JUST CURIOUS JANE

JUST CURIOUS JANE - BOOKS AND HISTORY BY JANE GULLIFORD LOWES

Seaham – A Love / Hate Relationship

 

Seaham. Where to begin?  How is it possible to describe with objectivity the town where I grew up and have lived almost my entire life? I have loved and hated this place, in equal measure. A small former mining town of some 22,000 souls, it clings to the Durham coastline, battered by the North Sea, surrounded by farm land and bordered by the two ancient villages of Seaton (known locally as, simply, “the Village”) to the north west  and Dalton-le-Dale to the south east.

I have longed to escape this town. I have yearned to return. Wherever I travel in the world it calls me back like a fretful lover.  In my younger days  I was desperate to get away. As a child and then a teenager, I despised its shabby, run-down main street, the endless brick-built terraces and sprawling council estates, the town’s three collieries, which were its lifeblood, the coal-stained beaches, the  small-town mentality and its narrow-minded people.

As an adult, my perceptions have changed.  And so has my town. Today, Seaham is a busy, thriving, pleasant place , a town which its people are proud to call home, a location outsiders want to visit. Visitors flock to the town, perhaps whiling away a few hours on the sandy beach, investigating the rock pools, hunting for sea glass, having their photograph taken with the now-famous statue of the WWI soldier “Tommy”, or people-watching  sitting at one of the seafront cafes, maybe visiting the lifeboat museum and the pretty little marina.

There is now no sign of the coal industry which created the town and which provided employment for thousands of its sons for one hundred and fifty years. There is no clue left behind of Seaham’s industrial heritage, save for the occasional smudge of coal dust in the sand and in the lungs of those who remember some other life.

Seaham Vane Tempest Colliery

Vane Tempest Colliery, where East Shore Village now stands

For those whose forefathers have not laboured at the coal face and who have no knowledge or understanding of the heavy price that the coal industry took upon the lives of those who toiled, it is difficult to put into words the desperately hard lives of the miners and their families and the conditions in which they worked and lived. Labour was cheap and so were lives. Some five hundred and twenty seven men and boys perished in little under a century and half of coal mining in this small town, with fatalities occurring as recently as the late 1980s.

Where there were once pit shafts and spoil heaps and railway tracks, there are now executive houses,  nature reserves, cliff-top walks, rare orchids and  picnic spots. The town even boasts a five star hotel with a luxury spa, beloved of footballers and visiting popstars.  This miraculous transformation has occurred in a single generation.

I have fallen in love with the very place I detested and with  its warm-hearted and generous people. Shame has been usurped by pride. It’s not just the town that has changed. I have too.

For two decades I  have lived in a house overlooking  the pretty village green and the Manor House in Seaton. The Village predates the main town of Seaham by centuries. There has been a settlement here probably since Roman times – a hoard of roman coins was unearthed in the village stream a century or more ago – but  the  village itself  has existed for perhaps a thousand years.

In many ways  Seaton is the archetypal English north country village, with its white-washed houses and farmsteads clustered around the small green, and overlooking it all, the village pub, the Dun Cow. For 140 years the Dun Cow has been the centre of village life.

Officially voted the best country pub in County Durham by CAMRA in 2016, unofficially it’s the best pub in the world. Log fires, real ales, live music, no food, no jukebox. It’s the kind of pub where you have to step over several dogs to get to the bar, where every patron will announce his arrival to those already present with the standard greeting in these parts – “Alreet?”  Strangers don’t remain strangers for long – within ten minutes of crossing the threshold and ordering a pint of Northumbrian Blonde, you can expect to be interrogated by locals who will extract your entire life story and declare that you must in some way be related.

Dun Cow, Seaton Village, Seaham

The Dun Cow – Unofficially the Best Pub in the World (my photo)

Although the village has changed significantly in the last thirty to forty years with new houses  on the periphery and where farmyards and barns once stood, it has never lost its character . Or its characters. And there are plenty of those.  There are still farmers in the village, but it’s now largely populated by teachers,  solicitors, doctors, policemen, businessmen and the occasional premiership footballer.

My own house stands on the site of the barns which formed part of Village Farm; the close of houses of which it is a part follows the layout of the old farmyard. The Village Farmhouse is still there, yards from the pub, a 6-bar-gate’s width from my own home, and still occupied after 250 years or so.

Seaton Village Green, Seaham

The green, Seaton Village (my photo)

The modern town of Seaham is in fact made up of a number of older villages – Old Seaham, the original ancient hamlet, of which nothing remains save the beautiful Saxon church of St Mary the Virgin, its vicarage and Seaham Hall, now a luxurious hotel; half a mile to the south, Seaham Harbour, constructed to export coal from the Marquis of Londonderry’s County Durham coal mines at Rainton; New Seaham, a mile or so inland, the mining village which sprung up around Seaton (later Seaham) Colliery, and the two agricultural villages of Seaton and Dalton le Dale which due to their respective locations ( on top of a hill and in a small valley) have retained their separate identities.

Old Seaham had existed for at least a thousand years when Sir Ralph Milbanke constructed Seaham Hall on the site of Seaham Cottage in 1792. The tiny Saxon church, with its flag of St George permanently aflutter in the stiff sea breeze is overlooked by so many passersby, yet is well worth a visit.

The churchyard is filled with the bones and the names of parishioners from Seaton Village, for which it served as parish church long after Old Seaham disappeared – Thompsons, Gregsons, Bolands. When I was a child I visited the tiny graveyard around the church, searching for the Pirate’s grave , so-called because it was carved with a skull and cross bones. Whether it ever actually belonged to a pirate is highly unlikely, but it certainly captured my imagination.

St Mary's Church, Seaham

St Mary the Virgin, Old Seaham. One of the oldest churches in England (my photo)

Seaham Hall itself is an imposing white Georgian pile, perched on the cliff tops overlooking the north sea, surrounded by lawns where the old village once stood, with terraced gardens sloping down to the wooded dene on its southern aspect. It is perhaps most famous for being the location of the wedding of the famous poet and infamous society dandy George Gordon, Lord Byron to Anne Isabella ( known as Annabella) Milbanke, in 1815, and the couple lived there for a short time after their wedding.

I’ve always been quite entertained by the fact that the civic authorities in Seaham have done so much to try to preserve the memory of its most illustrious resident. Over the years we’ve been blessed with a Lord Byron’s Walk, a Byron Terrace, a Byron Terrace School, a Byron Lodge Estate , and most latterly , Byron Place, a small, ugly, soulless shopping centre constructed of steel and glass, overlooking the busy docks and the grey North Sea beyond.

Byron lived here less than a year and is rumoured to have absolutely detested the place. It couldn’t have been further from his debauched high society celebrity lifestyle, his numerous lovers and his fancy London literary friends, and he couldn’t escape from the place fast enough. It appears he also detested Annabella, having married for money rather than love, and their marriage lasted barely a year, although it did produce a daughter, Ada. Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was something of a prodigy and became a famous mathematician. Byron died aged 34 of fever at Missolonghi in 1824, having left England to fight in the Greek war of Independence.

I like to think that he’s spinning in his grave at the thought of the local populace celebrating his memory by popping into Greggs in Byron Place for a steak bake and a cheese pastie.  Serves the bugger right. Byron, a man who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of pleasure, would have however been more impressed by the fact that his former home is now a luxury 5 star hotel, complete with oriental spa and outdoor hot tubs.

There’s a delicious irony in the fact that guests at the hotel can trample at will over his most famous works. Quotes from his poems are woven into the very fabric of the carpet which sweeps along the upper corridors and down the grand staircase …
“She walks in beauty like the night …. Upstairs, to the right, and into the ladies’ powder room”.

Seaham Hall Hotel

Seaham Hall, fomer home of Lord Byron. He hated it.

After his new son in law had worked his way through a fair proportion of the family cash, Sir Ralph Milbanke  was forced to sell his estates. In 1821 Seaham Hall and the surrounding land was sold off to Lord Charles William Vane, Baron Stewart at that time British Ambassador to Vienna, who would shortly become the Third Marquis of Londonderry, mine-owner and industrialist. The fate of the hamlet was sealed, the industrial revolution finally arrived and Old Seaham was changed forever. Coal was king.

But that, as they say, is another story….

Beach, Seaham

Seaham Beach at dawn (my photo)

 

You can read 5 other articles about Seaham, its history and its people on this blog. Read part 2 here.

My first book, The Horsekeeper’s Daughter, about a Seaham girl who travels to Australia alone in 1886, was published in 2017. Read more here.

The Horsekeeper's Daughter book cover

My new book, Above Us The Stars: 10 Squadron Bomber Command – The Wireless Operator’s Story, will be published in July 2020, and is now available to pre-order. This book tells the true story of a Seaham family, the Clydes, in the Second World War, and details the fight for survival of 19 year old RAF wireless operator Jack Clyde and his bomber crew.

Above Us The Stars book cover

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75 Comments

  1. Allison Swainston March 14, 2017

    So beautifully written.Makes me proud to call it home.

  2. John Warburton March 14, 2017

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you. I was born and brought up in Seaham and, like you, was desperate to get away from the town. However, when I look back I can’t think why I was so determined to leave. I had a wonderful childhood and spent my teens and early twenties with great friends and family enjoying the best of the 60s I’ve lived in other parts of the country and travelled widely but Seaham lingers in my head. I’ve visited once or twice, sadly for family funerals, and I fear that circumstances may make a permanent return unlikely but Seaham is always in my heart.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comments John, Seaham has that effect on people doesn’t it?

  3. Jon March 14, 2017

    Ah Seaham and Seaton featured large in my youth ,lived in a little village near Houghton and couldn’t wait to leave but still love to return for state visits .I remember the open air baths at Dawdon pit took your breath away !!!

  4. ali March 14, 2017

    Excellent piece. Well done on writing it. Seahams the place to be !

  5. Neil Roseberry March 14, 2017

    l was born and bred in Thorney Close, on the western outskirts of Sunderland, but fell in love with a lovely Seaham lass and moved here in 1995.

    Way back then, the town’s once proud mining heritage had not long ended and many could easily have written us off as a ghost town… but just look at the place now. New housing estates on land once dominated by collieries, fine sculptures adorning our coastline (including Noses Point viewpoint and Tommy), new thriving businesses, and people moving here from all over the country. We’ve never been so cosmopolitan. There is so much life and optimism to be seen and enjoyed here; even though we are often labelled as “an area of mass economic deprivation”.

    Although l’ve lived here 22 years now, my coarse Sunderland accent still sees me being jokingly labelled a “townie”, yet l am still made to feel accepted.

    The folk of Seaham are second to none and make this fine coastal town the most special of places.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      That’s exactly it Neil. Thank you so much for your comments .?

    • Lawrence Bell October 5, 2017

      yeah we are a good breed of people,I am parkside seaham born and bread,but although I live at another part of the north east,a lot of my family still live there,I still regard and always will see this as my home town,it has thrived over recent years and is a great place.

  6. Rash March 14, 2017

    A nice piece of writing. the thing I miss most about Seaham, barring my Mum who still resides, is the beach on a cold winter day. That and the memories of friends who also no longer live there.

    BTW is this a WordPress blog?

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Thank you . Ah yes you can’t beat that! Yes it is WordPress.

  7. Philip smith March 14, 2017

    Lived in seaham moved to horden n back to seaham i came. I lost my brother to the beautiful but also unforgiving sea the main harbour has changed and shone over recent years but backstreets in dawdon and the problem with rats and drugs and litter ruins a viable beautiful place councils in my opinion need to resolve these issues and create more work oportunity in a small over populated town and seaham could be a thriving beautiful town bursting in wealth jobs and attractions.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Couldn’t agree more Philip. So much has been done, but there is still so much more to achieve x

  8. anthony nicholas March 14, 2017

    What a thoughtful, well considered and finely balanced piece of writing, seen through the prism of several decades. Lovely stuff.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Thank you very much Anthony! It’s an extract from my forthcoming book The Horsekeeper’s Daughter, all about Seaham x

  9. Anthony Wardle March 14, 2017

    A most enjoyable read. Look forward to reading the book!

  10. Dave Ecchart March 14, 2017

    Its a funny little forgotten place ..cumn frm newcastle..done a few gigs there ..but was fascinated wth yr documetary & it makes me detrmined 2 visit it soon ..well done !

  11. Janice Lowery (Carling) March 14, 2017

    I’ve always been proud to live in Seaham and never really wsnted to leave. It’s a great place to live with lovely warm hearted people who are happy to help when necessary. My dad and uncles and grandads were all miners at Dawdon pit and when my dad and uncles got together that was the main topic of conversation or how well or badly Sunderland football team were doing. Before they built East Shore I loved to walk my dog on the Vane Tempest pit site and over the years watched as the wild flowers, including the bee orchid, and butterflies returned. I really wish they hadn’t built houses but turned it into something more wonderful. I love to go on holiday but I love to come home. A magic word that, “home”. And that’s what Seaham is. Your article was brilliant Jane. Hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Thank you so much Janice. It is, most definitely, home x

  12. Ian Mc Nee March 14, 2017

    Oh the memories come flooding back. I lived in Seaham from ’52 ’til ’88 and never had the urge to leave (only the love of a good woman caused me to up sticks and move to Germany). The Dun Cow was my local throughout the late ’60’s and the 70’s & 80’s and I often helped out behind the bar when Dougie Tooth and then Tom Foster were the landlords, brilliant times. I went back to Seaham last year for the first time in 14 years and I was astounded at the changes that had taken place. The people haven’t changed too much, the sense of community was always there which was promoted by the men working together down the pit, and the women popping next door to see how ‘Elsie’s’ ganning on etc. Folks still have time for each other and that’s what I miss when I travel to other parts of the UK/World. I was back again for the Man City match earlier this month and it’s still, and always will be, a pleasure to visit the place I still call home. Thanks once again for this excellent article Jane.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Ah that’s wonderful thank you Ian! Dougie Tooth was before my time but I do remember Tommy Foster!

    • Philip Robinson August 21, 2018

      Nice to see you and family OK , Ian good times had by all in “Dunny”

    • Dougtooth August 25, 2021

      Hy macca Doug here

      • Ian Mc Nee April 3, 2022

        Hi Doug, sorry I haven’t replied earlier but I had no idea that you’d left a comment on here. A friend of mine read it and pointed me in the right direction, Are you on Facebook? you can also mail me on charlesianmcnee@aol.com. Would love to hear from you. Take care marra.

        • Nicola Tooth April 3, 2022

          Hi,
          I’m writing on behalf of my Dad.
          He doesn’t have a Facebook account but I’m going over to see him next week and I’ll set him up with one and he can reply.
          He was very pleased you replied😊
          All the best Nicola tooth.

        • nicola tooth April 3, 2022

          Hi, I’ve sent you an email with my Dads email address on. He would love to hear from you.
          All the best

          Nicola.

  13. Catherine Taylor March 14, 2017

    I’m originally from Seaham and now live in Liverpool. My family still live in Seaham and my heart always soars when I come home. I identified with so much that you had written and even shed a tear or two.xx

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Ah that’s wonderful to hear Catherine . There’s so much more to come in my book The Horsekeeper’s Daughter, which will be published later in the year x

  14. Luke March 14, 2017

    Great read. Now for some Tuesday evening homesickness all the way from Beijing!

    You can’t beat Seaham.

  15. Stephen Foster March 14, 2017

    What a charming informative article Jane. Your work has now achieved international status as our eldest son sent me the link from New York currently under 3feet of snow. He enquired about the author of the piece not realising he was your neighbour in the village for about twenty years but we have put him straight., and I think we might have American tourist buses arriving outside the Dun Cow very soon .

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Hello Stephen how are you ? Wow what’s absolutely amazing ! Hope all the family are well. The piece is taken from my half-written book, The Horsekeeper’s Daughter – the true story of the maid at Village Farmhouse Sarah Marshall who left in 1886 to move to Brisbane by herself. I’m just back from there researching her story. Will let you know when it’s published !

  16. Chris Howard March 14, 2017

    Another lovely post. My connection to Seaham is a bit tenuous: my brother worked at the Mission to Seaman in Seaham in the 1980s. He said Friday nights were like the wild west with the miners fighting the seaman. He got transferred to the (ahem) relative quiet of Singapore (where he lost his religion). I must tag him on your facebook post.
    Best wishes,
    Chris

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Haha that’s fabulous! Yes it could be a bit rough on the harbour front in those days . Please do! Jane

  17. micksmith March 14, 2017

    Nice blog Jane! I was born down the harbour in Tyne St and left Seaham in the seventies, never to return , like many of my generation. I remember Dougie Tooth who is reputed to have disappeared one night without trace. The folk club at the Cow was my Monday night haunt around ’72, with Phil ‘Flapper’ Brown at the wheel who always finished the night with “by popular demand” (he liked it..) ‘American Pie’. The beach was the place to find, and take, girls. Not every town had such a handy attraction. The drawback to Seaham was always the narrow attitudes that went with the narrow streets but that was par for the course in many a town. For a number of my generation Morrissey sang “Every Day Is Like Sunday” about Seaham Harbour. The town’s certainly changed with the new housing where the Vane Tempest was, the comfortable and clean welcome of ‘Tonias’ in the hall car park and the beautiful Durham coastal path.
    Andy Warhol said “there’s only one good thing about a small town – you hate it and you have to leave”. Now living in the country near Bordeaux I’d never think to live in Seaham again but I can see why it’s become a nicer place to visit and even live in…

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Ah that’s fantastic Mick thanks so much for your comments. Dougie Tooth was before my time but I’ve heard a lot about him. It really has become a much more open minded cosmopolitan place these days. People actually want to come here – growing up in the low colliery in the 80s, I never thought I’d see the day!

    • Christine December 19, 2017

      Memories from my teens, so many, many years ago! I wonder where Phil Brown is these days?

    • Nicola Tooth August 25, 2021

      Doug Tooth that’s my Dad. In Yorkshire now .

      • Jane August 25, 2021 — Post author

        Thanks Nicola and Doug! There’s loads more stuff on there, and heaps about Seaton Village too. The Dun Cow even makes an appearance in my book about Seaham’s history , The Horsekeeper’s Daughter!

      • Ian Mc Nee April 3, 2022

        Hi Nicola, Ian Mc Nee here, I used to help out behind the bar when you dad had the Dun Cow, not sure if you’ll remember me. I’ve just replied to a post of your Dad’s but just in case he misses it can you please point him in the right direction. I’m on Facebook and also my mail address is:-charlesianmcneea@aol.com Take care.

        • Nicola Tooth April 3, 2022

          Hi,
          I’ve just emailed you with my Dads email address. He’s loved to hear from you and catch up on last 40 years.
          Yes I do remember you when you worked behind bar.
          All the best
          Nicola

  18. Sylvia Coconut (nee Burrell)sylmadmorg March 14, 2017

    Hi l lived in Seaham most of my life on Princess Road where i was born 73yrs ago my mother lived there from being 5yrs in a house built by the owner of the shipping. Company he sailed as Captain on deep sea sailing ships the house they lived in was one of five he built the only five houses in Seaham at the time( i refer to my grandfather)

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Hello Sylvia thank you for your comment . That’s fascinating , I’d have loved to have seen the town in those early days

  19. Ronnie Meir March 14, 2017

    Just read your article and I got to say it is absolutely brilliant.Having lived in Seaham all my life and been to every place mentioned it’s spot on.I can say I worked in the three mines in Seaham till the end and as you say very little is on show to tell the story of how coal built Seaham but as I say brilliant article.
    Ps delivered papers and magazines​ to patients in Seaham hall when it was the hospital.

  20. Lawrence Tasker March 14, 2017

    On the whole a well written informative article, but I have to say I find some of the comments a little condescending and snobbish.
    Paragraph 2 ,” As a child and then a teenager, I despised its shabby, run-down main street, the endless brick-built terraces and sprawling council estates, the town’s three collieries, which were its lifeblood, the coal-stained beaches, the small-town mentality and its narrow-minded people.”
    The collieries were Seaham, they are why Seaham is here, there was a good community spirit then, which I think has been somewhat lost now.
    A lot of these “narrow minded people” are still here.
    “Warm hearted and generous people”, I think people where more generous, warm hearted and had more community spirit then than they do now.

    Shame replaced by pride, I don’t remember being ashamed of where I live, nor do I remember many others who were, people had a sense of community then.
    Don’t mean to be negative, I wholeheartedly agree with improvements made, but Seaham isn’t just a sea front with a few new houses being built, the rest of Seaham also needs investment to bring it in line.
    Hope you don’t mind my comments, not meant to offend just my view on things then and now, as I said well written and informative

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Everyone has their own feelings and opinions about their home town, and these are mine. I don’t expect everyone to agree. I’m not going to pretend I loved it when I was growing up because I didn’t , I absolutely hated the place. But now … I do love it and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  21. Neil mcbeth March 14, 2017

    Great read, when you start to think about our hamlet by the sea, its characters, places, events and culture you fill a book. Tommy Ogger, The pit pond, the bottleworks, the pheonix (once described as the best fish and chips on saint and greavsie), the civic show, buying fresh fish from the old line in front of Barclays, rock house, nanny goats path, old schools like Dawdon and SIS, to game a few. I’m sure the list would go on forever. Where ever you go in the world your guaranteed to meet someone who has a story, relative or affiliation to our town

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      That’s very true Neil, you always meet someone with a link to Seaham wherever you go! Some of those things were before my time but I do remember the fish being sold and regularly went to the civic show when I was a teenager !

    • Isabella Bleasdale Adams March 14, 2017

      I stood in a queue for the toilets in the Everglades Florida USA and the lady in front of me was from Seaham and went to school with my sister !

  22. Isabella Bleasdale Adams March 14, 2017

    I stood in the queue for the toilets in the Everglades Florida USA and the lady in front of me was from Seaham and went to school with my sister!

  23. jim March 14, 2017

    I worked at brick factory next to blackroad our school was at top of the black road well part of it because the other part was at mill inn saint cuthberts.we lived in butcher street with the toilets across the street and cosy picture house at bottom across mill inn bank. we mainly lived in neptune street and played on dump with our mates from malvern cres had good times there. although we got bad name because of where we lived we rarely got into trouble.most of houses gone now.

    • Jane March 14, 2017 — Post author

      Hi Jim thanks for your comments ! I can just say remember the Cosy but it was already closed when I was little . How things have changed !

    • Patrick Barrs July 20, 2021

      MY Mother lived in Malvern Crescent (born about 1921) – I was was sent from London with my Mum to live with her Mum and Dad just after the end of world war2, have fond memories of the ponies in the fields and the cosy picture house. I live in Australia and am determined to take a trip back to Seaham. I think it was 73 Malvern Crescent. Her dad worked down the pit

  24. Tom Lynn March 14, 2017

    There is no doubt that Seaham should be proud of its history as the pits, the harbour and heavy industry is at the heart and soul of its development over a long period of time.
    You articulate Seaham’s recent development very eloquently and there is no doubt that genuine progression has been made in the wake of the potentially devastating effects of the closures of three once very productive pits and the associated cultural and humane devastation that followed.
    Although an East Herrington, Sunderland gadgie, recent family history searches by relatives shows the Lynn side of our family originated from Seaham Harbour and nearby areas so I’m a townie with more Seaham blood in me than many from that area!
    Now my daughter and son in law live on East Shore with a gorgeous young child and enjoy the cosmopolitan lifestyle afforded by coastal living and a rapidly growing array of facilities that are springing up on an almost weekly basis.
    References to Seaton Village and the brilliant Dun Cow by yourself and my old mate Ian ‘Macca’ McNee were very poignant. Myself and the missus have enjoyed a drink or three on regular occasions in that fabulous old hostelry for many years now from when the infamous Dougie Tooth (character with a capital C) had it to the current day owner who has done a brilliant job in recent years getting it back to being as enjoyable a place to socialize as it was when we first started going all those years ago. It’s a haven of old England, a place of nostalgia, history and epitomizes what a great pub is all about-good beer, good craic, open fires and feeling comfortable as soon as you walk through the door!
    Keep up the good work and e-mail me details of your book when it’s released. 🙂

    • Jane March 15, 2017 — Post author

      Many thanks for your comments Tom, I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions on what Seaham and Seaton has meant to them. So many people have mentioned Dougie Tooth! He was before my time but it’s wonderful that the Dun Cow is still very much the heart of the community in the village.
      I will do, thank you .

  25. John Lowery March 15, 2017

    Left Seaham in 1979 to join the Army and the town I left behind is now a distant memory. I have always been proud of Seaham and my roots often explaining to an uneducated cockney the history and heritage of my Anglo Saxon home.
    After my father’s passing I stayed away for years and on my return my heart was lifted I now see a beautiful town that makes my heart glow. I’ll never forget seeing a post about Tommy and a guy from Newcastle had written that it should be given a home there, I instantly got my Mastercard out and donated a good sum towards Tommy staying in Seaham,” He’s ours and no way was he going to Newcastle”. I’m 55 years old now and will make it my goal to visit as often as possible and when I pass away my ashes will return to the beach I loved where every summer we would go swimming in the freezing water . Thank you for writing this lovely article it has made my day.
    John Lowery, now living in East Yorkshire but proud to say “Made in Seaham”

  26. Alison Rudzki March 15, 2017

    Thanks my dear friend for another great read X. Gosh how I shared those teenage feelings! But in time, I also grew to love the place I grew up in and feel hugely proud of my roots. I couldn’t believe how much the place had changed when I last visited from New Zealand and stayed with you, was that 2012?. It makes me giggle to think our son, a true kiwi now, enjoyed his first pint in the Dun Cow after all, despite living on the other side of the world. You whisked me right back to Seaton Jane, thank you x

    • Jane March 15, 2017 — Post author

      Hello lovely … aahhh how much I miss you! It’s funny how our perceptions change over time isn’t it? You’d see even more changes now , although there is still much to be done to improve the place away from the sea front and Marina – Church St in particular is desperate. Love to you all xxx

  27. Julie March 15, 2017

    What lovely words. I have lived in seaton village for 38 years. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

  28. Jeff March 15, 2017

    Lived and loved here all my life. What a beautiful piece of work from you. From the ashes the Phoenix will rise (not the pub) I totally agree a beautiful place sand, sea, stars on a clear night from the village and amazing people. The Lamp Room captures the move forwards. Thanks for reminding me what a beautiful place I live 😁

    • Jane March 15, 2017 — Post author

      Thank you so much Jeff. And yes I know what you mean about the Lamp Room – stylish, modern, upmarket but very mindful of the town’s heritage .

  29. Angela Stevens March 16, 2017

    Fantastic read. Only discovered the walk on shore (tricky) or cliff top from Hendon to Seaham over the last few years and have really enjoyed walking, jogging and cycling between the two. As one that rarely reads i found this very interesting and very much look forward to the DVD!!

    • Jane March 16, 2017 — Post author

      Ha thanks Angela, glad you enjoyed it. Some lovely walks up and around Seaton too x

  30. Margaret james September 17, 2017

    I was born and brought up in Seaham moved to York but have always visited my family , lost a lot of the over the years but still have many relatives there and it’s still called home please let me know when your book is ready x

    • Jane September 18, 2017 — Post author

      Thanks for your comments Margaret. It should be available in the next 6-8 weeks.

  31. Christine December 19, 2017

    A lovely read Jane. My dad was from Seaham (some family still live there). Mum was from Sunderland. Before they married she was in Seaham Hall for about a year when it was the TB hospital.

    I’ve not been back for quite some years, but will be visiting in the spring to scatter my mum’s ashes. Sounds like it’s changed beyond recognition!

    How’s your book coming along?

  32. Colin shaw August 21, 2018

    Enjoyed all your memories. Well done

  33. Bob lowery August 21, 2018

    You must be late 50s for your memories are mine, although I unlike you dId not leave seaham. I was born here and still live here , and probably will die here. I worked in the pits at murton as a blacksmith . Fished the green wall . Chemical beach and Blast with my dad as the sun set under the light from a sea coal fire. I too often visited the pirates grave after swiming the hall beach and searching through the rock pools of ols seaham beach when you could still walk along the railway tracks to the featherbed rock. Saw men selling cod and fresh crabs just in front of what is now barclays bank where the coal tracks descended from seaham colliery ‘the nack’. Looked for bird eggs in darkies wood and newts in the nearby pools on the Seaton farm lands. Stickle back fish in the overgrown pit pond pools. Used to imagine the splendour in the ruins os daldon tower. Ran from the ghost of the grey lady up Byron walk. I read your memories through blurry tear stained eyes but with a smile. I feel I was lucky I have loved this town my whole life. Never wanted to leave even throughout its coal stained smoggy pit heaped years. Those were the years seaham formed the man I am . Playing cricket at seaham park football at dawdon . It’s where I met my wife, where we brought up our son, where all our family still live. It’s where our parents and grandparents are buried. And one day hopefully after a long life the atoms and molecules that are structured as me , will return to the soil and fabric that is the town I love . Seaham . Thank you for your wonderful words.

    • Jane August 21, 2018 — Post author

      Hello Bob thank you so much for taking the time to comment on the blog and to share your wonderful memories. I was born at the end of 1969, so late 40s , but not too far behind you. I hope you enjoy all the other articles too; you might also enjoy my book The Horsekeeper’s Daughter about the history of Seaham. Best wishes, Jane .

  34. Dean Redden August 23, 2018

    A BEAUTIFUL PIECE JANE….ABOUT A BEAUTIFUL PLACE…

  35. Michelle Slack March 28, 2020

    How lovely to read about my hometown. Moved down to Shropshire 21 years ago but still have my mam and family at home. Seaham is still my home and feel so grounded coming back. Remember the SIS, pit pond, having to carry nipping crabs up from the seafront for my family (still dont like them). In younger days lived in Neptune and remember fondly friends and games and out til dark, 5 more minutes and kerby. Played on the dump for hours and made out own bonfires – door to door for wood of any kind. Love coming home and always feels like I have never left, feel Seaham arms wrap around me and bring me home.

  36. Dougtooth August 25, 2021

    Hy macca Doug here I’m still
    Alive

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