Headed up to County Durham, the Land of the Prince Bishops, to watch the NECAA Road Relay Championships at Hetton-le-Hole. The park has been built on the site of Hetton Colliery and I was disappointed not to find any trace of the former activity although studying old maps afterwards, the actual shaft was to the south on what is now an industrial estate. I did notice some old buildings there that are now in use for light industry. So although the park is nice enough it is a shame that it’s heritage has been forgotten for Hetton Colliery was actually quite innovative in its day.
The proposal to sink a shaft at Hetton was speculative. It entailed sinking through the magnesian limestone layer below which some geologists maintained there would be no coal or at the very least coal of poor quality. The shaft was sunk in 1820 and and at a depth of 888 feet a good coal seam was found. This discovery was to impact the whole of the coal mining industry in County Durham. Hetton Colliery closed in 1950 and employed at its peak 1,000 men.