A community project led by Creative Lives On Air, in partnership with Easington Social Welfare Centre and BBC Radio Tees

Picture of the Easington Social Welfare Centre in Easington Colliery

Easington Welfare Centre, or The Welly as it’s affectionately known to the residents of Peterlee in Country Durham, is a hub of creativity and social interaction. Providing a much-needed distraction from the stresses of pit closures, the Centre offered a space for friendship and support when it was needed most. And The Welly is still at the heart of the local community, with regular events and activities drawing people through its doors.

Born out of a partnership between Creative Lives and BBC Radio Tees, funded by Historic England, Going Down The Welly captured memories of this well-loved building, as well as highlighting its importance as a local venue today. Producer Rachel Teate spoke to twelve Easington locals about their relationship to The Welly, from those who knew it as children to the volunteers who ensure its continued survival.

"This project shines a light on how important everyday creativity is, and seeks to uncover the stories that would otherwise be lost," says Jess Plant, England Director of Creative Lives. "The partnership between BBC Radio Tees and Creative Lives has allowed these stories to be shared in an accessible way, while also assuring they are cemented in time. The Welly provides a piece of vital history, and the stories from the pit, the miners, and the volunteers showcase how necessary groups like this are for capturing shared history in a creative environment."

Listen to Northern Souls - Going Down The Welly

Episode 1: Barry Kenny is the centre manager, and has been coming to The Welly since he was fourteen.

Episode 2: Elaine Grundy shares her childhood memories of growing up in The Welly.

Episode 3: Ann Chalmers was one of the clerks at her old school in Easington. "My heart is in Easington. I love it and that’s why I come to The Welfare Centre."

Episode 4: Esther Rivers attended her first dance 60 years ago, and has volunteered ever since. She recounts the good and bad aspects of life around the pits, telling stories of lost loved ones but also fun times dancing at The Welly with friends.

Episode 5: Derick Rivers is an ex-miner, and for him Easington is "the only place to come."

Episode 6: Alan Cummings was the Area President of the Durham Miner's Society. "It's critically important that we keep this building open." 

Episode 7: Heather Wood shares her memories of growing up with family working in the pit.

Episode 8: Ann Dunn shares her memories of the children at The Welfare Centre.

Episode 9: Ann Stevenson helped to keep The Welfare Centre alive during tough times.

Episode 10: Mary Glaister, Carol Turnbull, and Maureen Robinson grew up at The Welly.

Listen to more about the history of Easington Colliery and The Welly in this documentary, also produced by BBC Radio Tees and Creative Lives.