After the Second World War, the country was saddled with huge debts, food was in short supply and rationing was still in force; as a result, the potential earnings from coal were exploited by the government to assist in meeting these debts.
In February 1948, the first coal was removed from a site on Rake Lane, and by the summer of the same year, open cast mining work commenced at West Monkseaton on the area adjacent to the new station and railway line (formerly part of Monkseaton North West Farm – Newsteads).
The contractors at Rake Lane were Holloway Bros. and those at West Monkseaton were Sir Lindsay Parkinson.
The Rake Lane site was short lived and restored in 1949, however the terrific upheaval at West Monkseaton became a prominent feature of the local landscape, lasting five years and affecting many housing development plans around the area. For a short while, the huge spoil heaps around the site earned it the nickname of ‘The Monkseaton Alps’.
Heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment could be heard night and day and the hubbub was occasionally enlivened by the sound of explosives. Water and mud enveloped much of the site, and on dry or windy days, the entire area was shrouded in clouds of swirling choking grey dust which settled everywhere.
Earsdon Road was left intact and the 120 foot deep site, which comprised a large area of land, stretched from the rear of Newsteads Farm buildings on Earsdon Road towards Uplands, extending north beyond the present Monkseaton Drive and Golf Course and as far west as Wellfield.
Many residents in Uplands suffered flooding to their houses and rear gardens, and it took years for the National Coal Board to settle the resulting compensation claims.
Millions of tons of coal were won here, but after five years mining the site was exhausted. It finally closed down in June 1953 to allow for reclamation of the land, much to the relief of the residents.
The landscape scars are evident in the 1949 view of the site shown above. Thorntree Drive, Melville Gardens, Marina Drive and part of Sandringham Drive (visible to the top centre of the picture) are still under construction and the small rectangular area of land adjacent to Earsdon Road which comprises part of Newsteads Farm remains intact.
The railway line runs diagonally from the left towards West Monkseaton Station where it passes under Earsdon Road bridge. The houses to the lower left corner comprise Uplands and Hillfield.
A short string of allotment gardens were then created next to West Monkseaton Station, and the remaining land was eventually allocated for building purposes, where part of Red House Farm Estate and the present supermarket are now situated.
by Charlie Steel © 2012
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, local historian Charlie Steel has lived almost all of his life in Monkseaton. His books “Monkseaton and Hillheads” and “Inns and Taverns of North Shields” are published by Tempus and are available in all good book shops.
All Charlie’s articles which are featured in Roundabout Monkseaton can also be found on his website www.monkseaton.info. Charlie also writes articles for Roundabout Tynemouth.
If you have any old pictures or photographs of Monkseaton that you would like to share then please e-mail Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org.