Newcastle coal: Last ever shipment leaves the Tyne as centuries of North East history closes


The end of an era: Last ever shipment of coal from Newcastle leaves the Tyne as centuries of North East history closes

  • The ship Longwave loaded its final 12,000-ton cargo from Tyneside yesterday
  • By 1913 the Great North Coal Field produced 55million tons of the fuel a year 
  • The huge scale of the industry led to the phrase ‘carrying coals to Newcastle’
  • End of coal-fired power stations slashed demand but it’s still used to make steel

The last ever shipment of coal from Newcastle left the Tyne shortly before midnight last night, bringing centuries of North East history to an end.

The ship Longwave loaded its final 12,000-ton cargo from Tyneside, which has exported coal since the 13th century.

By 1913, the Great North Coal Field employed 250,000 and produced 55million tons a year. 

The huge scale of the industry led to the phrase ‘carrying coals to Newcastle’ to describe a pointless task.

The ship Longwave (pictured) loaded its final 12,000-ton cargo from Tyneside, which has exported coal since the 13th century

The huge scale of the industry led to the phrase 'carrying coals to Newcastle' to describe a pointless task. Pictured, the ship is loaded with coal

The huge scale of the industry led to the phrase ‘carrying coals to Newcastle’ to describe a pointless task. Pictured, the ship is loaded with coal

Although the end of coal-fired power stations slashed demand, coal is still used to make steel, glass and cement.  

The final shipment is bound for Belgium and is being transported by Hargreaves Services, which has recently sold off the last of its coal stock to its German division.

Ex miner Stuart Porthouse, 74, worked across the Great North Coal Field from 1962 until 1994, when he lost his job aged just 48.

Mr Porthouse, who is a trustee of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, said: ‘This is a very sad time for the region and for everyone who has been involved in the mining industry.

The final shipment is bound for Belgium and is being transported by Hargreaves Services, which has recently sold off the last of its coal stock to its German division. Pictured, an open cast coal mine near Ponteland, Northumberland in 2001

The final shipment is bound for Belgium and is being transported by Hargreaves Services, which has recently sold off the last of its coal stock to its German division. Pictured, an open cast coal mine near Ponteland, Northumberland in 2001

‘Coal was first mined here by the Romans, 2000 years ago. Now, we don’t have any mines left in the area. We have to look forward, and at different ways of creating power but coal will always be a huge part of our history.

‘I worked in the industry from being a young lad. There was a fantastic sense of community, which still lives on today. Miners have an amazing sense of humour.

‘The final shipment of coal from the region does signify the death of the industry in my mind. But nothing will destroy the community spirit of the mining industry.

‘That won’t die until the final miners do.’  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk