Mining memories appeal for Tyneside waggonways project

A project to improve old waggonways in the North East for cycling and walking is asking for coal mining memories

Yvette Martin, on the wagonway, at Hebburn

People are being asked to dig deep for coal mining memories as part of a project to improve old waggonways as cycling and walking routes.

Shipyard recollections are also needed, linking with the waggonway locations on the Tyne riverbanks.

From the 17th to the 19th Centuries, the waggonways carried coal from North East pits to the river for loading on to collier boats for export from the Tyne.

Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle is running a Waggonways and Waterways project in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It is concentrating on two former waggonway routes.

One is from adjoining coal staithes at Jarrow and Hebburn to the Bowes railway at Springwell in Gateshead.

The other links Lemington coal staithes via Walbottle and Wylam.

Project officer Yvette Martin said: “ “We want to make an audio track that individuals interested in the waggonways walk can download from the Groundwork website. “

Feeding into the audio track will be memories of the collieries, shipyards and other riverside industries which operated alongside the routes.

“We are looking for former miners, yard or railway workers or their families who can contribute their stories,” said Yvette.

It is hoped that in South Tyneside and Gateshead memories will come from collieries in Wardley, Springwell, Jarrow and Hebburn, as well as · Hawthorn Leslie shipyard, and the Bowes and Tanfield railways. In Newcastle the colliery locations include Wylam , Blucher, The Maria, , Coronation Pit, , Montagu, Throckley, North Walbottle, Walbottle Moor and Callerton.

The search is also on for anyone with connections to to the Grand Allies, a group of individuals from mine and land owning families such as Ravensworth, Liddle Bowes and Montagu families. Audio hand sets may also be available to bring the history of the routes alive for walkers.

Other improvements have included painting bridges on the South Tyneside route.

At Monkton, a bridge has been decorated with designs for waymarkers which were created by pupils of Jarrow Cross Primary School.

Yvette said: “Industry not only shaped our landscape in the North East but also the lives of the people who lived and worked here.

Both Newcastle and South Tyneside have a number of key routes that form such a large part of our social and industrial heritage. “

We would love to hear from people with personal memories of working on the riversides or collieries or who have family members who may have worked transporting coal along these waggonways,

“It is very important that this history and these stories are available for young people and future generations.

“We are hoping to get as many people involved in the audio track “

Yvette Martin can be contacted on 0191 428 1144 or by email at

The project will complement North Tyneside’s policy of using its waggonways as green leisure routes.


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