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  • Miner's Lives
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  • The Peopling of
    Easington District
  • Castle Eden Colliery (Hesleden)

    Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office

    St. James, Castle Eden, Baptisms 1694-1919
    St. James, Castle Eden, Marriages 1698-1974
    St. James, Castle Eden, Burials 1698-1912
    St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1948
    St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Marriages 1578-1925
    St. Mary, Monk Hesleden, Baptisms 1578-1908
    St. John, Hesleden, Baptisms 1882-1930
    St. John, Hesleden, Marriages 1883-1972
    St. John, Hesleden, Burials, None

    Population changes to the sub-district of 'Monk Hesleden' in the 19th. Century were:












    Monk Hesleden












    The above census figures relate to the sub-district of Monk Hesleden, which included the below Castle Eden Colliery, and not just to the village of Monk (or High) Hesleden. All of the above census returns for 1841-91 inclusive are transcribed and available on this site.

    The most important communities in the sub-district of 'Monk Hesleden' in the middle of the 19th. century were Castle Eden Colliery (which was located just inside 'Monk Hesleden' and not Castle Eden), sunk about 1840, closed 1877; South Wingate Colliery (c. 1840-57) and Hutton Henry Colliery (c. 1869-97).

    The village of Castle Eden was much nearer to Castle Eden colliery than the village of Monk Hesleden was, hence the name of the pit. In the parish registers of Castle Eden and Monk Hesleden, the sinkers' village that sprang up here was called South Field Colony from 1842 to mid-1843; then it was called Castle Eden Colony until mid-1847. Castle Eden Colliery was also known as 'The Maria Pit'. First owner, leased land by Burdon, was one Wilkinson, who already owned lands on the other side of Castle Eden Dene.

    In the 1841 census the enumerator noted the presence of 34 households at 'Castle Eden New Colliery', almost all of them headed by 'Sinkers' rather than coalminers. Clearly the pit was still in progress and some way from production. The enumerator called all of the households 'Castle Eden New Colliery' which wasn't very helpful to modern local historians. Few of these families would have stayed around for the 1851 census - they were after all 'Sinkers' and as soon as one pit was ready they moved on to the next. In 1841 Castle Eden Colliery would have been a shanty town of ramshackle structures. 'Sinkers' were a hardy lot, much like 'Navigators'. Again in 1851 the enumerator called everything 'Castle Eden Colliery'. The same thing happened in 1861 and 1871 so we have few clues as to the early development of the community.

    At last in 1881 the enumerator listed some streets - but only High Street, East Field and Colliery Farm. All of the rest of the community he simply described as 'Castle Eden Colliery', apart from a solitary mention for 'Far Double Row', 'First Short Row', 'Second Row' and a large section which he called 'Station Terrace'. Unfortunately these do not match up with the street names in the 1891 census or the map of 1897 by which time the colliery had been closed for 4 years and the village was in decline.

    In 1891 the enumerator at last, 50 years after the community was founded, got down to the details and mentioned the Vicarage, Church Street, Station Road, Railway Cottages, South Terrace, Hulam Street, Front Street, West Terrace, Burdon Street, Wilkinson Street, Boyd Street, East Terrace, Hilda Street, Armstrong Street, West Row, Nicholson Street, Stanley Row, Chapel Row, Railway Street, George Street, Main Street, Overmans Row, John Street, Dodds Street and Sea View Row. All of these can be located on the map of 1897.

    The colliery succumbed to the economic depression in 1893 like many others across the county. It reopened in 1900 but only as a pumping station for the new and giant collieries on the coast at Horden and Blackhall. The population of Castle Eden Colliery in 1893 had the choice of either moving or staying and commuting to work at other nearby collieries. The NER line from Hartlepool to Sunderland (via Haswell and Murton) and Ferryhill passed near to the village and made it possible to travel to Hutton Henry, Wingate, Deaf Hill, Wheatley Hill, Trimdon, Ferryhill, Thornley, Haswell and South Hetton for work. The closure of Haswell (1896) and Hutton Henry (1897) removed some of these possibilities. Inevitably the population of the former mining community of Castle Eden went into decline. By the 1930s the old village was in a bad state and much was cleared away under the Slum Clearance Act. Little remains of the original mining sttlement which has given way to a new community called Hesleden.