Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pea Hill Community Park


Today's Guardian Country Diary is an account of a walk around the Durham market town of Crook on a snowy morning, ending at the village of Fir Tree at the Pea Hill Community Park, which was opened last year. The park is graced by this wooden statue of two drift miners.... one young, the other old, standing shoulder-to-shoulder.




Coal seams around Crook lie close to the surface and outcrop on hillsides, so drift miners chased the seams underground from the point where they outcropped. The Crook community was founded on coal but all the mines had closed down by the end of the 1960s.




The statue and these carved wooden bench ends are the work of tree sculptor Tommy Craggs, who performs his artistry with a chainsaw on naturally fallen trees.




This seating area in the park is surrounded with a shelter of woven willow ....





.... with willow figures behind ....




..... and a woven willow tunnel for kids to explore.




On the day when we visited the willow was already producing silvery catkins ....


... that were coming into flower despite the cold snap.





For kids it's a great spot to play and for the less energetic it's an ideal place to take in the view of snow covered Weardale.

20 comments:

  1. What fantastic carving on those miners. A real work of art. I hope it lasts a long time.

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    1. Wonderful, aren't they? I guess they'll be good for at least a decade - maybe more if they are given regular treatment...

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  2. Thanks for posting the wood carving, we enjoyed them and have saved the link to the artist's web site.
    Interesting to see Crook - my great grandmother's family were miners there.

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    1. Hi snippa, it's good to see past generations being given this mark of respect, now that most traces of the mines are gone...

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  3. A great place. I stopped a night at Fir Tree. I should have found this. I will next time....thanks.

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    1. They've only been there for a few months, I think .... but well worth a look!

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  4. Beautiful work to commemorate the miners. I'm from a Welsh mining community, in 1960 there was a disaster in the Six Bells pit where many men died, it took the powers that be 50 years to raise a memorial!

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    1. They're a nice tribute, aren't they toffeeapple..?

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  5. Superb wooden sculptures, and a beautiful-looking place, Phil.It makes me very tempted to visit. Thank you for sharing the wonderful images with us.

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    1. There's a good view from the top of the hill too Richard..

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  6. Superb sculptures Phil.
    And done with a chainsaw; amazing.

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    1. I really admire skill like that Keith - makes me envious!

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    2. They are done with a chainsaw but it has a single wheel. It's more like an angle grinder with a chain saw blade. Still takes a lot of skill. They are wonderful. In chestnut they will last for ever.

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  7. I had to ask my father (flat 'a', please) where this was, as it'll be at least 40 years since his father and I used to walk the fields around Crook. Snow and time have certainly softened the landscape. The sculptures are incredible, as if the trees had absorbed some essence of the miners from the ground itself.

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    1. Pea Hill is also notorious in snow for stopping traffic - I remember JCBs digging through the 6 foot drifts there in the winter of '79 .....

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  9. My wife's from Crook and the-in-laws still live there: next time we're over that way we shall have to take the kids to the park - thanks for the tip.

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  10. Hi Mark, It's only a small park - about half way up the footpath from Fir Tree to Pea Hill, but it's in a fine position with a view up the dale. You can either walk up the footpath that runs up between he houses on the 90 degree bend in the A68 at Fir Tree or park in the lay-by at the top on the road into Crook from the A68 roundabout and walk down. There used to be a yellow -berried hawthorn along the footpath and I keep meaning to go back and see if it's still there ..... but that'll have to wait until autumn now..

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  11. Hi Phil, I am the chainsaw carver and they were carved with chainsaws not an angle grinder with chain, those things are dangerous and I would never use one! I do use other tools to finish with although I do get pretty close with the saw.
    Thanks very much, Tommy

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  12. Hi Tommy, your sculptures are wonderful - absolutely brilliant! I saw the piece about the work you've done at Knaresborough in the Northern Echo yesterday..... and I noticed another sculpture in someone's front garden in Castleside, which I'm guessing was you work? All the best, Phil.

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