||HOW IT BEGAN
Seaham's mining heritage stretches back to the year 1845 - the year when the sinking of the first pit, Seaton Colliery, began. This was also known as the "High Pit" and was owned by the Hetton Coal Company.
Sinking of the second pit, Seaham Colliery, also known as the "Low Pit", began in April 1849 with the first coals being drawn in March 1852. Seaham Colliery was owned by the Marquis of Londonderry. The two colliery shafts were only 150 yards apart.
Wednesday, 16th June 1852 - less than 3 months after the first colas were drawn form the "Low Pit" - saw the first explosion and loss of life in Seaham's mines. The tragedy happened at the "High Pit" with six men killed and several others injured.
In 1864, the Hetton Coal Company sold the "High Pit to the Marquis of Londonderry and the two pits were joined underground to comply with legislation requiring pits to have two shafts. This allow the circulation of air through convection currents created by having a fire at the bottom of one shaft. The circulation of air greatly reduced the danger of explosion from fire damp but other explosions did occur with lives lost. The worst explosion occurred in 1880 when 164 lives were lost.
Explosion was not the only hazard in Seaham's pits and lives were lost in all three pits through a whole range of other causes including falls of stone etc.
The explosion of 1852 led to the formation of the North of England Institute of Mining & Mechanical Engineers and the first informal meeting of the Institute took place in the MIll Inn in Seaham.
Dawdon Colliery was opened in 1907 after great dificulties with the sinking of the shaft due to "rivers of water" which had to be frozen solid before progress could be made.
Vane Tempest colliery was the last of the Seaham pits to be sunk and started production in 1928.
We will add more detail to this story in good time and we will look at why all three Seaham pits had been closed by 1992.
STORIES WE HAVE TO TELL