Have been watching this lately, fascinating program by the BBC.

The Coast team have complementary skills, meaning that between them they can investigate anything from exploring the connection between a coastal village and the birth of deep coal mining in Britain; go in search of the biggest sharks in British waters; examine an 1800 year old skeleton to tell us more an ancient community; discover evidence of a tsunami that once devastated this coast and investigate an engineering project where soon a fifth of our gas will be shipped in from the gulf.

The full series to date in one boxset is an ideal purchase. The format remains largely the same from start to finish of providing a half-dozen or so segments in which various presenters look at a stretch of the British coast and then delve deeper to uncover various historical tales, some well-known some less so. Although personal tastes mean that some of the presenters, and their subject matters, are informative and interesting while others are irritating, the fact that another segment comes along soon ensures you never get bored. In fact the series presents a perfect example of how to avoid being dumbed down by presenting just enough interesting detail at a sensible length without being too cloying in the attempt to be educational in a populist way.

The Coast team

Coast is a BBC documentary series first broadcast on BBC Two television in 2005. A second series started on 26 October 2006, a third in spring 2007 and a fourth in the summer of 2009. It covers various subjects relating to both the natural and social history of the British and Northern Irish coastline and also more recently that of the Republic of Ireland, Norway, Faeroe Islands and France. A fifth series was filmed later in 2009. The series is a collaboration between the Open University and BBC Productions, Birmingham.

The presenters, and their fields of interest, are:

* Nicholas Crane (main presenter, series 1) — geography
* Alice Roberts — anthropology and geology
* Neil Oliver (main presenter, series 2-5) — archaeology and social history
* Mark Horton — marine archaeology
* Miranda Krestovnikoff — zoology

In addition, Dick Strawbridge and Hermione Cockburn presented one item each in the second and third series. Both are regular presenters in the fourth series.

All but one of the episodes in the first series ended with Nicholas Crane stating that in the British Isles, “Remember, you are never more than 72 miles from the sea!”

Neil Oliver
Neil Oliver

Series 1 started at the White Cliffs of Dover and progressed in a clockwise fashion around the coast of Great Britain (with a side trip to Northern Ireland). Series 2 again started at Dover but subsequent episodes have not followed series 1 in circumnavigating the UK coast, instead featuring various locations, including sections of the coast of the Republic of Ireland. Series 4 reintroduced the circular element, starting at Whitstable and ending at Hull, though with visits to Ireland, Normandy and Norway as well.

The first four series have been released on Region 2 DVD by Contender Home Entertainment. Series 1 has been packaged in a box set with A Picture of Britain, and also in a box set with Series 2. Series 5 will be released on 13 Sept 2010.

Series four and five is simulcast on the BBC HD channel.

Extracts from the programme are often used as filler items on BBC Two, for example following a fifty-minute documentary programme such as The Natural World or Horizon, to allow the next full programme to begin on the hour. As the aerial shots from the Coast programmes are made in high-definition, they are also used in this way on BBC HD.

The Lancashire coastline

As of August 2010, episodes from the first series are being shown on Yesterday.

Series 5 is being shown overseas (e.g. in New Zealand on the Living Channel) before being shown on the BBC.

Series 1: 2005

1. Dover to Exmouth: 5 June
2. Exmouth to Bristol: 12 June
3. Bristol to Cardigan Bay aka the Severn Estuary to Aberystwyth: 19 June
4. Cardigan Bay to the Dee aka Aberystwyth to the Wirral: 26 June
5. Liverpool to the Solway Firth aka Liverpool to Carlisle: 3 July
6. Northern Ireland: 10 July
7. West Coast of Scotland and the Western Isles aka the Solway Firth to Skye: 17 July
8. Cape Wrath to Orkney aka Skye to Wick: 24 July
9. John O’Groats to Berwick aka John O’Groats to the Firth of Forth: 31 July
10. Berwick to Whitby aka Berwick to Robin Hood’s Bay: 7 August
11. Robins Hood’s Bay to Hunstanton: 14 August
12. Hunstanton to Dover: 21 August
13. Highlights: 28 August

Series 2: 2006

1. Dover to Isle of Wight: 29 October
2. Holyhead to Liverpool: 5 November
3. Arran to Gretna: 12 November
4. Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: 19 November
5. Dublin to Derry: 26 November
6. Tyneside/Wearside to Hull aka Newcastle to Hull: 3 December
7. The Outer Hebrides: 10 December
8. Felixstowe to Margate: 17 December

Series 3: 2007

1. Shetland to Orkney: 27 May
2. Bournemouth to Plymouth: 3 June
3. Southport to Whitehaven (including the Isle of Man): 10 June
4. Cardiff to St David’s: 17 June
5. Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen: 24 June
6. Galway to Baltimore: 1 July
7. King’s Lynn to Felixstowe: 8 July
8. Channel Islands to Dover: 15 July


Series 4: 2009

1. Whitstable to Isle of Wight: 14 July
2. France – Cap Gris-Nez to Mont Saint-Michel: 21 July
3. Land’s End to Porthcawl: 28 July
4. Cork to Dublin: 4 August
5. Anglesey to Blackpool: 11 August
6. Inner Hebrides to Faroe Islands: 18 August
7. Norway – Lillesand to Svalbard: 25 August
8. Rosyth to Hull: 1 September

Series 5: 2010

1. Heart of the British Isles – A Grand Tour – Sun 25 July 2010
2. Swanage to Land’s End – Wed 28 July 2010
3. Brittany – Wed 4 August 2010
4. The Gower to Anglesey – Sun 8 August 2010
5. Galway to Arranmore Island – Wed 11 August 2010
6. Glasgow to Edinburgh via the Caledonian Canal – Wed 18 August 2010
7. Skagen, Denmark – Wed 4 August 2010 (NZ Living)
8. The Humber to the Thames – Wed 11 August 2010 (NZ Living)

Blackburn and Darwen history

Cottontown :

Cotton town is a site devoted to the local history and culture of Blackburn and Darwen, towns in the NW of England.

Cottontown tells the story of a manufacturing process that started in isolated cottages on the wind and rain swept West Pennines and ended with derelict weaving sheds and the demolition of tall, soot blackened mill chimneys.  In between was the boom time, when Cotton was King and Blackburn was the weaving capital of the world, when millionaire magnates lived in country mansions and the workers made the best of it in overcrowded, uncomfortable, unsanitary conditions.

It’s a journey back in time, made possible by means of maps, manuscripts, photos, books, pamphlets and posters, many thousands of which have been copied scanned and abstracted especially for the Cottontown site.  It’s a journey back in time in more ways than one…

Amongs the gems of information I found, there’s a picture of coal pits farm, which is very close to where I live.

Coal mining began in Blackburn around 1569.  The site of these early coal pits was Blackburn Moor that later became known as Coalpit Moor.  Coal had been dug out of the earth as early as the 13th century in the Burnley Area.

Around 1720 John Bailey started to build a farm on Coalpit Moor.  On the corner of the shippon was the following inscription “i b 1720”.  Over the porch of the farmhouse was the inscription “i b a”1722.  Ann was the name of John Bailey’s wife and their farm was called Coal Pits Farm.  Blackburn Corporation Hospital was built on land to the side of Coal Pits Farm and was built in 1894.  Today this hospital is known as Park Lee.  In around 1935 two quarrymen went down the shafts at Coal Pits Farm.  The shafts were about 50 feet deep and around 4 feet wide.  One of the shafts they went down they were able to crawl along the seams where the coal had been taken out; these seams were from 2 feet 3 inches to 4 feet and they ran for a distance of about 50 feet under the site of the hospital.

In around 1900 Messrs. Whitaker & Co., the owners of a Brick Yard at Grimshaw Park began to quarry some of the Coal Pits Farm site.  They ran a chain road from the Brick Works at Grimshaw Park and a tunnel under Park Lee Road (at the time called Longshaw Lane).  The chain road ran along the bottom boundary wall of the Hospital and ran to the new quarry at Coal Pits Farm.  They quarried for the fire clay that lies beneath the coal seam to a depth of 50 feet. They stopped using this quarry in the late 1950s. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s the quarry was filled in.  When the old Blackburn Market House was demolished this was also tipped in here.

There were four or five shafts at Brandy House Brow and Old Bank Lane that were known as ‘Bell Pits’.  These pits get their name from their underground shape and would have been around 50 feet deep and between 4 and 6 feet wide.