D – Darlington & Durham

D is for Darlington and for Durham as in County. Darlington has a strong Quaker past with key families such as the Pease’s and Backhouse’s
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D - Darlington & Durham

D is for Darlington and for Durham as in County. The two areas that Discover Brightwater covers, now I’m not even going to pretend that I can do justice to the history of either area’s in a short blog so I’m just going to run through a few highlights that I have discovered about both places in my time here. Please share yours with us too!

Darlington has a strong Quaker past with key families such as the Pease’s and Backhouse’s we’ll go into more detail under Q but they were instrumental in developing a lot of Industry in Darlington, Pease’s Mill which offered employment for about 200 years, Backhouse’s bank and the creation of the Stockton to Darlington Railway are a few notable achievements.

The Stockton to Darlington Railway which we’ll cover in more detail under R and I’m sure many other letters will link to the story of the railway in some way, it was the first public railway that used steam locomotives. If you can’t wait until we get to R, it could be a few months or so have a look here at the Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railways website. We are approaching the 200 year anniversary of the opening of the railway in 2025.  Skerne bridge

There’s Saint Cuthbert’s Church which dates back to 1183, the clock tower which was a gift to the town from Joseph Pease. Darlington still has many of its former medieval streets in the yards and wynds unfortunately several we’re lost to fires. Did you know that Darlington once had one of the Prince Bishops palaces, it doesn’t survive but was where the town hall is now. Darlington has a town heritage trail which can be downloaded from here . It was published in 2013 and offers a wonderful insight into many of the buildings in the town centre. We’d love your help to refresh and update the trail, any ideas greatly appreciated perhaps we could refresh and republish it ready for the bi-centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Once we can do so safely we’re planning to open a pop-up heritage centre and exhibition in the Market Hall so keep an eye out for us and if you’re interested in your local history please get in touch we’d love people to help us refresh and update the marketDarlington Trail.

The next D is for County Durham, now we don’t cover the whole of it but from the edge of Darlington up to the Trimdoms, it’s a fascinating area with a varied history, we’ll cover most of it in more detail under other letters. There’s the story of the Prince Bishops, we already know they had a Palace in Darlington and Bishop Middleham, the mines to the north, mills down the River Skerne, Vikings, Saxons, Romans, plenty of Victorian Industrialists and the 2nd world war, have a look at A to find out more about the Aycliffe Angels. The area is home to lots of medieval villages, some of them are still thriving today like Sadberge, Heighington, Sedgefield but a lot was deserted often known as a shrunken village, Archdeacon Newton, Walworth, Ulnaby and Preston-Le-Skerne to name a few. Why didn’t they survive whilst others did? We carried out a dig in the autumn of 2019 at Walworth and will be doing some further investigation work into some of them with our archaeological partners The Archaeological Practice as soon as we can, to try and find some answers.

We’re hoping to carry out a dig at Archdeacon Newton, for more information click here or join our mailing list and we’ll send you the details as soon as we have everything confirmed or keep an eye on our website and social media. We’ll also be carrying out research projects in many of the area’s medieval villages with our other archaeological partners Dig Ventures for more information about village Atlases have a look here.  If you live in Sadberge or Sedgefield you already have  wonderful heritage trails but we’d like your help to update them, we’d also very much like to create a new one somewhere. Maybe around Great Aycliffe, if you’d like to be involved in any please do let us know by emailing sarah@bwlp.co.uk 

So next time it’ll be E’s turn where I think we’ll have a look at engineering.

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