Wingate Grange, Deaf Hill & Wheatley Hill

Wingate Grange, Deaf Hill & Wheatley Hill

Wingate Grange

Until it got its own Anglican church in 1841,Wingate Grange was part of Kelloe parish.

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
Kelloe, Parish Registers 1693-1991
Holy Trinity, Wingate Grange, Baptisms 1841-70
Holy Trinity, Wingate Grange, Marriages 1842-1989
Holy Trinity, Wingate Grange, Burials 1841-1971
Wingate Methodists, Baptisms 1932-70
Wingate Primitive & Wesleyan Methodists, Baptisms 1896-1938
Wingate Wesleyan Methodists, Baptisms 1873-1896
Wingate Front Street Methodists, Marriages 1906-60
Wingate Sinkers Row Methodists, Baptisms 1920-39
Wingate Methodists, Baptisms 1909-40 (formerly East Durham Wesleyan

Population changes in the 19th. Century were:

 Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Wingate 135 151 131 115 2625 2456 2143 3104 5949 4463 8005

The above figures refer to Old Wingate and farms, Wingate Grange Colliery (c.1837-1962), Deaf Hill Colliery (c. 1870-1967) and Wheatley Hill Colliery (c.1869-77, 1878-84, 1890-1968). The above census records for 1841-1901 are transcribed and available on this site.

Wingate Grange Colliery was sunk by Lord Howden and partners in 1837. It had two shfts or pits called the Lord & Lady. Production is believed to have begun in c. 1840. In 1843, the owners of the colliery decided on having wire ropes for hauling the cages to bank. To this, the men, ignorant and prejudiced, objected. A long strike ensued and the miners were eventually driven back to work.

The mining village of Wingate Grange evolved into a long and narrow settlement, over a mile in length, with little depth of development behind the main street and without an obvious centre. Shops and social facilities for the new community were developed at the southern end, near to what would become Station Town. The colliery was at the northern end.

In the 1841 census the enumerator noted the presence of Sinkers Row, Seymour Street, Pickering Street, Johnston Street and Todd Street. These streets, the nucleus of the village, were ever-present in the 19th. Century. The enumerator also mentioned “Horsington Terrace”and “Mount Pleasant” which were not mentioned in later censuses and are not on the map of 1897. These must have changed their names at some point over the next 20 years. He also mentioned Cargill”s (or Caygill”s) Court which was mentioned again only in 1861. In 1841 Deaf Hill was just a farm with a single household. Wheatley Hill was also a farm, with four households.

In 1851 the enumerator first mentioned the community of “Trimdon Foundry””. The origins of this structure and its precise location are a mystery to me but by 1851 it had clearly been turned into homes for coalmining families. Thirty houses there were uninhabited and the enumerator explained that Wingate Grange pit was temporarily laid up due to a change in ownership. The enumerator covered the colliery village proper but with the solitary exception of “Wood Houses” he described everything as simply “Wingate Colliery”. Wheatley Hill & Deaf Hill were still just farms.

In 1861 the enumerator mentioned “The Sheds” (or Shades), Humble Lane, Chapel Chare, Parkins Place (later called Brewery Square), Mill Row, Davisons Row (5 households), Front Street and Back Street (1 household) for the first time. Wheatley Hill & Deaf Hill were still farms.

In 1871 the enumerator lumped everything in the village together as either “Seymour Street” or “Todd Street”. The satellite community “Trimdon Foundry” had 83 households but there were 13 dwellings uninhabited. Wheatley Hill Colliery first appeared, with 144 households in this census. Deaf Hill Colliery (allegedly opened in 1869) had not appeared yet and there was no sign of coalminers in that vicinity. A later opening date than 1871 seems probable.

In 1881 the enumerator first mentioned Brewery Square (formerly Perkins Place), New Row, the Barracks (formerly Trimdon Foundry “) and Church Street. Deaf Hill Colliery made its first appearance in this census. The 1891 census saw the appearance of Plantation Row and Overmans Row. This virtually completed the community.

Wingate’s moment of truth came in 1906 when an explosion killed 26 men and 86 ponies. The colliery closed in 1962. Its huge slag heap was removed and many colliery streets cleared. Since then the community has lost many people to Peterlee and other colliery villages in County Durham and elsewhere. The population in 1991 was down to about 3,000. The nearest colliery now is over a hundred miles away.

Wheatley Hill

Wheatley Hill did not have its own Anglican church until 1912, so before then look in the parish registers for Kelloe and Wingate.

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
…Kelloe and Wingate Grange parish registers listed above, plus…
All Saints, Wheatley Hill, Baptisms 1912-50
All Saints, Wheatley Hill, Marriages 1915-95
All Saints, Wheatley Hill, Burials, None
Wheatley Hill Methodists, Marriages 1923-64
Wheatley Hill Church Street Methodists, Baptisms 1874-1903
Wheatley Hill Patten Street Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1920-23
Wheatley Hill Pyman Street Primitive Methodist, Marriages 1916-92

The sinking of Wheatley Hill Colliery by the seriously under-capitalised Hartlepool Coal Company began in 1869. All of the available cash seems to have spent on finishing the pit and building the housing stock for the workforce. Not long after the colliery began production a severe depression began and the demand for coal fell away. The owners had no reserves of cash to see them through this crisis. On May 18 1874, following the announcement of a 10% drop in wages and longer hours, the colliers came out on strike. Police and “candymen” evicted several mining families from Grainger and other streets. The DMA refused to back its Wheatley Hill Lodge and the dispute eventually petered out. The economic situation improved but the respite was brief. On February 9 1877, without notice, the workforce were informed that the company was bankrupt. The Riot Act was read later that day and great violence was only avoided by a massive influx of police. The bankruptcy and subsequent long stoppage led to great poverty in the village. Families had to live on 8s. (40p) per week from the Miners” Poverty Fund. A re-formed Hartlepool Coal Company started up in 1878 paying only half the wages owed to the men. The collapse of this second company in 1884 led to more rioting in the village. This time the closure would last 6 years and it took over a year to secure the men”s wages.

In 1881 the census enumerator mentioned Office Street, Gowland Terrace, Grainger Street, Elizabeth Street, Smith Street, Emily Street, Anne Street, John Street, Plantation Street, Wingate Lane, Quarry Street, Webb Street, Robson Street, Hirst Street, Patton Street, Gothay Street, Louisa Street, Arne Street, Maria Street, Gullock Street, Pyman Street, Ford Street and Wohmerhausen Street, all of which appear on the map of 1897. He also mentioned Farm Cottages Numbers 1 – 51. I have not located these on the map. Many of these street names will have been connected to the directors of the original and second companies.

Eventually the workforce moved elsewhere and most of the village was boarded up. Wheatley Hill Colliery was bought up by a much larger concern, the Weardale Coal, Iron & Steel Company and reopened in c. 1890 according to conventional wisdom. This is not borne out by the census of 1891 in which the enumerator mentioned no new streets but left a note saying that all (or nearly all) of the houses in Elizabeth, Smith, Emily, Anne, John, Quarry, Webb, Robson, Hirst, Patton, Gothay, Pyman, Gullock and Ford Streets were completely uninhabited and boarded up. In that block of Wheatley Hill alone there were 369 empty dwellings. Many of the remaining streets were, at best, half empty. The enumerator again ended with Farm Cottages which must have been outlying.

The village soon came to life again and saw another 70 odd years of coal production before the inevitable end. Wheatley Hill Colliery closed in 1968.

Deaf Hill

Deaf Hill did not have its own Anglican church until 1884, so before then look in the parish registers for Kelloe and Wingate.

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
…Kelloe and Wingate Grange parish registers listed above, plus…
St. Paul, Deaf Hill-cum-Langdale, Baptisms 1884-1987
St. Paul, Deaf Hill-cum-Langdale, Marriages 1884-1982
St. Paul, Deaf Hill-cum-Langdale, Burials 1884-1978

Deaf Hill Colliery was first mentioned in the 1881 census. The enumerator noted “Deaf Hill Pit”, Cookes Buildings, Prospect Terrace, Church Street, Cuthbert (or Cuthbertson) Street, Lord Street (with 15 uninhabited dwellings) and Railway Street (11 uninhabited dwellings). Total of 90 households. In 1891 the enumerator also mentioned Foundry Square and Railway Cottages. All of these are named on the map of 1897. Deaf Hill Colliery closed in 1968.

— by Tony Whitehead