FROM July 19, the Chester-le-Street Heritage Group is holding an exhibition at the Lambton Arms, showing the town's history.

A century ago, Chester-le-Street was the centre of a thriving mining area.

It was the town to which the surrounding villages looked for their entertainment and their shopping – Front Street, with its imposing Co-operative store, as well as butchers, grocers, fishmongers, fruit and green grocers, and clothing and shoe shops, plus the many hostelries, was a very busy place on pay Saturday.

Loading article content

For two years, the heritage group has been involved in the Chester Marras project, chronicling the story of the local collieries – the nearest were South Pelaw, Chester Moor and Waldridge, and then there were mines at Pelton, Ouston, Beamish, Lumley, Lambton, Edmondsley, Kimblesworth and Sacriston, to name but a few.

One member of the group is investigating the 12 pits that were around the one village of Lumley from 1796 to 1966.

All of the information from the project is on the group's website, chesterlestreetheritage.org, and many of the photos will be on display at the exhibition, which opens on July 19 at noon until 4pm.

It is then open on from Thursday to Saturday, July 20 to 22, from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free, and members will be delighted to listen and record memories and photograph items and memorabilia that they can add to the group's archive.

As well as displays dedicated to the mines, the exhibition will contain a display created from the archive of Bullion Lane School photos.

The school opened in 1932, and following the 1944 Education Act, it became known as Chester-le-Street Secondary Modern, and former pupils are being encouraged to write down the names of people they recognise in the photos.

The Northern Echo: MANY WAYS: By 1965, when this staff photo, was taken, the school was called the Multilateral Unit Chester-le-Street Secondary School. The headteacher from 1959-71 was CFC Lawson, the son-in-law of Lord Lawson of Beamish, and other teachers pictured were N

By 1965, when this staff photo, was taken, the school was called the Multilateral Unit Chester-le-Street Secondary School. The headteacher from 1959-71 was CFC Lawson, the son-in-law of Lord Lawson of Beamish, and other teachers pictured were Ned Selkirk, Jack Ward, Bill Hedley, Eric Howard, Joan Copeman, Margaret Barker, Bill Pattison, Alan Farnish and Brian Tebbutt

A report in 1946 found that of the 80 boys who left the school that year, ten went into mining, 24 into engineering and building, 11 into the distributive trades, nine into clerical jobs and four went to work on the land.

For further information, or if you know anything about any of today's pictures, please email dahall52@aol.com