Histories of Shotton and Shotton Colliery
Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
St. Mary, Easington Village, Baptisms 1571-1952
Population changes in the 19th. Century (includes Old Shotton, Shotton Colliery and outlying farms):
Old Shotton was not directly affected by coalmining for Shotton Colliery village was an entirely separate entity located over a mile to the west. Old Shotton did however take the occasional overspill of population from the pit village during the 19th. Century as the census returns testify.
Old Shotton dates back to at least AD900, when it was known as Scitton. It was owned by the Manor of Easington which in turn was under the jurisdiction of the Prince Bishops of Durham and was always in the parish of Easington In 1756 Joseph Brandling, wealthy Gosforth coal owner, married Mary Thompson and built Shotton Hall as their home. Two years later Rowland Burdon, a wealthy merchant banker purchased Castle Eden estate. His son married Brandling's daughter so that eventually both estates passed to the Burdon family. Later the village stood on the Sunderland to Stockton turnpike, constructed by another Burdon. It now sits alongside the A19 Trunk road. It has expanded greatly in the 20th. Century and is now effectively part of the new town of Peterlee. The nearest coalmine is over a hundred miles away.
Shotton Grange Colliery
The main reason for the fluctuations in population at Shotton in the 19th. century was the rise (c.1840) and fall (c.1877) of Shotton Colliery. The colliery remained closed for 23 years until its reopening in 1900 by the Horden Coal Company. Thereafter it became a profitable concern. It closed for good in 1972.
Shotton Colliery was 'won' in c.1841 and was immediately connected up by a waggonway to Haswell Colliery which in turn was connected by a waggonway to the new port and town of Seaham Harbour via South Hetton Colliery. This tortuous connection to a tiny and already overloaded coal port was eventually abandoned in favour of a link line from Shotton Colliery direct to the NER Hartlepool to Sunderland Railway (probably in about 1855 when a through service from Hartlepool to Sunderland began). The only trace of the early waggonway linking Shotton Colliery with Seaham Harbour is the remains of the bridge which carried it over the Hartlepool and Sunderland and on to Haswell Colliery which can be observed as you stroll on the Haswell to Hart Walkway. After the new link was established Shotton coal could be delivered to the docks at either Sunderland or Hartlepool, which were much larger ports.
In the census for 1841, the year in which coal was 'won' the enumerator mentioned the following: 'Shotton', Low Hills, Shotton Tilery, 'Shotton Grange Colliery' (17 households, all 'Sinkers') and Donnison Row (28 households, mostly 'Sinkers'). None of these however was mentioned again in later censuses so the information is almost useless to us. His successor, the enumerator of 1851, left us even less information about these early years. He described everything as 'Shotton Colliery'. At last the enumerator of 1861 mentioned 1st, 2nd., 3rd. and 4th. Low Rows; 1st., 2nd., 3rd., 4th., 5th. and 6th. High Rows; and 1st., 2nd. and 3rd. West Rows. West Rows had become Chapel Rows by 1871.
By 1871 there were 323 households at Shotton Colliery village. The enumerator for that year mentioned: Albert St.; Front St.; 1st. - 4th. Low Rows; 1st. - 6th. High Rows; 1st. - 3rd. Chapel Rows; 1st. House Row; 1st & 2nd. School Rows; Sunderland Row; Railway Row; Reading Room Row; and 1st. & 2nd. Stable Rows. He then moved on to cover a new community called 'Haswell Moor' where there were 130 more households - Front Row, 1st. To 3rd. North Rows (all tiny), 1st. New Row (North), Middle New Row (North), South New Row (only 1 household). I have not been able to locate the community of 'Haswell Moor' on the 1897 map. There was also a 'Haswell Moor' at Haswell and Easington to complicate matters.
The accepted date for the closure of Shotton Colliery is November 3 1877 but it may have been earlier for the enumerator of 1881 stated that the pit had been closed about 6 years. The date therefore may have been more like 1875. The enumerator of 1881 went on to mention the following, which indicates a wholesale change of street names in the previous 10 years: Sandgate (or Sandygate); Albert Terrace; Quarrymens Terrace; 'Front Row below Railway'; Policemens Row; Back Policemens Row; Callers or Colliers Row; Back Row; Office Row; Low Quality Row; Quality Row; Randy Row; Old Post Office Row; Smokey Row; South Front Row; Cowley's Row; 'Sixteen Houses'; Doctors Row; School Row; Sunderland Row; Railway Row; Tarbutts Row, Wesleyan Chapel Row; Primitive Chapel Row; Reading Room Row; Colliery Farm Cottages; Grange Farm; Grange Buildings; St. Saviour's Church; and The Vicarage. He concluded his tint at a much expanded 'Haswell Moor' where he noted: 1st - 6th. Rows and Front Street. Some of these street names were probably connected to the owners of the colliery. From the number of uninhabited dwellings in the 1881 census, taken some 4-6 years after the pit closure, it is clear that he was wandering round a ghost village. Things got worse over the next 10 years.
In the 1891 census the enumerator mentioned Cowley's Row, 1st - 4th. Old Rows; Quality Row; Office Row; 1st - 4th. Low Rows; Albert Terrace; 'The Town' (North Side); Sandygate; Back Sandygate; Railway Row; Sunderland Row; School Row; Doctors Row; 'Sixteen Houses'; 'Six Houses'; Post Office Row; Colliery Farm Cottages; Farm Houses; Station Road; the Vicarage; Old School Row; Wesleyan Chapel Row; Primitive Chapel Row; Reading Room Row; and Goynes Yard. All of these can be located on the map of 1897 though some of them bore different names by then. The enumerator finished his stint at 'Haswell Moor' which still consisted of 1st - 6th. Rows and Front Row. By now, 14-16 years after the closure of Shotton Colliery, its village must have seemed an eerie place. Entire streets were boarded up. Some streets had only one or two inhabitants. The village somehow survived another nine years until the arrival of the Cavalry.
In 1900 the colliery was reopened by the new and giant concern the Horden Coal Company which also planned super-pits on the coast at Blackhall and Horden. The pit village came back to life after 23 years, like some latter day Rip van Winkle. Astoundingly there had been no vandalism in a quarter of a century and most of the housing was ready for habitation within weeks. Imagine that happening today. Them were the days.
By 1906 Shotton Colliery Mark II was producing 392,000 tons a year from 1163 employees and the village was full again. By 1913 1833 men and boys were employed. By 1918 472,000 tons were being extracted annually. In September 1907 the old beehive coke ovens were opened up again. Before long there were 71 of them employing 16 or so men. In 1913 they produced 25,649 tons. The brickworks were reactivated in 1905 to make use of sagger clay from the mine. 28 people, including girls, were employed there. Much of the old colliery village was demolished after the Second World War. Shotton Colliery closed on September 1 1972. Today there is barely a sign that this was indeed a mining community, off and on, for 130 years. The nearest coal mine is over a hundred miles away.