A PIECE of County Durham’s mining heritage has been saved before run-down mining terraces are demolished.

Housing association Bernicia has earmarked 33 rundown properties for demolition in Dean Bank, Ferryhill, as part of a £1m regeneration scheme.

Before the work starts, Bernicia has removed the three remaining ‘wake up slates’ or ‘knocky up boards’ from the brickwork at the front of the houses to be preserved as part of the town's mining community history.

Made of slate, the boards were used by miners to chalk on the time they wanted to be woken by the ‘knocky up man’ to make sure they arrived on time at the colliery for their shifts. The last mine closed in 1968 but the slates have remained a character of the houses in the area and are a much sought after piece of local nostalgia.

Gemma Alderson, housing manager at Bernicia, said: “While we’re delighted to be pressing ahead with our long-held ambition to revamp this part of Dean Bank, we recognise that the streets of derelict, boarded up houses were once home to a vibrant mining community.

“As well as being part of revitalising the area, it’s great to be able to contribute to preserving the town’s heritage by giving the boards a new home.”

One slates has been given to Ferryhill Town Council and the remaining two will be given to the Miners’ Institute at Dean Bank, Ferryhill, and the Mining Museum in Spennymoor.

Receiving the wakey up slate on behalf of Ferryhill Town Council, Mayor, Joe Makepeace said: “Knocky up boards are very much a part of the character of the old miners’ houses and sadly there’s very few of them around now. We’re very proud of Ferryhill’s mining history and we are very grateful to have the opportunity to keep the story of the knocky up boards alive with Bernicia’s donation.”

Site preparation for the demolition is due to start this month and the works will continue until February next year. Once completed, the land will be transformed into a public space with greenery for the surrounding communities to enjoy.