Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Bomarsund & a Piece of Military History (NZ270845)

What an odd name for a village, you may think. Slap bang in the middle of the south-east Northumberland coalfield, this little settlement on the short stretch of road between Bedlington Station and Stakeford offers a curious little conundrum to those who are interested in the origin of our place-names. A quick search of the internet soon solves the problem, of course. And it turns out that this former pit village owes its moniker to an obscure piece of British military history buried deep in the folds of the Crimean War.
It all began with Sweden’s defeat at the hands of Russia in the Finnish War of 1808-09, after which the Aland Islands and Finland became part of the Russian Empire. Despite the terms of the peace treaty forbidding it, Russia began to build a fortress at a place called Sund on the Aland Islands from 1832 – in the strait between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea. This was a strategically sensitive spot on the globe, and the British were not happy about it. So, during the Crimean War of 1853-56, we (and the French) took the chance to blow the still unfinished fortress to smithereens in 1854. The ruins can still be seen today.
The Battle of Bomarsund, as it was called, must have been seen as quite an important victory at the time, for the guy who sunk the brand new pit shaft in the middle of nowhere a little to the south of Stakeford decided to call it Bomarsund Pit – officially known, however, as Bedlington F Pit. Sunk in 1854, the new colliery soon attracted a few rows of houses, and the village was born. The pit finally closed in 1965.

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