Hedleyhill Colliery coke works, 500m south west of Hazlet House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Hedleyhill Colliery coke works, 500m south west of Hazlet House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
County Durham (Unitary Authority)
Brandon and Byshottles
County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 16629 40559

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. Coking is the process by which coal is heated or part burnt to remove volatile impurities and leave lumps of carbon known as coke. Originally this was conducted in open heaps, sometimes arranged on stone bases, but from the mid- 18th century purpose built ovens were employed. By the mid-19th century two main forms of coking oven had developed, the beehive and long oven, which are thought to have been operationally similar, differing only in shape. Coke ovens were typically built as long banks with many tens of ovens arranged in single or back to back rows, although stand alone ovens and short banks are also known. They typically survive as stone or brick structures, but earth- covered examples also exist. Later examples may also include remains of associated chimneys, condensers and tanks used to collect by-products. Coke ovens are most frequently found directly associated with coal mining sites, although they also occur at ironworks or next to transport features such as canal basins. 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. All surviving pre- 1815 ovens are considered to be of national importance and merit protection, as do all surviving examples of later non-beehive ovens. The survival of beehive ovens is more common nationally and a selection of the better preserved examples demonstrating the range of organisational layouts and regional spread is considered to merit protection.

The spread of railed transport and the increasing demand for coke in iron production in the second half of the 19th century led to the founding of numerous coke works at collieries in the North East Coalfield. The Hedleyhill Colliery and coke works is typical of this movement. The development of the coke industry in County Durham led to innovations in the methods of production and oven design, and led to the widespread introduction of the bee-hive oven. This design was pioneered in, and became characteristic of, the North East Coalfield. The coke ovens at Hedleyhill illustrate this design and are now one of only a small number of sites nationally where the scale of a large installation of coke ovens and technological processes can be interpreted. In addition, the surviving extent of the oven ranges at the site is one of the most complete examples in the North East Coalfield.


The monument is situated in the upper reaches of the Deerness Valley, 150m south east of Hedleyhill Colliery village, and includes the ruins, earthworks and buried remains of a late 19th century coke works. It was once part of the Hedleyhill Colliery which is now largely cleared and landscaped and is not included in the scheduling. The colliery and coke works were in operation from at least 1879 under the ownership of the Weardale Iron and Coal Company. Almost all of the colliery's production, at least in the early years, was transported direct to the coke works. By the mid-20th century the colliery had become uneconomic and was finally abandoned in 1950. The monument includes the best-preserved remains of the Hedleyhill coke works, including the remains of two ranges of coke ovens, one double and one single, of the beehive design developed in, and once typical of, the Durham coalfield. The ovens consist of brick built domes, typically 3.58m in diameter, insulated by an earthen bank. The remains of small top central holes and back flues survive in many of the ovens. A number of the ovens survive to original height and a little over half the circumference remains in the most complete examples. The remains of an additional double range located to the west are now very fragmentary and difficult to interpret, and they are not, therefore, included in the scheduling. Little remains of the adjacent Hedleyhill Colliery site and its associated transport system, though the more substantial domestic buildings of the colliery village continue to be occupied. This is therefore not included in the scheduling. All modern fenceposts are excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath these features 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.

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Books and journals
Atkinson, F, The Industrial Archaeology of the North-East of England, (1974), 289


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.

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