Preserving our history

MEETING ROOM: The council chamber before it was taken down.
MEETING ROOM: The council chamber before it was taken down.

A COUNCIL chamber has been stripped and preserved to be placed into a museum for future generations.

Desks, chairs, boards and panels detailing the names of its leaders have been removed from the main Easington District Council building, in Easington Colliery, before the site was bulldozed.

And popular open-air Beamish Museum is now custodian of the furniture and hopes to install it in the town section of its attraction.

The historical plot in Easington’s Seaside Lane – which was at the heart of decision-making for over 80 years – was put up for sale by Durham County Council after its departments moved from the building in 2009. Stuart Timmiss, head of planning and assets, said: “The chamber has a lot of history and we were keen to preserve what we could. We were extremely pleased that Beamish Museum agreed to take all of the furniture and fittings.”

Jim Rees, assistant director of development at Beamish, added: “We collected furniture and fittings from the chamber and also recorded the layout and structure. We didn’t want its passing to go unrecorded.”

The main building was opened in 1903 on the site of Easington Poor Law Union’s workhouse, which offered refuge for those unable to support themselves, and then became the Union Board, handing out food, money and fuel to those most in need. It went on to become the base of Easington Rural District Council, then District of Easington in 1974 when it merged with Seaham Urban District.