Clara Vale

Clara Vale is a village situated on the south bank of the River Tyne. Once an independent village in County Durham it became incorporated into the new metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear in 1974 as part of the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead.

Crawcrook borders Clara Vale to the south. To the north, across the river, is the village of Wylam in Northumberland. It is notable for being the first settlement in Tyne and Wear that the river Tyne reaches and passes after leaving Northumberland.

In local government, Clara Vale is located in the 'Crawcrook, Greenside and Clara Vale ward' of Gateshead Council. The ward is at the far west of Gateshead and borders part of Northumberland. The ward is served by three councillors (two Labour and one Liberal Democrat). Gateshead Council is Labour controlled. Clara Vale is located within the parliamentary constituency of Blaydon. Its current MP is Labour's Liz Twist.

In the 1850’s there was little more than a few young trees adjacent to Crawcrook water-driven corn mill, fed by a spring on the site that would become Clara Vale Colliery.

By 1891 coal was in high demand and local landowner John Simpson of Bradley Hall began work sinking a pair of mine shafts. Production steadily increased from 300 tons per day in 1894, to 500 tons per day in 1930, by which time over 1100 men were employed and around 130 homes had been built at Clara Vale.

Both pit and housing were purpose built by the Stella Coal Company. The mine closed down in February 1966, around the same time as many other nearby pits such as Emma, Greenside and Stargate.

The colliery and settlement were named after the wife of colliery owner John Bell Simpson, Clara (née Draper). There are early references to Claraville and some old maps refer to the village as Claravale.

Modern-day Clara Vale
There is very little in the way of modern housing, only the one terraced street, built in the traditional style of the village. Of the other non-pit housing and buildings, there is only the chapel and former school (now a community centre). There are no local shops.

By avoiding the suburbanisation experienced by nearby towns and villages such as Crawcrook, Greenside and Ryton. Clara Vale has retained its rural character completely. Farms and countryside surrounds the village. This includes a local nature reserve which stands at the site of the old colliery.

Due to its small size, Clara Vale has limited amenities and local services. However, nearby Crawcrook and Ryton offer a range of shops and services and both of these are within walking distance of the village so whilst Clara Vale remains secluded, it is by no means isolated. Clara Vale does, however, have three nearby golf courses. Ryton golf course, in Clara Vale itself; Tyneside golf club in Ryton and, over the river to the north, Close House golf club in Wylam.

Thanks to the Clara Vale Conservation Group and Wikipedia for the above description.

20th October 2018

Miners Memorial Garden.

Clara Vale Community Centre
Shown on Ordnance Survey third edition of 1919. Originally a school, now a community centre. Built of white colliery brick with horizontal bands of red brick and a Welsh slate roof. Source: Sitelines.

Clara Vale, Methodist Church.
The most architecturally distinguished building in Clara Vale, though in essence it is a modest preaching box. It is built of squared rubble and slate and is dated 1908. The main elevation is the north elevation. This is gabled with a main west window with simplified Perpendicular tracery. It has simple art noueau glazing. The composition has hints of Edwardian Baroque. Converted for residential use. Source: Sitelines.

Newcastle to Carlisle railway line.

Clara Vale Cricket Club.

South View play area.

South View allotments.

Stannerford Road.

East View.

Edlington Gardens.

North View.

Looking over the rive Tyne to Heddon.

Maryside Place.

Ryton Golf Club.

The northern side of North View.

The eastern end of Tyne View.

Clara Vale War Memorial.
Clara Vale War Memorial, which stands in the memorial garden, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20; * Architectural interest: an elegant monument in the Classical style.
The memorial was unveiled on 22 October 1921 by Lt-Col FR Simpson, in commemoration of 56 local men who died serving during the First World War. They were all miners from the Clara Vale Colliery. The land was given by the Stella Coal Company whilst the £275 cost of the monument was met by public subscription. The low wall and railings surrounding the memorial were erected shortly after the unveiling ceremony, by the Stella Coal Co. Following the Second World War the names of two local men who died in that conflict were added.
In 2008 the memorial was restored by Gateshead Council. The memorial stands in a small garden at the road junction beside Edington Cottages. The garden is enclosed by a low brick wall with stone coping surmounted by ornamental wrought iron railings. The tall monument, in Aberdeen granite, comprises a Classical urn draped with a cloth standing on the corniced top of a tall plinth. The plinth is square on plan and has a two-stage base. That stands on a sandstone step.
Each face of the plinth is cut back to form a raised, pyramidal, surface bearing inscriptions. The principal dedication, on the front face, reads IN/ PROUD AND GRATEFUL/ MEMORY OF THE MEN OF/ THIS COLLIERY WHO FELL IN/ THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1919/ (NAMES). The two Second World War names are recorded on the left-hand side under the dates 1939 - 1945. Source: Historic England.

Clara Vale Nature Reserve.

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