“ Northumberland / Wansbeck / England „
I live a few miles away from the Northumberland town of Ashington and usually visit the town for various reasons every few weeks.
The town has a semi-pedestrianized main street which sometimes opens to market traders. Shops along the high street include Superdrug, Poundland, Boots, Holland and Barratts, M&Co, Dorothy Perkins, Savers and more. There are many charity shops in the area too. On the outskirts of town in a supersized Asda, an Aldi and a small retail park consisting of a Lidl and The Factory Shop. The town currently has plans to renovate the roads around the centre of town, improving the area for both drivers and pedestrians.
Ashington's coal mining history lives on the Woodhorn Colliery Museum, a brilliant way to discover the region's past. A trip to the museum with my father a few years ago prompted him to be quite shocked about how the well designed and managed facilities brought back so many memories and feelings for him.
The town has a further education college which is actually where I studied for my A-levels many years ago. The college provides a vast range of full and part time courses and also links with other institutions to allow for other types of studying.
Ashington also has a sports and leisure centre which has recently been redeveloped and is due to open in October 2015. It features swimming facilities, gym and other sporting facilities.
Hirst Park is a well kept green area of the town. The park consists of formal gardens, wooded areas, flower beds and bowling greens with a pavillion and play areas for children and teens.
I have family members who live in Ashington and I have also spent time working at the Business Park in the town and can recommend the town as a suitable and comfortable place to live and work with great transport links to other areas of the region also available.
~ Where is it? ~
Ashington is located in Northumberland, North East England. It is about 15 miles north of Newcastle Upon Tyne. I was born in Ashington and have lived here all my life and although its not the most exciting place on the planet, I do quite like it.
~ History ~
Once upon a time there lived a sleepy hamlet, called Ashington, with only a few houses and farms. Not many people lived here so it wasn't very well known. That is until coal was discovered in the early 19th Century. Ashington then grew to a large coal-mining village and was once known as "The largest Mining Village in the World".
Despite this historic claim, there are no remaining collieries in Ashington. Lots of the people that live here now though have links to the collieries. For example, my granddad worked as a physiotherapist in the medical centre at Woodhorn Colliery.
~ What is there to see? ~
*Woodhorn Colliery Museum*
Many of the buildings still stand at Woodhorn and it now houses a museum. This has recently been redeveloped with a new building present as well. The museum tells the story of Ashington's history as well as being interactive so it is suitable for all. It is free entry but costs £2 to park in the car park. I have already written a review on this museum so if you would like more information you could take a look (shameless plug! :-)
I really like Woodhorn and it really is part of my history as my granddads photograph is on display there from when he worked in the medical centre (unfortunately this is one of the buildings that no longer stands). So not only is it part of the history of my home town, its part of my family history too.
*Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Park*
This is a country park and is where Woodhorn Museum is situated. The park was once part of the largest colliery spoil heap in Europe. It has now been landscaped to include a lake and woodland. A cycle path runs all the way around the lake, though I've never cycled it I have walked round it before. At the other side of the lake to Woodhorn Museum, there is a Brewster's pub called Woodhorn Grange. We used to eat here regularly when I was younger but we rarely go now.
During lots of summer days when I was in my early teens, my friends and I used to go to the QEII just for a little walk and a change of scene, as there was never much else to do.
*Ashington Leisure Centre*
This is at the other side of Ashington to Woodhorn. There is a 23m swimming pool, which offers family, ladies only, general public and aqua fit sessions. There is a children's pool as well and there are sometimes inflatables in the pools depending on the time you go. There is a sports hall, a crèche and gym facilities. I used to go swimming every week but I don't seem to have any time for swimming at the moment so I haven't been to the leisure centre for a while.
~ Businesses and Shopping ~
The Main Street as you'd expect has most of the shops. It is pedestrianised but Taxi's can come up part of the street. There are quite a few banks, travel agents, shoe shops, card shops and building societies but we also have high street stores such as Ethel Austin, New Look, Select, Superdrug, Boots and Woolworths. Further up the street we have a Wilkinson and an Argos and there are a few small businesses there as well. I like going shopping up the street though I think we sadly lack a bookshop and have too many card shops! I am quite lucky in that I live only a 10-minute walk from the shops! :-)
Milburn Road is at the other side of Ashington and has considerably fewer shops than the main street. These shops are convenient for the people who live in this area of Ashington but we also go to these shops sometimes depending on what we are looking for. There is a Chinese take-away on Milburn Road, which we sometimes order food from on a Friday night :)
The only major supermarket we have is Asda and this is located in the centre of the town right next to the Bus Station. I don't like the fact that we don't have a choice of supermarket if we don't want to leave the town to shop. I think it would be good for another supermarket to open to give Asda a bit of competition! We do have a Netto and Lidl and there's an Aldi opening soon but none of these are suitable to do a large shop as we can never get everything that we want.
On the outskirts of Ashington there is a large Focus store, which is next to a discount clothing store called Dewhirst. Also in this area there is a garden centre and a carpet shop. There are also other businesses located in this area.
We have several Business Parks in Ashington. There is often a new one being built with the hope of attracting new business to the area.
There are a number of Car Dealerships in Ashington. I work at a Peugeot and Chevrolet dealer, which is directly opposite Asda (and next to a business park!) so is in the centre of town. There is a Vauxhall dealer next to focus and there are a number of second hand dealers in Ashington.
~ Living Here ~
Education: The education system is different in Northumberland than in the rest of the country in that we have First, Middle and High schools rather than primary and secondary. Children attend First school from nursery to year 4 (9 years old), then Middle school years 5-8 (9-13 years old) and High school is years 9-11 plus sixth form (13-16 or 18 years old).
Ashington has lots of First schools, a number of middle schools and two high schools. The middle school I went to (and my dad and sister before me) has now closed down and the building that remains houses a Sure Start Centre.
I think some of the schools are better than others. When I started high school the one closest to my house was the better one of the two for reputation but while I was there the other one started to overtake it and I know of a number of people who are going to travel further to go to the better of the two schools, rather than the high school I went to. I don't blame them as if I was choosing a high school now I would not choose the school that I actually attended as the discipline system is a shambles and a lot of the teaching staff are poor. There is a Special Needs Department (SND) in this school though, which is run much better than the rest of the school. It is the SND that makes me glad I went to my high school as I gained some valuable experiences when I helped out there :-)
There is a college in Ashington as well, which offers a large range courses. Some of my friends are studying childcare here and a large number of people leaving school go on to this collage as an alternative to university.
Both high schools and the college offer night classes in a large number of subjects for adult learners. This is where I completed my Level 1 British Sign Language but the course no longer runs as the tutor left. There are a large number of course to choose from though.
Healthcare: There is one hospital in Ashington although there did used to be two. The one I was born in has now been pulled down. I think the hospital (Wansbeck Hospital) is quite good, although fortunately I have only been a few times :-)
There are a number of GP surgeries and dental practices in Ashington. As far as I know some of the dentists are NHS as well as private.
Libraries: There are two libraries, one is up the main street and is the bigger and better one of the two. The other is part of the High School that I attended and is used as a public library serving that area as well as the school library.
Bus Station: As I previously mentioned, the bus station is located in the centre of the town and the buses (Arriva) run regularly. There are lots of bus stops around the town so it is easy to get a bus to where you are going. I get the bus to university (in Newcastle) every day and although it takes about an hour I don't really have any major concerns with the bus system.
~ Famous People ~
There are a number of famous people from Ashington, so here's a few that I've picked that I thought might be of interest to you. Famous footballers Jackie Milburn, Bobby Charlton, Jackie Charlton and England fast bowler Steve Harmison, were all born in Ashington. There is a statue of Jackie Milburn on the main street. Jackie Charlton came to our prize-giving at school to present the awards and he also came home when Woodhorn Museum reopened after its redevelopment.
~ Visiting ~
As I have already mentioned there are places to visit in Ashington. We are not far from the beach and are within easy travelling distance of Newcastle Upon Tyne. For more information see www.ashington-ne.co.uk
*Sandy Bay Caravan Park*
This is located in Ashington and is on the coast. It is a nice place and isn't far from the main attractions of Ashington as well as being located next to the main road links making it easy to get to other parts of the region.
~ The Weather ~
The weather is typically British really; we get quite a bit of rain and cloud cover, though the sun does shine sometimes :-) Also as we are near the coast (2 miles away) it is usually windy.
~ The Accent/Dialect ~
To someone who isn't from the North East our accent and dialect would probably be described as Geordie but the Northumbria accent is a bit different.
Most of the time I don't use the local dialect but it is inevitable that I have the local accent lol. I didn't think my accent was very broad but my new friends at university seem to think it is :) Sometimes I even use the odd local word without realising it lol!
Here are a few samples from http://www.newcastlestuff.com/ashington.html of what the true Ashington dialect is like.
"awnings n. Plastic or canvas coverings.
"Ale me awnings gan urn me pigeons."
begs v. Pleads with.
Ashington: Swelling under tired eyes.
"She's been up ale neet - you can tell by her begs."
cartons n. Milk containers.
Ash: Hung in windows.
"Shut the cartons pet, it's not noon yet."
dared n. Took a risk.
"He hid behind the surfer when me dared came home.""
When I used to be in the St John Ambulance some of the adult members who were not from Ashington used to laugh at the way we say dog as apparently we say 'durg.' My sister, who now lives in South Shields also laughs at me for this!
One day during Freshers Week we had to collect a library quiz. After we finished lunch, my Irish friend asked what we should do now. I said "Why don't wuh, go and get wah quizzes." I never thought anything of how I said it but, my friends reply was, "WAH quizzes, what do you mean?" I explained that it means our or we. We couldn't help but laugh!
~ Finally ~
I think Ashington is worth visiting if you are visiting the area as Woodhorn Museum is a great day out.
I have lived in Ashington all of my life and do like it even though its not especially exciting. There are probably nicer (and worse) places to live but I consider Ashington to be home so I don't think I'll be leaving anytime soon.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it :-)
Ashington was built up from being a small hamlet in the 1840s, as the Duke of Portland constructed housing to encourage workers escaping the potato famine to come and work at the local collieries he was founding. As in many other parts of Britain, "deep pit" coal mining in the area declined during the 1980s and 1990s leaving just one colliery, Ellington, in production until January 2005. In 2006 limestone was found in the town and plans for an opencast mine on the outskirts of the town have been put forward, although many people have objected to it. During the peak time of coal-mining, it was considered to be the "world's largest coal-mining village". There is now a debate about whether Ashington should be referred to as a town or a village - if accepted as a village it would be the largest village in England.