Haswell, County Durham

Haswell village is situated in County Durham, England, and lies east of the city of Durham. It was the home of the worlds first coal mine as we know it, being the first in the world with a steel cable down its shaft. This revolutionised the coal mining industry.

Gazette Entry:

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Haswell like this: "HASWELL, a township in Easington parish, Durhamshire; on the Durham and Sunderland railway, 6½ miles E by N of Durham. It includes the hamlets of High H., Low H., and H. Moor; it is partly within the chapelry of Shotton, sometimes called Shotton with Haswell; and it has a station on the railway, and a postoffice under Fence Houses. Acres, 3,108. Real property, £37,291; of which £31,716 are in mines, £5 in quarries, and £273 in railways. Pop., 4,165. Houses, 846. The surface, about the beginning of the present century, was nearly all moor; but now is mainly under cultivation. Coals are very extensively mined, and are sent for shipment at Hartlepool, Seaham-Harbour, and Sunderland. An explosion took place in one of the mines, in 1844, causing a loss of 90 lives. There are a church built in 1867, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels, and a colliery school."

Little is known about Haswell before medieval times. A settlement existed in the Anglo-Saxon period, as the name of the village is derived from the Old English 'Hessewelle' meaning 'hazel spring or stream'. However, the village was only first recorded (as Hessewella and Hessewelle) in the 12th century. Haswell today consists of three parts, Haswell, Haswell Plough and High Haswell. The original village of Haswell was sited at High Haswell where only a few farms and dwelling houses remain. A charter, dating to around 1300 recorded the remains of a medieval chapel in a nearby field called Chapel Garth. A holy water stoup was found here, and is now used as a font in the local church.

Coal was discovered in 1831 and a colliery shaft was sunk. Before this point, although there were no collieries in the parish itself some colliery buildings relating to nearby coal mines remain standing. For example, at Haswell Plough an engine house for a Cornish pumping engine can still be seen. Earlier traces of coal mining in the village are evident on the 1898 and 1922 OS maps where the parallel alignment and proximity of two former field boundaries are suggestive of a former wagonway or roadway extending north-west from 'Haswell Junction'.

Haswell colliery

In 1844 an explosion at the colliery caused the death of 95 men and boys. The mine closed in 1895 when the men transferred to nearby collieries. The remains of some of the colliery buildings can still be seen in places along with a monument to commemorate the 1844 disaster. By the 19th century Haswell was a large village. It had many large shops and gas lighting.

The closure of the colliery in 1896 saw the decline of the village and the population had collapsed by the time of the 1901 census. The coalminers went elsewhere. Most of them would eventually find work at the super-pits which appeared on the Durham coast a decade later. The village of Haswell Colliery is long since demolished but Haswell village remains as a quiet semi-rural community.