In 1899 the 6th Marquess of Londonderry decided to create a new colliery at Dawdon in Co. Durham. Londonderry also owned Seaham Colliery at the time, however it was proving very uneconomical to extract coal reserves situated to the South East of it, so Dawdon was created in order to tap into these reserves which stretched out for many miles under the North Sea.
In the same year Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry and her elder son the Viscount Castlereagh cut the first sods for the new two new pits (shafts). These were to be named the Castlereagh and Theresa shafts after them.
In 1900 shaft sinking began and they would eventually end up reaching a depth of more than 1650 feet.
Dawdon Colliery officially opened in 1907.
The immediate years following the opening of the mine saw some rapid expansion of the Dawdon area. Many rows of colliery housing were created, a new welfare hall was opened in 1910, and the Church of St Hild & St Helen known as the "the Pitmen's Cathedral" was consecrated in 1912.
By 1914 Dawdon was employing over 2000 workers, with the Hutton and Low Main seams being worked. The coal produced went for various uses including Gas, Household, Manufacturing and Steam.
1914 also saw the outbreak of the First World War (The Great War) and many Dawdon workers went off to fight in the fields of France and Belgium for their country. A number of them would never return