Seaham Townscape Heritage Project
The Seaham Townscape Heritage Project aims to restore buildings and improve spaces within Seaham Conservation area, to create attractive, vibrant and interesting places for people to live, work and visit.
What we are doing
In September 2019, we secured £1.6 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a three year project to improve historic properties in Church Street. The project will offer grants to property owners/occupiers to undo old architectural changes that may spoil the look of the street.
Several key spaces in the town centre will be upgraded and decluttered to make them more attractive and accessible, and to make the most of their historic features.
The project will also offer a range of activities and training opportunities to help local people to enjoy the town's history and heritage, and learn more about it.
North Terrace and Terrace Green
- Improvements to the public spaces around the popular North Terrace and Terrace Green areas will complement previous building improvements and Grade II attractions.
- Paving in this area is badly damaged, so we plan to replace it and widen the footway. This will make the area, which already enjoys a vibrant café culture, a more attractive and user-friendly space.
- Car parking will be provided around the edge of Terrace Green.
- To make sure our improvements look right and work well together, we will use carefully chosen materials for them all.
The exposed railway tracks are one of the only remaining parts of the Rainton and Seaham Line (opened in 1831), which was essential Seaham's development as a harbour and town.
- We will emphasise the town's important railway heritage by putting up new information panels about the area's history.
- New paving and planting in this area will help to turn it into a key feature for the town.
We asked the public what they thought of the South Terrace area. They told us that it seemed confused and said that the 'Brothers' sculpture, which represents the three collieries of Seaham, Dawdon and Vane Tempest, should be relocated to somewhere else where it would be seen by more people. This would also open up better views of the seafront from South Terrace.
Lower Church Street
The project is a chance to create a vibrant, creative and cultural area next to the former Londonderry Arms at 4 South Crescent. This address was the first house built in Seaham Town and its foundation stone was laid in a grand ceremony on 28 November 1828.
Members of the public have told us that they would like to see this foundation stone, which is currently located near the entrance to the marina, moved closer to the property it relates to.
The public told us that they would like us to remove the brick planter from the centre of Church Street to create a clearer view between the sea and the Grade II listed St John's Church. People also told us that they felt the planter creates a natural point for people to turn around in the street, reducing the number of people who visit the upper end of the street.
- We will re-instate the decorative heritage plaques that were previously stolen.
- We will install extra seating which we hope will encourage people to stay and socialise with friends, helping to restore the traditional life and vitality of the high street.
Building Improvement Grants
Some commercial property owners and occupiers will be offered grants to repair and reinstate the traditional features of their buildings, and to provide access to upper floor spaces which are currently unused or inaccessible. This will help to prevent further loss of historic detail and character and to reverse the effect of previous inappropriate changes and neglect of the town's historic buildings.
To make sure the scheme has the maximum possible impact , eligible properties have been identified by looking at their architectural value, condition and position in the town centre. Each property has then been prioritised as high, medium or reserve. High priority buildings will be the first ones encouraged to apply for funding.
Interest free loans can also be made available to applicants.
We will continue to offer support to the owners and occupiers of properties who are not eligible to receive funding.
Activities and events
Community engagement and consultation
Seaham Townscape Heritage Stakeholder Forum: the Forum offers a place for local residents and other interested people to have their say in the planning and delivery of the scheme.
Promoting Seaham Conservation workshops: these workshops will publicise the Seaham Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan to the wider community and feature expert speakers discussing topics relating to the conservation of the historic environment.
Training and skill development workshops
Heritage skills and training: damaging and inappropriate repairs and alterations are often made to historic buildings. This is why Seaham Conservation Area was judged to be at-risk by Historic England. These courses offer training to local contractors, building and property owners and students, providing first-hand knowledge of how to make repairs properly.
Visual display training: as well as the physical changes the historic buildings within the town centre, we will also offer visual display training to businesses within Church Street. This will teach business owners how to create good visual displays and how important attractive displays can be in attracting customers and visitors to the town.
Digital Heritage Trail: the smartphone app will allow visitors to the town to learn about its history by navigating them through a series of markers that reveal the history of particular buildings and points of interest.
Guided walks and talks: we work with local history groups to create a programme of guided walks and talks led by volunteers. The talks will give people detailed information about the development of Seaham. Where possible, the walks will include exciting opportunities such as the chance to visit buildings where repairs and conservation work are taking place.
Blue plaques and heritage panels: the existing blue plaques will be updated to draw attention to a number of key historic buildings and places of interest in the town centre The information panels will tell visitors about Seaham's history and the work that has been done through the Townscape Heritage scheme. The blue plaques and heritage panels will form part of the route for the Digital Heritage Trail app.
Heritage events and activities
Seaham Past Research project: volunteers will research historic buildings in Church Street. This will provide information as well as historic images, which we will use to create a timeline of the changes made to Church Street.
Heritage disk design: Church Street used to be home to a pair of metal disks, designed by children from local schools, but unfortunately this artwork was stolen. We will work with children from local schools to design new disks which reflect the history and heritage of Church Street. The new disks will be created in a material, such as resin, which is less likely to be stolen than metal.
Our town children's book: local schools and families will be invited to help create a children's book about the history of Church Street, including themes such as coal and sea glass.
Sea(ham) glass mosaic: we will organise beach walks where people can collect the weathered sea glass which washes ashore on Seaham beaches. Schools and local groups will take part in workshops where they each design a quarter of a mosaic made from the glass pieces. The mosaic will be exhibited alongside information about Seaham Glass production and other art created from sea glass.
Wish you were here postcards and travel posters: Seaham and the Durham Coast is becoming a popular place for people to visit. This project will create new travel posters and postcards showing the town's potential as a twenty first century tourist destination. Local schools and community groups will help to design the posters and postcards, which will then be combined into a final design by professional artists and printers. The original and professional designs will be exhibited side by side and visitors will be encouraged to choose their favourite. The designs will be available to businesses to display to attract visitors when the Townscape Heritage work is complete.