Horden is a coastal town on the North-east coast of England in County Durham. Politically it is part of the wider Easington constituency and is a key marginal seat that is sure to play an important part in the General Election this coming May. Split between the Horden North and Horden South wards of Durham County Council it has been represented since 2010 by Grahame Morris of the Labour Party.
Built-up around a strong coal mining heritage the mine here was one of the biggest and most productive in Europe. Operated mainly for the purpose of working undersea coal it had three shafts and at the height of operating in the 1930s it employed over 4000 men and produced over 1.5million tonnes of coal a year.
Unfortunately large volumes of water and other geological issues meant that Horden Colliery failed to make a profit from the later part of the 1970s onwards, and in 1986 it was finally closed.
Inevitably after the closure the town started to suffer from increased unemployment, a rise in anti-social behaviour, higher than average health issues and a decline in some of the housing standards – with many of the original miner’s housing – the numbered streets such as Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets – becoming particularly neglected.
With around 130 of the homes in and around these streets and which are currently owned by Accent Housing Association remaining empty many of them have fallen into a state of disrepair and now require substantial work to repair them. Accent state that when millions of pounds of regeneration money was withdrawn following the government’s implementation of the bedroom tax they could no longer afford to follow through with the investment plan that they had in place. Discussions are now taking place to determine what can be done with the properties to improve them.
Over recent years Horden has benefited from the removal of mining spoil heaps and the redevelopment of its Welfare Park which houses Horden’s rugby, cricket and football teams. The Durham Heritage Coast Partnership is committed to the conservation, protection and enhancement of the coastline and is now home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.
To finish off the day of #Grassroots I also covered a public meeting for residents of Horden organised by the UK Independence Party as they look to increase their influence ahead of the General election this coming May. The UKIP MEP for the North East region Jonathan Arnott was joined by MEP and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Dudley North Bill Etheridge and together they spoke to members of the public who attended the meeting about their approach to key issues before they opened up the floor to a question and answer session.
Below are some of the pictures I shot as part of the series whilst on assignment for Getty Images and which form part of a pre-election feature that I wanted to do on the town and also as part of the #Grassroots coverage I’m working on as we head towards the election. It was a very long and busy day but I met some really friendly people through the day and it was good to see that despite some difficulties in recent years there still remains a sense of community and a pride in a town that like so many other former mining towns around the north of the country that have suffered so much there still remains some hope that things may change in the future.
Hopefully it will and my thanks go to those I met during my time in Horden for chatting to me and letting me shoot some pictures.
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