Keys to the Past

Local History

Haswell; Haswell Plough (County Durham)

Sadly, we know little about Haswell or Haswell Plough before the medieval period. There was certainly some kind of settlement here in the Anglo-Saxon period, as the name of the villages are derived from Old English meaning 'hazel spring or stream'. However, the village was only first recorded (as Hessewella and Hessewelle) in the 12th century. Haswell consists of three parts, Haswell, Haswell Plough and High Haswell. the original village of Haswell was sited at High Haswell where only a few farms and dwelling houses remain. A charter, dating to around 1300 recorded the remains of a medieval chapel. In a field called Chapel Garth, the foundations of what are supposed to have been this chapel could be traced. A holy water stoup was found here, and is now used as a font in the mission-church at Haswell Plough.

Coal was discovered in 1831 and a colliery shaft was sunk. Before this point, although there were no collieries in the parish itself, there were some colliery buildings standing relating to nearby coal mines. For example, at Haswell Plough an engine house for a Cornish pumping engine can still be seen.

In 1844 an explosion at the colliery caused the death of 95 men and boys. the mine closed in 1895 when the men transferred to nearby collieries. The remains of some of the colliery buildings can still be seen in places. There are even earlier traces of coal mining in the village. The parallel alignment and proximity of two former field boundaries shown on the 1898 and 1922 OS maps are suggestive of a former wagonway or roadway extending north-west from 'Haswell Junction'. It appears to align with the path of a former railway to the south-east, recorded on the 1st and 2nd edition maps. By the 19th century Haswell was a large village. It had many large shops and gas lighting.

A memorial cross and a number of features within St. Paul's Church serve as war memorials in commemoration of inhabitants of Haswell who served in the First World War. There are also a number of items in the church and in the Wesleyan Methodist Church that are memorials to those who served in WW2.

Reference number:D6815
Event(s):The identification of Historic Landscapes in Durham Project; Chris Blandford Associates

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.