Colliery engine house at Washington F Pit, Albany


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sunderland (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
NZ 30219 57436, NZ 30233 57414

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 Washington F Pit engine house survives particularly well and represents a remarkable example of the winding technology employed within the North East Coalfield in the first half of the 20th century. The engine, which was secondhand when installed in 1926, is a twin cylinder steam engine of a type which dominated coal winding until the introduction of electrical winding engines in the early 20th century. In general, colliery engines seldom survive in situ, and few examples, of which the monument is a particularly good one, are maintained in full working condition. This affords a valuable opportunity to study colliery steam engine technology of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The headgear is also of considerable importance and represents a rare late use of steel latticework of a type more typically employed in the third quarter of the 19th century.


The monument is situated on the west side of Albany Way. Falling within two areas of protection, it includes an early 20th century colliery engine house and in situ engine and steel lattice headgear. The Washington F Pit was sunk in 1777 and raised coal until an explosion led to its abandonment in 1796. The pit was re-opened in 1820, deepened in 1857 and remodelled around 1903. The engine house, which is Listed Grade II, was built in 1926 and housed a secondhand engine built by the Grange Iron Company of Durham in 1888. The colliery reached a peak of production during the mid- 1960s but was finally closed in 1968. The site was cleared soon after and the engine house was presented to the people of Washington as a monument. It was opened as a museum in 1976. The engine house itself is of red brick, rectangular plan, with a hipped Welsh slate roof. External walls are divided into four bays on the north and south sides and three bays on the east and west sides. The upper bays on the north and south sides each include a round-headed sash window with glazing bars. The east side has square-headed doorways in the upper north and south bays with external steel stairs leading to the ground and headgear respectively. The headgear, which is included in the scheduling, springs from a steel cross beam above the doors. A blocked square opening below the beam and a small dormer window in the hip of the roof formerly allowed the twin headgear pulleys to be wound by wire rope from a single drum located at the east end of the building. The lower central bay on the east side has a blocked round-headed doorway which originally gave access to the boiler. Two small round-headed openings in the west side of the engine house, now blocked, formerly housed exhaust pipes. Similar blocked openings occur in the lower bays of the returns. The west side also includes a square porch with three bays on its west side with a central round-headed sash window, a single bay on its south side and an entrance on its northern return. Internally the engine house is a single tall storey, with king-post double tie-beam roof, divided into two floors by a cast iron balcony which allowed access to the drum and engine. The in situ engine is a steam-powered horizontal twin-cylinder engine capable of 500 horse power, and is included in the scheduling. The engine and drum are maintained in full working order though the engine is now operated by electricity. The boiler was located beneath the engine but has since been removed, making way for an interpretation and display area. A section of headframe, now ex situ and situated to the south east, formerly operated as a guide for the ropes vertically over the shaft. The frame is an important component of the headgear and is included in the scheduling within a separate area of protection. A small electric underground haulage train situated to the east is not included in the scheduling. Two pulley wheels propped against the south wall, and all modern museum fixtures and fittings are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Museum of Science and Engineering, Newcastle, Washington F Pit: Information Sheet,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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