The Community Heritage Project (Wrekenton)
At the start of the Twentieth Century the area comprised of a number of villages with small neighbouring communities, such as Wrekenton, Eighton Banks and Springwell. Each enjoyed a natural sense of community and identity and there was a good deal of interaction and movement between these close-knit communities. The area had great importance during the heyday of the North East coal industry, which led to developments such as the Bowes Incline, an early wagon way. As part of post-war slum clearance, many new people were moved into the area, housed in large council estates, and the identity and heritage of the villages became obscured.
Through this LHI project, the Wrekenton Community Partnership are attempting to recover a sense of community spirit and encourage local people to have a greater awareness of their share in the area’s heritage and engender a sense of pride in their shared heritage.
Centenary celebrations held in Wrekenton in 2000 demonstrated that local people had a huge amount of interest in heritage, old photos and artifacts were displayed at an exhibition which stimulated locals to recount their memories of the area. Memories from hand written journals have provided a valuable and vivid picture of life in the environs since 1873.
Since then many people have expressed an interest in taking the idea a stage further by developing a heritage project to draw a bigger picture of the area’s heritage. The group have since been developing the heritage project, holding events, an exhibition and carrying out research. The project has visited and involved three local schools who have been given work cards to record people’s memories; they have run an ‘Antique Road show’ for the children to guess the name and use of old Victorian tools and implements. They hope to create a heritage trail with information panels, with posters and leaflets being produced. They intend to hold a big celebration day to promote the project which might unearth yet more from the past.