|click image to enlarge|
The development around Cowpen Square, although in Cowpen Township, was considered as part of the industrial activities emerging in South Blyth. The tenure by which property was held in Cowpen was felt to be more preferable than in South Blyth/Newsham and accounts for the growth of the Township from 853 persons in 1801 to 4045 by 1851 [Parson and White directory 1857].
|Original sketch map of Cowpen Township. Click to enlarge.|
"Cowpen district also comprised Crofton and Cowpen colliery and contiguous to the latter was the handsome mansion of Mr E H Watts, father of E H Watts who was better known as the partner in the firm of Watts, Milburn and Co. The house is more familiarly known as Watt's Farm or Malvin's Close."
This was the holding used by the Cowpen Coal Co on which to site the Isabella Colliery.
The first pits of the Cowpen Coal Company were sunk in 1794. In 1813 negotiations between Sir Matthew White Ridley, the holder and developer of South Blyth/Newsham, and the Cowpen Coal Company resulted in the former becoming a partner in the company. This ended the stifling competition between the two and allowed for greater development.
The development and opening up for coal traffic in 1847 of the Blyth and Tyne Railway meant the feasibility of the sinking of the Isabella Pit, which happened in 1848. A short spur joined this colliery to the main line which took coals to the Tyne, at Percy Main, for export. Blyth harbour was not developed on a large scale until the 1850s.
It was many years before the Isabella became a community in its own right. The Ordnance Survey 1st edition plan of c1860 does not show any housing at the colliery, except for the small North Row which was probably erected to house those workers essential to the maintenance of the colliery and the sinkers.
|Isabella Colliery 1922. Click image to enlarge|
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