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Easting: 587565  Northing: 427537  Latitude:N55:10:54   Longitude: W1:34:09  Show Location Map
Ashington, Station Road

Ashington, with a population of 27,900, lies four miles east of Morpeth and seventeen miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Once only a very small hamlet, Ashington developed into a major town in the late 1840s as a result of coal mining industry. The Duke of Portland, the sole landowner at the time gave a few local men the right to mine coal on a Rental and Royalty Payment Agreement. These men founded what was to become the Ashington Coal Company, changing the rural hamlet into a one-industry town of over twenty-five thousand people in just over forty years.

It was a simple task to encourage workers into the coalfields of Ashington as many local rural workers had become redundant due to the introduction of farm machinery. There was also an influx of farm workers from Ireland escaping starvation brought about by the Potato Famine. They were joined by farm workers from Norfolk, Cumberland lead miners and Cornish tin miners.

By 1887, Ashington had become a model pit village. Six hundred and sixty five houses had been built in eleven long rows, running from east to west, to accommodate the colliers. These houses are reputed to have cost little more than £70 to build and were practical in design. A drainage system was installed at about the same time that the houses were built. However, a sewerage system was not set up until later, as at the time, earth closets toilets were still very much in use. An interesting feature of Ashington at this time is the lack of public houses. This was due to the puritanical Quaker influence of the coal owners and the Duke of Portland. Because of this there was very little drunkenness at that time. Working Men's Clubs were built as an alternative. These 'men only' clubs provided their members with a place where they could follow their particular hobby or sport.

As the town began to grow schools, post offices, institutes and a police station were also constructed. Churches were also built. There were two chapels built in 1876, one by the Wesleyans and the other by the Primitive Methodists. Ashington, formally part of Bothal parish, became an ecclesiastic parish in 1887 when The Holy Sepulchre Church, named after the church which once existing in the neighbouring village of Sheepwash, was consecrated by the Bishop of Newcastle in June of that year. A Catholic church, dedicated to St Aiden, was opened in 1905.

Ashington became an Urban District Council in 1896. Councillors and officials planned and carried out many public health policies over the next thirty years to improve the living conditions of their residents. Lighting was improved, unpaved roads were made up, and earth closets were removed and replaced with flush toilets.

Although the colliery ceased production for the last time in 1986, Ashington today can still be described as an industrial town. Many of the major employers are situated in the new Wansbeck Business Park. They include the American company Simula, who manufacture car safety airbags, and FAL Textiles, the makers of horse blankets. Other main employers in the town are Lite-On, a company who supply to the electronics industry, and the Higher Education Institute, Northumberland College. Ashington has a large range of shops and leisure facilities, in addition to two country parks, the Wansbeck Riverside Country Park and the Queen Elizabeth II Country Park at Woodhorn, which bring a steady stream of visitors to the town.