History repeats itself as Whitburn hosts skills festival at National Trust’s Souter Lighthouse

Christopher Helliwell using a pole lathe at the Heritage Skills Festival being at Souter Point Lighthouse, Whitburn.
Christopher Helliwell using a pole lathe at the Heritage Skills Festival being at Souter Point Lighthouse, Whitburn.
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CENTURIES-OLD building and craft skills have been resurrected at a history festival.

Souter Lighthouse, in Whitburn, hosted the three-day Heritage Skills Festival, which gave school pupils the opportunity to pick up little-known skills, including blacksmithing, pole-lathe turning and felt making.

Stonemason Steven Elliott demonstrating his skills at the  Heritage Skills Festival being held this weekend at Souter Point Lighthouse, Whitburn

Stonemason Steven Elliott demonstrating his skills at the Heritage Skills Festival being held this weekend at Souter Point Lighthouse, Whitburn

They later attended lectures and met craftspeople, engineers and heritage contractors.

The event, which was open to the public, also marked the official signing of an agreement which will give a £2.8million boost to one of the North East’s most important environmental assets, the Durham magnesian limestone plateau.

The cash windfall includes a £1.9million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will support a programme of events designed to help people learn more about the unique landscape.

Ivor Crowther, head of the HLF in the North East, said: “We at HLF are delighted to be able to support the Limestone Landscapes Project and the fantastic activities that will be taking place.

“This imaginative scheme will draw together the threads of proud cultural histories and precious natural heritage that permeate the limestone plateau.”

The project will enable local communities to get involved in conservation activities, while ensuring new opportunities are created for visitors to explore, enjoy and learn about the landscape.”

The plateau stretches from the Tyne to Tees, from the coast to central Durham, and spans Sunderland, South Tyneside, Hartlepool, Durham and Darlington local authority areas.

Durham county councillor Eddie Tomlinson, chairman of the Limestone Landscapes Partnership Board, said: “By getting all the partners involved in delivering this wonderful conservation campaign, we are showing our commitment to preserving a vital part of our heritage.

“Equally importantly though, we are saying that the limestone plateau is a regional treasure offering people of all ages and interests a unique insight in to our culture and heritage.

“The three-year programme of events that this fantastic grant will help fund will ensure we can showcase the flora and fauna, encourage families to explore it together and teach the next generation how they can pay their part in ensuring its here for generations to come.”

Last December, the HLF confirmed that the North East’s submission to the Landscape Partnership Scheme had been successful.

This led to a grant, worth £1.9million over three years, which will attract a further £925,000 in match-funding and in-kind contributions to help “conserve the distinctive character of the plateau”.

For more information, visit www.limestonelandscapes.info

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