Ferryhill Town Council was pleased to receive a piece of County Durham’s mining heritage last week, after Housing Association Bernicia, which has earmarked 33 rundown properties for demolition in the Dean Bank area as part of a £1m regeneration scheme, presented the town’s Mayor with one of three surviving ‘knocky up’ boards.
The boards, which are made of slate and were used by miners to chalk on the time they wanted to be woken up by the ‘knocky up man’ to make sure they arrived at the colliery on time for their shifts, have remained a character of the mining terraces since the last mine closed in 1968.
Gemma Alderson, housing manager at Bernicia, said: “While we’re delighted to be pressing ahead with our long-held ambition to revamp this part of Dean Bank, we recognise that the streets of derelict, boarded up houses were once home to a vibrant mining community. As well as being part of revitalising the area, it’s great to be able to contribute to preserving the town’s heritage by giving the boards a new home.”
The other two surviving slates have been donated to the Miners’ Institute at Dean Bank, and the Mining Museum in Spennymoor.
Receiving the ‘knocky up’ slate on behalf of Ferryhill Town Council, Mayor, Councillor Joe Makepeace said: “Knocky up boards are very much a part of the character of the old miners’ houses and are a much sought after piece of nostalgia. Sadly, there are very few of them around now.
“The community and the Town Council are very proud of Ferryhill’s mining history and are very grateful to have the opportunity to keep the story of the knocky up boards alive with Bernicia’s donation.”
Site preparation for the demolition is due to start this month with works continuing until February next year. Once complete, environmental improvements funded by Durham County Council will take place, to ensure that the area is transformed into a public space that the surrounding community can enjoy.