A Celebration of our Mining Heritage

Published to commemorate the bicentenary of the Heaton Main Colliery disaster in 1815 which killed 75 men and boys, Les Turnbull’s account delves back to uncover the history of the Heaton collieries.
A Celebration of our Mining Heritage
Product Code:
Author/Editor: Les Turnbull
Publication Date: NEIMME


Heaton Bank Colliery, one of many pits to mine the Heaton Royalty, was once part of the largest coal mining company in the world concentrated around the eastern side of Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley. It was the most technologically advanced colliery in the world, surrounded by the greatest concentration of steam power during the mid-18th century. The history of Heaton represents in many ways the history of the Great Northern Coalfield. The miners struggle against the earth’s geology to win the coal brought mental stress, physical hardship, severe injury and death; but it also brought riches to the owners of the mineral rights and mines together with a greatly enhanced standard of living to the workers both in the pits, the farms, and the service industries. This is a story of great ambition and enterprise, innovation and technical skill, selfish greed and skulduggery, loyalty and self-sacrifice. The full spectrum of human emotions is to be found in the history of Heaton and the coalfield at large. This is the heritage of Northumberland and Durham which deserves to be celebrated.

The lavishly illustrated book traces the development of coal mining in the Heaton Royalty through to the inundation of the Heaton Bank colliery in 1825 and its aftermath. Using contemporary archives, Les has corrected the inaccuracies of fact and myths that surround the disaster, pinpointing the actual site of the disaster over a mile away from The Spinney. Through searching burial records Les has identified the homes of the miners, their daily commute and analyses the early development of Heaton and the social conditions of the miners, their wives and families.

The book is published by Chapman Research Publishing in association with the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers and the Heaton History Group.

About the Author

Les Turnbull graduated in history at Durham University and worked as a schoolmaster, university lecturer and senior education adviser. Upon retirement he became a volunteer at NEIMME where now serves as a member of Council. Les has written several books on the history of mining and his particular interest, the early railways of the Great Northern Coalfield. He is frequently called upon to lecture both within the region and beyond.

Purchasing Information

ISBN: ISBN978-0-9561248-2-1
Book Information: 92pp, illustrated throughout in colour and black and white.

List price: £ 15.00
NEIMME Members price: £ 15.00
Other societies price: £ 15.00

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