The work of a west Newcastle community improvement group dedicated to preserving and enhancing its local mining heritage has received a four-figure boost from a regional employer.
The North Walbottle Waggonway Group aims to preserve and enhance the ecology, wildlife and industrial heritage of the local area, with particular emphasis on improving the historic waggonway which runs between Callerton village and North Walbottle which served the North Walbottle Colliery until its closure in the late 1960s.
The group’s long-term goal has been to place a replica coal truck at each end of the waggonway, along with information boards about the area’s history which will help local people and walkers passing through the area to find out more about it.
And now, thanks to a four-figure grant from The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, the Group has been able to place a truck at the entrance to the Waggonway off North Walbottle road, opposite the junction with Nuneaton Way.
A public information board has also been erected in the same location which informs bridle path users of the Group’s work, makes links to the ecology of the site and highlights the local work of other organisations including Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Newcastle City Council.
The North Walbottle Waggonway Group was formed in 2017 after plans to build a sports centre on the site were withdrawn, with a view to capitalising on local interest in the area.
Group members meet regularly to discuss how it can promote what’s on offer in the area to both local people and visitors, with benches and lecterns previously being installed and bulbs planted to improve the environment.
Keith Batey, chair of the North Walbottle Waggonway Association, says: “Our group’s aim is to preserve local awareness and knowledge of the area’s heritage, enhance local wildlife and ecology, make improvements to the infrastructure where we can and secure the waggonway for future generations to enjoy.
“The bridle path is the central focus for our activities and our volunteers have put a lot of time and effort into improving its condition over the last few years.
“We’ve already had a very positive response to the new truck and information boards from both local residents and visitors, and we’ve got plans to do a lot more in the future which will help us celebrate what we have here.”
“It would have taken us much longer to raise the money we needed for this project without The Banks Group’s backing and we’re very grateful for their generous support.”
The Banks Group is the company behind the proposed Dewley Hill surface mine scheme near Throckley, which would see around 800,000 tonnes of high quality coal extracted from the site, most of which will be used for industrial purposes such as the production of steel and cement, as well as 400,000 tonnes of fireclay, which will be used in the manufacturing of bricks at the local Throckley brickworks.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “The members of the North Walbottle Waggonway Group have made a massive difference to their local environment in the last few years.
“As a long-standing North East mining business, we’re very pleased to be able to fund a project that celebrates the area’s mining heritage by using revenues generated by our present day mining operations.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager for The Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation via email@example.com or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.