Chester-le-Street Heritage Group

Pelton Fell Colliery.

Colliery Name

Pelton Fell Colliery (sometimes called the Low Pit)


Prior to 1897 the colliery was called Pelton Colliery. This explains the name  given to the colliery in W.T. Hair’s drawing of 1844 shown here.








Location of Colliery

Pelton Fell near Chester-le-Street -

6 miles NNW of Durham.



Number of Pits

Three

Names of Pit/Pits

Brow Pit, Fan Pit and North Pit.

Seams Worked

Busty, Hutton, Low Main, Maudlin, Tilley, Townley, Brockley, Shield Row, Five Quarter, Harvey and High Main.



In 1905 the Five Quarter and Main Coal Seams were abandoned as the coal was exhausted.

Pelton Colliery from W.T. Hair, “Views of the Collieries, 1844”

NOTE: This Ordnance Survey Map dates from 1898

Brief History


Pelton Fell is less than 2 miles to the west of Chester-le-Street. It is built on the land which rises above the Cong Burn. The village dates from the mid 19th century. It was built on land that was originally moorland. The area which the village now occupies was divided by the Twizell Burn with its steep sided burn.

It is the site of a former coal mine and a closed railway station primarily used to service both Pelton Fell and Pelton, a village at the opposite end of station lane. The Pelton Fell working men’s club was closed and demolished in 2008 several years after the Colliery Inn was closed and demolished only 100 yards from the same location. The village is split into two sides by an area locally called ‘The Battery’.

With the commencement of the colliery, houses had to be built to accommodate the miners and their families. A large group were built in the Busty area – High Rows – and in the Club Row area, and by the pit – Pit Rows and Whitehill Terrace.

By the time of Kelly’s Directory of Durham and Northumberland in 1910 Pelton Fell had the telegraph office which also served Pelton. It had two mission churches as well as Wesleyan, United Methodist and Primitive Methodist chapels. (See Religion below for more details). The Literary Institute, with a library of 1,700 volumes, had been erected by the owners of Pelton Colliery and could seat 500. Pelton Fell now had its own section of 31 directory entries, including a bank, chemist, watch maker and surgeon.

Messrs Kingscote & Company sunk the colliery, but later James Reid & Partners, Messrs Swabey & Company, and Messrs W. C. Curteis & Company operated it, until 1860. W. J. Hutchinson, operated the pit from 1866, when the Hutton was worked with the Busty just started in 1865. Lord Dunsaney & Partners, operated the pit in the 1880’s, and in 1901 it was controlled by the owners of Pelton Colliery Limited. In 1928, it was placed in the hands of receivers, when a possible sale to Arthur Kellett & Son fell through, and the workings were dismantled. In 1929, M. H. Kellett restarted the pit, under the name of Mid Durham Coal Company, who were the operators of Pelton Fell Colliery in 1932.


Colliery Owners


1830’s – James Reid & Partners

1830’s – Swabey & Company

1830’s – W.C. Curteis & Company

1835 –    Kingscote & Company

1869 –    Lord Dunsaney & Partners

1901 –    Owners of Pelton Colliery Ltd.

1929 –    Mid Durham Coal Company

1947 –    N.C.B.


Colliery Owners also owned


In 1873 Dunsaney and Partners opened a new pit presumably to reach deeper seams, about ½ a mile to the north-east, on the opposite side of the NER line. As this was close to the village of Newfield it was called Newfield Colliery (not to be confused with the Newfield Colliery near Willington). It was linked to the north side of Stella Gill yard by a self acting incline about ½ a mile long. Given the potential for confusing the two Newfield collieries it is perhaps not surprising that by 1897 the original colliery had been renamed PELTON FELL COLLIERY and Newfield Colliery had been renamed PELTON COLLIERY. Newfield Colliery closed in 1936. See photos at end of document.

In 1901 Pelton Colliery Owner’s also owned the nearby Tribley Pit at Hett Hills. It is not known when this pit opened but its likely closure date was the 1930’s.

In later years Pelton Fell Colliery had a tramway 1 ½ miles long, almost certainly rope-worked, running westward to the Tribley Pit.


Year Opened /Sunk


1835


Year Closed


1965

 Output


Coal: Coking: Gas:


In 1940 215,000 tons

In 1947 175,000 tons


 Brickworks


The clay and brickworks was opened in 1838. It was owned by the Kellett family, who also owned Pelton Fell Colliery and the nearby Stella Gill Coke Works. See photographs of the brickworks below.

Gas works


There was a gas works at the colliery with a gasometer nearby.


Coke Works


Pelton Fell Colliery did not have a coke works but the nearby Newfield (Pelton) Colliery did have coke works.


Pit Baths


The Pit baths were opened in 1949. Note photograph below celebrating the opening.

Pelton Colliery Institute


The Institute was erected in 1909 by the owners of Pelton Colliery, and comprised a hall, seating 500 persons, billiard room, refreshment bar and a library of 1,700 volumes, for the use of the workmen. See photograph from 1909 below.

 Drift Mine


Whilst there wasn’t a drift mine at Pelton Fell Colliery there was one at Pelton (Newfield) Colliery.


Was there a works canteen?


Yes there was a works canteen.


Numbers Employed


1896 had 504 underground - 188 above ground

1940 had 548 underground - 172 above ground

1965 had 325 underground –   83 above ground


Employees


With thanks to Durham County Record Office for the following names and dates:

John A. Adams in 1944

William Agar in 1929

J. H. Ainsley in 1957

C. Alderson in 1903

E. Anderson in 1906

James Anderson in 1889

John Anderson in 1889

Robert Anderson in 1895

T. Anderson in 1902

William Anderson in 1912

E. Armstrong in 1905

J. Atkinson in 1897

J. Backhouse in 1911

John Bailey in 1929

Edward Bain in 1929

R. Bambling in 1951

T. Bankhead in 1906

W. Barkus in 1953

C. Barnes in 1905

J. Barron in 1902

E.R. Bell in 1954

John Bell in 1929

Robert Bell in 1929

Fenwick Bewick in 1885

L. Bird in 1919

W. Bird in 1905

James Black in 1929

John Blenkinsop in 1929

G. Bowery in 1913

John Boyd in 1929

A Bradford in 1905

P. Brannans in 1902

Andrew Brown in 1923

F. Brown in 1905

H. Brown in 1920

J. Brown in 1898

Robert Brown in 1929

Thomas Brown in 1929

William Brown in 1929

J.T. Broxom in 1891

William Burnip in 1922

J. Cardwell in 1919

A. Carr in 1911

John Carr in 1893

Michael Carr in 1890

Thomas Carr in 1902

A Chambers in 1902

James Churchill in 1922

Aaron Clark in 1919

James Colledge in 1929

Robert Y. Cook in 1927

W. Cook in 1917

G. Cooper in 1906

H. Coulson in 1906

John Cowey in 1929

T. Cullen in 1906

H. Curry in 1886

W. Curry in 1909

T. Davison in 1924

W. Davison in 1902

E. Dawson in 1915

J. Dinning in 1906

Thomas Dinning in 1889

Dinning in 1942

J. Dixon in 1915

M. Dixon in 1897

T. Dodd in 1906

Thomas Dodds in 1901

W. Douglass in 1902

Raymond Dresser in 1932

Henry Ducker in 1902

M. Dunlavey in 1909

J. Eggleston in 1906

John Elliott in 1929

James Everett in 1929

John Everett in 1929

G. Felton in 1905

James Fenwick in 1889

Hugh Foley in 1889

Joseph Foster in 1929

Robert Forsythe in 1929

R. Foster in 1909

W. Foust in 1895

Frank Gallagher in 1921

J. Gannon in 1897

W. Gaskell in 1909

William Gee in 1897

John Gibb in 1891

R. Gibson in 1891

G. Gilder in 1929

John Gill in 1891

J. Gilliland in 1913

J Gladstone in 1895

George Goodrum in 1917

Leslie Gowland in 1946

T. Gowland in 1903

Samuel Gray in 1929

William Gray in 1929

F. Greaves in 1903

James Taylor Greaves in 1924

A Green in 1905

Alexander Green in 1929

J. Green in 1906

Robert Green 1929

W. Green in 1905

G. Grey 1906

Norman Grunson in 1929

Thomas Guire in 1929

I Hall in 1906

J. Hall in 1897

Joseph Hall in 1929

Thomas Hall in 1942

Ernest Halliday in 1929

John Halliday in 1902

Martin Halliday in 1929

T .Hancock in 1906

John H. Hancock in 1929

R. Harker in 1909

Harley in 1920

John Harrison in 1891

W. Harvey in 1916

H. Hearn in

James Henderson in 1889

Herbert Hudson in 1901

James Heslop in 1929

T. Hetherington in 1902

W. Hetherington in 1905

Edward Hewitson in 1929

J.G. Hindmarsh in 1897

T. Hogg in 1912

Martin Holliday in 1919

J. H. Hope in 1919

Joseph Horniman in 1922

James Howes in 1929

George Howey in 1906

M. Howey in 1911

R. Howey in 1905

Robert Howey in 1922

W. Howey in 1913

Isiah Hubble in 1929

N.Hunter in 1908

J.Hutchinson in 1897

H. Jackson in 1906

J. Jackson in 1897

J. James in 1909

Joseph Johnson in 1929

William Johnson in 1932

William Johnson 1890

Dennis Jude in 1929

Kellett in 1928

Albert Keys in 1885

Albert Kirkup in 1928

Christopher Kirkup in 1929

E.H.Kirkup in 1942

Henry Laing in 1929

Peter Laing in 1890

G.Laverick in 1910

John Laverick in 1901

John Laverick in 1929

Mark Laverick in 1929

Robert Laverick in 1927

Lawson in 1955

F. Leighton in 1909

J. Leonard in 1905

Liddell in 1898

J. Liddle in 1905

T. Liddle in 1908

Thomas W. Light in 1944

D. Lightle in 1910

James Lightle in 1929

Ralph Lister in 1929

T. Littledyke in 1913

W. Lloyd in 1905

L. Maddison in 1907

J. Maddison in 1911

John Maltby 1929

J. Marshall in 1902

R.H. Marshall in 1901

Robert W. Marshall in 1929

Martin Lewis in 1914

Maurice Martin in 1928

Martin in 1905

Robert Maughan in 1929

John McCarton in 1929

J. McClure in 1919

Dr. McCullagh in 1916

C. McCullagh in 1912

J.G. McDermott in 1929

C. Metcalfe in 1915


R.E Metschke in 1919

A. Middleton in 1902

R. Middleton in 1902

G Miller in 1915

George Miller in 1929

Ralph Miller in 1929

Robert Miller 1929

S. Miller in 1911

Charles Mitchske in 1929

Richard Moist in 1928

Robert Molloy in 1890

J. Moody in 1897

Frank Mooney in 1891

James Mordue in 1929

J .Morpeth in 1901

R. Morpeth in 1901

Robert Morpeth in 1929

Desmond Morris on 1929

Frederick Neave in 1897

J .Newton in 1908

Sidney Newton in 1919

J. Neww in 1908

Dr Oliver in 1917

William Pace in 1929

J. Parker in 1909

Thomas Parks in 1929

A E Paxton in 1942

E. Pearson in 1890

J Pearson in 1906

R.W Pearson in 1929

Matthew Pendleton in 1929

W. Pendleton in 1907

J. Petrie in 1907

Emmanuel Pickles in 1890

William W.Pickles in 1889

Edward Piggford in 1929

George Pigg in 1894

T. Pointon in 1905

J.J Poulton in 1917

R Powell in 1901

Edward Proctor in 1929

William Proctor in 1929

E. Proctors in 1901

William Purvis in 1894

Purvis in 1942

C. Pyle in 1891

John Raisbeck in 1906

R.A. Redpath in 1891

William Reed in 1929

Henry Remington in 1929

Dr Renton in 1916

H. Richardson in 1905

J. Richardson in 1902

John Richardson in 1929

T. Richardson in 1901

Charles R. Rivett in 1928

Thomas Robinson in 1901

W. Robinson in 1902

John Robson in 1929

T. Robson in 1909

Thomas Robson in 1929

Joseph Rodgers in 1887

Rose in 1942

C. Rudkin in 1891

Charles Rudkin in 1889

Joseph Rutherford in 1929

H. Scott in 1903

Joseph Seedhouse in 1919

E.T Selkirk in 1945

J. Shaw in 1955

John Sheldrake in 1929

John Short in 1929

Henry Sillett in 1940

Francis Simm in 1946

R. Simpdon in 1905

J. Simpson in 1906

R. Simpson in 1906

G. Skillcorn in 1915

John Smiles in 1907

John Smiles in 1929

Andrew Smith in 1929

George Smith in 1936

Henry Smith in 1916

James Smith in 1929

William Smith in 1929

T. Snowdon in 1906

Thomas Spedding in 1927

Walter Stanger in 1929

William Steadman in 1929

J. Stephenson 1907

James Stewart in 1906

Sidney Stirman in 1929

W. Stoker in 1905

William Stokoe in 1929

C. Stott in 1908


F.Summers in 1909

J. Summers in 1921

A. Surtees in 1919

Thomas Thirlwell in 1927

Alfred Thompson in 1891

Charles S. Thompson in 1889

Christopher Thompson in 1932

Matthew Tiplady in 1929

John Trotter in 1927

J. Turley in 1913

J. Usher in 1905

S. Usher in 1905

C. Wake in 1891

F. Wake in 1891

J. Wake in 1891

T. Wake in 1891

George Walker in 1929

Edward Ward in 1939

Thomas Ward in 1928

Edward Wardle in 1929

H. Wardle in 1911

John Wardle in 1929

Henry Wass in 1929

Henry Wass in 1889

William Walters in 1929

C. Watson in 1910

Joseph Watson in 1929

W. Watson in 1911

James Welsh in 1929

G. Wheatley in 1908

Robert White in 1929

Edward Wiffen in 1903

Matthew Wild in 1929

W. Wilkinson in 1902

J. Williams in 1905

W.D Willis in 1895

C. Wilson in 1905

George Wilson in 1902

J. Wilson in 1907

John Wilson in 1929

Thomas Witherspoon in 1929

R. Wray in 1905

Thomas Wray in 1903

John Young in 1929

W. Young


Disasters


Date: Wednesday, 31 October 1866


Local Records state: Early this morning one of the most calamitous colliery explosions which had occurred in this district for many years took place at Old Pelton in the County of Durham. The melancholy catastrophe occurred about six o’clock, when a great many of the men and boys were at work. The report of the explosion was heard in a radius of upwards of two miles, which awakened, with fearful forebodings, the villagers, who intuitively rushed to the scene. Mr James Ritson, the deputy viewer, and others endeavoured to descend to the shaft, but the foul air for some time precluded their going down. Eventually, however, they succeeded, and found the sad fact that 24 had paid the last great debt of nature, and several others were seriously injured.


Pelton Fell Colliery, owned in 1866 by Lord Dunsaney and Partners, was one of the largest concerns in northern England employing more than 500 men and boys. Work had begun in the Busty seam about June of 1865. The coal was known to be excellent for household use but was gassy, so only locked lamps were used.

On Tuesday, 30th October, the workings were examined both morning and night with no danger discovered. Early on Wednesday morning, John Gray, deputy overman, once again checked and found no evidence of gas. At 2:00 am the men on the fore-shift began work and they were joined at 5:00am by the boys bringing the total in the seam to twenty four. At 5:30 am a tremendous explosion shook the colliery houses and was heard and felt a mile and a half from the pit. Those who could see the pit mouth witnessed clouds of smoke and dust forced high into the air which would have struck dread into their hearts. A group of men was soon formed to descend and ascertain the damage of which there was little to the shaft. They descended to the Busty in the cage and nearby found William Curry and his son, Robert, and George Houghton all still alive but severely burned . They were quickly put in the cage and taken to bank, but by the time they reached the surface only William Curry was still alive. The ventilation had been disrupted by the force of the blast so the exploring party had to try and restore it before they could venture further. Once this was done they proceeded and found the victims. Some were black as the coal they had been hurled against with the violence of the blast. Others were serene in expression but pallid having suffered the effects of the afterdamp.

The bodies were taken to the weighhouse and laid upon the floor until they could be identified. This was an area that strictly excluded the presence of women but as the name the corpse of a young boy was announced there was no stopping his mother. She fought off those who tried to bar her from entering and throwing herself on the body shouted ‘this was the last, one by one they have been taken and he was the only one left to me’. She was prevented from lifting her son and carrying him from the room by men with tears in their eyes. One by one the bodies were taken to their homes, some to the nearby pit-houses and some to a pretty spot on the banks of the Chester Burn. By 12:30 all the bodies except that of Henry Bateman had been recovered. His body was eventually found under a fall of debris from the roof.

The only person capable of giving any information as to what had happened was William Curry. A party made their way to his house in Cross Row to question him. As he lay on the bed writhing in agony Curry’s wife was supporting his head and trying to keep him comfortable. In the opposite corner on a table lay the body of their dead son. The severely ill man could give no answers other than seeing a black flame and then being dashed against the side of the pit and a shower of stones falling onto him.

The dead were listed as:


Joseph Gladstone, 11, trapper

William Fenton, 11, coupler

Robert Curry, 12, driver

William Elliott, 13, driver

Richard Argyle, 13, coupler

John Frecker, 14, flat boy

John Anderson, 18, wood leader

Robert King, 18, putter

Henry Bateman, 18, putter

George Oughton, 18, putter

John Bell, 19, hewer

William Charlton, 20, hewer



George Cook, 22, putter

Jonathan Maddison, 22, deputy, married, child.

John Simpson, 22, hewer.

James Dixon, 22, hewer, married.

John Laverick, 27, hewer

John Richardson, 28, hewer, married, two children

John Grey, 32, deputy

Richard Weddell, 34, hewer, married, three children

Henry Guy, 38, hewer, married, seven children

Roger Brown, 39, hewer, married

John Taylor, 41, hewer, married, four children

John Carter, 52, hewer, married, four children.

At the conclusion of the inquest, held in the schoolroom of the colliery, the jury returned the following verdict:


That Jonathan Maddison and others died on the 31st of October 1866, from an explosion of gas in the Busty Seam of Pelton Colliery, but the cause of the explosion we have no evidence to show. We are also of the opinion that negligence has been manifested by the officials down the pit in not enforcing the rules, and also on the part of the men in not carrying them out.

Current Use:


There is no evidence that a colliery once existed here, only playing fields now.


Religion in the village:


The Wesleyan Chapel

The first Wesleyan Chapel was built in Station Lane in 1857. It was a small preaching room, there is evidence of a single‐storey building on the adjoining house, on what is now known as Battle Green. Battle Green was previously Chapel Row, and before that Marley Lane. This chapel was in use for 30 or 40 years. When they needed a bigger chapel, in 1875, they went to the other end of the street. The old chapel was sold for housing, two houses were built on the site, these houses are still lived in today, 2017. 

Primitive Methodist Chapel (Howlet Chapel)

The Methodist movement began at Pelton Fell in 1838, the Methodists met in miners' homes, and in empty rooms for 25 years. The home class leader was a Benny Robson. A leader, John Batey, persuaded the colliery owners to donate land on which a chapel could be built. The chapel had been opened in September 1862 by the Reverend Joseph Spoor. After being in use for eight years, it was replaced in 1870 by a new Chapel which cost £585.  It was called the Howlet Chapel. It was built in stone, with brick ornamentation around the windows. It was one of the chapels which closed in the late‐1930s after the 1934 amalgamation of Pelton Fell chapels. It then became a car salesroom, and has had three owners. 

Pelton Fell Mission Church

Pelton became a parish in its own right in 1843, with the building of its own church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Newfield end of Pelton Fell was part of the parish of Pelton. Pelton Fell Mission Church belonged to Holy Trinity Church in Pelton.  In 1851 Newfield had a population of 3,000 but no church. The Rev. Henry Edwin Savage, minister of the parish 1881‐ 95, wrote to the ecclesiastical commissioners, asking if it would be possible to build a Mission Church to serve these people.   Donations from the colliery owners and others made the scheme possible. It was dedicated to St. Andrew, on 15th of November 1884. In the early 1930s the building began to deteriorate and because of a decline in the population, the Mission Church fell into disuse. It was demolished late in the 1930s. 

Mission Church of St Paul

In 1879 the parish church was two and a half miles from Pelton Fell village, and no transport was available for parishioners to attend church. The Mission Church was part of the parish church of St Mary and St Cuthbert at Chester‐le‐Street. This Mission Church was used for activities other than religious meetings because the village had no other suitable building. On Sundays it was a church, on weekdays it was used for Fellowship meetings, Mothers' Union meetings, and a Girls' Friendly Society from 1946 to 1968 which gave the village girls a social meeting where they were taught social skills and some crafts such as sewing, embroidery, etc. There were the usual church activities such as prayer groups, Bible classes, Confirmation classes, and social evenings. Baptisms could be performed, but not Marriages or Burials.  By 1973 the building had deteriorated, repair bills for the church were beyond the financial possibilities of the congregation. The Mission Church closed and was demolished.

Pelton Fell Education

Pelton Colliery - History of education by T.W. Davison


The educational needs of the children were provided by the Pelton Colliery School, which opened in 1862 in Station Lane, Pelton Fell and becoming the Council School. This school was considered inadequate and in 1912 it was planned to replace this school with the Roseberry School at Newfield when the County Architects considered the old Pelton school should be replaced by an entirely new building.  On 15 April 1912 Mr. Brodie, the Head teacher, posted a notice on the gates of the Pelton Fell School announcing the proposal to build a new school at Pelton Lane Ends.1913-22 the project was delayed by war and other matters. The architects W. Rushworth designed a new school. 1914-18 war work commenced, the war then delayed work and the builder went bankrupt. The bricks were made at the Grange Villa Alma Colliery brickworks. The formal opening of the Roseberry School was on 21 December 1921. Mr. Brodie recorded the event in the school log: “The opening ceremony was ably performed by Alderman William Brown, under the presidency of W.N. Smith, Chair of the County Education Authority, and John Lawson MP.”

The school was designed as three separate schools with their own head teachers:


Infants (5-7), Boys School (7-14) and Girls School (7-14). This organisation changed in 1952 with Government Policy  Infants (5-7), Junior Mixed (7-11), Senior Mixed (11-15).  

In 1963 Pelton Roseberry Modern School opened on the playing fields opposite Roseberry Infants.  

Roseberry Council Girls School - Head teachers: Miss Mary Comber 1921-51  

Roseberry Council Boys School -Head teachers: Fred W. Brodie 21/12/1921 - 31/08/1925  

Thomas D. Fugue 01/09/1925 - 30/11/1934  Fred Newcombe 01/02/1935- 31/08/1952


Log Extracts

1922   school closed - influenza epidemic  

(Nationally over 1 million had flu in the winter of 1921/22; 30,000 died)  

1926 - Miss Elliot recorded “smallpox spreading in the village”

1929 - The Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor) visited the school. The log reads: The Prince of Wales visited the school today during his tour of distressed mining areas and made enquiries with regard to the condition of the boys.”

The Prince toured miners houses and at Michaels Villas (now demolished and rebuilt as Edward Terrace) walked in on Ned Stoves having a bath in front of the fire after coming home from Craghead Tommy Pit. He was one of the few working miners. The Prince of Wales became President of the National Council of Social Services. This area was adopted by the Hertfordshire Appeal for Durham, and groups in Hertfordshire helped by sending clothes, materials, money and equipment. The Poultry Scheme at Grange Villa was stated with money raised by the Hertfordshire Appeal.

  

Some Pupils


Ellis Wood – In August 1930 Ellis Wood came to Roseberry and lived at Pelton until 16 years old. After the Second World War he set up the Prudhoe Rose Nursery and bred thirty rose trees including “Pelton Lonnes”.

George Demand – Known as “Sonny Demand”. George was born at Lumley View,

Newfield. George’s father was Belgian. In 1942 George joined The Border Regiment and volunteered for the SOE under Colonel Buckmaster and he parachuted into France on 18 April 1943 to sabotage a Shale Oil Refinery near Autun. He put the plant out of use and was later arrested by the Gestapo and executed aged 23. He received a posthumous mention in despatches in 1945.

 

Documents relating to the colliery and the pitmen.


Note the glowing reference below for Mr H. Robson by the Colliery Manager in 1949.

Note the testimonial for a Mr Matthew Bone below from 1908 with the names of officials, workmen and friends of the time:

Maps


Courtesy of Ordnance Survey note the excellent 1921 Map below showing the Pelton Fell, Pelton and Tribley pits.

Photographs


Pelton Fell Colliery with brickworks in foreground:

Pelton Fell Colliery in 1936. A mother and child crossing the Battery:

Pelton Fell Colliery - Low Pit:

Pelton Fell Colliery:

Railways servicing Pits:


The colliery was served by the Waldridge waggonway; this was built in 1799 and was operational into the 1960s. This waggonway was built to serve a colliery on Waldridge Fell prior to 1787. It was linked by sidings to the southern side of Stella Gill Yard on the NER Pontop to South Shields Railway (PSSR). The PSSR was opened in 1834 and the colliery coals could be transported to Tyne Dock for export to London and Europe.

  

Note the photograph below showing the PSSR crossing the road which bisected Pelton Fell West to East:

The PSSR had a deviation route added in the 1890s from Annfield Plain to Stella Gill which allowed passengers to travel from Consett to Newcastle. Numerous stations appeared after the opening of this new line including Pelton Station.

See photograph of Pelton Station below:

And note the historical drawing of the sidings servicing the pit below:

The coals were transmitted by the Pontop and South Shields a distance of 13 miles to the staiths at South Shields.

Note OS map below showing the Pontop to South Shields mineral line, the Waldridge waggonway, the train station on the Annfield Plain to South Pelaw deviation route, the Newfield Colliery line and the Tramway servicing the Tribley pit at Hett Hills.







Pelton Station opened for passengers on February 1st 1894. A complaint appeared in Pelton Parish Magazine in 1899, showing that delays on the railway are nothing new. The annual choir trip of St. Andrews Mission to Whitley Bay and Tynemouth left Pelton Station at 9:45 a.m., two hours late “owing to the deficient arrangements of the N.E.R”.

The station closed in 1953 and the track, which had been used as a mineral line was lifted in 1985. In 1990 the line became part of the newly opened Sustrans Consett to Sunderland railway path.

Note Chester-le-street Post newspaper clipping below from 7th of November 1985 which describes the lifting of the Annfield Plain to South Pelaw deviation route.

Banners:


Pelton Fell Lodge Banner in the 1950s:

In County Durham each colliery had its own union lodge banner and on Durham Big Meeting day the miners and their families would proudly parade through the streets of Durham following their own colliery band and banner. At the Big Meeting following the closure of Pelton Fell Colliery, the miners in anger and frustration at the closure of their pit, fling the banner into the River Wear at Durham. Thankfully the banner was recovered and restored.

Tales/Anecdotes


Pelton Fell Band was formed in 1875 as the Methodist Brass Band, and met for rehearsals in the Owlet Chapel school room. In 1903 the band changed its name to the Pelton Fell Colliery Band. Miners at the colliery paid one penny per week towards the upkeep of the band.

A pupil of Pelton Roseberry Girls school was killed in 1933 when playing on the pit heap. Irene Harbottle was playing with her friend Nan and younger sister. Her sister jumped on a big roller and a lever flew up, killing Irene and badly injuring  her sister.

Jack Wilde of Grange Villa recorded the following incident in his pocket book.

“ Friday the 23rd of March 1928, Michael Graham Smith aged 81 was decapitated by a set of coal trucks on the railway at the back of Pelton Fell Workmen’s club.

George Richardson, a blacksmith at Pelton Fell Colliery, who was a keen footballer died as a young man when his legs were taken off in a colliery accident. His family were about to immigrate to Australia when this happened, but they decided to stay here after the accident.

The owners of Pelton Colliery not only built the 24 houses of Gardiner Crescent for those widowed and orphaned in the Great War, they also subscribed £1,000 in the memorial fund . See newspaper article below from Chester Chronicle dated 30th July 1920:


PRESENTATION OF MEDALS.

GIFT TO SIR HORACE PLUNKETT.

Whitehill Park, Chester-le-Street, was on Saturday the scene of an occasion which will be memorable in the minds of the workers at the Pelton Collieries, when upwards of 600 silver medals were presented by Sir Horace Plunkett to the men employed at the Collieries who had returned from the war. A portion of the afternoon was marred by rain, but the weather improved and the holiday was a success in every way.

The proceedings were presided over by Mr. Henry Armstrong, the agent to the colliery, who was supported by the Right Honourable Sir Horace Plunkett, Lieutenant Colonel Preston, secretary to the Company, Mr. Guy Armstrong colliery manager; Mr. John Spry, surveyor to the colliery; and Mr. George Trotter, secretary to the presentation committee.

A guard of honour was furnished for Sir Horace Plunkett and those accompanying him, by Boy Scouts belonging to the district under Scoutmasters T. Johnson and J. Dixon.

THE OWNERS AND RETURNED MEN.

The Chairman said it was his privilege and a very pleasant duty to introduce to them Sir Horace Plunkett, chairman of the Owners of the Pelton Collieries, and who would make the presentation of medals on behalf of the owner. He (the Chairman) had heard it said on some occasions and sometimes what had been said was right - that those who had come back after fighting their country’s cause in the war, had not been adequately recognised, and more often than that their services had been forgotten when the war came to an end. He was however, glad to say that so far as Pelton was concerned that that was not the case. He knew the interest that Pelton had taken in the war in regard to those who went out and those whom they had left behind. He had received orders to look after the dependents until the bread-winners and others had returned; and he had received no complaints that that had not been done. Moreover, he had had instructions from the owners to reinstate every man in some class of work suitable to his strength or having regard to any disability that a man suffered the result of his services during the war. They had admired a man’s services and given every sympathetic consideration to the afflicted and bereaved. They were at present erecting cottages in the Garden City so that the lives of the widows of their employees lost in the war should be happy and comfortable. They would he was sure, agree with him that they had not forgotten anyone and that all that had been done was the outcome of the owners’ sympathy with those who had worked at the colliery. (Applause).

Sir Horace Plunkett said it was quite true that the relationship between the owners of Pelton Colliery and their employees had always been friendly. He hoped that employers and employees would co-operate in trying to lessen the sufferings incidental to the war. Pelton had a splendid record.  As many as 686 men went out from this small community in response to the call. They have alas to mourn 107 who had made the supreme sacrifice.

Thirty-five had gained distinction. The company, hoped not only to provide dwellings for the widows, but also to do their share in solving the housing problem. The proposed memorial was a matter for the men. The company had given a contribution, but were prepared to increase that when the scheme was complete. They recognised that their obligations to the men were never greater than it was at present.

The proceedings, which were very enjoyable, closed with a magnificent display of fireworks, which was witnessed by a concourse of several thousand people. A charge for admission to the grounds will be handed to the St. Dunstan’s Homes for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors, and this amounted to £106.

Reminiscences:


See the memories of yesteryear in PDF format of people from Pelton Fell.

Just “click” on the Buttons below:

Richard Morris - Pit Village Life J & B Laverick - Mining Experiences N Rawling - Customs & Traditions Nan Rawling - History Bill Davison - Memories Tom Morris - A Brief History Tom Hedley - The Busty Tom Hedley - Memories R W Morris - A Boy Down The Pit

Finally some photographs of the adjoining collieries Newfield and Tribley


Newfield Colliery later named Pelton Colliery.

Tribley Pit - Hett Hills

Training pit Ponies at Tribley Pit, Hett Hills around 1903.

On the left is Mr Widderfield and on the right William Rule.

Ponies were on the surface of the pits where they were led around a dark circuit while at the same time pulling tubs.

Accidents:


Click on the button below to view information obtained courtesy of Durham Mining Museum and the Heritage Group’s own Archives, which contains the names of those who lost their lives at Pelton Fell Colliery and their burial details:

Pelton Fell Colliery - Fatalities