Bulldozers move in on historic offices

Demolition of Easington Council Offices, Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery
Demolition of Easington Council Offices, Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery
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TIME has finally caught up with Easington District Council’s former home.

The council held its meetings at the offices in Easington Colliery for more than 80 years.

But the building’s days have been numbered since 2009, when the decision was taken to create a new unitary authority to cover the whole of County Durham, and most of Easington’s staff moved into new offices in Seaham.

The Seaside Lane site was put up for sale by the newly-created Durham County Council, and now the bulldozers have moved in as work gets under way to flatten the site.

But not all of its history has been lost.

The bricks and mortar may be going, but the council chamber’s fixtures and fittings have been put into storage at Beamish Museum after measurements were taken with the hope of recreating the room.

Desks, chairs, boards and panels detailing the names of the council’s leaders have all be saved.

Jim Rees, assistant director of development at Beamish, said: “We collected furniture and fittings from the chamber, and also recorded the layout and structure.

“Sadly, although we would have loved to have recovered more of the original building and rebuilt it back at Beamish, we couldn’t think of a way of raising the large amount of money such a major project would need.

“However, we didn’t want its passing to go unrecorded.

“We collected those key items of oak desks and chairs, from which the council made decisions for all those years.”

The building was originally opened in 1903 on the site of Easington Poor Law Union’s workhouse, which offered refuge for those unable to support themselves.

It then became the home of the Union Board and the base of first Easington Rural District Council, then District of Easington in 1974 when the council merged with Seaham Urban District.

Stuart Timmiss, the county council’s head of planning and assets, said: “Although the building was not listed, as the place where local councillors held their meetings for more than 80 years, the chamber has a lot of history and we were keen to preserve what we could.

“We were extremely pleased Beamish Museum agreed to take all of the furniture and fittings, with the hope of recreating the chamber at a later date.

“It’s fantastic this bit of County Durham’s history is to be preserved.”