- A journey through life 16th August 2015
- Up the Ladder 16th August 2015
- Emmanuel Reed 16th August 2015
- Seaham Streets 1841-1891 14th August 2015
- Seaham news paper 1857 14th August 2015
- Pub Lists 7th July 2015
- Wreck of the lovely Nelly- 1861 9th June 2015
- A Tale in a bottle 9th June 2015
- A Tale in a bottle 9th June 2015
- Seaham Colliery 9th June 2015
- Ancestors 9th June 2015
- Russian Cannon 8th June 2015
- Interviews 8th June 2015
- Seaham Colliery Dissaster 8th June 2015
- Seaham Colliery 1873 8th June 2015
Adeline Hodges, (nee Corkhill).
These are the memoirs of a lady whose life covered the years 1899-1980.
Joan Pace (nee Hodges)
Elder daughter of Adeline.
UP THE LADDER (Complete version) by Adeline Hodges
A fascinating snapshot of life in a Seaham mining community at the turn of the century.
Reproduced here with kind permission of her daughter Joan Pace.
Adeline Hodges and her husband Benjamin
Emmanuel Reed 1866 – 1944
A SKETCH OF MY WANDERINGS
From Mike Shaw
Language used to describe black workers in the USA may offend some but as it was in everyday use at the time and is in no way meant to demean or denigrate I have left as is. – Dave Angus
I was born at 44 Frances Street Seaham Harbour on November 24th 1866 and at the age of four I went into the infant’s department of St John’s National School and at the age of five I was transferred to the Boys School into a class taught by Mr Robert Robson, after about 6 months I was moved into the second class, afterwards these were known as Standards, later I was promoted to Standard III. My father worked at Messrs John Candlish Bottleworks where the workmen had a School of their own to which every man subscribed and they had a School Mistress for the girls and a Master for the boys. I did not make much progress there, afterwards it was abandoned and I went to St John’s National School at Swinebank Cottages and rose to standard III, Mr Robert Clark was then Headmaster.
I was also in the Church Choir, Mr John G Phillips was Organist and Choirmaster, there was no restriction on the school leaving age and I used to be absent from School often, taking the place of boys who were sick and unable to work in the Bottleworks. Then at the age of ten I started work permanently but after I had worked a while the School leaving age was fixed, a boy could work half time until he was 13 then he could leave altogether if he had passed into the fourth Standard.
I had to go back to the School but owing to working half time I had not sufficient attendances in to qualify for examination. When I was 13 and wished to leave School, I was still in Standard III but Mr Clark gave me a note certifying that I had not sufficient attendances in to be examined to qualify for Standard IV. I had been working full time and going to School half time, I was enabled to do that by commencing work at midnight drawing annealed bottles out of the kilns, by pushing on they could all be got out by 7.30 or 8 A.M. so that I got to School in the morning and got to bed after dinner until it was time to start work again.
There was nothing very eventful in my boyhood, at the age of fourteen I was bound Apprentice to Robert Candlish + Son, the former head of the firm having passed away. When I was sixteen years of age a strike took place among the Bottlemakers throughout the North of England which included Seaham Harbour, several factories in Sunderland, one each at Stockton, South Shields and Hartley Panns.
After it had lasted a few months all the furnaces were out and all we Apprentices were kept on just doing odd labouring jobs to hold us. The Manager Mr Archibald Hall told us if we could better ourselves we could leave but must come back when the men returned to work, I got work at Murton Colliery where my Father was already employed , I got just a little over double my Apprentice wages.
The strike lasted ten months then the men returned to work, in my opinion all that was gained by the long strike was a much needed change, for previous to the strike there was no actual time allowed for meals owing to the time it took to prepare the glass ready to make into bottles.
We started at one A.M. on the Monday and finished at one P.M. but it might be 2. 3. or 4 AM or later before the glass was ready for the next shift. I have started at 2 AM on the Monday and owing to the time it took to get the glass ready, sometimes eighteen hours, it was 4 PM on Saturday before we got the fifth shift in.
When we started we had so many dozen bottles to make before our shift (or journee) was completed, I started at 9 A.M. one Wednesday morning and it was 11 A.M. on the Thursday before we completed the shift 63 dozen quart bottles. To begin with, when we started work the glass was what was technically called not fine in respect that correctly named it was not refined, it was actually full of small white stones. It was no use to work it for the bottles would not stand any pressure, in fact they would crack to pieces before anything was put into them, so the furnace had to be opened out again and the fires driven to their fiercest for 8 hours.
The men went home, we boys were supposed to go home but instead we just played around doing all kinds of mischief. It was nearly 7 P.M. before we got another start to make bottles then the glass turned what was technically glass-knotty, that is it looked like sago-pudding, the fires had to be set away again at their fiercest, it was four hours before we got another start, we boys just played about the whole time. It was nearly 6 AM on Thursday morning before we got another start and there were so many faults of various kinds that it was 11 A.M. on Thursday before we had made 63 dozen bottles to claim our wages for a shift (or journee) (the French term for a days work). Altogether we were 26 hours completing that shift for which I received l/7d the highest paid man only received 6/-.
Well, before that ten months strike we had no set time for meals, but it was arranged when we re-started work when we would stop for meals, for instance if we started at 11 A.M. to work till 11 P.M. it would be arranged to stop for dinner at 1 PM, perhaps 5 P.M. for tea, then work on without supper until we got home. A messenger would be sent to tell wives & mothers the times we would stop for meals, well when we did stop it was not for 15 or 30 minutes but sit down and eat (gobble) as fast as you could. The quickest eater would often take less than 10 minutes then jump to his feet and everyone had to follow, but after the long strike it was settled to have one hour for meals, the shifts by that time having been reduced to eleven hours the hour was divided into two stops of 30 minutes or three of 20 minutes according to the time of starting.
There was nothing very eventful during my apprenticeship until 1887 when the first continuous (gas) tank in Seaham Harbour Bottleworks burst and the molten glass flowed out on to the floor and found its way down into the huge cave underneath. The heat from the molten glass set the wooden rafters on fire, I was at work at the time, it was in the early afternoon, there were no fire fighting appliances but the men on drill at the Naval Reserve battery close at hand rushed on the scene. Each got a bucket, but the fire was principally 30 feet up so that the buckets of water were practically useless. I remembered there was a fire brigade and I rushed off to the Police Station to give the alarm. I was just as I had been working, just trousers & shirt, no stockings or head covering and only a pair of bottlehouse slippers (usually sea boots cut down to the heel & about half of the uppers cut away), so clad or less than half clad, I ran almost a mile and when I got to the police station they said they had nothing to do with putting out fires.
I had to continue my run up to the Londonderry Engine Works where the Captain & I think all the crew of the fire brigade were working. The Captain and all the workmen could not tell what had happened when they saw me half clothed but the Captain, Mr John Boggon was the first man I saw & he instantly ceased his work and summoned his crew & were soon on the scene of the fire. The fire was extinguished but not before a great amount of damage was done to the tank of molten glass, 200 TONS approximately, of which at least 100 tons ran into the cave and formed a solid block in some places 15 ft thick.
The next three years were without great excitement except for days or nights of sociability in connection with the choir of the Presbyterian Church of which I had been a member from its commencement. I was also a member of Church from the ordination of the Rev John King of Aberdeen who came straight from the University at Aberdeen to be the first Minister of the Seaham Harbour Presbyterian church, he was a man of exceptional scholarship and was said to he the finest Hebrew Scholar in Scotland.
He took his M.A. degree before leaving the University, he also excelled in Greek, he was a great musician and for many years conducted the choir himself during which time it was a noted choir for miles around and rendered several Cantatas. With the assistance of Mr Coates from Trinity Presbyterian Church Sunderland he rendered the oratorio Christ and his Soldiers with full orchestral accompaniments, the principals were Mrs Lawrence, contralto of Newcastle, Miss Oakeshott, soprano of Newcastle, Mr Macdonald of Durham Cathedral, tenor, and Mr Fred Forster of Sunderland, bass. It was a huge success. For over seven years, Mr King was Minister of Seaham Harbour, then he received a call to Alloa, the Church was in a flourishing condition in every way and it was a great loss to Seaham when Mr King went away, just before he left, I got married to my betrothed Miss Jane Ann Clarke who was a native of Sunderland.
We were married on July 2nd 1890 our first child a son was born April 12th 1891. We had two other children born in Seaham Harbour, a daughter Mary Elizabeth, and a son Ernest and we then went to Hendon to live. I went to work at Hendon Bottleworks and while I was working at Hendon we had another son born Arthur Augustus.
In 1897 I went to Scotland to work, I started Provost Wood’s factory in Portobello, afterwards I went to Alloa in Clackmannanshire, while I was there we had a son born to us William by name, afterwards I went to work at Messrs Paul’s Bottleworks in Camlachie where I worked for a good while until a friend of mine from Dublin came to visit us, he gave me glowing accounts of the prosperous state of the bottle trade in Dublin and the large amount of money earned there. I decided to try Dublin, I wrote to Mr Peter McLuskey, I have omitted that just before my friend from Dublin called upon me, my wife gave birth to another child stillborn.
When I went to Dublin to work at Ringsend Bottleworks my wife & family followed about 3 weeks later. I remained some time in Dublin and then moved 109 miles further south to Waterford, a very small factory employing only about 12 bottlemakers, 8 Boys, about 7 labourers and a blacksmith who was also a fitter.
After a while the Manager discharged me and when I asked him what I was discharged for he said he was very sorry but the business was not paying and he had to start as a bottlemaker himself, so as I was collector for the Union and the only Union Official in the factory I had to write and tell the Secretary (in Dublin) the circumstances. The Secretary was not satisfied and wrote to the Manager (who was a member of the Society) that he had called the committee together and they had decided that my notice was illegal and that I must be reinstated or no other workman would be allowed to take my place. A deputation came down from Dublin, they would not consult the Manager as he was still a Bottlemaker, they went straight to the Chairman of the Directors who (quite rightly in my opinion) refused to discuss what they said was the business of the Manager.
I in the meantime was told not to leave Waterford and the Society would pay my wages, in the meantime they would not allow anyone to work in my position which meant another two Men & two Boys being thrown out of work and a reduction of one quarter the production of the factory. Before the end of the week I was reinstated and the Manager was severely reprimanded but the Secretary told me to get out of it as quickly as possible for the Manager would find some excuse to get me out of it, so I looked about and got work at the Waterford Gas Works as a lamplighter.
At first I had to light the lamps with an oil torch on the end of a pole then after a while the incandescent mantles were introduced, I had a long round with 80 lamps, there were five of us employed by the Gas Co to light the City’s lamps. When the incandescent mantle was introduced the manager would not allow the torch to be used as it was apt to break the mantles. Nor would he allow any by-pass to be on the lamps as they waste a lot of gas burning in the daylight, so we each had to carry a ladder 12 feet long and use a match at least to every lamp. It was alright in fine day weather but on wet or windy weather it took 6 or 7 matches to light one lamp as everything was wet and even the sandpaper on the box got wet. We had to try all sorts of devices, luckily we had plenty of matches as we were supplied with 3 boxes of Puck matches per day and as 3 boxes did two nights comfortably we always had plenty in hand.
We were allowed 1/4 shift for lighting the lamps, 1/4 for putting them out and we had to work in the yard the other 1/2 shift unless the lamps needed cleaning or repainting, On one day we were engaged scraping & painting a telescope gas holder, using our lamplighting ladders, I had just finished as high up as I could reach with my 12 ft ladder and come down the ladder when the yard foreman said he wanted the plate next above where I had just been busy.
I told him I could not reach it from my ladder he told me to go to the store and get a box to stand my ladder on, I did and without any thought of safety placed the box level on the ground without thinking whether or not it was safe to ascend on it. The foreman who was standing by did not seem to see anything wrong, but I afterwards learned that the ladder had been too near the edge of the box. I went up with my scraper, wire brush, and pot of paint.
I do not remember anything more, but I was told afterwards when I recovered consciousness (6 days after) that I had placed the ladder too near the outer edge of the box, when I got near the top of the ladder the box overturned and I fell, struck on a fixed metal casting with my left temple fracturing the skull very badly. That was just after 1 P.M. on the Monday and was conveyed to hospital where I lay unconscious until Saturday at 3 PM.
I was in such a bad state that my wife had permission to come in at any time to see me as there was no hope of my recovery, in fact the Doctor said as far as he could see it was impossible for me to recover, but by the end of the second week I was able to get out of bed (unknown to the Doctor) and after a few days I asked the Doctor for my discharge. He pooh poohed the idea, for as far as he knew I had not been out of bed, and he said I could not walk and was surprised when I told him I had been along the corridor on two or three occasions.
He went and interviewed the nurse who verified my statement but still he would not consent, saying that it was only a few days ago that he had no hope of my recovery but after a few more days he very reluctantly consented to let me go home and attend every day as an outpatient, saying that I must not touch strong drink inside 6 months as it would go straight to my brain, I told him there was no chance of that for I was a life-long total abstainer and was not likely to start now on such small wages.
He said that just exactly explained what he and the other doctors and matron and nurses had been puzzled over, for when I was carried in there and for a whole week after there were 100 to 1 chances against me recovering and though they did everything in their power to save me they could not tell how I had pulled through. What I had just told him explained everything for if there had been any alcohol in the system I could never have pulled through.
When I was convalescent I could not understand why the blinds at the windows had two cords hanging from the bottom, or why the nurse when she came to take my temperature had two thermometers & also had two pencils to write it down. I mentioned it to the Matron & she informed the Dr who said that was a case for an Oculist, the Matron informed the Oculist who explained to me that the jolt when I fell & struck my head had caused muscles to open & let my left eye fall below the right one and that instead of the two eyes working in unison with each other each eye saw separately, he could not do anything to help me, and it would depend upon the muscles to raise the eye back into it’s proper position.
At the end of the fourth week I went to see the manager of the Gas Works about getting started on the following Monday but he would not let me start, he said I could not be fit for the Doctor had informed him that I would never work again. He made me take another week off though he was paying my full wages to my wife all the time, so I started after five weeks off and remained there a long time but I was eager to get away to sea as a fireman.
I tried hard to get a ship but Waterford was a very bad place for a stranger to get installed as a fireman unless he had previous experience as it was only a call port for passenger steamers and what cargo steamers came in it was not the end of their voyage. A number of Clyde Shipping Co steamers called there on their way to Plymouth and London then again on their return voyage to Glasgow, I could not get a berth on any of them as it was neither the beginning nor the end of the voyage but an Engineer Chief of the S.S.Sheerness promised to do his best for me.
One Sunday morning when the Sheerness called on her way back to London I went on board as soon as she came alongside and saw the Chief who told me he was going to pay a man off when he got to Glasgow and if I would go round to Glasgow he would give me the berth. Next morning I extinguished my lamps and instead of going into the yard to work after breakfast I went into the Manager’s Office and asked him to let me away without working any notice, at first he would not consent for me to go but when I told him I was going to get double the wage I then had, he at once arranged to let me go.
I went on a free passage to Glasgow by arrangement with the head Agent at Waterford but when we got into the open sea another man turned up, an experienced fireman and a friend of two others of the firemen on the Sheerness. When we got into the Clyde, before we got to Glasgow, the Chief told me he could not give me the berth as I was not an experienced fireman and two of the other firemen had threatened to leave if he engaged me instead of the man they had brought with them.
I pointed out to him that I had left a permanent job on his promise to give me the berth, but he said he could not do it so I was left stranded in Glasgow. I was out of work for four days then I got started in Stephen & Co’s shipyard (where they built most of the C.P.R. steamers) as a labourer, after working for a few weeks I returned to Waterford and got work to start labouring for Messrs McAlpine, son in law of Sir William Arrol who built the Forth Bridge.
A company had decided to make a new route to Killarney from a port in Wales to a port a little north of Waterford, to continue the route by sail to the north side of the river Suir then to erect a Bridge across the Suir to the south side and continue the railway from there to Killarney.
The railway on the south side was completed when I started but I started on the north side and remained there for some considerable time during which time several gangs of labourers were broken up and paid off but I was lucky enough to be there until there were only two Gangs employed, about 50 men.
Just then the bottle trade in Dublin got busy and there was a demand for men and I applied and got a job in the Hibernian bottle factory. About this time my wife gave birth to a daughter who was in such a bad way when she was born that she only lived about 7 days & was buried in Mount Jerome, the protestant cemetery away up by the Grand Canal.
Soon after this I wanted to live nearer my childhood home so I got work at Ayres Quay Bottleworks (Sunderland), then my next move was back to Seaham Harbour in 1910 as a labourer & spare bottlemaker.
After being there a while through an unfortunate incident, the yard foreman paid me off, I had done no wrong, for my work was finished till 1 o’clock. At 11.45 A.M. I went over to the office for my wages, any man taking spare work when any of the bottlemakers were off work had the privilege of leaving his work at 11.30 to go & collect his pay from the man he had been working for. As I went to the office a woman was standing with her husband’s dinner, she did not want to go along the yard and could not get anyone to take it along for her so I took it along for her. At 12 noon when I went to the lodge to sign out, my key was not on the board, when I called out, someone has taken the wrong key the foreman was standing near and he said, here is your key come back at one o clock & get your money, when I asked why he replied for being away from your work talking to a bottlemaker. That happened on the day preceeding Good Friday, on Easter Monday I was at Tyne Dock trying to get a ship.
I was not successful & next morning I went on to Blyth where I had some relatives. An Uncle used his influence with a friend of his who was Foreman painter in the shipyard and as they were very busy I got started next morning. The foreman asked me had I ever done any painting and I truthfully informed him that I had done a good deal of painting, so he gave me a pot of paint, the paint was about six inches deep so I went with the crowd under the ship’s bottom and commenced as I had been accustomed to do and as I had seen house painters do, but I got a rude awakening. The other men (all accustomed to the job) set themselves apart at equal distances and without saying anything to me left me a space. I set to work very carefully to do the job neatly so that the foreman at least would not find fault but I had not got 1/8th of my space done when the man on my right hand finished his space and wishing good-bye shifted to the other end and commenced on another space in a few more seconds the man on my left hand did likewise, in a few more seconds I was the only one left at that part of the ship.
The foreman who had been standing near, came up to me & said I did not need to take so much pains as there was any amount of paint & instead of taking pains to avoid brush marks all I had to do was to get the brush full of paint & float it on. Adding excuse me & I’ll show you what I mean, he dipped the brush right to the very bottom of the pot and applied the paint as a woman would commence to wash a floor (only it was more in the position of a ceiling). Now, he said that’s the way to paint a ship’s bottom, don’t spare the paint. When I had finished that space I moved along & found that the rest of the squad had finished their second space but there was a space left untouched for me. I was not discouraged but tackled my space without asking the why or wherefore & filled my brush & floated the paint on, and was finished with my fourth space alongside the others.
The foreman never said another word but smiled approvingly next time he came round and I remained painting & had painted dozens of ships when the yard turned slack. We were all paid off on the Friday night until some work came in, I was at lodgings & could not afford to be out of work so I went down to the Shipping Office to look for a ship and at last I got my chance, for the Captain of the Luque belonging to Messrs MacAndrew of Glasgow was looking for a trimmer.
Luque was engaged in the Spanish fruit trade & the orange season was just finished, she was loaded with coal for Malaga & was to sail early next morning so I went on board to see the Chief Engineer and knocked on the door of his berth, when he opened the door I could scarcely see him for a mosquito curtain but I soon heard him for he was a little rat faced bully & I had disturbed his after dinner nap.
I did not mention that the crew were all foreigners but the Officers were British, the reason being the Luque was in the Spanish & Portuguese trade and had signed on at Hamburg where men could be got at £1 per month less than the British rate of wages. The wages were per month. Firemen & Sailors £3.10, Trimmer & Ordinary Seamen £3 so I had signed on for £3 per month just for the sake of getting a ship & a discharge book at the end of the voyage.
The Officers were a mixed lot of Britishers, the Captain (a fine man) belonged to Grimsby, the Chief mate belonged to Liverpool, the Chief engineer (a perfect pig) belonged to Bath, the Second to Glasgow & the Third to Dublin. I wanted to see the Chief to get some idea about my work & what I would need to have with me in the way of utensils, when he opened the door he greeted me with, who the —- are you & what the —- —- do you mean by disturbing my rest. I apologised for disturbing him and informed him that the Captain had engaged me and would he please tell what I would require in the way of gear.
He answered, so you are the new fireman, do you know what you’re going among, I answered I understand I am going to mix with a lot of foreigners and he said, is that all you know about them, let me tell you you’re going among a lot of b——- rogues & if you’ve got any money on you don’t you let them know, I said I could manage to look after myself.
That was the day King Edward VII died & we sailed early next morning but had to lie outside the harbour a few hours as the Second Engineer had not turned up, after a few hours he turned up drunken but when he was sober I found him to be a perfect Gentleman and got on well with him. We had beautiful weather & at night I realised the beauty of the hymn But to us He gives the keeping, of the lights along the shore.
The beautiful weather continued until we got half-way across the Bay of Biscay, then I discovered the truth of the worst I had heard about the Bay of Biscay but we ran into beautiful weather before we got to Gibraltar & having my sketching block & pencils with me, as soon as we came somewhat near the Rock I commenced to sketch it. The foreigners were greatly tickled at a fireman sketching anything but Captain Harrison came down off the bridge & was greatly interested in my sketch but told me I had started on it too soon for if I had waited until we got due west of it I would have been able to get a full view.
I completed the one I had started and then when we got abreast of it I at once saw the truth of what the Captain had said & commenced another, when we got through the Straits I was standing in the stokehold watching the firemen but the Second came through the alleyway & said if you want to learn to fire Reed for God sake don’t take notice of any of this lot for not one of them can fire. Three of them were there at the time to try & get to Malaga before the tide was done but they could not get enough steam and we had to wait until next day.
Malaga is a very beautiful place with beautiful specimens of ornamental gardening almost on to the quays. The first time I went ashore I took pains to notice how far I went to the left hand & was very careful not to go far from the main street and then come back as much through another street, then made my way back to the docks. When I thought I must be near the docks I came to the most beautiful ornamental gardening I had ever seen and I made sure I had lost myself and was in a beautiful Park so I turned round retraced my steps to try & find the docks and wandering about for a while I found myself at the same beautiful park again I turned about again & saw some of the most beautiful scenery it had ever been my lot to see.
All this time when I tried to make inquiries no one could understand me and I landed back at the same spot three times but the third time in front of one of the estaminets seated at a table were some of my shipmates, they could understand enough English to inform me that I was at the docks and that the Luque was just about 300 yards away but the scenery was so beautiful I could not think I was near the docks.
I found out where the English Church was by going to the British Consul’s office and next day being Sunday I went to the English Church and enjoyed a splendid service in English.
After discharging our cargo of coal we took on a part cargo of wine then we departed for Lisbon and took on a large quantity of virgin cork, then we left for San Juan near the mouth of the river Guadalquivir where we took on another part cargo of copper ore then we went further up the river to Seville where we took on board a quantity of Olives and Olive oil.
I had a good look round Seville as we were there 3 days, I was in the Gothic Cathedral & various other places of interest, then we sailed for London, the first night at sea I was roused from my slumber by a noise in the fo’cstle, when I looked over the side of my bunk there were both sailors and firemen having a feast of Olives & Olive oil. They had broached the cargo, also they had pails full of wine which they had obtained from the casks by boring small holes and taking a quantity from several casks. I was invited to join in the feast but declined, this went on until we got to the Straits of Dover then the carpenter who had made the holes in the casks put spales [plugs] in them and trimmed them off neatly so they would not be noticed. I gave 24 hours notice when we got to the straits intending to leave the ship in London and get a discharge with which I thought I would be able to get almost any steamer wanting hands.
SS Mount Temple,photographed 1907 , Sunk by the German surface raider SMS Moewe in 1916
I went to Dock Street Shipping Office with the Captain and second Engineer who was also leaving, I was paid off but before I was paid off the Captain in course of conversation observed it was a pity I could not get on with the Spaniards, when I told him I had nothing again the Spaniards, they had dealt with me alright, my grievance was with the Engineer whom I considered to be a perfect pig. The Captain wanted me to remain with him until we got to Hamburg as I would find it very difficult to get another ship in London with only a trimmer’s discharge. I refused thinking even a trimmer’s discharge with a good character would get me a ship, but I failed time after time.
I was sent by the Shipping Federation to one of the C.P.R. steamers the Mount Temple there were 16 hands wanted for the stokehold but as soon as the Chief looked at my discharge book he handed it back saying no good. I tackled one Chief at Dock Street Shipping Office, he was Chief of the Discovery, at that time fitting out for the seal trade in Labrador, when I asked the Chief if he wanted firemen he answered yes, have you a discharge book, answering him yes I produced it but when he looked at it he viewed me from top to toe, then with a kindly look he answered, I’m real sorry lad but that is no use, I would have taken you directly if you had had a fireman’s discharge, so I failed again.
After two weeks I was at the end of my money having spent it travelling from dock to dock meeting disappointment at every turn, then I took the Newcastle passenger steamer to Newcastle and then travelled to North Shields, and put up at a Seamen’s boarding house. I was equally unsuccessful there for a few days but at last the Gentleman Capt Todd in charge of the Federation office told me one morning he had a Captain coming from Blyth who wanted a Sailor & a Fireman and he had put my name down for the Fireman’s berth.
When the Captain arrived he at first was not quite willing to sign a man on with nothing but a trimmer’s discharge, but the Superintendant strongly recommended him to take me, at last he felt my arms like a butcher at a cattle market, then he said, alright Captain Todd this man will suit me. I was instructed to go by a train leaving about mid-day, there was also an Engineer’s steward from the same boarding house going to join the same ship S.S.Sheaffield of Newcastle so the boarding house master accompanied us to the Blyth Shipping Office to get his pay for our keep for 6 days.
I had just signed on and was picking up my half months advance when the Captain (Captain Clark) intervened & stopped me, saying he had forgot there was a Boarding House keeper for six days keep & he attempted to pick it up to give him when the Shipping Master intervened. He said Captain, never interfere with a mans advance or wages where I am, that money belongs to Mr Reed, he has just signed for it, and in future trust to a man’s honesty to pay his debts, it doesn’t matter to you whether he pays the Boarding Master or he doesn’t, you have nothing whatever to do with it so remember in future.
I may say here I am sure the Shipping Master was right, but I never sailed with a finer Gentleman than Captain Clark proved to be, he was part owner and shortly after I left the Sheaffield he was made Superintendant and never failed to stop & speak to me whenever we met. The Chief Engineer Mr Merrit was also a very fine man.
I next joined the S.S.Rowen which belonged to Furness Withy, a steamer of about 4000 tons on which I met the best shipmate ever I sailed with, he was an Irishman O’Neill was his name, I always called him Teddy O’Neill. I left the Rowen and then got engaged by Mr Robert Curry and was firing at Seaham Colliery a while, I was also Engineman at Seaham Harbour Gas Works under Mr James White, manager, afterwards I joined a small steamer S.S.Ravenscraig owned by Mr Thomas Rose of Sunderland we went to Kirkwall & afterwards made several more trips to the Orkney Islands.
On one occasion after discharging coal at Kirkwall we went to a small place called Barra it was not really a port, we had to go through Scapa Flow where I saw the German Fleet which was sunk there at high water, you could only see the mastheads but at low tide they were plainly visible. We loaded barrels at Barra which we took to Fraserboro to be filled with herrings. There we got a cargo of salted herrings for Fecamp, afterwards I went back to Seaham Colliery.
Previous to this I was working at Seaham Colliery, in 1914 in March of that year a friend of mine (but much younger) got promoted to be Chief Engineer of Furness Withy’s S.S. Rossana of 7,000 tons, she was coming to Hebburn to Palmer’s Dry Dock and I called to see my friend Thomas Laidler Robson at his father’s home, (his own home was at Dovercourt) and ask him for a berth firing. He met me in the best room and when I made my request (this was his first voyage as Chief) he said well Mannie, this is my first trip as permanent chief, when I was Second Engineer, the Chief always left the engagement of the firemen to me and now when I am Chief I intend to leave the engagement of the firemen to my Second, but I will recommend you to him so you may consider yourself engaged.
It would be a few weeks before the Rossana was ready for sea so I asked him could he let me know when she was nearly ready so I could give notice to Mr Curry, he said he would if he could.
I heard nothing more for over two weeks until one day when I came home from work after 5 PM there were orders left for me to join the Rossana at Hebburn graving dock next day. It was too late then to see Mr Curry, so next morning instead of going to work at 6 AM I waited until 9 AM to catch Mr Curry leaving his home for the Colliery.
I walked up to him and wished him good morning, he asked why I was not at work, I answered him I had come to ask of him a favour, I wanted to be away without working any notice. He replied that a lot of men came to him asking favours, but never did him a favour, I replied, Mr Curry I have worked for you a long time & have always done my work to the best of my ability and I thought that was the best favour I could do you, he replied you are quite right lad come to the office with me and I will give you the note for your money.
I was on board the Rossana before noon. We proceeded up the river to Dunstan Haugh, I was taken on pay to work on board from day to day until we signed on, which was not until 12 days after, then we got orders to sign on at mid-day, we signed on for 3 years to take coal to Porto Vecchia on the island of Corsica.
We were ordered to sail early next morning, so I had to hurry to get to Seaham Harbour and catch a train back, I succeeded and we sailed at 6 AM on April 1st, all fools day, I am not superstitious but I did not like the idea of sailing on All Fools day. We were not ready for sea at any rate for such a long voyage for the stores were not on board so we had to drop anchor as soon as we got outside and it was past mid-day before the stores were all on board.
While we were lying at anchor I found I had got among an awful crowd, they all (except three) were entire strangers to me, for the Second Engineer had never been up North before and he had to select six of his men at the Shipping Office and as the Discharge book is no guide to a man’s character he selected his men from their discharge books. He picked up no real good firemen as to ability but as to character nuff said.
While we were at anchor the Chief was going round examining everything which concerned him and the remarks passed by the men (whom the Second had picked up at Newcastle) foretold me that I was in a shocking crowd, four of them were pals & goalbirds at that, one was an Italian the other belonged to Gateshead and was the best man among them.
I forgot to mention that one of the men whom I knew had gone on the spree when he got his advance note & thereby missed the ship so another man had to be signed in his place and of course was a pal of the others who had stood by in case of there being someone short.
We had not got as far as Cape Finnestre when the fun started, the gang of pals commenced to complain about the food which I considered fair both as to quality and quantity but they found fault with it and demanded an interview with the Captain. They had found fault particularly with the hash which we had for breakfast that morning and took a plateful along to the Captain who called on the steward to bring a spoon, when he tasted it he asked the ringleader, what do you complain about, is there not enough of it for it tastes alright, and is the self and same as I had for my breakfast. He got a lot of impudence, but pulled the man up saying, remember I’m the Captain and demand civility, state your complaint but I will have civility.
The ringleader would not reason and demanded that we go on our Whack which means that we have the Board of Trade scale of rations, meat, vegetable, tea, butter, sugar, even to a good proportion of pepper, and everything required for making up a meal, the men have to prepare it for the oven and the cook has it cooked in time.
We had an excellent Cook & he was also a kindly man but he was much troubled with bad feet, he was very much perturbed at the complaint (groundless the Captain said) the men had made. So we proceeded on our course to Porto Vecchia which is a large natural harbour and we had to lay a good distance from the shore, the coal was discharged into barges and our only chance of getting ashore was to go by one of the barges.
I was ashore often, it was a beautiful place, about the second morning we were there someone went along to the galley to speak to the cook at about 7 A.M., he was not there but the man on watch said he was not far away as he had been speaking to him a few minutes previously. The Donkeyman (who was wanting to see him) went to his berth but he was not there, being a man that only travelled between his berth and the galley, the Donkeyman was surprised and was wondering where the Cook could have got to. He just happened to get his eye on something in the water, when he took a close scrutiny he found it was the body of the cook, face downwards, floating on the water, nobody had seen it happen. Instantly the donkeyman gave the alarm and being a crack swimmer he dived overboard and secured the body, a rope was thrown to him and he secured it round the body and it was hauled aboard.
A doctor was called on board but the body was lifeless and was conveyed ashore, it was a clear case of suicide, and he was buried there. One of the sailors was made cook and we, left one hand short were bound for Oran for bunkers but it did not take long. Then we proceeded to Huelva to load copper ore for Wilmington N.C. U.S.A., we had a lively time at Huelva, the gang went ashore and got drunk and came aboard about midnight uproarious and tried to rouse the Captain to fight him, another one wanted to fight the Steward, a very boastful fellow who had said he was one of Bombardier Wells’s sparring partners, no one would get out of their berth so they started to fight among themselves.
In the melee one of them fell off the fo’cstle head on to the deck 10 feet below, he lay there until daylight, then the Captain called a doctor aboard but there were no bones broken so the doctor only laughed at the man saying that he had got no more than he deserved.
I enjoyed myself ashore at Huelva, after loading about 7,000 tons of copper ore we set out for Wilmington. Two days out I was lying in my bunk just after dinner when one of the gaolbirds came into the fo’cstle and commenced to quarrel with the Italian, they got to blows and the Italian was getting the worst of it, the other fellow was gripping him round the waist and when they got near the Italian’s bunk he put his hand into it and took out his dagger, instantly the other fellow let him go, that ended the melee.
Three days later another of the gaolbirds came along just after dinner, again, a metal pan was standing on the table, he put his arms round the Italian saying I’ll take good care you don’t get your knife out to me and he pinned his arms to his side but he had left his forearms free and the Italian seized the saucepan off the table by the handle and swung his forearm battering the other fellows head severely, before the gaolbird had sense to let go his arms, then they got out on the deck and finished it but the Italian looked none the worse for his encounter.
After 13 days we arrived at Wilmington N.C., the Captain had said he would not give advances after the behaviour of the firemen at Huelva. Consequently when we arrived at Wilmington I did not ask for an advance and was very much surprised next day when Simeon Wallace a school chum of the Chief showed me some goods that he had purchased the night before, naturally I asked him where he had got the money to spend on them, he said he had got it from the Captain, I asked him how he had managed that and he informed me that he and I were exempted from what the Captain had said.
The Captain told him that he only meant the firemen who had misbehaved at Huelva but that he and I had behaved ourselves well and he was to tell me that I could also have an advance, so during the day I also interviewed the Captain and he said yes I could have some money, how much did I want. I asked for £2, he looked surprised and said yes I could have £2 but he would advise me not to draw so much as Wilmington was a very dear place to buy anything and I had better have less here and when we got to Savanna, I could get more and would find things a good 1 third cheaper there but I took the £2 and had a real good time.
On the Sunday I went to a Presbyterian Church. and learnt that there was a men’s bible class in the afternoon, I decided to go to it and took my seat beside a man, we entered into conversation before the class really commenced, we talked at intervals during the meeting but I had no idea to whom I was talking.
When the bible class closed for the afternoon I just said good afternoon and went my way but a gentleman overtook me and inquired how I liked the place, I said I liked it so well that I would stay there if I could get a job, he answered there were plenty of jobs to be got, had I not mentioned it to Mr Clark, I said I did not know Mr Clark, then I was informed that he was the gentleman with whom I had been conversing all the afternoon, and he was a large lumber (timber) merchant and employed a large number of workmen.
He wanted me to go with him to Mr Clark’s home but I would not go on a Sunday, the gentleman then asked me when my ship would be ready for sea, I said as far as I could tell not before Saturday. He arranged with me to come on Tuesday and he would arrange with Mr Clark for an interview. I saw both gentlemen on the Tuesday night, in a private interview with Mr Clark he offered me a situation at a good salary to take charge of all his machinery. It was a tempting offer but I could not take it as I had no experience of machinery to qualify me for an important position like that, (I omitted to state that in the meantime our ship had been moved 2 miles further up the river to the quay of a large patent manure company where we had to discharge the remaining 400 tons of copper ore) could he not give me some other job, he said he was sorry but he did not employ any white men except his foreman and he looked after the whole of the machinery, and if I could have done the machinery it would have been a great relief to him.
He asked me when my ship was leaving, when I told him not before Saturday he asked if I could meet him tomorrow night, in the meantime he would get in touch with Mr Carpenter the Superintendant of the Waccama Lumber who had succeeded Mr Clark when he left to commence on his own. When I saw Mr Clark on the next night he had fixed for me a job with the Lumber Co, I had to go to a place called Bolton, the headquarters of the Lumber Co, if I had asked him he would have given money to pay my fare (that is the American, you have only to ask and they will give you anything within reason) but I was still English and would hide my poverty, I had just 10 cents (5d) and I had 23 miles to go.
I agreed to go and see Mr Carpenter and went back to my ship, but before going on board I went into the office of the Manure Co and had a chat with the night watchman who was bitterly opposed to a man being tied to a job, for in the U.S.A., if a man wants to change his job he just goes to the office and says I’m quit and if the employer wishes to be rid of an employee he calls him up and you’re fired in both cases the wages due is handed over at once.
I told the watchman that I was going to desert my ship and asked him for advice about leaving my gear which consisted of two sea boxes and a box, I asked him would he buy a pair of new boots which had only been on my feet twice, he said he would have bought them directly but he had no money but 10 cents which he insisted on my taking. I asked him would he take charge of my gear but he refused saying that as soon as they discovered I had left the ship they would come straight to him for information as I must pass his office door to get away.
I went aboard and packed my belongings but found someone had stolen my 10 cents. After getting my gear packed I went ashore, the ship was light then and the deck was 15ft or more above the quay, I omitted to state that I had to wait until after midnight before I could get ashore for the Chief Engineer and others of the ship’s Officers were in the office enjoying a chat with the watchman. I could not get ashore until they were all turned in, just on the stroke of midnight the Officers left the office on the quay and after they had got into their quarters and their lights were extinguished I got the very men through whom I
was leaving the ship to lower my gear on to the quay.
After bidding them all good-bye I carried my gear into the office and asked the watchman if I might leave it with him, but he again refused to have anything to do with them telling me to go and hide them somewhere about the works then he could safely deny knowing about the transaction. I had taken my working clothes out of the bag to strap over my shoulder, the watchman made me a cup of tea, gave me a portion of his meal, then he wrote two letters for me to give to friends of his whom I had to pass on my way to Bolton. If I walked a mile before taking train my 10 cents would just bring me to where his first friend lived.
I took train from Ellars to St Helens where Mr Smith lived, when I got there I had great difficulty in finding him (I omitted to say I set off to walk at the first sign of daylight) when I found Mr Smith I handed him the letter addressed to him by Mr Dukes. I did not know what it said but I had expected to get my breakfast but on reading it he said I’m sorry friend but I cannot do anything for you, I replied I had not asked him to do anything, he replied but Mr Dukes has and I have had so many losses lately that I am very short of money. I replied I don’t know anything about what was in the letter, but pointing along the railway I said sharply is this the road to Bolton? he said yes. I said good morning and set off to walk.
When I had walked about two hours, passing two stations on the way, I came to a place called Farmers, I met a man on the railway who entered into conversation with me and I just talked a free and easy way told him I had deserted my ship. He said I was doing wrong to keep on the line for the next station I would come to was New Berlin and as soon as the Captain reported that I had deserted the Police would be on the lookout for me and there was sure to be one or more at New Berlin.
He advised me to leave the railroad and take the turnpike, I did so and after wandering for two hours I was very hungry, then I came to a store (shop) and decided to try and sell my boots, I had changed them by this time they were on my feet when I went into the store, I asked the man if I could sell him a pair of boots he asked was I an agent for boots I said no I wanted to sell a pair to get something to eat, he asked where are the boots, I said on my feet.
He asked what I was going to do if I parted with my boots I said I had a pair on my back which I would put on my feet, he replied that he did not deal in boots but would buy them rather than that I should be hungry. He gave me one and a half dollars (6/3d) for them, I bought some biscuits and asked my way to the railway, he directed me, after half an hour I arrived at a railway station, New Berlin, the very station I had been told to avoid.
After waiting about 45 minutes I got a train to Birdville where Mr Ellis lived for whom I had the second letter, I had understood from Mr Dukes that Mr Ellis’s house was on the right hand side of the road (of course there were no station building) the train stopped and I had to climb down on to the track. When the train passed on I crossed over to the right hand side of the railroad and found a roadway and walking along (it was after sunset and beginning to rain) I could not see any houses until I came to a broken down farm, not seeing any other buildings near I made up my mind to spend the night here but although I searched around there was not any part of it where I could shelter from the rain so I decided to walk on.
I would come to less harm walking in the rain than by lying down in it. After walking about half a mile I observed some houses on the left hand side of the railroad, I instantly thought Mr Dukes had directed wrong or I had misunderstood him and probably this was where Mr Ellis lived. There was one house lighted up with the door standing open so I walked up to it and rapped as hard as I could with my knuckles but could get no response, so I shouted halloa, then I went into the hall still shouting still no response so I retraced my steps to the railroad.
Looking back the way I had come I saw a man going along in the opposite direction to what I had come so having a very loud voice, although he was fully 300 yards away, I shouted my loudest and he turned round, I hurried up to him and after introducing myself made known my business, he said do you know Mr Ellis, I answered that I did not but had a letter from Mr Dukes of Wilmington for him, Oh I know Mr Dukes, and I am going past Mr Ellis’s farm and will take you there as I pass, so we went on our way.
By this time the rain had ceased but it was very dark, we chatted all the way, he was like all U.S.A. men, he could not understand men tying themselves to a job, presently we came upon a farmstead and instead of leaving me and passing on he went right in. When he got inside he said to a woman, have you got any supper you can give this man and she answered there’s enough and to spare across the yard in the supper room so I had a right good supper the first meal and drink of warm tea I had had since 4 A.M..
It was then 10 P.M., before going across the yard to the supper room I handed him the letter I had in my possession and when he read it he said, you’re alright stay here all night, I am going on to Bolton early tomorrow morning and will take you with me, it is just about two miles further on, I have to go every morning for our letters. We arrived there before 8 A.M. and Mr Carpenter had not arrived at his Office but I had not long to wait, he gave me a note to the foreman out at the camp and I went up on the log train. We travelled 17 miles through a thick forest, great massive trees with thick undergrowth.
I arrived at the camp, I had to wait several hours before I could see Mr Edwards as he was away out in the forest preparing a new place to start and cut trees but when I saw him and gave him the letter from the Super he read it and said, alright you go out with the log train tomorrow morning.
I was attached to a gang of labourers who cut down small trees and lay them to the required thickness and lay the rails across them securing them (the rails) so that a heavy locomotive and log train can pass over them without dislodging, then the surveyors come along and taking a centre for the skidder to stand, they take a direct line to where an extra stout tree has been marked then a huge pole about 35 or 40 feet high is set up near where the skidder will stand. It is just let into the ground sufficient to keep the bottom firm then it is supported by guy ropes at three points of the compass then an extra stout wire rope 300 yds long is secured to it and to the stout marked tree about 20 feet high on this wire rope is run on sheaves with grip for the big timber and chain slings for smaller timber another wire rope is attached to the sheave, in fact two, one to haul it out to where the timber is either cut or being cut, the other wire is to haul the timber in, then a smaller steam winch was used to load the logs on to a log train.
Composed of long flat bogies, the boiler which was of the upright type was on the same bogy as the winches was supplied with water from pools of rain water during the rainy season but when water was scarce in that way a large tank of fresh water was sent out to each of the different sections. There were 5 different sections working at the same time in different parts of the forest.
I had been a few weeks labouring and never got a chance to fire so I was rising with the crowd every morning at 5 A.M. there was a good hot meal ready and we were not at all hurried over it but as soon as everybody had got their breakfast in comfort we got up on to the log train. My work lay the farthest away from the camp, calling at each of the different sections on the way out & leaving the men for that section I omitted to say that we were given a substantial amount of food to serve our mid-day meal & when we came back at night there was a good hot dinner provided by a first rate English Cook (Newcastle). He & I got on well together & many a tasty bite he gave to me apart from the meals.
I was not at all satisfied at not getting a chance to fire though I knew there were changes taking place but not near where I was working so I mentioned it to my foreman, he replied, Oh it is too hot a job for you but don’t worry you’ll get the chance of more than you can stand before the summer is over.
It was then the end of June 1914, about two weeks after this about 10 A.M. I was busy cutting down small trees when I saw a messenger come from somewhere & speak to my foreman, who called me to him saying Reed you have to go & fire No 3 Skidder and the monkey rides at 1 o clock, I said what do you mean what has it got to do with me, he said you‘ll find out.
When I got along to No 3 Skidder I found that the fireman had been overcome with the heat (he was a native) it was a scorching hot day and no one had touched the fire from him collapsing so I got to work & mended the fire, the water was rather low so I got more water into the boiler and the work started, now the heat was terrific with the boiler fire in front of me and a scorching sun on my back. I soon found how to get the better of that, for I observed the water tank on wheels standing & that I could lay under it away from the sun & keep my eye on the steam gauge so I just got up & mended my fire as it needed it and pumped more water into the boiler as it was required then returning to my shelter.
About 12.30 P.M. my foreman came along he could not see me and said to the engineman Hallo where is he I told the —– the monkey would ride at 1 o clock, but he’s knocked out before, the engineman pointed to me lying under the water tank, he turned round (thinking I was exhausted) to chaff me but I just jumped on to my feet climbed up & mended the fire and then returned & lay down again to his very great surprise. The man did not come back to his firing & I was a permanent fireman from then on as I had to be there to have steam up when the men came out from the main camp.
I got a hut to myself, it was just the shell & the Co provided me with a stove & plenty of timber, I had all my bedclothes which I had brought off the ship so I soon made up a bed for myself & a seat alongside the bed and a bench outside to scrub my clothes on when I washed. There was not another white man near but on the other side of the railroad there were 10 niggers belonging to the same gang that I worked in.
This went on for a year, the Great War broke out just as I got out there to live and after a year the Co found it very difficult (almost impossible) to get their lumber exported so had to close down altogether, I was only paid once per month & could not get any money sent home to my Wife from where I was working.
I tried Bolton where the Lumber Co head office was but I could not send money to England from there, I would have to go down to Wilmington which meant a lot of expense and loss of work, because it was half an hour after midnight before my train arrived, I just stepped across the railroad to the Temperance Hotel & slept there, had a bath and breakfast then went to the Presbyterian Church.
I did not go to the one where I had gone at first, I went to one named 1st Presbyterian Church where Rev Mr Wilson had formerly been Minister, he was the Father of Woodrow Wilson who was at that time President of U.S.A., the President was only a schoolboy while his Father was in Wilmington. I was in conversation with one or two people who remembered Woodrow as a boy.
I could not make arrangements about sending home as the Post Office did not open for business on the Sunday, so I had to remain until Monday morning, that meant losing Monday’s wages.
After this had gone on for a few months and by that time instead of going to the Temperance Hotel I went down to the quayside to spend the night with Mr Dukes’ son who was watchman at the Quay of the Seaboard Railway Co which was about 5 minutes walk from the Station, he had the foreman’s office to live in while on duty so I could get a good sleep there.
After this had gone on for some time when the papers came out on the Sunday (I forget date) on looking over it I noticed that President Wilson had appointed that day as a day of special prayer for the Nations at War. I looked over the list of Churches in the city and I was attracted, by the name of St James (Episcopal) Church, in Market Street, I did not know where Market Street was but I determined to find it. When I found it I knew the street well but not by name, I went in fully half an hour before it was time for the service to begin and I chose a seat near the back. After I had been seated about 15 minutes a Gentleman came from the Vestry & began to walk about the Church attending to the ventilation and temperature of the Church as there was only he & I inside the Church the other Gentleman being in the lobby.
About 10 minutes before time for the service to begin two Ladies came in to the seat where I was seated, they were Mother & Daughter the Daughter being the youngest of a family of 5 the Service almost word for word the same as the Episcopal Church Of England except that there are no prayers for Royalty but instead there are prayers for the President. I thoroughly enjoyed the Service as I knew all the hymns and the chants.
Shortly after the Service commenced the Gentleman whom I had observed came and sat at the end of the seat beside the elder Lady the younger one being beside me, they were both good singers there was an excellent Choir & a good Organist and a most excellent Preacher, so to use an apt phrase I was in clover and I thoroughly enjoyed the service, for I was surrounded by a goodly number of sopranos.
I may state here that a full choir is an unusual thing, for in most Churches (where money does not abound) they just have the Quartet Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, & Bass, these in almost every case are paid, they lead the Congregation in the singing and are usually paid 5 Dollars £1.0.10 in our money but in the choir at St James Church they had a choir of 30 with the paid quartet they were all good singers. At the end of the Service the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was observed but I did not stay and when I rose to leave the two Ladies made way for me to leave but the Gentleman left his seat and preceeded me to the door. There he pressed on me to stay but I stated my objection, I was not dressed to correspond with the Congregation but the Gentleman answered, we never look on the outside, but I noticed you did not miss one word of the Service which tells me you are or have been in the habit of attending Church & my Wife & Daughter would be delighted to have you take Communion with them.
He pleaded with me to stay but I told him I was a deserter from my Ship and could be imprisoned for so doing but he said we don’t at all agree with a man being tied to a job, he again appealed to me to take Communion but when I would not consent he said, well if ever I can do anything for you let me know & if ever you come this way my seat is at your service.
I came down twice more but was not satisfied that I could not get my money sent home without losing a day’s pay, one day Mr Carpenter came out to where I was working and while there he asked me how I was liking my job, I told him the only fault I had to it was the difficulty in sending money to my Wife, I did not appreciate the idea of losing work could he help me, he said he was sorry he could not help me but thought when I was in Wilmington I ought to see the British Consul, he ought to help me.
So at the end of the month I went to Wilmington, and attended St James’s Church, the Gentleman renewed his offer to do anything for me if I would let him know what I wanted but I did not know his name, had never asked it, & did not know what his position was. On the Monday morning I went to the British Consul’s office, (he was a very wealthy man (millionaire) a cotton exporter on a very large scale) but I was informed by the Sub Consul that I could not see the Consul but was speaking to the acting British Consul. He would attend to me if I would tell him my business, when I told him my name he replied there is nothing doing, when you deserted your ship (he knew all about it as soon as I gave my name) you forfeited all claim on the British Consul, but he said if you go along to the Murchison National Bank and ask for Mr Grainger you will find him a very nice Gentleman and he will probably fix you up.
So I could get nothing but good advice from the acting British Consul, I made my way to the Murchison Bank and asked for Mr Grainger, I found he was the Manager of the Bank and I was directed to the door of his private office, when I entered I got the surprise of my life, Mr Grainger was the very man who had repeatedly offered to help me if I would let him know I needed any help.
He told me at once I need not lose any more work by coming to Wilmington all I needed to do was to send my cheque at the end of the month to him and he would send what I asked him to send to my Wife and if at any time I thought my Wife was in need of money, if I just let him know he would send it on before the end of the month. He gave his full address and asked me to write every week & let him know how I was getting on, I corresponded with him for a few months & did not come to Wilmington. Then I was informed the Company would have to close down.
While at Macatoha (that was where the camp was) we had to go nearly a mile for our letters when we got to know that a mail was in. An old man 84 years of age had charge of the P.O. and there was not any method of dealing with the problem, there were over 100 men living at the camp and when we went to the P.O. someone asked is there a letter for Brown, the old man (the same applies to his Granddaughter aged 20) would pick up the whole of the letters and go through them one at a time until he came across the name Brown, or got through to the last one if he did not find the name Brown. Next any letter for REED he repeated the process & the same was gone through for every applicant for a letter, it was a very very slow business. When I was living out in the forest the Engineman used to bring my letters out to me, I lived a long time out there among the coloured men & never locked anything up and never lost anything until two white men came to live on my side of the railroad, then things began to disappear and I had to lock up.
I had plenty wild cats round about me & a most horrible noise they made during the night, I had also squirrels and bears though I never saw a bear but their footprints were there plainly when there was any snow. There were any amount of snakes several feet long & rattle snakes, I never saw one alive but the Niggers were killing them nearly every day at their work. Of course they were working where the trees were thick and the undergrowth as well whereas I was working where the trees had been cleared, I had a very pleasant time among the niggers & found some very kind hearts among them.
I wrote to the Bank Manager & told him the Lumber Co were closing down and asked him if he could recommend me to a job, he wrote back to say I had not to worry he would see that I was alright so when we closed down I just packed my traps & made for Wilmington & went to stay at the Seamen’s Mission.
I was well looked after as it was in charge of two Salvation Army Officers, Husband & Wife, he was a Greek she belonged to Newcastle so I was quite at home.
I did not get work except odd days for a week or two but there was a large Dredger in the river a few miles nearer the sea, Wilmington was 20 miles from the sea on the river Cape Fear, the Captain came ashore every night and if he wanted any hands engaged he took them down next morning in his launch. I met him on two or three occasions before I was lucky enough to get employed but at last he engaged me to meet him next morning, I was engaged as a fireman at 45 dollars (£9.15.) food & lodging on board.
She was a pipe line Dredger and employed 42 hands, Captain (German), three Mates, four Engineers, two Cooks, a Blacksmith & 6 Firemen, the others were engaged as sailors but most of their work was on the pipe line. I was surprised when I got on board to find two Seamen who were on the Rossana with me but I did not know that they had deserted the Rossana until I met them on the Henry Bacon (dredger) I soon made myself at home among the cosmopolitan crew. There were two Brothers (white men American) one was a fireman the other worked on the launch, there were two launches one did nothing but attend to the anchors as the Dredger wished to move forward or from side to side.
I was told they had a Sister married to an escaped murderer who had shot a Sheriff who called at his house in connection with some debt. He had shot the Sheriff, was arrested tried & remanded then escaped from prison was chased by warders who were gaining on him going over some marshy land when he turned and shot the foremost warder & got away. There was a reward of 1000 Dollars (or £200) on his head but he had been at large for a year.
I forgot to say that anyone seeking a job could come down to the Henry Bacon by a passenger steamer which passed the Henry Bacon on her way from Wilmington to Southport right at the mouth of the river & back again at night. If anyone on the Wilmington wanted to get on board the Henry Bacon they just told the Captain & he blew his Siren when he got near & a small boat was sent off, if there was not a job the applicant could either go back on the Wilmington’s return or could stay & be fed on board, sometimes I have known men stay two or three days.
One Friday night I saw a man on board, I had not seen him come aboard but he was there & I did not like the look of him, I was on the 12 till 4 AM watch and at 4 AM Saturday I was finished until 8 A.M. on Monday. I hurried & got changed & caught the launch going up to town for the Captain, when I got on board the launch I was cast down to see this awful, despicable looking man on the launch going up to town. After we got away a bit there was great revelry in the cabin, & the Captain asked one to take charge of the wheel while he joined in the revelry, when the launch arrived at the quay I went ashore at once straight to the Seamen’s Mission and did not bother about the launch until I came out of Church on the Sunday night, just in time to catch the launch at 8 P.M. back to the Henry Bacon. When I got on board one of the men asked me what I thought of Walker, (that was the name of the escaped murderer) I asked what about Walker, he said well him you came up to town with him yesterday.
I was bewildered, he said did you not hear about him, I replied I had not heard anything about him, then I was told he had been arrested on Saturday morning. Wilmington is built in squares so on coming ashore Walker had gone into a restaurant and had been observed by one of his former workmates who informed the Police. Two plain clothes Policemen came down the street & went into the shop opposite, knowing where Walker would be and two Policemen in uniform took up the stand at the top end of the square.
When Walker came out of the restaurant he turned down the street following the dotted line, the plain clothes Policemen followed a distance behind, gradually closing the gap, the uniformed Policemen went round the top of the square following the straight line. Seeing Walker turn up the street they turned down, as Walker got nearer to them the plain clothes men got closer behind, when both pairs were almost up to Walker they made a grab, instantly Walker put his hand to his pocket but they surrounded him & pinioned his arms. When he was searched he had 6 loaded revolvers in his possession so I am glad I did not enter into any argument with him, he was remanded again & again but when I left in 1916 he was still under remand.
I decided to return to England after a time and asked Mr Grainger to try & arrange with one of the Captains (whose ships were in for cotton) to get me a trip to England, he arranged with the Captain of a Norwegian steamer who said he would take me to Le Havre. I left the Henry Bacon to be ready then the Norwegian Captain said he was very sorry but he had made a mistake as his articles were for a crew of 26 and if he took me, and he was stopped by a German Warship he would be unable to give a satisfactory account as to why he had 27 on board and a belligerent being on board & his name not on the articles. He (the Captain) would be in a very serious position but if one of the 26 failed to report he would sign me on but all his men turned up & I was left. But not for long, a 7000 tons steamer named Constitution was at the time discharging further up the river and the crew had all been discharged, she was built at Hartlepool & was formerly owned by a Hartlepool firm but had been sold to a American firm. Now she was changing ownership again & was going round to New York to be handed over to a Japanese Firm of Shipowners and wanted a crew of runners to take her round to New York.
I went to see the Chief Engineer but he had all his firemen, (coloured men) but when I told him I wanted to get home and thought if I could get to New York* I would not have much difficulty in getting a Ship to England, he said he wanted an oiler but he could give me the berth I would have to see the Super, adding he is a townie of yours so I think you will be alright. He said the Super was staying at the Imperial Hotel but he would not advise me to go there to see him, it would be best to meet him on board next morning, so I presented myself in good order next morning and when he was in conversation with the Chief I made up to them.
* New York is a little over 500 miles north of Wilmington
The Chief introduced me & the Super asked me various questions which I answered satisfactorily, he turned to the Chief saying haven’t you only got two oilers what about this man being signed as oiler, the Chief replied “that’s just what I was thinking about”. So the Super asked me could I manage as oiler, I answered him yes, then he asked me where I was staying, I told him then he said, why not start in the morning and live on the ship and I’ll give you 23 Dollars (£4.l5.10) for the run to New York and you will get your food with the Engineers. I said but the other two oilers are getting 35 Dollars (£7.5.l0), he said who told you that, I said the men themselves, he said they are not getting their expenses paid back to Wilmington as you think, but I was willing to help you get home, you can please yourself whether you take it or not. But the day before we sailed, the Shipping Master came aboard to sign us on, I approached the other two oilers when they came on board, they said they were getting 35 Dollars, I told them what the Super had said, they said don’t take notice of him we will go in & sign on first you wait outside & we will tell you how the land lies. I did so, when they came out they said 35 Dollars and no questions asked so I went in and signed on for 35 Dollars, three days from signing on we were paid off at New York.
I had forgotten one very amusing incident in which I took part, I observed 50 yards away from my skidder a big tree had been left standing, I was not in the habit of asking questions about any other man’s business but I was curious about that tree and I asked one of the men near me, why it was left. One of them said there is a reason, go over and see if you can find it out, so without any hesitation I mended my fire so that I would have time to investigate and away I went to see if I could find out, I noticed the men I had just left were laughing among themselves as if someone had just told a funny story but the laugh was against them for I discovered there was a wasp’s nest in the lower trunk of the tree, there were thousands of them but I did not interfere with them & none of them attempted to sting me. Though I could not see my jacket, it was covered with wasps, I just walked among the group of men who had by this time ceased to laugh & their laughter had turned to fear for they were in dread of the wasps and ran away in terror but I just opened the door of my fire & swept the wasps off my jacket into the fire & did not get one sting in the process.
Well on arrival at New York we berthed at Brooklyn where the ship changed hands then there arose a dispute about who should pay the crew of runners, the U.S.A. firm were finished with the ship, and said that the new owners ought to pay the men who had brought the ship from Wilmington. I don’t rightly know how the dispute arose or who had to pay but we waited aboard for two hours while the money men were wrangling among themselves who should pay, (it was at least 800 Dollars (£l63)) but at last it was decided that we must be paid. Instead of being paid off on board we had to cross the river into New York proper to the office of one of the two Companies at a skyscraper of 20 stories, I got my 35 Dollars.
I had omitted to say that before leaving Wilmington Mr Grainger had made me a present of 25 Dollars in gold, there was not much gold to be got & it was a great thing to have two gold 10 Dollar pieces and a 5 Dollar. The niggers were all very eager to have the gold pieces, so I exchanged with them then I made my way to the Seamen’s Institute with my 60 Dollars & had an interview with Missioner. I told him everything & that I wanted a ship to get to England as quickly as possible, he told me there was a bank connected with the Institute & advised me not to carry so much money about with me so I banked 40 Dollars keeping 20 Dollars to have a good time and buy presents for my Wife & Family. He also told me the Shipping Office was on the ground floor of the Institute & advised me to wait until Monday when he would speak with the Shipping Master, it being then Saturday.
After tea I went to Madison Square Garden, to see Barnum & Bailey’s Circus, before going in there I had a look at some of the Skyscrapers, and had a look into Wall Street but there were no stockbrokers feverishly gambling in millions it was as quiet as an empty Church.
After seeing the circus I went back to the Seamen’s Institute & had a good nights rest, then I went to one of the big Episcopal Churches, & spent the remainder of the day among the big avenues where the very very wealthy people live. On the Monday I went to have a look at the Woolworth Building, 52 story high it was then the tallest in the world, there were 48 stories of it occupied for shops & offices but Woolworth’s did not occupy any of it themselves. There was a shop right on the very roof, I did not walk up the stairs to it for there was a lift, half a dollar to go to the top & see all round New York. It was a grand view, I saw the two giant German liners which were interned at New York when war broke out, then I spent a few dollars for presents to bring home.
On Tuesday the Shipping Master sent for me to his office, The Captain of the Raphael (one of Lamport & Holt’s) had called & instructed him to engage a Sailor and a Fireman for him & he would be along at midday to sign them on. I went to the Bank and made arrangements with the Manager to make my 40 Dollars £8.6.8 payable at Manchester where we were bound for as I did not wish it to go down with me if the ship was torpedoed.
When the time came I tried to prevail on the Shipping Master to allow me to go over to Brooklyn where the Raphael was lying and tell the Engineer in case some other man might go to the Engineer and get the job, he said don’t you worry the job is yours no matter who goes to the Engineer but I went back to him in the afternoon & he said if I was keen on going I couldn’t do any harm by going, but I couldn’t do any good he assured me but go if you want to.
I went & just as I expected a man who had been donkeyman on another of the same Co’s Steamers had been to see the Engineer who was very sorry but I could not get the job, he had promised the other just an hour before I came aboard. That discouraged me very much & slowly I made my way back to the Shipping Master, he laughed at my despondency but said it didn’t matter what the Chief said no one would get that fireman’s berth but me.
Tuesday midday I presented myself to the Shipping Master before the Captain arrived, when the Captain did arrive the other man was with me stood alongside, when the Shipping Master introduced me as the fireman he had engaged the Captain said but I can’t take him, another man has been engaged by the Engineer who is off another of our ships & though I am very sorry I must disappoint your man. The S.M. reminded him that he had asked for a Sailor & a Fireman, I engaged Mr Reed, neither for you nor your Engineer will I allow any other person to take the job, after a lot of argument the Captain had to sign me on & leave the other man out.
We sailed on April 16th 1916 with a cargo for the British Government, she was a 9,000 tons ship and we had a great number of Motor Vehicles in the hold, and a huge consignment of food so that we would be a valuable catch for the enemy. We avoided the usual course of ships and it took us over three weeks to get to Manchester, where we arrived too late in the day to get paid off and we were due £1 Channel money which the Captain duly paid. I went to the Shipping Office to make enquiries as to my letter & money from Wilmington and I was told there was nothing there for that name so I just took lodging for the night.
Next morning at 10.30 we met the Captain Thomas (a Welshman & a Gentleman) at the Shipping Office and were paid off, I had previously made enquiries about my letter but still it had not arrived, I spoke to Captain Thomas about it who asked me if I had any proof that I had banked any money at Wilmington to draw at Manchester. I shewed him my receipt, he replied you will not hear anything more about it, there is nothing there to work with, there is not even the name of the bank, he spoke to the Shipping Master who quite agreed with him, but I had every confidence in the Bank Manager & the Missioner at the Institute so I made arrangements for it to be sent on to the Custom House at Seaham Harbour. The day after arriving at Seaham Harbour I went to the Custom House to seek my letter, it had not arrived, upon asking for proof that I was due to any more the Chief Officer told me the very same that Captain Thomas had told me, still I kept a stout heart though a week after still no word arrived, so I wrote to my friend Mr Grainger the Bank Manager at Wilmington N.C..
After two weeks I got a reply to say that he had been in communication with Mr Brown the Bank Manager with whom I had left the money who informed him that the money had been sent on (as arranged) to the Shipping Office three times & returned marked, not known. He informed that if I had not already received it, I would in a day or two, sure enough the draft arrived for £8 .6.8. in the same envelope that had been returned from Manchester three times I lost 8d in cashing it as it was made payable on a London bank, and it cost the Seaham Harbour bank (Barclays) 8d and I got my money alright.
I took a small steamer, 1500 tons, and went to Dunkirk, then to Lerwick in the Shetland’s several times, then to Cowes in the Isle of Wight then back to Dunkirk. From there I wrote to Mr Kennedy traffic inspector to South Hetton Coal Co at Murton (I had worked for him as a boy) asking him to speak to the Engineer and obtain for me a job as fireman.
I made another trip to Dunkirk then when I arrived home there was a message from Mr Kennedy to inform me he had seen Mr Curry the Engineer and I had to go up and see him as there was a job for me. I worked there a considerable time then I went back to Seaham Colliery and fired at the low pit for a considerable time then I got transferred to the Brickworks.
After working for many years I retired at the age of 67 drawing my last pay on my 67th birthday, so ended my working days.
I think I omitted to mention the incident of a Russian who joined the Lucient, he was a good fireman but unfortunately he was not half so good as he thought he was, and when he got drunk was in the habit of exhibiting a clasp knife with which he had killed two men in Buenos Aires. We had a 3rd engineer who was too fond of mixing with the Sailors & Firemen and playing cards for stakes, the Russian was very keen at the same game & was always throwing his weight about & boasting about his ability as a fireman.
The 3rd engineer on one occasion made a great mistake & told him that last trip the old man (myself) kept better steam than any of you, the Russian did not like it and though I was not to blame he took a very great dislike to me but hid it until he got ashore & came back drunk. When he came aboard I was in my bunk apparently asleep, when he came to my bunk, putting his nasty face near my ear he said, huh you English —- you keep better steam than me, me kill two men no trouble to kill another. When next I went on watch, I made preparations, and when I came off watch I had a 2lb hammer in my pocket and never went to sleep without it in my hand and never woke up without having it well gripped in my hand but he never interfered with me
1866 and 1871 Emmanuel and/or his family lived in Frances Street, Seaham
1881 Candlish Terrace
1891 Frances Street
1911 Gallery Row
Emmanuel died in Seaham in 1944
His wife Jane Ann died in 1937
If you have a photograph of Emmanuel, Jane Ann or any other member of the Reed family from the 1800s please email email@example.com
Original article loaned by Mike Shaw
|A COMPLETE LIST OF SEAHAM PUBS SINCE 1830|
|Compiled by David Angus July 2008
www.east-durham.co.uk click here for Photographs of a lot of pubs featured in the list
Most of the dates pre 1938 given below are drawn from the Trade Directories shown here, as you can see not every year is represented so that, for example, if a date is given as 1855 the true date could be anywhere between 1852 and 1855. Additional information taken from locally compiled census reports 1841-1891.
Of the first 133 buildings completed in Seaham Harbour by 1831, 12 were pubs.
If you have photographs of any Seaham pub or club, however recent, that you would allow us to use, please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
ADAM & EVES, 1851, The Dene.
Before becoming a public house this building was called Garden House. I have seen this public house referred to as THE PEAR TREE.
Another reference states that Adam and Eve’s Gardens opened to the public in 1829 by Colin Fair and taken over by his son Ralph in 1838. Ralph had previously been landlord of the SHIP INN.
The licence was transferred from here to the RED STAR, Station Rd in the early 1930s.
BAY HORSE 1851, Blue House Farm Seaton,
Also known as The COCKFIGHTER and The BLUE HOUSE, last entry 1865, quite possibly very much older than 1851. The licence was transferred from here to the Seaton Lane Inn. The farm was later known as Manor House Farm and was demolished during building of the A19 c1971.
BLANDFORD HOTEL, 1893, (1850s) 13 Blandford Place.
Would seem to have been run as a beer house since the 1850s by a ship-owner, James Noble, when it was listed as 34 South Railway St. as it is at the junction of the two streets. Just to confuse matters. Closed late 1990s.
BOTTLEMAKER’S ARMS, 1873, (1856)10 Pilot Terrace.
Operating as an unnamed beer house in 1856, licensee Robert Simpson . Often referred to as the RED LIGHT. Pilot Tce was built before 1841. Probably closed c1935.
BRADDYLL ARMS, 1847, 68 Adolphus Street.
Also addressed as Adolphus Place and South Terrace over the years. Brewer. The licence was transferred from here to THE MALLARD in November 1964.
BRIDGE HOTEL, 1894, (1861), 33 North Railway St.
First appears as a beer retailer in 1861, a beer retailer and confectioner in 1889, also known as BRIDGE VAULTS. In old directories North Railway St. is occasionally referred to as Bridge Street. It is quite possible that the LYNN ARMS was operating here in 1834 and continued as an unnamed beer-house until it became the Bridge Hotel. The DISCHARGED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS SOCIAL CLUB AND INSTITUTE was operating from 33 North Railway St from c 1915 and by 1925 it was William Nixon’s drugstore.
CANTERBURY ARMS, 1893/4, 16 North Railway St
Closed early 1960s when swallowed up by the expanding Snowdon and Bailes factory
CASTLEREAGH HOTEL, 1878, Vane Tce.
Became the CARLTON in 1982, closed 1990s. Elsie Orton and her husband Joe left here in 1949 to run the Seaton Lane Inn.
CROW’S NEST, 2006? East Shore Village.
DAWDON HOTEL, 1914, King Edward Road, Dawdon.
Demolished after fire 1990.
DEMPSEY’S BAR, 1997, 14 North Terrace.
A beer house in 1861, possibly earlier, run by Joshua Redshaw, by 1873 a drapery then variously a marine engineer, auctioneer and grocer until c 1934 when it became Frank Valente’s ice cream and confectionery business until opened as a restaurant then bar by the Goodings family.
DRAY CART INN, 1894, 10 Frances St. First listed as a beer retailer in 1871/2 then a Co-operative Store in 1879.
DUKE OF WELLINGTON, 1844, 8 South Railway St.
Variously known over the next few years as LORD WELLINGTON or WELLINGTON INN. Recent name change to DUKE OF SEAHAM. Known locally as THE DUKE.
DUN COW 1856, Seaton Village.
EDINBURGH CASTLE, 1894, (1865), 12 South Tce.
In 1865 a beer retailer, George Stranghair (Straugher?), previously a Co-operative Store?. Closed c 1970.
ENGINEER’S ARMS, 1864, 6 South Tce.
FORESTER’S ARMS, 1844, 10 North Railway St.
Closed and demolished in 1959 during Snowdon and Bailes expansion.
GEORGE, 1936, The Avenue, Deneside.
GOLDEN LION 1829/30 1 South Railway St.
The first habitable new building in Seaham Harbour. In 1861/2/4 listed as the GOLDEN ANCHOR. Brewer. The town’s first school opened in a room here in 1830.
HAT AND FEATHER, before 1902,
I have seen a note somewhere that this pub was at Seaton in which case it was possibly another name for the BAY HORSE, an early name for THE SEATON LANE INN or possibly a village farmhouse, the most likely contender would be West Farm which was adjacent to the “main road” which ran past the Times Inn, through the west end of Seaton Village, Burdon, Tunstall and on to Sunderland.. I have seen no other reference to this name, other than the 1902 “poem” which though reputed to mention all Seaham pubs only managed 29 of 49. If anyone has any other information I would be delighted to hear it.
HAVELOCK ARMS, 1865, 27 South Railway St.
First appears as a beer house, licensee Robert Simpson in 1864, no mention after 1865.
HIGHLAND ARMS, 1851, Back North Tce, Highlander by 1855, Matthew Adamson licensee, listed as licensee of the Oddfellow’s Arms Back North Tce in 1847.
KING’S ARMS, 1830, 9 North Tce, Listed as the KING’S CROWN INN in 1861 and 1862. Traded until around 1970. Probably open by 1831. A stagecoach ran from here to Sunderland from the 1830s.
LONDONDERRY ARMS, 1830, 4 South Crescent.
The foundation stone of this building was laid on the same day as that of the dock in 1828. Brewer. Re-named Sylvia’s c 1980s. Probably open by 1830. Name often shortened to THE DERRY. From the early 1830s, stagecoaches left here for Sunderland, their arrival and departure announced by a bugler. Closed c 2006. Now a Thai restaurant.
LONDONDERRY HOTEL, 1894 (1864), 1 Fenwick Tce/Row, opposite (west) of the Bottleworks.
A beer house since 1864, possibly earlier. Fenwick Row was built before 1856. Locally known as THE PARROT. Closed 1971.
LORD SEAHAM 1834 18 North Tce,
Brewer. Became the HARBOUR VIEW in the 1970s. Probably open by 1831. The first Roman Catholic services were held in an upstairs room here.
LYNN ARMS 1834 licensee George Bamborough.
Though no street numbers are given, the position of G Bamborough in the 1841 census would place him at the western end of North Railway St. There is every possibility that the Lynn Arms eventually became the Bridge Hotel/Vaults.
LORD BYRON, 1894, Back North Railway St.
Locally known as THE CUDDY, earlier the KICKING CUDDY.
MALLARD, 1964, Stockton Rd.
Licence transferred from the Braddyll which closed November 1964.
MARLBOROUGH, 1990s, Charles Street, Emily Street, formerly SEAHAM HARBOUR CONSERVATIVE CLUB since 1902.
MARLBOROUGH HOUSE, 1894, (1873), 7 North Terrace.
A beer house in 1873, closed 1932. Previously various trades including perfumer, insurance agent and printer and stationer. Licence surrendered when licence transferred from Adam and Eve’s to Red Star, Station Rd.
MASON’S ARMS, 1834, South Railway St.
First licensee Parkin Thornton, also mason and bricklayer. Probably open by 1831, by 1861 re-named the Northumberland Arms, later, c late 1980s became The Inn Between.
Appears in the first Seaham Trade Directory of 1834, possibly much older. In 1834 known as the WINDMILL, the MILL INN by 1856, demolished and rebuilt on same foundations in 1892 possibly incorporating parts of the original building.
NEW SEAHAM INN, 1873, Station Road.
Was locally known in the 1880s as WALLACE’S in the 1930’s as GIBSON’S and later LACEY’S. Re-named The Kestrel in the 1970s?
NOAH’S ARK, 1834, 1 North Railway St.
Brewer. Probably open by 1831. Generally known as THE ARK. Closed c 2000.
NORTHUMBERLAND ARMS, 1844, Back North Terrace,
Owned by Robert Scott, no mention after this date. In 1858 Robert Scott is listed as a beer retailer in John Street.
NORTHUMBERLAND ARMS, 1861/2, 27 South Railway St.
From 1831 until 1861 called the MASON’S ARMS. Also owned by Robert Scott, in the 1980s became THE INN BETWEEN. Often referred to as the SCOTCH HOUSE when the Northumberland Arms.
ODDFELLOWS, 1847, Back North Tce,
Matthew Adamson licensee. (listed as licensee of the Highland Arms Back North Terrace in 1851). The Oddfellows (BNTce) is not mentioned after 1848, it may have ceased to exist or changed name to become THE HIGHLAND ARMS.
ODDFELLOWS ARMS, 1894, (1861) 52 Church St.
A beer house in 1861 licensee Mrs Jane Appleton. Name often shortened to THE ODDIES.
PEMBERTON ARMS, 1830s? Cold Hesledon.
Originally called the BRADDYLL ARMS, then became the COLD HESLEDON INN
before adopting its present title. Locally known as the WHITE HOUSE.
RED STAR, 1934, Station Road.
Name often shortened to THE STAR. Re-named ISLAND SOCIAL CLUB in the 1980s?
ROSE & CROWN, 1855, 13 Church St.
ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE ARMS, 1894, 6 Back North Tce.
This address was at the southern end of Back North Terrace.
ROYAL OAK 1864, (1858) Pilot Tce.
Operating as unnamed beer house in 1858, licensee Wm Henzel a Seaham ship-builder. Demolished between 1933 and 1936.
SEAHAM HALL, Old Seaham.
Briefly a public house in the 1980s, a nursing home by 1988. Now a hotel since 2002.
SEATON COLLIERY INN, 1856 (Colliery Inn) Mill Bank.
Bombed during WW2 on 25th of November 1941, two people killed, rebuilt as the PHOENIX in the late 1950s.
SEATON LANE INN, 1873, Seaton Lane,
Previously a blacksmith shop and house since c1600, known as Bleak House. Locally known as the ROADSIDE. There is just a possibility that this pub was the elusive HAT AND FEATHER in it’s early days.
In an early 1980s CAMRA Good Beer Guide this pub was described as “an oasis in a northern desert”
SHAKESPEARE INN, 1894 (1864), 5 North Terrace.
A beer house from 1864, closed 1910. Previously a Hosier and a Marine Store Dealer, probably at the same time.
SHEPHERD’S ARMS, 1861, Back North Terrace.
Last mention 1864. As no street number was given, there is no way of knowing what became of this pub.
SHIP, 1851, 5 North Railway St.
SHIP INN by 1856, last mentioned in 1910.
SHIPWRIGHT’S ARMS, 1855, Back North Terrace. Last mention 1865.
STATION HOTEL, 1858, 39 Marlborough St. Originally THE RAILWAY. Situated at the very top of Marlborough St, next to the Railway Station. Demolished 1971.
TIMES INN, 1841, Stockton Road, Dalton le Dale.
VANE ARMS, 1847, 74 Church St. Brewer. Closed c1970 to become a bingo hall, now demolished.
VOLUNTEER ARMS, 1873, 43 Frances St.
Operating as unnamed beer house owned by George Gunn Walker in 1865. Often referred to as THE VOL. Now all that remains of Frances Street.
WHEATSHEAF, 1834, North Railway St. Does not appear after 1848.
WINDMILL, 1834, MILL INN by 1856, rebuilt on same foundations in 1892.
ZETLAND HOTEL, 1894, (1864), 3 North Railway St. A beer house, licensee John Atkinson in 1864.
THE TALE OF SEAHAM LICENSING SIGNS, 1902
The fellows of the Royal Naval Reserve entered the Ship built of Royal Oak and sailed up to the Adam and Eve Gardens where they met with some Foresters who informed them that the Duke of Wellington leaving the Edinburgh Castle, had got into a Dray Cart. He was escorted by some noble Volunteers, all loyal to the Rose and Crown and headed by a Highlander playing on his pipes. They passed through Northumberland and on arriving at the Bridge they were met by Marlborough, Zetland and Braddyll who had just returned from Canterbury.
The assembled company here sat down to discuss various subjects, the merits of Shakespeare, the latest achievements of the Engineers and the industry of the Bottlemakers but were repeatedly interrupted by the chattering of the Parrot.
Then a party of Oddfellows suddenly entered the room and informed them that a Golden Lion had escaped from Noah’s Ark and was speeding by the Colliery to the Times Inn hotly pursued by Lord Seaham wearing a Hat and Feather and mounted on a Kicking Cuddy.
SEAHAM CLUBS SINCE 1830
BRITISH LEGION CLUB, 1925 (1914-21) Tempest Place.
Originally COMRADES OF THE GREAT WAR SOCIAL CLUB, same building same site, sometime between 1914 and 1921. Later British Legion Club, North Railway St.
CONSERVATIVE CLUB (New Seaham), 26th October1895, 208 Station Rd.
CONSERVATIVE WORKING MEN’S CLUB, March 16th 1894, Charles St./Emily Street, Became THE MARLBOROUGH (Club) in the 1990s.
DAWDON CRICKET CLUB, Bar in the clubhouse from 1965, Green Drive. Cricket Club formed c 1907.
DAWDON MINER’S INSTITUTE, 1910, Mount Stewart St. Dawdon. (Dawdon Welfare) opened 3/12/1910
DAWDON WORKMEN’S CLUB, 1914, Princess Road.
Burned out in 1977. Closed c2005?
DEMOCRATIC CLUB AND INSTITUTE, 1938, (1925), 8 Vane Terrace.
Formerly the IRISH CLUB AND LITERARY INSTITUTE, 1925, Generally known as THE DEMI.
DENESIDE WORKMEN’S CLUB, 1930s, The Avenue, Deneside.
DISCHARGED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS SOCIAL CLUB AND INSTITUTE, 1921, 33 North Railway Street.
Formed sometime between 1914 and 1921 this club has the same address as THE BRIDGE HOTEL/VAULTS so would appear to have taken over at that time. Short-lived, William Nixon’s drugstore was trading from here by 1925.
LABOUR CLUB, Malvern Crescent Deneside.
MASONIC CLUB, 1889/90, 3 North Road.
NEW SEAHAM WORKING MEN’S CLUB AND INSTITUTE, 1910, Eastlea Road, High Colliery.
Generally known as the NACK CLUB. Now re-named the KNACK SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUB.
RAFA CLUB post WW2, Station Rd,
Later renamed SHOOTING STAR then OASIS.
RED STAR SOCIAL CLUB, 1980s, Stockton Road.
ROYAL ANCIENT ORDER OF BUFFALOES CLUB AND INSTITUTE, 5 North Railway St 1925
RAOB CLUB, known as THE BUFFS. Now operating as SAM’S.
ROYAL NAVAL ASSOCIATION CLUB, date? North Terrace.
Now SEAHAM EX-NAVAL CLUB. Known as the NAVY CLUB.
RUGBY CLUB, 1990s, York House, York Road.
See SEAHAM HARBOUR AND DISTRICT SOCIAL CLUB.
SAINT CUTHBERT’S SOCIAL CLUB, 1980s, Mill Road New Seaham.
Generally known as PAT AND MICK’S.
SEAHAM HARBOUR & DISTRICT SOCIAL CLUB, 1921, 29 North Terrace.
(site possibly now occupied by SNOOKER CLUB), later moved to York Road and became SEAHAM HARBOUR WORKING MEN’S CLUB and was generally known as YORK HOUSE, then became the RUGBY CLUB.
SEAHAM HARBOUR CONSERVATIVE CLUB, 1902, Charles Street/Emily St East,
later, in the 1990s THE MARLBOROUGH.
SEAHAM HARBOUR CRICKET CLUB, Bar in the clubhouse from 1967, New Drive.
Cricket club formed in 1868
SEAHAM HARBOUR GOLF CLUB, c1910, Shrewsbury St.
SEAHAM HARBOUR WORKING MEN’S CLUB, York House, York Road.
Known as YORK HOUSE.
SEAHAM OLD SCOUTS SOCIAL CLUB, Dow House, 1978, South Crescent.
Formerly The Seamen’s Mission
SEAHAM PARK CRICKET CLUB, Bar in the clubhouse from 1965, Seaham Town Park.
SEAHAM UDC EMPLOYEES SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUB 1960? Ash Crescent, Parkside.
Generally known as PARKSIDE CLUB.
SNOOKER CLUB (Lengs), 1980s? North Terrace.
Possibly built on the site of the former SEAHAM HARBOUR & DISTRICT SOCIAL CLUB.
PLAYBOY (Nightclub), 1960s, Church St,
Later renamed PANTHERS now an amusement arcade.
VANE TEMPEST CLUB, 1950?, New Drive.
WESTLEA SOCIAL CLUB, 1950s, 5 West Grove, Westlea Shopping Precinct.
Now trading as MITCHEL’S.
BEER-HOUSES AND BEER RETAILERS 1830-1900
Many of Seaham’s pubs started life as a beer-house or beer retailer, apparently without a recognised name (or not one that has survived), in many cases it has been possible to tie together the beer house and pub through the address using trade and census records though this is not always possible as early Seaham records gave only the street name at best.
Here I have tried to remove all doubtful businesses and hopefully there are no duplications (businesses often changed hands many times over the years).
This list can only be a rough guide, there were many more beer houses than are listed here, much more work needs to be done.
I give only the first entry for any particular address.
Lists compiled by David Angus, July 2008.
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 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.
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:
while the only fatality was:- Thomas Brown Thompson (apprentice) aged 12.
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
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS
Of Saturday, August 28th 1858
INAUGURATION OF A RUSSIAN GUN AT SEAHAM HARBOUR.
Few, 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.
Like 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.
A series newspaper articles published during the week of the
Seaham Colliery Disaster of Wednesday 8th of September 1880.
Newspaper not known.
TERRIBLE COLLIERY EXPLOSION
WEDNESDAY, 10 PM.
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.
ANOTHER ACCOUNT , SEAHAM HARBOUR,
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.”
THE SEAHAM COLLIERY EXPLOSION.
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 SEAHAM COLLIERY EXPLOSION
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.
SUNDAY NIGHT 11 O’CLOCK
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.”
OUR COLLIERY VILLAGES.
From the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 1 February 1873. Transcription by Stafford M Linsley.
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.
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.
|Article from a national sporting newspaper of 1876
BY ” WILDFOWLER.”
SEAHAM HARBOUR AND BAY.
|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,
At last, we saw three widgeons on our starboard a quarter of a mile off. “You come over here, sir,” said one of the