8a. Seaham Harbour, beaches and St Mary's Church Old Seaham, Co. Durham
The train journey from Middlesbrough to Seaham takes about 50 minutes and what an ever changing landscape you see through the carriage window e.g. crossing the River Tees at Stockton.
Between Stockton and Hartlepool you see in the distance the outline of the pipes and chimneys of Teesside's remaining chemical industry, power stations and oil rigs under construction.
You look down on the ground of Hartlepool Rugby Football Club and on reaching the North Sea coast you first encounter an abandoned works (from what industry?)
You get glimpses of the sea and the coastal cliffs all the way from Hartlepool to Seaham.
Seaham is one of the largest towns on the Durham Coast. On the way down to Seaham Harbour you walk down a path that was once a railway connection to the port facilities. You go under several bridges, pass the usual graffiti and on the parallel road above you some interesting and curious shops! When you first reach the seafront a pit winding wheel immediately reminds you of the coal mining heritage of Seaham as a link in transporting coal.
The beach immediately north of Seaham Harbour.
The norther sections of Seaham Harbour and the lighthouse at the entrance.
The north breakwater and keen fishermen! This section is strictly speaking barred to the public and note the traces of railway track that ran along this sturdy wall construction.
The statue to Charles Stewart Vane Tempest Stewart, 6th Marquess of Londonderry, but it was the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry who founded the 'new' town of Seaham and had the harbour built for his collieries nearby. The 'Londonderry building' is behind the statue. The 3rd Marquess of Londonderry asked the renowned northern Newcastle architect John Dobson to design a model town around the harbour. However funding shortages amongst other things ensured the scheme never came to fruition and the new harbour facilities never proved a great commercial success.
On the lovely short coastal walk from Seaham Harbour to Old Seaham Village and St Mary's Church there are a few things of interest to note. Further on from the War Memorial is the 'REMEMBER THE HEROES' memorial to the bravery of five lifeboat men of the Seaham Lifeboat crew and fishermen of the fishing coble Economy who lost their lives on November 17th 1962
The splendid coastal vista of the cliffs, pebble beach and waves between Seaham Harbour and Old Seaham.
A modern sculpture called the 3 PITS reminding us of Seaham's industrial heritage ...
... Seaham was a coal mining community ... in the post coal mining era, Seaham, like many other North-East communities has been, and continues to be, hit by hard times, but the people friendly and generous with their humour!
... Seaham once had three coal pits ... many lives were lost, particularly in the 19th century due to pit explosions of gas ...
... The miners who hacked out the coal from seams were called 'hewers' who also loaded up the tubs to transport the coal along the galleries ... and then 'putters' pushed the trucks of tubs to the coal shaft to lift the coal to the surface ... all very hard and physically demanding work ...
Concrete sculpture of an icecream cone and another of a string of steel balls.
Eventually you reach Old Seaham Village. On the left is the ancient Saxon-Norman church of St Mary the Virgin and on the right is the former vicarage, a fine looking building! The history of Seaham goes back a long way in time. In 1999 an archaeological dig continued an investigation into a previously found human burial site dating from 660 AD to 880 AD.
View from the south-east of the Church of St Mary the Virgin - snowdrops, west tower, south door entrance, nave and chancel. A real gem! The church is close to the cliffs, but hidden from them.
The Parish Church of Seaham in the diocese of Durham - The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Old Seaham, a church in general outline, little changed over the past 1000 years! The tower and chancel were added in the 13th century.
View of St Marys' from the south-west, you can just see the North Sea beyond. The nave is built from Late Saxon or early Norman masonry
A few odd stones from the earlier church construction.
The south porch entrance, with its sun dial, and a fine buttress in the middle of the south wall of the nave.
'Ancient' herringbone patterned stonework in the north wall of the nave
The east end of St Mary's - the east windows of the chancel.
Early Norman windows at the east end of the chancel.
The coastal promenade walk way below Old Seaham village - looking north towards Sunderland.
Walking back along the pebble beach towards Seaham Harbour and you can just see the lighthouse at the harbour entrance.
Breakers crashing on the shingle beach - most invigorating!
Three pictures taken from above Seaham Harbour - 'zooming in' on the lighthouse.
Walking back up through Seaham Town back up to the station. The pedestrianised street leads up to the Parish Church of Seaham Harbour, namely St John the Evangelist built in 1835 by Prosser, it is quite a big church and its architectural style is of the early English medieval Perpendicular form.
The west tower, south tower and nave of the Church of St John the Evangelist.
The Perpendicular style of the CE church contrasts with the RC architectural style of St Mary Magdalen's (shown below).
The Roman Catholic Church St Mary Magdalene.
The station, signal box and pedestrian crossing (STOP look and listen!) at Seaham to end a really interesting day out - a most satisfying railway and walking exploration of one small part of the North-East of England, many of which are often forgotten in the usual tourist trails.
Double signal up! (home plus distant signals for the enthusiasts!) as the Newcastle-Middlesbrough train approaches. There is a good regular hourly service on this coastal route and the 'commuter' trains are well used by shoppers heading for Middlesbrough, Sunderland or Newcastle.
Thank you Seaham for a 'canny' day out!
North East England docspics photos images pictures © Phil Brown * touring holidays in Newcastle, Durham and Northumbria-Northumberland, tourism information, top tourist attractions, accommodation, luxury hotels, B&B, holiday cottages, property, pubs, walking, restaurants, historic towns & cities, churches, castles, abbeys, museums, art galleries, local transport, interesting buildings properties