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. Initially there were 118 houses and a population of 496. This has risen to around 850 homes and a population of 2,285 - with further expansion planned for 285 homes on ‘Church Fields’ immediately opposite the Hester Pit Memorial Garden.
On the 16th January 1862 it was the scene of a tragedy 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 pithed 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.
A VERY good history of New Hartley as a Mining Village is contained in a booklet written by Eileen Raper, and produced and sold in aid of St. Michaels Church. Copies of this booklet can be obtained via New Hartley Community Association 0191 237 5426
New Hartley Community Centre
The Memorial Hall is on St Michael's Avenue next to the Memorial Recreation Ground.
New Hartley Community Association manages the Memorial Hall and offers space for a range of groups and activities. (tel 0191 237 5426)
It is in use most days and evenings, but can also be booked for individual parties or events - subject to availability.