RECENTLY we established that there was a foundry next to the workhouse in Crossgate in Durham.

It was probably established by the Pepplo family but in the 1840s it was taken on by William Coulson, the mastersinker of collieries.

Coulson, who was born in Gateshead Fell in 1791, played a crucial part in creating the Durham coalfield when, in 1821, he found at Hetton-le-Hole that there was coal beneath a layer of magnesian limestone rock which had thwarted all previous coalowners.

Coulson, and his brothers and sons, had a magical gift for sinking collieries. Between them, they sank more than 100 in Durham and more besides in Wales and Prussia.

Coulson, who lived at Western Hill, Durham, died on June 12, 1865, at the home of Nicholas Wood – another legendary figure in the history of the coalfield – at Hetton Hall, Hetton-le-Hole.

However, at least part of his business continued at Crossgate into the 20th Century.

“When I was a young child in the 1950s, my grandfather worked for William Coulson & Co, whose business was site investigation – boring holes in the ground to ascertain suitability before erecting new buildings etc,” says Reg Marshall.

“On a few occasions, my grandfather took me into the building in your picture. It was an engineering workshop and a place of great wonderment for me.

“If you look closely at the right-hand corner of the building, there is a chimney, which was the flue for a blacksmith’s forge. It had a large hand-operated bellows to brighten the fire. This was my early introduction to metal working and I spent most of my working life doing just that.”

He adds that the building behind the bus stop in our picture was the Northern bus company’s first depot in the city.

AFTER William Coulson’s death, the Crossgate foundry was acquired by George Hauxwell. He had been born in Great Ayton in 1826, but arrived in Durham in 1860 and established a foundry in Atherton Street beneath the viaduct. By buying out Coulson’s foundry, he was buying out the competition.

As the 1881 advert sent in by Billy Mollon shows, Hauxwell’s offered a wide range of foundry and engineering services. The company continued until the 1960s, and it is best remembered through its manufacture of one of Memories’ favourite pieces of street furniture: drains.

When we were in the city over the wet weekend, G Hauxwell’s late 19th Century drain grills were being regularly put through their paces.