Monk Hesleden Village, Blackhall & Horden

Monk Hesleden

Population changes 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 the below Castle Eden Colliery, and not to the tiny village of Monk Hesleden.

The name Hesleden probably meant ‘Hazel Dene’. The ancient Norman church, built on Saxon foundations and already in ruins, was somehow and inexplicably demolished by the Council in 1968. The graveyard remains. It seems as if it was abandoned some time after 1910, the last known date on any gravestone. The parish registers began in 1578 in the reign of Elizabeth I. The last burial entry was in 1908, the last marriage in 1925 and the last baptism in 1948.

Monk Hesleden village never had any connection with coalmining. The sub-district of ‘Monk Hesleden’ contained three collieries – Castle Eden (c. 1840-93), Hutton Henry (c.1869-97) and South Wingate (c. 1840-57), also known as Rodridge or Hart Bushes. As all three of these closed in the 19th. century the sub-district has long since lost any coalmining connection. Monk Hesleden today is a pleasant village just off the road from Castle Eden to Blackhall.


Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
…parish registers of St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, as listed above, plus…
St. Mary, Horden (1913 St. Hilda, Horden Colliery), Baptisms 1904-56
St. Mary, Horden (1913 St. Hilda, Horden Coll), Marriages 1904-57
St. Mary, Horden (1913 St. Hilda, Horden Colliery), Burials, None

Census returns for the period 1841-91 mention only the two or three farmhouses which then existed in the area. The sinking of the colliery, which took its name from one of the farms, began in 1900. In 1903 the Company constructed 24 houses. By 1905 138 were up and by 1913 Horden was a community with over 1700 pitmens’ homes. The rows were unimaginatively named First to Thirteenth Streets.

In 1910 there was a riot during the ‘Eight Hours’ national strike. The police were called and shots were fired. Horden ‘Big Club’ was looted and burnt down. The modern parish church of St. Hilda was constructed in 1913, replacing an earlier temporary structure, St. Mary’s (1904). The parish registers date from 1904. In the inter-war period the village expanded southwards and westwards into new council housing estates. The population grew to a peak of about 15,000 in 1951. Since then much of the original colliery stock has been demolished and the town has lost population to nearby Peterlee. By 1987 the population had fallen to 8,500. Horden Colliery at one time employed over 6,000 men and boys. It closed in February 1987. The nearest coalmine now is over a hundred miles away.


Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
…parish registers of St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, as listed above, plus…
St. Andrew, Blackhall, Banns 1925-68

Blackhall Colliery, named after a local farm which had occupied the lonely site for centuries, did not appear until well into the 20th. century. It had the same owners, the Horden Coal Company (effectively Pease & Partners), as Horden. The first coal was drawn in 1913. Initially the only road in to Blackhall Colliery village was from Hesleden and Castle Eden. The coast road from Hartlepool to Easington came much later. The sinkers and their families had to live in huts and even caves on the beach. Like Horden the streets of the new community were called First, Second, Third Streets, etc. The officials lived in East Street. The first (tin) church was erected in 1911. It was replaced by the present structure in 1930. The coast road, connecting Blackhall to Horden and Blackhall to the north and Hartlepool to the south, was constructed in 1923. Blackhall Colliery closed in 1981. Now the nearest colliery is over one hundred miles away.

— by Tony Whitehead