The Friar's Goose History


The Friars Goose is an area of the river Tyne where in the early 11th century local Roman Catholic Friars use to collect the Gorse known also as a Goose.

This wild plant was very common in the medieval times. Petals of the flowers were used as a salad ingredient, to produce medications and were collected for the fuel purposes.

For that reason this area became know as The Friars Goose. Later on, the river bank also became the place of the local colliery. The Tyne Colliery was open in 1798 and it was supplying the local area with coal and other minerals.


In 1841 the main shaft of the Colliery started to sink and the owners decided to build a new Pump House the ruins of which can still be seen near by.

The Friars Goose Pump House was built to prevent further sinking of the local shafts. The engine of this pump house was designed and built by the famous Robert Stephenson. Eventually the excess of the water in the pit resulted in the Colliery closure in 1842.

Many local shafts were systematically abandoned for that reason and by 1934 the whole mining industry eventually disappeared from the Tyne area.

Hebburn & Wallsend Collieries being so close to the River Tyne always had problems with water. It was made worse  when the void, after the coal was extracted, wasn't filled in properly with waste rock because the roof eventually dropped causing subsidence which allowed river water into the seams.

Even though it may not have been Hebburn Colliery's fault , other local mines were extracting coal from the same coal seams, so the water infiltrated the seams.

In the 1830's the owners of Hebburn Colliery, Thomas Easton & Co decided to erect a pumping station at 'Friars Goose' beside the Tyne at Felling with three constantly working pumping engines to prevent the flood risks.


Other Mine owners paid towards this pumping operation that also kept there mines free of flooding, but in 1850 they disputed having to pay towards this pumping, so the pumps were stopped & Wallsend & Hebburn Pits were flooded.

Hebburn stayed flooded from 1859 to 1870. A new Company 'The Tyne Coal Co' took over Hebburn Colliery in 1863 to drain the water & by 1870 it was drained as far as the 'Low Main' seam at 1020ft. 

This cost the company dearly and they had to close down. A new company took over called 'Wallsend & Hebburn Coal Co' & by the 1890's employed over 1300 men & boys.


In the early 1800's the chemical industry was also dominating the shores of the river Tyne.

In around 1798 an Alkali Works, the chemical factory near the Friars Goose, was built. This factory was specializing in production of the dyestuffs, bleaches, soda and many other chemicals and paints.

In the 18th and 19th century this place became the manufacturer for soap production.  A mixture of the soap and lime became the main ingredient for the glass production.

The Chemical Works factory was well known for its impressive chimney which was built to divert the chemical fumes from the area and to protect the ruins of the Friars Goose Pump House.

This landmark on the river Tyne became the tallest chimney in the country at that time.

The Friars Goose was also a home for the ship building yard T Mitchinsons, which in 1830's was building wooden ships and then it became a repair yard called Anderson's slipway.

Mitchison bought the yard in 1919, when it was repairing small ships such as tugs. The slipway could accommodate  vessels of up to 230 feet in length.

They repaired vessels until 1955 when the yard was taken over by London based company James Burness & Sons and was refitted and extended to up to 300 feet in length.

By then they had 5 slipways and they had been repairing small craft, fishing vessels and tugs. Eventually the yard was closed in 1964 due to financial problems. More info can be found on Tyne Built Ships website.

Great thank you to Norman Dunn who passionately maintain the history of the local areas and collects the photos on his websites: