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Home to honour mining memory.

Eddie Searle is one of many ex-miners to benefit from new housing schemes in former pit villages.

Eddie, 69, and his wife Ann now live in a two-bedroom bungalow built by Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association, (DAMHA), at Elizabeth Court in the former Durham pit village of Pittington.

Eddie, who spent 25 years as a surface worker at three collieries, became deaf and blind after retiring, but his memories of the coalfield were so strong he wrote a book tracing its history from the 12th century, From Pit Heaps to Green Fields, published by Houghton's Gilpin Press.

"I maintain a strong mining interest and admire the work still carried out by DAMHA," said Eddie, who has been elected as the representative of the tenants in Elizabeth Court.

"I'm especially pleased they were able to build in Pittington for it allowed me to move back and they will be a real asset to the village.

The work done by DAMHA is important because, while the Durham coalfield may be history, the mining tradition and influence in the county is as strong as ever."

John Humble, director of Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association, said: "We've been operating for more than 100 years and, although times have changed dramatically since the miners' strike 20 years ago, our role today is as important as ever.

"There are no longer recently retired miners for us to provide good standard housing for, but we're still at the forefront of looking after older people in housing need and the regeneration of mining communities.

"Coal mines may be a thing of the past, but mining tradition still plays a major role in Durham pit villages, which is why our developments in places like Pittington are so important."

In the last 20 years, the association has fully refurbished 1,100 one-bedroom bungalows, all up to the Government's Decent Homes Standard.

The Pittington bungalows are just one of a number of schemes recently completed by the association in its drive to regenerate existing communities and help people in housing need.

Projects currently on site, or about to start, include 16 at Peterlee, 20 at Horden, 12 at Jarrow, and 12 at Parkside in Seaham.

One of the biggest projects is with new development partners Nomad Housing Group, Bellway, Carillion and Chester-le-Street District Council, on a major four-year regeneration scheme that will see 257 new homes created at Whitehill in Pelton Fell.

"There will be more than 200 homes in all and probably more than 20 bungalows are needed for older people," said Mr Humble.

"This newest partnership agreement with Nomad has the added benefit of allowing DAMHA to be involved in major revitalisation projects in coalfield communities, something we were previously prevented from being part of.

"Our role is no longer limited to providing for older persons' needs, but to meet the needs of whole communities in the broader regeneration of coalfield villages."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 16, 2004
Previous Article:Strife united us all.
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