Tuesday, 5 May 2009
839 - Reclamation of Fenwick Spoil Heap as a Memorial for Hartley
This rears up out of the fields behind Backworth and Earsdon. It's the former coal mining spoil at Fenwick and Eccles. There are distant sounds of quadbikes, and old tyres and deadwood like animal corpses. North Tyneside has promised for years to reclaim the land, but locals have suspected that the clay required to make it good was to come from a controversial landfill proposal, at present abandoned, for a site down the road.
Whitley News Guardian published a letter making this claim last month: we stumbled upon the spoil heaps on our walk on Saturday. And all this has got me wondering.
Earsdon itself is a beautiful village, and home to a sombre memorial to 200 dead men and boys in a pit disaster at Hartley. That disaster might have been the Somme, visiting fifty years early on the work force of a North East mining village. Contemporary accounts compared it to 'a vast Golgotha'.
The 150th Anniversary of the disaster will take place in 2012 - three years time. A terrible, terrible indictment if the only memorial Northumberland, North Tyneside and SITA saw fit to raise was a fresh trench at Seghill. And a far more fitting memorial if the reclamation of the spoil heaps went ahead as promised.
More about Sita here. And an opportunity to contact North Tyneside Council about the reclamation here.