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Housing, Dudley Colliery, Weetslade, Northumberland.
The housing that was supplied by the mine owners for the mine workers was not very good by today's standards not having any form of sanitation for the inhabitants meant that piles of ashes mixed with excreta lay close by the houses. This is not an isolated case this was common in the colliery villages of Dudley, Burradon, Seghill, Seaton burn and Seaton Delaval during the summers the dust from the ash heaps would be blown into and around the houses off the heaps. A reporter for the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle found the air in the houses unbearable many of the colliery houses he visited were badly roofed having tiles of and in some cases straw missing from the roofs. At Seghill where he thought the housing was the worst the pay for the miners was double that of neighbouring colliers although most people who went to work there left after a short while for villages which although the pay was less gave better housing. Housing and free coal being part of the wage deal although it must be said that the free coal was not of the best quality and would have to be supplemented with coal that was taken from the pit heaps and sides of the railway. The houses usually only had one room for sitting cooking and sleeping although some did have a ladder into a loft these houses were shared in some cases by two or three families which was something of concern to the morals of the upper class Victorian society.

The housing at Dudley colliery were considered good when they were first built, these first rows of the village would have been built by the colliery owners with the hope of attracting good workers to the colliery. In a report about Durham housing dated in the 1840's the floors were concert and the W.C and water supply where outside and although the cottages as they are referred to in 1873 would have been good for their time they were falling behind be the standards of 1873. In 1866 there had been housing and sanitary reforms which were meant to be enforced all over England although a report dated 1936 when the housing in Dudley was being condemned as slums the houses still had outside toilets and water from a stand pipe in the street. Some of the houses that were condemned at this time had been built in the 1870's. The village had begun to grow many of the new streets had the names of one of the families living in it for example Paterson Terrace where the Paterson family lived the occupation of this family was listed a builders and joiners. Some of the street names were named after the people who were running the corner shop on that street and I wonder if the tenants would have to purchase their food from their landlord? It could have been possible that several families could have come together to build in the area. The housing that they erected would not have been as good as that built by the owners of local industry as they would possibly have the land on a lease and would only expect their buildings to be up for a short while. They would use cheap materials to cut costs although in 1979 a row of those houses were still standing in Dudley and being lived in although they had been fitted with running water they still had an outside WC.

It would seem that one reform that did come into force was with regard to sanitation where the toilets were fitted to flush with water where before they had been ash pits. That is to say the human waste instead of being flushed away would just be covered over with ash they at certain intervals a cart would come and clear out the ash and the waste the ash was then dumped near by. In 1873 remarks were passed about the ash blowing around the streets on windy days. Traditionally the first row of houses built in a colliery village was Sinkers Row the housing of the miners who sunk the shaft for the colliery these houses had larger rooms than would be usually found in a colliery house Length 14 ft breadth 14ft10ins. The height of the rooms were 13ft 10ins although these rooms may sound large but there were only two rooms of this size to a house. With the large families of this period in 1861 there were 126 people living in the 20 houses that made up Sinkers Row that's 6.3 people per house. It is possible that the house would never be full though if the men were working shifts some of the family could always be at work. It was a common practice for people to share beds even in the 20th century one person could go off to work and another coming in from work would take their place in the bed. Fynes wrote of the hovels that employers built for their workers with rooms 4yards by 5 yards with a small pantry and in this area the miners were expected to live with their families and bring up their children. The houses of Annitsford were 'Miserable little cribs, with well worn brick floors, pigeon cotes ffor attics, and little peep hole windows.' (Our Colliery Villages).

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This site was created May, 1999 and is maintained by D.J.Kane, BA.(Hons)(Open) Dip. Eur. Hum. (Open) mailto:davidkane@arrive.at