Houses for sale in ‘ghost town’

Over the last week a certain news story has kept cropping up on my feed…..

‘Inside the ‘ghost town’ where three-bed houses are on the market for just £5,000 – despite being a once-thriving mining community and seaside hotspot’ – The Daily Mail

The horror! Ghost town??? Like in a cowboy film???

‘Ghost town’ seaside resort so deserted homes are being flogged for £5,000’ – The Mirror

People deserting their homes like in plague times???

‘Houses selling for just 5000 pounds in what was once thriving seaside destination’ – The Independent

So sad this could happen to a once thriving seaside destination!

‘Inside the once-booming seaside town that’s so deserted homes go on the market for £5,000’ – Manchester Evening News

It used to boom! Now no longer….

And interestingly, the more cautious…

Houses selling for £5,000 in ‘ghost town’ that was once thriving location’

LadBible did their research and avoided the seaside destination tag. Okay, it IS a location.

I kept seeing these headlines and I decided I have to say something. Because… that once thriving seaside boomtown is Horden. An ex-coalmining village on the north east coast of England. Five miles north of Hartlepool. Twelve miles south of Sunderland.

And Horden is home.

This is Kris, by the way.

I must admit (for Horden nationalists..) I was actually born in Easington and spent the first 8 years of my life there. (It’s another colliery village a mile north of Horden – but things do get territorial around these parts so I don’t want any comments of ‘He’s not really from Horden!’ (p.s Easington is where Billy Elliot was filmed. No, I don’t ballet)). But from around 1987 I lived in Horden.

So do I remember those halcyon days of seaside bliss? When it was booming? Just me, a 1980s soft rock soundtrack, my surfboard and the beach?

Well, no.

I have no idea where this ‘seaside hotspot’ idea comes from, but it’s not Horden. For a start, Horden is on the north east coast and was the home of one of the world’s biggest coal mines. The waste from that coal mine used to be dumped directly into the sea. If you swam (or surfed) in the sea by Horden in the 80s you’s come out covered in coal dust.

Marra - statue to the miners in Horden
‘Marra’ – a statue in Horden park to the miners

Secondly – the ghost town. My mam and dad live in Horden. I have friends there. There’s a hotel and it stocks a wide selection of gins. (Check out their website). Aldi just opened there. There’s even a Greggs. It’s far from deserted. Plus it blends with the town of Peterlee which has a McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and a Starbucks. All mod cons. The idea that it’s this isolated outpost in Wyoming is a little far-fetched.

But okay. Let’s be honest, it has its challenges (problems). These are well documented. It’s a town the camera and the media like if you do a little digging. Check out Canny Cops. Read a book called ‘Coming Back Brockens’ by Mark Hudson. Listen to ‘Our Streets are Numbered’ – an album by a folk band all about it.

The ‘Numbered Streets’ are a few rows of terraced houses that were originally built for mining families. So called because they don’t have names – just numbers – 5th Street etc – reminiscent of those avenues in New York…right? Since the mine closed in 1987 there has been a steady decline as people left and the usual crap moved in. Yes, there are boarded up houses (…’boarded up just like a warzone’..? – Ribbon Road song). There’s drugs. There are broken windows and crime. But this is actually one area of quite a large village.

And apparently ‘houses for 5 grand’…?

Then another story said 20 grand.

Had the exposure driven up the price??

Well apparently, no. Five grand is the reserve price for houses at auction, not necessarily the sales price. So, I guess some astute hack spotted a headline opportunity.

Anyway, in defence of Horden.

The coal mine has gone. And as the statue of Marra shows us in the park – this ripped the heart of the town. But the coast is now beautiful. Heavy industry ruins land. But nature is back and the sea isn’t black anymore – though it’s still not Bali or a ‘seaside boomtown’ (Have you ever swum in the North Sea??’).  There’s a coastal path. There’s a little tern reserve. There’s sand and less coal dust.

Horden cliff tops
Horden county durham

Oh, and there’s a train station! Did I mention that?? Reopened two years ago.

HOrden train station 2022

Anyway…

Horden is home. It’s not a great place. But it’s not a ghost town. But neither was it ever a seaside destination.

What amazes me about these stories is they’re all the same. They’re paraphrased versions of the same story. What’s going on? Who’s writing these things and how are they spreading? I think this serves as a warning to never trust the news and lazy journalism…

Oh…here’s where it comes from…

Slow news day? Look at some bloggers

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