Henry Stobart & Co Ltd, colliery owners
Early in the 19th century there were three local pits in operation, owned by the Stobart family, these being the Mary Ann Pit, the Jane Pit and the George Pit. The Mary Ann is said to be the oldest of the three collieries. At that time transportation of coal was expensive and inefficient and in 1821 an act of parliament was authorised to begin construction of what was to become the World’s First Passenger Railway: The Darlington/Stockton Railway. In 1825 the Jane Pit was used as the terminus for the line which started at Witton Park Colliery, followed the inclines at Etherley and Brusstleton, continued via Shildon and Darlington and ended on the banks of the River Tees at Stockton.
Henry Stobart, owner and head of the local mining company, made his home in the village of Etherley and the majority of the houses in the village were reserved for officials, clerical staff and others working at the residence of Mr. Stobart and were distinctively better in design and quality. Mr. Stobart eventually became known as the squire of the neighbourhood.
The George Pit, latterly known as Old Etherley Colliery, closed in 1917 and the closure of Jane Pit in April 1925 caused the loss of 255 jobs and was one of many economic disasters to befall the area.
Evidence of the importance of the Stobart family, the principal landowners and colliery owners at the time, can be found in the church in the form of a stained glass window placed in memory of John Henry Stobart and the church clock presented in memory of William Culley Stobart.