THE villages of Bowburn and Coxhoe are now divided by the A1(M) motorway as it runs to the east of Durham City, but they have a long shared history of mining and quarrying.

That history caused the creation of the communities and provided work for thousands of men, but, as these pictures from The Northern Echo's photo-library show, that history also caused problems.

If any of today's pictures trigger any thoughts, memories or pearls of wisdom, we'd be delighted to hear from you. Please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk

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The Northern Echo: FORGING AHEAD: Bowburn blacksmith Mr R Greathead at work in the forge in October 1963 when it was confirmed that the new motorway – the A1(M) – would require the demolition of the centuries-old forge. By coincidence, 50 years ago today, the Darlington

FORGING AHEAD: Bowburn blacksmith Mr R Greathead at work in the forge in October 1963 when it was confirmed that the new motorway – the A1(M) – would require the demolition of the centuries-old forge.

By coincidence, 50 years ago today, the Darlington & Stockton Times newspaper was reporting that the last blacksmith left in south Durham was George Spikings, of Elstob Crossing, to the south of Sedgefield.

In January 1967, Mr Spikings, 66, who had been a blacksmith for 52 years, covered a patch that had once contained 14 village blacksmiths like the Greatheads at Bowburn.

However, 50 years ago, Mr Spikings was reporting a "tremendously increased demand" for his services caused by the sudden rise in the number of riding schools in the area.

Growing affluence was allowing the horse to make a comeback in the field of leisure after the car and the tractor had ended its working days.

The Northern Echo: WORKING UNDERGROUND: East Hetton Colliery, near Kelloe, provided work for about 1,000 men throughout the 20th Century – renowned Durham coalfield artist Tom McGuinness worked down there as did Newcastle United footballer Alan Shoulder for six years. How

WORKING UNDERGROUND: East Hetton Colliery, near Kelloe, provided work for about 1,000 men throughout the 20th Century – renowned Durham coalfield artist Tom McGuinness worked down there as did Newcastle United footballer Alan Shoulder for six years.

However, the end for the pit, sunk in 1836, came with astonishing speed. In mid June 1983, 100m gallons of water was discovered trapped under great pressure in old workings immediately above the current coalface. Work was immediately suspended, and the 745 miners – who had produced 283,000 tonnes of coal in 1982 – either lost their jobs or were shifted to coastal pits.

The picture above is of East Hetton miners coming out of the cage was taken in March 1974.

The Northern Echo: CRACKED UP: While the flared jeans of the chap at the bottom left are worth remarking upon, the huge cracks in this house in The Grove, Coxhoe, are truly astonishing – particularly as spectators are allowed to stand just metres from windows that could t

CRACKED UP: While the flared jeans of the chap at the bottom left are worth remarking upon, the huge cracks in this house in The Grove, Coxhoe, are truly astonishing – particularly as spectators are allowed to stand just metres from windows that could topple out at any moment.

The picture above was taken in June 1978, and the damage was blamed on subsidence caused by the workings of the East Hetton Colliery.

The Northern Echo: DUSTY DAYS: Wilf Gatenby of Quarrington Hill points to the heaps of steelite dolomite quarried between his village and Bowburn in July 1964. On a breezy day, the fine yellowy-brown dolomite dust would blow over Quarrington Hill and get into houses, washin

DUSTY DAYS: Wilf Gatenby of Quarrington Hill points to the heaps of steelite dolomite quarried between his village and Bowburn in July 1964.

On a breezy day, the fine yellowy-brown dolomite dust would blow over Quarrington Hill and get into houses, washing and food.

On a bad day, you would need a shower after a walk around the village because the dust would be in your hair and all over your clothes.

The Northern Echo: COMING DOWN: Steetley finished 75 years of quarrying near Coxhoe with a three-day party in September 1981 which included a raffle with the winner able to press the button to blow up the quarry chimney. The lucky person was Christine Crathorne, the daughte

COMING DOWN: Steetley finished 75 years of quarrying near Coxhoe with a three-day party in September 1981 which included a raffle with the winner able to press the button to blow up the quarry chimney.

The lucky person was Christine Crathorne, the daughter of a local councillor, who brought the chimney down on September 14, 1981.