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janwhin 16-09-2015 08:58 AM

Broomhill Colliery & its Families
For anyone interested, I've just had notification that the local branch of the Northumberland & Durham FHS is giving a talk at Alnwick on Tues October 6th, with the above title. The speaker is an Eleanor George.

The venue is usually Bailiffgate Museum but I expect the Gazette will have the details nearer the time.

Newburghlad 21-09-2015 04:30 PM

As may be seen from my Coquet and Coast "records" I was born at Newburgh in 1938 where my Father, Edward(Ned)Leslie Swan, was employed as an electrician in ONE OF THE LOCAL MINES. I have never,after much research, been able to discover which of the mines he was at. Would this forthcoming meeting/lecture be able to shed some light on my problem. I would dearly love to attend and hopefully learn something,however, again from my "records" you will see I now live in deepest,darkest Somerset so to come and visit you all at this time would be quite impossible. I am open to any ideas,suggestions or tips from you or any-one else. If it were possible who might I get in touch with prior to the meeting/lecture for advice and/or help.
Happy Regards,

janwhin 21-09-2015 09:10 PM

Unfortunately I won't be around on that date as I would have liked to attend. I'll see if I can get hold of a transcription of the talk if that is possible.
Before my dad was married he lived with his family at Cross Row, South Broomhill. He was friends with some Swans who lived nearby. I recall Phil because he was related to one of my school friends but not any other family members. That wouldn't be your family would it? To put it in context, my dad was born in 1914.

Coquet 21-09-2015 10:03 PM

Identifying a Miner's Colliery.
The soon to be published 1939 records probably won't help either. I was hoping they might have some extra detail when compared to the censuses, but it looks like it is going to be exactly the same, with the exception of recording if the person is a member of the armed forces or not.

What information does the 1939 Register include?

What about contacting the National Union of Mineworkers? The National Archives have them listed as in possession of an archive of material.
It's also possible the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme just might have something.

Then there are the documents relating to Broomhill Collieries at Woodhorn. Lots of them. Some I'm sure will mention the men, Injury compensation books for instance. Such a search would be time consuming and not guaranteed to produce any result unfortunately.

janwhin 22-09-2015 10:28 AM

NewburghLad, would your grandfather have been George Swan and his father Alexander?

Alexander Snr. appears in the local newspapers a few times. There is a family acknowledgement in 1935 following his death at 76 Station Road, Broomhill and a mention of the officials at Broomhill Colliery. In 1901 he is giving evidence in a case at the Alnwick Petty Sessions where his job is given as deputy overman, Broomhill Colliery.
George Swan of 78 Station Road gives evidence at an inquest in 1945, he is an overman at Broomhill Colliery.
There's a nice little newspaper article in 1916 based on a letter Alexander had received from his son, Corporal George Swan who was in charge of a band of snipers.

Newburghlad 22-09-2015 01:35 PM

Janwhin,my Grandfather(paternal)was indeed called George,however,there is no Alexander in our family tree except for my youngest Son.The fam tree shows 4 Georges,2 born 1839 and 1845 respectively at Norham(Tilmouth/Cornhill I suspect as this is where the fam originated) The other 2 born at Low Fell/Gateshead in 1910 and 1877 respectively the latter being my Grandfather.
The fact that George was at Broomhill makes me wonder if this was indeed where my Father worked and may be there was some kind of relationship. My Father may have secured his position because of this ??
This has been a most valuable and interesting correspondance and I'd like to thank you Janwhin for your time,effort and patience,it is much appreciated.

Newburghlad 22-09-2015 02:07 PM

Thank you so much for your suggestions.I have previously looked into the Nat Un of M' workers but will do so again with renewed energy. The M'workers Pen Scheme is new to me so will certainly look onto that.As for Woodhorn:- I have had E-mail, Internet and personal contact with them and,frankly,they have been of no use what-so-ever.
But no matter,you have rekindled my enthusiasm.
Again many thanks,

janwhin 22-09-2015 03:57 PM

Regarding the talk on Broomhill Colliery next month, I've been promised a copy of the minutes of the meeting and the talk. Hopefully we'll be able to extract something from those of interest.

Jane 07-10-2015 07:24 PM

Talk at Bailiffgate
Hi there

I would be very interested to see the minutes and the content of the talk, unfortunately I could not attend it, I was very disappointed not to be there.

I am trying to find out when the Pit Head Baths and canteen were built in North Broomhill. Does anyone know or could anyone tell me how Iight find out?

With best wishes

Derilda 07-10-2015 08:51 PM

Re Pithead baths
Hi Jane,
I am guessing really because the old grey matter may not respond as it used to but, the pithead baths at Broomhill were built around about 1953.
I found the concrete outside the south entrance an ideal skate park, except at shift-change times that is.
No doubt someone will be able to give a more precise year.:

Alan J. 08-10-2015 06:39 AM

I agree with Derilda they would be the early 1950's but I think the canteen was there much earlier, possibly the 30's. The out of use canteen at Hauxley colliery was almost identical to the Broomhill one and as both pits were under the same owners I would say pre war.

janwhin 24-10-2015 03:40 PM

I've tracked down the newspaper article about the opening of the Broomhill baths and first prize goes to Derilda. They were officially opened on 1 November 1952!
The comment was made that only a proportion of the men would be able to use the baths because only a minority used the shaft near which the baths had been built.

The baths superintendent was a George R Taylor of Ellington and he had been training two attendants, Jack Brain and David McKenzie.

Alan J. 24-10-2015 08:24 PM

I'm not surprised at this comment as the main bulk of the workforce used either Chevington drift or some of the South side drifts and the Amble men were using Moorhouse , Coldrife, East Togston or Radcliffe. There was a large surface workforce at the colliery but I don't think the baths were used to their capacity. They would have been more use at Hauxley where the whole workforce would have been able to use them. Instead we were given temporary baths in September 1963, the pit closed in November 1966!!

Coquet 19-12-2015 11:16 AM


Originally Posted by janwhin (Post 5608)
Regarding the talk on Broomhill Colliery next month, I've been promised a copy of the minutes of the meeting and the talk. Hopefully we'll be able to extract something from those of interest.

Alnwick Family History talk “Broomhill Colliery and its Families “- Eleanor George

The Autumn Programme of the Alnwick Branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society continued with an excellent talk on “Broomhill Colliery and its Families” by Eleanor George. As a historian she was keen to find out if the anecdotal memories collected by the National Archives and lodged at The Woodhorn Archives about mining communities were true. Did oral history recordings which tell of close supportive communities, interrelated and with a grandmother traditionally at the head of each household represent reality? Was this how a mining community really lived, or were interviewees seeing childhood through rose-tinted glasses? In order to do this Eleanor studied the growth of the community at Broomhill’s between 1841 -1911 as part of her Master’s Degree and collected evidence about Broomhill’s mining community.

Mining in the area goes back to the 1700’s. In 1808 John Anderson of Broomhill Farm started a bell pit and then a drift mine to extract coal. The area was littered with small shafts and this was a modest enterprise, with coal being sold locally. Roads at that time were poor and coal would have been transported in baskets by ponies. It was the advent of the new Amble harbour and railway links to Newcastle and beyond that allowed mining in the area to boom, with different companies leasing and expanding the Broomhill mine and its worker accommodation over time.

In the 1840’s the conditions for miners and their families was generally poor with houses made of rubble with thatched roofs. By the 1850’s, in order to attract the right type of miner who would be a reliable worker they were supplied with free or low-rent housing. Houses were still only “one up, one down” with no ceiling and a ladder up to the bedroom above- with shared communal ovens and water. In the 1860’s new proprietors leasing the mine built more houses at North and South Broomhill but conditions in the latter were still atrocious, with high infant mortality. By the 1870’s places of worship were established, a Co op shop and pubs opened, creating a thriving community where miners settled with their families. Production of coal in this decade again under new management rose to 700 tons per day, with the pit employing 1,000 men.

By studying census returns from 1841 to 1911, Birth Marriage and Death records and church records for Broomhill, Eleanor was able to build up a clear picture of the community. She used Internet family history sites such as Ancestry and Find my Past, wills and probate records to build a comprehensive database of over 12,000 people, with their inter-relationships all mapped.. The Broomhill community over the decades is seen to be built up of local miners and those drawn from all over the country to work there. It was a mixed community of married and initially many young unmarried men, plus married and single women and children. Women played a vital role in cooking, cleaning and generally supporting the working men folk whether as wives, or often initially the unmarried sisters of miners. Over time the community settled down and inter-married so that by 1881 half of the families were related to each other and extended families were the norm. At that time over half the community was made up of children. Illegitimacy was common, as “Victorian morality” did not exist in practice. Many children were absorbed and living happily in families unaware of their true parentage as there was no formal adoption at this time. The community stayed together expanding up until WW1 closely linked by family ties. They had comparatively good housing by this time, guaranteed work and social facilities.

Eleanor concluded from her findings that anecdotal evidence of a strong community was true. However, from studying how the families were constituted it showed that the model of a grandmother at the head of each family was not the case- this occurred in less than 25% of instances. There were not a significant number of elderly persons involved in looking after children at Broomhill.

More details of the 2016 programme can be found on

lmadd 18-03-2018 09:02 PM

Broomhill Colliery Band - Thomas and Jack Maddison
I've joined the forum because I'm looking for a photograph of Broomhill Colliery Band from around 1950 that contains my grandfather. You're the experts in the field and there's no one better to ask for help.

My grandfather, Thomas Maddison, was in the band with his brother Jack, and I'm struggling to find anything online (I've tried Ancestry and contacting Woodhorn Museum - which has a photo - to no avail).

I'm after the photo as my family has recently suffered a tragedy, and I hope that in finding it I might offer my dad some comfort in this most awful time. He doesn't have many pictures of his father, and one that he hasn't come across before would mean the world to him.

There's a photo online of the band dated 1950, but that doesn't contain my grandfather - I'm not sure why, maybe he joined just after or couldn't attend that day, but I know that there are others out there.

I'm begging for your help. It's my father's 70th on Saturday and time's short. Any scan, download or online image you might have would make a world of difference. Please help me.


Alan J. 19-03-2018 10:09 AM

After Broomhill colliery closed in 1961 it became Hauxley colliery band, Tommy played in that band so he could be on any pics of them.

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