About Seaton Valley and a short history

Seaton Valley locality lies in the South East of Northumberland, bordering with North Tyneside to the south, and has a population of 15,500(1) (rounded to the nearest 100 people).  In terms of area, it measures 28.4 km² (the largest of the 10 localities in South East Northumberland) and has a population density of 540 people per km².

Seaton Valley locality includes the villages of Holywell, New Hartley. Seaton Delaval, Seaton Sluice and Seghill.

(1).  Source – Office of National Statistics – 2021 Census

Seaton Delaval

Seaton Delaval is the main service centre for Seaton Valley, and lies at the centre of the Valley.  It is a historic village associated with Seaton Delaval Hall and the Delaval family, but was also a mining area.

The village grew on the edge of the Delaval Hall estate with the village centre located at the top of the tree lined avenue that ran from Delaval Hall.  The top of the Avenue was marked by two magnificent pillars. Unfortunately they had to be significantly reduced when the A190 was built that links Seaton Delaval to the coast.

 

The village has a proud mining history. Seaton Delaval Colliery opened in 1838 and at its prime employed over 3,000 people. During this period the village centre was at the top of Double Row that was the location of the Collieries of Seaton Delaval and close-by New Hartley. During this time the mining community grew with housing, schools and a railway station all centred around the Double Row area. The Colliery finally closed on the 27 May 1960.

In more current times the village has centred around Avenue Head roundabout.

It contains a mix of social and private housing. Facilities include the area’s high school, Astley Community High SchoolWhytrig Middle School and Seaton Delaval First School, a community centre, Seaton Delaval Arts Centre, a post office, two Co-operative supermarkets and numerous other shops, pubs, cafes and take-aways, social clubs and Elsdon Avenue Church.  It also contains Astley Park, the main public park for the Valley area. The main office for Seaton Valley Council is located in Seaton Delaval.

Seaton Sluice

Seaton Sluice is situated half a mile north of, and formed part of, the old village of Hartley, of which the earliest records date from 1097, when it was in the possession of the monks of Tynemouth. Hartley was the name given to the whole of the area between the Brier Dene at Whitley and the Seaton Burn on the Blyth coastal road.

In the early years, apart from the Rivers Tyne and Tweed, there were no natural harbours along the Northumbrian coastline and so, with the growth of the coal trade, it became a necessity to develop new ports. Although Seaton Sluice was mentioned in 1565 in a drawn-up list of Northumbrian ports, it was then just a natural harbour.

 

Just over 200 years ago, Seaton Sluice became the centre of a flourishing coal and glass trade, exporting to Western Europe. For its size, Seaton Sluice was the centre of greater commercial activity than any other town on the North East coast, with ships of up to 300 tons burden visiting the tiny harbour. It was from the 30-odd pits in the district near Hartley Township where the coal was mined. Employing hundreds of seamen, and providing a living for miners, rope makers, sailmakers, shipbuilders, insurance brokers, and also investment opportunities for numerous shareholders, trade at Seaton Sluice once rivalled that of North Shields and Blyth, and its success was entirely due to the entrepreneurial and engineering skills of the Delaval family.  (From the Seaton Sluice and Old Hartley Local History Society)

The village has an attractive setting at the mouth of Seaton Burn, with an historic harbour, a fine sandy beach and dunes, and the open space of Holywell Dene nearby.

It is also the closest village to Seaton Delaval Hall, a National Trust property. As a result, Seaton Sluice is both an attractive residential area, and a popular visitor destination. Village facilities include two schools, Seaton Sluice First School and Seaton Sluice Middle School, a community centre and library, post office, several shops, cafes, pubs and social clubs, and  St Paul’s Church, Church of our Lady and the Methodist Church.

Holywell

Holywell is a small village that lies just to the south east of Seaton Delaval, without a clear physical separation between the two villages.

The village has its own character and identity, and benefits from being close to Holywell Dene, offering attractive walking routes. The heart of the village is a conservation area due to its historic character.

The village was originally only small consisting of a Manor House, a few ancient farm houses and labourers cottages, two shops and a couple of public-houses, the Fat Ox Inn and the Half Moon Inn, These were both Inns serving travelers on the Morpeth to North Shields turnpike road that passed through the village.

 

The Manor House, which stands in the village centre, was built for Sir Ralph Bates. The Manor is now known as Strother Farm and was built in 1654 with the inscription MEDIOCRIA FIRMA (The Middle Course is Safe) on the lintel above the front door. The village was once known as Bates Cottages, the name still used by the local Cricket Club that plays on the Sports Ground to the north of the village.

During past times the village has been the property of the Delaval Family from the nearby Delaval Hall and has also been owned by the Duke of Northumberland.

The village has a proud mining history with two nearby collieries that carried the village name, East Holywell and West Holywell. Although both collieries have long since closed you can still make out the old pit heaps that are now part of the surrounding farmland.

Around 1873 the village had its first school on Dene Row where the children of the village were educated. In 1938 Holywell County First School was built by Northumberland County Council. The current school, Holywell Village First School, still remains on this site.

The village church, St. Mary’s, was built in 1885 and is located at the north west of the village. St. Mary’s Church is part of the Seghill Parish and is a Grade II listed building.

 

New Hartley

New Hartley is a small village to the north of Seaton Delaval.

New Hartley grew up around the Hartley Colliery Hester Pit which was opened around 1845. It consisted of three main streets – Cross Row, Long Row and Double Row, with a Methodist Chapel serving the villagers Spiritual needs.

On the 16 January 1862 it was the scene of the New Hartley Colliery disaster that changed world mining for ever. During the change from the fore-shift to the back-shift when nearly all of the two shifts were still down the pit, the beam of the pumping engine that kept the pit clear of water broke in two and 20 tons of cast iron plunged down the single shaft striping the brattices and rocks and blocking the one and only shaft.

 

It took several days of heroic effort by rescue teams to reach the entombed men and boys – all to no avail all were dead. All in all 204 men and boys perished in the disaster. Either when the beam plummeted down the shaft or as a result of being entombed.

A fitting Memorial to all of them is at St. Albans Church, Earsdon, together with the creation of the memorial garden at the former pit head in the village. Additionally the everlasting memorial is that Parliament quickly passed a law ensuring that all future pits opened had to have two shafts.

Village facilities include New Hartley First School, a Memorial Hall community centre, post office, a shop, a pub, the Victory Club, St. Michael and All Angels Church and Our Lady & St. Joseph Church.

Seghill

Seghill lies on the western edge of Seaton Valley, close to the A189 and A19 trunk roads and within easy reach of the northern edge of North Tyneside.

The village can trace its history back to 1100, but it is likely there was a settlement here from early times. Through the centuries it has passed through many Families. But it was the coming of coal mining in 1824 that established the village. It remained a mining village until the closure of the pit in 1962.

The village still retains its mining identity to this day, through the Miners Institute (now the village community centre) the welfare park (home to Rugby, Football bowls and other village activities).

 

Traditions that have carried on for over a hundred years are the Village Annual Gala and the senior citizens Xmas party, both of which have been held for over 100 years.

Village facilities include Seghill First School, a community centre, post office, several shops and take aways, a pub, Seghill Rugby Club and other social clubs and Holy Trinity Church.