Tariq and I went to the Etherley Cricket Club in October 2017 to meet with local resident John Raw and it’s a meeting that I’ve referred to on many occasions since as it demonstrates just how passionate someone can be about a place. It is those people who really capture what’s important about what we are aiming to achieve at Northern Heartlands.
John kindly took us on a tour of the grounds of the club to where you can walk along the old railway line. Used for transport of coal, the ‘Etherley Incline’ was only used for 17 years before closure and was part of the first stage of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. You could see as we walked along, just how special this place is to John. His enthusiasm was infectious, with his tales of the railway and its significance bringing to life the area he showed us.
He is really aware that there is a lack of youth provision in the area and many community resources have closed in the village. In fact, cricket club is currently the only real hub for this community, including young people.
We are hoping to work with the Darlington and Stockton railway as well as John and the local community to help commemorate their rail history and forge a future that recognises the significance of this rich heritage.
Watch this space!