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General Features

You are in: Wear > Features > General Features > Turning the Tide

Turning the Tide

Over the last decade, the County Durham coastline has been transformed from one scarred by industry to somewhere people want to visit and live.

Durham Coast.Pic:Countryside Agency/Charlie Hedley

Nose's Point, Dawdon, before and after

As recently as the early to mid 1990s, stretches of the County Durham coast were pretty much no-go areas.

Blighted by the impact of the area's industrial past – mining spoil and debris from the collieries clogged the beaches. The area has also been a magnet for anti-social behaviour over the years, with cars burned out and fly-tipping.

But a huge amount of work has been done since then and the area is well on the way to attracting people back.

This transformation was featured in programme six in the second series of the BBC's Coast.

In 1997, the 10m Turning the Tide project, a partnership of 14 organisations, started to breathe new life into the area and the work is now being continued by the Durham Heritage Coast partnership.

Work has included improving access with foot and cycle paths, clearing debris, improving signs, installing art, planting and restoring wildlife habitats.

The latest project is at Nose's Point, near Dawdon, which was awarded more than 340,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund earlier this year. It involves improving access by creating paths, improving seating and signs, picnic areas and information panels.

Durham coast.Pic:Countryside Agency/Charlie Hedley

Easington Colliery before and after

Heritage Coast Officer Niall Benson said: "It wasn't a pleasant place to be and it wasn't somewhere family groups would come to. But now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

"It is a very special place. In the summer I walked through clouds of butterflies and I had never seen anything like it. Now we want to show people what is special about it.

"It has been difficult but it shows you can do it and we did do it.

"It's a great project for all sorts of reasons. There is something for everybody there whether they are a marine scientist, angler, chemist, ecologist, someone who likes to walk or cycle. It's all about being outside and the tranquillity people can experience."

He said he hoped the area being featured on the Coast programme would encourage people to go out and explore it.

"Durham does have a coast and it's worth going to see"

Niall Benson

"It is not on the radar for most tourists. It's not like the Northumberland and North Yorkshire coasts but it's a place where you can go for a completely different experience," he said.

"Durham does have a coast and it's worth going to see."

He said the there are parts of the project which are not finished yet, and that changes were not going to happen overnight. The Nose's Point stage of the project should be completed by the end of 2007.

Niall hopes what has happened with the clean-up of the Durham coastline and the state it used to be in will not be forgotten.

"We should never forget the lessons of the past. Now a lot of people will be able to enjoy the coast. We need to understand how we can safeguard it for the next generation," he said.

last updated: 06/03/2008 at 15:11
created: 01/12/2006

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