Place names in Wingate are notable. Salters Lane can be traced northwards through Shotton Colliery and received its name because the salt from the mines in the Middlesborough area were carried along this route. Moor Lane is the original site of a toll gate which bore the name “Wyndgate.” An adjacent terrace now bears the name as does a relatively new Lodge of the Freemasons.
Fir Tree farm and Inn are also land-marks in the village. The farm, now enlarged, was known for many years as “Caplin’s.” Mr. Peter Hunt, a jeweller, who came to Wingate after the bombardment of West Hartlepool in World War 1, said that his mother was born in the farm in 1820.
Wingate Grange Farm is situated near the colliery and is farmed by Mr. J. Flowers.
T’he original colliery houses have now almost disappeared. They were primitive dwellings, with no arrangements for washing either of persons or clothes.
Sanitation was provided by rows of earth closets which ran parallel with and a few yards from the dwellings.
The houses usually consisted of one living room and a bedroom which was reached by a ladder.
These houses were kept spotlessly clean, despite the unmade roads and other difficulties, because the miner’s wife was invariably a hard-working woman. The kitchen floor was the washing and bathing place for all members of the family.
The miner had one idiosyncrasy – he did not wash his back, believing that this would weaken it. Instead he had a thorough rub-down with a course towel.
Each colliery house had a garden which was usually well tended. The local colliery manager or “viewer” who was considered the Squire, occasionally rode around the village on horsebaclk inspecting the gardens and thereby encouraging an interest in the work. As in other colliery villages, the greatest interest was in the growing of leeks which were proudly displayed at the annual show.
The original colliery streets were called “Pickering,” “Todd,” “Humble Lane,” “Seymour,” “Chapel Chare,” “Chapel Square,” “Mill lRow” and “Sinkers Row.” The last-named was immediately adjacent to the colliery and was so named because it housed the original sinkers of the colliery. “Mill Row” was so called because of the Flour Mill which once stood there, worked by the water of the water of the stream which bounded the colliery streets. The Mill was later bought by Mr. John Michael Walker, a local tradesman, and converted into tenements.
To the north of the village some of the old colliery houses have been modernised, an effective contrast to the original conditions. With the passing of time land was bought from Colonel Burdon for private development, and miners and tradesmen alike gradually spread northward into their own houses.
Wingate is pleased to remember that Mr. Peter Lee once lived here, being employed at the colliery on two separate occasions. When he was about twenty years old and sitting in the Colliers’ Arms (now converted to tenements) he suddenly realised what an aimless life he was leading. He decided to improve his education and went to night-school. This was held in a private school situated in the market-place, managed by a Mr. Wilson, grandfather of Mr. John Wilson Hays, a local resident to this day. When Mr. Wilson became too ill his duties were taken over by a young man named Willis, who was to remain in the village for many years until his retirement, eventually becoming headmaster of the Boys’ School.