A NEW memorial heritage trail placing the spotlight on the legacy of a community’s miners has been officially opened as part of a major regeneration scheme

A dedication service at St George’s Church in South Moor, Stanley, was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the South Moor First World War Heritage Trail, at Twizell Burn.

Created by Durham County Council, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stanley Town Council, the trail features nine panels, leading people through the area and explaining its history.

Those following the trail will be able to learn about South Moor’s creation shortly before the First World War and how the miners shaped the community, before 200 of their number went to war, sadly never to return.

Family members of some of the former miners were among those paying tribute by laying poppy crosses at the service.

Cllr Eddie Tomlinson, cabinet member for rural issues, said: “The heritage trail is a poignant tribute to how much our local communities sacrificed during the First World War.

“South Moor was a colliery town which had only recently been established when 200 men moved from the pits to the front line to give their lives for our country so it’s a true honour to be involved in this beautiful and lasting memorial.”

Visitors were able to see the next stage of the wider regeneration of the area.

The plan for the Living Waterways Twizell Burn Restoration Project is managed by the Wear Rivers Trust through the local Greening Twizell Partnership.

It will see the burn re-naturalised and improvements made to the adjacent footpath - making visitor access easier and complement the new heritage trail.

An archaeological project will investigate the remains of the water management system which supported the South Moor colliery and series of wetland areas will be created.

Steve Hudson of the Wear Rivers Trust, said: “The Twizell Burn catchment is steeped in industrial heritage.

“Although the health of the watercourses have suffered significantly as a result, I find it fascinating to hear about the history of the area, especially around Memorial Park, South Moor and Quaking Houses.”

“During the project development stages I have had the pleasure of meeting some true characters that have spent much of their lives in the area.”

The project is funded by the Environment Agency, the county council, Stanley Town Council, Stanley Area Action Partnership and the Postcode Lottery.

To see more about the work of the Wear Rivers Trust visit www.wear-rivers-trust.org.uk or to become involved in the burn restoration contact steve.hudson@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk.