North East England in the 1990s

North East England in the 1990s

The last ten years of the second millennium saw the closure of the Durham coalfield’s last coal mine, ending an era of at least 800 years. A new football stadium was built in its place, one of many modern developments in the 1990s.

Angel of the North
Angel of the North :  a universally recognised icon and a symbol of Tyneside and the North

The developments were to rejuvenate the region and its economy and were mostly concentrated in the old riverside areas of the Tyne, Wear and Tees which had once been at the forefront of the old heavily industrialised economy. Today the major industries which dominated the North East throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries have declined or disappeared, leaving the region to adjust to new technologies, new forms of employment and a new way of life.

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1990 – National Garden Festival

The National Garden Festival is held at Gateshead. Its site stretches from the River Tyne towards Dunston and includes the Dunston Coal Staithes which are reputedly the world’s largest wooden structure. The festival is designed to regenerate derelict industrial land for future use.

April 1990 – University Japanese link

The Teikyo University of Japan at Durham has been established. Students from Japan can now study for a year alongside students of Durham University.

1990 – Teesside Park

Work on the development of a shopping and leisure complex at Teesside Park near Thornaby is under way.

Blast Beach, Seaham
Blast Beach, Seaham near the former site of Dawdon Colliery. Photo © David Simpson 2018

July 1991 – Dawdon Colliery closes

Dawdon Colliery at Seaham closes. The colliery, which stands close to the coast was opened in 1907 and employed more than 3,800 men at its peak in the 1920s.

Nov 1991 – Murton and Hawthorn collieries closed

Murton Colliery in east Durham has closed. The linked Hawthorn ‘Combined’ Mine has also closed. Hawthorn, which was the site of a coke works up until 1985, had drawn coal from the workings of collieries at Eppleton (closed 1986) and Elemore (closed 1974).

1991 – Neptune returns

The statue of King Neptune is placed once again in Durham Market Place after many years absence. He was first situated in the market place in 1729, symbolising an ambitious plan, which never saw fruition, to turn Durham into a sea port. He was removed to the city’s Wharton Park in 1923.

The River Wear at Sunderland
The River Wear at Sunderland Photo © David Simpson

1992 – Sunderland becomes a city

Sunderland becomes a city. The last town in the North East to gain city status was Newcastle in 1882.

1992 – New Universities

Three new universities are created in the North East. In Middlesbrough, Teesside Polytechnic becomes the University of Teesside.  At the same time Newcastle Polytechnic becomes Northumbria University and Sunderland Polytechnic becomes the University of Sunderland. They join the existing universities of Durham and Newcastle in delivering first class education. At Durham, the actor, Sir Peter Ustinov succeeds Dame Margot Fonteyn as the university’s new chancellor.

1992 – First Class cricket at Durham

Durham County Cricket Club has joined the first class county cricket league.

Gateway at Easington Colliery
Gateway near the colliery site at Easington Colliery. Photo © David Simpson 2018

May 7 1993 – Easington Colliery closes

Easington Colliery in east Durham has closed with the loss of 1,400 jobs. The colliery, which opened in 1899, was the site of a major disaster in 1951 that claimed the lives of 83 miners.

Durham Cathedral. © David Simpson 2018

1993 – Cathedral celebrates 900 years

Durham Cathedral is celebrating its 900th anniversary. The construction of the cathedral was commenced in the year 1093 by the Prince Bishop, William St Carileph.

May 1993 – Westoe Colliery closes

Westoe Colliery at South Shields has closed. The closure of Westoe, which opened in 1909, brings an end to centuries of coal mining on Tyneside.

June 4 1993 – Vane Tempest Colliery closes.

The Vane Tempest Colliery at Seaham which first opened in 1926 is closed. Taking its name from the family who had developed Seaham Harbour in the 19th century (the Marquess of Londonderry’s family name) Vane Tempest Colliery was the last remaining pit in the town of Seaham.

Dec 10 1993 – The Durham coalfield’s last colliery

Wearmouth Colliery at the mouth of the River Wear in Sunderland, the last colliery in the County Durham coalfield, has closed, signalling the end of a centuries old era in the land between the Tyne and Tees.

1994 – Lynemouth Colliery closes

Lynemouth Colliery, in Northumberland, closes. The nearby Ellington Colliery becomes the last remaining colliery in the North East.

1994 – Sculptor chosen for Gateshead site

Sculptor Antony Gormley is selected to create an iconic landmark on a prominent former colliery site near Gateshead.

Royal Navy Museum and the mast of Trincomalee, Hartlepool
Royal Navy Museum and the mast of Trincomalee, Hartlepool. Photo © David Simpson 2018

July 1994 – Hartlepool Historic Quay

Hartlepool’s historic quay opens. The reconstruction by Teesside Development Corporation shows an 18th Century seaport and it brings Britain’s maritime heritage to life.

Feb 1995 – River Tees flooding

Flooding on the Tees at Neasham, Croft and Hurworth causes hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to houses.

The Tees Barrage.
The Tees Barrage. Photo © David Simpson 2018

April 22, 1995 – Tees Barrage opens

The £50m Tees barrage opens at Stockton. It has created a ten-mile stretch of clean water from Worsall near Yarm to Stockton and has enabled the creation of a white water course for canoeists. An international competition marks the opening.

Aug 26, 1995 – Riverside Stadium opens

After 92 years at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough FC play their first game at the new all-seater Riverside Stadium which is situated alongside the old Middlesbrough Dock. Boro defeat Chelsea 2-0 with the first goal at the new stadium coming from Craig Hignett.

Durham Cathedral and castle from Leazes Road, Gilesgate
Durham Cathedral and castle from Leazes Road, Gilesgate. Photo © David Simpson

1995 – Durham 1,000 years old

Durham is 1,000 years old. It was in the late summer of 995AD that the monks carrying the coffin of St Cuthbert established a settlement at ‘Dun Holm’ as the final resting place for their saint.

Apr 6 1997 – Middlesbrough in League Cup final

Middlesbrough Football Club play in the League Cup final for the first time in their history. They draw 1-1 with Leicester City at Wembley before suffering defeat in the replay at Hillsborough, Sheffield on April 16.

May 2 1997 – Tony Blair becomes PM

Tony Blair, the MP for Sedgefield, who grew up in the region, is elected Prime Minister of Great Britain. He will live in Downing Street and at his home in Trimdon Colliery, County Durham. Blair was born in Scotland but grew up in Durham City and nearby High Shincliffe. He was educated at the Durham Chorister School in the shadow of Durham Cathedral, two years apart from a younger fellow pupil, the actor, Rowan Atkinson, noted for his Blackadder and Mr Bean portrayals.

May 17 1997 – Middlesbrough in FA Cup final

Middlesbrough Football Club play in an FA Cup final for the first time in their history. They are defeated 2-0 by Chelsea at Wembley. Just over a month ago they were defeated in the League Cup Final.

Stadium of Light
Stadium of Light Photo © 2015 David Simpson

July 30, 1997 – Stadium of Light opens

The first match is played at Sunderland Football Club’s new stadium. Named the Stadium of Light, the ground stands on the site of the Wearmouth Colliery –  the last colliery in the centuries old Durham coalfield. Sunderland’s first match is a  friendly against Ajax of Amsterdam which ends 0-0. The first league league match on August 15, sees a 3-1 victory over Manchester City and the stadium’s first goal comes from Niall Quinn. Sunderland had moved into their new stadium after 99 years at Roker Park.

Commemorative stone Trimdon church
Commemorative stone Trimdon church. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Aug 31 1997 – Farewell ‘The People’s Princess’

Speaking from outside Trimdon church in County Durham, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair announces the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales whom he describes as ‘The People’s Princess’.

Angel of the North
Angel of the North Photo © 2017 David Simpson.

Feb 15, 1998 – Angel of the North

The Gateshead Angel of the North sculpture is erected. It weighs 300 tonnes and was built by Hartlepool Steel Fabrications. It rapidly becomes one of the best-known landmarks in the country.

June 11 1998 – Farewell Dame Catherine

Fans mourn the passing of novelist Dame Catherine Cookson DBE who is the author of more than 100 novels. Her sales have topped 100 million. Cookson, whose novels are set in the region, was born at Tyne Dock and returned to the region for much of the later part of her life.

1998 – Sunderland Minster

St Michael’s church in Sunderland becomes Sunderland Minster to represent the city’s recent gaining of city status.

1998 – National Glass Centre

The National Glass Centre, a visitor attraction focused on glass and glass making has opened in Sunderland. The city was chosen as the site for the centre because of its history of glass making.

1999 – Vaux Brewery closes

The Vaux Brewery in Sunderland closes. The firm, famed for its Double Maxim brown ale has been brewing in Sunderland since 1806.

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North East England History and Culture