Building In Peterlee, County Durham
Once a former chapel, but is now a museum, packed full of local heritage.
It is easy to see what Wheatley Hill Heritage Center used to be. This charming Edwardian chapel of rest was opened by Peter Lee in 1907 and was used until the 1950's.
The Parish Council converted it to a heritage center in 2002 and has a committed group of knowledgeable volunteers.
There are many artifacts and photographs to catch your interest. The stained glass windows were purchased from a church nearby that was being demolished.
There are sporting medals and jackets worn by local Olympians. They certainly look tight fitting! A kitchen set up around 1919. Note the bloomers drying by the fire!
The mural on the back wall is visually striking and represents local life.
Peter Lee was a prominent person. He stood for Wheatley Hill Parish Council at the age of 33, then helped action sanitation and water purity as a priority within the village. Mr Lee also sought new roads and the cemetery.
Councillor Lee went on to be Chair of the Parish Council and was a miners' leader. He requested to be buried here in 1935 and his grave is now a listed Monument.
The nearby town has been named in his honour.
The cemetery grounds are maintained with attentiveness and the war memorial has a nice backdrop of the chapel.
In the grounds there is a statue called The Last Shift and is the work of Ray Lonsdale known for Eleven O One AKA 'Tommy' at Seaham.
The last shift was modelled on a 1960's miner called Tom Davies along with his signature roll-up. He is looking in the direction of where the pit workings and waste heap would have been.
The Statue is set as a reminder of the heritage in the area and was unveiled the very day the pit closed 50 years previously on 3rd May 1968. Wheatley Mothers Club were responsible for starting the idea to remember the mine. This emotive statue shows the miner with his powder box, roll up and cap (You can see one inside the museum).
Take the time to read Ray's poem 'That's All Marra' on the plinth.
This center can be used as a start/finish point for a 7 mile Miners Heritage Trail along footpaths, bridleways and disused railway lines. Pick up a leaflet for insightful information. check opening times and amenities at the Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre website.
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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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