An old collieries walk

The following notes were prepared for a guided walk, organised with the help of Durham County Council’s Countryside Service, which was first conducted in August 2014.

The walk starts at Bowburn Community Centre (formerly Bowburn Miners’ Welfare Hall) and the notes are arranged, as far as possible, in the order in which various features can be observed, when following the route of the walk. We’ve tried, however, to keep things in some sort of chronological order, as well.



It may be helpful to think of the history of Quarrington’s 19th century collieries in five periods. These are:

A. Pre-1824: Landsale – when coal was transported by turnpike road to S. Durham and N. Yorkshire.

B. 1824-1834: William Hedley – The Railways are coming!

C. 1834-1844: Durham County Coal Co – Railway rivalries and Joint Stock adventures.

D. 1844-1866: Ralph Ward Jackson – The rise of West Hartlepool.

E. 1866-1877: James Morrison – Coking for the iron industry.


The numbers below refer to points on the map above, showing the route of the walk. The letters suggest which of the above five periods is most relevant.

Note that “Quarrington” refers to the township of Quarrington, which was all north of the beck once known as Four Mile Water. It was combined with Cassop township in 1887, to form the civil parish of Cassop-cum-Quarrrington.

Coxhoe township was south of this beck (i.e. south of Four Mile bridge, on the B6291). The histories of coal mining in Quarrington and Coxhoe are inextricably linked but the emphasis here is on the former. The walk is entirely within Quarrington.


1. Bowburn Farm: Last known as John Hare’s farm. West of A177. Site of 20th century Bowburn Colliery. The area had previously been known as Quarrington Moor.


2. Crowtrees Farm: Included the sites of the colliery streets, the recreation ground and the SW part of Bowburn council estate. The farmhouse was probably once Quarrington Grange (17th century or earlier). Then a pre-Wheatsheaf pub (1840s). (The Wheatsheaf, later known as The Cooperage, was nearer to the main road. It was demolished in 2014, to make way for a  new purpose-built mini-store. The site of this original Grange is now occupied by houses in Crowtrees Lane north, between the pub / mini-store car park and Anderson’s bakery. The car park wall, formerly part of a farm building, possibly contained some of its original materials. It was demolished when work started to build the new store, in 2015.


3. [A] Original Crowtrees Colliery: Landsale colliery in 1810 (Bailey’s General View of Agriculture in Durham). Although Bailey may well have been referring to other Quarrington pits (in addition) as “Crowtrees”, there was probably a Crowtrees pit about opposite the new entrance to the Old Quarrington (OQ) quarry road, near the beck. This was the site of a Pumping Engine on the 1857 OS Map. The northern end of the Clarence Railway branch leads directly towards this, and there is a distinct dip in the field in between. It is tempting to think that neither the Clarence Railway Co. nor the owner of this pit in the 1820s, William Hedley (see below), would have gone to the expense of creating the railway cutting that still exists south of the Old Quarrington road, unless it was to be used by this colliery. However there seems to be no evidence, in aerial photographs, of a waggonway through this field north of the road, up from the colliery. Not has any mention been found of a stationary engine, which could have been needed at the top of the slope. It might have been possible to use carts or pack horses to get coal to the railway line, or perhaps a gravity operated waggonway. But it seems at least as likely that Hedley changed his mind, and decided to sink a quite different “Crowtrees” colliery, elsewhere, instead. (See below.)


Geology – Seams and Dip and Faults: There are two important seams near the surface in Quarrington – the Five Quarter seam and the Main Coal seam. In the NCB’s standardised seam names, these are the F and G seams, respectively, the latter being about 50 feet below the former. Both produced excellent house coal and, as such, were much in demand in the London market, after the coming of the railways. Before that, they were carried by pack horse to Stockton and beyond, this being the south-eastern-most part of the exposed Durham coalfield.

All coal seams in Durham dip from south-west to north-east, at an angle of approximately 1 in 32. That is the dip recorded in the Inspector’s report on the Easington Colliery disaster in 1951. The explosion there, which claimed 83 lives, was in the 5/4 seam, 1,050 feet below ground. So the seam that outcrops in Quarrington is over 1,000 feet deep near the coast. Similarly, the deepest seams in the Bowburn area are near the surface and outcrop in West Durham.

Early in the 19th century, coal was still generally mined working uphill. That is, a shaft would be sunk to the deepest part of a seam to be worked; then mining would head in a westerly direction, following the seam up a slope to nearer the surface. This was so water in the mine would drain downhill towards the shaft, where an engine could pump it out.

That simplified picture is complicated considerably by other considerations. Some of these were man-made: drifts could be driven between the seams, for instance, and these could be used for haulage and/or for drainage. But, moreover, the seams were rarely straight and unbroken, geologically, nor of ever-even thickness. Nor was the quality of a seam the same throughout the coalfield. A seam that was worth working in one area may not have been, not far away.

In particular, there were numerous faults in the geological strata, where they had slipped in relation to each other. Sometimes this may have been by a few feet. Sometimes it was by much more. There is a significant 100-ft fault across the Quarrington district, which meant that working in, say, the Main Coal seam could lead one to a solid wall of rock. This fault is shown on the map drawn for this walk as the more westerly of two NW-SE faults (shown in light blue).

(See also about the Hett Whin Dyke, below.)


Seams and faults in the Quarrington coalfield
(For key to seams, please see walk hand-out.)


4. [A] Bell’s Pit: The final (southern) section of the new A688 (opened in 2008) joins the old A177 (now the B6291) through a cutting. To create this, the County Council’s contractors had to dig through the Five Quarter coal seam. Selling the coal helped pay for the roadworks. The old mine workings found here (see photographs in walk hand-out) dated from the 18th century but were known in the mid-19th century as Bell’s Pit.

This was named after John Bell (1782-1862), who had no connection with the Bell Brothers who later sunk Bowburn’s 20th century colliery. He was a local farmer (though originally from Rothbury), at Lambs Close and then Crowtrees farms, and had a sub-lease from “the owners of West Hetton Colliery” (who in turn sub-leased the royalty from Henry Blanshard, who in turn leased it from the Bishop of Durham) allowing him to “rob the pillars” of the earlier (18th century) coal workings. In the 1841 census Bell was described as “[owner of] Landsale Colliery”. He probably also worked the Main Coal seam, which was about 50 feet below the Five Quarter seam.  In 1848, the Bishop’s agent said that “[t]he quantity at present worked is about 90 tons per annum or equal in value to about £100 per annum”. He had already, at that date, “worked it for many years past”.

John Bell’s daughter and son-in-law, Isabella & John Newton, had the Hare & Greyhounds for much of the 19th century – as did, after them, their daughter, Barbara Burns (husband: Thomas). The Burns’ daughter Annie married Thomas Weightman, who was steward at Crowtrees WM Club in the 1920s and ’30s. (They were the first residents of Newton House, next door to the Club.)


5. [B-C-D-E] Clarence Railway: Here was the last section of the “Sherburn” branch of the Clarence Railway [it never reached Sherburn], once the bitter rival of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The branch was authorised by Parliament in 1829 and completed about four years later. It then served the original Crowtrees and the Heugh Hall collieries, acquired by William Hedley in 1824, and/or its successors (see below). This was three years before most of the coal royalties in the area were acquired (see below) by Henry Blanshard (abt 1786-1854). Blanshard was a London shipowner. He was one of the biggest shareholders in the Clarence Railway and its first Deputy Chairman, before being its Chairman 1841–1853.

Hedley was one of the promoters of this railway and he bought [i.e. sub-leased] his first collieries here after returning from giving evidence in support of its parliamentary approval at Westminster. “The first cargo of coals from Crow Trees colliery was shipped at Stockton, at the Clarence Railway staiths, on board the brig Etherley, for London” on 16th January 1834 (Latimer, 1857).

North of the bridleway between Park Hill and OQ, a former Clarence Railway cutting still runs through to the Bowburn–OQ road. It has generally been supposed that this was never used. However it is just possible that it once led towards an early Crowtrees Colliery (see above). South of the bridleway, the railway ran past the first working Bowburn Colliery (see below), to the level crossing near the Railway Tavern [now the Tarka childcare centre], at Coxhoe, and beyond that towards the Ferryhill gap.


[B] William Hedley (1779-1843) was the inventor of the wheel-coupling that made it possible to run steam locomotives on smooth rails. He designed two of the earliest successful locomotives, Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly, while he was viewer (manager) of Wylam Colliery – though he had substantial mining interests of his own and his sons went on to be major Durham coalowners, as Thomas Hedley and Bros. Ltd. and later Holmside & South Moor Collieries.

The first steam locomotive to run on the Clarence Railway, the “Tyneside”, was constructed for William Hedley by Messrs. Hawthorn, of Newcastle, to run coals from his Quarrington collieries, in 1835. (The Clarence Railway Co. was not permitted to run its own steam locomotives.) A pub at the bottom of Coxhoe, opposite the Railway Tavern (now Tarka Childcare), was presumably named after this loco. A house named “Tyneside” is still there.

Hedley sold his interests in his Quarrington and Coxhoe collieries in 1837 and 1838, when they were acquired by Charles Barrett, Robert Rayson and others associated with the Durham County Coal Company (see below). He moved to Burnhopefield Hall in 1837 and devoted his energies to the development of Holmside, Craghead and South Moor collieries. He died in 1843.


6. Heugh Hall Farm: This was once the home of perhaps the oldest family in Bowburn, that of the late Harry Story. His family had lived there since at least the early 19th century, probably originating in Kelloe. His great great grandfather, John Story, died there in 1844.


7. [A] Original Heugh Hall Colliery: Bought by William Hedley in 1824, before he sunk a new one at OQ. There is an embanked track across the bottom of the large sloping field to the south of the new A688 link road and roughly parallel that road. This may just have been a cart road, or just possibly an old waggonway (though it is narrow), and presumably originally linked this colliery to Crowtrees Lane (the Sherburn road), via the farm’s access drive. From there, coal will have been taken towards the Durham-Stockton road (and thence South). However it may have been used to connect with Cassop Moor colliery and the waggonway there. (Although the embanked track points directly towards Cassop Moor, there is no known map or aerial photography evidence that there was a more direct link.)

Since 2008, there has been an excellent view from the A688 of the site of this early Heugh Hall Colliery. These features are especially striking in early morning, when the sun throws shadows across the uneven land. One can also see, very clearly, the line of a footpath running up across the field towards Grey Gables (see below) and the western end of Heugh Hall Row. Such visible evidence of mere footpaths, in this case across a field that has clearly not been ploughed since it was part of a mediaeval ridge & furrow arrangement, is unusual. So it is tempting to wonder whether it was once also a waggonway, perhaps leading from this colliery to the waggonway running down from OQ to the Clarence Railway. However no early maps show this as anything other than a footpath and ground evidence further south does not suggest a waggonway.


8. [B-C] Hill Top: Both Hill Top farm and the Hill Top coal royalty, whose boundaries were the same, were, since at least the start of the 19th century, leased separately from the surrounding farmland and royalties. The dry stone wall that appears to have surrounded this estate is unusual in this part of Durham. Its remnants also seem to indicate a wall of quite high quality. Hill Top House (also called, on the 1857 OS Map, confusingly, “Quarrington Hill”) was a stone building that was in ruins by the 1950s and these were removed in the 1980s. No photographs or drawings of it are known to exist.

Both the farm and the royalty were sub-leased in the late 1830s by Robert Rayson (abt 1783-1849), a Stockton land agent who was a shareholder in both the Durham County Coal Company and the Clarence Railway. When a new pit was sunk at OQ, to be known as [a new] “Heugh Hall” colliery, it worked coal westwards and upwards into the Hill Top royalty. This colliery was also sometimes called “Hill Top Colliery”.


9. Hett Whin Dyke: This band of igneous rock, the result of volcanic activity some 300 million years ago, runs across the coalfield in a roughly ENE to WSW direction. Coal along this line is cindered (and not valued, at least when house coal was the prize) and adjoining rock is hardened and made more difficult to drive roadways through. There is a theory that Quarrington first derived its name, not simply from its quarries, but from the presence of hardened limestone which could be used for mill stones. A disused quarry is shown on the first OS maps (just east of the wall, within Hill Top farm) which could perhaps have been used to extract whinstone.


10. Quarry road: Built in 1980s to divert heavy traffic away from OQ, this now also serves a new anaerobic digester (constructed and first operating in 2015).


11. Cassop-cum-Quarrington Vicarage, now “Grey Gables”. Built in 1870 (at a cost of £1,750). It was sold by the Church in 1956 (for £2,300).

St. Paul’s church itself was at Quarrington Hill. It was built in 1867, closed in 1991 and demolished in 1993. The churchyard that surrounded it is still in use.


12.[B-C] Heugh Hall Row: 14 semi-detached houses were built here in the 1930s, by Durham Rural District Council. This was the second group of council houses to be built in the parish (also ward) of Cassop-cum-Quarrington, after Park Hill Estate. They were bought by David & Anne Johnson, farmers, in 1982, and subsequently sold to individual householders, together with plots of land for “horsiculture”.

An earlier, 19th century Heugh Hall Row, of much smaller cottages, once housed 38 households of Heugh Hall miners. In 1849, this was the scene of mass evictions. That was the year of the collapse of the National Miners Association, and it may be supposed that the strikers were part of this wider, unsuccessful dispute. The colliery owners at the time were Ralph Ward Jackson and others. (See below.)

The row was, obviously, named after Heugh Hall colliery and led to the whole of Old Quarrington being known locally as “Heugh Hall” till late in the 20th century. It is possible that these early cottages were first built to house miners of the colliery of that name at the bottom of the bank (hence the footpath mentioned above). Or they may perhaps only have been built when the new HH colliery was sunk nearby. A Plan and Valuation in 1835 reported that Heugh Hall Inn was built in 1833; that “the Owners have not [yet] received any remuneration for the sum already expended on building the same”, but that it would now “make the annual value of the whole £200”. This suggests that Heugh Hall Row had been built in or before 1833 but that the nearby first colliery of that name at OQ was only about to operate. (The inn was between the sites today of “Forge Farm” and “The Orchards”.)


13. [B-C] Heugh Hall Collieries at Old Quarrington: Though a new “Heugh Hall” colliery may first have been sunk at OQ in about 1833, presumably by William Hedley, if so, it didn’t last long. For another one was sunk, about 100 yards east of the first, in 1840, this time by those who had bought Hedley’s interests. (The new one was roughly where the imposing new Quarrington farmhouse was built in 2013.) Although sunk within the adjacent royalty, both these “HH” collieries worked the Hill Top royalty which, like Hill Top farm above it, was sub-leased by Rayson and his associates. Significantly, although Rayson was a shareholder in the Clarence Railway, the new colliery was oriented such that its coal would travel, not south-west, down the waggonway towards that railway, but south-east, towards a new incline over Quarrington Hill towards Cassop. A Bishop’s agent’s report in 1848 said there had been no output from this colliery in 1840 but that it had commenced production in 1841.

Rayson’s partners in this enterprise were Thomas Allison Tennant (abt 1787-1840) and Ralph Park Philipson (1799-1879). Tennant, a sail-cloth & rope manufacturer, of Stockton, “had a finger in most of the local joint-stock enterprises of the decade” (Stokes, pers. com.), including the Hartlepool Dock & Railway Company, of which his brother Christopher (formerly promoter of the Clarence Railway) had become the superintendent in 1832. The Quarrington Hill incline led to this railway, via Cassop and Thornley, and took coals to ship at Old Hartlepool. It was thus a rival to the Clarence. Philipson was a Newcastle solicitor (later its Recorder) and owned several other colliery interests, including at Cassop and Cassop Moor, which already shipped coal via Thornley.


[C] Durham County Coal Company (DCCC): The DCCC was the first ever coal-owning joint stock company, formed in 1836. Another of its major shareholders, and a director, was Charles Barrett (1798-1884). Most of his colliery interests were further west in the county, seeking to benefit from the Clarence Railway’s other branches, but he and others also bought Coxhoe colliery… which they controversially sold to their own company, for the allegedly inflated price of £56,000.

With his relative by marriage, John George Quelch, Barrett also sunk the first two Bowburn collieries (see below). [Quelch was married to Hannah Lockwood, first cousin of Barrett’s sister-in-law, Ann Barrett (née Lockwood) – and of her brother, the banker George Lockwood.]


14 & 15. [B-C] Heugh Hall Waggonway and Incline: While the first (1833) Heugh Hall colliery to be sunk away from HH farm, at Old Quarrington, used a waggonway running south-east towards the Clarence Railway, the second (1840) one used an incline running south-west towards Crowtrees colliery. The former waggonway was disused before the first (1857) Ordnance Survey map but was still being used as a footpath at the time of the second edition (1897). Aerial photographs show it continued in a straight line towards the Clarence. However the south-western end of today’s bridleway runs several metres north of that line. The Heugh Hall Incline, towards Cassop, on the other hand, was still in use in 1857, although the Quarrington Hill incline beyond that (towards Cassop) was by then also disused. So coals were by then being transported first towards Crowtrees colliery, near QH, but then back to the south-west, towards Coxhoe and the Clarence Railway. (See re West Hartlepool, below.)


16. [B-C-D] Crowtrees Collieries near Quarrington Hill: [Note: This is not on the route of this walk but the site is visible from it.] Just as the new “Heugh Hall” collieries were sunk some distance away from Heugh Hall farm and from the presumed earlier pit or pits of that name, so a new “Crowtrees” colliery was sunk, even further away from Crowtrees farm. The date of this sinking has not yet been verified. However it was probably completed, by William Hedley, very shortly before the opening of the Coxhoe branch of the Clarence Railway. It is presumed that the “Crowtrees” colliery that first shipped coals along the railway, at Stockton, in January 1834, was this one, rather than the original Crowtrees colliery, near Bowburn beck. This appears to be confirmed by a report by the Bishop’s Agent, John Buddle, in 1839, concerning an application for wayleaves to take coals from Crowtrees colliery via the QH incline towards Cassop. In it, he said “the Colliery has been working for several years, and the Coals are shipped at Port Clarence by the Clarence Railway”.

This colliery’s owners, in 1839, were named by Buddle as “Messrs Tenant & Co.”, who had bought their interest from Hedley. They were the new sub-lessees of the Bishop of Durham’s lessee, John Hopper, with whom Hedley had re-negotiated his sub-lease in 1836, only a couple of years before selling it. (Hopper was a cousin of Rev. Robert Hopper Williamson, who had extensive land and coal interests throughout the region. In Quarrington, John Hopper leased the royalties, from the Bishop, beneath the farmlands leased by his cousin.)

Buddle estimated that shipping to Hartlepool would save Tennant & co. nearly 1 shillings per chaldon (53 cwt) – the equivalent (assuming 20cwt per ton) of 1.9p per ton (about one sixtieth of the coal’s value).

Note: The concrete “castle” that still stands in the Crowtrees Nature Reserve, today, was part of a third “Crowtrees” colliery, sunk by Jame Morrison & Co. (see below), probably in the late 1860s. This was about 300 yards south-west of the earlier Hedley pit.


17, 18 & 19. [B-C-D-E] West Hetton Colliery, “Joint Stocks” Colliery and Clarence Hetton Colliery [Note: Thiese are not on the route of this walk but the sites are visible from it.]

West Hetton colliery was just north of Four Mile Water (i.e. just inside Quarrington township), beside the Crowtrees branch of the Clarence Railway. From a viewpoint next to Woodhouses (see below), it is on a more-or-less straight visual line with today’s Coxhoe domestic waste disposal site which, in turn, is on the site of the 19th century Coxhoe colliery. The latter was bought by the Durham County Coal Company from four of its own shareholders, including Charles Barrett, in 1836. (See above.)

Earlier Coxhoe collieries, sunk in this area, had been worked since at least the 18th century. Then both the Coxhoe estate and the coal royalties beneath it were owned by John Burdon (who died before 1793), who had had Coxhoe Hall built in about 1725. He also leased the Quarrington coal royalty, north of Four Mile Water, from the Bishop of Durham, and pits in Coxhoe will have worked through to coal in what was later called the West Hetton royalty in Quarrington. Burdon’s freehold and leasehold royalties were inherited by his great great nieces, the Misses Hale, daughters of General John Hale (of Quebec fame), of Guisborough. It was these royalties that were bought by Henry Blanshard, of the Clarence Railway Company, in 1827 – the year before that company was formed. In this he won one battle, at least, with the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company.  For the Hales were a highly influential family and their support was courted, in the 1820s, by both the Clarence Railway Company (to back the new railway) and the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company (to oppose it). 

DCCC’s “Joint Stocks” colliery, similarly, worked coal in Quarrington but its sub-leaseholders (from Blanshard) also worked from West Hetton colliery. In view of the name, it is almost certain that the latter was a new (or, rather, the latest) pit sunk in this area, if not by the Hetton Coal Company then by some of its partners, including Nicholas Wood (see below). By about 1840, however, this, too, had been acquired by partners associated with the DCCC and the Clarence Railway.

So too had another Coxhoe colliery, on the site of today’s football club ground. This was called “Clay Hole” colliery on the 1857 Ordnance Survey Map but had previously been known as “Clarence Hetton” colliery and, indeed, carried that name even in 1855, when Ralph Ward Jackson and John Robson (see below) started leasing it from the heirs of Henry Blanshard.

When he gave evidence to the Mitchell Commission on the Employment of Children and Young Persons in the Mines of the South Durham Coalfield (which reported in 1842), the manager of Clarence Hetton was John Wood. He was a brother of Nicholas Wood, who, with partners, was its owner.

Nicholas Wood (1795-1865) was one of the most noteworthy mining engineers of the 19th century, being Lord Ravensworth’s agent and viewer of Killingworth colliery till he moved to Hetton Hall in 1844, and the first president of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers when it was founded in 1852. He owned numerous coal mining interests himself, as either an individual or a partner, and as Manager of the Hetton Coal Co.. It is presumed that West Hetton and Clarence Hetton derived their names from this Hetton company.

(To complicate matters, however, East Hetton colliery, at Kelloe, was named by Col. Thomas Richmond Gale Braddyll and partners, of the entirely different South Hetton Coal Co..)

In the 1841 census, the address of John George Quelch (see below) was given as “Park Hill House” but it seems likely that this was not the farmhouse of Park Hill farm but Nicholas Wood’s house, Clarence Villa. The house was shown on the 1839 Tithe Apportionment as owned and occupied by Wood himsef, but he clearly never actually lived here. He was probably responsible, however, for its construction. If Quelch indeed lived here, it seems likely that he was at that time employed by Wood (or the Hetton Coal Co.).

(Clarence Villa was in the latter part of the 20th century named the Kicking Cuddy. It reverted to its old name in 2013. See here.)

In 1841, the householder of West Hetton Lodge (see below) was Thomas Lishman (abt 1756-1844), described as colliery viewer. Amongst his household were two young clerks, George Lockwood and Mountjoy Pearse. (GL’s brother, Bedford Lockwood, was also there; he died later that year.) The former was a nephew of Charles Barrett’s brother John (via his wife, Ann Lockwood) and a first cousin, once removed, of John George Quelch. Later, Lockwood and Pearce were to become brothers-in-law and shipbuilding partners at Hartlepool and Stockton. In 1842, Mountjoy Pearse was recorded as being the Clerk of Crowtrees and West Hetton collieries. (Mitchell Commission’s Report). Presumably, Lishman was viewer of those collieries, at least, and was probably viewer of Heugh Hall colliery, as well, and perhaps Bowburn colliery (see below).

In short, West Hetton colliery and Crowtrees colliery were both owned by Charles Barrett and other DCCC (and Clarence Railway) associates in around 1840. As we have seen, they bought Crowtrees from William Hedley. It is likely that they bought West Hetton from Nicholas Wood and partners. It is possible that the latter bought their interest from William Hedley. However firm evidence has not yet been found that Hedley was involved in West Hetton.


20. [B] Woodhouses & Hedley’s Pit: The relatively modern stable building, near where today’s bridleway between Park Hill and OQ diverts from the original HH waggonway line, is all that’s left of a small hamlet called Woodhouses. Although this appears on the first OS map (1857), with less than 10 dwellings, Hedley’s Pit, next to which it was presumably built, is no longer shown. It is named, however, on a 20th century geological survey map and must have been sunk by William Hedley in the early 1830s, presumably using the waggonway down towards Coxhoe, and closed soon afterwards.


21. “Barker’s Path”: This footpath (no. 29) is now kept clear, after a dispute between Durham County Council and Messrs Johnson, the landowners, was resolved in 2012. The right of way was created in 1912, to divert two paths that previously crossed the site of the first (1840s) working Bowburn colliery. One went from West Hetton Lodge to Coxhoe (Joint Stocks) colliery. The other had originally been the waggonway from Heugh Hall colliery, at OQ, to the Clarence Railway.

The 1912 diversion took the path round the old Bowburn colliery site, which by then was a brickworks, after the latter was expanded into the adjacent field. (The field boundary subsequently reverted to its original line.) The brickworks were then owned by Thomas Barker (1849-1920), once Fives Champion of the World, who had bought them with his prize money (or perhaps his bets!) in that sport.


22 & 23. [C-D] Bowburn Colliery: John George Quelch (1810-1879), in partnership with his cousin by marriage, Charles Barrett, first sunk a shaft for “Bowburn Colliery” [22] east of where Burn Street, Bowburn, now stands, in 1840. He failed to find workable coal but the shaft was re-opened in 1906 by A. L. Steavenson, Bell Brothers’ agent & engineer, and became the upcast shaft for their 20th century Bowburn Colliery.

However, after that sinking failed, another, successful (though short-lived and not enormously productive) Bowburn Colliery was sunk near Park Hill [23] in about 1841. It was beside the Clarence Railway, between the junctions with the lines from Heugh Hall colliery, at Old Quarrington, and Crowtrees colliery, near Quarrington Hill.

It is not known whether Quelch was himself involved in sinking this new (1841) Bowburn colliery. He almost certainly suffered financially from the earlier venture, at Bowburn itself, with his cousin Charles Barrett. And this may have ended his coal owning interests. Quelch was described as Coal Owner at the baptism of his third son, in 1844, but as Gentleman by the time his next child was baptised, in 1847. By 1851, he was living at Bowburn House (later John Hare’s farmhouse), described as Farmer of 310 acres employing 6 labourers. Soon afterwards, he became Divisional Mineral Manager, Northern Division, N.E.R., which post he held between 1854 and 1874 (Tomlinson, 1915/1969).

This second “Bowburn” colliery is believed to have closed in 1857 – soon after the first OS Map was surveyed, when it was still active. By then it was owned by the West Hartlepool Harbour & Railway Co. and managed (with their other collieries in this district) by Richard Sheraton Johnson, by then the resident of West Hetton Lodge. It worked the Five Quarter and Main Coal Seams. After it closed, the site became a brickworks (later bought by Tom Barker), with clay pits both north and south of it.

(After that closed, in 1917, Bowburn Cottage, which was on the site, continued to be occupied till the late 1930s. Its last occupants, the Hutchinsons, moved into one of the new Council houses at Heugh Hall Row. Harry Hutchinson’s wife’s son by her first marriage, Horace Davies, was killed at Gallipoli in 1917. His nephew, George Henry Hutchinson, died the same year at Ypres.)


[D] West Hartlepool Harbour & Railway Co.: The collieries of Quarrington and Coxhoe, having been acquired by Barrett and other DCCC associates, may first have been of interest to them, as some of them were to Hedley before them, because of the Clarence Railway connection to Stockton and Port Clarence. But some or all of them were then drawn by the cheaper transport costs into using the Quarrington Hill incline, to ship their coal from Old Hartlepool. What happened next, though, was to change that. First, the Stockton & Hartelpool Railway was built, initially connecting the Clarence to the same Old Hartlepool docks, from the south, but it then joined them to new docks at West Hartlepool. Meanwhile the collieries themselves were bought up by the West Hartlepool interests. The man behind this was Ralph Ward Jackson (1806-1865).

Jackson became Company Solicitor of the Clarence Railway Co. in 1838. The following year, it decided to build a new line, the Stockton & Hartlepool Railway, to connect the Clarence Railway to Old Hartlepool, instead of (or, rather, as well as) Stockton. This opened in 1841. As far as transporting coals from Quarrington and Coxhoe was concerned, it could then be a rival to the line (through Thornley) owned by the Hartlepool Dock & Railway Company. However that company still benefitted from dock and shipping charges, which they controlled.

So, in 1844, Jackson sought Parliamentary permission to build a new harbour and dock, at West Hartlepool. Permission granted, building started in 1845 and Coal Dock opened in 1847. Jackson Dock opened in 1852 and, in 1853, the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway Co. combined with the West Hartlepool Harbour and Dock Co., to form the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Co..

With John Robson, a colliery viewer, Jackson bought up all of the Quarrington and Coxhoe collieries, from the strugglling DCCC and its various associates. And so it was that by the time of the 1857 Ordnance Survey Map, all of them were again only using the Clarence Railway, now en route for West Hartlepool, and the Quarrington Hill incline was disused. Many of the former employees of Charles Barrett and other DCCC partners became employees of the new West Hartlepool empire.


[E] James Morrison & Co.: Some or all of these collieries had, illegally, been bought using funds from the West Hartlepool company, and Jackson was forced to resign in 1862. All the collieries in this district – Bowburn, Coxhoe & West Hetton, Crowtrees, Heugh Hall and South Kelloe – were bought by James Morrison & Co., in 1866. This company’s interest was not in “exporting” coals to London and elsewhere, that is, in using any of the coastal ports. It was in using the deeper-mined coal (from the Hutton and Harvey seams, for instance), which were more suited to coking than as house coal, in its ironworks. These were developed in Coxhoe, Cornforth, Ferryhill and elsewhere, with ironstone being brought up (using the Clarence Railway) from North Yorkshire and using limestone from the Coxhoe hills.

This, then, was the final phase identified in the 19th century history of collieries (and railways) in Quarrington and Coxhoe. It effectively ended with the economic recession of the late 1870s, when all the collieries closed, mostly for ever.


24. [A] Newcomen steam engine: In the 18th century, one or more Newcomen steam engines pumped water from mines in this area. One was the subject of a dispute in 1768 between (1) John Burdon, who owned the freehold of coal royalties in Coxhoe, as well as collieries in the wider area, and had built Coxhoe Hall, and (2) Sir James Riddell, who by then lived there. That engine was described as being situated in Coxhoe, i.e. south of Four Mile Water.  However a Newcomen steam engine’s location is shown in Quarrington, on a map dated 1797, of the estates of the executors of the late John Burdon. It was at what is now an overgrown corner of the pasture next to northern-most point on the Clarence Railway embankment (before the possibly never-used cutting leading to the OQ road). In winter, you can see a pond there.

The Newcomen atmospheric steam engine was the first to harness steam power to work engines. Invented in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729), it was eventually overtaken by the Watt steam engine (developed between 1763 and 1775) but it remained widely in use throughout the 18th century. It was expensive. So the existence of such an engine at Quarrington is evidence of the importance of this coal mining district at that time – long before the coming of the railways.


25. [B-C-D-E] West Hetton Lodge: “Ramsay’s Drive” is now part of Bridleway 39, from Park Hill to Old Quarrington, and is named after William Ramsay (1832-1905) and his son John (1860-1934), successive managers of Tursdale Colliery, who both lived at West Hetton Lodge. It is likely that a colliery at Tursdale was being considered by Ralph Ward Jackson, before his downfall, but was not sunk until the royalties had been acquired by Bell Brothers. They had bought the working Page Bank colliery from the West Hartelpool Harbour & Dock Co., when the Coxhoe and Quarrington collieries were bought by James Morrison & Co..

Bell Brothers must have acquired West Hetton Lodge (as leaseholders) at a later date.

The Lodge had been built in the 1830s. It was a two-storey stone building, with an impressive colonnade facing the drive, on land leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (who still own it today). It belonged to successive colliery owners, including finally the NCB, till it was demolished in about 1961. One of John Ramsay’s daughters, Jane Elizabeth Mary, married Robert Oxley, of Park Hill farm. (Their son Bob is still there.) His cousin, John Gladstone Ramsay (1872-1952), was under-manager of Bell Brothers’ (and then Dorman Long’s) 20th century Bowburn Colliery for its first thirty years, till he retired in 1937.

Among the early occupants of West Hetton Lodge were:

(1) in 1841 [census date], the colliery viewer, William Lishman (1796-1850), later the Earl of Durham’s Agent; in his household were the young Mountjoy Pearse and George Lockwood, later shipbuilders of Stockton and Hartlepool. They will have been employees of the Durham County Coal Co. and/or such of its partners as Charles Barrett.

(2) in 1851 & 1861, the colliery viewer, Richard Sheraton Johnson (1824-1892), later of Sherburn Hall and co-owner of Whitworth and Hamsteels collieries. He was an employee of the West Hartlepool companies and/or of Ralph Ward Jackson and John Robson.

(3) in 1871 & 1881, the mining engineer, William Henry Wood, later of Coxhoe Hall. He was the manager of the Coxhoe and Thrislington collieries, employed by James Morrison & Co. and its successor, the Rosedale and Ferryhill Iron Co.. He moved to Coxhoe in the 1880s, from where he was manager of East Hetton colliery, at Kelloe, by then owned by Walter Scott Ltd.. The last of Wood’s four unmarried children, John and Maud Mary Wood, were the last residents of Coxhoe Hall, before they both died in 1938.


26. Bowburn Cemetery: opened by Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council in 1945. The road past it was once the road from the Durham-Stockton road (now the B6291), up to OQ – and once beyond that, to Quarrington Hill and Kelloe.  It came from behind the Pit Laddie Inn, where it formed a staggered crossroads with the road to Tursdale, which joined the Durham road from behind the forge. These, and Lambs Close farm buildings (and many of its fields) were all lost to the motorway in 1969.