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Colliery history defined shape of village’s growth
PITTINGTON Colliery opened in the 1820s and consisted of four pits.
Two of these stood immediately east of High Pittington, which was then a new mining village called New Pittington.
One was the Adolphus Pit of 1826, named after a son of the Marquis of Londonderry, while close by was the Londonderry (or Derry) Pit of 1828.
Both stood on the western side of the Coalford Beck and interconnected via a short railway to the Sherburnhouse branch of the Lambton Railway, just south of New Pittington.
At the junction of the lines there was a further pit called Buddle Pit, named after the chief agent of the Marquis, but all the pits were Londonderry- owned.
The Sherburnhouse branch of the Lambton Railway also served Lord Lambton’s collieries at Littletown, Sherburn and Sherburn Hill.
Pittington Colliery’s fourth pit was Lady Seaham Pit, situated north of Old or Low Pittington village on the Durham and Sunderland Railway. This railway dated from 1836 and had its Durham terminus at Old Shincliffe village. It also served collieries at Broomside and Belmont.
The Broomside Colliery of 1829 was a Londonderry mine but it was a man called William Bell who opened the nearby Belmont Colliery in 1836.
This colliery was situated north of Ramside Hall, then called Belmont Hall, only a quarter of a mile from Lady Seaham Pit and the nearest village was Old Pittington.
An isolated colliery terrace stood alongside Belmont Colliery and this little settlement had its own pub called the Belmont Tavern.
Unfortunately, the colliery closed in about 1872 and the terrace and pub were demolished.
Broomside Colliery closed in 1890 and the four Pittington Colliery pits had all closed by 1891. Nearby collieries at Littletown, Moorsley and Elemore lasted a little longer. Littletown closed in 1914, Moorsley in 1935 and Elemore as recently as 1978, but Pittington’s mining history really belongs to the 19th century.
New Pittington was built specifically for the local miners but there were amenities in both Pittingtons. Low Pittington was home to Pittington Station, just north of the village, from 1836, but was rebuilt in 1875. It operated a passenger service until 1953 but finally closed as a goods station in 1960.
The station and adjoining signal box (demolished in 1938) have now gone but a pathway that runs north from Front Street to Moorsley Road marks the course of the railway and the station’s location.
Clues to its existence remain in the name of nearby Station Road and in houses called Pittington Station Houses that first appeared on the 1850s OS map.
Several tradesmen and shops could be found in the Pittingtons in Victorian times, of which the most prominent establishment was High Pittington’s Co-operative store of 1874 (rebuilt 1897), which more recently became three separate shops.
Both Old and New Pittington were home to village schools, which included the National School, built in the 19th century. It was located near Wellington Street in High Pittington and, in its later years, became a primary school.
In 1933, another school located in the same village was built, this time in Hallgarth Lane.
It would eventually supersede the earlier school and is now Pittington Primary, attended by pupils from both the Pittingtons and from Littletown, where the school was demolished in the 1960s.
Educational facilities at Low Pittington could be found at either end of the old village in the 19th century. At the western end in what is known as Front Street, there was Pittington Literary, Scientific and Reading Institute of 1842. It held about 400 volumes of books but in the 1850s had only about 60 members.
Adjoining this library was a large schoolroom used as a parish school and attended by about 50 children.
At the eastern end of the village, just before the steep ascent up Pittington Hill, is the High Street. Here, on the north side of the street, the Marquis of Londonderry endowed a school in 1853, attended on average by about 180 children.
After 1844, many school pupils in the Pittingtons may have originated from Ulster, as in that year a 19-week coal strike caused the Marquis to bring in many workers from Northern Ireland to work in his Pittington collieries. They were replacements for local striking miners and many stayed in the village with some of their descendants still living in the area today.
The spiritual needs of the Pittington residents were served by the Norman church of St Laurence at Hallgarth and two Victorian Methodist chapels, both situated in New Pittington.
The Wesleyan Methodists were located in Clayton Street and the Primitive Methodists in Dixon Street.
The Methodist church on the west side of the village is a modern structure dating from the 1960s.
Wellington Street and Elemore Street are the principal thoroughfares of New Pittington, but most of the houses in the Victorian village clustered in an angle in between where Clayton, Dixon and the slightly longer Londonderry Street could once be found but modern houses now occupy the site.
The Duke of Wellington public house has long been located in Wellington Street and both pub and street commemorate the visit of the Iron Duke to the developing village of New Pittington in 1827 when he came with the Marquis of Londonderry.
Other pubs in High Pittington once included the Bird in the Bush on the road to Littletown and the Bonnie Pit Laddie.
In Low Pittington, there was a Three Horse Shoes at the east of the village shown on the 1850s map and the Blacksmith’s Arms, which is still there, at the west end on the corner of Station Road. It was named after a blacksmith’s shop that existed a little farther along Station Road during the 19th and early 20th century.