Telling Tales: Nostalgia, Collective Identity and an Ex-Mining Village
Wheatley Hill’s Centenary Heritage Gala Parade started at 10 o’clock sharp on June 30th,2007 outside the Heritage Centre. The parade was led by a man dressed in Edwardian1 costume to look like Peter Lee, someone long since dead but symbolically important to the village. Behind this iconic figure the bright silks of lodge banners billowed in the breeze, conveying images and statements important to the identity of this ex-mining village and the former Durham coalfield. Following the banners marched the Peterlee Brass Band2 and local residents, some of whom were dressed in costumes representing various bygone eras. As the parade progressed through the streets of Wheatley Hill, eyes, for the moment, were drawn away from the shuttered shops and ragged buildings suggestive of a village in economic decline. The parade finished at the Old Scouts’ Hut, which had its doors open and stalls prepared for the crowds escaping the start of the rain.