Chemical Beach
Landscape Seaham County Durham

Chemical Beach, Noses Point, Near Seaham

Landscape In Seaham, County Durham

A juxaposed scene, with chaldron wheels, industrial remains, and an old jetty against a backdrop of organic appeal.

The name Chemical Beach may have got your attention, I know it got mine.

Noses Point gets its name as there is a part that juts out into the North Sea. To the north is Chemical Beach which we are exploring here. To the South is Blast Beach. This is part of County Durham Heritage Coast with those magnificent Magnesian Limestone cliffs.

Chemical Beach got its name from Chemical Works which opened in 1865 after John Watson took over the Iron Works. It traded as Watson, Kipling, and Petrie Chemical Company. It had a ready supply from the Magnesian limestone cliffs

It was successful in products like Soda Crystals which are known for their cleaning properties and drinks. Magnesia was used for bricks to line furnaces and as an additive to cattle feed. All seem diverse in their uses eh!

The steamship Lily would take this cargo down to London once a week, however this industry was relatively short lived as it ceased after only 15 years.

There is an attractive stone jetty probably used for smaller boats around the same time as the Chemical Works. The stone work has been pitted by the sea and has limpets attached. It is accessible with care.

Coal mining came and waste was either tipped over the cliff top or brought by chaldron wagons and dumped in the sea. The wagons were used primarily to carry coal. The size of the chaldron wagons dictated that they could carry 4 tons of coal and that's how the coal was measured.

There are a set of wheels that can be seen at low tide, providing a photographic opportunity. In the distance, you can see Seaham Lighthouse.

I took a photo when there was work going on to repair a water waste pipe from the mining days. The rig caused a few raised eyebrows as people thought shale gas exploration was occurring.

Other parts of this beach have various remnants of the coal industry, including rusted metalwork and old timber struts sticking out.

Crocodile Rock

Ken Walker from Facebook has kindly agreed to share this image and explains how the photo was taken.

'A long exposure image taken at Chemical Beach in Seaham, County Durham. The locals have nicknamed this feature Crocodile Rock due to the nature of the wooden piles running each side of the structure extending out to sea. The beach got its name from Seaham Chemical Works which occupied a nearby site in the 1860s. The wooden piles on the beach were supports for a rail track used by wagons for tipping mine waste from Dawdon Pit into the sea.'

Thank you Ken, the nickname is clever.

A tragedy happened here on 17th November 1962 when The George Elmy lifeboat washed up on this beach. It was called out with 5 volunteers to find the missing cobbler Economy which was found with the 4 man crew and a 9-year-old boy. All were recused into the lifeboat. However the sea conditions were atrocious, and just as they came within yards of the harbour entrance, the George Elmy was struck by gigantic waves and capsized taking with it 8 people including the boy. One crew member from the Economy hung on inside and survived.

This photo is where the lifeboat washed up.

Liddle Stack is a solitary Magnesian Limestone Pillar that has stood for millennia and is shaped by erosion caused by the elements, mainly the North Sea. As to why it is called Liddle, I can suggest that in old English it comes from the word 'Lytel' meaning short or small.

If you do want to visit Chemical Beach, please be warned that getting down to the beach can be precarious and is not recommended for small children or dogs. The cliffside is a tad steep and can be muddy and slippery. Then you have sea defence boulders to climb over, although there are gaps. Don't forget to check tide times as this is your only way up, and it is best to go around low tide.

You will not incur any chemical harm unless you try to ingest something that you shouldn't.

My family are demonstrating the slopes coming back up from the beach. Chris my husband has a bag for collecting litter.

Hope you enjoy this adventure.

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How To Find Chemical Beach

Where Is Chemical Beach?

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54.827579, -1.323244

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Where To Park For Chemical Beach?

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54.826771, 54.826771

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Parking at entrance to Noses Point. This is a popular spot to park and can be full. There is additional parking further down the lane. Parking charges now apply since April 2024.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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Chemical Beach was listed in Landscape // County Durham // Seaham