Picking seacoal from Newbiggin beach was big business post-second world war when thousands of tons of pit waste was dumped into the sea. There were at least two full-time hauliers engaged in moving the coal, one of which was Thompson of Christon Bank who used to pay individuals to scrape a few bags together and then filled their 14-ton lorries. From there it was relatively easy to sell the coal door to door at a far cheaper rate than that dug from the earth in the normal way.
This spot on the coastline was one of the sea-coalers' favourites of men like Joe 'Georgia' Smith seen here. In the background is Alcan Power Station that used coal drifted directly from Lynemouth Colliery until that pit went on fire in 1966 and workings were transferred to Ellington Colliery, making the Big 'E.' one of the largest coalmine complexes in Britain.
Mike Kirkup November 2011