The village of Springwell traces its roots back to 1821 when a group of pit cottages were built for workers at the new colliery site, which was being built by George Stephenson, a pioneer in engineering, and known as the ‘Father of the Railways’.
It would consist of a standard guage cable railway system, capable of transferring coal from local pits in the area, downhill to the River Tyne at Jarrow.
The colliery was completed in 1824, with shafts able to go as far as 755 feet below ground. To put that into perspective, that’s about 230 meters. Within 2 years of this, the colliery was open and work had began.
Mining was such a dangerous occupation and every miner knew the risks involved. That is why on the site of most former mines in the north east, there is some kind of monument of recognition. Disasters were common, and day to day deaths and tragedies sadly happened a lot of the time.
There are over 211 recorded deaths on this site alone, with hundreds and thousands more injured. In 1830, 3 men died when a chain snapped, plunging them to their deaths. 3 years later, 47 men and boys, some as young as 7 years old, were instantly killed during an underground methane explosion. None of their remains were ever identified, due to how deadly the explosion was.
On the 6th December 1837, 29 workers entered the mine shaft. Only 2 came out. 27 men and 3 horses are still buried hundreds of feet below ground. It was impossible to get the bodies out, and to this very day, the 29 workers are still beneath the colliery.