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Saturday, 25 July 2009


Seaham Harbour is a seaside town on the coast of County Durham.
As children we spent many happy days splashing in and out of the North Sea and searching the rock pools for creatures.

I went back yesterday for a Durham County Council guided walk to look at the changes that have and will occur. It was the first day of the school holidays and there were families sitting on the beach and children braving the chill of the surf.

We started at the memorial to the 1962 Lifeboat disaster. I remember sitting in the Harbour Master's Office for a couple of weeks in the summer of 1968 gathering information for a short thesis on the Economic Future of the port. Even though there was a new "unsinkable" lifeboat to replace the lost one, the disaster was as fresh in people's minds as if it had happened the year before.

We headed northwards and noted the site of the Vane Tempest colliery pithead. It's chimney was demolished in the mid nineties and I remember taking my Uncle to view its collapse, because he had worked there at one stage, deep down and far out under the North Sea.

From the middle clifftop car park you can see the old church of St Mary's and the old Hall which has been a private dwelling, then a remand home for girls and then a private dwelling again. Although not so private when it was the home of Gazza.

The front has been rejuvenated and gentrified but there are still reminders and memorials to the days of coal and colliers.

There are now plans to turn the old harbour, where the fishing boats used to be moored, into a marina! In fact they made a short news item for the BBC Look North programme and showed it the very day we had been for a walk. We saw ourselves on the telly walking along the promenade! Alas on closer inspection, we were not there. There had been a walk in the morning looking at the geology of the coast but we had missed that one. Nearly a celebrity.

Cheers Gillian

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