My route today continues to follow the magnesian limestone cliffs down to Hartlepool passing through the pit lands of Dawdon (1907-1991), Easington (1899 – 1993), Horden (1900 – 1987) and Blackhall (1909 – 1981).
A sense of weariness is palpable in the sculpture and it seems to communicate directly the senselessness of war in a very direct and poignant manner. Made of coteen steel, the metal has rusted to cloak the soldier in a khaki-like colour. When I visited Tommy, as the locals call him, his future was uncertain with no permanent home secured for him. Since then, the citizens of Seaham and the local council have raised the £85K to purchase the sculpture and it will now stay in the town. Like many others who have viewed the sculpture I hope to retrun when I have more time to view it again. To see other examples of Ray Lonsdale's unique work, follow this link and open the photo gallery.
On a hillside above the cliffs a restored pit cage from the colliery stands sentinel over the pit entrance and reminds us of the cost of coal in terms of the loss of life in specific tragedies and the many men who died from the ‘dust’. The memorial was placed by the Turning the Tide Project, an organisation charged with reclaiming this strip of coast. Watch the short video on their website to get an idea of the horror that this area was thirty years ago. The opening scenes are like a film extract from Dante's Inferno but, happily ends in redemption!
The nearby Horden mine opened in 1900 and closed in 1987. It set a European record for mining the most coal in one day.
I had walked over some of the best cliff top walking in the UK and still had some more to come when we cross the River Tees on our next outing and head for the clifftops of Yorkshire. After that we come to the flatlands of Lincolnshire and Norfolk and pretty much stay on the flat until the South Coast. Before then, there is the little matter of a six-day hiking trip in the rugged grandeur of the Grand Canyon of Arizona, USA! Let's hear it for the outdoors. Hurrah!!!