Week in Review: 22nd - 28th July

Hi everyone! We hope you’re staying safe and not getting caught up in those scraps down at Tynemouth.

This past week has been a bit of a slower one. I’ve been working on a couple of other projects in family history and the like, as well as working and currently organising moving house! Nevertheless, there’s still been a few fascinating features added to the site as well as a bit of news.

At the beginning of the week we completed one of the last features on Black History for the time being (though this will be ongoing). It was on Olaudah Equiano, a freed slave and staunch abolitionist who visited Walker as part of his national tour promoting his book. In Walker, he visited the miners of St Anthony’s Colliery in the late 18th century, finding comradeship and solidarity with those who were “imaged as Britain’s ‘other’ black population” (this isn’t to say the life of slaves were in any way similar to those of colliery workers!). Equiano was obviously one of the lucky ones, and survived to tell the tales of his struggle and inspiring life to a Tyneside audience. Read more on his life and maybe take some time out of your Sunday to read up on his amazing tells. It is on all of us to educate ourselves on the plight of the black community and to be allies to their cause.

Olaudah Eduiqano at Walker: https://www.northeastheritagelibrary.co.uk/features/Olaudah-Equiano-at-St-Anthony's-Colliery%2C-Byker

We also uploaded a few bits on the north east’s industrial history. After all, there is plenty of it. Firstly, we uploaded a page on New Delaval Pit in Blyth. Close to the village of Newsham, the complex was large and a major employer of the area, to the point its own housing was needed for workers to reside in. The first shaft was sunk in 1838 and prospered, sinking 3 shafts in the 1870s and maintaining productivity until over a century later in the late 1950s. If you know anyone who worked at the colliery or remember their father or grandad working in the pit then let us know.

New Devalal Pit, Blyth: https://www.northeastheritagelibrary.co.uk/features/New-Delaval-Pit%2C-Newsham

Secondly, we added a feature on the Crowley Iron Works, famed for their strides in welfare, sick pay, pensions and education for workers children. If you aren’t aware of the Crowley Works, this was all the way back in the 17th century. The site was adjacent to the River Derwent and closed in 1863. Though some remains do still lie in situ, and recent archaeological work has discovered remanants of buildings and industrial systems. This is a fascinating but understated segment of North East history, and should be a source of pride knowing even 300 years ago the North East was a prototype for workers rights going on centuries after. National governments weren’t even doing this kind of thing for 2 centuries.

Crowley Iron Works: https://www.northeastheritagelibrary.co.uk/features/Crowley-Iron-Works%2C-Winlaton

To conclude, we have a number of plans going forwards. With lockdown seeming to come to end (We for one can’t wait to be stuck in our house again due to a second wave) we thought it’d be great to highlight some community businesses which have had a bit of a hard time due to not being able to operate with government guidelines in place. Therefore, we’re doing a few articles over the next weeks illustrating the history of the sites of local establishments like bars, music venues and cafes. Though obviously we don’t expect to make a world of difference, we thought we would do what we do best to showcase why independent businesses in the area deserve our love and attention , and our money (!) when all of this is over.

I thought I would start with The Cluny at the beloved Ouseburn. The site is fascinating, having been a corn mill then a flax mill which is the current buildings original purpose. We’ve added a feature on this already, but also added a link to their shop so you can get merchandise and a gift voucher that you can buy now and spend when its back open again. This will help the business keep afloat until they can fully operate again. As a final note, it should be added as a disclaimer no local business has approached us or vice versa to do this, but felt it would be beneficial for our community to just integrate it with the work we already do.

As ever, thankyou for supporting us and continuing to take an interest. Soon we have a feature added to the Newcastle University alumni page, so keep your eyes peeled!