Woodhorn Colliery


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016976

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Woodhorn Colliery
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ashington

National Grid Reference: NZ 28940 88409


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000 coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap. Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops, pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites. Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual component features are considered to merit protection.

The surviving pit head structures at Woodhorn colliery are rare survivals. Large two storey brick built engine houses fronted by headgears became increasingly common during the early 20th century, but few of the quality found at Woodhorn now survive.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Woodhorn Colliery which is situated in Queen Elizabeth II Country Park to the north east of Ashington. The monument includes the headgear of two shafts, the heapstead, two engine houses, two fan houses, and parts of a railway system. The headgear stood over the mine shaft and supported the pulley wheels that in turn supported the cables used for haulage in the shaft. The west headgear stands over the downcast shaft, down which ventilation air flowed into the mine, and is an unenclosed frame structure of steel girders supporting two pulley wheels. The east headgear, which is a steel girder frame supporting two pulley wheels, stands over the upcast shaft, up which ventilation air was drawn out of the mine by a fan, and is enclosed to control the circulation of air. The enclosing structure is known as the heapstead. It is constructed of brick and is approximately 11m high. The lowest 7m consists of yellow Ashington brick whilst the remainder is red brick. The headgear above the brick and below the pulleys is enclosed in a steel box. The east face has four narrow windows, 1m wide by 2.5m high at ground level. Attached to the south face is a red brick, flat roof structure 3m high with double doors. This building served as a cover for fully laden coal railtrucks waiting to be transported to the railway sidings. The west face has a window and one doorway in the upper red brick section. The doorway is accessed by an iron staircase. There are two single storey, red brick buildings attached to the west face. The northern one, which was built in 1949, is 7m long with a single railtrack running its length. The northern face has a double doorway 2m wide and 4m high with a relieving arch above and a window in the top section. The guide rails for the cages wound up and down in the shaft, and the narrow gauge railways from the pithead are in their original setting within the heapstead. Engine houses (also known as winding houses) contained the winding engines through which the winding of a cable was used for haulage in the mine shaft. Woodhorn Colliery has three surviving engine houses, the Jack engine house, west engine house and east engine house. The west engine house has been converted for use as a shop, cafe and function room and is not included in the scheduling. The Jack engine house is a single storeyed building, which is 20m long by 5m wide. It is constructed of yellow Ashington brick with recessed panels between pillars. Each panel has either an arched window or a doorway. In addition to one arched window, the east wall has a cellar door and two door covered openings for the cable to pass from the winder to the headgear. The internal corners of the arch are rounded. At the base of the panels is a double chamfered string course and at the top is a stepped course overlain with a cogged course. The top of the wall has projecting brick corbels supporting iron gutters. The slate roof is hipped with ridge tiles. Internally the engine house is divided into two rooms. The west room is the pick sharpening forge. It has been modernized and only the forge survives. The east room houses the Jack engine winder built by R H Longbottom of Wakefield. It was the first winding engine at the colliery and has a 10ft winding drum supported on brick pillars. The east engine house contains a Markham winder, which came from Fenwick Colliery, South Northumberland in 1975 and is driven by an electric motor. The winder is supported on brick pillars. The engine house is a two storey building 14m wide by 16m long, constructed of yellow Ashington brick with a hipped slate roof. The walls are about 12m high and the upper half has recessed panels of brickwork. These panels have a chamfered course at their base and a stepped course overlain by a cogged course at their top. On the west face there is a doorway at ground level and three panels at first floor level, each with an arched window. The north face has a double door and an arched window at ground floor level and two panels at first floor level each with an arched window. The east face has three panels on the first floor, each of which would have contained an arched window, although the central panel has had a projecting doorway and external metal stairway added. The south face has a double door and a single door at ground floor level. There is a single panel covering the entire width of the upper half of this face which has a central window and a single door giving access to the east headgear. Two hatches, which allowed the passage of the cable from the winder to the pulleys of the headgear, are visible on the south face. One is situated in the roof line, the other as a dormer in the roof. Fan houses were used to extract air from the mine via the upcast shaft. Short underground passages ran from the upcast shaft to the fan houses where the centrifugal force of the fan drew the air out of the mine and expelled it into the atmosphere through a chimney. At Woodhorn there are two surviving fan houses, the Cappel fan house and the Guibal fan house. The Guibal type is an earlier type of fan than the Cappel, though at Woodhorn the Cappel was installed before the Guibal, gaining an English patent in 1862. The Cappel type came into use in the last decade of the 19th century and tended to replace the earlier types such as the Guibal which had larger diameters and revolved at a slower speed. The Cappel fan house was built in 1900 and comprises a fan housing with attached engine house of yellow Ashington brick. It was originally powered by a horizontal steam engine supplied by Robey and Company of Lincoln which could turn the 16ft diameter fan at 160 revolutions per minute. The fan housing is 8m wide, 8m long by 6m high. The southern half has a curved roof line. The northern half is surmounted by an evasee, (a chimney which was used to expel the air drawn out of the mine by the fan), 2.5m square in section and 2m high. The attached engine house is 4m wide, 10m long and 4m high with a hipped slate roof. It has recessed panels of brickwork with a stepped course overlain by a cogged course at their top. The east end is attached to the fan housing, the south face has three panels; one contains a door and the other two a window each. The west face has a single panel with a doorway. The north face has three panels each with a window. The Guibal fan house was constructed in 1942. It comprises a fan housing and attached engine house. The circular fan housing of the fan is visible as a semi-circle above ground level with a height of 4m, width of 2.5m and a length of 8m. The circular housing is flanked on either side by 2m wide and 4m high red brick pillars, which have blocked doorways at their eastern ends. The circular housing of the fan has a 2.5m wide, 5m long and 4m high evasee on its western end. Attached to the western end of the fan housing is a section of the air inlet passage which is above ground. It starts as a 4m wide, 1m high brick built structure with flat roof. The height increases to 2m by a 4m long sloped roof section and then it widens to 6.5m before reaching the fan housing. The engine house is attached to the north side of the fan housing. It is a single storeyed, brick built structure 14m long by 5m wide with a sloping flat roof. The east and west faces have two recessed panels of brickwork each with a rectangular window in the southern panel. The northern face has three panels. The east and west panels have sliding double doors. The buiding contains two electric motors supplied by Bruce Peebles and Company Limited of Edinburgh. Within the area around the buildings of the colliery was a complex system of narrow gauge railways which carried the mined coal away from the pithead structures. Woodhorn Colliery was sunk in 1894 by the Ashington Coal Company. In 1914 it employed in excess of 2000 workers. Woodhorn went into decline in the 1960s because of thin coal seams and the availability of cheaper alternative fuels such as oil and gas. From 1966 coal was no longer brought to the surface, but went by underground conveyor to Ashington Colliery. Output and man power steadily declined in the 1970s and production ceased in 1981. The colliery remained open for salvage work until 1986, employing a handful of workers. In 1989 the colliery opened as a museum. The two engine houses, Cappel fan house, both headgear and the heapstead are Grade II* Listed Buildings. The security fencing, fence posts of wooden fencing and 1928 Mackley and Company ram pump static exhibit are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32069

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing