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The Seventies and Eighties 1970 to 1989

One of the most important political changes of the 1970s was the establishment of the new counties of Cleveland and Tyne and Wear which swallowed up the most populous chunks of Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire. Coalmines continued to close in the 1970s and 1980s - with the issue coming to a head with the Miners' Strike of 1984 - and by the end of the 1980s, there were only six collieries left in the land between Tyne and Tees.

1970 - BEAMISH MUSEUM (County Durham)

The North of England Open Air Museum has been established at Beamish by Frank Atkinson. The museum will bring to life the social and economic history of the region.

1970 - RESERVOIR OPENS (Teesdale)

Cow Green reservoir opens in Teesdale supplying homes and industries on Teesside with water.

1970 - MONSANTO (Teesside)

Monsanto, a textiles company, establishes a plant at Seal Sands for production of acylonite for making acrylic fibre.

1971 - THE SERVICE SECTOR (Tyneside)

About 53 per cent of Tyneside employment is now in the service sector. Manufacturing and heavy industry no longer dominate the Tyneside scene.


Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station has started supplying electricity. Its construction began in 1968.


Local government reforms have considerably changed the shape of County Durham's boundaries. Gateshead, Jarrow, Blaydon, South Shields and Sunderland have all been moved from County Durham into the new county of Tyne and Wear. Most of the Tyneside area north of the Tyne has been moved from Northumberland into Tyne and Wear. In southern County Durham, Hartlepool has been moved into the newly-created County of Cleveland which includes most of the old borough of Teesside, which dates from 1967, plus areas of rural North Yorkshire including Guisborough.

1974 - METRO STARTED (Tyneside)

The building of the Metro Rapid Transport System commences on Tyneside.

September 27, 1975 - RAILWAY CELEBRATIONS (Darlington)

The 150th anniversary celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway are held. The Duke of Edinburgh visits the celebrations at Preston Park and opens the North Road Station Museum in Darlington.

1976 - KIELDER RESERVOIR (Tynedale)

The construction of the Kielder Dam has begun in North Tynedale. The resulting reservoir in North Tynedale has been built primarily to supply the thirsty industries of Teesside.


Collieries which have closed in Northumberland and Durham over the last decade include:

May 4, 1979 - THATCHER IS PM (Britain)

Margaret Thatcher has been elected as Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

1979 - SHIPYARD CLOSURES (North-East)

Between 1974 and 1979, there have been five shipyard closures in the North-East. There are now only eight shipyards left in the region.

1980 - DOCK CLOSES (Middlesbrough)

The Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority has closed Middlesbrough Dock to commercial traffic. The Dock is scheduled for redevelopment.

1980 - CONSETT WORKS CLOSE (Consett)

The Consett Steel Works are closed on economic grounds.

1980 - METRO OPENS (Tyneside)

The first section of railway line for Tyneside's Metro Rapid Transport System is officially opened. It runs from Newcastle's Haymarket to Tynemouth.


Tyneside employment in the service sector is now 63 per cent.

July 16, 1983 - 100th MINERS' GALA HELD (Durham City)

The 100th Durham Miners' Gala is held in Durham City. The gala has been held every year since 1871 with the exception of the war periods 1915-1918 and 1940-45.

1984 - WAGON WORKS CLOSE (Shildon)

The Shildon Wagon Works close on economic grounds. The works has been responsible for building most of Britain's railway freight wagons.

March 12, 1984 - MINERS' STRIKE (Britain)

Mines across the country are out on strike in protest over pit closures.

1984 - NEW BISHOP (County Durham)

David Jenkins becomes the new Bishop of Durham. He is noted for his outspoken and controversial beliefs, including doubts over the resurrection of Christ and the Virgin birth. He is consecrated at York Minster.

July 1984 - MINSTER FIRE (York)

A major fire destroys parts of York Minster after it is hit by lightning.


In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a panel of 50 architectural experts votes Durham Cathedral the most beautiful building in the world.

1986 - TEES IS NUMBER THREE (Teesside)

The port of Tees is the third largest port in the UK in terms of tonnage shipped.

September 1986 - NISSAN OPENS (Washington/Sunderland)

Nissan becomes the first Japanese company to open a factory in Britain when it establishes a car plant at Sunderland.

1987 - WORLD HERITAGE SITE (Durham City)

Durham Cathedral and Castle are declared a World Heritage Site, one of only a few selected sites designated as such in Britain by UNESCO.

1987 - SHIP RESTORED (Hartlepool)

The restoration of HMS Warrior is completed at Hartlepool.

1987 - DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS (Tyne and Wear and Teesside)

Two new development corporations - Teesside Development Corporation and Tyne and wear Development Corporation - are established. They invest millions of pounds into developing the region's two major urban areas.

1987 - SHIPYARD CLOSURES (Middlesbrough)

The 15,000 tonne North Islands was launched on October 15, 1986, and it enters history as the last ship ever to be launched on the Tees at Smiths Dock, South Bank, as the shipyard is closing with the loss of 1,295 jobs.

October 1987 - METROCENTRE OPENS (Gateshead)

Europe's largest shopping and leisure complex is opened.


The Austin and Pickersgill Shipyard closes at Sunderland bringing an end to shipbuilding in a place which once described itself as the largest shipbuilding town in the world. There have been seven shipyard closures in the 1980s and only one now remains - the Swan Hunter Yard on the Tyne at Wallsend.


Collieries which have closed in Northumberland and Durham over the last decade include: .

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