Sunniside Local History Society

Andrews House 



In 1610 Beckley and Andrew Field were owned by William Porter of Shield Row and in 1618 he had a house at Andrew Field, with gardens and a pasture close, at which date he gave the house to his son-in-law Nicholas Blakiston in part payment of a £400 debt. His daughter Jane, wife of Nicholas, was buried at Tanfield in 1624.

It is tempting to link Andrew Field with Thomas Andrew, Yeo-man, who in 1598 was granted a messuage called Newhouse near Park Head by Henry Jackman esq. of London. Newhouse was then granted to William Clavering of Gateshead in 1627 by William Andrew of Newcastle. It seems this came to be known as North Causey. By the beginning of the 18th century the Claverings owned North Causey, part of Middle Causey with Cadger Bog (south east of Causey Hall), Andrews House, Beckley, Barcus Close, and Crook Bank.

In February 1726 an agreement was made between (1) Sir Francis Clavering of the Whitehouse near Winlaton, the lessor, and (2) the Grand Allies partnership, the lessees. The lessor grants liberty to the lessees to work the coal seams in his estates at Beckley, Andrews House, and Byermoor. Also way-leave over the land, to make wagonways not more than 15yds wide, except where they have to cross denes or hollows. Also to erect buildings for Collieries and workmens houses, to cut water courses, obtain stone and gravel in pursuance of winning coals. Term to last 11yrs £500 to be paid in equal portions on May day (the feast of St Philip and St Jacob), Lammas day 1st August, Martinmas day 11th November, and Candlemas day 2nd February.

Also for the first 2yrs to pay £3,000 for the right to work 2,000 tens of coals annually (a ten being 22 wagons, a wagon carrying 19 bolls, and a boll consisting of 36 gallons Win-chester measure, ie. a Ten was measured by volume). After the first 2yrs the annual rent will be £2,250 to work 1,500 tens of coal. This is for Beckley and Andrews House while at Byermoor there is an annual rental of £150 to be paid on May day to work and carry away 300 tens of coals. The money due is to be paid either at the Whitehouse or at the house of Sir Francis' agent, Ralph Featherstone, in Newcastle.

The lessees had the right to make up short working during the term. Sir Francis or his agent was to have access to the Staithman and Overmans books of presentments and leadings so as to check the amount of coal worked and led away, and the measurements of wains and wagons. Sir Francis could send a Viewer down the pit to check that it was being worked in "a proper manner".

The Claverings had already been mining at Beckley before the allies took over but on a much smaller scale of what was to follow during the next 30yrs. The water pumping engines draining the Beckley mines were at Bob Gins. Anthony Leaton, the agent at Gibside, John Barnes, Colliery Viewer, and Joseph Laybourn inspected the Beckley mines and pumping engines in November 1726 on behalf of the Grand Allies.


Sir James Clavering

In 1738 Beckley and Andrews House Collieries belonged to Sir James Clavering (pictured above) of Greencroft and both Collieries were working the Hutton seam. At Beckley this seam had already been extensively wrought, so much so that the only considerable reserves left were the pillars standing in the Plain, North and Delight pits. The boundary barrier between these Collieries and Mr Bowes Northbanks Colliery had been broke in quite a few places, which resulted in a water course running from Northbanks down toward Bobgins. This made part of the Hutton seam in Andrews House Colliery more difficult to work. The four acres of ground next to the Bob Gins House was untouched in 1738. The drift in the outsett between Beckley North pit and Andrews House was found to be badly timbered when inspected by Nicholas Walton, Amos Barnes, and William Daglish, Colliery Viewers for the Grand Allies. At Andrews House they advised more wailers to remove the stone from the hewed coal at the coal face so as to produce good round clean coals, (the Hutton seam had a band of stone in it).

Andrews House formed part of the western partnership land covering some 3,342 acres over which the Grand Allies held sway in the mining of coal and its conveyance to the shipping staithes. The area covered from Crookgate to Hedley, Pockerley, Shieldrow and Tanfield Lea. A map of 1739 "A View of the Western Partnership Land and Collieries) (NRO 3410 WAT/31/10) marks the George, Plain, Delight, and Dyke (Hedge) pits near Low Barcus Close, the Prosperous, Venture, Broom, Thistle, Hopewell, and North pits at Beckley, the Edge pit and a couple of staple shafts at Andrews House. Coals from the Edge pit went along a narrow wagonway to join the Tanfield way at Burdon Dene, part of which can still be traced. Coal from Beckley, first went over the Causey Arch and down the Tanfield Way, but later travelled over Beckley Burn where the fine embankment survives, and past Woodhouses.

A new agreement was made to work the Beckley and Andrews House coals, except the Main Coal Seam, beginning 25th December 1747 and to last 14yrs between the owner Sir Thomas Clavering of the Whitehouse and the Grand Allies (Lord Ravensworth, Edward Wortley, George Bowes, and William Ord of Fenham). This time the annual output agreed upon was only 1/3 of what it was in 1726. Some new conditions were made by Sir Thomas Clavering :-

1) The lessees were to deliver up the Colliery at the end of the term with all the pits open and sufficiently timbered, the watercourses upstanding and supported, necessary for working the seam.

2) The lessees were to have six of their own wagons driven by the tenants of the lessor, the tenants using their own horses, and they shall be chosen by the lessor or his agent. These men were to work subject to the same rules and at a similar wage as others employed in driving coal wagons. They were to give their names on the 1st January each year to the lessees Staithman.

3) The lessor's, tenants could cross the wagonways made by the lessees on condition that they did not damage or hinder the transport of coals.

4) The lessees were to bring all the manure from the Colliery to bank and then be given to the lessor's tenants (this implies that pit ponies were working underground).

5) The lessor gave liberty for coals wrought under his ground to be brought to bank at an adjacent Colliery belonging to the lessees, but the coals to be kept separate so that the lessor or his Viewer could inspect them. A Drift was made from the Bank and Bobb pits on Hedley Common into the Andrews House estate, cutting through a sandy 'washout' to reach the Hutton seam. 6) The lessor reserved the right for himself to work the 'Main Coal' seam and lead away any quantity of coals provided it did not damage or hinder the workings of the lessees. From John Watson's Journal, (Viewer for the Clavering mines) which is held in Northumberland Record Office, we read:- October 2nd 1749. Went down the Corner pit, Andrews House Colliery, (the corner pit lay 150yds east of Bob Gins cottage, the Bob pit lay 150yds south of the cottage) where John Outer -side is the Overman. The men work the Hutton seam, 21 fath-oms from the surface, and produce 18 score a day. The seam has a 12ins thick section of Cannel coal through it. The miners kirve the bottom and take down the coal till they come to the Cannel, which they take down separately and throw it aside. The remainder of the top part of the Hutton seam is then taken down.

January 15th 1750 at the corner pit they are attempting to put down a staple to the Main Coal and then drive a Drift into the Main Coal, but could not get down for water. March 15th 1750 went down the Thorn pit, Andrews House Colliery where the Hutton seam is 6ft 3ins thick and 23 1/2 fathoms below the surface. The pit works 14 score a day. April 1750 the corner pit is working 21 score a day. A level from the bottom of the shaft connects to the Bank pit, 150yds south east on Hedley Common. The waste underground is stowed away in a stone Drift. July 11th 1750 went down the corner pit in the Hutton seam and find they are all working to the northwest through the sandy outsett, (a washout). Their workings are all very regular at 9 yds to a winning i.e. the bords are 4yds wide and the pillars 5yds thick by 40yds in length. A Drift connects this pit to the Thorn pit. At this period Samuel Newton rented the 149 acres at Andrews House which included the High Hill, Rabbit Pasture, Long Close, Carr Close, Mill Pasture, Cockshot Field, Scroggy Close, Lamb Pasture, Low Meadow Bottom, and the Park. He also rented Beckley Farm (87 acres) and Crookbank Farm (60 acres). William Newton rented the Bob Engine houses and Ralph Barron rented Barkas Close (95 acres). The Grand Allies in the form of Lord Ravensworth and partners withdrew from Andrews House in 1757, this resulted in Sir Thomas Clavering having to negotiate terms as best as he could to get wayleave for his coals to reach the staithes.


In 1765 Lord Ravensworth, the Earl of Bute, and Mrs Mary Bowes granted wayleave and passage for Sir Thomas to lead 400 Tens of coals and cinders, wrought from the Top Coal seam in Andrews House Colliery (pictured above), along the Tanfield Wagonway and down to Dunston Staithes, term to last 10 years. For this privilege Sir Thomas had to pay a Certain rent of £350 per annum and provide the Earl of Bute with nine good drivers and able horses for wagons used at the Western Collieries. The Earl allotted two of his keel berths at the east end of Dunston Staithes for Sir Thomas. In Northumberland Record Office there are some pay sheets for the working of the Success pit at Andrews House Colliery. The total cost of working the pit over the two weeks ending on October 21st 1767 came to £29 4s 1d, the pay bill was signed by William Unthank, Viewer, and his Deputy Thos Hall. The twelve hewers at the pit were paid 22d per score, plus extra money for working headways and trouble bords. Over the two weeks they only worked nine and one half days, receiving on average 26 to 30 pennies per day. The Hewers were, James Hull, Tom Dagg, George Pile, John Stobbs, Bob Stobbs, Bill Ramsey, Michael Smith, John Anderson, George Kirkley, Bill Peareth, Bob Harding, and Tom Thompson. The seven Drivers were John Ramsey, John Harbottle, Matthew Surtees, Bill Smith George Murton, John Murton, and Bill Rotherford. They were each paid 1/- per day, they worked an extra Saturday after-noon as compared with the Hewers.

Four years later there were still twelve Hewers working at the pit. Michael Smith, John Anderson, George Kirkley, and Bob Harding were still there, along with Tom & John Kendale, Tom Walker, Bill Smith, Bob Anderson, David Anderson, Bart Sanders and Matthew Hall. Their wage had fallen and they were paid at the rate of 18d per score. There were six drivers i.e. a ratio of one driver to two hewers. On account of the costliness of corn the men and each of their dependants were paid one shilling and a halfpenny per week extra. Tom Hunter was paid 4/- for keeping ye lamp and Bill Wilson was paid 16/-for laving water from the pit, (their spelling).In October 1771 2/8d was spent on repairing the shaft and putting on sliding deals.


Alternative photographs of Andrews Houses appear in the story of 'The Hearne Family' on this website. Andrews Houses are now demolished)

In the 1870's the Colliery employed about 120 men and boys, the Manager at Marley Hill having overall responsibility for the pit. The Hutton and Main Coal seams were worked only, the lower seams being tapped from the Marley Hill end. A portion of the Tanfield Moor royalty belonging to Burnopfield Colliery was worked from Andrews House. To the south east of Birkheads was an air shaft, part of Andrews House Colliery workings. Officials went down this shaft periodically to inspect the water levels and air passages. The shaft was only 40ft. deep, with unfaced sides, and the coal seam was clearly visible from the surface. About 1914 Bob Gray of Stable Row lowered the officials down the shaft on a platform worked by a horse and rope pulley. The Colliery closed in 1921 and dis-mantled in the late 1920's. A circular tower, 25ft high and built of white bricks, stood over the shaft until it was removed in the early 1980's and the shaft filled in. A little to the south east of the loco shed, Bowes Terrace was built, (houses pictured above) sometime between 1851- 58. At first consisting of 8 x 2 back to back houses, but by 1871 it had been extended to 14 x 2 back to back houses, with gardens and wash houses on both sides of the terrace. In 1921 the homes were converted into 'through houses'. The two end houses were already 'through houses' so that the number of dwellings in the terrace became 16. They had gas lighting, but no electricity, and earthern closets (the netty). The terrace, along with Marley Hill Terrace and Gibraltar Row, came under Chester le Street Rural District until 1936 when they came within Whickham Urban District. In 1938 Bowes Terrace was condemned by the Council and some of the folk moved to Fernville Avenue at Sunniside. 170yds to the north east of the engine shed Gibraltar Row (15 houses) was built about 1874, standing between the railway and the main road to Stanley. The row was named after two old cottages called Gibraltar standing near the junction of the Tanfield line with the wagonway from Andrews House. How these cottages came by this exotic name is a mystery. The Spoors family lived here from 1841-1871, some working on the railway as labourers. Tom Young was here in the 1880's first as a wagon rider and then as a mineral guard. By 1898 the two cottages had been demolished. About 200yds south of Gibraltar Row, in the wedge between the main road and the Tanfield line, stood a pair of timber cottages built sometime in the 1870's and known first as Burndene, but later as the Wooden cottages. In 1881 two Irish families lived here, John McConvill, a Platelayer on the railway, and Tom Boyle, a Coke Drawer. (These cottages should not be confused with Burdon Dene cottages which stood on the other side of the dene near Causey Bankwell house in Tanfield Parish). Marley Hill terrace (17 houses) was built a few years after Gibraltar Row and the double row came to be known as Andrews Houses. A footpath went over from Marley Hill terrace to the screens at Marley Hill Colliery. On crossing the Tanfield line there was a well beside this path. In the 1950's the waste, that over the years had been tipped in the dene between Gibraltar and Marley Hill pit, was burning under-ground and smelly fumes rose from the smokey fissures. This pollution was only removed in the late 1970's when the waste was re-screened, 10yrs after the folk from Andrews Houses had left. Quite a few men came from the West Country to get work at Andrews House and Marley Hill Pits from the late 1860's to the mid 1880's and many of them lived at Bowes Terrace and then at Andrews Houses. Some of those from Cornwall were called Vine, Welsh, Crossman, Stoneman, Palmer, Taskas, West-lake, Prinn, Alsop, Pollard, Joll, Brewer, Treglown, and Ellacott; from Devon was Rouse, Daws, Helyer, Kingsland, Tuckerman, Reaves, Waycot, and Rounsley; from Somerset was Meddick, Blackmore, Langdon, Ridler, Burridge, Vickery, Thorne, and Pomeroy - unusual sounding names for this area and bringing with them an even stranger dialect. But like the Irish before them they settled in and some took root to become intertwined with the natives. There was also an influx of men from East Anglia, but not quite so many and they came a bit later, from the mid 1870's to the late 1880's. Those from Norfolk were Shorten, Warnes, Masham, Spinks, Blyth, Barnes, Nicholls, Rockett, Pearce, Dye, Ringer, Tooke, Gooch, and Purdy; from Suffolk was Ellis, Easey, and Fenton; from Essex were Wright, Spooner, and Sprawling. A John Stoneman came to Marley Hill in 1867 and at the age of 10yrs began work as a trapper boy in Andrews House Colliery. He came from Calstock on the Cornish side of the Tamar river, it was said that he first met his future wife Ann, who came from Dunnet in Caithness, on Andrews House bridge in 1878. They set up house at Bowes Terrace and lived at Marley Hill for 50yrs, with John working in the pit all of those years. Both were members of Causey Row Primitive Methodist Church.

Before the First World War Andrews House A.F.C. played in the Annfield Plain and District Minor League and had a field at the Causey. After the War the Club played in the field just north of Marley Hill Terrace. 1937 was probably the clubs best year when the 1st team won the championship of their league - Stanley & District. They also reached the final of the Durham Amateur Cup, played at Murray Park against Mackays Sports Club, who played in a higher division, so when Andrews House lost it was no great shock. The Club only played one other season and then disbanded.

The signal cabin at the crossings of the Tanfield and Bowes railways was manned by the North Eastern Railway personnel. In the 1930's Ralph Abbott of Kibblesworth worked here. He only had one arm, the result of a railway accident when he was a young man. To the south of Andrews House Colliery, a sand and gravel quarry was used occasionally up to 1914 by Bowes and Partners for various building contracts. Glacial sand deposits stretch across Burdon Dene to Hedley. Rabbit Banks is named as such on a map of 1739 and is still the abode of rabbits, the gorse bushes which readily grow here make good protection for them.

Harry Anderson (1894-1992) the son of Michael Anderson, Engine Winderman at Andrews House pit, lived at Gibraltar Row at the turn of the century. He started at Marley Hill Board School when he was 4yrs old, his elder sister being responsible to see him there safely. The one mile walk involved crossing the busy railway, he still wore petticoats as was the custom then, Harry said that laddies weren't breeched until they were about 6yrs old. Also at that time many young mothers took a great pride in their hair and that of their childrens. Harry's mothers hair was so long that she could sit on it. (William Thirlwall, whose father was a Blacksmith at Andrews House pit, started school in 1899 and had ringlets down to his shoulders). Harry knew at the age of 7yrs that he wanted to be an Engine Driver and he took great interest in watching the loco's being cleaned out, he also baked potatoes in the red hot clinker which the firemen had discarded. On leaving school Harry began work as a trade lad, taking business correspondence between the offices of J.Bowes and Partners around Marley Hill. When he was 15yrs he began his Apprenticeship as an Engine Driver, helping Jack Wright, Blacksmith-Fitter, as a 'Striker' in maintaining the five loco's. He then became a Fireman and worked mostly at Dipton when the new Delight pit was being opened out. It was not until he was 28yrs that he got control of his own loco, though he had acted as a spare driver before that. He would listen to the engine and knew by its sound when it reached the top of a gradient, for when it was climbing the engine noise said "I will if I can, I will if I can". while on passing over the top it changed its rhythm to "I knew I could I knew I could". At first Harry was in the National Union of Railwaymen, but later joined the National Union of Mine -workers because it paid better benefits.


Pictured above: Alice (Clavering) Windsor and Bob Gins the Causey The National Coal Board allowed the farm buildings at Andrews House and Low Barcus Close to lie vacant, they have deterior-ated, partly through fire and vandalism. In 1985 drilling rigs were making test borings for mineral deposits on the land and in September 1987 British Coal applied for permission to opencast up to 670 acres lying between Byermoor Marley Hill and Bobgins (pictured above). The coal seams to be extracted were the 5/4, Main Coal, Low Main, Brass Thill, and Hutton, plus an estimated 600,000 tons of overlying sand and gravel. The 2.8 million tons of coal was to be won over a 10yr period. Local residents led by Gerry Herron successfully opposed the plan. The Atkinson family occupied Andrews House Farm up to 1967 having been here since the 1830's when George Atkinson (1777 - 1853) and his wife Elizabeth (both of whom lie in Ryton churchyard), farmed the Andrews House estate. Joseph Mason, their assistant in their old age, stayed on until the early 1850's before Stephen Atkinson (1822-1913) came here. In the 1920's his grandson George bought sheep at Rothbury and Scots Gap marts, from where the sheep were conveyed by rail to Swalwell Station and from there driven by dog and crook to Andrews House. Other members of the family have farmed at Causey Bridge End - William (1812-1890), Alex (1850-1923) who was also a butcher, and George in 1938; and at Beckley -George (1856- 1914), Stephen (1884-1920), with his wife Elizabeth. Robert Atkinson was born at Low Barcus Close in 1933, at the age of 12yrs he was the youngest competitor at the New Years Day ploughing match held in the field behind the "Marquis of Granby" Streetgate, courtesy of Mr Leslie Tate. Both tractors and horses took part and was organised by Burnopfield and District Agricultural Society. On getting married he went to Windy Hill farm and in 1963 moved to his present farm at Causey Hall where Alec Watson had been for a few years. Will and Tom Johnson were at Causey Hall for many years and were noted as breeders of pedigree Clydesdale horses. Andrews House farm has been a ruin for quite a few years. It stands on an elevated site, with a spring running from the bankside close by, and is centrally placed for the estate. The buildings date from the beginning of the 19th century but I am not sure if the original Andrews House stood on this site. A map of 1739 marks a house in a field called Mill Pasture and Low Meadow Bottom down beside Beckley Burn, but all trace of it has gone. British Coal sold Beckley farmhouse by auction in 1994 and the place has since been renovated to a high standard. Mention is made in the Shafto Papers at Durham Record Office of George Bulmer of Beckley Mill in 1726. In this year William Davison esq. of Beamish Park gave him permission to build a house on part of a field, later to become part of Red Row, on condition Mr Bulmer paid an annual rent of 5/- on a 99 year lease, and to provide a workman on request to work either in Mr Davison's coal mines or quarries. Mr Davison would pay the workman's wages. Mr Bulmer's descendants still had the house at Red Row in 1845 although notice was served on the 8th September of that year by Dick Matthews, agent for John Eden esq. to quit the house.

The farmhouse at Low Barcus Close was badly damaged by fire in 1973, was abandoned, and then demolished in 1990. The White family built a new farm beside Barcus Close Lane in 1974 to replace the old one in the valley. Prior to 1724 Messrs. Wheatley and Stephenson held Barkers Close after which Lady Jane Clavering (died December 1734) had possession. The upper part of the valley, now filled in by colliery waste, was known as Wheatley's Gill.

Alice Clavering pictured above, (1705- 1776), daughter of Sir John Clavering, married Lord Windsor and as a result High Barcus Close and Busty Bank (the coal here was later worked by Barcus Close Coal Company) went into the Windsor family. By obtaining this land Lord Windsor was able to lay a wagonway down Busty Bank in order to convey his coals from Pontop to Derwenthaugh and to avoid crossing the Gibside estate. His Colliery Agent William Gill, (1719-1802) was buried at Whickham. Lady Windsor's eldest daughter Charlotte, married John 1st Marquis of Bute. A farm was built at High Barcus Close where Charles Armstrong, Land Agent to the Marquis of Bute, lived in the early 19th century, and later moved to Axwell Park Lodge as Land Steward to Sir T.J.Clavering. High Barcus Close was demolished in the mid 1980's. The beech trees here are a landmark when seen from Winlaton and Blackburn Fell.

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(Pictured above this fairly recent acquisition of a photograph of Andrews House)

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It would be ideal to possess all census returns but that is virtually an impossible task. However thanks to Helen Douglas (nee Joyce) we have one page which includes her late family. We thought that this may be of interest.

1901 Census Andrews Houses

Head of house: Colliery joiner Thomas Young aged 26, wife Susannah aged 22. Son George aged 2. Sister in law Jenny Sharpe aged 8.

Head of House: Coal hewer Michael Hearne aged 44, wife Mary aged 34. Daughters Mary aged 15, Lena aged 13, Agnes aged 10, Teresa aged 3, Kate aged 1 month. Sons John aged 12, James aged 9, William aged 2.

Head of house: Coal hewer James Joyce aged 39, wife Mary aged 37. Daughters Ann aged 10, Margaret aged 5. Sons Henry aged 13, Lawrence aged 7, Michael aged 2, Austin aged 2 months.

Head of house: Colliery joiner Robert Young aged 27, wife Margaret aged 24. Son Norman aged 4. Daughter Mary aged 2.

Head of house: Engine driver Henry Kirtley aged 37. Daughter Catherine aged 26, Housekeeper. Son Matthew aged 22, Locomotive fireman.

Head of house: Coal hewer Edward Rudd aged 38, wife Mary aged 39.

Unfortunately the census returns are handwritten, in some cases so badly that it was impossible to decipher some names.