Highlighting Seaham’s historic splendour

Author and Historian Fred Cooper outside Massimo's Italian Restaurant in Seaham,  which was the first building to be erected in the town.
Author and Historian Fred Cooper outside Massimo's Italian Restaurant in Seaham, which was the first building to be erected in the town.
0
Have your say

A HERITAGE campaign could see the introduction of plaques marking the people and places behind a town’s history.

The idea has been suggested for Seaham in the hope that visitors will be inspired to find out more about the area.

The old Londonderry Offices in Seaham

The old Londonderry Offices in Seaham

Those who could be commemorated by the plaques include Lord Byron and opera singer Sir Thomas Allen.

Locations including what began as the Londonderry Arms and early industrial sites, such as its ropery, brick and bottle works, have also been put forward.

The idea has come from Seaham Family History Group (SFHG), which is seeking the support of other organisations for the plan.

Only the Mill Inn is marked with a blue plaque as it stands, as it was the site of election riot in February 1874, with the marker put up by an independent society.

The site of the Seaham Infirmary

The site of the Seaham Infirmary

The group says neighbouring areas, including Easington, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle already benefit from the plaques.

Seaham-born Fred Cooper, 62, who lives in New Herrington, is chairman of the SFHG, as well as an author of stories based on his home town’s past.

He said: “They contribute to the community spirit and pride in their towns by forming an essential ingredient of local identity and place making.

“They can increase a sense of pride among local communities and educate both the residents and visitors about history and architecture.

The Londonderry Institute in Seaham

The Londonderry Institute in Seaham

“There is very little evidence of the mining community left and there is a real danger that this and the next generation will not even realise that Seaham was built on the coal mining industry.

“Clearly any such scheme is not simply a matter of fixing a notice to a building.

“Effective plaques should be the result of a process of involved and detailed work by interested stakeholders which will involve sources of funding, consideration of potential schemes for approval and discussions with owners of buildings and where necessary the local planning authority.”

The group has said it does not have the resources or expertise to set up the scheme alone and is calling for support from others, including art, culture and other history groups.

The old Lord Seaham, now the Harbour View

The old Lord Seaham, now the Harbour View

It is discussing the idea with the Durham Heritage Coast Partnership after Seaham Town Council said it would be a more suitable organisation to help.

Mr Cooper added that people in Seaham had already shown their interest and passion about the call to bring Mary Portas to the town to help regenerate its shopping areas.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham