As part of my strategy for turning myself from Mr Wobbly into Mr Six Pack, I’ve started exploring a bit further afield from the immediate environs of the Knipetowers Deer Park – just a couple of miles or so, making a, more or less, daily six mile dog walk. Sometimes, this means entering some of the woodland which graces the area just to the North of Crook – and the outcome is that I’ve started finding stuff. This is what I found the other day, and today, with fairly new batteries in the camera, I went to take some pictures.
I think I’ve found the remains of part of the complex that once made up the coalmines of Josephine Pit and No. 1 Drift. Josephine Pit was initially owned by the Pease family and operated for around a hundred years from the first decades of the nineteenth century till November 1911. No. 1 Drift was a little to the South and worked from 1955 to 1968. Some of the area has since also been open-casted. Nowadays, there’s the Deerness Valley walk from Crook to Langley Moor at Durham, on the trackbed of the old railway line, and dense woodland and nature reserves, so it’s much better.
The Durham Mining Museum website records forty deaths in and around Josephine Pit – from 13 year-old “drivers” to a “delicate” man dying from a minor leg injury or the chap who got blood poisoning from an abrasion caused by uncomfortable boots….. Anybody who has any thoughts about ghosties may consider wandering around these parts (at midnight with just a hand-torch) to be a little risky. And the pines do creak and groan…
What I found, along the sides of Stanley Beck was first a new hole which has appeared next to the beck. This isn’t very deep but seems to have a
passageway in it. I daren’t slip down into it to have a proper look in case there was a much deeper shaft underneath…
Next – the beck runs through sections of culverting and has old culverts running beneath some very old spoil heaps which block the little valley.
Further up, there’s a huge culvert with cream-coloured brickwork with the word “Pease” stamped in. The cream coloured bricks are identical to those found, and, probably produced in Peases West colliery and brickworks at Roddymoor. Most of the older houses in Crook and the villages around are made from these bricks in favour of the soft and porous sandstone which makes up Knipetowers. Its these bricks which make me think of the older mineworkings rather than the NCB’s 1950’s and 60’s workings.
Around the big culvert, there was also the noise of what I thought was a water pump. I followed the beck, found a small entrance which must lead to the big culvert, some more old workings – and, at the end of the plantation, where there’s natural regenerating woodland, I found the source of the rythmic noise – four lovely, white wind turbines.
Retracing along the path, I found evidence of more sensible developments. A little bower with a seat, defended against the nithering breeze by pine branches. A little table and some strange scribblings and a cartoon of Prince Charles….
Poking around, y’see….. I might have to have a better look inside the big, arched one….