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Seaton Burn Heritage Project

Seaton Burn is a typical ex-coalmining village in North Tyneside. It suffers from lack of facilities and services. Seaton Burn Community College approached us to develop and deliver a heritage project with the aim of giving young people from the area some interest and pride in their environment.

We helped the College to secure HLF funding and designed an intensive heritage project with the students. This involved the organisation of various coffee mornings in Seaton Burn and Wideopen to gather memories which were either transcribed, recorded to audio, or filmed. Students then researched the history of Seaton Burn and its former residents online, using resources such as Ancestry.

We then assisted the students to create a story, incorporating creative writing and drama. This was based on the true story of Ralph Wilkinson, who attempted to blow up the Seaton Burn railway bridge in 1910. Students discovered Ralph while viewing the Northumbria Record Office website. Ralph was featured on one of the postcards we produced to promote the project.

A heritage trail was produced and a printed leaflet produced. We negotiated with North Tyneside Council to create and install some English Heritage-style green plaques and interpretation panels around the village.

We embedded parts of the school curriculum throughout the project, including art, writing, and drama, which formed the basis of a manga-style comic called ‘Seaton Burn Boom!’, telling the story of Ralph Wilkinson.

To advertise and publicise the students’ work, and the website, a series of postcards was designed and printed for distribution around the area. In keeping with the spirit of the North East, beer mats advertised the project in local pubs.

The interpretation panels were unveiled by Mayor Norma Redfearn, with many of the Seaton Burn residents who had provided information in attendance.

Students also interviewed Seaton Burn residents who were keen to tell their stories of the village. Here are two of them.