Seaton Delaval (1873)
This is part five of our serialisation of articles that appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle during 1872 and 1873 detailing life in the many Northumberland, Tyneside and County Durham colliery villages. The Chronicle was a newspaper with working class sympathies and readership. Life in the pit villages was not well known to outsiders. The vast majority of would have no business that would take them into a pit village. In fact, the reporter for the series mentions that even the poorest labourer in many areas may be shocked at the living conditions of the mineworkers. We are sure you will too when you read these detailed accounts.
Here are some examples from the reporter that visited the colliery villages at the time. At There is so many interesting detailed facts in his visits to the colliery villages that they will give you a fascinating insight into what they looked at and what it was like to live in them in 1873.
At Shankhouse the reporter said: “Such, at all events, is sometimes the arithmetic of coalowners, who while wishing to employ more men, do not wish to build more houses, but resort to the detestable back-to-back arrangement. All the Shankhouse houses, however, are pretty liberally supplied with garden ground - Albion Row especially so. There are gardens in front of the houses in that favoured row about 30 yards long, their width being of course the breadth of the house; while behind there is the “tettie ground,” nearly 60 yards long, in which a diligent cultivator may raise as many “fettles” as will serve himself and family all the year round. “
When at Seaton Delaval this comment was made “One of the principal means used to break down the strike of which we speak was the introduction of large numbers of Welshmen into some of the vacant collieries. Agents went into Wales, and by the offer of high wages and free houses, induced hundreds of the natives of that principality, to come into Northumberland. From Percy Main, the emigrants were taken, with their wives and families, some in the rude old carriages which still run between Old Delaval and New Delaval, and some in coal waggons, to Seghill, where they were divided. “
From Cramlington “Improving as we go on, we come to the New Stone Row, who is not quite so reprobate or hopeless as his old namesake at the other end of the village. The majority of the houses in this row have one good-sized room on the ground floor with the garret above, but it is refreshing to learn that at the high end the work of reformation has commenced. Back ends are being added, which gives two nice cement-floored rooms on the ground level; the attics are being ceiled, and though it may appear incredible, privies and ashpits are making a modest but remarkably successful appearance in the almost hope abandoned village of East Cramlington.”