You have to be a good age now to remember the Gassy Gutter in its heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. The ‘Gassy’ was a large stream of waste water which was endlessly pumped out of Thornley Colliery during the life of the pit. Following a route about midway between Thornley and Wheatley Hill, from the colliery (some have said it was the unofficial border between the two villages) the stream passed under the Black Path to Wheatley Hill through two sturdy big pipes at about the point where the two hedge rows intersect in the photograph above. Then it went into the open again to the main road, and then under the road and back into the open in the general direction of Shotton.

On the left, Thornley side above, slurry was periodically dredged and dumped by a dutiful bucket crane into a series of low heaps. This turned that side into a permanent long bank of caked slurry. The path on the Wheatley Hill side of the stream was always clear though and this was the usual route followed by Thornley children attending the schools at Wheatley Hill. Beyond the path, on the Wheatley Hill side, was a wide slurry pond which often froze in winter and became a popular skating lake. The slurry pond is now open farmland, as seen in the middle of the picture above.

It would be great if there are pictures out there somewhere of the Gassy Gutter in its prime. However, there is still a drainage ditch and the trace of a small stream on the route of the old Gassy. The sequence of five photographs on this and the following pages were all taken on a snowy winter’s day in December 2005. Who would have thought back in 1969 that the place could look so pretty!

In the picture above, the area of thick bushes in the left foreground was a steep black slurry heap in the 1960s. The hedgerow going off in the middle to the right marks the route of the Black Path to Wheatley Hill. The large building in the distance on the road to Wheatley Hill is St Godric’s RC School. Click here for the next picture.

Gassy Gutter 2005 Photo 1

The Route of Gassy Gutter in 2005