Bessie Pit Coal Drop 500

What Lies Beneath

Spending a Saturday morning in the woods, discovering industrial remains of the past under the moss, fern and assorted foliage is my idea of heaven.  And it’s even better when its shared by someone who has that same passion.  So it was that photographer Francesca Dent and I explored Blaydon Burn, this once an industrial hub of global importance now abandoned and left to return to nature.

Rachel at Blaydon BurnThe Cowen brickworks in Blaydon Burn was home to the famous firebrick made out of the clay from nearby mines.  Its ability to withstand high temperatures meant that it was used to line furnaces and thereby played a key role in the Industrial Revolution.

Francesca Blaydon BurnAt first glance, nothing appears to be left but  as you wander along the former waggonway and its arteries, there are archways, steps, coke ovens, pitheads and brickwork kilns to be found if you care to look beneath the surface.



Joseph Cowen Jnr, Vanity Fair, 1878

Our research tells of Sir Joseph Cowen and his son , both successful business men and politicians but also with a social conscience, championing workers rights and for the radical Joseph Cowen Jnr, human rights.

Francesca and I have been fascinated by what we found in Blaydon Burn and also from what has been left by those passing through: a paper cup, coins, a couple of old tyres.  From a writers’ perspective – what stories do these suggest?


To find out more about the Limbo collaborative exhibition on Blaydon Burn CLICK HERE

Limbo exhibition runs at Sanctuary Artspace, St Edmund’s Church, High Street, Gateshead. NE8 1EP until Thursday 27th August, open Monday to Thursdays 12 -4pm.