Venue Information and Tickets
QEII Country Park
Nicholas Wood Lecture
Wed 15 July 2015, 2–3pm
Historian Bill Lancaster explored the life of talented nineteenth-century mining engineer Nicholas Wood, who revolutionised deep mining and transportation. Coal was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Solving the problems of winning it and then moving it produced innovations that heralded the birth of modern industrial society. The advent of railways and deep mining in the Great Northern Coalfield were important milestones in human history: coal from North East England fuelled the industrialisation of Britain, which was quickly copied in other countries.
Alongside Nicholas Wood in the nineteenth century there was a circle of men from Tyneside, Wearside and the Great Northern Coalfield, such as the Stephensons, who helped create the modern world. Bill Lancaster will talk about this group of innovators, which in 1852 led to the founding of The Mining Institute in Newcastle with Nicholas Wood as its founding president.
Nicholas Wood was born in 1795, at the farm of Daniel, lying between Bradley Hall and Wylam, of which his father was a tenant. In 1811 he was sent to Killingworth Colliery, through the influence of his father’s landlord, Sir Thomas Liddell, afterwards Lord Ravensworth, to learn the profession of a coal-viewer. At Killingworth, Wood met George Stephenson and made the working drawing from which the first Stephenson safety lamp was made, then tested in a dangerous blower in Killingworth Pit. By the 1830s, Wood had acquired a considerable reputation as a colliery and railway engineer, and was rapidly extending his influence in the coal trade. By 1844 he was managing the important collieries at Hetton, sole owner of Black Boy, Coundon, Westerton and Leasingthorne collieries, and part owner of Harton, Hilda and Jarrow collieries. In response to the Mines Inspection Act of 1852, local colliery owners and mining engineers formed The Mining Institute, of which Nicholas Wood was elected the founding president.
Bill Lancaster was the founder and editor of Northern Review, a Journal of Regional and Cultural Affairs, and the director of the Centre for Northern Studies from 1997 – 2007. Until 2008 he taught at Northumbria University and was director there of the Centre for North East History. He was awarded a BA in History and Sociology, a MA in Comparative Social History and a PhD in History from Warwick University. He was elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1991.
Statue of Nicholas Wood at The Mining Institute
Photo: Sean Elliott, courtesy of The Mining Institute
Nicholas Wood (1795 – 1865)
Herman Schmiechen, (copy of) 1855-after 1891
Oil on Canvas 127 x 99cm
Courtesy of The Mining Institute