The length of river bank east of Hagg Bank is known as Wylam Scars (10) and it was here that work on the Newcastle-Carlisle railway began in 1831. The scene was delightfully illustrated by J.W. Carmichael in one of his famous views of this railway. This was the first cross-country line to be built and the first section, between Blaydon and Hexham, opened on March 9th 1835.

Now return along the disused railway track to the point at which you joined it earlier and then follow the narrow path to the right, towards the tree-covered mound alongside the river. This was the spoil heap of the former Wylam Colliery (Haugh Pit) (12). The colliery winding engine stood on the site of the small group of allotments, where a sub-station and electricity poles are now grouped. Thomas Hair, another famous local artist, painted a fine series of views of the collieries in the north east, including one depicting the Haugh Pit in 1839, showing the winding engine and pit head, and a colliery locomotive.

The Wylam waggonway was built in the mid-18th century and was one of the earliest in the north of England. It ran from this point eastwards alongside the Tyne for five miles linking the colliery to loading staithes on the river at Lemington, where the coal was loaded into keels (barges) for transporting to ships waiting in the mouth of the Tyne.

The colliery workings extended under the river and suffered badly from flooding and these problems, together with the high costs of transporting coal on the waggonway resulted in this colliery operating at a loss for several years before it was eventually closed late in 1868. Subsequently, the waggonway fell into disuse and was in poor condition when construction of the Scotswood-Newburn-Wylam railway, which followed the waggonway route for much of its length, was begun four years later.

From the old pit heap, follow the path eastwards along the top of the playing field, and stop just before the exit (public toilets nearby). Timothy Hackworth, the famous railway engineer, who was at one time blacksmith at Wylam Colliery, was born in a cottage which stood near the entrance to the playing field, and a plaque on the present house, Wormald House, commemorates this, Hackworth’s birthplace (13).

Leaving the playing field, turn right, stopping just before you reach Wylam Mill (14).

Early in the 19th century, the colliery pumping engine (used for extracting water from the mine workings) might have been seen on the right, together with the colliery workshops. These have all disappeared, apart from an old single-storey stone building with a pantiled roof which has been restored but was in use as the Blacksmith’s Shop (15) until the 1930’s. It has been suggested that it was in this building that the first Wylam colliery locomotives were built by William Hedley, Timothy Hackworth and Jonathan Forster, in 1813-1815. There is there is no conclusive proof if this and early maps of the area seem to show that the present building is not as old as this, although some repairs to colliery equipment may have been undertaken here.

The two-storey redbrick Victorian building set back from the road frontage, was built as the mill stables. Wylam Mill itself was originally driven by water from the Oakwood Burn but in 1876 it was modernised and converted into a steam mill. It became a thriving concern by the turn of the century (the size of nearby ‘River House’ which was the miller’s house certainly suggests prosperity) grinding flour and feedstuffs for many local farmers. However, on August 9th 1931, a dramatic fire completely destroyed the premises, necessitating the demolition of the mill buildings, including the chimney which had been a prominent local landmark. The rebuilt mill has been converted into dwellings in modern times.

The side-road, Tyne View, to the left of the mill leads down to the old ford (16), which, apart from a small ferry, had been the only means of crossing the river before the opening of the bridge. Even after the bridge was built, the ford continued to be well-used by drovers who wanted to avoid having to pay the bridge tolls. The bridge (17) was built in 1836 to link the ironworks and the colliery to the newly opened Newcastle-Carlisle railway on the south side of the river. John Blackmore, engineer to the railway company, designed the bridge and performed the opening ceremony on 25th April 1836.