From tennis club to Townswomen’s Guild - village had it all

The Silksworth tennis club.
The Silksworth tennis club.
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Sandra Arkley today continues her look at the fascinating past of New Silksworth - in advance of tomorrow’s open evening where people can find out more about village life.

There are records of Old Silksworth going back to the Middle Ages (this is the area around Warden Law Lane and the entrance to Doxford House where the original village school stood).

The Silksworth orchestra

The Silksworth orchestra

But the idea for New Silksworth started in 1855 when the owner of the Silksworth Hall estate, George Robinson, leased the land, which was known to contain rich coal deposits, to the Hetton Coal Co.

It was jointly owned by the Hetton Coal Co., Lord Londonderry and Lord Durham.

As well as the sinking of the first shaft, plans were underway for the building of 100 houses on what had previously been agricultural land owned by Lord Vane.

Records showing the names of the sinkers reflect that many families still live locally, such as Widdowfield, Carr, Laverick, Robinson. Pearson, Palmer, Ord.

The Silksworth Colliery Band.

The Silksworth Colliery Band.

By the time the first coal was drawn from the Hutton seam in June 1872 the workforce had increased hugely.

The Census of 1871 shows 396 people living in the area. By 1881 that had increased to 4707.

We have records of people travelling, with their families from Ireland, Cornwall, Sussex, Staffordshire, and even from as far afield as Prussia and America.

The village grew and St Matthews church and the Miners Hall were built, both focal points for many social activities.

Another view of Blind Lane

Another view of Blind Lane

Over the years we have had our own local village orchestra, an accordion band, too many football teams to mention, a tennis club, church and chapel organizations, Women’s Institute, Townswomen’s Guild, Women’s Labour party, Bowling, Mothers Union, Drama Club and Whist drives.

It is a small example of the many and varied pastimes.

* More tomorrow.