20 Jul Paul aims for success right across the Spectrum
RAISING their hard hats in the air, the smiling miners of Dawdon Colliery stood behind a board hailing one million tonnes of production.
The year was 1987, their delight obvious.
Five years later, however, the scene was a polar opposite.
Gathered on a grass bank, onlookers, sheltering from the cold under coats and woolly hats, stood waiting.
Inside the pit, once the employer of thousands of men, a message, etched onto a wooden sign in pink chalk, reflected the situation.
It said simply: ‘Shammy finished the last shear at Dawdon; good luck to everyone’.
Then it happened.
The colliery’s winding towers came crashing down.
Rubble and deep grey dust filled the air, thick plumes enveloping the bystanders.
The end of an era.
The colliery, the jewel in the crown of the North-East coalfield, and one of the most profitable mines in the country, closed in 1991, when its seams were exhausted.
Hundreds of men redundant, hundreds more transferred to other pits.
Fast forward to 2015 and Paul Wellstead, a business park developer, decked out in his smart attire, couldn’t be further away from the image of miners emerging from underground, their dirty faces and overalls evidence of the work done below
But there is a very real link.
Mr Wellstead is developer of Spectrum Business Park, near Seaham, County Durham, a venture offering space for companies of various sectors and sizes.
It is also based on the site of the former colliery.
Where once there were jobs, there are jobs again.
Spectrum is home to a host of organisations, from BE Group to County Durham Housing Group, Durham County Council and Great Annual Savings Group.
Speaking to Mr Wellstead, 43, his pride towards Spectrum is obvious, his desire to better the local community the same.
He’s also got ambitious plans; Spectrum may have about 1,500 people working on its premises, but Mr Wellstead says there is plenty of scope for more.
He said: “I have been involved in developing Spectrum since 2006 and it is my main passion out of all the developments I’m involved in.
“It is playing a key part in the regeneration of Seaham on the site of the former colliery.
“I want to make a difference in the community in the North-East, and I want to achieve something that I can look back on with pride in later years and say, ‘I did that’.
“There are some big names there, and we have got some way to go as well.
“There are about 1,500 people working down there, and we could see another 2,500.
“I want to see it at its full capacity.
“That is where I’m aiming; to get to that will be mission complete.”
From a desk to help start one person’s dream, to space for a business’ 600-strong workforce, Spectrum aims to cover all angles for all companies in the area.
The 34-acre park’s presence is reflective of Seaham’s wider regeneration, with the town’s revamped marina breathing new life into its economy.
The similarities are not lost on Mr Wellstead, who is more than aware the two are playing a real part in the area’s resurgence.
Dawdon’s demise scarred the community, but it’s healing again.
Mr Wellstead added: “We can take people and companies of all sizes; from the man or woman at a desk with a start-up, to the bigger firms with hundreds of staff.
“Seaham is a town that is reborn.
People go to the marina and enjoy what is down there, and Spectrum is the large-scale, on the doorstep employment opportunity completing the jigsaw.
We are helping organisations get their business on that one location and put down some roots in the North-East.”
Spectrum business park space: