Kevin Lear’s Life Story – Coal Mines were ‘EVERYWHERE’ | My County Durham
Coal Mines were ‘EVERYWHERE’ | My County Durham Life Story | Episode One | The ‘stories’ of Kevin J. Lear He introduces you to his home county, that of County Durham which also introduces you to part of his life journey…….this takes you up to age 5
I start this adventure story just south of a town called Easington Colliery. I start here because this road follows the County Durham coastline between Hartlepool and where I lived, but more importantly, it was the road I travelled as a young boy, every Saturday, to see my dads parents, who lived in Hartlepool (Wilson Street to be exact).
Back to the road that I start on, just south of Easington Colliery. I also started here because this town became famous for 2 things.
One not being very good and the other entertained people all over the world. The first aspect was, that I can still see vividly in my minds eye, was the HUGE pit (or colliery) that stood at the northern edge of the town, covering the whole skyline, looking high above the town like some prehistoric monster, spewing out smoke, steam and fire, going down into the bowels of hell. I’m sure it was also hell for the miners that worked there. Here is a description of this colliery: Easington Colliery is situated on the coast in the County of Durham, between the ports of Seaham Harbour and West Hartlepool, nine miles north-west of the latter.
There are two principal shafts, both circular and both 20 feet in diameter. The North Shaft, the downcast, was sunk to the Hutton Seam at a depth of 1,430 feet, the present winding level being at the Main Coal Inset at a depth of 1,130 feet. The South Shaft, the upcast, is 1,500 feet deep to the Hutton Seam. Both are used for winding men, mineral and materials.
A third shaft, the West, 470 feet deep, is connected to the South Shaft by a drift at the 164 feet level. Although sinking was started in 1899, coal drawing did not begin until 1910 because of difficulties encountered in passing through water-bearing strata. The Durham coalfields where absolutely prolific and within just a 5-mile radius there were 39 other coal mines.
Can you imagine within a 5-mile radius of where you live there would be 39 coal mines. It absolutely beggars belief. The nearest colliery to Easington was at Seaham, just 1.4 miles away called Hawthorn Quarry.
As you will hear me say in my film as I ride back from the Seaham area.
As a young boy, the whole skyline was littered with pit head wheels turning and smoke rising up above each and every one of them, yet, now, all that remains are the ghosts of those who died and those within my own memory. My dad was a traffic cop driving a big Austin Westminster police car with 1 blue light on the top and a big silver bell on the front, just like those on the old black and white and early colour films we can watch showing those cars ringing away chasing the bad guys.
He told me years later they used to laugh when chasing cars because the car battery would start failing and from ding a ling, ding a ling, ding a ling to the occasional ding and then a while later ling, makes me chuckle even now. (Keystone cops springs to mind).