Seaham Harbour piers at dawn, photograph by courtesy of George Mullan
The East Durham Heritage Group aim to collect, store, preserve, collate and research material and artefacts relating to the Maritime, Industrial and Social heritage of the East Durham area and to make it available to all ages of the local and wider community at the East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre located in the Seaham Harbour Marina. It is only by adhering to this aim that future generations will learn and have information available on the live and times of their forebears.
- Aims of EDHG
The EDHG is made up of enthusiastic volunteers dedicated to the aims of the group
The group was formed in 2007 by a small group of five or six members who met informally to share a common interest in the heritage of Seaham and the immediate area. Through time it became more formalised and eventually they created the East Durham Heritage Group. A milestone within the group was the realisation in late April 2009 that the Seaham lifeboat The George Elmy was for sale on eBay; it was decided that an attempt would be made to buy the vessel which held such a memorably sad position in minds of the Seaham community. While not initially successful the vessel was eventually purchased with the help of a loan from a local fisherman Mr. Tommy Smith, the rest of the tale about the George Elmy and its restoration can be found in the section of this web site.
- History of the group
- History of the group
11 Partnership Court, Seaham Grange Industrial Estate
During the period when funds for the restoration were being raised the group rented a unit in December 2009 at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate where the George Elmy could be stored and cleaned and which would also serve as an office from where the project could be co-ordinated, a store for the continually increasing amount of lifeboat parts and an exhibition space to enable members of the community and school groups visit. The occupation of the unit was only made possible by a generous grant to cover rent and overheads from the County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF)
The East Drham Heritage Centre, 10 Church Street, Seaham
On the 20th of April 2011, having secured all of the necessary funds the George Elmy was moved to the boatyard of Fred Crowell in Wapping Street, South Shield where the restoration would be undertaken by one of the river Tyne's last traditional boat builders.
Following the departure of the vessel from the industrial unit the group moved to rented shop premises at 10 Church Street, Seaham where it opened the East Durham Heritage Centre again with the help of the CDCF. The move to Church Street enabled the group to reach out to the community and school groups to develop its customer relation skills that would prove a valuable asset for future work.
East Durham Heritage Centre at 10 Church Street, Seaham
While restoration work was going ahead at Wapping Street developments were taking place to create the Seaham Harbour Marina in what had been Seaham's North Dock; within the marina the original 1870 lifeboat house and attached Fisherman's Cabin were being restored and rebuilt to provide a home for the soon the be restored George Elmy and the East Durham Heritage Group. The premises would be called The East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre.
The EDHG have to thank the Regeneration and Economic Development Department of Durham County Council for their work together with members of the Limestone Landscapes project and members of the local Area Action Partnership for provision of funds towards the cost of the work.
The East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre, Seaham Harbour Marina, Seaham, SR7 7EE
On the 5th of May 2013 the East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre opened its doors to the public, the group had made great strides forward since the meeting of a few heritage minded members in early 2007. Again the CDCF demonstrated their support for the group by providing a grant for the first year of business to cover running costs.
East Durham Heritage & Lifeboat Centre, Seaham Harbour Marina, SR7 7EE
Seaham Harbour RNLI Benefit Day, 22nd June 2014
- The Future
The East Durham Heritage Group will seek to continue its development and heritage based work for the good of the community and the public at large whether they be in East Durham, the rest of the Durham and the UK or at the far flung corners of the world. The Heritage Centre's Visitors Book indicates the range of visitors. The group are always keen to recruit enthusiastic and committed volunteers to help with its work and enable the group to open the Heritage Centre on additional days.