CORNHILL SOCIAL HISTORY PROJECT
Memories of residents in the communityGrowing up in Ashington
As a school girl in the late 1950s, I lived for two years in the coal mining town of Ashington in Northumberland. In those days, it was classed as a large mining village.
During this time, I attended the Methodist Church Sunday School located at the end of the second row of the many rows of coal miners’ terraced cottages, near the High Market.
Each year during the summer holidays, the Sunday School treated us all to a bus trip to Newbiggen-by-the-Sea, a few miles east of Ashington. (We took our own sandwiches and lemonade.)
The sand on the beach was quite black due to a coal bed underneath, yet we children loved it! We were also fascinated to see assorted ponies harnessed to tub carts standing knees and hocks deep in the sea, whilst men shovelled sea coal from the sea bed into the carts, which had lots of holes drilled in their bases to enable the water to drain out. No-one held the ponies’ heads; they simply stood very patiently until they were led away.
We learned that sea coal was very sparky but it was free and brilliant at heating water in the men’s homes. It was a way of life now long gone.
In the 1980s or 90s, I learned that many tons of pale sand from Skegness, Lincolnshire, was spread over Newbiggen’s black beach in order to make it more attractive to tourists.