Boldon History - Boldon Colliery - Life of a Miner - Early Mining 1239> Header


This has been transcripted from an unknown authors notebook. Allthough an attempt has been made to tidy it up, the notes seem to indicate that it was written in the 1960,s. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have typing it up, whilst learning at the same time.  George

Mining Development in Boldon

With the tide of the Industrial Revolution sweeping across the face of Britain, social and aconomic conditions changed quickly, and as time passed the momentum of this change increased so that places that were once wholly agricultural became partially or totally industrialised and instead of scenes of pastoral beauty, there now existed vast areas of industrial waste in the form of slag heaps, refuse tips and general dereliction.

Man is indeed a strange creature when he can change something which is priceless and irretrievable for something which  can only be measured in terms of hard cash. Mans quest for the treasures of the earth meant the exploitation of the soil and the men who formerly worked it.

Up to the middle of the 1800,s Boldon was a predominately agricultural region slightly overshadowed by the heavy industry which existed in Jarrow, Sunderland and South Shields but with the opening of the colliery in1869, mining gradually took over as the main industry and continued as the main source of employment for Boldon for many years. The opening of the Durham Coalfield coincided with the closure of other coalfields throughout the country so there was an influx of workers from these areas and from country areas where higher wages attracted men from work on the land.

Within a short time, the agricultural villages of East and West Boldon were joined by a newcomer, Boldon Colliery with working conditions totally alienated from the bucolic conditions of former years.

In order to fully appreciate the existence of the miner at the opening of Boldon Colliery, we must go back in time so that conditions of work can be shown and interpreted to their best advantage.

Coal Mining is one of the most dangerous and arduous jobs for which a man can earn a living, a comparatively fair living at the present time but more of an existence not too many years ago.

Coal has been worked in the County of Durham for many hundreds of years, and countless generations of men have lived and died through the varied illnesses and disasters which have occurred all too frequently in the mining industry.

The earliest collieries like those in 1239, were granted a licence (to dig in the common soil of the town without the walls in the place called castle fields) and were only shallow holes in the ground and only developed into regular pits after the surface seams were exhausted. In 1354, there is mention of (sinking of pits) at Ferryhill.

Miners must have died accidently for many years before records were kept, but by 1621 miners were being (burnt in the pit) and in Great Britain alone it is estimated that over 100,000 men have died while digging for coal.

In 1662, 2000 miners of the Tyne and Wear sent a petition to the King (praying for a redress of their grievances). The main complaint was that of danger due to the poor ventilation of the pits.

14 years later, in 1676, a second petition was sent and a note by a Kings minister, Lord Kepier North said that ( Damps of foul air kill insensibly sinking another pit so that the air may not stagnate is an infallible remedy).

It took 200 years before any positive action was taken when under the Act of 1862, a second upcast shaft became obligatory.

Keith Jones and his contribution to the Health and Safety of our Miners


Plaque inscription reads -

As a Mark of their Respect
30th Dec 1882

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