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Vane House, Dawdon

13th Durham Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital

Type: Hospital

Appearing on the 1899 Ordnance Map, Vane House was constructed along modern Edith Street between 1856 and 1899. It was possibly sustained by a new contemporary aqueduct seen on the map. Initially surrounded by old, abandoned quarries, the structure most likely became associated with the nearby Dawdon Colliery when it was sunk in 1900. Vane House also stood near the Chemical Works and lime kilns.

Vane House was recorded to have been used as the 13th Durham Voluntary Aid Hospital during the First World War. The house was also inhabited by Joseph Stanley Cowell, a mining engineer and manager of Dawdon Colliery, as appointed by Lord Londonderry. Joseph Cowell’s son, Lieutenant Charles Stanley Cowell, died from heart failure due to complications after an operation. Floral tributes were given to him from the Commandant and Staff of Vane House Hospital.

By the end of the First World War, the grounds near Vane House had two rows of new houses, possibly within the large-scale housing scheme initiated by the Urban District Council of Seaham Harbour and District. They may also possibly be aged miner’s homes such as the dozen built on nearby Hill Crescent in 1925.

The site was later reclaimed and the modern Spectrum Business Park built on top. All earlier buildings, including Vane House, were assumed to be demolished.

Sources cited:
Newcastle Daily Journal: Monday 16 April 1917
Newcastle Daily Journal: Tuesday 17th April 1917

Relevant Sources:
DCC/NS 3/2/112 Site investigation report of Dawdon Colliery 24 April 1997
D/Lo Acc 1750(D) Box 17/41

Plans and Images:
NCB 2/306/1 Plan of Ryhope, Wearmouth, Vne Tempest, Seaham, Dawdon, Silksworth, Eppleton Collieries with correlation of Maudlin Seam

D/CL 18/18, D/CL 18/19 Aerial photograph of Dawdon Colliery showing Edith Street, Noses Point, and railway line, outer harbour, beacon, lighthouse, and North Dock, at Seaham, ref. no. 45927, n.d., 1934

The following information comes from records held at the archives at the Museum of the Order of St John, and is used with their kind permission. Reference OSJ/1/1/12/12:

1) Number of beds: Ten
Whether for officers only: no
Whether for officers and rank & file: yes
Stating numbers of each: 3 officers, 7 men
Whether for rank & file alone: –

2) Staff provided
Number of medical men available: medical officer in charge of unit
Number of nurses fully trained: one

3) Whether full provision of
a) beds: yes
b) hospital stores and drugs: store contributed privately, some drugs drawn from unit
c) food: Rations drawn from unit, £5 per mouth also from unit, remainder of expense provided privately

4) Are you prepared to undertake the whole cost of maintenance, including pay of entire staff, if so, for how long? Yes, under the above conditions

If not, state definitely what financial aid is required:

Commandant: Nora G. Dillon

For further information:
Museum of the Order of St John
VAD Hospitals in Northumberland and Durham 1914-1918
Scarlet Finders

Civil Parish: Dawdon

Contributed by Tullia Fraser | Durham County Council Archaeology Section | Durham County Record Office | Durham County Record Office