– Well, hi, and welcome to the first episode of Under Sugarloaf TV. And today we’re going to be talking to John O’Donnell. And we’ll be looking at some of the history behind the mining in the West Wallsend area. So, we’ll be talking to John, and showing you a few of the relics or the historical sites around the area. So, stay tuned for the first episode.
– The magazine for West Wallsend number one colliery. This is where they’d keep the bulk powder. There’d be a keeper of the magazine responsible for it, and its quantity, when to reorder and restock. There’d be another magazine underground, under lock and key. And that would be controlled by the mine deputies, shot firers. And a separate area would be where they keep the detonators. It was illegal to have them stored in the same location as the powder. So that was kept well away. The deputy carried the detonators in a leather bag. It was intrinsically safe. The powder was kept in a magazine underground and the deputies had the key to that. And that was replenished as they used it. Back in the old days they did use a lot of powder that’s how they mined the coal, drill and blast. It’s a really good old building. It’s been here over 100 years. No doubt about that. And every kid in Westy played in it.
– [Jon] So John, there was other structures like this in the area?
– Yes if you go out near O’Donnelltown there’s still two. They serviced Seaham number three, as I call it. But it was actually a service shaft of Seaham number two. And they are located on the right-hand side of O’Donnelltown. Where the road goes straight ahead. Other than turning into O’Donnelltown, you keep going through. There’s two there. And up on top of the hill’s are remnants of the old number three shaft. And there’s a small dam there. And there used to be… a drift or a tunnel going in under the hill, where they mined the coal from the Great Northern seam when they were driving the shaft to go down to the borehole Seaham number three. Number three shaft was a man-riding shaft and a service shaft, where they take materials down because the mine had gone further away from its original pit bottom. And they needed to get men and equipment closer to the actual workings. And I’m led to believe it’s still there, I will check. There’s still all those there, but also at Stockrington near the bridge. There’s a pair there. Old magazines there, still. I don’t know if there’s other magazines up on the hill where number two was, but number one’s magazines are still there.
– [Jon] And you said as a young bloke, John, that whole area, as much as it’s all bush now, that you used to be able to see clear-through to the township of West Wallsend?
– Yes, You could see the whole lot, the pit paddock was clear. You could see… the shaft and the… head frame and the dams, the magazine, the whole lot of it was all open. I think Mick O’Donnell used to graze his cattle in here. And… It was great. We used to crotch down in the dams. And the kids would play up here and all around the place. Cowboys and Indians and all that sort of stuff when we were little kids. Brilliant.
– Well, thanks for that John.
– [John] No worries.
– Thanks very much.
– [John] All good.
– So we hope you enjoyed the first episode, talking to John. If you have any videos or any stories, articles or news that you would like to contribute to the channel. All you need to do is go to undersugarloaf.com and you’ll see the contribute tab, where you can add anything you like. Other than that, you can contact me directly at email@example.com This is Jon Byrne signing off for now.