Royal Television Awards 2018 - Innovation Award
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The Lost Village of Milkwell Burn and Other Tales

History Project collaborating with local people and those interested in the past lives in and around Blackhall Mill, Hamsterley, Low Westwood and the lost village of Milkwell Burn.

Throughout 2018/2019 Digital Voice brought to life lost villages of the Derwent Valley, uncovering a treasure trove of archive photographs and producing videos with the community. The Digital Voice team worked with volunteers from the Blackhall Mill area, teaching filmmaking and photo editing skills to document the history of the area and create a lasting legacy for future generations.

The Derwent Valley has a rich history of mining. Villages such as Blackhall Mill, Hamsterley and Low Westwood were vibrant and close knit. Picture houses, post offices and a Coop were crucial parts of village life.

In this project, local residents shared their memories of happy and hard times in these mining villages. Milkwell Burn was made a “Category D” village and is now gone leaving hardly a trace. Those who remember it came together to tell tales of laughter and getting by in this lost village. Many people talked of their childhood memories at Milkwell Burn, of which nothing remains. The films bring back to life playing in the woods, fields and river, football matches involving the whole village, cricket in the backstreet with a dustbin lid for a wicket, tricks and sticks… idyllic!

Many participants spoke of the rivalry between the ‘Burners’ and ‘Beech Grovers’ in autumn time. As there were no photos to be found to bring these memories to life, a group of local children did it for us!

Frank Mason from Milkwellburn wrote a beautiful poem after the village was knocked down in the late 1960s. It was put to music and recorded by local singing group Mouthful, along with other songs based on the memories about these villages. They have become a beautiful soundtrack for the films.

The project was run in partnership with:

  • Beamish Museum
  • Mouthful
  • Land of Oak and Iron
  • The project photos are in Albums on the Digital Voice (DigitalVoice2) Flickr Page. Click here to view.

    You can watch the videos embedded in the map below.


    View Digital Voice - GeoStories in a larger map

    The project was celebrated by the community, young and old, at Blackhall Mill community centre.

    The project brought many people together, forgotten friendships, long lost relatives and those who are no longer with us.

    This is one of our GeoStories projects. If you would like us to help you get in touch with your area’s past, please get in touch!

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