New Hartley (1872)
Walker and Wallsend (1872)
The Naworth Collieries(1874)
This is the final part 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 Netherton the reporter wrote: Near to this pit we are introduced to the old colliery caller, who has been upon the colliery forty‑three years, and with the garrulity peculiar to old men, favours us with a few of his recollections. The little old man himself is like a revelation of a bygone age as he toddles up, stick in hand, with ancient hat and tall, surmounting a true swallow‑tailed coat, one of the olden time. He is evidently proud to be taken for a historian, but prouder still of his “calling”, on which he prides himself, and he tears himself away from a flood of old memories to let his hearers know that, “if they divvent git to work in the mornin it's nut maw felt, as sure aw knock hard eneuf; in, begox! aw nivvor leeve the doer till aw git a plain anser fro them, is if they will lie after that they shudden’t blame me.”
From New Hartley: “Two butchers’ apprentices, seated on a springy cart, were driving at the top of their speed the wretched pony that drew a vehicle, urging it forward by a rapid succession of blows with a whip, which we wished from the bottom of our hearts applied to the backs of the whippets. The barking was supplied by two dogs, which ran alongside the cart. The rascals richly deserved sixty days for their cruelty. “
The reporter wrote on Walker: “ The fact is that Colliery Walker consists of a pit, a school, a waggon-way, a pit-heap, a row of stables, at the back and at the two ends of which are a few middling cottages; in one or two cases made very nice by the good taste and painstaking of the people who inhabit them. But if we ask where the 150 hewers live, and all the lads, we are referred with a wave of the hand to a space in general, and on pressing the remonstrance that “the men must live somewhere you know,” we are told of the old Henry Pit, of the Gosforth Pit, of the new cottages on the way to Wallsend and of the old ones lying in the same direction. That is to say, at what is called Battle Hill, possibly Ballast Hill, over against the Dead House, the Low Walker Landing and the great shipyard. Here may be seen specimens of the very worst and also of nearly the best sorts of pit rows. “