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Hundreds make their mark on dale's mining inspired artwork

Published April 30, 2019 9.35am


Hundreds of people from across Weardale have created glass tiles as part of a community arts project celebrating the area's rich industrial heritage.

Weardale tub ossie

Cllr Ossie Johnson joins youngsters at Wearhead Primary School for a tile-making workshop

The decorative panels will be inserted within a replica lead mining tub, which will symbolise how industry has shaped landscapes, communities and wildlife that exists within the dale today.

Ahead of its grand unveiling at Killhope Lead Mining Museum in Upper Weardale on Tuesday, 2 July, a series of workshops have been held in schools and community venues up and down the dale.

Our community arts team has worked alongside MBC Arts Wellbeing CIC, Weardale Area Action Partnerships and Northern Heartlands on the project, which was partly funded by Arts Council England.

To date, almost 500 people, aged three to 88, have made a glass tile after attending special workshops shedding light on the history of the dale.

Fascinating stories

During the sessions, residents shared stories and were shown photographs and films of people who have lived and worked in Weardale over the centuries.

Footage of 88-year-old Mary Bell talking about washday 80 years ago fascinated youngsters at all the schools. Mary also took part in a workshop at Cowshill Village Hall, where she delighted everyone with her stories of butter making and songs performed in traditional Weardale dialect.

Bringing communities together

Cllr Ossie Johnson, our Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, also attended a workshop at Wearhead Primary School and helped the children come up with designs for their tiles.

Weardale tiles

Tiles created by pupils at Wolsingham School

"It was wonderful to attend the workshop and to see young children excited about the heritage of the area," said Cllr Johnson.

"The Weardale Tub is a great project as it's bringing the community together in such a creative and inspiring way. I can't wait to see the finished artwork when it's unveiled at Killhope this summer."

Experienced glass tutors from MBC Arts Wellbeing CIC helped the participants to produce the tiles using materials that reflect industrial activity of the past.

These are being formed into 20 panels, which will be fired and then fitted into the tub's frame.

Successful record

The venture follows on from the successful We are Weardale project, a year-long creative literacy scheme that saw primary school children and local people produce a compilation of stories about life in the dale.

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