Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, after the death of the Marquis, carried on the work with increased vigour, trimmed up the place with taste and neatness, erected buildings with an eye to the beau¬tiful, and still watches over the health and prosperity of the place with genuine solicitude; and as, year by year, she pays her visits, she invariably leaves some souvenir of her love and attachment for the place.
    Seaham has recently been the scene of two interesting demonstra¬tions on the occasion of a visit by the Marchioness of Londonderry to her seat at Seaham Hall.
    On Monday, the 2nd instant, the children attending the various colliery schools founded and maintained by the Marchioness attended at Seaham Harbour, to receive from the hands of her Ladyship prizes for ability and good conduct. The ceremony took place in a large and handsome marquee erected for the occasion contiguous to the new school at Seaham Colliery. Upwards of 1300 scholars were present, who were conveyed to Seaham in colliery wagons’, and then marched to the rendezvous, each school with the master or mistress at its head. The children were addressed by her Ladyship and the Lord Bishop of Durham in a spirit of affectionate and earnest simplicity.
    The other demonstration which forms the subject of our en¬graving was the inauguration of a Russian gun. This event took place on Saturday, the 31st ult., in the presence of two thou¬sand of the principal inhabitants of Seaham and neighbourhood. The interesting trophy—a 38-pounder, weighing 66s cwt.—was erected on a stone pedestal and placed in the centre of ‘* The Green,” which has been laid out as a public promenade, and faces the sea.
    Near to the spot was erected a platform for the accommodation of Lady Londonderry and her visitors, who arrived shortly after one o’clock—the Earl and Countess Vane, Lord Ravensworth, Lord A. Vane Tempest, the Countess of Portarlington, and the Misses Longley arriving first in an omnibus-carriage drawn by four greys, and followed by a second carriage in which was Lady Londonderry and the Bishop of Durham.
    Having ascended the platform, Lady Lon¬donderry stepped to the front, and gave the signal for displaying the gun, which was covered by a large naval ensign. At this moment her Ladyship’s private band struck up ” God Save the Queen,” and a salute of twenty-one guns was fired by the coastguard men. This was followed by loud cheering, on the subsidence of which the assemblage was addressed by Earl Vane, Lord Ravensworth and Lord Adolphus Vane Tempest.
    An address was then presented to the Marchioness of Londonderry expressing the gratitude of the inhabitants of Seaham for the important benefits recently conferred by her Ladyship upon the place ; to which the Marchioness replied as follows:—”Gentle¬men,—I confess that the spontaneous and unexpected expression of your kind feeling towards me has caused me the deepest gratification. It is encouraging and cheering to find my humble efforts to improve this place have been appreciated; and it is most satisfactory to watch its increased prosperity and importance during my care and tenancy. While I thankfully acknowledge the progress and contemplate the rise with pride and pleasure, believe me I take no merit for any little share I may have had in this, for it is my happiness as well as my duty to direct my best energies to the wel¬fare of a place which I have watched from its commencement, thirty years ago, and received as a sacred legacy from its founder, to whose name it remains as a touching monument that all connected with him may well feel proud of.
    The ceremony this day is particularly satisfactory, for these guns have only been presented to towns of certain importance and population ; and the promise of a County Court from the Lord Chancellor, after four years’ patient and re¬peated petitioning, is another just advance in the scale and position Seaham town and harbour holds in this county. Gentlemen, I thank you sincerely for your affectionate address and good wishes, and in return can only reiterate my promise, that while God spares my life it will be devoted to the interests of this place, and the welfare of all in my employ.”

    This terminated the proceedings of the ” inauguration.” Three cheers were then given for Lady Londonderry, three for Earl and Countess Vane, one for their son, Lord Seaham, an interesting child, who bowed acknowledgment, and three for Lord Adolphus Vane.

    Seaham Colliery Dissaster

    A series newspaper articles published during the week of the
    Seaham Colliery Disaster of Wednesday 8th of September 1880.
    Newspaper not known.


    A disaster which seems to be of appalling magnitude occurred this morning at Seaham Colliery, Durham, the property of the Marquis of Londonderry. About 2 o’clock there was a loud report, followed by an upheaval of dust and smoke, mingled with shrieks, from the pit shaft. Those above ground could not fail to understand that some great disaster had occurred, but they were not prepared for a calamity of the extent which an examination, of the workings disclosed. The manager, Mr. Stratton, was at once communicated with, and relief parties were formed to descend the shaft.
    It was found that the cages were useless, and the explorers were let down by means of loops. It was known that some 200 men and boys had gone into the workings for the night shift at the usual time, the number having been increased beyond what bad been usual by the fact that numbers of the miners intended to work out the usual shift in order to enable them to attend a local flower show to be held today. Three times was an attempt made to reach the entombed men, and three times was failure the result. On a fourth attempt the exploring party got near enough to the main seam to discover that the men employed there were alive, and further discoveries revealed the welcome fact that they were unhurt. Unhappily, there were only some 17 men in this part of the workings, the greater number being in the more fatally-situated seams lower down.

    Efforts were now directed towards getting the lifting gear into working order, so that the men reached could be rescued. This proved a work of great difficulty, and it was long before any progress was made. The afternoon was well advanced before any success was achieved. By about 2 o’clock communication by means of a jack-rope and loops was established, and three men were brought to bank alive. In the course of an hour or two, three others were brought up, and when the latest intelligence to hand here left, efforts wore being made to reach the remaining 11 or 12 men in that seam. They are said to be unhurt. None of the men brought to bank seemed any the worse for their temporary confinement, although naturally alarmed and shaken. Refreshments had been sent down to them, and they waited patiently till their turn came to be taken up.

    One of the rescued stated that 40 men in the Harvey, or No. 2 seam, a seam below the main seam, were safe, but it is not stated how he arrived at that conclusion. It is presumed there may have been communication between the seams. It was supposed this afternoon that no fewer than 60 of the 200 men and boys believed to be below would be saved. When the men in the main seam heard the explosion they rushed to the entrance, but found it blocked. The news of the accident drew great crowds during the day to the scene of the disaster.

    The manager, Mr. Scrafton, states that the seams worked were the Hutton seam, at a depth of 280 fathoms, and the seam worked from No. 1, which is 256 fathoms. The upcast works three seams, the Hutton seam, the Maudlin, and the Main Coal. The only seam explored is the Main Coal, and ventilation in it when Mr. Stratton went down was perfectly good. He said, “The men there cannot be suffering any harm. Communication has not yet been opened with the other seams, and that will be the principal work that will have to be done.” As near as can be ascertained at the time of writing there would be 33 men in No. 2 pit, 35 in No. 1, 60 in the Maudlin, 19 in the Main Coal, and 17 in No. 3, Hutton seam – a total of 164. Of these, 19 in the main seam are safe and the men in No. 2 will probably be safe unless the pit is fired, I cannot speak as to the others. While down, voices and knockings were heard in No. 3.

    Messrs. Forman and Patterson, president and treasurer respectively of the Durham Miners’ Association, have been at the colliery during the day, and have arranged for two other representatives to accompany each exploring party. On behalf of the men Messrs. Patterson and Burt will go with the first shift, Messrs. Crosier and Forman with the second, and Mr. James Wilson and Mr. Banks with the third. Corporal Hudson, who won the Queen’s Prize at Shoeburyness, is among the men in the lowest seam, as to whom there is least hope. He was to receive his prizes today from the Marchioness of Londonderry. With him is a miner named Hutchinson, who was saved in a miraculous manner at an explosion on the 25th of October, 1871, in the same pit. The Marquis of Londonderry has been at the pit mouth during the day, and is deeply concerned as to the fate of his men.

    The colliery is a very large one, having two shafts and is among the deepest in the country. If the worst fears should be realised, the calamity will be far greater than all accidents that have occurred in this quarter since the terrible disaster at Hartley in 1862, by which upwards of 200 persons lost their lives. The cause of the accident is, of course, unknown. After a fortnight of extreme heat, the weather this morning became cold, with a tendency to frost.

    Those who have been seen dead are near the shaft. Some of the men are believed to be a mile away. It is supposed that the former were overcome by the after-damp. A woman named Featt dropped down dead on being told that her brother was among the victims. Women who may be widowed and children who may be fatherless are waiting drearily in the roadways leading to the colliery. In all 67 hands have been saved, though some of them are in a very exhausted state. The work of the explorers is very difficult, but they will continue it all night, and it is hoped that they will affect a clear way into the workings by morning. No signs of fire are perceptible, though there must be a large accumulation of gas in the pit.


    Early this morning a terrible explosion occurred at Seaham Colliery, belonging to the Marquis of Londonderry, and situated on a hill about a mile from the sea and within sight of Sunderland. There was to have been a flower show at Seaham Harbour to-day, and the prizes were to be given away by the Marquis of Londonderry. The pitmen of the colliery have large gardens attached to their well-built houses and are keen competitors for prizes. The explosion occurred at half-past 2 o’clock this morning, and was heard between two and three miles off.

    The Marquis of Londonderry was at one of his seats, within half a mile of the pit, Seaham Hall. He was soon on the spot, and has remained here all day. There was no want of assistance, as colliery managers and owners from all parts of the county flocked in. Mr. Bell the Government inspector for Durham, and his assistant, Mr. Atkinson, also appeared. The Seaham colliery was sunk about 40 years ago, and was worked about half that time with a single shaft for sending down the men and ventilating the pit. This system of working was abolished by the Mines Regulation Act of 1862, which made it compulsory to have two separate and distinct shafts, some distance apart, for ventilation and taking the men up and down the pit.

    The Seaham Colliery is now worked with the old arrangement of a shaft with a brattice separating it, but this is now entirely worked as a downcast shaft, where the men go down and come up, and this is called No. 1 and No. 2 shafts—really one shaft with a brattice up the centre. The upcast shaft is about 150 yards away, and there is the place whence all the foul air comes from the pit. There are five seams of coal being worked, the main seam 460 yards from the surface, where 17 men have been rescued; then the Maudlin seam, 490 yards, with 60 men and Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Hutton seams, with 55, 33, and 17 men respectively working, making a total of 162 down the pit at the time of the explosion.

    Those seams run on an average to between five and six feet and it should be said that the Hutton seams are broken up by a ‘fault’, and are worked in three sections about 20 yards below the main and Maudlin seams. There are two seams further down – the Harvey and Busty – at a depth from the top of the shaft of 500 and 600 yards. There are about 1,000 men employed at the colliery altogether, and they work three ‘shifts’ per day, of seven hours each so that the full complement of men in the pit at one time would not be less than 500. When the explosion occurred there were very few hewers in the pit, the men there being principally engaged in clearing the travelling ways and putting in timber to support the roofs and make it safe for the men to get the coal. The force of the explosion, at present supposed to have originated in the lowest seams, was such as to block up both the upcast and downcast shafts, and this led to the belief that every soul in the pit had perished. Ventilation was, however, soon restored, and the work of removing the debris in the shaft was begun.

    The efforts of the exploring party were soon rewarded by sounds from below and within four hours of the explosion, 19 men in the upper or main coal seam were found, all alive and well. They were got at by relays of men going down through the broken and shattered shaft by means of loops slung on chains, the regular cages and runners having been destroyed.
    Three men were brought up from this main seam at 1 o’clock, the other 16 having refreshments sent down to them and electing to stay rather than impede the party in their efforts to rescue the sufferers who had been heard knocking and shouting further down the shaft. The latter, it is hoped, will be reached in the course of a few hours, for at present the ventilation is not bad. There is a large volume of air proceeding down the downcast but whether it goes down to the four lower seams before reaching the upcast is not known. There, 165 men are still imprisoned. The knockings from down below, however, indicate that some men still survive, and it is to rescue these men that the 16 brave men in the main seam prefer to remain immured rather than stop for a few minutes the work of rescuing their less fortunate comrades. Four men were brought to bank later on, and at half-past 6 o’clock the news was brought up that several men had been found alive in the Hutton seam, No. 1 pit, where 55 men were known to have been working.

    At 1 o’clock the exploring party, which had up to this time been using only the No. 1 and No. 2 downcast shaft, also got to work in the upcast shaft, and this enabled them to proceed at a much greater rate. An hour later six men were brought up to bank, and there are 15 more waiting their turn to be sent to the surface. The furnace man at the bottom of this upcast shaft was found dead, and there are some others also fearfully burnt near the furnace. It is feared that 140 men and boys are killed.
    The Marquis of Londonderry has been most solicitous in behalf of the sufferers, and has been about the colliery all day. Sir George Elliot, who was formerly consulting engineer to the Marquis, has offered his services, and sent some of his own managers from adjoining collieries. The most eminent colliery managers and engineers in Durham have been in attendance during the day, among others, Mr. S. Coxon Usworth, Mr. Baker Forster, Mr. William Armstrong, Mr. Morton (Lord Durham’s agent), Mr. C. E. Bell, Mr. Morison (Newcastle), Mr. A. L Stevenson, Mr. Bailes (Murton Colliery), and Mr. Lishman (Hetton). These gentlemen gave their counsel to the resident officials of the colliery, Messrs. Edminson, Stratton, Corbett, and Turnbull, whose exertions have been unremitting during the whole day. Thousands of people continue to flock into the village from neighbouring collieries.

    The following is a narrative of one of the men, Ralph Marley, who was immured with 13 others in the main coal seam. He said:-
    There was a set of four of them working together, 1,200 yards from the shaft, driving and heading a work preparatory to the hewers getting the coal. Here they used powder for bringing the stone down. They always took the precaution to go 80 yards in different directions to see if gas was to be found, but so free is the colliery from gas that during the twelve months he had been working in the seam he had never seen gas. Lamps of the most approved pattern, the Belgian, Davy, and Stephenson, are used all over the pit, although no gas is ever seen, and the current in the main drivings is so strong that the men have to keep their eyes partly closed to keep out the dust caused by the rush of air.
    Marley said that about 20 minutes past 2 o’clock they felt a rush of wind, and he said to one of his mates, ” There’s something up,” and his mate thought there was a fall somewhere near the place, but on looking he found nothing. Marley, who had been in three colliery explosions before, told his mates that the pit had fired, and on their going towards the shaft, about a quarter of a mile from it, they found a deputy overman, named Wardle, lying insensible, with his face covered with blood, and here they met the afterdamp. Up to this time they had fresh air, but on proceeding along towards the shaft they saw the effects of the explosion. Doors had been blown down, and there was debris about the main ways.

    When they reached the shaft there were 19 of them, with eight or nine lamps among them, the rest having had theirs blown out at the time of the explosion. They were getting air into their seam, but the return air was so foul that it was like being in a very smoky room. They had water and tea with them, and they partook of this refreshment, but they had misgivings as to whether they were out of danger. They dreaded a second explosion, and they travelled about in different directions in couples to see whether there were any signs of fire, but not finding any, they sat down, now and again shouting up the shaft without, however, getting any response. About 5 o’clock they thought they heard voices from above and this cheered them, but it was not till 1 o’clock that they were assured of being rescued.
    Marley, who is an elderly man, was then slung in a loop, and with two others brought to the surface, and walked home, where he has been visited by many relatives. It is nine years since on explosion occurred at this colliery and at that time 28 people were lost.
    The Government Inspector telegraphs to the Home Office:-
    “I regret to have to report an explosion of gas at Seaham Colliery at 2 o’clock this morning. Two hundred men in the pit. Shafts blocked. Seventeen men saved in an upper seam. Sounds from men below. Plenty of assistance. Work progressing favourably. Hope to get down before night.”

    Thursday morning
    As was fully anticipated, all the miners in the main and Harvey seams – about sixty in number – were rescued by midnight. The damage done by the explosion in throwing the cages in the shaft out of gear, and thus entirely deranging the communication, while giving the strongest evidence of the force of the explosion, formed an insuperable obstacle to communication with the men below for a considerable time. It took full gangs of workmen the greater part of yesterday to get it into anything like order again. The men and boys who were working in the main and Harvey seams are saved and at their homes, some badly hurt, but none likely to succumb to their injuries. But all the poor fellows who were employed at the moment of the explosion in the Hutton and Maudlin seams, roughly stated at about 140 men and lads, are dead.
    The explosion undoubtedly occurred in the Hutton seam. The wreckage there is fearful indeed, according to the latest advices, it is believed that the bratticing and woodwork in that part of the mine are on fire. The horses and ponies employed in the mine, about 250, are dead. They have either been killed by the explosion or suffocated. The mine is a fiery one, and there is no doubt the explosion originated in a ‘blower’ of gas coming away from a crevice somewhere in the face of the workings in the Hutton seam. The Seaham Colliery has been long wrought, and, as is usual in mines which have been in use some time, there is sure to be a good deal of ‘goof’, or wrought-out workings. Gases generally lurk about in them. In the normal condition of the mine they are innocuous; but in an explosion like that of yesterday they would add to its force.

    The explorers have been able to get as far as the staples in the Maudlin No. 3 pit; but they there encountered a heavy fall of stones, and their progress was thus stopped. Great patience will have to be exercised in the exploration of the mine. All that human courage on the part of the viewers and miners, not only of the colliery, but of the entire north-east section of the country, could do, has been and will be done to fathom the extent of the disaster and to see whether a human being is alive. But they are contending with terrible and treacherous forces. It cannot he guessed when their heroic task will be accomplished, for the actual condition of the mine in all its parts has hardly been determined yet.
    As already reported, Seaham Colliery is situated a few miles to the southward of Sunderland, and is the property of the Marquis of Londonderry. It is one of the largest in the North of England, employing from 1,400 to 1,500 men and lads, with an output, when in full work, of something like 2,500 tons of coal. The product is mainly gas coal. There are two pits, one being called Seaham Colliery and the other Seaton Colliery. The latter bears also the local cognomen of ‘Nicky-Nack’. It is also called ‘the High pit’, Seaham Colliery being in like manner described as ‘the Low pit’.
    The shaft of the Low pit is divided by bratticing into two portions called No. 1 pit and No. 2 pit respectively; while Seaton Colliery is No. 3 pit. The Low pit is the downcast of the colliery, and the High pit the upcast. There is a communicating drift between these two portions of the colliery, so that in case of danger the miners may have more than one line of retreat. The shafts give access to four seams of coal – the main seam, the Maudlin, the Hutton, and the Harvey; this being the order in which they lie from the surface. It is the Hutton seam chiefly which is worked, and there is but little done in the Harvey, which is the lowest of the series.

    The explosion occurred shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday morning, and it must have been of an unusually violent character, for it was heard not only at Seaham Harbour, a mile and a half from the pit, but also at sea, in the offing. Perhaps from this circumstance, it is generally believed to have happened at or about that portion of the mine which lies immediately under the sea-shore. Those who were about at the time say there was a loud report from both pits simultaneously, followed by a dense volume of smoke, dust, and sparks. There was a sensible shaking of the ground in the neighbourhood of the pit, and sleepers in the village ware awakened.

    So soon as the state of the shafts could be examined it was found that the force of the explosion had so damaged or destroyed the cages and their fittings in the different shafts that access to the mine was completely blocked. In Nos. 1 and 2 of the Low pit the guides were broken away and the cages forced upward in such a manner as to cause a stoppage, while in the High pit a similar state of things prevailed, the wire ropes used to guide the cages being blown and twisted about to a very remarkable extent. The first thing to be done, therefore, was to clear away this wreckage as far as possible in the shafts, and thus make way for the descent of exploring parties. There were hundreds of volunteers on the spot, both from the ranks of working miners and from the colliery engineers connected with the different mines in the county.

    After several hours of anxious exertion one of the shafts was so far cleared that explorers were able to descend in loops of rope, and were able to communicate to those at the bank the intelligence that the 10 men in the main seam were at any rate safe. About 1 o’clock in the afternoon some of these were rescued, and three brought to the surface. The engineers then proceeded to rig up a cradle in order to bring up the others, and about 4 o’clock they had conveyed to them from below the gratifying news that the 40 men in the Harvey seam were also safe. Those were brought to bank before midnight at the High pit.
    Up to a late hour there had been no access to the other seams the Maudlin and the Hutton. Unhappily it was in these seams that most of the miners were at work. Every preparation had been made so that any of the men requiring medical aid might be attended to at once. Everyone engaged in the exploration of the mine or in working in any capacity about the pit, laboured most assiduously. The officials, among whom are Mr. Corbett, managing viewer to Lord Londonderry, Mr. Stratton, manager at the pit; Mr. Turnbull, viewer, Mr. Rowell, engineer, and others, were all at the scene of the accident, superintending arrangements and devising the best means possible to open out the pit and rescue the men. There were also mining engineers from all parts of the county, including Messrs. Hall, Ryhope; Parrington, Monkwearmouth; Armstrong, Wingate; Lishman, Hetton; Lishman, Bunker’s Hill; Bailes, sen. and jun., Murton; Armstrong, Pelaw-House; and others.

    What was wanted was a plan by which their services could be made available. The difficulty offered in Nos. 1 and 2 pits was the fixing of the cage by the breaking of the bratticing below the main seam. After investigation, however, it was found that a way could be found to the bottom of the shaft of Nos. 1 and 2 pits by means of a tunnel which connects the Nos. 1 and 2 or Low pit with the High pit. The exploring parties, who were sent down the former, having found their way into the latter by means of the tunnel, were lowered in ‘kibbles’ to a passage which led them again into the main seam at the lower pit shaft. By this circuitous route some of the 19 men in the main seam were raised to the surface
    It was with difficulty that the men could work at the High pit shaft owing to the dense clouds of smoke which constantly rose up from below. But it was necessary that this shaft should be cleared in order that communication with the seams below the main seam might be effected. This being the upcast shaft, the heat here is always so great that the cages and their fixings are all of metal When the explosion occurred its force warped the wire ropes which acted as guides to the cages when they were being raised and lowered. This caused a block in the shaft, and it was only by a great amount of patient labour that it was made perfectly clear. The course adopted was to pull up the eight guide-ropes of the cages, and as the latter would be of no use after the ropes were gone it was also decided that one of the cages should be removed from the shaft.

    For several hours the work of removing the guiding ropes proceeded. When the guides had been taken away, the removal of one of the cages out of the shaft was begun, and proved to be a work of difficulty. It was accomplished shortly after 4 o’clock. The High pit shaft was now clear from the top to the very bottom, giving free communication with all the seams. A ‘kibble’, or tub, was lowered by means of the ordinary cage rope down the pit, and on reaching each seam hung awhile in order that any men there might have an opportunity of getting into it.’

    The ‘kibble’ was lowered as far as it could go, and remained below a long time, the men at the top listening for signals.
    About 6 o’clock Mr Stratton, in charge of an exploring party, decided to descend the High shaft, in spite of the smoke which it was emitting. A few minutes after this had been decided upon, upwards of 100 miners, provided with lamps and every necessary for exploring parties, arrived to go down. Each party, which consisted of from eight to ten men, had two Queen fire-engines, to be used if necessary upon the fire that was believed to be raging in one of the seams.
    After having been down the shaft for fully half an hour with the exploring party, the kibble was sent to bank with William Laverick, an onsetter in the Harvey seam. This poor fellow had suffered terribly from the explosion. When he was brought to bank an involuntary expression of pity burst from the onlookers. His face and head were swollen to an enormous size; his eyes were not visible. The hair of his face and head had been scorched off. It was proposed that he should be carried to his home, but in a perfectly firm voice he said that if he were steadied just a little he could walk well enough. He was led away, and was afterwards attended to by Dr. Baty and Dr Crosby. The next to be drawn to bank were William Morris and Jacob Steel, both of whom displayed signs of exhaustion.

    The scene at the mouth of the shaft was now a curious one. Darkness had set in, and the shed over the pit was lighted with two or three gas lamps, which threw only a dim light around. Within the shed a way was left between the mouth of the pit and the engine-house adjoining, in order that instructions shouted to the engineman might be heard with distinctness by him. Holding a chain with one hand for a support, a young miner was lying on his side, with his head and shoulders hanging over the mouth of the pit, listening for signals from below.
    George Thompson, who was raised to bank from the main seam at 1o’clock, gave the following account of the occurrence:—
    “About half – past 2 o’clock I and about 18 others were working in the main seam when the explosion occurred. Several of the men in the seam heard the noise, but I and others did not hear it. We all, however, smelt gas. It quickly flashed upon our minds what had occurred, and for a time we were in a state of great excitement. We found after a while that we were safe if those at bank would only send down to us. We spent the time during which we had to wait for help in walking backwards and forwards along the seam.
    We were all uninjured except Robert Wardle, who when in the ‘stapple’ was much bruised by a piece of timber which was blown on to him, I could not tell for some time after the explosion what was being done in the seam, as I was in a state only of semi-consciousness owing to the gases.

    There was a plentiful supply of water, and there was some food among us. This, together with the light from several of the lamps which had not been blown out, rendered our situation less uncomfortable than it otherwise could have been. We heard the men in the Harvey seam shouting, but we could not make out what they were saying, and we shouted in return. I cannot express to you the joy we all felt when the exploring party brought us assurances of our safety and rescued us from our terrifying position.”

    Alexander Kent, shiftsman in the Harvey seam, gives the following account of what befell him and his companions:-
    “I was in the extreme end of the cross cuts in the Harvey seam, working in company with another man named Gatenby, taking down stone and timber. About bait time – 20 minutes or half-past 2 o’clock – we both came out of the place in which we were working into the main wagon-way. On doing so we noticed a thick dust, and, suspecting something serious had happened, we continued on towards the shaft. Nothing worse was observed at this part, but the further we proceeded the thicker the dust and smoke became. We still proceeded on past the engine plane, about 500 or 600 yards from where we were working. After we had passed the engine plane about 100 yards there was a smell of fire. As we got nearer to the shaft the smell got stronger, and the smoke thicker. Passing the old route way the smoke was lighter, but there was still a strong smell of burning and smoke.

    We came on to the Harvey shaft bottom, and here found about 30 other men who had made their way to the same part. A portion of us came up the steam drift from the Harvey seam to No. 1 pit bottom, and then proceeded from No. 1 to No. 4 pit bottom. Not getting any answer to calls which we made up the shaft, we returned down the steam drift to the engine-house, and remained there until 7 o’clock at night. We now got word that communication was open to bank, and that men were being sent up the shaft. We wandered about very much, seeking an opening to get out, but finding there was none we took refuge in the Harvey engine-house, where we remained some hours. We saw a great smoke issuing from the Maudlin seam, but no fire. On our way out we passed three dead bodies, but could not make out who they were.”
    Kent was formerly an inspector in the Sunderland Police Force, but left about 10 years ago.

    The exploring parties in search of the dead continue to encounter very serious obstacles in working their way towards the part of the mine where the bodies of the unfortunate men and boys are lying. The working parties have fallen in with bodies, and found them frightfully burnt and shrivelled. There is still great difficulty experienced in working the hauling gear, and trouble has been caused below today by a fire which has existed near the stables and engine-room of No. 3 shaft. The viewers and working parties are, however, doing their utmost to reach the scene of the disaster.

    It is now tolerably certain that about 130 miners have lost their lives. No fewer than 76 women have been widowed and 284 children made fatherless. Considering the terrible extent of the calamity it is wonderful how calmly and patiently the survivors bear the heavy affliction which has befallen them. The efforts of the exploring parties have been carried on with unabated vigour since yesterday morning, each party being relieved at intervals of four hours.
    Numbers of bodies nave been discovered, most of them terribly mutilated. They are principally in the Harvey and Maudlin seams, and it is probable that they cannot be brought to bank until a late hour; indeed, several will not be recovered before the end of the week. The first man taken out yesterday states that in making his escape he passed the body of Hall, a furnace-man, lying upon the ventilation fire, where he had evidently been hurled, shovel in hand, by the force of the explosion. He was horribly charred and disfigured. One boy’s head was burnt completely off. The number of horses and ponies below is estimated at more than 400, and all have been killed. It is believed by competent explorers that no one unaccounted for has survived.

    A considerable quantity of coal was on fire during the night, but by the use of extincteurs at hand, the flames were virtually subdued this afternoon. The fire was confined mainly to the bulk ends. Canvas ventilators are being plentifully used by the exploring parties, whose efforts are wonderfully successful, the fire being extinguished nearly as far as the stables. At first the obstruction in the shaft of No. 1 pit extended 20 fathoms up the shaft. Late this afternoon this had been reduced to about six feet, and to-night it is expected will be totally cleared. When this is accomplished communication can be opened with the bank.

    For some time the water supply was defective, the main seam stable pipes being broken by the force of the explosion. This has now been remedied by supplies from the surface. As was the case yesterday, the Rector has caused frequent services to be held in New Seaham Church, which has been opened throughout each day for private prayers. Hundreds from Sunderland and surrounding villages are visiting the scene of disaster, but admirable order prevails. Subjoined is a list of the killed:-

    Thomas Henson, five children; Robert Dixon; William Robinson, seven; Robert Bawling; Joseph Rawlings, two; Robert Potter, two; Thomas Seavin, three; Thomas Dodson; Thomas Gibson; John Bately; Anthony Scarf, four; Michael Anderson, two; Thomas Patterson, two; John Redshaw; Robert Defty, two; Anthony Smith, four; John Wilkinson; George Wilkinson; William Growns, three; John Growns, three; Thomas Greenwell; Thomas Hayes; T. Hayes, jun.; Benjamin Redshaw, two; Samuel Beiner, eight; John Roper, one; Walter Dawson, six; Robert Haswell; Luke Smith, two; Benjamin Ward, three; Richard Cole, five; George Brown, widower; James Brown, two; William Simpson, three; Frank Watson, one; George Dixon, five; Thomas Shields, three; Thomas Hutchinson, one; Henry Turnbull, one; Joseph Sherball, one; Joseph Sherball, six; Henry Aylesbury; Charles Dawson, four; Joseph Chapman, four; John Wiers, six; Thomas Alexander, eight; Michael Keeney; John Riley; Jacob Fletcher, six; Matthew Charleston, three; James Clarke; Thomas Keenless; Mark Harrison, one; John Denning; William Lamb, two; John Sutherland, 12; William Rosely, three; Edward Johnson, three; Henry Turnbull, six; James Best, six; William Strawbridge; Joseph Waller; Joseph Pinkney, ten; John-Vickers, five; Isaac Ditchleson, eight; Charles Smith, one; John Winter, six; William Morris, one; Robert George, five; Joseph Richardson; W. Wood, three; William Lonsdale and Joseph Burlick.
    James Healey, boy; John Whitfield, boy; Joseph Waller, boy; Nathan Brown; John Urwin, boy; John Knox, boy; David Knox, boy; Joseph Straughan; John Mason; Silas Scrofton; James Clark, jnr.; Roger Michael and William Henderson; Robert Graham; Edward Pinkett, boy; John M’Guinnes; George Burns, boy; John Cork; Lees Dickson; Thomas Lawson, boy; James Kent, boy; William Wilkinson; John Riley; Joseph Waller; William Hancock, boy; Alfred Turner, boy; William Taylor, boy; James Johnson; John Copeland; John Rainshaw ; Michael Henderson; John Richard Henderson; John Redshaw; Frank Growns; Thomas Johnson; Thomas Hayes; Edward Brown.

    So far as can be ascertained nearly 70 persons have been saved. Riley and Laverick, who are among the number, are injured, the latter being in a most critical state.
    Prompt measures have been taken for succouring the bereaved ones, and thanks to the institution of the Northumberland and Durham Miners’ Relief Association, a fund contributed to jointly by masters, and men, the assistance is already at hand The Association has 70,000 members, and an accumulated fund of £80,000; and although this sad affair will be a very heavy drain on its resources it is certain that there will be no appeal to the public.


    The number of those actually missing and lost was made up to 164 tonight, and 153 names have been given to the officials of the Miners’ Relief Fund by the relatives.
    The sympathy of the people in the neighbourhood is taking practical shape. On Saturday afternoon a preliminary meeting was held at the colliery offices, the Rev Mr. Scott, the Vicar Of Christ Church, who has shown such exemplary liberality throughout, presiding. It was resolved, “That in presence of the widespread calamity that had befallen the people of Seaham Colliery, it is desired that a subscription be set on foot for the relief of the widows and orphans and other relatives dependent upon those who had been lost.”
    The vicar said it was time that the relatives of the dead, as members of the Durham and Northumberland Miners Permanent Relief Society, should be relieved from its funds.

    Later in the day a public meeting was held at the Mechanics’ Institute, Seaham, the vicar of Seaham Harbour, Mr. Collin occupying the chair. Lord Castlereagh, the eldest son of the Marquis of Londonderry, took occasion to express his father’s sympathy with the poor people, and moved a resolution for the formation of a committee to succour those who had been bereft of their breadwinners. Major Eminson seconded this, and pointed out that those who had been provident enough to subscribe to the relief fund ought to share equally in the money raised by public subscription with those who had not enrolled themselves as members of the society. This was also enforced by Mr. Wright (the Marquis of Londonderry’s solicitor) and Mr. Howie (the chairman of the fund), who said that while their fund was equal to meet this emergency; it might cripple their resources in the future. A committee was then formed, including the Marquis of Londonderry, Lord Castlereagh, and the principal inhabitants of Seaham; and it was resolved to discuss at a future meeting whether the contribution should be handed over to the Miners’ Relief Fund for distribution.

    The general opinion expressed, however, was in favour of availing themselves of the miners’ organization. The Bishop of Durham has written to the Rev. Mr. Scott, offering his services in raising subscriptions; and Mr. Burt, MP, and Mr. Macdonald, M.P., have written letters expressive of sympathy from the mining associations that they represent. The Durham Miners’ Association have also sent their condolence, Mr. Pickard, who represents the Lancashire miners, and has been here for two or three days, wishes to state as the result of conversations that Mr. Forman and Mr. Paterson, officials of the Durham Miners’ Association, believe the arrangements for the safe working of the mine to be complete.
    Tomorrow Mr, Pickard intends to go down into the pit in order to be able to give evidence at the Coroner’s inquest on Wednesday. This opinion seems to be confirmed by the fact that not a single complaint has been heard as to the ventilation or of lax discipline.

     On Saturday afternoon the Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt) paid a visit to the colliery, in redemption of a pledge given to a deputation of miners who had an interview with the right hon. gentleman at the Home Office with regard to the rules for the prevention of accidents in mines. Sir William then stated that he would consider the suggestions laid before him (the principal one of which was against the use of powder for blasting), together with the report of the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines, and added that if the opportunity unfortunately presented itself he would personally attend the scene of any disaster in order to become better acquainted with the subject, with a view to further legislation.

    Sir William and Lady Harcourt had been staying with the Marchioness of Ripon, at Studley Royal, near Ripon, and the right hon. gentleman had frequent telegrams from Mr. Bell as to how the work is proceeding. Sir William drove from Sunderland, reaching the pit at half-past 1 o’clock, where he was met by Lord Castlereagh; Mr. Stratton, consulting engineer of the colliery; Mr, Bell, the Government inspector for Durham and Mr Willis, the Government inspector for Northumberland. Sir William first proceeded to the drawing office, where he inspected the plans of the workings, and then the party walked to the No. 3 upcast shaft, which is the only one at present by which access can be gained to the mine.

    Arriving at the pit mouth the Home Secretary had explained to him the measures that were adopted for the reception of the dead and Sir William had the melancholy satisfaction of seeing the last body brought up that will be sent to the surface for some days, owing to the remainder being so far away from the shaft and the gas being too powerful to admit of further explorations at present. The body proved to be that of Anthony Ramshaw. It was carefully wrapped up in brattice cloth, and the rough miners tenderly carried it on a stretcher, and placed it in a coffin, in which it was conveyed to the poor man’s home. The signal bell again rang, and the word having been given to ‘Bend up’, the kibble disclosed the blackened form of Mr. Stratton, the certificated manager of the mine, who has worked assiduously throughout. He was the first to enter the mine and convey the good news to the men in the upper seam that they were likely to be saved.

    Mr, Bell introduced Mr Stratton to the Home Secretary, who complimented the manager on his gallant conduct throughout this sad affair, and then interrogated him as to the state of matters below ground. In reply to the question as to how far the gas was supposed to have accumulated from the bottom of the shaft, Mr Stratton said that the nearest point at which the gas was to be found was 150 yards from the upcast shaft, and was situated in No. 3 Hutton seam, and the other portions of gas lying near the shaft were in No. 1 Hutton seam, about 400 or 500 yards from the upcast shaft. Mr. Stratton also explained that currents of air were circulated between the two shafts, and also between the points where the gas was known to exist, and this was an effectual protection. The quantity of air sent down was l00, 000 cubic feet per minute.

    Sir William observed that in the working of extensive coalfields it was desirable to have a number of shafts so as to afford better means of exit when such accidents occur. The Home Secretary asked for information as to the nature of the mine as contrasted with other mines in the neighbourhood; and Mr Bell assured Sir William, after long experience of mines in various parts of the kingdom, and particularly in Lancashire, where dangerous mines exist, that he considered the pits of Durham much more safe than those of any other districts that he knew of, and also that they were better managed, the Home Secretary then asked some questions about this particular mine, and Mr. Bell replied that he considered this one of the dangerous collieries in the County of Durham, on account of the large quantities of gas which it gave out. Sir William then took a look round the appliances at the top of the pit, and walked back again to the colliery offices, where he had half an hour’s conversation with Mr. Bell, Mr. Willis, and Messrs. Eminson, Corbett, and Stratton.

    Sir William expressed himself satisfied with what had been done, and wished to convey to the sufferers his heartfelt sympathy with them in their distress. Sir William then returned to Sunderland to take the 3.30 p.m. train for the south. The visit of Sir William is highly appreciated by all the miners in the district, and is looked upon as evidence of his desire to gain information to be used for their benefit in the future. One of the officials, who came to the bank when Sir William was present at the mouth of the pit, communicated the following to the representatives of the Press:-
    “No explorations are going on now. We have ceased to explore the cause of the explosion. We know the position of the pit exactly, and we find it unnecessary to go into any further danger. It would only be risking men’s lives. We are confining ourselves now to an examination of the points of danger. We know these dangerous points and we are keeping a constant watch on them, and reports in reference to them are being continually sent up

    The body of Anthony Ramshaw was found in No. 1 pit, about 500 yards from No. 1 shaft. All the other bodies are in the workings ‘in bye’, and it is impossible to get at them until the whole of the ventilation is restored to the state in which it was before the explosion. Most of the bodies now will be from a mile to two miles in. The ventilation has improved considerably since last night, and at this time the gas has been beaten back to its position at mid-day on Thursday. There is no danger to be apprehended as long as it continues the same. The measures adopted for restoring ventilation will not vary in any way from the present methods until the downcast is opened out to carry the men up and down, and that, at the lowest estimate, will be on Monday afternoon,”

    The latest information as to the state of the pit is that the ventilation is improving, and that by tomorrow morning the debris in the downcast shaft will have been cleared away and the ventilation restored in such a manner as to allow of the furnace being lighted to bring the ventilation to its normal state. Owing to the havoc caused by the force of the explosion in the downcast shaft, five men only can get to work, and they are suspended in a loop.
    It is anticipated that in a few days the exploration will be resumed, and then some information may be gained as to what is the probable cause of this disaster. One of the frequent causes is the use of powder; but in the seam where the explosion is supposed to have taken place powder is very seldom used, the coal being easy to work. On all hands it is allowed that no expense has been spared to get the newest appliances and to have the very best men in charge of the different sections of the workings.

    Today crowds of people began to pour into the village by train and in all sorts of vehicles, and, in addition, many thousands of persons walked long distances, to see the sad spectacle presented of 30 funeral processions to the two nearest churchyards. It was estimated that there were not fewer than 30,000 people in the vicinity of Seaham Colliery Churchyard, where 25 internments took place; and there were also some thousands at the Seaham Harbour Churchyard, which is about a mile and a half from the colliery.

    It was a touching scene to see procession after procession arrive at the gates of the Colliery Churchyard, where the vicar, the Rev. Mr. Scott, met them, and addressing a few touching words of encouragement and consolation to those who ware weeping sadly for the lost ones, exhorted them to lead better lives in the presence of this great catastrophe and to give up the gambling habits to which so many of them were addicted.

    When the last procession had filed into the churchyard, the coffins were arranged alongside each other, and, the relatives having formed a circle, the rev. gentleman delivered an eloquent address. Fourteen bodies were than placed in a grave near the monument erected to 25 victims to a similar explosion nine years ago, and 11 were taken to other parts of the churchyard to be laid by the side of their dead relatives. During the whole time the Marquis of Londonderry, who is suffering badly from gout, sat in the churchyard, surrounded by members of his family.
    It was 6 o’clock before the last rites of the Church were performed, and then the large crowds quietly dispersed. The pitmen of the district, though they have a rough exterior, are undoubtedly a fine body of men, and their quiet demeanour showed that they were touched by the calamity which comes directly home to them. There was no rushing or crowding around the graves, and within a few minutes of the closing ceremony there were not a hundred people visible.

    Explorations in No. 3 pit are still suspended, but the official reports are that the freshness of the air in the pit is improving. The work at No. 2 shaft is proceeding steadily. A barrier has been erected, and warning has been given that no naked light is to be carried near the mouth of the pit. Another of the bodies which remained unidentified up to this morning has been recognized as that of Thomas Alexander, who leaves a widow and four children. The only means of recognition were the shoes which he was wearing. The remaining body has been identified as that of Joseph Chapman, living in Hall Street, who leaves a wife and four children.
    Yesterday, at the morning service in York Minster, Canon Fleming, in the course of his eloquent sermon, said:-
    “There is something in the human heart that always must admire courage wherever it is found. We all know as Englishmen that much of England’s greatness has been won for her by the courage of her sons. Last week we heard with pride of the resistless courage of our army in India, which achieved so decisive, a victory with comparatively so small a loss; nor must we omit from the roll of heroism those brave fellows who win for us so many of our material comforts by the constant risk of their own lives. The Seaham Colliery loss vividly proved that fact to us on Wednesday last.
    Many a battlefield numbers less dead than one of those explosions, and he must have lost his humanity who can read or hear such tidings without a pang, or who forgets the value which the Bible has stamped upon a single human life, I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir, Standing in the pulpit of our Minster, from which words ought to be able to go forth into England, and remembering that next year the first association in the world for the advancement of science will come back to York, its birthplace. I ask can anything more be done by science to make man more precious than the gold which he wins for others to spend. True, we have the safety lamp and other appliances science has given to us, but whether from their imperfectness or from the reckless fault of those who use them – judging by results – we are compelled to admit that the present means employed to preserve human life, whether in our mines or on our railways, are entirely inadequate.
    On the latter point our gracious Queen has lately spoken not a moment too soon, and in her own practical way has intimated that she expects deeds not words. Much has no doubt been done in the past but much more remains to be done. Christianity surely bids us all to take care of others as watchfully as we do of ourselves, and the science which is ever wringing some fresh secret out of nature for us should add to its triumphs another chapter. I ask you in this metropolis of the north, so far as lies in your power, not to allow this matter to slip, for I hold it to be one of the many functions of the pulpit to help to quicken the pulse of public opinion on any question that can affect the social as well as the spiritual happiness of our nation.”

    Seaham Colliery 1873



    From the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 1 February 1873. Transcription by Stafford M Linsley.


    Painting of High and Low Pits by William Wheldon in 1851. Looking west.

    Painting of High and Low Pits by William Wheldon in 1851. Looking west.

    With chaste delight yet swelling pride we take our tickets for Seaham. The train is long; it reaches no small part of the way. It is composed of all sorts and conditions of vehicles; from the stately polished wood of modern times to the comical green shays of our forefathers. But the crown of our conceit is in the fact that it is a private railway. It is such an appeal to the better feelings of our nature, moreover, to know that we are paying tribute to a great feudal lord for the privilege of riding a few miles instead of shelling out to an unwieldy impersonality like a railway company. We feel like half-fledged aristocrats as we proceed. And to confirm the feeling – to encourage and foster it, the sublime old engine – big enough to drag a fort to ruin and dust – moves with a solemn dignity like that which an elderly butler exhibits when he is bringing forth a sample of his yellow-seal bin for the delectation of his noble master. But at long last, here we are.


    Within rifle shot of the Town Terminus is the Seaham Colliery Station, and, judging from the Saturday traffic, we can understand how it is that the pit people hold up their heads in conscious and manifest rivalry with the towns-folk. The town and the colliery are very good friends; in every sense of the word, very near relations. The town, with its cleverly-constructed harbour, its chapels, its public institutions, shops, and warehouses, derives nearly all its importance and most of its prosperity from the vast coal trade, for which it furnishes a ready outlet seawards. It can, however, boast that it is by no means dependent on its immediate neighbour, inasmuch as Haswell and South Hetton contribute to its exports very largely. Still its minor business proceeds almost entirely from Nicky Nack and Seaton Pits. On the other hand, these pits, or rather the pit families, look to the town for the bulk of their provisions, much of their amusement, and, to some extent also, their religion.


    As our business lies with the colliery village, we pass by, somewhat reluctantly we confess, without attempting to describe the busy and thriving town which takes toll as it were, both ways, on the products of mining and on the sea-borne imports. If it has a fault, commercially considered; that fault lies in the unnecessary multiplication of shops; but this is a free country, and Englishmen will never surrender the right to lose their money and turn bankrupt as often as they please. Turning west, then, from Colliery Station, we soon perceive that we have not far to go in order to plunge – metaphorically of course – head-foremost into the pit. But, before taking the fatal leap, we look abroad and around.


    Winter though it is, we can discern the makings of a splendid rural panorama, backed and bordered by the ever beautiful and ever lively, ship-dotted sea. Conspicuous in the landscape is the lordly mass of buildings known as Seaham Hall – not quite so stately, perhaps, but apparently as large and as well situated for sea breezes and sea views as the Queen’s marine palace of Osborne. Just now the white sheen of the mansion gleams and glitters like marble through occasional vistas, and between the leafless bows of massive and crowded trees. In summer, nature veils and outvies the handiwork of man; and her veil of rich foliage is so beautiful that we are content to forget and to lose all traces of art and handicraft. Now, however, there is an air of substantial and elegant comfort in the great house which warms the beholder from the tips of his top-knot to the termination of his chilled and brittle toe-nails. The noble family of the Vanes have unfortunately too many pits and too much wealth to be compelled to live all their days in this splendid country home. Amongst them they have lots of houses, and so much money that they are under no compulsion to bide the bleakness of an English winter. And yet anyone not blasé with opulence and grandeur might easily imagine a worse fate than being obliged to live continuously at Seaham Hall. His lordship does put in an appearance oftener than he otherwise would, perhaps, because, like a true English nobleman, he takes a warm personal interest in the volunteer movement; and, to tell the truth, he has an admirably appointed and well-disciplined corps, of which he may well be proud. Grand houses not being on our visiting list, we declined several very pressing invitations to leave our cards at the Hall, or our foot-prints stained with the mud of a coal village in a thaw, on his lordship’s door mat. In like manner, as being out of the record of our commission, we abstained from all attempts to trace Lord Byron’s “footprints on the sands of time,” of which not a few might be recovered hereabouts and in the neighbourhood of Dalton-le-Dale, but of which the greater part have been obliterated by the broad, heavy, flat tramping foot of industry.


    As we approach the pits, on the left hand side of the turnpike; we come upon an excellent row of houses. It is known as the Model Row. The word “model” must be referred to the standard of by-gone years, for the name would now more fitly apply to the new houses connected with the Seaton pit, further south. Nevertheless, this row is far above the average of pit houses either in this colliery or in Durham collieries generally. They are comfortable, roomy, well built dwellings, a trifle low in the pitch of the rooms, perhaps, but cosy and snug, clean without and within, with a fine outlook to the front, and abundance of capital garden ground, which appears to be cleverly turned to profit; pigs coming in for what, in too many gardens, is regarded as sheer waste. The curled cabbage suggests roast mutton; while the leeks are enough to make a dyspeptic hungry, and a hungry man’s mouth water with vain anticipation and longing. Of course, many of these houses are reserved for the excellent of the earth – by whom we mean the masters’ men – but they are too numerous, we judge to be wholly occupied by these upper-crust miners.


    Of the other houses we will speak presently; for we must proceed up this road a considerable distance, in fact, till we come to a dene and hillside hamlet, which, though it overlooks the back skirts of the colliery, seems as though foot of soot had never soiled its virgin cleanness. As we move along north we reach one of the two schoolhouses belonging to the colliery. It is gloomy enough for a convent, and black enough for a mortuary; but the latter can hardly be helped in such a locality.· It is not so cheerful a place as a school aught to be, and especially as it is now a girls’ school – the lads going to the school at the other side the pits. Both these schools are used by the incumbent of the colliery church for Sunday instruction; and we have not to travel very far before we find ourselves attending “early celebration” at Church; but we should explain that it is a conjugal communion – the sacrament of marriage, in fact – that is having the early celebration. With dove-like meekness and patience the bride is sitting by the side of the man she is soon to own, and she is illuminating her purview of the married state by reverent gazing on the magnificent east window erected by filial piety to the memory of the late Marquis of Londonderry. Once she turned rather anxiously to see if we were the parson; but, alas, we were not even the clerk; so she concealed her vexation, and irradiated her passing cloud of disappointment by gazing at a still handsomer stained window at the west end, put there by conjugal affection and in memory of that same Tory Marquis. After gazing till half-blinded on these splendid memorials of departed worth and bequeathed wealth, our eye rested on an ugly and deservedly-faded inscription – illuminated, forsooth – of a kind that invariably rouses us to holy wrath. It is now for us a familiar object, and increasingly obnoxious. It set forth in solemn and sounding phrase, in ecclesiastical red and black lettering an astounding testimony to the prodigious and indispensable generosity of the Incorporated Society for the Building, Enlargement, and Restoration of Churches, in having granted £75 towards the erection of the south wing of this particular church. Now as the cost of this extension could hardly be less than tenfold the amount given by the Society, we fail to discover the special claim of the Society to such conspicuous honour, gratitude, and glory. It is to be hoped they pay for the painting of the tablet themselves; but that can hardly be the case, or else they would have been sure to mention a fact which, so far as we can see, must redound to their credit quite as much as the other fact.


    The church itself is now a really handsome pro or sub-cathedral. Previous to the erection of the second row of pillars and the new aisle, it must have presented a lob-sided, maimed appearance, but now it is strictly according to the ecclesiastical Cocker. The first portion of the edifice was erected by the late Marchioness in 1853. Adjoining is a spacious – a suggestively spacious – graveyard for a small village. As yet the tombs are few and far between. Near the eastern boundary we observed a long, rough mound, and on inquiring from some bright young putters playing pitch and toss not far off, we were informed that this mound was known as “the taty pit;” and certainly it does look rather more like the burial place of turnips and potatoes than that of Christian martyrs to the glory of modern science. Yet so it is. There, sleeping their last sleep, are nearly two dozen out of the six-and-twenty who lost their lives by the explosion of October, 1871. Nor are these bones to lie long under the shadow of seeming neglect. Subscriptions have been made and paid sufficient to defray the cost of a monument to commemorate the melancholy fact of their destruction; all the necessary preliminaries have been completed, but the quarrymen are too busy to supply the stone. Presently they will be able to attend to this order; let us hope they will even make a push out of respect to the memory of their fallen brothers, and then the place of rest will grow green and seemly.


    A few score yards to the west stands the vicarage; and here, her ladyship’s generous care for the clergy is very apparent. The house is big enough for an asylum; let us hope that her ladyship adequately endowed the living while she was about it, or else the erection of a great mansion, such as this, was like the gift – the troublesome and costly gift – of a white elephant in the well-known Indian apologue. The church squire, whose abode it is, stands well with his parishioners, and deserves to be blessed with a congregation big enough to crowd his beautiful temple; but, somehow, pitmen are wonderfully like other human beings, and don’t take as kindly to religion of any kind, still less to religion according to Act of Parliament, as zealous clergymen would wish. Nearly opposite to the Parsonage, on the cottage side of the turnpike and at the end of a 1ong row, is a place that ought to be a Primitive Methodist Chapel if looks go for anything, but which is, in point of fact, a reading-room. Here also there are evidences that pitmen are much of a muchness with the rest of mankind, and do not display quite as hot a zeal in pursuit of knowledge as they do for increased percentages. Gas (from Mr. Smith’s gashouse at the Harbour) and coals are supplied by the owners, as well as the house-room, and an occasional lift in the money line, though never to an extent that might be suspected of any tendency to pauperise a pit pony even.


    At right angles to the row of which the reading-room is a sort of caudal appendage, runs a row which is half and half, morally considered. It begins splendidly with a viewer’s house, and goes on fairly for about fifty yards or so, with grass or gardens paled off in front of it; but it degenerates – as the English race is supposed to do – the further south it gets, until the tag rag have a very taggy raggy outside, especially the back side, where the outbuildings are only ruins and nothing to boast of even as ruins; but the interiors are good. “A precious sight better than you’d think for,” is the warm encomium of one of the pitch-and-toss heroes, who has too much pluck or too good a conscience to skeedaddle with the rest when our corpulent shadow looms round the corner, like some pantomime policeman of gigantic proportions. This youth doubtless lives in that same row, and being possessed of strong domestic affections, has grown up in the belief that there’s no place like home. But he is out there; for we can bear witness that there are up and down Durham a great many places like his home, if his home be one of these low-browed cottages. Too many, we should say; for however reconciled habit may make a man to such a nest for his fledgelings, it is not exactly the sort of nest we like to see provided for our blackbirds.


    As already intimated there is quite a new town of Lord Durhamish houses springing up, and indeed largely sprung up, since Seaton Colliery passed to its present proprietorship. These are excellent dwellings; and indeed it is only fair to say that so also are the double houses of the Waggonway Row, and further that the men have neither the disposition to complain nor anything very particular out of which they could make a complaint were they so inclined. There is a liberal supply, by means of pants, of capital water, supplied from a special reservoir. Yes, by the way, there is one complaint, and a very comical one. But it is a complaint which, though a colliery village is the last place on earth you would expect to hear it, is now become the main grievance of such places, as it has long since become the curse of the whole country, and that is the coal famine. Part of the wages of these men is or was a liberal supply of the coal which they dig out of the ground with their own hands. Now they cannot get enough to keep their toes warm. When they do get a bushel or two it is three parts dirt; but they think themselves extremely lucky to get even that. Their younger children are obliged to travel far and wide on the dangerous waggon ways picking up coals, just for all the world as if they were not colliers’ bairns. This we venture to characterise as scandalous. Whoever else goes short of coal, the miners should have plenty and of the best. This is to “muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,” and to muzzle it with a vengeance. What in the name of humanity are the big black-birds of the world dreaming about? There are pits up and down where for every two shillings drawn by the miner, the owner, who probably lives at Jericho among the palm trees of Oriental luxury, draws a clear sovereign, and he gets a couple of thousand of these shining medals every day five days a week. If Lord Lytton were still among us he might write another clever tale, and call it “What Next, and Next?” Or if Mr. Lowe be half as sharp as we give him credit for he will get enough income tax out of the coalowners of England this year and next to enable him to remit all taxes of customs, and give the poor collier a free breakfast table, if he can’t give him a scuttle of coals to boil his kettle with. Oh fellow-friends, and brethren of this dear county and commonwealth, let us see to it, rich and poor, that we never burn a coal if we can help it. Lie in bed, when you can’t run up and down to keep warm; and when you are tired of lying in bed, play at leap-frog with the bairns in your fireless back parlour.


    But this is wandering – though not very wide of the mark. We must cross the ravelment of tramways and make for the pits. The people talk of the Seaton pit as if it were somewhere in the Arctic regions – and in some sense it is [in] this cold weather – but if it is in a sort of Iceland, it is in itself a Hecla or a Geyser. It is an upcast and furnace shaft for both pits, or all three pits, we ought to say; since what outsiders would call one pit, is really two pits, or one divided by bratticing up to a certain point, and then going off by itself down to the Hutton or other seam. As will be remembered there was a terrible catastrophe down these pits a year and a quarter ago. The pit was built up, till the blazing roaring furnace of acres on acres of coal was starved to death for want of oxygen. Now, just about where this bad job occurred they have a stationary engine down below, in fact, there are three such. The seams, or at least three of them, happen to come to a point just a little way between the new pit and the old pits; hence the acquisition of the new pit has been very useful in other respects, besides enabling the proprietors to comply with the double shaft clauses of the Act. On the whole, it is a drudge of a pit; a hard-working, serious, solemn, earnest, go-ahead, money-making pit. Then close beside it is a huge pork-pie structure, almost as big as the Albert Memorial Hall in London; and when we propose to go in and hear the organ, we are coolly informed that it is too hot. In fact, it is a huge patent brick-kiln. Adjoining is the brick factory, in which a fat, strong, roundabout machine is everlastingly shaping, stamping, and turning out bricks of the right consistency and shape. Out they pop, two at a time, from an apparently smooth surface on the flat of what looks like a big grindstone, and when they pop up, pushed from beneath, an active little imp made of cast-iron pops out behind them, and pushes them on to a tape or endless band, along which they ride like happy couples going to church to be married, while an intelligent boy acts as best-man, and brushes the dust and excrescences from the loving couples on their way to the matrimonial furnace or kiln, where their ardent young loves are to be baked into good, useful domestic virtues. But we must bid farewell, without entering into further details. It is a grand colliery, and it would be vain to deny it.

    Dawdon Colliery

    Dawdon Colliery

    The decision to create a new pit at Dawdon was taken by the Marquess of Londonderry in the late 19th century, due to problems at his collieries in nearby Seaham. As Seaham Colliery’s workings pushed out to the south-east, it became increasing expensive to mine the reserves from the old pit’s shafts.

    It was therefore decided to sink new shafts in the rocky coastal area of Noses Point, close to the ancient settlement of Dawdon. Sinking work began in March 1900, but soon ran into problems. Water-bearing rocks proved difficult to excavate, which meant freezing techniques had to be used. The colliery finally opened for production in October 1907. Dawdon reached the peak of its employment in 1925, when 3862 men and boys helped to produce over one million tonnes of coal annually.

    The men of Dawdon Colliery were forced into several industrial disputes with those who wanted to maintain their profits, but escaped the major tragedies suffered by pits at Seaham and Easington. Many of Dawdon’s men did die within its depths, but usually from individual accidents.

    Dawdon was a major coal producer for the Londonderry family throughout their ownership, and was later a jewel in the crown for the National Coal Board too. Under nationalisation, the government claimed that the mines belonged to the miners. This proved to be a nonsense as later industrial disputes proved. However, as the mining industry went into decline in the 1980s, Dawdon suffered too. The colliery was eventually closed in July 1991.

    Home to a rich industrial past relating closely with its near neighbour Seaham, Dawdon was home to the Seaham Harbour Blast Furnace, in Dawdon Field Dene. The original Seaham Bottle Works was situated here in 1855. The blast furnaces closed in 1865 but were soon replaced by the Chemical Works.

    In 1920 the new colliery, Dawdon, employed 3,300 workers and produced over 1 million tons of coal per year outstripping its local competitors. The ironworks and colliery sites have recently been reclaimed and a modern industrial estate launching Dawdon into the 21st century.


    1900 March – started sinking of shafts.

    1907 October – completed sinking of shafts. 5 October – colliery opened.

    1910 Welfare Hall opened. Twenty streets of colliery houses built.

    1912 Church of St Hild and St Helen, known as “The Pitmen’s Cathedral” erected by the Londonderry family.

    1914 Low Main and Hutton seams being worked.

    1921 Low Main, Maudlin, Hutton and Main coal seams being worked.

    1921 8 August – Triple Alliance of Miners, Railwaymen and Transport Workers started. 30 June – strike called off plunging Durham into a trade depression that left 20% of miners and over 100 collieries idle.

    1925 Employment peaks at 3862

    1926 May – General Strike started. November – Durham Miners returned to work having held out for 7 months.

    1927 12 Aged Miners’ cottages built in Dawdon.

    1929 2 March – Dawdon Miners locked out in dispute over piece work rates. 4 November – Dawdon Miners reluctantly return to work.

    1930 1000 Dawdon miners laid off. Seaham Colliery closed for 2 years to ensure production at Londonderry’s new Vane Tempest Colliery.

    1930’s Dawdon Welfare Park completed.

    1935 Low Main, Maudlin, Hutton and Main coal seams being worked.

    1940 15 August – Dawdon bombed by Luftwaffe. 12 dead, 119 people homeless, 5 houses destroyed, Dawdon Church, Vicarage and 230 houses damaged.

    1947 Nationalisation of Coal Industry. 2556 miners employed at Dawdon. 647,555 tonnes of coal produced.

    1950 Low Main, Maudlin, Hutton and Main coal seams being worked.

    1950’s Steam winders replaced by electric Koepe winders.

    1960 2348 miners employed. Low Main, Maudlin, Hutton, Main Coal and High Main (Dawdon’s highest producing seam) seams being worked.

    1969 13 October – Dawdon on strike for 3 days in support of Yorkshire Miners demanding shorter shifts for surface workers.

    1972 High Main and Yard Seams being worked. 8 January – National Strike begins demanding substantial wage rise. 28 February – successful conclusion to National Strike.

    1974 9 February – 6-week strike began. Again for improved wages and conditions.

    1975 High Main and Yard seams being worked.

    1980 2106 miners employed. High Main, Yard and Main coal seams being worked.

    1984 14 March – All Durham collieries on strike against the threat of pit closures by the Thatcher Government and it’s planned and premeditated attack on the miners

    1985 3 March – National Strike over without agreement. Dawdon Miners returned to work behind their banner and promptly marched back out as a gesture of defiance. Only 133 men had returned to work early. High Main, Yard, Main Coal and “C” seams being worked. 2186 miners employed.

    1986 E90 Face lost to water.

    1988 1700 miners employed. One million tons of coal abandoned for safety reasons in the “G” seam.

    1990 1592 miners employed. High Main, Yard, Main Coal and “C” seams being worked.

    1991 27 July – Dawdon Colliery closed.

    Wildfowling 1876

    Article from a national sporting newspaper of 1876
    A couple of months ago I was interceding with a military acquaintance for leave for his son to accompany me on one of my trips, but my gallant friend was obdurate. “Not until he has passed his exam.,” he said decisively, these are serious times for him, and I should not like him to be disturbed, do you see? “I understand your argument,” I re-remarked, “but allow me to observe that Frank has been very hard at work of late, and that a little change would do him good. He will get silly at last. Not that an army exam, is a very hard thing to pass, but still, cramming one’s head with all’sorts of things makes a fellow rather dull in the end.” He admitted that there was some truth in what I was arguing, but was nervous as to the result, and so we came to a compromise, in which the result of the examination was largely concerned. ” If you get on well,” he said to Frank,”we will all go to my brother’s, and then you can have your trip on the sea,” Frank, accordingly, ” wired ” into his books more than ever, and passed with flying colours. In consequence thereof the other morning all three of us were in the train for the north, and a very dull journey we had of it, too. Frank’s uncle lives in the neighbourhood of Seaham, and the only way of getting there was by dismounting at a certain station, whose name now escapes me, and thence driving through Houghton-le Spring to Seaham.This part of the journey was no joke for the mare, as the roads were hard frozen and very slippery. However, the coachman had got her “roughed” at the blacksmith’s, and we got on tolerably well, reaching the house of our entertainer at about half-past 6 p.m. The country from the station to Seaham is not particularly pretty, and the district being a coaly one the dust settles a little everywhere, and a good deal ‘n the neighbourhood of the pits. After dinner we discussed our plans of action for the morrow. We agreed to make it a shooting day along the sea shore, there being, according to the keeper’s account, lots of curlews about, in the cliffs and over the rocks, at low tide. Meanwhile, whilst Frank and I undertook that part of the affair, his father would get a boat ready for us for the following day, so as to have some sea fishing also. At daybreak the keeper woke us up; the weather was fine and bitterly cold; all the better for the success of our undertaking. Filled, then, with enthusiasm, Frank and your humble servant drove with the keeper to the shore, where we no sooner arrived than we heard many curlews calling almost on all sides. Seaham was not quite awake yet; but already its gunners were out, or at least some of them, for whilst we were putting our best feet foremost to reach the sands, we heard several shots fired consecutively, and saw a bird or two being knocked over. The fact of the matter was simply this:—Owing to the frost the fields and meadows were all hard, and the only place where the birds could find something to feed on was in the cliffs, where little threads of water always run and keep the ground moist, and on the sea-shore proper, when the receding tide left the sands soft and easily investigated by the hungry birds. We saw thousands of larks in the course of the day, and the sea-fowl—at least shore birds—were also very numerous. The keeper, with his double duck gun, walked at the top of the cliffs, whilst we two divided the shore between us. Frank walked near the land, and I kept near the sea. Between us three and the keeper’s strong retrieving spaniel some birds were bound to come into the bag, and some did.

    The keeper opened the ball by firing both barrels towards the fields. Of coarse we could not see what he had been shooting at; but as he disappeared, and we heard him calling to the dog, “Fetch ’em, lad!” we conjectured rightly that be had brought some to grass. They turned out to be lapwings, and he had sbot three with his two barrels. I was looking at him and waiting until be was ready, when I heard the frou-frou of many wings, on my right side. I turned hastily, instinctively shouldering the gun as I did so, and let drive right and left into a flock of sandpipers. The keeper sent Sam, the dog, down, and he no sooner spied the wounded birds fluttering in the sea than he went at them, in spite of the breakers, and brought them up one after the other very sensibly. There were seven of them. I fastened their heads together with a bit of string, so as to make a lump of the lot, and gave them to the dog. He did not know what to do with them, and when his master whistled him he went, but without the birds. However, the keeper no sooner had him by his side than he sent him back with the order to “ Fetch ’em, lad,” and he came down at a gallop, took op the lot, and went up with them like a shot.

    There is nothing like patience and perseverance in such matters. A little further on the keeper signed to us to proceed steadily. I stopped, being in the open, but he and Frank kept going. Suddenly they came upon their birds, three curlews feeding on the side of the cliff at a pool The keeper fired and did not hit. Frank fired and missed with his first barrel, but his second told on an old curlew with a beak the length of my gun barrel, more or less. The said long nosed bird, though winged, had kept the use of his long stilts, and he began a rare run, both of us backing him in a breath against the dog to reach a pool first, which he did; but his exertions had told on him, and Sam nabbed him and brought him back very proudly, whilst the curlew at the very top of his voice was shouting ten thousand murders! This being the first curlew Frank had ever killed, we agreed that the proper thing for us to do under the circumstances was to celebrate the event with the usual baptism. Sawyer (the keeper) came down with the flask, and I wished Frank many happy returns of the event in a bumper of sherry. “But,” said he, “I read somewhere that killing seven curlews is all a man can do in a life time. Have you ever shot a lot of them in one single day?” “Yes I shot fourteen once in two hours, in a couple of meadows on the South Coast, during the hard winter of 1870. The frost was so hard that only one brook was running, and they would stick to it in spite of my firing.

    They rose, of course, at every report, but after sitting down for a while inland they would come again to the brook, when I would stalk them again. I could have shot more, but being alone. and loaded already with my fourteen birds, I gave it up.” Thus conversing we were making way, and when we reached the belt of rocks, the tide being on the ebb and half spent, we agreed that hiding in the rocks would not be a bad plan, and at once chose holes facing the cliffs, on the top of which Sawyer squatted, and agreed to sign to us when anything should turn up. I got a very nice rock, standing about 5ft 6in from the sand on both sides of me. On the top I disposed two or three bundles of grass, through which I could keep a look-out, and having made myself comfortable, and ascertained by a glance that no birds were as yet near I called out to Frank. “Yes,” he said. “Are you all right?” All right,” be replied. And now began the watching. Soon after we had ensconced ourselves a flock of grey plovers flew our way, but they settled on sea weeds some hundred yards from our guns.

    Thereupon Frank left his biding place and came towards me, taking advantage of the rocks in the way, so as not to let the birds see him. u Let us drive at them.” he said in a whisper. “No, no,” 1 said, “They will attract more birds if we let them alone.” And the words were scarcely out of my mouth when Sawyer telegraphed to us from his “exalted” position. I peeped through the grass and bobbed down again at once. “There are two curlews now,” I said to Frank. “Where?” said he, with sparkling eyes. “Near the plovers.” “Let me look: so there are!” Then he looked again, and declared that the whole let were stalking about, but coming our way. Just then, however, some one fired a shot towards Seaham and the birds got up. The plovers went out to sea and the curlews passed between us and the cliff. We fired our four barrels, and the keeper his two, but we only got one bird. Now, after all this firing, it was likely enough that a little time would elapse before any more birds would come near us so I volunteered to go over the rocks and see if I could see any shots there. When I reached the extreme edge 1 saw several birds on the sea, but quite beyond reach. There were two or three companies about, and I made a note of it for the morrow.

    When I came back we sat on stones, and began our lunch, but we were kept continually on the qui vive by passing birds. Our sandwiches gone, and the bottle of sherry emptied, we stepped forward once more. Sawyer climbed back to the top, as before, and in so doing he flushed a snipe from the soft mossy ground, and being unable to steady himself, he let it go. We did not expect it either, so that when the man called out in a stentorian voice ” Mark snipe!” we did not fire at it until it was nearly a hundred yards from us. Of course, we did not get it. Sawyer no, sooner reached his post than he sent the spaniel to beat the intervening softs, but we did not see any more snipe, although plenty of other birds were flushed. We turned back at about 2 p.m., and arrived at Seaham at 4. thoroughly “done for the day.” On reaching home we heard what preparations had been made for our next day trip on the sea. A hamper of provisions was ready in the hall, and the boat would be waiting for us at 8 a.m. “What about bait?” I inquired. This it appeared, had been overlooked altogether. We then sent into the town to get some mackerel, fresh, if possible, and the man coming back, after a good search, with bait a dozen,
    we were content. The boat placed at our service was a large, roomy, open sailing boat, no decked boat being avail able ; and the two men who were to take us out knew the coast thoroughly wall. After dinner we commenced pre paring lines, guns, and cartridges. Sawyer came to help us in this, and he took the opportunity of mentioning that he should not be able to accompany us on the morrow, as his ” stummick” would not let him. Next morning the weather was much milder than it had been on the previous day.
    We started somewhat late, and got on board with traps and baggage, and went away amid the cheers of half a dozen urchins who had been watching the work of embarkation. Frank had brought his double gun and his uncle’s single duck gun. I had my double 10-bore. Presently Frank stood up to load his uncle’s six-foot ducking iron, but owing to the boat’s motion, and to the breeze, and his uncomfortable position, half the powder was dropped in, and the other half out of the
    barrel. That is the worst of long muzzle-loaders, you can’t get at them. And if it had been raining I doubt very mach whether we could have loaded the instrument at all. How beit, I helped my young friend by holding him tight by the waist, and be resumed the loading process. Then ramming it was another queer job. When the ramrod was placed at the    muzzle, the whole lot almost reached the top of our mast
    We managed at last to feed the gaping muzzle, and looked out greedily for something on which to try it. “I see a bird,” said Frank, pointing in his enthusiasm to a log bobbing about with the tide. “That is not a bird,” I said. “Bet you it is,” he replied, and he was going to fire the “six-foot”gun into it, when the men asseverated that it was a log, just in time to save a load of powder and shot and the nuisance of reloading. Thus discomfited, Frank made up his mind to find something else, and I was as anxious as he. Men are, after all, but great children, and the four of us were as anxious to see what the big gun would do as the artillery officers at Woolwich are when the 81-ton infant is going to be fired.

    At last, we saw three widgeons on our starboard a quarter of a mile off. “You come over here, sir,” said one of the
    men to Frank, making room for him forward, “and if yon put the barrel over the gun’ale you will be able to fire quite comfortably.” ” Don’t fire until they rise,” I told him, but be did not act to the letter of my advice, for when we were at least a hundred yards from the birds the man began to whisper all sorts of nonsense to him. “You are within range now, mister; get ready. Fire away, sir, fire away or they will go! Of course the man was well meaning, but no gun could have floored swimming birds under such circumstances except by a flake. When they rise even spent shots may break their wings, or hit them in the head and settle them. At an unheard of range Frank fired, and had the mortification of seeing the three birds going off apparently perfectly unscathed. I blew the man up, and told him to give no more advice until asked for it, and then remonstrated with Frank. We were then opposite the first ledge of cliffs, and several divers turned up. We would have fired at them had we not perceived ducks some way off flying. We watched them until they settled, and then went in chase. The first lot we came to consisted of fifteen birds. We drew op to them capitally, and Frank waited very patiently, but just when they rose I think the boat lurched, and the verdict in consequence was only one—a splendid mallard. He bad had a shot through his head and one  had broken his wing, whilst we were reloading the long gun, another company turned up. Frank wanted me to try for them, this time, but as I knew that, in his heart of hearts, be would feel much obliged to me if I would let him fire, I professed that I did not care much, and would be glad to see him do it. So he went forward again, and this time did the affair beautifully getting three birds, two dead ones and a cripple. After that we saw nothing near us, so we went to a nice place, and anchored for some fishing. It was just 12 o’clock when we began.
    The men told us we bad been lucky, so far as concerned our birds. “The artillerymen,” they said, “fire cannon occasionally, for practice, from Seaham into the sea, at a barrel, or something of that sort, and of coarse, when they do so, there is but little chance for shooters. I was surprised that there appeared to be nobody fond of sea fishing about Seaham. Ours was the only small boat on the sea, although there were plenty of sailing vessels and steamers moving up and down along the coast, Frank is very fond of sea-fishing. Last year we had a little bit of it together at Kingstown, and be was then very proficient in the art, but now he has become quite an artist, ” I have got two on,” he began, and brought up a whiting (the everlasting whiting are everywhere, seemingly) and a conger eel some yard long. “That is not a bad one, is it?” he added, on perceiving the latter, which came on the bottom hook. ” No, tain’t a bad one, sir,” said one of the men.” but you will get better ones here. It is a good place for them.” I had one about half the size of Frank’s, and he was jokingly affecting that all large fish would patronise him and ignore me, when with my next throw I caught a monster weighing fully 61b. This reversed the tables at once; but presently Frank got one almost exactly the size of mine. They seemed to be very fond of mackerel in that spot, and it was lucky, for that was the only bait we had been enabled to procure. In the midst of our fun one of the men called our attention very quietly to four birds that were dancing about on the waves close behind as, some 200 yards away. “They are ducks,” I said.” let us get our anchor up and go in chase,” I then explained to the men what we were to do. The wind would drift us right on to the birds, so they had only to get up our moorings, and then we would squat in the boat and trust to chance. When we had been drifting some five minutes I took off my hat end peeped over. The birds had seen the boat drifting on them, and not liking it they had swum away, and were now fully 200 yards on our port side, and were paddling away from us. I got up and signed to the men to put up the mast and sails. They did so, and we sailed towards the birds, and eventually fired at them when they rose at an awful range, and hit one, but he kept on flying for 200 yards, and then settled on the sea, whilst the others disappeared. We went for the cripple, but be got up again, and kept us half an hour at that game. At last a lucky shot turned him on his back, and we got him. We were then at least three miles from the shore, and in ten or twelve fathoms of water. We took up our lines, and for two hours stuck by them devotedly. We caught a variety of fish, codlings, whiting, coalfish, a brill, two skates, and a lot of small fry not worth mentioning. The weather kept very mild and inclined to a thaw, but when tbe afternoon was somewhat advanced we began to feel chilly, in spite of our rugs and overcoats. At 4 o’clock we cried “Enough!” and up went the mast, up went the sail, and we returned merrily to the harbour.



    In July 1878 a poorly educated master cobbler, William Marwood, closed his shop (which still exists) in Church Lane, Horncastle, in the county of Lincolnshire and packing a small bag and saying goodbye to his wife Ellen left his home nearby at 149 Foundry Street, to keep an appointment in Durham. Although it was unusual for a poor artisan to undertake such journeys in those days, Ellen was used to such occasions which he undertook on a regular basis. William had an appointment with Robert Vest a cook on the sailing ship William Leckie in Durham for he was the Crown Executioner.

    The 26 of June 1878 was one of the hottest days of the year and the Port of Sunderland lay idle as the ships awaited a breeze to fill their sails. The crew of the sailing ship William Leckie lay exhausted in the heat awaiting a wind that would drive their ship to Montivideo in South America.

    When ship’s Master, Captain Lumley Fletcher, who had been on shore on business returned to the ship he was dismayed at the conditions he found on the deck. The ships new cook, a stocky man with a badly scarred face whose duty it was to feed the 20 crew, was slumped on the deck waving his arms and mumbling incoherently. The captain, a strict disciplinarian, assuming Vest was drunk told him he would not allow drunkenness on his ship and that he should pack his kit and leave. As his torrent lessened the ship’s Pilot John Wallace a 62 year old well respected man, jokingly shouted to the crew,” Lay aft boys and put him in Irons” and as the Captain and Pilot left, Robert Vest stumbled to his galley.

    By evening the temperature was still over 90 degrees and as the pilot passed the galley Robert’s mind snapped, he grabbed a 10 inch knife and ran after the pilot slashing his throat and stabbing him in the stomach. As the pilot tried desperately to remove the knife he screamed “Boys I’ve been stabbed”. In an attempt to save him the captain ordered a crew member to fetch rum and bandages but within seconds the pilot was dead.

    As the crew covered him with the ships ensign the captain ran up a distress signal for assistance to which Inspector James Larkin of the River Police in Low Row responded an hour later.

    As the crew apprehended Robert Vest who put up no resistance, he became more incoherent and mumbling but in a statement later, the apprentice Thomas Talbot who had been charged with guarding him, said, he mumbled “I hope the poor man’s soul is in heaven” and that he explained for a long period he had suffered horror dreams of hanging and murder.

    Two days later, the jury, after visiting the home of the victim John Wallace in Peel Street and seeing his body, retired to Salem House in Salem Street, Hendon, the home of Mr Hugh McAllister to hold an inquest and on the 12  of July Robert Vest was taken to Durham Assizes where he pleaded not guilty to murder, as his wife and five daughters, who had travelled from their home in Seaham looked on from the public gallery.

    Reports in the local press said Robert Vest had five terrible scars on his forehead and a deep depression on the side of his head none of which he could account for but only that they gave him constant pain.

    However in his defence a relative cast light upon the scars and gave evidence that Robert had received them in the army.

    At the age of 17 years he had joined the 16 th Regiment of Infantry and was later in the Horse Artillery serving in India where he had suffered badly from sunstroke.

    In 1854 whilst serving in the Crimea serving a gun, he had been severely injured when a shell exploded near him and during an attack he had been stabbed in the forehead with a bayonet. This was confirmed in a letter sent to the court from the War Office.

    In his defence his brother said, prior to his army service Robert had been a steady young man and told of the agony and depression he had suffered since his return from the war.

    Dr Mathew Francis gave evidence as to the extent in which Roberts injuries had affected his sanity and that the injuries from which he had suffered from for 24 years were severe enough to cause loss of sanity in the hot conditions that had been experienced on the fateful day, the temperature having been in the nineties.

    The prosecution however disputed this and said it was due to alcohol despite the fact no one had observed him drinking and that all the bottles were still sealed.

     On Friday 12 July 1878 the jury found Robert guilty but recommended mercy and the hope that he would be sent to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane but their hopes were misplaced.

    Donning his black cap, Judge Justice Baggley told Robert “The law imposes upon me the duty of passing sentence of death upon every person convicted before me of the crime of wilful murder. The jury have recommended a strong recommendation for mercy. It will be my duty to forward the recommendation to the appropriate authority where it will receive its fullest consideration. However I implore you not to rely on that recommendation to mercy leading to your sentence being commuted but to endeavour from this moment to make your peace with God. It remains with me only to pass the sentence on you in the terms of law and that is, you shall be taken to the place from whence you came and from thence to a place of execution and shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead. And your body shall then be buried in the prison in which you shall be last confined after this your conviction. And may the Lord have mercy on your Soul”

    Such was public feeling that a petition was raised and names collected from as far dispersed as Sunderland, Seaham, Durham and Chester le Street in an attempt to have his sentence commuted and money was collected for his wife and daughters who, lived in Seaham who were to be left destitute.

    The Grim Walls of Durham Prison where Robert Vest spent his last days Dr Smith of Sedgefield and The Reverend Blunt of Chester le Street mounted a campaign for an in depth inquiry as to his mental condition but to no avail. The newspapers gave detailed descriptions on the 30 of July 1878, how Robert not having slept the night before and with tears running down his cheeks walked to meet his fate. As the hangman went to tie his arms and legs together he begged him to be allowed to shake the hand of everyone present. He turned to the Chaplain as the hood was placed over his head and said. “I’ll pray for you in Heaven”.The trapdoor opened and William Marwood kept his appointment with Robert. He collected his £10 fee and set off to return to his cobblers shop in Hornchurch, travelling to 177 such appointments throughout the country in his nine years in the post.

    Colin Clifford

    November 2010

    Robert Vest had arrived in Seaham sometime after 1871 (probably from Spennymoor) and at the time of the murder lived in Gunn’s Buildings, by 1881, his wife lived at 32 William Street with her three daughters Martha 17, Isabella 14 and Margaret 10.   DA

    South Dock Extension

    New Harbour and Dock Works

    . . . BELONGING TO THE . . .

    Seaham Harbour Dock Company


    Detail from previous photograph.

    Detail from previous photograph.

    South Dock extensions 24 April 1925

    South Dock extensions 24 April 1925

    HE old docks were acquired from Lord Londonderry, and were built some seventy years ago, and the Company is now adding a new ten-acre deepwater dock and entrance, and throwing out two protective piers to shelter the approach from the sea. The new works were commenced in the early part of 1899, and it is expected that they will be completed next summer. In the early stages of the work considerable difficulty was experienced in enclosing and reclaiming the necessary land required for the new dock and quay space, as at that time little or no protection was afforded by the piers, they not being far enough advanced.

    This was, however, eventually done, and the site of the new dock deepened some twelve feet into the magnesian limestone rock by the aid of steam navvies and blasting. The walls of the new dock are constructed of concrete faced with masonry above water level, and finished off with a cope of Norwegian granite. They are 35 feet high above dock bottom level, and there will be 27 feet 6 inches of water in the dock at H.W.O.S.T.
    The new entrance is constructed of concrete faced with masonry, and is 65 feet wide with a depth of water of 25 feet 6 inches on the cill. There are two pairs of gates fitted (the outer to act as storm gates) constructed of karri wood from Western Australia. They will be worked by hydraulic rams fixed in machine pits at coping level, and supplied with pressure from a hydraulic installation working at 700 lbs. per square inch. Two five-ton capstans are also fitted at the entrance. A system of gravity coal staiths is being fixed along the west side of the new dock, so arranged that the full coalwagons will run down by gravity from the storage sidings, pass over the spouts , and the empty wagons will pass away to low level sidings. It is anticipated that some two million tons of coal w ill be annually dealt with in this dock.
    The protective piers are 1,383 feet and 878 feet long on respectively the North and South sides. They are builtup of concrete blocks weighing up to 28 tons and faced with masonry.
    These blocks are formed in moulds in the block- yard, allowed to harden for some six weeks, and then set inposition by a Titan Crane capable of dealing with a load of30 tons at 60 feet radius. The foundations for the piers are on rockthroughout. Sand overlies this in places, and is cleared away by means of a grab and diving bell. Mass concrete put in place by divers is used to level up the surface of the rock, and the blocks are placed on this and secured to one another below low water level by means of concrete joggle bags. Above low water the blocks are set in cement mortar.The North Pier is 25 feet and 30 feet wide on top at itsinner andouter ends respectively, and the South Pier 20 feet and 25 feet. The ends will be finished with roundheads and lighthouses, with a subway running through the piers to give access in stormy weather. The contractors for the work are Messrs. S. Pearson & Son, Ltd., of Westminster

    South Dock Extension Photographs

    Shipping Coal 1835



    Of The



    March 31–April 35  1835

    [View on the Tyne. showing the mode of shipping the Coal]

    We explained in the preceding Supplement the process of obtaining coal, and the manner in which it is prepared for the market. When this is accomplished, it has next to be transported to the ships employed in the coal-trade. For this purpose a road is constructed (generally a rail-road) leading from the mouth of the pit directly to the nearest harbour or river.

    Nature has intersected the northern coal-field by three considerable rivers, in consequence of which the whole district possesses an easy, cheap, and expeditious mode by which its produce may find its way into the general market. These three rivers are the Tyne, the Wear, and the Tees, each of which is admirably adapted, both by its volume of water, its tides, and harbour-room, for the purposes in question.

    The Tyne is the most important of the northern coal-rivers, and, as it possesses all the excellencies of the others, we shall confine our description to it. It originates from two small streams called the North and South Tyne, which unite a little above the ancient town of Hexham, at about thirty miles distance from the sea, where it becomes navigable for small craft.

    From Hexham it flows through a fine hilly country to Newcastle, where it is sufficiently wide and deep for vessels of large burden, and where its office as a coal-river may be said properly to commence. Its course from Newcastle to the sea, at Tynemouth, presents scenes full of activity and enterprize. Nowhere is capital seen in fuller or more beneficial employment. Heedless alike of the obstructions of hills and valleys, it has created hundreds of railways, which, commencing at the mouths of the different pits, terminate at some convenient place on the banks of the river. On these thousands of waggons convey with rapidity the produce of the mines to the vessels lying at anchor in the river, which, as they complete their freight, are towed out and depart with every favourable wind for their several destinations.

    The large collieries in the vicinity of the rivers have each a railway running in the most direct line to their banks. Upon these railways the waggons move in trains of from ten to thirty or more in number, according to the extent of the works or the existing demand for coal. The nature of the power which puts them in motion depends in some measure on the distance they have to travel, and the inclination or other peculiarities of the surface. On those which are perfectly level, a locomotive steam-engine generally heads the train, and drags it to its destination with startling rapidity. On other railroads, which have a regular descent the whole way, the waggons are impelled by their own gravity, and, by the aid of a long rope and a series of pulleys, drag up the empty train, which, in its turn, when again descending with a load, draws the other to the pit in like manner.

    When the railroad is carried up an ascending piece of ground, the train is drawn up the ascent by a winding-engine placed at the summit. In many small establishments, and in some which are situated very near one of the rivers or the coast, horses are employed to draw the train of coal-waggons; and, in others, a combination of all these methods is practised. Those collieries which are situated several miles from either the rivers or coast have frequently to pay sums amounting to 400l. or 500l. a year for the right of carrying their communications through private property which intervenes between the pits and the place of loading.

    At the end of the railway, and overhanging the river, a large platform of wood is erected, which is called a staith. Upon this the waggons laden with coal are brought to a stand previous to the discharge of their contents into the holds of the ships which lie at anchor underneath. Each waggon contains about 2 and a half tons (53 cwts.) of coal, and when the number of waggons has been entered by a clerk appointed for that purpose, they are placed, one at a time, on a square open frame, which, on the withdrawal of a bolt, is immediately moved from the staith by machinery until it is suspended over the main-hatchway of the vessel. A man who descends with it then unfastens a latch at the bottom of the waggon, which, being made to turn upon hinges like a door, immediately opens, and the whole of the coal in the waggon is cleanly poured into the hold. To facilitate this operation the sides of the waggons converge towards the bottom, and are lined with smooth iron-plates. Attached to the suspending machinery are two counterpoising’ weights, which, being less heavy than the waggon when laden with coal, do not impede but add steadiness to its descent; but, the moment the coal is discharged, their gravity draws up the waggon to the staith. This mode of loading the vessels is both complete and ingenious. In an excursion on the Tyne, between Newcastle and Shields, the perpetual ascent and descent of the waggons in the manner above described forms a very novel and curious spectacle to a stranger.

    In situations where, owing to the height of the cliffs, the above mode of emptying the waggons would be inconvenient or impracticable, a large spout is used, and the vessel is brought under the aperture at the lower end; so that the coal emptied at the top passes along the spout, and is discharged into the ship’s hold. The height of the staith at Seaham is perhaps forty feet above the deck of the vessel, and to diminish the force with which the coal would descend the spout from such a height, there is a trap-door at the lower end, by which the force of its descent is diminished, and it reaches the hold without injury to the vessels. The accompanying cuts (pages 161 and 168) represent both the mode of loading by staith and by the spout.

    One of these two methods is invariably pursued wherever there is a sufficient depth of water to allow the vessel to come alongside the staith; but as this is not always the case, whenever an impediment exists, some other mode becomes necessary. There are many coal-works in which, owing to local obstacles and the intersection of private property, a right of way cannot always be obtained. The greatest obstacle of all, and one which is coeval with the coal-trade itself, is the bridge which crosses the Tyne at Newcastle, which effectually bars the passage of coal-vessels above the town. Those owners, therefore, whose pits lie “above bridge” are compelled, in addition to the railway and staith, to employ a number of light barges called “keels”, for the purpose of conveying their coal to the ships. This mode of conveyance is the most ancient, and was universal before the invention of this staith and its mechanical apparatus.

    A keel is built sharp at both ends, and is capable of containing about 16 and a half London chaldrons of coal (about21 tons), has a sort of quarter-deck for the convenience of the keelmen, and a footway or gangway along the sides. The collier, waiting to receive the cargo of the keel, lies at anchor in a convenient part of the river, and generally a keel is lashed on each side of her. The coal is shovelled through her ports, or into a large tub, which, when filled, is drawn up, turned over, and the coal emptied into the hold. But this method occasions the breakage of the coal to such an extent as to deteriorate its value in the market.

    By the vessel receiving her cargo from the staith, without the intervention of the keel, a saving of about 9d. per London chaldron is effected in keel dues. The employment of keelmen is therefore dispensed with wherever it is possible. Still their wages are tolerably constant, and are higher than those received by pitmen, and considerably higher than the wages of an agricultural labourer. They average from 18s. to 21s. per week, and occasionally they obtain, under certain circumstances, from 30s. to 40s. They are paid by the tide, voyage, or trip.

    We feel much pleasure in recording a circumstance in the history of the keelmen, which does great credit to their foresight, and is worthy of imitation by all classes of our industrious population. Warned many years ago by the sentiment expressed in the northern proverb?

    ” Did youth but know what age would crave, Many a penny it would save,”

    they raised a sum by subscription among themselves, with which they founded an extensive establishment in Newcastle, known by the name of the “Keelman’s Hospital.” In this quiet retreat fifty-two aged men and women find a comfortable asylum during their latter years. We believe that this is the only hospital in the kingdom built and supported by the working classes for their own members. The keelmen meet once a year to celebrate the establishment of this institution, perambulating the town with bands of music, playing the lively Northern air?” Weel may the keel row.”

    A stranger who visits the banks of the Tyne will not fail to be struck by the immense heaps of sand which are to be seen, some of them being from 100 to 200 feet in height. The colliers, after discharging their cargoes, take in a quantity of sand as ballast, and on their return to the river, it is discharged on its banks. It is afterwards removed to the top of these ?ballast hills?, which is often a tedious and expensive process. Sometimes a steam-engine and an ?endless train” of ascending and descending buckets is necessary.

    Newcastle, the metropolis of this district, has doubled its population within the last thirty years. It has been enriched by the coal-trade, which attracts vessels from all parts of the world to discharge their merchandize upon its quays. By the exchanges which follow these transactions, a multitude of trades are called into activity, which in their turn give employment and wealth to industrious thousands, who, spreading over the neighbourhood, form new and flourishing communities. In this way North and South Shields, at the mouth of the Tyne, and many intermediate villages on its banks, have sprung up within the memory of persons yet living.

    Of the coal annually consumed in London, one-half, amounting to more than 1,000,000 tons, is shipped at Newcastle. The foreign export of coal from Newcastle amounted, in 1833, to 233,448 tons, being above a third of the whole quantity sent abroad. Vessels do not enter or clear at North and South Shields, but at Newcastle, of which those places are the out-stations. The number of ships registered at Newcastle is above 1,100, and their tonnage amounts to 221,276 tons. A collier makes on an average nine or ten, and sometimes more, voyages to London in a year ; and the number of arrivals in the Tyne annually is not less than 13,000 or 14,000,-10,000 of which are on account of the coal-trade.

    Sunderland is the great shipping port of the Wear. The number of its registered vessels has more than doubled within the last fifty years, being 625 in the year 1829, and the tonnage 107,880. The average number of vessels quitting the port is 176 per week, or 9152 in a year. The amount of coal sent abroad from Sunderland is about 176,000 tons annually; and it supplied the London market in 1833 with 667,787 tons, besides enjoying, along with Newcastle and other ports of the North, a share in the general coast-trade in coal. Stockton, on the Tees, is a thriving port; and its trade in coal, though not so large as its more powerful neighbours, Newcastle and Sunderland, is, we under stand, increasing.

    Blythe, or Blythe Nook, is a small port on the river Blythe, which may be considered one of the smaller livers on the Northern coal-field. Above 100 vessels belong to this port. Seaton Sluice is another small port in this quarter and, within the last few years, a harbour has been formed at Seaham, near Sunderland, by the Marquis of Londonderry. A rail-road leads to it from the South Hetton colliery, a distance of about four miles, passing, in its course, across valleys, and through passages cut in the solid rock. There did not exist, at Seaham, the slightest natural appearance of a harbour; but it is now a most convenient shipping-station for colliers to receive their cargoes in safety. Two piers have been constructed, and a village has sprung up on the site where these improvements have been so successfully undertaken.

    The quantities of coal shipped from the different ports of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1829, were as follows:?Quantities sent coastwise, 5,014,132 tons; to Ireland, 840,246 to the British colonies, 128,893 to foreign countries, 240,854 making the total quantity shipped 6,224,125 tons.

    Soon after the Revolution, in 1688, a duty was imposed on coal brought coastwise into the port of London in addition to the municipal charges with which it was burdened. During the last war, it was as high as 9s. 4d per chaldron; but was reduced to 6s. in 1824. There was a drawback allowed on coal sent coastwise to Cornwall for the use of the mines. This drawback amounted, in 1829, to 16,148l. There was no duty on coal sent coastwise from one part of Scotland to another and the duty on that exported to Ireland was only 1s. 1d. per ton. After having, in the interval, undergone some modifications, the whole of these duties were totally abolished in 1831.

    The total sum received for the duty on coals amounted, in 1829, to œ1,021,862 of which London contributed œ464,599; Norfolk, œ83,564; Kent, œ52,549; Devonshire, œ42,784; Hampshire, œ37,813; Sussex, œ36,295; Essex, œ30,881; making, with other maritime counties, œ847,265.

    In the same year, the duty on coal exported to Ireland amounted to œ74,050. The chief ports of shipment were Whitehaven, Liverpool, Newport, Swansea, Irvine, Ayr, and Glasgow.

    Up to August, 1831, the duty on coal exported to British possessions was Is. 6d. per chaldron, and to foreign countries 17s. per chaldron, Newcastle measure. (53 cwts.) Since that year, the duty on coal sent to foreign countries has been 3s. 4d. per ton ; and on small coal 2s. In 1829, the quantity exported was 369,747 tons; whereas, in 1833, owing to the reduced duty, it had increased to 634,418 tons.
    In 1829, there were sent to the British possessions 128,893 tons. In 1833, the isles of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Man imported 53,866 tons; our North American settlements, 55,313 tons; British West Indies, 46,449; Gibraltar, 9914 tons; and Malta, 7000 tons.

    Of the coal exported to foreign countries, Holland takes a greater quantity than any other. In 1833, the exportation from this country to Holland amounted to 142,38 tons. Denmark took 74,445 tons; Germany, 69,896; France, 45,218 ; the United States, 28,512; Prussia, 24,068; Portugal, 13,532; and Italy, 10,000 tons.
    London is, of course, the most important market for coal. In 1833, the supply amounted to above 2,000,000 tons, which was furnished by the following- places 😕 Newcastle, 1,060,839 tons; Sunderland, 667,787; Stockton, 170,690; Blythe and Beaton Sluice, 48,689 : from Scotland, 15,138; from Wales, 32,156; from Yorkshire, 16,110; from inland pits, by the Grand Junction Canal and the western part of the Thames, 4395 tons, making a total of 2,015,804 tons.

    The immense activity which the coal-trade gives to the shipping interest renders this branch of commerce not only important on account of the wealth which it creates, but intimately allies it with our national welfare, by forming a most admirable nursery for seamen. Even sixty years ago, when it was far less extensive than it is at the present moment, Postlethwaite said that, “in a time of urgent necessity, the colliery-navigation alone has been able to supply the government with a body of seamen for the royal navy able to man a considerable fleet at a very short warning, and that without difficulty, when no other branch of trade could do the like.” Above 10,000 men and boys are engaged in the Newcastle shipping alone.

    Five-and-thirty years since, Colquhoun, who wrote a treatise containing an historical view of the commerce of the port of London, says, in that part of it which relates to the coal-trade, that this branch of our enterprise ” exceeds the foreign commerce in the number of ships annually discharged; and requires double the number of craft which is required for the whole import and export trade of the Thames.” In 1799, the number of colliers which arrived in the Thames was 3279; in 1818, there were 5239; and in 1833, 7077. The two ports of Newcastle and Sunderland now possess shipping whose tonnage is above 310,000 tons, being about 50,000 tons more than the whole mercantile navy of the country about the year 1700. But as there was no legal registry of tonnage at that time, the presumption that the shipping of Newcastle and Sunderland now and that of the whole country in the year 1700 were equal is, perhaps, the most accurate.

    Owing to the configuration of our coasts, persons who reside a great distance from inland collieries can be supplied from pits 400 or 500 miles off at a cheaper rate than if coal had to be procured by land-carriage only a few short miles from their homes. Even at a distance of 600 or 700 miles from the pit, the sea-borne coal commands the market. Hence the most distant parts of the country partake of the advantages of cheap fuel; and if they be remote from the coast, it is ten to one but capital has been employed to open a cheap communication with an inland coal-district by means of a canal, which always benefits the humble labourer, whilst the capitalist whose money has been expended on such works is frequently compelled to wait for years before he begins to receive a profitable return on his investment; the advantage to the former commencing from the moment that the first boat-load arrives by the new communication, rendering an article, which formerly only the rich could afford to purchase, accessible to the humblest cottager.

    There is generally an intermediate agent between the coal-owner and ship-owner or merchant, termed a coal-fitter. The intervention of such a class of men is an economical and beneficial arrangement to all parties, and renders it unnecessary for a coal-owner to leave his works and attend the shipping-port in search of buyers; at the same time it prevents the ship-owner leaving his ship in order to seek a cargo at the pit. When the trade is unusually good, the coal-owners sometimes hire vessels and send them to market at once. A cargo is generally purchased by the trader, who, after payment of the freight and other charges, disposes of it to the London merchant.

    [Inclined Plane on the Railway from South Hetton to Seaham Harbour, showing the manner in which a Loaded Train of Waggons pulls an empty one up the declivity.]

    Legislation on the subject of coal commenced about 400 years ago, and as the use of this article gradually became more extensive, it was surrounded by many regulations, some of which were intended to benefit the consumer, and others to render the imposition of a tax beneficial to the state. The enormous supply which the metropolis at present requires is furnished under peculiar local regulations, one of the most important of which is that all coal must be publicly sold at the Coal .Exchange. The following extract from an old pamphlet, published nearly 200 years ago, and purporting to be a dialogue between a wholesale and retail dealer, will show the advantages of a public market for the sale of coals. The former, detailing the means which he used to enhance the price of coal, says:?” Though the fleete be an hundred saile, yet we meet them at Yarmouth, or before they come so farre, and suffer not above twenty or thirty to appeare at a time, and then give out the rest are suspected to be lost or taken. We tell the masters that our yards at London are full, that money is dead, and they must deliver or sell forthwith, or else their charges will quickly eat out their gaines; and so we get coales at our owne prices, and sell them as we list.” He then goes on to say :?” There are now some forty or fifty saile of colliers come into the poole, and the poore people have great hopes to see coales fall in their prices; whereas, alasse, poore silly fools, our agents at Newcastle have bought them all for us.”

    The practice at present is, when a vessel with coal arrives in the port of London, to transmit to the authorised factors at the Coal Exchange a statement containing the name of the vessel, the port to which she belongs, and the quantity and name of the coal she contains. The sale of the cargo then takes place under certain known and public regulations. The times of sale are between the hours of twelve and two on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in each week. The average number of ships at market on each of the above days during the year is about ninety; the average number sold each day about forty-six.

    In the port of London the crew are not employed in delivering the cargo when sold. In order, therefore, to avoid any delay in this operation, which would be injurious both to the seller and purchaser, but particularly to the former, whose profits depend to a great extent upon the rapidity of his voyages, a beneficial division of employment is created, which is useful to both parties under the existing regulations concerning the delivery of the ship. Men, called coal-undertakers, attend the Coal Exchange when the vessel whose cargo he has engaged to deliver is to be sold. He obtains the name of the buyers, and then hires a gang of labourers, and apprises the purchasers of the time when the delivery will commence.

    The men whose duty it is to deliver the colliers of their cargoes, are called coal-whippers or coal-heavers, and are about 1800 in number. Their existence is entirely owing to the regulation which precludes the crew of the vessel from performing this work. In any other port but London it is done by them. They are therefore a “privileged” class; but, like similar bodies whose interests are based upon regulations which are artificial and incompatible with the general good, they fail to draw from them all the advantages which at first sight they might be thought undoubtedly to confer. As far as the consumer is concerned, the operation of

    [Seaham Harbour, showing the Termination of the South Hetton Railway.]

    this monopoly is decidedly injurious. The expense of delivering a cargo of coal is above œ20, while a vessel laden with timber, which is a more cumbersome article, is delivered at a cost of about 9/., owing to the competition of labour being unfettered. Each of the 1800 coal-whippers of London earns on an average œ66 a year. This sum, with economy and good management, would surround them with many comforts, and if the general habits of this class were steadier, they would form a respectable body amongst the industrious population of the metropolis. They deserve to be well paid, as their labour is very severe; but it would not be difficult to prove that there are much better means of sustaining the animal powers than ale and porter, or gin, which too often they consume in large quantities. But if these men be not distinguished by their habits of temperance, the unfortunate position in which they are placed with respect to the coal-undertakers (who are usually publicans), absolutely compel them to become his customers.

    This degrading thraldom is the result of their ?privileges?, and could not be maintained if competition were free to any one who was capable of earning his bread by such labour. There were but 800 coal-whippers when Colquhoun’s work was published. But he gave in that work statements proving that the coal-heavers were each defrauded out of œ30 annually; and he estimated the profits of the publicans on the liquors which are forced upon these men, with the money taken for commission, as being not less than œ8577/. per annum.

    It appears that there existed at one time an act (10 George III., cap. 53) which, as far as possible, relieved the coal-heavers from their dependence on publicans, by enacting that no coal-undertaker should take or demand money from any coal-heaver as a commission for procuring him employment; and that no coal-undertaker should be a victualler, or directly or indirectly concerned in receiving any part of the profits of such trade, or in any other manner in the selling of spirits or drink of any kind, on pain of being deprived of his appointment. This act was in force for three years, when it expired, and has never since been re-enacted.

    Perhaps we ought to add, that though the circumstances described by Colquhoun still exist, and the habits of coal-heavers may still be characterized as frequently intemperate, yet that the intensity of these has considerably diminished; and it is gratifying to reflect that, although the wages of coal-heavers are not so high as they once were, they now bring home to their families a larger weekly sum than at the former period.

    The bargemen are employed in conducting the barges from the ships’ side to the different wharf’s. An idea of their number may be formed by comparing the coal-trade at the commencement of the present century and its extent at this time. At the former period the monthly supply of coal for the metropolis was estimated at 300 cargoes per month. Colquhoun observes that, on some occasions, 90 colliers (each requiring on an average thirteen barges) were then discharging their cargoes at once, giving employment to 1170 barges. The total number of barges engaged in the trade he estimated at 2196.

    From returns obtained from the Coal Exchange, it appears that there are now 598 cargoes sold per month, which is double the quantity brought to the metropolis when the above estimate was made. The number of coal-barges at present employed is therefore most probably above 4000. They are usually the property of coal-merchants, and must be navigated by members of the Watermen’s Company. The charges for lighterage,?ie., for conveying the coal from the vessel and discharging it at the wharf,?is 2s. per London chaldron. Many of the bargemen receive about 30s. per week for conducting their barges up and down the Thames. We believe that coal is often taken from the vessels and conveyed as high as Lambeth at the rate of 1s. per Chaldron. These barges an; carried by the tide, and conducted by a single man. If their cargoes had to be conveyed the same distance by land, the cost of coal would be enormously increased to the consumer.

    The wholesale coal-merchants have wharfs along the banks of the river. In the first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558) twenty wharfs were established, and up to the commencement of the present century their number had not been increased. The coal being brought by the barges from the vessel is landed on the wharf, from whence it is sent out to the retail dealers and larger consumers. The cost for cartage and shooting is about 3s-. 5«d. per ton per mile, and assuming the average distance carted to be a mile and a half, it will amount to at least 7s. per London chaldron. The charge of unloading the waggons is 1s. 6d/. per chaldron.

    Previous to 1831 the coal-trade of the metropolis was under a series of close municipal regulations, many of which are now done away with. They were, however, insufficient to prevent the extensive prevalence of fraud, and an act was passed in 1831, which, by one of its clauses, simplified the previous cumbersome administration of the. law, and placed the trade on a footing much more advantageous to the consumer. This beneficial change was accomplished by an enactment under which, within twenty-five miles of London, all coal must be sold by weight and not by measure. Every waggon carrying out coal from the merchant’s yard is required to be provided with a weighing-machine, and the waggoner is compelled, under heavy penalties, to weigh any sack which the consumer may conceive to be deficient in amount. A ticket must always be delivered to purchasers of a certain quantity, specifying the name of the coal, and the number and weight of sacks which the waggon contains. Temptation to fraud is now removed as far as possible, and can be easily discovered if suspected.

    To that class of persons whose consumption is small, the change in the mode of selling is of the greatest importance. Dr. Hutton who, being brought up a collier, is a good authority on such a point, says, that if a cubic yard of coal when broken be equal to five bolls, it will measure seven and a half when broken small?Mr. Buddie thinks eight. The consumer, therefore, paid for the latter proportion and received only the former. It was therefore clearly the interest of all classes of dealers through whose hands the article passed, to cause as much breakage as possible.

    In addition, the evil of selling by measurement at all was greatly aggravated by the nefarious practice of selling by heaped measure. By forming the cone of small coal, much less would be measured than if larger pieces were used. Happily for all classes of consumers, the Act respecting ?Weights and Measures?, which came recently into operation, has abolished heaped measures entirely.

    In an active and wholesome state of competition there cannot exist in any trade a class of men whose functions are not obviously connected with its useful and beneficial operations. It appears that in the middle of the sixteenth century the supply of coal was in the hands of too great a number of dealers. This subdivision, however, was not owing to the perfected manner in which men carried on their different trades, but shows rather that these trades had not yet found their natural channels, and that they were so unimportant as to have been unable to maintain a separate existence, just as we see now a village shopkeeper acting as a hatter, a draper, a grocer, a druggist, &c. An Act passed in the reign of Edward VI. attributed the circumstance of a trade being divided in the above manner to the ” greedy appetite and covetousness of divers persons ;” and then went on to state, that, in consequence of this, ” fuel, coal, and wood runneth many times through four of five several hands or more, before it cometh to the hands of them that for their necessity do burn or retail the same ;” and as a remedy for the evil,?”It is therefore enacted that no person shall buy any coal, but only such as will burn or consume the same; or such persons as sell the same again by retail to such as burn or consume the same for their own occupying.”

    Admitting, however, that the trade was, at the above period, engrossed by too great a variety of dealers, we shall see that 100 years afterwards, either in consequence of this very enactment, or from the fluctuating and unsettled condition of trade, it was then monopolized chiefly by two classes of traders. In a pamphlet from which we have already quoted, published at that time (1653), and entitled, ?The two grand Ingrossers of Coles, viz., the Woodmonger and the Chandler,’ it is shown that they bought the coal at the pit, and so held in their hands the power of controlling the market. In this instance an intermediate class of men was required between the coal proprietor and the London wholesale merchant, whose interests should be best promoted by carrying supplies into the market as quickly as possible.

    In order, therefore, that the very poorest class may enjoy the luxury and comfort of a fire, there are, first of all, men employed in procuring the coal from the bowels of the earth,?others in navigating the ships which bring it to market,?merchants possessing wharfs and the conveniences which enable them to keep a sufficient store; and then come the retail dealers, from whom even so small a quantity as a single pennyworth can be obtained. Lest an article so important should become a monopoly where it is sold in large quantities, it can only be disposed of, in London, in a public market, in which every transaction that occurs is published and widely circulated in newspapers, which also state the prices which the various descriptions of coal are fetching from one market-day to another.

    The tricks which were practised in this trade some two hundred years ago, and which the old pamphlet we have noticed details, would now be utterly void of success. The ?chandler” of that day mentions to a brother dealer the devices which he adopts in order to procure a temporary rise in fuel. ” First,” says he, ” I vent it out by carmen and poor folks, that indeed there was a fleet come of sixty-five or seventy saile almost as far as Harwich ; but there rose a violent storm, so that most of the fleete was shipwreckt, and the rest rendered unserviceable to put to sea till next Easter at least. At the report of this, O how the poore shrug in their shoulders, and pawn their pewter dishes and brasses, and any goods, at the brokers, to get some coales in at any rate; and then I vend my worst coales, or mingle them with a few good ones.”

    Camden, in his history of Durham, the materials for which were collected more than 250 years ago, said that that county was rich in pit coal, ?which we use for firing in many places.” About 100 years afterwards the quantity imported into London was 270,000 chaldrons; in 1688, 300,000 chaldrons; and in 1750, 500,000 chaldrons ; and the consumption has gone on gradually increasing until its use has become universal. In 1801 the consumption of coal in the metropolis was 1.05 chaldrons per head; in 1828 it had increased to 1.156. Owing to the very nature of mining speculations, it is scarcely possible that there should be any monopoly of the article by the coal-owners. We have stated that when the trade in London is unusually good, the coal-owners occasionally freight ships on their own account, in order to have the benefit of the market; and it appears that they also do this at times when prices are excessively low.

    Mr. Buddle stated to the Parliamentary Committee,?” Although many collieries in the hands of fortunate individuals and companies have been perhaps making more than might be deemed a reasonable and fair profit, according to their risk, like a prize in a lottery ; yet, as a trade, taking the whole capital employed on both rivers, he should say that certainly it has not been so.” Being asked, ?What have the coal-owners on the Tyne and Wear, in your opinion, generally made on their capital employed?” He replied,?” According to the best of my knowledge, I should think that by no means 10 per cent, has been made at simple interest, without allowing any extra interest for the redemption of capital.” | In 1813 coals were from 52s. to 55s. 9d. per chaldron; and in 1932, from 25s. to 31s. In 1833 the price was from 15s. to 18s. per ton. The difference in price at the two periods when the demand for coal is likely to be most dissimilar?January and July?has gradually become less striking.

    Previous to 1831 the price paid by the consumer for a chaldron of coals was apportioned in the following manner:?
    s. d.
    Coal-owner, for coal 13 9
    Coal-fitter, keel-dues, &c 2 3
    Shipowner, for freight, &c 8 6?
    Municipal dues at Newcastle 0 8¬
    Government tax 6 0
    Municipal dues in the port of London …….. 4 4 ?
    Coal Factor, commission 0 4?
    Coal merchant 12 6
    Sundries 2 2?,
    œ2 10 7i

    The alterations which have taken place since this period, first in the abolition of the Government tax of 6s. per chaldron, and next in the fees which were paid to the meters, which amounted to upwards of œ24,000 a year, have rendered coal much cheaper, it is true; but there are still many vexatious regulations which enhance its price, and which ought, to be modified or abolished. A sum of œ25,000 a year is paid annually to the Corporation of London for ?metage?, and is claimed as one of their prescriptive rights; but it might be advantageously commuted, as the Richmond duties have been. A further sum of œ63,000 a year, paid as orphans’ dues, will expire in the course of a few years. Some of the other charges are also susceptible of considerable reduction, amongst which is the enormous sum of œ107,000 a year paid to the coal-whippers, which, as it has been stated, benefits a number of publicans at the expense of the health and morals of these men. The charge for the work which they perform is 1s. 1d. a chaldron, whereas at Newcastle and Sunderland the waggons are filled at a cost of only 1¬d, or l?d. per chaldron; the additional labour of raising-coal a little greater height in the former case would be well paid by an allowance of 4d. per chaldron. If the trade were free, the public would not be burdened by the support of the odious monopoly of the publicans.

    It will be seen that the cost of bringing coal from the ship to the consumer’s cellar exceeds the original price of the article, and is also much higher than the expenses of transit from the pit’s mouth to the Thames. The charges of the London coal-merchant, amounting to 12s, 6d. per chaldron, consist of the following items:
    Buyer’s Commission 1 0
    Lighterage 2 0
    Cartage 6 0
    Credit 2 0
    Shootage .®? 1 3
    Sundries 0 3
    12 6
    The charge for lighterage very much exceeds in amount the charges paid in the North for a similar sort of work.

    Mr. Buddie states that the Tyne keelmen, who take the coal from the spouts, or staiths, to deliver into the vessels, are paid 1s. 3d. per London chaldron for navigating their keels from seven to eight miles, and casting the coals into the ship, a height of five feet, independently of the horizontal distance which it is requisite to project them to reach the port-hole of the vessel into which they are loaded: in addition to which the keels will cost them from three-halfpence to twopence the London chaldron; ” so that our keelmen have not so much as the lighterage in London comes to for merely carrying the coal from the side of the ship to the wharf; although the keelmen navigate the vessels from seven to eight miles, and discharge the cargo by shovelling it out of the keels into the ship.”

    The price of cartage in London Mr. Buddie also thinks enormous. ?In the North,” he says?, we let cartage by contract, including the loading, at 7d. to 8d. per ton, per mile, on turnpike-roads, and at from 9d. to 10d. per ton on heavy country-roads; so that the price of cartage in London is from four to five times as much as we pay for it in the country.” In allusion to the charge of 1s. 6d. for ?shootage?, which is paid in London for shooting the coal down into the cellar, Mr. Buddie says that, ?at the rate we pay our waggon-men for filling the waggons, I believe they would be very glad, for twopence, to heave these same coals out of the cellar again up the hole.”

    The artificial circumstances in which, until a recent period, the coal-trade has been placed, may have occasioned some of the charges noticed above to have risen beyond the usual cost of labour; but it is highly probable that, in proportion as the influence of (his state of things decreases, that the coal-trade will not, any more than other branches of enterprise, present such anomalies as those described by Mr. Buddie.

    Mr. Taylor, an experienced individual connected with the coal-trade, laid before the Lords’ Committee the following estimate of the consumption in Great Britain

    The annual vend of coal carried coast
    wise from Durham and Northumber
    land is 3,300,000
    Home consumption, say one-fifth 660,000
    Which quantity supplies 5,000,000 per-
    sons ; and supposing the whole popula-
    tion to amount to 15,000,000, the
    estimate will therefore be 11,880,000
    Consumed in Iron-works 3,000,000
    Annual consumption of Great Britain.. 14,880,000
    Exported to Ireland 900,000

    Mr. Taylor has not, in this estimate, taken into account the foreign export of coal, which, in 1833, was 634,448 tons. The population of Great Britain is now about 17,000,000. The estimate will therefore stand thus:?

    Tons. Consumption of 15,000,000 inhabitants 11,880,000 Add for consumption of 2,000,000, the
    additional population 1,584,000
    Exported, in 1833, to foreign countries . 634,448
    Exported to Ireland 900,000
    Consumed iu Iron-works …………………. 3,000,000

    Mr. Buddle supplied some interesting information to the Parliamentary Committee. On being asked if he had anything to state respecting the number of men and ships employed on the rivers Tyne and Wear, he said that he had made a summary??that there are seamen, 15,000; pitmen and above-ground people employed at the collieries, 21,000; keelmen, coal-boatmen, casters, and trimmers 2000; making the total number employed, in what I call the Northern Coal Trade, 38,000. In London, whippers, lightermen, and so forth, 5000; factors, agents, &c, on the Coal Exchange, 2500; 7500 in all. Making the grand total in the North country and London departments of the trade, 45,500. This does not, of course, include the persons employed at the out-ports in discharging the ships there.?

    The above return is strictly confined to the Tyne and Wear, and does not include Seaham, Blythe, Hartley, or Stockton. From it we may obtain a tolerably accurate approximation of the numbers employed in the trade of Great Britain. In the first place, then, it may be inferred that as the produce of the collieries on the Tyne and Wear does not exceed 3,000,000 tons, and employs 21,000 men, the whole of the collieries in Great Britain, as their produce is six times greater, will
    employ at least 121,000 men.

    For the supply of London with less than 2,000,000
    tons of coal, the shipping on the Tyne and Wear
    employs 15,000 seamen; and as the whole quantity
    shipped coastwise in 1833 was nearly 6,000,000
    tons, the number of seamen employed in the coal-
    trade must be 30,000
    London consumes one-ninth part of the produce of
    the mines of Great Britain ; and as the number
    of factors and individuals to whom the trade gives
    employment in the metropolis amounts to 7500,
    the number for Great Britain is probably 45,000

    The bargemen employed on the Tyne and Wear
    are 2000 in number ;?for the whole country the
    number cannot be less than 10,000 men
    The population to whom the coal gives direct em
    ployment is therefore about 206.000

    Mr. McCulloch estimates the number of individuals employed at from 160,000 to 180,000; but the increase in the consumption which has taken place since the abolition of the coast duty has enabled the consumers to go to market every year with nearly a million of additional capital, and the use of coal in gas-works, and for a variety of purposes, has therefore been considerably extended.

    The capital employed in collieries, on the Tyne and Wear, Mr. Buddie estimates at about œ2,200,000 Mr M’Culloch estimates at œ10,000,000 the capital employed in the coal-trade of Great Britain.

    Camden remarked, about two centuries and a half ago, that “sea-coal are dug in great plenty, to the great benefit of the inhabitants.” We shall not stop to inquire what signification he attached to the expression ?great plenty?, but if the benefits arising from the use of coal were apparent then, they are now increased a thousand-fold, and the possession of an almost inexhaustible source of supply of coal has become one of the most important of our national resources, with which the stability of our manufactures, commerce, and strength as a nation is identified.

    [Seaham Harbour Coal Staith, Mode of Loading by the Spout.]


    Extract from The Parish of Seaham

    by R Anderson Aird 1912


    The present vicarage was built by Rev O. J. Cresswell about 1830 on the site of the old building but much enlarged. The Cresswell arms are displayed over the doorway. It is a fine Renaissance building, standing to the east of the church on the north bank of the dene in a delightful situation with a view of both country and sea. “The cliff below has been., converted into an ornamental garden to suit the natural character of the place, trees, shrubs and flowers of the hardy variety suited to sea breezes abound clinging to the rock.”(Surtees) In the garden near the entrance the ground is covered with a mass of natural growth, the spring flowers following each other in a continuous succession.

    The glebe farm was originally the building standing at the north-east of the present vicarage, and the glebe lands extended north and a short way south of this building. The farm and lands were, some 50 or 60 years ago, exchanged for the Seaham Grange, near the Stockton turnpike, and now divided from the estate by the North Eastern Railway.

    There is now no village of Seaham, though formerly it was a place of some note, situated close to the sea banks and bounded on the south by a deep dene. In the time of the Milbankes (who left Dalden Tower and resided here) the village consisted of one main street running down towards the sea. The manor house, called Seaham Hall, adjoined the village inn, and formed part of the street. There were six cottages :— 3 of 4 rooms each and garden. 1 of 3 rooms and garden, 1 of 2 rooms and garden, 1 of 2 rooms without garden.

    The Hall grounds have been adorned with plantations and pleasure grounds at great cost. Surtees says the grounds have been laid out ” with the most elegant simplicity, uniting with a noble sea view, the softest pastoral scenery on the eastern coast.” The house and offices occupied over an acre ; the plantations 33 acres and the garden and orchard three acres; and the town green over five acres.

    The village inn contained eight rooms, cellar, out-houses and garden, five-stall stable and about nine acres of land. The rent in 1821 was £15.

    The manor farm stood west of the church, the fold yard of which adjoined the churchyard.

    At the present day all trace of the village street and manor farm has disappeared. The only houses near the church are the Hall—one of the seats of the Marquis of Londonderry—and the few houses of those engaged upon the estate.

    The present Hall occupies the site of the old manor house and village inn, and was extended by the late Lady Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry. The central portion of the Hall forms part of the old manor building.

    In 1821 the estate consisted of two manors. Seaham, containing about 2,425 acres, paid a crown or chief rent of eight shillings a year at Michaelmas to the executors and trustees of Lord Feversham, and the Manor of Dalden, containing 1,084 acres, was exempt from tithes on payment of two yearly moduses of £2 and £7 3s. 4d. to the vicar of Dalton-le-Dale and of £2 per year, prescript rent, to the Prebendary of the 7th stall of Durham Cathedral.

    At this time, 1821, the rent roll of the whole estate was about £2,000.

    The population of Seaham in 1801 was 115, in 1811 121, and in 1821 103.


    Many visitors from Houghton, Durham and other places stayed at Seaham during the summer for the sea bathing. A brass plate in one of the pews in the church reads :—” Free access to this pew for all strangers.” The pew will seat four persons ! Amongst such visitors was Mrs. Grant, a daughter of the Ironsides of Houghton, and wife of Judge Grant, with her children. The eldest Eliza, who married Colonel Smith of Baltiboys, in Ireland, delightfully describes her visit in Memoirs of a Highland Lady, extract below…..                      (Elizabeth Grant was born 7th May 1797 – DA)

    Early in the summer of 1808 …. my mother removed with the children to Seaham, a little bathing hamlet on the coast of Durham, hardly six miles from Houghton. She had often passed an autumn there when a child, with some of her numerous brothers and sisters, and she said it made her feel young again to find herself there once more, wandering over all the ground she knew so well…..

    We lived in a little public-house, the only inn in the place. We entered at once into the kitchen, bright and clean, and full of cottage valuables ; a bright ‘ sea-coal’ fire burned always cheerily in the grate, and on the settle at one side generally sat the old grandfather of the family with his pipe, or an old worn newspaper, or a friend. The daughter, who was mistress of the house, kept bustling about in the back kitchen, where all the business went on, which was quite as clean, though not so handsomely furnished, as the one where the old man sat. There was a scullery besides for dirty work, such as baking, brewing, washing, and preparing for cookery. A yard behind held a large water butt and several out-houses. A neatly- kept flower garden, a mere strip, lay beneath the windows in the front, opening into a large kitchen garden on one side. The sea, though not distant, could only be seen from the upper windows; for this and other reasons we generally sat upstairs. Roses and woodbines clustered round the lattices, the sun shone in, the scent of the flowers, and the hum of the bees, and the chirp of the birds, all entered the open casements freely: and the polished floors and furniture, and the clean white dimity hangings, added to the cheerfulness of our suite of small attics. The parlour below was dull by comparison. It could only be reached through the front kitchen; tall shrubs overshaded the window: it had green walls, hair-bottomed chairs set all round by them; one round table in the middle of the room, oiled till it was nearly black, and rubbed till it shone like a mirror; a patch of carpet was spread beneath this table, and a paper net for catching flies hung from the ceiling over it; a corner cupboard full of tall glasses and real old china tea-cups, and a large china punch-bowl on the top, and a corner-set arm-chair with a patch-work cover on the cushion, are all the extras I remember. We were very little in this ‘guest-chamber,’ only at our meals or on rainy days.

    ” We were for ever on the beach, strolling along the sands which were beautiful ; sitting on the rocks or in the caves, penetrating as far into them as we dared. When we bathed, we undressed in a cave and then walked into the sea, generally hand in hand, my mother heading us. How we used to laugh and dance, and splash, and push, anything but dip, we avoided that as much as possible; then in consideration of our cold bath we had a warm tea breakfast and felt so light. It was a very happy time at Seaham. Some of the Houghton cousins were often with us, Kate and Eliza constantly. We had all straw bonnets alike, coarse dunstables lined and trimmed with green, with deep curtains on the neck, pink gingham frocks and holland pinafores, baskets in our hands, and gloves in our pockets. We did enjoy the seashore scrambles. On Sundays we wore what we thought very fine, white frocks all of us; the cousins had white cambric bonnets and tippets, and long kid gloves to meet the short sleeves. We had fine straw bonnets trimmed with white, and black silk spencers. My mother wore gipsy hats, in which she looked beautiful. They were tied on with half-handkerchiefs of various colours, and had a single sprig of artificial flowers inside over one eye. We went to church either at Seaham or Houghton, the four bays carrying us quickly to my uncle Ironside’s, when we spent the remainder of the day there always, our own feet bearing us to the little church on the cliffs when it suited my mother to stay at home.

    The name of the old rector of Seaham I cannot recollect. (Rev. Richard Wallis, 1783—1827) (Rev Wallace was buried at Seaham 10 May 1827 aged 74 – DA)  He was a nice, kind old man, who most good-naturedly, when we drank tea at the parsonage, played chess with me, and once or twice let me beat him. He had a kind, homely wife too, our great ally. She had many housekeeping ways of pleasing children. The family—a son and two or three daughters—were more aspiring. They had annual opportunities of seeing the ways of more fashionable people, and so tried a little finery at home, in particular drilling an awkward lout of a servant boy into a caricature of a lady’s page.

    One evening, in the drawing room, the old quiet mamma, observing that she had left her knitting in the parlour, the sprucest of the daughters immediately rose and rang the bell and desired this attendant to fetch it, which he did upon a silver salver; the thick grey woollen stocking for the parson’s winter wear, presented with a bow, such a bow! to his mistress. No comments that I heard were made upon this scene, but it haunted me as in some way incongruous. Next day, when we were at our work in the parlour, I came out with, ‘Mamma, wouldn’t you have rather run down yourself and brought up the knitting?’ ‘You would, I hope, my dear,’ answered she with a smile—she had such a sweet smile when she was pleased, ‘You would, any of you.’ How merrily we worked on though our work was most particularly disagreeable, an economical invention of our Aunt Mary’s. She had counselled my mother to cut up some fine old cambric petticoats into pocket handkerchiefs for us, thus  giving us four hems to each, so that they were very long in hand. Jane never got through one during the whole time we were at Seaham; it was so dragged and so wetted with tears, and so dirtied from being often begun and ripped and begun again, I believe at last it went into the rag bag, while I, in time, finished the set for both, not, however, without a little grudge against the excellent management of Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary was then living at Houghton with her maiden aunt, Miss Jane Nesham. She and Aunt Fanny had been there for some months, but Aunt Mary was to go on to the Highlands with us whenever my father returned from circuit, and in the meantime she often came over for a day or two to Seaham.

    Except the clergyman’s family there was none of gentle degree in the village. It was the most primitive hamlet ever met with; a dozen or so of cottages, no trade. no manufacture, no business doing that we could see; the owners were mostly servants of Sir Ralph Milbanke’s. He had a pretty villa on the cliff surrounded by well-kept grounds, where Lady Milbanke liked very much to retire in the autumn with her little daughter, the unfortunate child granted to her after eighteen years of childless married life. She generally lived quite privately here, seeing only the rector’s family when his daughters took their lessons in high breeding; and for a companion for the future Lady Byron at these times she selected the daughter of our landlady, a pretty, quiet, elegant-looking girl, who bore very ill with the public-house ways after living for weeks in Miss Milbanke’s apartments. I have often wondered since what became of little Bessy. (1) She liked being with us. She was in her element only with refined people, and unless Lady Milbanke took her entirely and provided for her she had done her irremediable injury by raising her ideas beyond her home. Her mother seemed to feel this, but they were dependents, and did not like to refuse ‘ my lady.’ Surely it could not have been that modest, graceful girl, who was ‘ born in the garret, in the kitchen bred ?

    I remember her mother and herself washing their hands in a tub in the back-yard after some work they had been engaged in, and noticing sadly—I know not why—the bustling hurry with which one pair of red, rough hands was yellow-soaped, well plunged, and then dried off on a dish-cloth; and the other pale, thin, delicate pair was gently soaped and slowly rinsed, and softly wiped on a towel brought down for the purpose. What strangely curious incidents make an impression upon some minds! Bessy could make seaweed neck-laces and shell bags and work very neatly. She could understand our books too, and was very grateful for having them lent to her. My mother never objected to her being with us, but our Houghton cousins did not like playing with her,; their father and mother, they thought, would not approve of it; so when they were with us our more humble companion retired out of sight, giving us a melancholy smile if we chanced to meet her. My mother had no finery.”

    (1) ” Bessy” was not the person to whom Byron referred as being ” born in a garret, &c.” The reference was to Mistress Claremont, a lady who caused much trouble between Lord and Lady Byron. Byron refers to her in a letter as ” Mistress C, a kind of housekeeper and family spy.”‘  Bessy grew up to be a noble example of womanhood, doing many deeds of charity in the highest sense of that word.


    It was during the years 1814 and 1815 that the poet Byron visited Seaham, but, except for the admiration of the sea, already referred to, he does not seem to have been impressed with the district, for in a letter written February 2nd, 1815, he writes:— “Upon this dreary coast we have nothing but county meetings and shipwrecks.” That he was not surfeited with excitement seems evident, for on another occasion he writes :—” I am in such a state of sameness and stagnation . . . gathering shells on the beach and watching the growth of stunted gooseberry bushes in the garden.”

    Lord Byron frequently spent his time in pistol shooting, at which he was a great expert, firing at a glove hung on a branch. He was not, however, the only poet of whose acquaintance Seaham could boast, since she counted Joseph Blackett(2) among her villagers. Blackett was a shoemaker to trade. ” His works.” says Surtees, ” to which it would be harsh to deny the praise to native and vigorous talent, are still before the public.” The poet is mentioned in the Gentleman s Magazine for 1810(3) ; and also in Byron’s famous poem, entitled, ” English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” though the author at the time this poem was written did not know Miss Milbanke, who patronised Blackett. Blackett is buried in Seaham churchyard.

    The coast of Seaham seems ever to have been notorious for shipwrecks, and the villagers seem to have done all in their power to help unfortunate crews. Having none of the modern means of saving life, several of them, firmly holding a rope, and headed by a strong man, would enter the water to try to reach the vessel. My grandfather, being exceptionally tall and strong, acted as leader in this way, and in many cases several lives were thus saved.

    Smuggling was carried on to some extent, and the farm buildings afforded convenient hiding places for stowing the goods. Smuggling went on until comparatively recent times. The last capture was said to have taken place on a dark night by information laid by one of the agents of the estate, who had himself profited by the trade. However this may be, it was noticed that from the time of the capture this same agent never dared to be abroad after nightfall, no doubt fearing the threats of his victims.

    In September, 1861, whilst workmen were making the north road and the approach leading from it to Seaham Hall human bones were found, whilst they were cutting a drain close to the park gates. Care being taken in uncovering them it was found that they consisted of entire skeletons lying without any apparent order at a depth of from two to three feet below the surface.

    (2) ” 26 Aug., 1810. Joseph Blackett (died Aug. 23rd) a poet of singular promise, aged 24, consumption.” (P. Reg.)

    (3) Part i., p. 50. Part ii., pp. 288, 544.

    The excavation extended, though not continuously, over an area of ten yards by about three. In that space from 25 to 30 skeletons were found, some stretched out but without any regard to the points of the compass, whilst others appeared to be doubled up, and in some instances the skeletons lay across one another. Though entire when uncovered, the bones when exposed soon mouldered away. They were examined by three medical men, who pronounced all of them to be the bones of adult males. These bones appeared to extend further than the excavation reached, but it is impossible to say at present over what exact area they were deposited.

    The late Rev. A. Bethune, Vicar of Seaham, was greatly interested in this discovery, and read a paper on their supposed origin to the members of the Seaham Harbour Natural History Club in the winter of 1861. In this paper the reverend gentleman pointed out that the remains were most probably of British origin, since the mode of burial differed from the modes of the Romans, Danes, and Saxons and resembled that of the Britons. The absence of weapon or pottery seemed to point to the fact of a hasty burial, such as may have taken place after a battle with Picts or Scots, who harried the British from the north or the Angles and Saxons who invaded the east coast of England. Since, however, only a comparatively small space of ground had been excavated it was not unlikely that the spot would yet prove to be part of a British burial place, as before the Roman occupation of the country it does not seem to have been the custom among the British to place either weapons or pottery with their dead, and successive burials might account for the large number of bones found in so small an area. In either case—battle field or burial ground—the large number of skeletons seemed to clearly indicate that a place of some considerable size had existed long before Seaham was first mentioned in the records of the reign of Athelstan.

    Seaton village, a mile and a half west of Seaham, is pleasantly situated on high ground, partly surrounded by wood. Seaton Hall, formerly the old mansion of the Middletons, occupies the summit of the hill. A short time ago traces of the old hall of the 17th century could be seen in the mullioned windows and gables. Formerly Seaton formed part of the Manor of Seaham.

    In 1295 half of each village was allotted to the families of Hadham and Yeland. Hadham’s moiety was included in Seaham till 1501, when, on the death of Thomas Hadham, without male issue, his moiety of Seaton descended, according to previous settlement by his daughter Isabel, wife of John Blaykeston, to his grandson, John Blakiston, ancestor of resident proprietors to 1635- A younger branch of this family intermarried with the Middletons, of Newton Hall, and held lands in Seaton.

    In 1585 Thomas Middleton, gentleman, was in possession of the estate. Anthony Middleton, his son and heir, was living in 1615.

    In 1690 Francis Middleton, of Seaton, gentleman, descendant of the above, married Anne Middleton. daughter of a Silksworth family.

    As before mentioned, it is difficult to trace the connection of families who held lands in Seaton, as several parcels had been sold and then re-purchased in small lots, but the Seaton lands as a whole never again reverted to the Seaham and Dalden estate owners.

    The following are some names which occur as owners in addition to Hadham, Blakiston and Middleton :—

    Michael Hebborne 1597 ; George Parkin 1593 ; William Wrenn and Robert Atcheson 1619; Eden, Blenkensopp, Wilson and Bewicke.

    Slingley, formerly Slinglawe, is to the south-west of Seaton. It now consists of two farm houses. A law or mound frequently formed an ancient burial place before the Roman occupation, and remains have been found in several such places. Surtees quotes:—”In 1564 George Swinburne, of Seaham, gentleman, leased to John Byllyngham, of Crookhall, the younger, gentleman, all his lands in the towne and fieldes of Slinglawe upon the hill, for 21 years, under 40s. rent, the tenant to maintain the houses now beilded, and to fell great tymber for the upholding of the said houses.”

    The lands here were held by :—

    1. Sir Ephraim Widdrington, Kt., and Arthur Hebborne, gentleman, to Cuthbert Collingwood (who at one time held lands in Dalden.)
    2. Robert Collingwood to Edward Dale, of Dalton, tenement in Seaton.
    3. Robert Collingwood. gentleman, to Thomas Gregson, Murton, John Todd and Robert Robinson, Dalton.
    4. Edward Dale settled estate on Ralph Dale ancestor to the Dale-of Tunslall. The Carrs also have held lands here up to the present time.

    Roads. Previous to 1821. none of the denes were bridged or embanked for the roadways, except the mouth of Dawdon Dene on the extreme south of Seaham parish. The road from Sunderland was by the present Stockton turnpike, running south-west from Ryhope village, and Seaham was approached through the park by the west lodge gates, where the road runs due east towards the sea. The south outlet was by the same park gates on the Stockton road. There was a foot and bridle road north and south of the village by the sea cliffs, and this was reached by a lane past the church and glebe farm turning sharp to the south and winding down the north bank of the dene on to the beach,(4) whence it proceeded south to the fields. Dawdon Dene was reached by a pathway up the cliffs and into the dene to Dalden Tower, farms, &c. In the winter storms the road at the foot of the cliffs was sometimes covered by surf, and it has been known for a man to ride with his horse breast high through the surf in order to reach his stock in the fields on the south. What is now known as the ” Feather-Bed Rocks,” situated near the entrance of Dawdon dene, adjoined the mainland by a narrow strip of grass land. This has been gradually washed away by the sea until the rock is quite separated from the cliff and is fast disappearing. Some time ago cattle strayed over the narrow part on to the rock and had to be taken off by being lowered to the beach by ropes, the strip being too narrow to allow them to be driven over in safety.

    (4) This part of the beach, which is the outlet for the burn through the dene, widens out. and was known as the Lint-links, being used probably as a bleaching ground for the homespun linen. Much of the ground has now been covered by the embankment for the new road.

    Later a foot road ran from the east end of the village past the west wall of the churchyard through the dene and fields to the south. This road crossed the Dawdon dene by a bridge and embankment, with a toll house on the north side which is still standing! The embankment was carried away many years ago after heavy rains, when the tunnel in the dene became choked with trees. &c, washed down by the rush of water, and the dene became flooded to the top of the embankment.

    Two men came to cross the dene, and debated as to whether the road would be safe. One of them crossed and had scarcely cleared the farther side when the whole embankment gave way with a great noise and the water rushed towards the sea carrying all before it. At that time a small house further up the dene, now known as the ” Adam and Eve Gardens,” was flooded, and the pressure being released from the outside, and the water within not being able to escape quickly, forced the front portion out and carried the stones away. A wooden structure was erected to carry the road over the dene in place of the bridge destroyed, and this continued until the present north road was made.

    More recently, to the south west of the village, the road crossed the dene by a brick bridge, east of the present fine stone structure. The old bridge is still standing, though unused, and forms a very pretty picture in a romantic setting. The path through the dene westwards is still known as Byron’s Walk, and there is a well towards the west called Lady Byron’s well.

    The road to Seaton was, as at present, to the west, past the lodge, the village of Seaton standing on the south side of the road. About two miles further along the road towards Hough-ton-le-Spring is Salter’s Lane leading to Slingley, which is a mile south of the Houghton road. Salter’s Lane probably takes its name from the traffic in salt carried over this road from the salt-pans at Shields to the south.

    Many winters ago, when the snow lay thick on the ground, a christening party came from Slingley to Houghton on horseback. On arriving at the church it was discovered that the baby was missing, and the party returned in search ot the essential participator in the ceremony to find the child quite safe in its wrappings lying in the snow by the side of the road, in Salter’s Lane, three miles from the church.

    In this unique spot, with its church and churchyard, the pastoral, the sylvan and the dipping- glade, its rugged weather-beaten cliffs and restless sea, one is tempted into thoughts poetical. Here, amid the dust of ages, with all the relics of the past surrounding us, we look back link by link over the chain connecting us with bygone years, and picture those who have lived and moved amid the same scenes in which we today play our little part, those with whom we are linked by ties of kinship—part of their nature is our nature, what they were we are. We walk upon their dust, which lies in a mingled heap in God’s acre, and look upon the ever-changing, everlasting sea. which reminds us that soon in its turn our present will be the past, when we go hence into the great unknown.

    LORD CASTLEREAGH 1902-1923


    A souvenir booklet produced in 1923 describing the Londonderry family and their home Seaham Hall

    Edward Charles Stewart Robert, Viscount Castlereagh, whose majority is “being celebrated in December, was born on November 18th, 1902, at London, and at his christening King Edward VII acted as sponsor. The ceremony took place in the Chapel Royal, St. James’, the baptismal rite being performed by the Rev. Angus Bethune, the late Vicar of Seaham. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and succeeded to the title in 1915, when his father, the present Lord Londonderry, took the higher title, on the lamented death of the late Marquess.

    The coming of age celebrations will coincide with the cutting of the sod of the new coal winning to the North of the town, in connection with which preparations have been in progress for some months.
    History is repeating itself in a remarkable way, for when the present Lord Londonderry came of age, the first sods of Dawdon Colliery were cut by his lordship, and by his mother, the late Dowager Marchioness, while the foundation stone of the new South Dock and the coping stone of the new North Pier were laid the same day by the present Lord Londonderry and Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Chancellor of the Exchequer, afterwards Lord St. Aldwyn. The date was Saturday, August 26th, 1899.




    Lord Castlereagh is truly the scion of a noble house—one of the noblest undoubtedly in the United Kingdom—and a historic sketch of the family to which he belongs will probably be read with special interest at the present time. Such a sketch must necessarily be a history of two families, the Tempests and the Stewarts, for from both, the house of Londonderry traces its descent, and it may be remembered that the late marquess in 1885 was granted permission by Royal license for himself and his issue to resume the family surname of Stewart in addition to and after the surnames of Vane-Tempest, and to quarter the arms of Vane-Tempest with the family arms of Stewart.

    The Tempests are a very ancient family, and it is pointed out in Burke’s “Peerage and Baronetage,” that a pedigree of full twenty-four descents, a great territorial inheritance, and a name interwoven with the historic events of the counties of York and Durham combine to entitle them to a very high place in the roll of the nobility of England. At an early period the Tempests separated into several distinct branches, of which the chief were those of Bracewell, Tong, and Broughton, in the County of York, and of Holmside, Stella, and Wynyard, in the County of Durham. The head of the family in the time of Henry V. was Sir Piers Tempest, of Bracewell, who served under that monarch at the battle of Agincourt. Rowland Tempest, of Newcastle, third son of Thomas Tempest, of Stanley, and brother of Sir Nicholas Tempest, the first baronet of Stella, married Barbara, daughter of Thomas Calverley, and sister of Sir John Calverley, of Littlebourne, County Palatine of Durham. His eldest son was Sir Thomas Tempest, of The Isle, County Palatine of Durham, a barrister-at-law, who was in 1640 appointed Attorney-General for Ireland.

    He married another member of the Tempest family, Eleanor, daughter of William Tempest, fourth son of Thomas Tempest, of Holmside, Yorkshire, and by her had a son, John, who was nominated a Knight of the Royal Oak in 1661, and was M.P. for the County of Durham from 1675 to 1678. His wife was Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of John Heath, of Old Durham, and his eldest son was William Tempest, who was M.P. for the City of Durham 1678-80-89, and is called “Colonel” Tempest in 1694.

    He married Elizabeth, sister of Sir John Sudbury, Bart., of Eldon, Durham, and niece of the Very Rev. John Sudbury, D.D., Dean of Durham, and was blessed with a family of six sons and six daughters. The eldest son, John, became, like his father before him, the parliamentary representative of the City of Durham, and married Jane, daughter and sole heir of Richard Wharton, of Durham. His son and successor, John, described as of Sherborne, County Durham, was M.P. for the city of Durham, 1741-47-54, and again in 1761, and his wife was Frances, a daughter of one of the Shuttleworths, of Forcer, in Yorkshire, and of Gawthorpe, in Lincolnshire—an ancient family, from which is descended Sir Ughtred James Kay Shuttleworth, Bart., M.P., of Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire.

    The daughter of this John Tempest, Frances, married in 1768 Rev. Sir Henry Vane, Bart., of Long Newton, Durham, prebendary of Durham Cathedral. Her brother John, described as of Wynyard and Brancepeth Castle, in due time succeeded his father, both in the possession of the family estates and in the representation of the City of Durham, for which he was M.P. in 1763-74-80-84 and in 1790.

    He married Annie, daughter of Joseph Townsend, of Honnington Hall, Warwickshire, by whom he had an only son, John Wharton, who died unmarried in his father’s lifetime. In August, 1794, John Tempest died, leaving no surviving issue, and having devised his great estates to his heir-at-law and nephew, Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, Bart., of Long Newton (only son and heir of Rev. Sir Henry Vane, Bart., already mentioned), who was born in January, 1771, and who assumed the name and arms of Tempest in accordance with the will of John Tempest, whom he succeeded.

    He married in April, 1799, Lady Anne Katherine MacDonnell, eldest daughter of Randal William, first Marquess and sixth Earl of Antrim, who became on her father’s death Countess of Antrim in her own right. She died in June, 1834, when the title passed to her sister, Lady Charlotte Kerr, in accordance with the limitations contained in the patent creating the dignity, dated 2nd May, 1785. Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, who was M.P. for Durham, died on the 1st August, 1831, leaving by the Countess an only daughter and heiress, Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest, who married in 1819, as second wife, Charles William, third Marquess of Londonderry, K.G., who thereupon assumed the name and arms of Vane, and was created by patent, dated 28th March, 1823, Viscount Seaham, of Seaham, County Durham, and Earl Vane, with special remainder to the male issue of his second marriage. Their son and heir was the fifth Marquess of Londonderry.
    But before proceeding further it will be well to glance at the history of the Stewart family from which the house of Londonderry also traces its descent. The Stewarts of Wigtownshire occupy an honoured position in Scottish history. Several members of the family held the rank of High Stewards of Scotland; one of them ascended the Scottish throne in 1371. Sir Alexander Stewart was raised to the Peerage by James the First, with the titles of Baron of Garlies and Earl of Galloway. John Stewart descended from Sir Thomas Stewart, of Minto (ancestor of the Lord Blantyre), settled in Ireland in the reign of James the First, who granted to his kinsman, the Duke of Lennox, and to his relations that large tract of land in County Donegal, lying between Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly, which had been forfeited.

    The territory was divided into eight manors, two of which were given to the Duke, and a third, named Stewart’s Court, otherwise Ballylawn, with the territory and precincts of Bally reach, to John Stewart, a relative of the Duke, which manor and lands annexed descended in regular succession to Robert, first Marquess of Londonderry. On this manor the said John Stewart erected the castle Ballylawn. A descendant of his was Alexander Stewart, of Mount Stewart, County Down, who was born in 1699, and became M.P. for Londonderry. He married, in June, 1737, Mary only surviving daughter of Alderman John Cowan, of Londonderry, and sister and heiress of Sir Robert Cowan, Governor of Bombay. His eldest son, Robert—described as of Ballylawn Castle, County Donegal, and of Mount Stewart, County Down—became M.P. for the latter county, and in September, 1789, was elevated to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Londonderry. In October, 1795, his Lordship was created Viscount Castlereagh; in the following August he was made Earl of Londonderry, and in January, 1816, he became the first Marquess of Londonderry. He married in 1766, Sarah Frances, daughter of Francis, Marquess of Hertford, by whom he had a son, Robert, who succeeded him in the marquisate; and in 1775 he married as second wife Frances, daughter of Charles, first Earl Camden, by whom, amongst other children, he had one son, Charles William, afterwards third Marquess of Londonderry.

    On the death of the first marquess, on the 8th April, 1821, he was succeeded by the son of his first marriage, Robert, who was born on the 18th July, 1769, and who was better known as Viscount Castlereagh. He was a statesman of consummate ability. The part he played in connection with the securing of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland is a matter of history, and he filled many high Ministerial offices with great distinction, especially when Secretary for Foreign Affairs during the latter years of the French war and at the Congress of Vienna. He married in 1794, Emily Anne, youngest daughter and co-heir of John, second Earl of Buckinghamshire, but had no issue. On his death at North Cray, on the 12th August, 1822, he was succeeded by his half brother, Charles William, who was born on the 18th May, 1778, and who had been elevated to the peerage of the United Kingdom as Baron Stewart, of Stewarts’ Court and Ballylawn, in July 1814.

    His Lordship married, first, in August, 1804, Catherine, youngest daughter of John, third Earl of Darnley, and by her Ladyship (who was a descendant of the illustrious Scottish house of Stewart, of Darnley and Lennox) had a son, Frederick William Robert, afterwards fourth marquess; and, secondly, in April, 1819, Frances Anne, only daughter and heiress of Sir Harry Vane-Tempest, Bart., of Wynyard and Long Newton. County Durham, by whom he had, among other children, George Henry Robert Charles William, who became the fifth marquess. The third marquess was a distinguished soldier and diplomatist, was one of the ablest companions in-arms of the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War, and was no less efficient when attached to the armies of the Allies in 1813 and 1814, and as Ambassador at Vienna.
    He was a general officer in the army, colonel of the 2nd Life Guards, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Durham, and Custos Rotulorum of the Counties of Londonderry and Down. In July, 1823, he was created Earl Vane, with remainder to the male issue of his second marriage. He died on the 6th March, 1854, and the earldom of Vane and the Viscountcy of Seaham thereupon passe 1 to his second son (afterwards fifth marquess), while the Irish honours and the Barony of Stewart came to his eldest son, Frederick William Robert, the fourth marquess. This peer was born on the 7th July, 1805, and became a Knight of St. Patrick, a Privy Councillor, colonel of the Down Militia, and Lord Lieutenant of the County Down, which county he at one time represented in Parliament. He married, in April, 1846,
    Elizabeth Frances Charlotte, daughter of Robert, third   Earl of Roden, K.P., and widow of Richard, sixth Viscount Powers court, but died sine prole in November. 1872, and was succeeded by his half-brother, George Henry Robert Charles William, who, as already stated, had previously succeeded his father in the Earldom of Vane. The fifth marquess, who was born on the 25th April, 1821, assumed by Royal license in 1851 the additional name of Tempest. In July, 1867, he went on a special mission to St. Petersburg to invest the Emperor of Russia with the Order of the Garter, and on that occasion the Czar conferred on him the Grand Cross of the Russian Order of St. Alexander Newski. He was also a Knight of St. Patrick, and he was Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of County Durham, colonel of the 4th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the Seaham Artillery Volunteer Brigade. He married in August, 1846, Mary Cornelia, only daughter and heiress of Sir John Edwards, Bart., of Garth, County Montgomery, and had three sons and three daughters. On his death, on the 6th November, 1884, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles Stewart Vane-Tempest-Stewart, the sixth marquess, who was born on the 16th July, 1852.


    The late Lord Londonderry, who died in 1915, was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, and in 1887 he was made an hon. L.L.D. of Dublin University. He married in October, 1875, Lady Theresa Susey Helen Chetwynd-Talbot, eldest daughter of the 19th Earl of Shrewsbury, and had two sons and one daughter. He was M.P. for County Down. From 1886 to 1889 he was Viceroy of Ireland. Chairman of the London School Board from 1895 to 1898. He became a Privy Councillor in 1886, and a member of the Irish Privy Council in 1892. Chosen as an Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1897, and in 1888 he was installed a Knight of the Garter. He was a J.P., and D.L. of the County of Durham, and a D.L. for Montgomeryshire. He was Colonel Commandant of the 2nd Durham (Seaham) Volunteer Artillery, and Hon. Colonel of the 4th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. On his death in 1915, he was succeeded by his eldest son Charles William, the seventh and present Marquess, who was born on May 17th, 1878.


    He was educated at the Rev.T. Cameron’s School at Mortimer, and Eton College. From Eton he passed into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, being gazetted into the Royal Horse Guards (Blue) in 1897.

    In his enthusiasm for the profession of arms Lord Londonderry resembles his great-grandfather, the third Marquess, who fought with the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula, and who retired from the Army as Colonel of the 10th Hussars. Previous to going to Sandhurst he was Commandant of the Londonderry Schools Battalion and second lieutenant in the 2nd Durham (Seaham) Volunteer Artillery. When at Sandhurst he won the riding prize and the military cup.

    His lordship was elected M.P. for Maidstone in 1906 and sat until he went to the House of Lords in 1915. When the war broke out he proceeded to France in 1914 and up to 1915 was on the staff of General Pulteney as A.D.C., and was mentioned in despatches. From 1915 to 1917 he served with his regiment, of which he was Major and Brevet Lieut.-Colonel.

    Lord Londonderry is Hon. Colonel R.F.A., T.F., a battalion of Irish Rifles, and a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry; Lieutenant of County Down, President of Chelsea Hospital for women, and patron of seven livings. He was made M.V.O. in 1903.

    His lordship, like his forefathers, has always been keenly interested in the affairs of state, both in Great Britain and Ireland. He was Finance Member of the Air Council, 1919, and Under-Secretary of State for Air and Vice-President of the Air Council from April, 1920, to July, 1921. He was appointed First Minister of Education in the Ulster Parliament, and a member of the Senate of North Ireland in June, 1921; P.C. (Ireland), 1918; K.G., 1919; and P.C. (North Ireland), 1922. He married in 1899 the Hon. Dame Edith Helen Chaplin, D.B.E., daughter of the late Viscount Chaplin. Besides their only son, Lord Castlereagh, Lord and Lady Londonderry have four daughters, namely, Lady Maureen, who married the Hon. Oliver Stanley, M.C., son of the Earl of Derby; Lady Margaret Frances Anne, Lady Helen Maglona and Lady Mary Elizabeth. His Lordship’s only sister is the wife of the Earl of Ilchester.

    Lord Londonderry has always taken the greatest interest in his industrial undertakings in the Seaham district, and in this he is worthily following in the footsteps of his father. The late Lord Londonderry’s greatest commercial undertaking was the sinking of Dawdon Colliery. The present Lord Londonderry, in deciding to sink the new pit on the north side of the town is showing the same spirit of enterprise as has always characterised the Londonderry family since the foundation of the town and port, and the venture is sure to bring great prosperity to Seaham.

    The following is a description of the armorial bearings of the Londonderry family:—Arms.—Quarterly: first and fourth, or a bend compony, argent and azure, between two lions rampant, gules, for Stewart; second, argent, a bend engrailed, between six martlets, three and three, sable, for Tempest; third, azure, three sinister gauntlets, or, for Vane. Crests.—First (Tempest), a griffin’s head erased, per pale, argent and sable, beaked gules; second (Stewart), a dragon statant, or ; third (Vane), an arm in armour, holding a sword proper, hilt and pommel or. Supporters.—Dexter, a Moor, wreathed about the temples argent and azure, holding in the exterior hand a shield of the last, garnished or charged with the sun in splendour, gold; sinister, a lion or, gorged with a collar, sable, charged with three mullets argent. The motto is “Metuenda corolla draconis”—”Fear the dragon’s crest.”

    The titles held by the head of the family are: Marquess of Londonderry, Earl of Londonderry, Viscount Castlereagh and Baron Londonderry, in the peerage of Ireland; Earl Vane (by which title he sits in the House of Lords), Viscount Seaham of Seaham and Wynyard (Co. Durham), and Baron Stewart of Stewart’s Court and Ballylawn, in the peerage of the United Kingdom. The various creations date as follows:—Irish titles—Baron, 20th September, 1789; viscount, 1st October, 1795; earl, 8th August, 1796; and marquess, 13th January, 1816. United Kingdom—Baron, 1st July, 1814; Earl Vane and Viscount Seaham, 8th July, 1823.


    Seaham Hall is now closed, but the grounds are still open to the public. The mansion stands on the north slope of a small but exquisitely beautiful dene, within a few hundred yards of the sea. It was formerly the seat of the Milbankes, of Halnaby, and was purchased by the third Marquess of Londonderry shortly after bis marriage with the heiress of Sir Harry Vane-Tempest. The Marquess’ object was primarily to secure a suitable outlet for the produce of his collieries in this county, which came to him by this marriage, and it is said to have been the advice of the famous engineer, John Buddie, which influenced his lordship in fixing upon Seaham Harbour for the purpose.

    The founding of this town and port took place on November 28th, 1828, when the foundation stone of the harbour was laid by the third Marquess of Londonderry in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. On the same day Viscount Seaham laid the foundation stone of the first house of Seaham. The undertaking was one of unusual difficulty, but his lordship was not one to be lightly turned from the task he had undertaken, and the fact that in the month of July, 1831, the first cargo of coals was shipped at this port, goes to prove with how much energy and skill the work had been carried out. The ship—a brig named the Lord Seaham— was towed out amidst the cheering of the inhabitants and the firing of cannon. Throughout the remainder of his life Lord Londonderry lost no chance of developing the town and its resources, and one of his last projects was the construction of a passenger line, which he did not live to see completed.

    The associations of Seaham Hall are interesting, in so far as they are connected with the courtship and marriage of the great poet, Lord Byron. Anna Isabella, who became Lady Byron, was the daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke, of Halnaby and Seaham. The marriage was solemnized at Seaham on January 2nd, 1815, and the register of the marriage is still preserved, signed by the bride and bridegroom, the then Vicar of Seaham, the Rev. Richard Wallis, and by J. C. Hobhouse, the friend of the poet. A pretty retired walk in the dene is still known as ” Lord Byron’s Walk.”

    Royalty has at various times visited Seaham as the guests of the Londonderry family. So long ago as 1842 the Duke of Cambridge visited this town as the guest of the third Lord Londonderry, on the occasion of the birthday festivities of Lord Seaham, afterwards fifth Marquess of Londonderry. His Royal Highness was conducted over the docks and harbour works, and the visit created much stir in the neighbourhood. In the year 1859 the Duc d’Aumale, one of the Orleanist Princes of France, visited Seaham Harbour, and in 1862 the Comte de Paris and the Duc de Chartres, members of the same Royal house, visited the town, accompanied by Prince Michael Gortchakoff and other distinguished personages. On this occasion a parade of volunteers took place, and the volunteer drill hall (Vane Hall), which had just been completed, was inspected.

    On January 15th, 1868, the town was gaily decorated, and there was considerable rejoicing on the occasion of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Teck, who were accompanied by many other notabilities. Two years later the town was visited by Prince and Princess Christian. The Duke of Edinburgh, in his capacity of Inspector of Coastguard, paid an official visit to Seaham on November 17th, 1880, and on the 1st of February, 1884, his Royal Highness, the late Duke of Albany, visited the town, and was received at the railway station by a guard of honour composed of men of the 2nd D.A. Volunteers. The visit of their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales, on November 1st, 1890, was an historic event in the annals of the town. Later, in 1896, the Duke of Cambridge visited Seaham Harbour as a guest of Lord Londonderry, and inspected his lordship’s fine regiment—the 2nd Durham—and also the ” Londonderry ” Schools Battalion. In 1898 His Royal Highness was again a visitor at Seaham Hall, and was present with the late Marchioness of Londonderry at the Inspection of the 2nd Durham (Seaham) Volunteer Artillery.



    By John Hall, F.R.I.B.A.

    church (1 of 1)-2There is, at St. Mary’s Church, Seaham (though it is not genera lly known), a large stone slab with somewhat unusual markings depicted upon its upper surface. In dimensions it is 6 feet by 8 feet 1 inch by 7.5 inches thick. It is of local limestone, and at present forms one of the pavement slabs within the altar-rail, being placed at the north-east comer of the chancel, one of its long sides against the north wall.
    This stone was thoroughly examined and measured during the renovations and excavations carried out within the Church in 1908, when evidence of Saxon foundations and Saxon windows were opened to view. Upon the surrounding earth being purposely removed from the slab it was found that two of its edges and probably a third are moulded, whilst that of the long side, facing south, was plainly chiselled. From this evidence alone we are almost certain that this slab was originally the altar-stone used in the Church during pre-Reformation days.
    In attempting to decipher the symbols, I believed, at the outset, that they had the appearance of cup-markings of pre-historic times; but owing to their neatness of execution, and the unlikelihood of Christian authorities sanctioning and adopting an altar-stone showing pagan symbols, I abandoned the idea. It is well-known, of course, that pagan stones have been frequently used as walling- stones in Christian buildings, but is there anywhere an example of pagan symbolism appearing upon a Christian altar ?

    A Probable Solution.

    Feeling certain that the markings are of an astronomical nature, I then attempted another method of arriving at a solution, namely, by using the theory discovered by the late Sir J. N, Lockyear, at the same time deriving sympathetic support from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, I finally arrived at a probable solution of this difficult problem. A long line seen on the stone is a representation of the Easter  n horizon. A large circle below it , the sun before dawn, and small circles, some upon and others above the line, are the risings and settings of the herald stars at the times of the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, respectively.
    I considered that this diagram of the Equinoxes, particularly that of spring time, might have been engraved upon the altar as a permanent reminder to the clergy with regard to the canonical ti me of holding the Easter festival. This festival, as we know, is of the greatest importance in the calendar of the Church, and since Easter 669, Easter Day has been celebrated on the first Sunday after the full, or Paschal, moon following the Vernal Equinox. It was about this time, we are also informed by Bede, that Archbishop Theodore, the parish maker, taught the arts of poetry, astronomy and arithmetic in England. I concluded that three circles arranged triangle wise, as seen on the diagram, were a lithic representation of the Trinity, and were so placed upon the slab as to permanently remind the brethren of this great doctrine of the Christian’s faith.

    Authorities Views

    Having completed the article briefly summarised here, 1 submitted it to several authorities for their consideration. Some of them in their reply, I gathered, were sceptical,while others, more sympathetic, declared that there may be something in my conclusions.
    All agreed in stating, however, that markings of this nature they had never seen before, particularly upon a Christian stone altar. Finally, through the assistance of Mr Reginald A. Smith, of the British Museum, a rubbing and drawing of this stone was submitted to Mr Ludovic MacLellan Mann, of Glasgow, an acknowledged authority upon cup-marked stones, who is about to publish a book upon this interesting subject.
    This author now informs me that these markings are of an astronomical character, and are undoubtedly pre-historic. “They represent in the most exact manner certain events which have happened within one lunar year of 354.36 days.” He also states that similar markings have been found all over the globe. Mr Mann has further stated that he hopes to include a full account of the Seaham stone in his forthcoming book on the subject of cup-marked stones. As the method of deciphering these prehistoric characters is at present a secret known only to Mr Mann it is impossible to give further detail regarding this unique stone at Old Seaham Church, probably ranking, in the County of Durham, second only inimportance to that of the date stone of Jarrow Church, In conclusion. I would like to make a suggestion. This stone is now lying on the damp earth, and is thereby liable to be trodden on by pedestrians, thus causing the markings to be obliterated. In fact, a portion of the line and one group of the small dots have already suffered injury from this cause. I, therefore, venture to suggest that the slab should be removed from its present position in the chancel, and be re-fixed upon suitable stone supports in altar fashion, placed at the west end of the Church, where this unique relic of combined pagan and Christian craftsmanship may be readily inspected by all visitors to this interesting Saxon Church at Seaham
    Newspaper article, date and source not known
    The stone described can still be seen in St Mary’s.