Amble and District
     Local History



The Rise and Fall of Radcliffe

Or a timeline of the life and death of a Northumberland mining community 1835-1972,
punctuated with national events.
Radcliffe Radcliffe Wedding 1930 Radcliffe Colliery
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1836?   Robert A.F. Kingscote and Thomas Browne form a partnership to develop a colliery to work the coal seams in Hauxley and Amble townships, part of the Countess of Newburgh's royalty. The colliery is to be named after the Countess and late 5th Earl of Newburgh, Anthony James Radclyffe.
1836 5th November It is announced that a bill is to be presented before Parliament for the development of Warkworth Harbour; to include deepening and improving of navigation in the river channel, construction of extensive piers and and jetties and the development of associated road and mineral rail infrastructure, in the parishes of Hauxley, Amble and Birling. 
1837 January With the agreement of the mineral rights owner, Her Ladyship the Dowager Countess of Newburgh, shaft sinking at Radcliffe Colliery begins on behalf of the proprietors, Mr. Kingscote of Gloucestershire, and partners. The colliery is located on land owned by Middleton Henry Dand Esq., of Hauxley. Operations are under the direction of Mr. John Easton.
1837 30th June Princess Victoria of Kent, aged 18, becomes Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on the death of her uncle,  King William IV.
1837 October A contract is offered for the masonry, carpentry and slating of Colliery buildings and cottages.
1838 c. 17th February The Colliery shaft penetrates a 4'-5' seam of coal at 57 fathoms.
1839 March To finance the further development of Radcliffe Colliery the partnership of Kingscote and Browne is expanded to include the following investors: Sir John Rennie; the Earl of Newburgh; Dr Elliotson; Sir Henry Webb; Mr Lamie Murray; Mr Teed; Thomas Smith and Francis Mills.
1839 August Tenders are invited from builders and masons for the construction of thirty cottages at Radcliffe Colliery.
1839 4th October George Spraggon, aged 46, a mason from Rothbury, dies when he falls from the top of the engine house chimney.
1840 c. 25th January Legal action is brought by landowner Dand of Hauxley against the colliery owners regarding trespass and access to coal. [Dand v. Kingscote]
1840 6th August Legal action is brought by landowner Smith of Amble at the Northumberland Assizes against the colliery owners for damages caused by the laying of a railway line across his land. Judgment in favour of Smith, awarding £150 damages. [Smith v. Kingscote]
1840 August Radcliffe colliery shaft now at 69 fathoms
1843 5th March A Chapel and Sunday school are opened. The chapel was built by the owners of the Colliery. The building is to be used during the week as a day and evening school.
1844 5th April Northumberland and Durham miners' strike begins. Families are evicted and Cornish blacklegs deployed at the colliery. [strike collapses 5 months later]
1849  17th March Radcliffe miners' strike. Altercations occur with police in Radcliffe after arrest warrants are issued for a number of miners. One individual barricades himself in his house armed with a gun, but eventually gives himself up. . [Strike ends 21st April, ringleaders are blacklisted]
1853 October Britain and France declare war on Russia and the Crimean War begins. Ends in February 1856, Russia defeated.
1854   Radcliffe Colliery lease is advertised for sale in the spring and autumn. Advert states the colliery has a royalty extending over 2,200 acres and is currently working at the rate of 25,000 chaldrons per annum, but capable of producing twice that with more investment.
1855   The colliery is now owned by Harrison and Carr of Newcastle, under the brand of the 'Derwentwater Coal Company'. The Harrisons are John and Joseph, with Joseph living at Radcliffe. 
1855 May  Draught horses are replaced with a locomotive engine for the transport of coal along the railway to Amble.
1864   A Smallpox outbreak this year infects about 200 villagers and kills 20. Most of the fatalities are children and young people. The very poor sanitary conditions in the village are blamed for the severity of the outbreak; in particular the heavily polluted water supply from the Bondicarr burn.
1867 December John Harrison dies and the lease is offered for sale at auction, described thus:  This valuable and current going colliery and fire clay works, with powerful machinery, and the Royalty remaining under a surface of 2,600 acres, will be offered for sale by auction (in consequence of the death of one of the principal proprietors), at the Queen's Head, Newcastle upon Tyne, on Saturday 21 December.... Full particulars and conditions of sale, with a plan, may be had from John Taylor, Esq., Earsdon,; Messrs Hoyle, Shipley and Hoyle, Solicitors, Newcastle upon Tyne; or Messrs Hill and Hoyle, Solicitors, 123 Cannon Street, London." 
c.1868   Joseph Harrison is ordered by a magistrate to improve the sanitation in the village by improving the drains and installing privies.
1881 8th June A petition for the voluntary liquidation of the Radcliffe Coal Company is lodged and the petitioners are reported in the Liverpool Mercury thus: "W. Kinnear, formerly of Amble, Northumberland, coal fitter, then carrying on business in co-partnership with Joseph Harrison and the trustees of the late John Harrison, at Amble, and at Newcastle upon Tyne, under the style of the Radcliffe Coal Company, as coal-owners and fire brick manufacturers; afterwards carrying on business in co-partnership with the trustees of the late John Harrison and the representatives of Mr Joseph Harrison (then deceased); and now carrying on business at the same addresses and under the same style, and residing at Radcliffe House, Amble." 
1882 February Radcliffe Coal Company Limited, with capital of £20,000 in £250 shares is formed as a 'new' company.
1892 October The village becomes the beneficiary of a new piped water distribution system for the townships of Togston and Hauxley, installed on behalf of the Alnwick Union Rural Sanitary Authority. The source the water is Sturton Grange springs and is piped across the district in a 4 inch main. This supply eventually feeds most of the farms and hamlets across the townships.
1900 1st November A new company is registered : 'Broomhill Collieries Limited',  an amalgamation of the Broomhill and Radcliffe Coal Companies as well as other going concerns.
1906 17th January New council schools, replacing the church schools are formally opened. The ceremony was performed by Mr Montague Maclean of Morwick Hall. The accommodation is for 200 infants and designed for further extension. The work was carried out by Messrs R and G Brown of Amble and the plans were prepared by the County Surveyor, Mr Beane. Mr Gibson acted as clerk of works. The cost of the building, playgrounds etc., but exclusive of the purchase of land, amounts to £2000.
1909 February Electric street lighting is installed by A.E. Green of Amble. The supply cable is ran from Newburgh Colliery generating plant to the east end of the village, where a suitable building was erected and poles placed at various points along the streets.
1914 4th August 11.00pm Britain declares war on Germany and mobilization begins.
1915   WW1. The following Radcliffe men are killed fighting on the Western Front in this year: William Nairn of Leslie Row, killed in action 26th April at Ypres, and Thomas William Rutter, killed 26th  September, Battle of Loos.
1916   WW1. The following Radcliffe men are killed fighting on the Western Front in this year: James Leonard Brown of Dandsfield Place dies of wounds 29th January; George Curry of Dandsfield Place is killed in action 6th February; William Summerell of Long Row North dies of wounds on the 22nd February; Alexander Mitchison is killed in action 12th June; William Smith of Leslie Row is killed in action on the 1st July, the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme; Albert Pitchford is killed in action 10th July; James Jones of Long Row dies of wounds after the Battle of the Somme, 13th July; Edmund Webb is killed in action on the 16th September.
1937   A clearance order is issued by the Ministry of Health for the west end of the original 'Radcliffe Terrace,' now called Long Row South and Long Row North.
1939 3rd September 11.00am The British ultimatum to Germany expires and the two countries are at war.
1942 15th February Sunday, 8.22pm, the Luftwaffe drop a land mine which detonates in the centre of Radcliffe killing four civilians and destroying a chapel and school. The casualties are: Gertrude Rae Craiggs (32) and her son Ian MacDonald Craiggs (5), of New Buildings, Radcliffe ; Isabella Appleby MacDonald (59), mother and grandmother to Gertrude and Ian, from Togston View, Radcliffe. The fourth casualty was J. Douglas, and elderly miner who died from shock.
1950 c. January  Numbers 1 to 12 Long Row South and 30 to 41 Long Row North are demolished.
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