Factory marks mining heritage

David Chapman, process operator and ex-colliery worker, at AkzoNobel Ashington.
David Chapman, process operator and ex-colliery worker, at AkzoNobel Ashington.

An Ashington-based company is marking the region’s heritage by naming its production lines after some of the region’s famous pits.

The AkzoNobel plant, hailed as the world’s most advanced and most sustainable paint factory, was built next to the site of the old North Seaton colliery.

Staff identified the nine coal mines that were geographically closest to the company’s £100million manufacturing unit in order to come up with the most appropriate names for the lines.

Head of manufacturing Jeff Hope said: “From the very early commissioning stages, we wanted the site to become embedded in the culture of Ashington and the area’s mining heritage is a key part of this.

“We have several AkzoNobel employees that used to work in the local collieries so naming the lines after the pits at Ellington, Lynemouth, Linton, Bates, Newbiggin, Woodhorn, Bedlington, Ashington and North Seaton seemed like a fitting tribute to what was once a huge part of peoples’ lives in the North East.”

Process operator David Chapman is one of several ex-colliery workers employed at the plant.

He worked for more than eight years at nearby Ashington Colliery as a blacksmith until its closure in 1986.

He was among those tasked with researching the names for the production lines.

David said: “I think it is a fitting tribute to name our new production lines after the local collieries because it is like a coming together of Ashington’s manufacturing past with its present and future.”

Operational for 102 years between 1859 and 1961, during its lifetime North Seaton colliery employed more than 11,000 miners and produced up to 6,000 tonnes of coal per week.

By stark comparison, AkzoNobel employs a workforce of around 150 people, however, when in full production, the facility will be capable of producing up to 100 million litres of paint per year.

Jeff added: “The opening of our state-of-the-art manufacturing unit in Ashington will hopefully, over time, create a new industrial legacy for the town.

“We have taken the world’s most advanced and sustainable paint manufacturing technologies and created something in Ashington that is designed to perform, but that is also designed to stand the test of time.

“AkzoNobel is dedicated to helping bring colour to people’s lives and we want everyone to know that we’re here to make a positive impact.”