It once starred in Alien 3 - now our beautiful Durham coastline is the star of a new film which premieres this weekend

A much-publicised stretch of our coastline is the star attraction in a new film – thanks to its immense history and beauty.

Blast Beach: Digging Deeper gets its premiere screening this weekend and examines everything from a coastline which was once buried under 40 million tonnes of colliery waste, to its artistic splendour.

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In the 1900s, the mining communities of Durham were England’s leading producer of coal but Blast Beach was transformed after the colliery era.

Blast Beach which features in a new film. Photos: Colin Davison Photography.

Now comes the new 40-minute film which has been created from a series of interviews with locals as well as people whose lives and work are influenced by the landmark.

The finished project will be shown free of charge to members of the public ahead of a premiere celebration on Saturday, March 26.

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It has been commissioned by SeaScapes Co/Lab and Suzy O’Hara of SeaScapes Co/Lab said it offered ‘new ways to learn about the complex history and beauty of Blast Beach through the diverse voices of local people who know and are inspired by this special place’.

The documentary is a collaboration with the Reading the Rocks project and aims to create opportunities for learning, access and enjoyment.

The team films at Blast Beach - l-r Desmond Consitt, Stephen Williams-Dixon, Prof. Dave Roberts and crew members William Smith, John Lewis, Hamza Mohammmed Alsarayreh and Leigh Alexander Crawford, with Professor Adelle Hulsmeier looking on. Photo: Colin Davison Photography

Artists from the East Durham Artists’ Network (EDAN) played an integral role in the project. They shared their local knowledge and artworks which will be shown at the Art Block gallery in Seaham – the same place where the film Blast Beach: Digging Deeper will be shown.

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The film was co-produced by Dr Adelle Hulsmeier who is a senior lecturer in performing arts and the University of Sunderland’s programme leader for screen performance, and Professor Dave Roberts, a geologist from Durham University.

Students also played their part. They helped to make the film and compose its original score.

One of the network members, Jac Seery Howard, said the group’s local knowledge was vital to the finished film, and that their artistic process was in turn informed by the questions posed by the filmmakers.

Former miner Desmond Consitt and Professor Dave Roberts at Blast Beach. Photo: Colin Davison Photography.
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Professor Roberts said: “This film aims to inform the public about the importance of geology in shaping the landscape and influencing our environment. Geology is the foundation of everything around us, shaping the past, present and future. This collaboration, the film and the exhibition, is all about exploring our human relationship with the unique Blast Beach.”

The film will be shown hourly between 10am and 3pm on Saturday, March 26.

There will be an EDAN exhibition alongside it and it is called Mag Lime Magic. It explores the geology of the beach’s surrounding magnesian limestone structure.

Jean Spence of EDAN said: “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to discover more about the geological formations and the chemistry of the industrial pollution on Blast Beach.”

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Some of the features at Blast Beach in Seaham. Photo: Colin Davison Photography.

The film, which will also be shown online after this weekend’s premiere, will form part of this year’s Seaham Festival.

People can find out more about the Seascapes project at www.exploreseascapes.co.uk.

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The geology surrounding Blast Beach in Seaham. Photo: Colin Davison Photography.
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Blast Beach. Photo: Colin Davison Photography.
Former miners Stephen Williams-Dixon and Desmond Consitt on location near Blast Beach. Photo: Colin Davison Photography.