Tag Archives: County Durham

Earth collapses to reveal 100ft sinkhole in County Durham

Earth has collapsed to reveal a 100ft-wide sinkhole in County Durham that is so deep the bottom cannot be seen.

The gaping void, thought to be the result of mine workings deep beneath the surface, is just a stone’s throw from a  farmhouse.

And it was three times smaller when it was first discovered on Thursday morning, at Cowshill, in the rural area of Weardale, by Durham University academic Sam Hillyard.

The 39-year-old had been out shooting rabbits with her black Labrador Jack and was returning to her home  when she noticed the 30ft hole.

Overnight, the hole sank further to reveal an abyss. And it is feared rain forecast for the weekend may see it become larger still.

Sam’s partner John Hensby  said: “Sam came back and she was looking quite shocked.

“She told me that a hole had appeared and I said I best go and have a look.

“At the time, it was about five metres round. Throughout Thursday night it got bigger and bigger until it was about three times that size on Friday morning.

“It is about 35 metres wide and you can’t see the bottom of it.

“The sound was phenomenal. We could hear rumbling and smashing and crashing from down below; all of these great lumps of earth were falling in and falling in.

“If one of the dogs or the sheep fell in we would never see them again.

“On Friday morning it looked to be about 100ft deep.”

The couple’s home is between two former mines, Sedling Pit and Burtree Pastures Pit. Today Sam and John live in the old pit master’s home and the house is surrounded by sheep farms.

But one of the old mine shafts remains just metres from where the ground has given way.

John informed Durham County Council and Durham Police of the hole as a precaution.

> At which point, if there was any comedic justice, a police spokesperson should have been quoted as saying: “We have received a report of a sinkhole, and we’re looking into it…”

Now, they will wait to see if it gets any deeper as downpours are expected for Monday.

John said: “With more rain coming tomorrow and on Monday we could see a lot more of the hole.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  24 Aug 2014

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North East parks are our ‘Natural Health Service’

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It’s called the Natural Health Service – and sums up the therapeutic benefits flowing from green spaces and contact with wildlife.

Nature is good for us. This is something that we intuitively know, and for which there is mounting evidence,” says Northumberland Wildlife Trust chief executive Mike Pratt.

Stroll through a nature reserve, or just watch wildlife from your window – all contribute to our physical, mental and emotional well being.”

For many urban dwellers, it is parks which offer a link to the natural world.

Many people talk about “the other NHS” – the alternative and preventative health benefits that nature provided for free,” says Mike.

After all, we are animals and are intrinsically linked to the ecosystem and life support provided through the surrounding environment.

“So it’s no surprise that we feel better when we interact with wildlife, and enjoy…

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Oi, Milliband – Where’s My Free Owl ?

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Seems a Surrealist managed to hack into Labour’s  press team’s Twitter account yesterday, giving the impression that  Ed Miliband had come up with his most revolutionary policy so far.

Everybody should have his own owl,’ said the tweet that quickly took flight on social media.

One tweeter said: ‘We had  hoped our compulsory owl  guarantee would be a head  turning policy, but sadly it’s no longer going to take flight. #tweettwoo’.

Another, Lucy Vine, said: ‘You know… I think a free owl would actually genuinely make me vote Labour.’

More serious-minded observers pointed out that it would be a  policy unlikely to find support at the Treasury, as baby barn owls cost around £80 each.

To provide one for all 63million people in the country would  cost £5billion a year, or around 5 per cent of the entire budget for the NHS.

But if you think…

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County Durham Gets A New Flag

durham flag

County Durham has a new flag,  unveiled (or possibly unfurled) in a ceremony at Durham Cathedral on 21 November 2013.

The design  is based on the St Cuthbert’s cross, with the whole design counter-changed horizontally between the County Durham colours of blue and yellow.

The design was chosen over several others by public vote in a competition. You can view the other designs here –

http://andystrangeway.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/county-durham-flag-finalists-voting-commences/

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Stone Circle, Seaham, County Durham

 

This rather nice modern circle of eight monoliths straddles a pedestrian / cycle path on a new housing estate at Seaham, County Durham.

Are they any the less for the fact that they weren’t erected thousands of years ago ?

More pictures & info at : http://spiritofplace.weebly.com

 

 

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FRANKENSTEIN SOUND LAB – Dalden Tower

Another from the Spirit Of Place project.

Dalden Tower is a ruined  fortified medieval manor house on the outskirts of Seaham, County Durham.

The manor of Dalden was probably in existence in the 12th century, in possession of the Escolland family. The first documentary evidence dates from c.1320 when Sir Jordan de Dalden sought permission to build a private chapel.

Shortly after this the manor passed by marriage to the Bowes family. It was the Bowes family who were responsible for the building of the tower.

In 1615 it was passed again by marriage to the Collingwoods and subsequently was purchased by the Milbank family.

Lord Byron married into the Milbank family of Seaham, though they weren’t living here then…did he ever visit the tower ?

According to the Durham historian William Hutchinson, writing at the end of the 18th century, it had long been derelict.

Today, the ruins always remind be of  of standing stones, the three remaining sections of wall like a trio of monoliths.

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FRANKENSTEIN SOUND LAB – Apollo Pavillion, Peterlee

Another from the ongoing SPIRIT OF PLACE project – the Apollo Pavillion at Peterlee, County Durham.

We’ve posted about the Apollo Pavillion before – https://alchemyandaccident.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/apollo-pavilion-peterlee/

…see that post for more information about it.

 

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Hetton Lyons to Ryhope (Avoiding Traffic)

Hetton Lyons Country Park, on the outskirts of the town of Hetton-le-Hole, rose like a green pheonix from the ashes of the mining industry – where once people worked and died (there’s a monument to those who perished in a mining disaster) there are now three lakes, woodland, wetland and acres of open space. 

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I had business at the park in the morning, but free by 1 p.m. I thought rather than catch the bus back the 8 or 9 miles into the city I’d walk back, trying to avoid traffic wherever possible (I find the sound of moving traffic increasingly annoying).

I left the country park by another relic of mining days – an old mineral line, now a footpath, which once carried coal wagons.

On the hillsides, Gorse bushes are in flower. Those yellow flowers can be used to make a very nice wine, but you need a lot of them, and Gorse thorns exact payment in blood.

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The footpath climbs steadily in an easterly direction.

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Eventually the footpath intersects with a minor road, and I turn onto this heading north. This  single-track road is called Salter’s Lane, which suggests it may have once been part of an ancient saltway – an old trading route.

The road passes through a farmyard, and then  I’m in a landscape of wind-turbines that’d have freaked out Don Quixote.

4In some areas there is a lot of anti-wind turbine feeling, but I like them, I think they enhance, rather than spoil the landscape. If the hillside was dotted with old-style windmills, that’d be thought scenic. But what’s the difference really ? Both use the power of the wind to create power.

5A little way beyond the farm I leave the saltway and head eastwards again, along a track that leads through fields and woodland before eventually depositing me on another old railway line turned footpath just outside the village of Murton – somewhere along that track I crossed the boundry from the City of Sunderland  into County Durham.

6Murton was a pit village – small town, really –  that for centuries was a small farming community, which grew due to the Industrial Revolution and the need for coal.

Heading northwards again, a little further on I get a first glimpse of the North Sea on the eastern horizon.

7One problem with old railway lines as paths is that they’re often boringly straight. So is this one, but at least most of the way its raised up above the surrounding countryside on an embankment, giving good views to either side.

After a cold Spring, this warm May day has brought out flowers along the way, both wild and feral escapees from gardens. Here’s some Cowslips…

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My only real brush with traffic along the way is when the path crosses the A19 (a motorway in all but name), and I ponder that its predecessor, the railway, is now given over to pedestrian and cycle use (as are the railway’s predecessors, the canals) – will there come a day when motorways too become footpaths ?

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A sign-post along the way. It’s numbered 1, but I passed no others along the way.

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Ah – now this bench is a piece of personal history.  Several years, and jobs, ago I painted this, and its sibling benches along this stretch of the path. I particularly remember this otherwise mundane job because it was a raw Winter’s day in January or February, and a cruel wind was blowing in from the North Sea, giving every impression that the last landmass it had crossed had been northern Scandinavia, and bringing with it gifts of intermittant rain and hailstones.

You might think – and I certainly did – that it wasn’t a good idea to be painting benches in the rain. The paint might not take properly, and, more to the point, people do not do a good job when being subjected to the icy blast of the elements and can no longer feel their fingers, feet and other parts.

But the boss was not a flexible man. Once he decided a job had to be done on a certain day, that was it. I guess we were just lucky it wasn’t under 3 feet of snow – he’d have had us digging them out, then painting them.

Looks like its due for a re-paint. But not by me !

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And now I was approaching the end of this footpath, Ryhope – once a village, now the outer limits of Sunderland.  This last picture is looking back, southwards, along the path…

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After a warm, sunny afternoon, dark clouds were piling up and the first raindrops falling as I walked the short distance to the nearest bus stop… a short distance within which two buses going my way passed me !

Luckily its a route well-served by public transport and so I only had to wait about 10 minutes before another two buses came along, one behind the other ! I caught the first one back into the city centre.

This journey was probably somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 miles. Hard to be sure, because I detour to look at things.

 

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Almanac – January 01

In England, January 1 was celebrated as the New Year festival, but from the 12th century to 1752 the year in England began on March 25 (Lady Day). So, for example, the Parliamentary record notes the execution of Charles I as occurring on January 30, 1648, (as the year did not end until March 24), although modern histories adjust the start of the year to January 1 and record the execution as occurring in 1649.

Most western European countries changed the start of the year to January 1 before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. For example, Scotland changed the start of the Scottish New Year to January 1 in 1600. England, Ireland and the British colonies changed the start of the year to January 1 in 1752. Later that year in September, the Gregorian calendar was introduced throughout Britain and the British colonies, implemented by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.

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1804 – . Haiti became the first black republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.

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1812 – The Bishop of Durham, Shute Barrington, ordered troops from Durham Castle to break up a miners strike, at collieries owned by the Dean & chapter of Durham Cathedral,  in Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham.

At this time (and up until 1836), the “Prince” Bishops of Durham still held vice-regal powers in the North of England, which included the maintenance of a small private army, garrisoned in Durham Castle.

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1928 – Ernest Tidyman born. American author and screenwriter, best known for his novels featuring the African-American detective John Shaft. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the film version of Shaft.

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1953 – Hank Williams died.  American singer-songwriter and musician regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time.

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1984 – Alexis Korner died.  Blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a Founding Father of British Blues”.  A major influence on the sound of the British music scene in the 1960s – in 1961, Korner and Cyril Davies formed Blues Incorporated, initially a loose-knit group of musicians with a shared love of electric blues and R&B music. The group included, at various times, such influential musicians as Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry, Graham Bond, Danny Thompson and Dick Heckstall-Smith. It also attracted a wider crowd of mostly younger fans, some of whom occasionally performed with the group, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Geoff Bradford, Rod Stewart, John Mayall and Jimmy Page.

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