There was a special event held in November 2016 to celebrate the completion of phase one of the Wideopen Waggonway HeritageACT! project at the entrance to the waggonway path beside Bellway’s new 5 Mile Housing Development near the southern end of Wideopen on the Great North Road.
The Wideopen Waggonway HeritageACT! project is a partnership between Wideopen Local History Society, North Tyneside Council, Seaton Burn Community High School, Bellway and the Tyne & Wear Heritage Forum.
At Wideopen, the HeritageACT! project is about linking the village to its former industrial past through the pathway (the former waggonway) which directly links the community to the former colliery site, now Weetslade Country Park run by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
The work undertaken for phase one of this project has included research into the history of the colliery and then the design of four interpretation boards which have then been produced and positioned through the help of Bellway Homes. The involvement of students from Seaton Burn Community College in the project has been particularly welcome. Students have produced a bench as part of their Design and Technology lessons and they are currently working on the conservation and restoration of two mining tubs which were used underground, some two hundred years ago. The tubs when restored will be positioned at the entrance to the waggonway.
Following the completion of phase one work is now to begin on the second phase. This will involve extending the current work to the final stage of the waggonway, joining the path to Weetslade Country Park with the setting up of further interpretation boards and benches and including the conservation of the original waggonway bridge, dating from the mid-nineteenth century.
As with other HeritageACT! schemes this project provides a community with a reminder of its past history, a way to emphasise local identity through the conservation of remaining heritage features from a vanished industrial past.