Horden Denes is an area of England on the Durham coast. It was once a colliery here and the beach was (and still is) covered in coal. But since the closure of the mines the coast is regenerating and wildlife that was sitting below the surface is emerging and flourishing. The local community are justly proud of this area and we worked with the community on the sculptural and interpretative outputs for the site.Some extracts from the interpretation panels:
In the 1920s, Horden Beach was one of the best coastlines in the UK. Sandy beaches, clear waters and stunning scenery enticed thousands of people to its shore each year. Others came for the fishing, Punch and Judy shows or to buy souvenirs and ice-creams from the Arabs who sold their goods from the beach. Even while relaxing here, you would have been aware of the prominence of the Horden Colliery; the pits visible from the water’s edge.
The interpretation panels were produced in GRP with a 10 year UV light fast guarantee. They were embedded onto oak totem interpretation structures with a top panel made from MetalPhoto – this has a twenty to thirty year lifespan. The structures were then CNC routed (carved) front and back and the corners have Aluminium edges to protect against damage and vandalism.
The site includes an integrated suite of interpretation including features we designed – these were a Corten sculpture of a butterfly: The Horden Butterfly is based on a speckled wood butterfly and has the following poetry on the wings:
Wing 1: “Sanderling Seeking, Butterflies Spreading”
Wing 2: “A wind that Carries Memories of Coal”
The wings were cut using waterjet which provides a more accurate and cleaner cut than plasma/laser cutting. The site also included a seating area which we designed to allow for sheltering from the wind as well as enjoying great views of the Durham coastline. Integral to the seating are the two end pieces which we commissioned local artist David Gross to carve for us – these represent the opening of Horden Colliery in 1900 and the closing in 1987. To finish things off we included some discs with words taken from workshops which we held with the community that carry memories of growing up during the happy times before the mine closed.
Partnership: this was a fantastic project which was a partnership with our colleagues at Red Plait Interpretation, Ray Hopper (sadly Ray didn’t live to see this project finished and Robin Watson Signs. The guys at Durham County Council built the seating and installed the interpretative structures for us and Washington Waterjet made the Corten butterfly wings.