The Hedley Foundation
A charitable foundation which supports young people, the disabled and the terminally ill.
The Hedley Family and The Hedley Foundation
William Hedley was born in Newburn, Newcastle in 1773 and went to school in Wylam, 8 miles to the west. He became a colliery manager at the age of 22 and was one of the leading engineers trying to improve the system of transporting coal by horse power along wooden trackways. Cast-iron plate rails (with the flange on the rail rather than on a wagon wheel) were laid at Wylam Colliery in 1808 and William Hedley developed the system of coupling of wheels which gave locomotives with smooth wheels sufficient adhesion, even on smooth rails, to haul a train of loaded wagons. This he patented in 1813, the year in which he also unveiled his famous locomotive, Puffing Billy, with a revolutionary and reliable design to carry power to the coupled wheels.
Puffing Billy marked a major stage in the development of railway locomotion. George Stephenson, generally credited as "father of the railways" (and also brought up and living in Wylam, though it was said he and Hedley were not the best of friends) did not produce his Rocket until 1825. Puffing Billy remained in use until 1862. Although they later moved to the Lake District, William Hedley's descendants remained coal mine owners until nationalisation in 1947.
The Hedley Foundation was set up in 1971 and endowed from a family trust of which the principle asset was the compensation received on nationalisation. It has assets of some £20 million. It is a registered company and a charity.
The main objective of the Trustees' grant-making is to assist and encourage development and change. It follows that most grants will be of capital or one-off nature, but the Trustees sometimes agree to help fund the introduction of new and innovative projects with a series of up to 3 annual grants. Few grants exceed £5,000 and most of them go to charities where they can make an impact. We do not support large or national appeals.
Within the main objective, the Foundation makes grants according to its published criteria, which are reviewed from time to time.