Ashington is a town and
civil parish in Northumberland, England with a
population of around 27,000 people; it was once a centre of the
coal mining industry. The town is located some north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne off the A189. The south of the town
is bordered by the River
Sea coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is about from the town centre.
Many inhabitants have a distinctive accent
known as Pitmatic
This varies from the regional dialect known as Geordie
workers of Ashington gave a 'Hooky mat' to their friends in
Sussex, where it is now displayed in the village
Ashington possibly originates from Essdene which has been
referenced since 1170 and this name may have originated from the
Aesc, Saxon invader who sailed from Northern
Germany to the River Wansbeck and settled in the deep wooded valley
But it could also have come from "Vally of
Ash Trees" - these would have lined the valley and the Saxon word
Dene means valley giving the name 'Ash Dene'. In the 1700s all that
existed of Ashington was a small farm with a few dwellings
The first evidence of mining was from bell shaped pits and monastic
mine workings, discovered in the 20th century during tunneling.
Ashington developed from a small hamlet in the 1840s, as the
Duke of Portland
built housing to
encourage workers escaping the Irish potato famine
to come and work at his local
. As in many other parts of Britain, "deep
pit" coal mining in the area declined during the 1980s and 1990s
leaving just one colliery, Ellington until January 2005.
In 2006 plans for an
opencast mine on the outskirts of the town have been put forward,
although many people have objected to it. During the peak time of
coal-mining, Ashington was considered to be the "world's largest
coal-mining village". There is now a debate about whether Ashington
should be referred to as a town or a village;if accepted as a
village it would be one of the largest villages in
Growth of the town
As the coal mining industry grew more people were encouraged to
leave the countryside and settle in Ashington. This led the
Ashington Coal Company to build parallel rows of colliery houses.
newcomers came from as far as Cornwall to make use of their tin-mining
With the growing coal industry came the need for a railway link.
Ashington was linked to the Blyth
and Tyne Railway
in the 1850s, and also to the East Coast Main Line
(pronounced Uffham). The railway was also used by passenger trains
until the Beeching Axe
in 1964 closed
the railway station, called Hirst station when opened in the 1870s.
railway travels south towards the steep-sided River Wansbeck valley, originally crossed by a wooden viaduct,
replaced by the steel-built Black Bridge, seen today.
To meet the need for medical services in 1913 the Ashington
hospital was built, located about 1/4 mile from the town centre;
the hospital was expanded in the 1950s and 60s with large new
wings. Several schools opened in Ashington too.
Traditionally the area to the east of the Railway was called Hirst
and that to the west was Ashington proper. Although collectively
called Ashington both halves had their own park. Hirst Park (opened
in 1915) in the east and The People's Park in the west.
The colliery-built houses followed a grid plan. The streets in the
Hirst End running north to south were named after British trees,
such as Hawthorn
Terrace, Pont Street. The east-west running
streets were numbered avenues, starting with First Avenue near the
town centre, finishing at Seventh Avenue towards the southern end.
After the 1920s houses in Ashington were built by the council, and
were most often semi-detached such as Garden City villas. These
occupied much of the fields in the Hirst area. New estates were
built in different areas. The biggest building programme was in the
late 1960s and saw Ashington extend south from Seventh Avenue
opposite the Technical College towards North Seaton and south
eastwards towards the A189. Some of the houses at the top end of
Alexandra Road were private homes. During this building programme
several new schools were built, for example Coulson Park, Seaton
Hirst Middle. Community shops and a nightclub were built off
Faifield Drive. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw construction of
Nursery park opposite North Seaton Hotel. This south to the banks
of the River Wansbeck. The late 1980s and 1990s saw the building of
the Wansbeck Estate between the River Wansbeck and Green
In the late 1960s the area by the railway station was developed
into Wansbeck Square, housing a supermarket, council offices and a
public library, built partly over the railway line.
the Woodhorn pit closed and its chimney was demolished.
In the late 1980s this became a museum. In 1988 Ashington Pit was
closed and is now occupied by a business park. In 2004 the hospital
was demolished with the new hospital located near Woodhorn being
used instead. In the early 2000s maisonette
flats in various parts of Hirst were
demolished and parts of the Moorhouse and Woodbridge estate
opposite Woodhorn pit were demolished.
The railway is still used by the Alcan aluminium plant nearby and
there have been calls to restore the railway station for passenger
use with services to Newcastle.
An Ashington urban district
created in 1896, covering part of the parish of Ashington and Sheepwash
and part of
the parish of Bothal Demesne
. It took
in 1914, then
Sheepwash, most of Woodhorn and the remainder of Bothal Demesne in
urban district survived until 1974, when under the Local Government Act 1972 it
became part of the Wansbeck district.
In October 2008, plans to opencast 2m tonnes of coal in Ashington
were approved. UK Coal
's plans which were
first submitted in 2005, would create 60+ jobs.
Ashington is located in south east Northumberland, which is a
largely urban area adjacent to Newcastle. Most of the area is of
flat non-undulating ground, formed during Carboniferous
period when ancient tropical
swamp forests were buried and formed the coal seams that have given
this area its significance. The local geology is of yellow sandstone
. The topography of the town is quite
flat. The land to the north west of the town is slightly undulating
due to mining subsidence
, which sometimes
causes farmland to be flooded. The south east part of the town is
slightly raised giving views to the north across Ashington.
certain parts of town the Cheviot Hills are visible about to the north.
The town is of roughly a square shape lying north to south. The
town centre is to the North of the town. south of this are
residential areas. Farmland is on both east and west flanks. The
south part is residential with the River Wansbeck to the south. To
the east of the town is the small coastal town of Newbiggin and to
the West is the small village of Bothal on the River Wansbeck.
South of the town is the small village of North Seaton which once
had its own pit. North of the town about 2 miles is the village of
Linton and north east of the town is Lynemouth.
Also to the north of the town is a large lake called Queen
Elizabeth II lake. This is surrounded by pine woodland plantation.
The original Ashington colliery was on the north west of the town
and the smaller Woodhorn pit was on the north east.
Climate and soil
The climate is cool temperate. Summers are drier than on the west
coast of Britain, but cooler than southerly areas. Winters are cold
at times sometimes with snow. The soil is of a dark brown colour
free draining and gritty. It is very good for growing vegetables.
Tender perennials are rare; some palms will only grow with winter
protection. Although Phormiums (New Zealand flax) grow in displays
in Newbiggin, salt-laden winds may afford them some protection. The
most exposed part of the town is to the east. High trees in Hirst
Park give considerable shelter. The west part is much more
sheltered especially the wooded valley of the River Wansbeck.
Environs and villages surrounding Ashington
Working in a clockwise direction from the north west of Ashington
are the following places.
- Linton, a small village,
originally developed for mineworkers at the Linton Colliery. This village looks unique from the air in
that its almost square and its streets are in a parallel
- Ellington, a newer village which was located next to
- Lynemouth, close to the coast this village is next to the
Lynemouth Aluminium Smelter and Lynemouth Power Station.
- Woodhorn, a tiny hamlet with a church on the road to
Newbiggin. Some of the area of Ashington adjacent to
Woodhorn pit museum is also called Woodhorn.
- Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, a small town or village, this is a former seaside
resort, visited by locals. It has a beach, but due to
coastal erosion a large sea wall was built in the late 1980s.
Newbiggin offers bed and breakfasts, cafes and some shops.
- Cambois (pronounced Cammis) is a small village south of the
is quite spread about. Cambois has some fishing cottages on the
mouth of the river. It has a beach, and views along the coast
towards north Bylth and Blyth.
- North Seaton, a village on the
north bsnks of the River Wansbeck. It was formerly a mining
village, but most of its population moved to Ashington. North
Seaton had its own small colliery.
- Stakeford, originally a small village south of the River
Wansbeck, this is an area mainly of residential
Post, a residential village on the road towards Morpeth, it has a school and some shops.
- Sheepwash, a crossing point on the River Wansbeck, before it
flows west towards Bothal.
- Bothal, a quaint
historic village on the wooded banks of the River Wansbeck.
has cottages and a 14th Century castle Bothal Castle. Riverside walks can be taken along the
- Pegswood, village on the main East Coast Main Line. The
village has a train station with local trains.
- Longhirst, small hamlet on the East
Coast Main Line.
Transport and road links
Until the Beeching Axe
of the 1960s,
Ashington was on the British Rail
passenger network, with passenger trains to Newbiggin and
Newcastle. The railway is used now by freight trains, but there
have been calls for the station to re-open. The nearest mainline
railway station is Pegswood on the East Coast Main Line, about 3
miles from the town centre. Local services from here go to Newcastle,
Cramlington, Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick.
At the east end of the main shopping street is the bus and coach
station, with local buses around Northumberland and to Newcastle.
arrive and depart from the station.
Ashington is well served by roads. The A189 (Spine
Road) to the east of Ashington runs south via Blyth and North
Tyneside to Newcastle and the A19 Tyne
Tunnel to South Tyneside and the A1.
A189 also runs north along the coast to Alnwick and Berwick.
runs west towards Morpeth and the A1 which goes north to Scotland and Edinburgh or south
to the A1(M) near Newcastle on towards Durham and
nearest airport is Newcastle Airport which provides scheduled domestic flights, flights
covering most major cities of Europe and also holiday charter
flights. There is a ferry port in Newcastle with
services to Rotterdam and Norway.
The main shopping street/town centre in Ashington is on Station
Road located on the North side of the town. The shopping area
provides several high street stores, and some smaller independent
outlets. Postal services and banks are found here. There are cafes,
restaurants and travel agents in the town centre. However, most of
the high street is made up of mostly greetings card shops and
charity shops. Butchers and bakers are also found in the town
centre. There is a large supermarket located behind the bus station
(this is being demolished and built again... opposite the present
site...), and another smaller supermarket, with a nearby fast-food
Museums and libraries
A reasonable sized public library
with a good collection of books fiction and non-fiction, is located
adjacent to Wansbeck Square. The local museum is at Woodhorn pit.
It is mainly a museum of the towns
mining history, with pictures and models. There are also various
arts exhibits in the museum and information on local history.
Ashington provides various sports facilities and numerous sports
clubs. A leisure centre is located on Institution Road at the north
west of the town. There is a 25m swimming pool here and a smaller
shallow pool. The Hirst park provides two good bowling greens,
tennis and basketball courts. The local league football club plays
at Woodhorn Lane and there is a rugby
club and cricket
is played off Kenilworth
Road not far from the town centre.In recent years a new community
facility has been created from the former Miners Welfare on
Alexandra Road. The Hirst Welfare Centre
is a multi-use community
facility, comprising of training facilities, office space,
community cafe, community hall, gym and dance studio. The Centre
also has an external all weather floodlight synthetic football
pitch with additional grass pitches.
There are some bed and breakfasts in Ashington. There is also a
holiday centre/caravan site located near Sandy Bay off the A189
about 3 miles to the south east of the town centre.
Food and drink
Ashington provides many cafes, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and
clubs. There are numerous fish and
shops located throughout the town, some offering 'eat in'
areas as well as take away. There are several kebab
shops and also numerous Chinese and
Parks walks and green spaces
The riverside park in Ashington provides a peaceful riverside
setting to relax or take walks. There are public footpaths and
from here towards the quaint
village of Bothal with its photogenic castle above the river.
The People's Park near the leisure centre off Institute Road is a
large green field suitable for recreation. Hirst Park is located
off Hawthorn Road; it provides summer floral displays, bowling
greens and is sheltered by tall trees, to the north of the park is
a large green sports field.
Woodhorn is the Queen Elizabeth II Park.
surrounded by pine wood and has a large lake with a narrow gauge
railway. Walks from here head out towards Linton
and eastwards towards the
seaside town of Newbiggin following the old railway line.
nearest beaches are located at Newbiggin and also at Creswell located on Druridge Bay about 4 miles to the north east.
Gardening and allotments
From views on Google Earth
residents in Ashington have access to some sort of garden, if not
are located in several
locations in and around Ashington.
The system of first school
, middle school
is used in this area. There are about 10 state schools
in Ashington. Schools were first built by the Ashington coal
company, but many have since been replaced. There are also two
Roman Catholic schools in Ashington. Further Education (after 16)
can be taken at Ashington
, which offers A
, vocational courses and various
evening classes too. Higher Education, can be taken in Newcastle
University which has a medical school or at Northumbria University also in
There are numerous General
(GP) surgeries in Ashington. The main Wansbeck
General Hospital in Ashington, which has A&E is located at the north east of
the town near Woodhorn.
Major treatments are done in
hospitals in Newcastle.
The local newspapers are: the Evening Chronicle
, The Journal
. These papers cover Tyneside
and south east Northumberland. The Newspost Leader covers mostly
Several radio stations provide local broadcasts. Local news on
television is provided by ITV Tyne
and BBC Look North
stations cover most of the north east, County Durham, Teeside, Tyneside and Northumberland.
is represented on Northumberland County Council.
the local member of parliament is Dennis Murphy
of the Labour party
Industry and employment
Until 1988 the majority of the town's male population was employed
in the mining industry. The closure of the pits led to large scale
unemployment. However limited coal mining was carried out until
recently at Ellington Colliery
coal extraction is carried out
at Butterwell Opencast
The former site of Ashington Colliery became part of regeneration
project and saw the development of Wansbeck Business Park. This
park now houses a number of companies with local, national and
international profiles. These include Polar Krush NICC Ltd,
Thermacore Ltd, Clarity IT Consulting (ClarityWEB) Ltd, Sugarfayre
Ltd, Zodiac Automotive (UK) Ltd and Torque Tension Systems Ltd. The
park includes a variety of wildlife with a large pond at its
Ashington's close proximity to Newcastle upon Tyne makes it an
ideal commuter town for people working in Newcastle.
Arts and culture
In 1934 some of the Ashington miners enrolled in painting classes
as an alternative pastime, and then began to produce paintings to
sell at local markets to supplement their poor wages. They achieved
unexpected success and approval from the art community and were
given prestigious gallery exhibitions during the 1930s and 1940s
under the name "The Pitmen Painters", although the group had called
themselves the "Ashington Group
the 1970s the group's work was "rediscovered" and popularised as
"workers' art" and given international exhibitions. On 26 October
2006 a new £16m museum housing the work was opened in Ashington by
The book Pitman Painters
by William Feaver, recording the
development of the Ashington Group, 1934 to 1984, has been made
into a stage play
by Lee Hall
, well known for Billy Elliot
. The play premiered at the
Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 2007, and subsequently was
produced at the Royal National Theatre, London in 2008 and 2009. A
German translation by Michael Raab premiered at the Volkstheater in
Vienna, Austria, in April 2009.
The book We never had it
by David Williams is a collection of short stories
about a boy growing up in Ashington in the late 1950s.
Ashington has appeared in various movies and TV programmes, such as
starring Jimmy Nail
, Our Friends in the North
1996, The Fast Show
and the Alcan chimneys were seen in Billy Elliot
The town is home to Ashington
and has produced no less than 10 professional
, Jackie Milburn
, Jimmy Adamson
, Jackie Charlton
, Bobby Charlton
, Chris Adamson
, Martin Taylor
Cricketing brothers Steve Harmison
and Ben Harmison
are also from the
Property developer Sir John
, former Chairman and Life President of Newcastle United Football
was born in the town in 1933.
Golfer Kenneth Ferrie
who has played
on the PGA Tour
UK Basketball player and coach Alan Hoyle
was born in Ashington and runs his Esteem Through Sport
from Northumberland College.
Motorcycle speedway racing was staged at the football ground in
1972 when two meetings took place. The team, which raced one match,
were known as the Ashington Arrows.
The Cambois Rowing Club
situated in Ashington
In addition to the sporting personalities mentioned above, these
- Kirkup Mike, 2003 Hirst-Recollections of an Ashington
- http://www.senrug.co.uk/campaigns.php, South east
Northumberland Rail Users Group
- Ashington Tn/CP Northumberland through time |
Administrative history of Parish-level Unit: hierarchies,
- Pitmen Painters get royal seal of approval - and a gallery
of their own | Guardian Unlimited Arts
- 'We never had it so good' by David Williams published by