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Woodhorn Colliery Museum

Work began on the sinking of No. 1 shaft of Woodhorn on 16th May 1894 when Mr. H. Richardson cut the first sod. When sinking was completed, on 26th June 1897, No 1 shaft was 873 feet deep. In February, 1898 the first coal was drawn at Woodhorn from the Yard Seam at 570 feet below the surface. No 2 shaft was 888 feet deep and the first coal was drawn from this shaft on February 1901. Even before the first fatality at Woodhorn was recorded. On 2nd December 1896 a shaft sinker, James Rogers, fell to his death in No 2 shaft.

The estimated life expectancy for the Colliery was 199 years (in the event, when the colliery closed in 1981, it had been a working pit for just 83 years). It was hoped to produce 300,000 tons of coal per year by 1902. In that year, another 2 men were killed at Woodhorn, this time by a gas explosion at the coalface.

Even more tragically poor Walter Hughes had only been back to work for a week after spending several months in hospital as a result of being gassed in France. Between the First and Second World War, the number of men employed at Woodhorn varied from year to year. For example in 1924 there were 2,577 employees whilst in 1930, however, there were only 1,384. Competition from Germany and Poland was particularly fierce at that time. Although the Colliery appeared to be struggling in 1930 the employees in that year were the first to enjoy pithead baths. Despite the slaughter of the First World War, some of the men from Woodhorn Colliery joined up during the Second World Ward and made the ultimate sacrifice. It is said that German bombers used the tall Woodhorn chimney as a guide when crossing the North Sea. On the night of 20th December 1941 a jettisoned bomb landed on the fan and crab engine houses to the east of No 2 Winding House.


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