Durham's 'polluted Black Beaches' win award for outstanding beauty

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East Durham's coastline is now blooming after a £10m investment. Photo: Charlie Hedley



They were the setting made famous in Michael Caine's gritty movie, Get Carter (below).

But East Durham's coastline, once dubbed the 'Black Beaches' following 100 years of waste-tipping from six pits nearby, has now been honoured with a prestigious award for outstanding natural beauty by a European body.

The Council of Europe Landscape Awards has rewarded the area after it invested £10 million into cleaning up its shores.

Durham's 'polluted Black Beaches' win award for outstanding beautyThe coastline used to be known as the 'Black Beaches'. Photo: Mike Smith


And it was no mean feat, after 1.5 million tonnes of waste and coal were dropped on the 12-mile stretch of coast between Hartlepool and Sunderland every year.

The six pits were closed in the 1980s and 1990s, and two million tonnes of coal were removed, replaced by 29 miles of cycling tracks and footpaths.


Durham's 'polluted Black Beaches' win award for outstanding beautyMichael Caine's famous scene in Get Carter was shot at the 'Black Beaches'. Photo: Rex


The blackened beaches were a hit with film producers - but not the public - for their dramatic appearance, and the location also features in Aliens 3.

Jo Watkins, president of the Landscape Institute, praised its turnaround, telling the Independent: 'It is right that we recognise the importance of landscapes and their value to society.

'Just look at what has been achieved in Durham – an extraordinary transformation that is contributing on so many different levels.'

Discover the best beaches in Britain below:

Best beaches in the British isles: is YOUR favourite here?

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