Castle Eden Colliery (Hesleden)

Castle Eden Colliery (Hesleden)

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office

St. James, Castle Eden, Baptisms 1694-1919
St. James, Castle Eden, Marriages 1698-1974
St. James, Castle Eden, Burials 1698-1912
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1948
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Marriages 1578-1925
St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1908
St. John, Hesleden, Baptisms 1882-1930
St. John, Hesleden, Marriages 1883-1972
St. John, Hesleden, Burials, none

Population changes to the sub-district of ‘Monk Hesleden’ in the 19th. Century were:

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 Castle Eden Colliery, and not just to the village of Monk (or High) Hesleden. The above census records for 1841-1901 are transcribed and available on this site.

The most important communities in the sub-district of ‘Monk Hesleden’ in
the middle of the 19th. century were Castle Eden Colliery (which was
located just inside ‘Monk Hesleden’ and not Castle Eden), sunk about
1840, closed 1877; South Wingate Colliery (c. 1840-57) and Hutton Henry
Colliery (c. 1869-97).

The village of Castle Eden was much nearer to Castle Eden colliery than the
village of Monk Hesleden was, hence the name of the pit. In the parish registers of Castle Eden and Monk Hesleden, the sinkers’
village that sprang up here was called South Field Colony from 1842 to mid-1843; then
it was called Castle Eden Colony until mid-1847.
Castle Eden Colliery was also known as ‘The Maria
Pit’. First owner, leased land by Burdon, was one Wilkinson, who
already owned lands on the other side of Castle Eden Dene.

In the 1841 census the enumerator noted the presence of 34 households at
‘Castle Eden New Colliery’, almost all of them headed by ‘Sinkers’
rather than coalminers. Clearly the pit was still in progress and some
way from production. The enumerator called all of the households
‘Castle Eden New Colliery’ which wasn’t very helpful to modern local
historians. Few of these families would have stayed around for the 1851
census – they were after all ‘Sinkers’ and as soon as one pit was ready
they moved on to the next. In 1841 Castle Eden Colliery would have been
a shanty town of ramshackle structures. ‘Sinkers’ were a hardy lot,
much like ‘Navigators’. Again in 1851 the enumerator called everything
‘Castle Eden Colliery’. The same thing happened in 1861 and 1871 so we
have few clues as to the early development of the community.

At last in 1881 the enumerator listed some streets – but only High Street,
East Field and Colliery Farm. All of the rest of the community he
simply described as ‘Castle Eden Colliery’, apart from a solitary
mention for ‘Far Double Row’, ‘First Short Row’, ‘Second Row’ and a
large section which he called ‘Station Terrace’. Unfortunately these do
not match up with the street names in the 1891 census or the map of
1897 by which time the colliery had been closed for 4 years and the
village was in decline.

In 1891 the enumerator at last, 50 years after the community was founded,
got down to the details and mentioned the Vicarage, Church Street,
Station Road, Railway Cottages, South Terrace, Hulam Street, Front
Street, West Terrace, Burdon Street, Wilkinson Street, Boyd Street,
East Terrace, Hilda Street, Armstrong Street, West Row, Nicholson
Street, Stanley Row, Chapel Row, Railway Street, George Street, Main
Street, Overmans Row, John Street, Dodds Street and Sea View Row. All
of these can be located on the map of 1897.

The colliery succumbed to the economic depression in 1893 like many others
across the county. It reopened in 1900 but only as a pumping station
for the new and giant collieries on the coast at Horden and Blackhall.
The population of Castle Eden Colliery in 1893 had the choice of either
moving or staying and commuting to work at other nearby collieries. The
NER line from Hartlepool to Sunderland (via Haswell and Murton) and
Ferryhill passed near to the village and made it possible to travel to
Hutton Henry, Wingate, Deaf Hill, Wheatley Hill, Trimdon, Ferryhill,
Thornley, Haswell and South Hetton for work. The closure of Haswell
(1896) and Hutton Henry (1897) removed some of these possibilities.
Inevitably the population of the former mining community of Castle Eden
went into decline. By the 1930s the old village was in a bad state and
much was cleared away under the Slum Clearance Act. Little remains of
the original mining settlement which has given way to a new community
called Hesleden.

— by Tony Whitehead