Seaham gateway points visitors in the wrong direction

Artist Jac Howard and Heritage Coast Officer, Niall Benson when they launched the new welcome signs in Seaham.
Artist Jac Howard and Heritage Coast Officer, Niall Benson when they launched the new welcome signs in Seaham.
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A NEW gateway to welcome visitors has been officially unveiled on an award-winning coastline.

But tourists arriving in Seaham, where one of the signs is installed, may be baffled if they follow its arrow in search of the town.

One chevron points in the direction of Ryhope - the other towards the North Sea.

Leaders of the Durham Heritage Coast project, who are behind the signs, agree it could be confusing, but say the posts will lead visitors into the Seaham Hall car park, where information on the area is now on show.

Niall Benson, Durham Heritage Coast officer, said: “The object is to welcome them to Seaham and see the information. The idea is that this is the gateway.

“A lot of people use that car park for the car boot sale and we hope this may persuade them to take the opportunity to go into Seaham.”

The signs were due to be officially launched in August, but the event was postponed until this week.

Artist Jac Howard, who is behind the designs on the posts and a teacher at Houghton Kepier School, also unveiled another sign at Crimdon.

Niall added: “This short delay has allowed for some minor snagging to enhance the finish of the signs to be completed. Initial reaction to the designs from visitors has been positive – both from those using the car park as well as from regular passers by.

“I’m very proud to see my artwork featured in such a dramatic and positive way on this coastline.

“I’ve a passion for both art and this area and I took inspiration for the designs from the coastline itself.

“I wanted it to show the local natural environment though native shells and seaweed but also local items of interest like the distinctive coble fishing boats used here.

“I also integrated local place names which will hopefully inspire visitors to explore this wonderful area further.”

More than 300,000 visits were made to the area last year, with car park usage trebling over the past three years.

Last week the stretch of coastline, which covers from Salterfern Rocks at Hendon to Crimdon, achieved European recognition.

It was one of only three entrants honoured with a formal Special Mention for its work in the prestigious Landscape Award of the Council of Europe competition.

A total of 14 countries competed for the award which raises awareness of the value of landscapes, their role in society and positive changes within them.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham