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Seaham Townscape Heritage Project

The Seaham Townscape Heritage Project aims to restore historic buildings and improve public spaces within Seaham Conservation area.

What we are doing

In September 2019, we successfully secured £1.6 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a three-year project aimed at enhancing historic properties in Church Street. Due to the impact of Covid-19, the project has been extended until December 2024.

The project provides grants to property owners and occupiers in Church Street for the restoration and reinstatement of traditional heritage features. Additionally, several key spaces in the town centre have undergone upgrades and decluttering to enhance their attractiveness and accessibility.

We have also implemented various activities and training opportunities as part of the project's initiatives.

North Terrace and Terrace Green

Enhancements to the public spaces surrounding popular North Terrace and Terrace Green area have seamlessly complemented previous building upgrades and Grade II listed buildings and structures.

In response to badly damaged paving, we replaced it and simultaneously widened the footway. This not only revitalized the area but also contributed to fostering a vibrant café culture, offering a more appealing and accessible space for residents and visitors alike.

Furthermore, car parking has been reallocated along the periphery of Terrace Green, ensuring convenience without compromising the aesthetic appeal of the area.

South Terrace

The exposed railway tracks stand as one of the few remaining remnants of the Rainton and Seaham Line, which commenced operations in 1831 and played a pivotal role in Seaham's evolution as both a harbour and a town.

To emphasise the town's significant railway heritage, we have integrated the tracks as a prominent feature and installed an informative panel detailing the area's history. Furthermore, the introduction of new paving, seating arrangements and greenery has transformed this space into a focal point for the town.

The 'Brothers' sculpture, which represents the three collieries of Seaham, Dawdon and Vane Tempest, has been relocated to a new position at the end of North Terrace.  

Church Street

The enhancements made to the public realm in this vicinity have played a vital role in preserving and enriching the Conservation Area, which had been designated as 'at risk'. By establishing more appealing and accessible gateways into Church Street, we have supported improved pedestrian circulation throughout the Town Centre.

The removal of the brick planter from the heart of Church Street helps to promote foot traffic and offer an unobstructed vista between the sea and the Grade II listed St John's Church.

Moreover, the installation of additional seating aims to encourage people to linger and socialise, thereby revitalising the traditional vibrancy and community spirit of the high street.

Building Improvement Grants

Commercial property owners and occupiers are being offered grants to restore and reinstate the traditional features of their buildings, as well as to facilitate access to currently unused or inaccessible upper floor spaces. This initiative aims to prevent the further loss of historic detail and character, and to rectify the effects of previous inappropriate alterations and neglect on the town's historic buildings.

Heritage events and activities 

Discover Seaham App

'Discover Seaham' has been developed as part of the Seaham Townscape Heritage Project, which is supported by funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The app allows locals and visitors alike to explore the town's history and heritage in an interactive way. It offers different walking trails to follow around Seaham as it tells the story of buildings and sites of interest and their role in the development of the town.

Guided walks and talks

A series of free guided tours took place in Summer 2023. Led by Ken Bradshaw, a blue badge guide and member of the Guild of British Tourist Guides, these tours offered participants the chance to leisurely explore the town, marvel at its breathtaking coastline, and delve into its captivating history. Building on the success of last year's walks, four additional guided tours are planned for the following dates:

  • Saturday 8 June 2024
  • Thursday 18 July 2024
  • Thursday 8 August 2024
  • Saturday 24 August 2024

Seaglass Mosaics

Children from Trinity Primary School and Ropery Walk Primary School collaborated with local artist Susan Warlock to craft three stunning sea glass mosaics, now installed at the bottom of Church Street.

These young artists not only scoured the beach for sea glass but also engaged in multiple workshops led by Susan. The completed mosaics, blend found and donated sea glass with traditional glass tesserae.

Memories of Seaham

After a four week Townscape Heritage Themed Exhibition hosted at the Art Block on Church Street in September, we tasked members of EDAN with creating a publication focussed on collected 'Memories' of Church Street in Seaham, alongside reflections on the related art exhibition. The publication delves into the evolution of the central area of Seaham from its inception to the present era of transformation, highlighting the impact of the ongoing Townscape Heritage Project.

Our Town Children's Book

Pupils from Trinity School have collaborated with artist Susan Warlock to create the 'Our Town' children's book. This project will showcase a blend of creative writing and illustrations, exploring diverse local history topics such as Church Street, Seaham's First School, the George Elmy Lifeboat Disaster, the Bombardment of Seaham, Seaham's Artillery History, and Seaham Bottleworks.

Training and skill development workshops

Heritage skills and training: Training courses in traditional building skills have been conducted in collaboration with East Durham College, comprising a total of fifteen one and two-day sessions. These courses attracted one hundred and three participants, with sessions concentrating on joinery, brickwork, masonry, lime plaster/render, and painting.

Visual display training: In addition to the physical transformations of historic buildings in the town centre, we have provided visual display training to businesses in Church Street. The goal was to educate business owners on crafting compelling visual displays and to emphasize the significance of attractive storefronts in drawing both customers and visitors to the town.

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