Sea Glass Revelations

A few miles north of my home are the seven beaches of Seaham. A wild and windy stretch of the County Durham coast line that stretches for several miles either side of the small village come port of Seaham on Sea. As you would expect from the grim industrial wasteland of the North East of England, there was a time when the port was some what busier than it generally is today, when Seaham was home to the largest glass works in the north.

Seaham glass works did not make beautiful things. It was an industrial plant making bottles in a time before plastic and aluminium became the materials of choice for the majority such things. Mass produced soft drink bottles and jam jars were its meat and drink. The aesthetics of pre and post war drinks bottles aside, these were practical things made for a purpose, rather than to be pleasing to the eye, but it was a thriving industry for a time. Sadly, in terms of the employment prospects in the town, the glass works is long gone like much of the industrial base of the north east. Not even a rusting shell of a building is left to mark where it once stood. the only thing to live on in fact was the industrial waste the plant produced and dumped in the spoil heaps down the cliff side. Ever since these spoil heaps have been slowly eroded away by the sea because the glass works existed in a time before ‘environmentalism’ existed. A time when dumping your waste in the north sea was just considered normal business practice. The result of this practice is, however, something surprisingly beautify in its own way that the town is famous for now. Seaham sea glass…


All along the seven beaches around Seaham, the industrial waste of a bygone era is steadily being washed, rounded off and worn down from slag glass to little droplets of sea glass. Glass pebbles not manufactured in factories but by the moon, gravity, and the ever swelling tides of the north sea. Walking along those windswept beaches at low tide and you can pick up glass gems both clear and opaque. Bottle green and blues, red glass tears and others aside. The waste of last century turned by nature itself into the curiosities of today. It is a little bit beautiful, and if you pause for a moments reflection you can think on that and realise that this is nature correcting the world. Taking glass those fully little ape-like creatures made by superheating sand, then chucked away when it was malformed or broken and turning it, ultimately, back into the sand it began as. Sea Glass is just the middle stage as nature does its work after all.

That is the thing with nature, no matter what we funny ape-like creatures may think. It was here before our ancestors first thought it would be a good idea to stand upright and started hitting others with rocks for having ideas they did not agree with. The mountains will out last us, as will the seas. the oceans will rise and fall and a balance will always return to the world eventually. Sand will return to sand, indeed at Seaham, it is doing so in only a few short generations of those up-right ape creatures with their funny little ways, war, murder, religion, fast food, plastic bottles…

There is a thing though, the glass slag heaps of Seaham that are slowly been turned into gemstones are, well, one thing. The plastic bottle generations waste is another. The seas may change broken glass into the gem stones then back into the sand they come from, but plastic will take a little longer for even the power and resilience of nature to over come. Which is becoming something of a problem…

Heres a little reading I did myself after a recent walk along the shore line picking up the odd bit of sea glass as I took the sea air…

The sea glass of Seaham is pretty, as humanities waste goes it’s quite nice in fact, not so the plastic shores….


I don’t wear hemp shoes, I seldom hug trees, I am not in any way an environmentalist… I do however quite like walking along the sea shore, it’s a good place to think. I quite like breathing too, come to that, and while I know that the world will always return to balance eventually. I know that unlike sea glass, plastic will take not a few decades to break down in the ocean but hundreds of thousands of years. The waste of the previous century, its broken bottles in the Seaham slag heaps, that’s just sand returning to the sand. The waste of our generation, those plastic bottles of irony that we made to carry drinking water, will be around long after those funny ape-like creatures have perhaps even finished our evolution and actually realised hitting each other with rocks for having different points of view is probably not a good idea. If they have not choked to death in seas of plastic first.

Plastic, the wonder product of our age, choking our oceans, perhaps we should do something about that… Just a thought, from a walk along the sea shore picking up glass gemstones in the sand…

This entry was posted in opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, rant, rights and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sea Glass Revelations

  1. brad217 says:

    Oh my gosh. The photo really says it all. I think more people would understand this issue if they actually were impacted by the waste running up to their front door. It’s kind of see no evil – hear no evil. Thank you for sharing this. Very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

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