South Wingate Colliery & Station Town

South Wingate Colliery (a.k.a Hart Bushes Colliery or Rodridge Colliery)
Station Town (Hutton Henry Colliery)

(also see Wingate Grange, Deaf Hill & Wheatley Hill)

South Wingate Colliery was far too small ever to have its own church but it did have a Methodist chapel. It is not known what has happened to its records. South Wingate was in the parish of Monk Hesleden, so look there for the ancient records; also try Hutton Henry records.

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1948
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Marriages 1578-1925
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1908
St. Francis, Hutton Henry, Marriages 1926-54
Hutton House RC, Hutton Henry, Baptisms 1808-39
Hutton Henry Wesleyan Chapel, Baptisms 1878-1935

Population changes in the 19th. Century were:

 Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Monk Hesleden 150 148 164 176 490 1495 1533 1636 2421 3819 1302

The above census figures relate to the sub-district of Monk Hesleden, which included South Wingate Colliery, and not just to the tiny village of Monk Hesleden. The above census records for 1841-1901 are transcribed and available on this site.

South Wingate was a colliery too far. On the southeastern edge of the Durham coalfield and almost in the low-lying valley of the River Tees, it suffered badly from flooding from the moment sinking began, and it is unlikely that it ever ran at a profit. Conventional wisdom has it that the colliery began in 1840, but there was no sign of coalminers or even ‘sinkers’ in the 1841 census. A date later than June 1841 seems more likely. By 1851, when the village was at its peak, there were 155 households. The enumerator mentioned only Main Street, Back Street and Low End. The colliery closed in 1857 and the population of the village collapsed, dispersing to the four corners of the Great Northern Coalfield. By the time of the 1861 census there were just 26 households and the enumerator called everything ‘South Wingate’. It was almost a ghost village. Some diehards held on hoping for better times and they were eventually rewarded.

In the census of 1871 there were still only 27 households and the enumerator still described everything as just ‘South Wingate’ which is of little help to local historians. By 1881 (probably c. 1872) at the latest Hutton Henry Colliery had definitely opened and began using the redundant village for its workforce. The enumerator of that year noted that 70 households now lived at what he too called simply ‘South Wingate’. By 1891 there were 103 households and the enumerator of that year at last mentioned Front Street, Far Row, Pond Row, High Row and Low Row.

The stay of execution for South Wingate was only a temporary one. Hutton Henry Colliery too closed for good in 1897 and this finished off South Wingate as a viable community. A few diehards remained for the next 30 or so years however. The village, apart from Miss Nichols’s shop, was demolished in the 1930s and the entire population moved en masse to Wingate and Station Town. Many had spent their whole lives at South Wingate and they still returned there once a week to buy their groceries and show support for Miss Nichol. Miss Nichol can be followed in the censuses for South Wingate in the late 19th. century. Eventually Miss Nichol, now grown very old, died and her shop was converted to a private dwelling. A few years ago it was still possible to see fittings from the shop in the living room. The villagers, also very old, came to their birthplace no more. There is little trace today of the former mining village of South Wingate and the nearest colliery is over a hundred miles away.

Station Town

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
…same as for South Wingate Colliery…

Population changes in the 19th. Century were:

1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Hutton Henry 156 155 174 162 287 1067 392 539 1825 3151 2578

All of the census returns for Hutton Henry 1841-1901 inclusive are transcribed and available on this site. The above returns are for ‘Greater Hutton Henry’ which included the village of that name, outlying farms and Hutton Henry Colliery (c. 1869-97), which area eventually came to be known as Station Town.

The community of Station Town derives its name from its location at the junction of the old Ferryhill to Hart and Sunderland to Hartlepool (via Murton and Haswell) railways, where a station was built. Only six households were present in the embryonic community in 1871, 2 years after the alleged opening of Hutton Henry Colliery, the concern it was built to serve. There was no sign of the pit in the 1871 census so a later date for its opening seems likely. There were 153 households at Station Town by 1881 and 396 by 1891 when the enumerator mentioned: Station Lane, Gladstone Street, Wingate Station, ‘Station Town’, Collwill Building, Front Street, East Terrace, ‘Acclom’ (Acklam ?) Street, Vane Street, Rodridge Street, Gargen Street, Millbank (or Milbanke) Terrace, East View and ‘Hutton Henry Colliery’.

Only a single row of houses was built adjacent to Hutton Henry Colliery. The rest of the colliery houses (Station Town) were situated near the shops, church and other facilities at the southern end of the adjacent settlement of Wingate. As time went by the two communities became indistinguishable.

When Hutton Henry Colliery failed in 1897 the Station Town miners went to work at Wingate or Trimdon collieries. Their proximity to two passenger railways in fact gave them several options of collieries to pick from. After the Great War Station Town was extended southeastwards towards Rodridge.

Wingate Colliery closed in 1962. During 1976-79 the surviving old colliery streets at Wingate and Station Town were cleared away and replaced by new estates. Today, driving through Station Town, you would never guess that it once was a coalmining village.

 — by Tony Whitehead