Welcome to County Durham's Townpage

Barnard Castle - Twelve miles west of Darlington. Beautifully situated on the bank of the Tees, the ruins of the 12th century castle overlook the river. Dickens stayed at the King's Head while he was collecting material for " Nicholas Nickleby." The school is a very handsome modern building and the Bowes Museum an astonishing size for so small a town. Nearby are the ruins of Eggleston Abbey.

Chester Le Street - Ten miles south of Newcastle. A town dating from Roman times. In the church are 14 recumbent effigies of the Barons of Lumley. The strange-looking monument on a hilltop away to the right is a memorial to the first Earl of Durham erected on Penshaw Hill in 1844. Nearby is Beamish Open Air Museum.

Consett - Located on a hilltop above the Derwent valley is this former steel working town where operations ceased only twenty years ago. All traces of the industry have been removed, as of coal mining in the rest of the Derwentside district. The exciting 'Genesis' project is now under way to redevelop the 700 acre reclaimed site and create 4,000 jobs for the town. To the west are heather-covered moors.

Crook - A small, yet bustling market town with its industrial roots in coal mining, it is also the administrative centre of the Wear Valley District, and the Civic Centre is prominently situated in the Town Square, inside of which you can see the work of local artists who exhibit in The Mall.

Market Place Green provides an attractive and colourful backdrop to the Parish Church of St. Catherine’s Church which was built between 1840 and 1843 and designed by Bonomi. Nearby, St. Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Church (1854) is built in Gothic style of local stone laid in courses with Painswick stone dressings.

Glenhome Leisure Centre stands on the road to Bishop Auckland and contains a swimming pool, CV suite, sauna, sunbed and squash facilities, together with bowling, putting and tennis areas. Other attractions include the Peases West Railway Walk which retraces the route of the railway line which linked the Stanley and Wooley Collieries with the main railway network at Crook. The town has many pubs and restaurants and an 18-hole golf at Crook Golf Club.

Newton Aycliffe - Fifty year old new town located some five miles north of Darlington. Close to the A1. Has a medieval church. Nearby at Shildon is a railway museum with a recreation of the Stockton and Darlington railway. Also, at Darlington is another railway centre and museum with the Locomotion built by George Stephenson.

Peterlee - A post-war new town in one of the most heavily populated parts of County Durham, close to the coast between Sunderland and Hartlepool. This was built in memory of a local miner and successful politician, Peter Lee, and is regarded as one of the most successful of the north east new towns. The area has had to adapt to a new economy as the local coal mines have closed.

Seaham - A coal port south of Sunderland, with a promenade. Byron was married at Seaham Hall. Nearby is the Ryhope Engines Museum, an old pumping house station.

Shildon - Small railway town three miles east of Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Railway wagons were built and repaired here and a museum contains one of the first engines ever built, the Sans Pareil.

Spennymoor - Town five miles north west of Bishop Auckland in south of County Durham. Former mining village.

Stanley - Coal mining town five miles east of Consett. As in other parts of the Durham coalfield the spoil heaps and other signs of coalmining are being removed. Nearby is one of the great tourist attractions of Northern England, Beamish Open Air Museum in which a North Country town is being recreated back in the style of the 1920s.

Tow Law - Tow Law, whose name is probably Old English for 'look-out hill', is one of the highest villages in England, and has a long industrial history. In 1845, Charles Attwood built blast furnaces in Tow Law - the exposed location, accessibility of coal and ironstone making it a perfect site for the smelting and finishing of iron.

Within ten years the population had reached 3000 and by the year 1890, 4900 people were served by eighteen public houses, a convent, library, reading rooms and a Mechanics Institute with lecture room. The church of St. Philip and St. James in Church Lane was built in 1867 and contains an unusual feature called the Rood Screen, separating the main body of the church the chancel, it was made in 1891.

The Reverend Thomas Henry Espinell Compton Espin is noted to be one of Tow Law's most memorable residents. Appointed Perpetual Curate of Tow Law in 1888, his main hobby was astronomy. He built a circular observatory at nearby Wolsingham which was 20 feet in diameter with a conical roof (later to be dismantled and moved to Tow Law), constructed his own X-ray machine to examine local patients, and erected a sanatorium in the Vicarage garden for the treatment of tuberculosis.

Willington - Willington means 'the farm of Wifel and his people' and was originally a settlement on Roman Dere Street. A former pit village much transformed by reclaimation, the population expanded dramatically during the 19th century due to the opening of nearby coal pits in the surrounding area. In 1801 the census return showed a population of 164 which grew by 1881 to 5708.

Bell ringers come from all over the U.K to ring the steel bells at St. Stephen's, said to be one of only six sets in Britain. In earlier times the Straker family, local mine-owners, had connections with the church, and any worker who attended services received an extra penny in his wage packet each week.

Willington has its own Spectrum Leisure Complex, with a dry ski slope, and offers facilities for many indoor and outdoor sports.

Wolsingham - Wolsingham, a small market town surrounded by beautiful countryside is found in the Wear Valley of Durham. As a Saxon settlement the town derives its name from Waelsingas or Sons of Wael an ancient Saxon family that once resided there, and according to the Domesday Book, it’s primary trades were that of plough makers, bee keepers, wood turners and shepherds who worked for their lively hood and for the Bishop of the castle.

The John Ducket Cross was erected in 1899 and stands at the top of Redgate Banks, marking the spot were Roundhead soldiers arrested him for being a Roman Catholic in 1644. Together with Ralph Corby he was hung drawn and quartered at Tyburn later that year for their part in preaching the catholic faith.

Nearby attractions to the area include the Killhope Lead Mining Centre, the Weardale Museum and the Durham Dales Centre, which provides information on the Yorkshire Dales and it’s wildlife and waterfalls.

Together with it’s gardens, countryside and ancient churches, Wolsingham embraces it’s industrial heritage, where many museums show how life was in a mining town or what it was like to work at a steel furnace, but probably the most spectacular sight is that of the Causey Arch, the first and oldest surviving railway bridge in the world built in 1725.

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