A popular series of history talks that offer exciting insights into the archives at Durham County Record Office will re-start this month.
The ‘Third Thursday’ talks programme was put on hold earlier this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but has now been moved online for residents to enjoy.
Its upcoming talk will focus on the Hetton Coal Company, 200 years after it created the breakthrough that allowed the development of the East Durham Coalfield.
Led by Dr John Banham, Secretary of Durham County Local History Society and a member of the Hetton Colliery Railway 200 organising group, the presentation is entitled ‘Adventurers and Pirates: The Hetton Coal Company, 1820-36’.
Although the Hetton partners aren’t well-known figures, their enterprise had a big impact on the history of County Durham using ground-breaking technology to cut through the magnesian limestone of the East Durham upland, where previously there had been doubts as to whether any coal would be found.
Using George Stephenson’s steam locomotives three years before the opening of the Stockton & Darlington railway, the Hetton Coal Company’s railway was the first in the world to use steam power from the outset, combining rope haulage by fixed engines and locomotives to take coal to the River Wear in Sunderland.
However, the business methods employed were sometimes questionable and this talk will look at the men who were often seen as “adventurers and pirates” by their contemporaries.
Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Our archive collections span almost 900 years and there really is so much to learn about both the present and the past.
“Although the way the talks are being delivered has had to change, I would strongly encourage people to make a regular date with history and attend our Record Office’s ‘Third Thursday’ talks programme. They offer a fascinating look into County Durham’s past and the rich heritage of our region. It could also be the perfect opportunity to learn something new or gain a new interest in the current climate.”
The talk will take place on Thursday 19 November from 10.30am to 11.30am. The event is free, however booking is essential. To do this visit: www.recordofficeshop.durham.gov.uk/pgEventResult. Participants will be given a link to join the event when they book.
To link to John Banham’s talk, the Record Office will also be creating a short on-line exhibition on the development of Hetton Colliery, and this will soon be available on the Record Office website (www.durhamrecordoffice.com).