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Woodhorn Colliery

A Scheduled Monument in Ashington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1891 / 55°11'20"N

Longitude: -1.5471 / 1°32'49"W

OS Eastings: 428936.026966

OS Northings: 588403.81716

OS Grid: NZ289884

Mapcode National: GBR K8MF.VN

Mapcode Global: WHC2M.6TKV

Entry Name: Woodhorn Colliery

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016976

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32069

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ashington

Built-Up Area: Ashington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Woodhorn with Newbiggin

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes Woodhorn Colliery which is situated in Queen Elizabeth
II Country Park to the north east of Ashington. The monument includes the
headgear of two shafts, the heapstead, two engine houses, two fan houses, and
parts of a railway system. The headgear stood over the mine shaft and
supported the pulley wheels that in turn supported the cables used for haulage
in the shaft. The west headgear stands over the downcast shaft, down which
ventilation air flowed into the mine, and is an unenclosed frame structure of
steel girders supporting two pulley wheels. The east headgear, which is a
steel girder frame supporting two pulley wheels, stands over the upcast shaft,
up which ventilation air was drawn out of the mine by a fan, and is enclosed
to control the circulation of air. The enclosing structure is known as the
heapstead. It is constructed of brick and is approximately 11m high. The
lowest 7m consists of yellow Ashington brick whilst the remainder is red
brick. The headgear above the brick and below the pulleys is enclosed in a
steel box. The east face has four narrow windows, 1m wide by 2.5m high at
ground level. Attached to the south face is a red brick, flat roof structure
3m high with double doors. This building served as a cover for fully laden
coal railtrucks waiting to be transported to the railway sidings. The west
face has a window and one doorway in the upper red brick section. The doorway
is accessed by an iron staircase. There are two single storey, red brick
buildings attached to the west face. The northern one, which was built in
1949, is 7m long with a single railtrack running its length. The northern face
has a double doorway 2m wide and 4m high with a relieving arch above and a
window in the top section. The guide rails for the cages wound up and down in
the shaft, and the narrow gauge railways from the pithead are in their
original setting within the heapstead.
Engine houses (also known as winding houses) contained the winding engines
through which the winding of a cable was used for haulage in the mine shaft.
Woodhorn Colliery has three surviving engine houses, the Jack engine house,
west engine house and east engine house. The west engine house has been
converted for use as a shop, cafe and function room and is not included in the
scheduling. The Jack engine house is a single storeyed building, which is 20m
long by 5m wide. It is constructed of yellow Ashington brick with recessed
panels between pillars. Each panel has either an arched window or a doorway.
In addition to one arched window, the east wall has a cellar door and two door
covered openings for the cable to pass from the winder to the headgear. The
internal corners of the arch are rounded. At the base of the panels is a
double chamfered string course and at the top is a stepped course overlain
with a cogged course. The top of the wall has projecting brick corbels
supporting iron gutters. The slate roof is hipped with ridge tiles.
Internally the engine house is divided into two rooms. The west room is the
pick sharpening forge. It has been modernized and only the forge survives. The
east room houses the Jack engine winder built by R H Longbottom of Wakefield.
It was the first winding engine at the colliery and has a 10ft winding drum
supported on brick pillars. The east engine house contains a Markham winder,
which came from Fenwick Colliery, South Northumberland in 1975 and is driven
by an electric motor. The winder is supported on brick pillars. The engine
house is a two storey building 14m wide by 16m long, constructed of
yellow Ashington brick with a hipped slate roof. The walls are about 12m high
and the upper half has recessed panels of brickwork. These panels have a
chamfered course at their base and a stepped course overlain by a cogged
course at their top. On the west face there is a doorway at ground level and
three panels at first floor level, each with an arched window. The north face
has a double door and an arched window at ground floor level and two panels at
first floor level each with an arched window. The east face has three panels
on the first floor, each of which would have contained an arched window,
although the central panel has had a projecting doorway and external metal
stairway added. The south face has a double door and a single door at ground
floor level. There is a single panel covering the entire width of the upper
half of this face which has a central window and a single door giving access
to the east headgear. Two hatches, which allowed the passage of the cable from
the winder to the pulleys of the headgear, are visible on the south face. One
is situated in the roof line, the other as a dormer in the roof.
Fan houses were used to extract air from the mine via the upcast shaft. Short
underground passages ran from the upcast shaft to the fan houses where the
centrifugal force of the fan drew the air out of the mine and expelled it into
the atmosphere through a chimney. At Woodhorn there are two surviving fan
houses, the Cappel fan house and the Guibal fan house. The Guibal type is an
earlier type of fan than the Cappel, though at Woodhorn the Cappel was
installed before the Guibal, gaining an English patent in 1862. The Cappel
type came into use in the last decade of the 19th century and tended to
replace the earlier types such as the Guibal which had larger diameters and
revolved at a slower speed. The Cappel fan house was built in 1900 and
comprises a fan housing with attached engine house of yellow Ashington brick.
It was originally powered by a horizontal steam engine supplied by Robey and
Company of Lincoln which could turn the 16ft diameter fan at 160 revolutions
per minute. The fan housing is 8m wide, 8m long by 6m high. The southern half
has a curved roof line. The northern half is surmounted by an evasee, (a
chimney which was used to expel the air drawn out of the mine by the fan),
2.5m square in section and 2m high. The attached engine house is 4m wide, 10m
long and 4m high with a hipped slate roof. It has recessed panels of brickwork
with a stepped course overlain by a cogged course at their top. The east end
is attached to the fan housing, the south face has three panels; one contains
a door and the other two a window each. The west face has a single panel with
a doorway. The north face has three panels each with a window. The Guibal fan
house was constructed in 1942. It comprises a fan housing and attached engine
house. The circular fan housing of the fan is visible as a semi-circle above
ground level with a height of 4m, width of 2.5m and a length of 8m. The
circular housing is flanked on either side by 2m wide and 4m high red brick
pillars, which have blocked doorways at their eastern ends. The circular
housing of the fan has a 2.5m wide, 5m long and 4m high evasee on its western
end. Attached to the western end of the fan housing is a section of the air
inlet passage which is above ground. It starts as a 4m wide, 1m high brick
built structure with flat roof. The height increases to 2m by a 4m long sloped
roof section and then it widens to 6.5m before reaching the fan housing. The
engine house is attached to the north side of the fan housing. It is a single
storeyed, brick built structure 14m long by 5m wide with a sloping flat roof.
The east and west faces have two recessed panels of brickwork each with a
rectangular window in the southern panel. The northern face has three panels.
The east and west panels have sliding double doors. The buiding contains two
electric motors supplied by Bruce Peebles and Company Limited of Edinburgh.
Within the area around the buildings of the colliery was a complex system of
narrow gauge railways which carried the mined coal away from the pithead
Woodhorn Colliery was sunk in 1894 by the Ashington Coal Company. In 1914 it
employed in excess of 2000 workers. Woodhorn went into decline in the 1960s
because of thin coal seams and the availability of cheaper alternative fuels
such as oil and gas. From 1966 coal was no longer brought to the surface, but
went by underground conveyor to Ashington Colliery. Output and man power
steadily declined in the 1970s and production ceased in 1981. The colliery
remained open for salvage work until 1986, employing a handful of workers. In
1989 the colliery opened as a museum.
The two engine houses, Cappel fan house, both headgear and the heapstead are
Grade II* Listed Buildings.
The security fencing, fence posts of wooden fencing and 1928 Mackley and
Company ram pump static exhibit are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000
coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war
nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four
coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national
archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of
national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a
comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the
industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result
of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a
prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically
consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The
simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap.
Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may
include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts,
boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops,
pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of
later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was
sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites.
Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this
has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England
to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and
characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north
Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the
better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and
technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual
component features are considered to merit protection.

The surviving pit head structures at Woodhorn colliery are rare survivals.
Large two storey brick built engine houses fronted by headgears became
increasingly common during the early 20th century, but few of the quality
found at Woodhorn now survive.

Source: Historic England

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