Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mining into Some New Experiences

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mining into Some New Experiences

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Environment Editor Tony Henderson concludes his exploration of the County Durham coast.

At either end of a long street are two different worlds.

Easington Village dates from the early medieval period. Its 11th Century church tower can be seen for miles out to sea and was used by sailors to fix their position.

The building opposite St Mary's Church, Seaton Holme, was built in the 13th Century.

The village green is one of the biggest in County Durham and it is recorded that two villagers were executed there for their part in the Rising of the North in 1569.

Head towards the sea, predictably along Seaside Lane, and there is Easington Colliery, which grew up around one of the last County Durham pits to be sunk and one of the last to close.

The medieval village buildings bookend the settlement which developed next to the grime of a mine which once employed 3,500 men.

Where the industrial complex of the pit once stood, there is now a grassed area which mirrors the medieval village green.

The site of the former pit is an evocative place, which speaks of how quickly things can change, of how what once seemed enduring certainties can suddenly cease to be so.

Many former mining communities have never really recovered from the shock.

Cars now drive in through what was the main entrance to the pit to a car park which links to the Durham coastal path ( a symbol of the greener, post-coal county.

From the car park, another path leads up a slope beside which stands a memorial to the mine fashioned from a pit cage.

The path is studded with plaques which spell out the key moments in the pit's history:

* 1899: work begins on sinking the first shaft.

* 1904: water breaks into the shaft, killing sinker R Atkinson.

* 1907: Sinking resumes under the direction of German engineers, who recover Mr Atkinson's body.

* 1910: Coal production starts.

* 1912: The first Easington coal is shipped from nearby Seaham.

* 1931: An aerial buckets system is built to tip colliery waste over the nearby cliffs.

* 1951: Easington Colliery disaster in which 83 miners die. …

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