The Durham Heritage Coast runs south from Sunderland. Hendon is a mixture of heavy industry, Victorian streets and modern housing. The small, rocky beach can be accessed from the narrow lane under the railway line.
Ryhope was once part of the Durham Coalfield and followed the path of many other villages in the area, by abandoning agriculture as the main employee in favour of coal. In 1859 a colliery was opened and railway lines were introduced to the area, linking Ryhope to Sunderland, Seaham and other Durham Coalfield mining villages. Now only a single railway line runs through the village, although there is no longer a station. The colliery was closed in 1966.
High up on the clifftop, overlooking a wide sandy beach, lies Seaham, an attractive town built around the harbour down below. The town grew from the late 19th century onwards as a result of investments in the harbour and in the local coal mines. A promenade runs along the open ground at the top where mixed terraces of smart houses, craft shops, boutiques and independent coffee providers rub shoulders with each other. Fine beaches and excellent transport links attract visitors to the town.
The harbour consists of a series of interconnected locks rather than the more typical two wall construction. The first harbour was built in 1828 to transport local goods, and when the first mine was opened in 1845, coal in particular. When it could no longer deal with the millions of tonnes of coal, a new dock was constructed from reclaimed land, with a pier-head light at the end, which was opened in 1905. The harbour is still a busy place with working fishing vessels tied up alongside dockside chandlers and warehouses.
A village was founded here in the 7th century around Hartlepool Abbey. It grew in size from medieval times and expanded even further in the 19th century as a centre for shipbuilding. With the laying of a railway link to the local coal mines, the town became a shipper of coal, requiring a new port to be built. Hartlepool’s old docks are now a marina with new apartment blocks built around the edge and include a collection of historic ships.
A splendid promenade and miles of glorious, soft sandy beaches connect the marina with the popular resort of Seaton Carew. The resort, originally a fishing village, grew as a seaside holiday resort for wealthy Quaker families from Darlington. Many stayed in the rows of stucco houses and hotels built along the seafront and elsewhere in the town. Since the 16th century visitors have arrived here by horse and carriage, stagecoach and then by railway.
Graythorp heralds the approach of the mouth of the River Tees and the industry of Middlesbrough. The graveyard of numerous, now defunct, North Sea oil rigs, lies on the north bank of the estuary, their partly dismantled skeletons rusting on scrubland amongst the refineries, the power stations and the steel works.