Sunday, 14 December 2008

950 - Wagonways

View down one of the wagonways, this one built in 1813, I think, that criss-cross North Tyneside. Several venture into Whitley Bay, though this doesn't - it carves a line down the back of the Freeman Hospital; a particularly icy line on Thursday, when I took the photo.

The wagonways were used to transfer coal down to the Tyne. They have been redeveloped as a network of walking- and cycle-ways (skate-ways, Thursday), with information boards picking out historic information. A case of an old story, retold in a new context.

At one time, as wagons rumbled laiden by, the story might scarcely have been told at all, so evident it was (like bothering to relay the adventure of the 308 bus from Whitley to the centre of Newcastle).

Then told by the retired miners - "This was the clart I dug year in, year out. And here's the track that led it, horse-drawn, then steam-drawn, to the docks at Wallsend."

Now, told again, but in a fresh story - the drive to get people walking again, the urge to reconnect with the land around, with people and the past.

A bird flew by as I took the picture, two old boys and a dog just before. Behind the hedge on the left, the Freeman's new car park.

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