Even from Roman times when they visited the North East through Vindomora( Ebchester Roman Fort in County Durham) on Deere Street,they made their contribution to the industrial landscape on their way through to Scotland.
Not far from Ebchester stands Whittonstall, and the surrounding area of Kiln Pit Hill, Unthank and Highfield, it is in these locations that for many years drift mines were worked.
In a new publication entitled ‘Coal Mining West of Whittonstall’ (1266-1966) author R.W. Bill Stokoe explores, relates and researches into the working of many of these ‘unforgotten’ treasures of times past.
One of the working drifts in the fifties was the Highfield East Drift which was owned by the authors father (Bob) and grandfather (Bill) and, having left school in 1953 the author worked there as a youngster eventually working his way up to management status.
Now retired and always having had a fascination for his roots and the history of drift mines Bill has over a period of fifteen years researched the surrounding areas and documented his findings.
During this research he also discovered a Beehive Coke Oven which is the only one in existance between Whittonstall and Blanchland which during the estimated dates of 1750-1820 could have been used for the production of whisky or beer among other things.
Apart from the historical and geological facts Bill has also included a section of anecdotes from his time working in the mine which include tales of characters like Amos Turner and a car pushing incident, Jack Ferguson’s old pedal organ, Les Charlton’s call of nature, and George Congleton (Conk) and a bunch of flowers.
The book complete with drawings and pictures from the halycon days of a industry long gone in many areas is a fascinating, informative read.
It is available directly from the author and is worthy of a place on anyone’s bookshelf that has an interest in private mining throughout the North East.
The publication costs £8.00 per copy and can be obtained by calling Bill direct on 01207 582384
Coal Mining West of Whittonstall 1266-1966 R.W.Bill Stokoe.
Small photo shows Bill at the age of 16 with one of the tubs