All we need is a spade to match!

Pupils from Grange View First School, including Molly Muir and Owen Priest visiting the bucket from the Ace of Spades machine at Stobswood Opencast where it will be the centrepiece for a new bridleway at the restored site.
Pupils from Grange View First School, including Molly Muir and Owen Priest visiting the bucket from the Ace of Spades machine at Stobswood Opencast where it will be the centrepiece for a new bridleway at the restored site.

CHILDREN have joined forces with an industrial giant to make their mark on their village heritage.

The massive Ace of Spades dragline was a true monster of its day, dominating the Stobswood opencast site for 16 years as the largest machine of its type in Europe.

In 2008 the 200ft-high excavator, which shifted around 300 million tonnes of overburden at the Northumberland mine, was dismantled to set sail for a new life in the United States.

But now a relic of the famous excavator has re-surfaced in the form of its huge bucket. UK Coal has donated the 100-tonne capacity bucket to stand at an intersection of footways on the restored opencast site and serve as a lasting memento of the company’s long association with the community.

Pupils from the nearby Grange View First School were invited to make their own contribution to the feature and have proudly seen their logo welded onto the bucket.

UK Coal Project Manager Peter Wood said: “We thought it was a good idea to leave the bucket as some sort of memorial to the site.

“We did a really good restoration at one of our sites in Durham, but now we have gone all evidence that UK Coal had been there has been taken away.

“The Stobswood site has been there for years, but again there will be nothing left of us when the restoration is done.

“We intend to leave a legacy of good restoration and we thought it would be nice to leave some sort of artefact from the site too.

“The bucket will be at the intersection of bridleways and footpaths and is near enough to the village to encourage people to walk to it.

“We thought that by involving the school it would also encourage the kids to get out and drag their parents along to get more active and involved in the countryside. We thought the logo was something the school could do and the kids could take ownership of the project.

“Quite a lot of the children at the school have parents or relatives who worked at the site so it is nice to keep that link.”

The youngsters worked with local sculptor Tom Maley and UK Coal welder Trevor Park to perfect their logo and were invited to visit the site to see the bucket installed.

Teacher Lauren Chapman said: “Because of the opencast, UK Coal is a local business near to us and special to our community. It is making the site into a landscape for the community to use and when it decided it would leave the big bucket there it thought it would be a nice idea to get the children involved.

“Some people came in to school last year to talk to the children about their ideas and then they got designing. The choices were made and the school logo was put on the bucket to remind people that Grange View was part of the project.

“The children went to see the arrival of the bucket and they know where it is now so when the landscaping is finished they can show their friends and families.

“I think it just helps them to become more aware of their culture and community.

“It also gives them the opportunity to make their imprint on future generations, which is quite nice.”