J is for Journey, at first glance, it might seem like an odd topic for the area but let me explain! Most people pass through our lovely area without even stopping, whether they’re travelling up or down the A1M or on the East Coast Mainline, thousands of people travel through the patch every single day.
The A1M and the East Coast Mainline have both played a role in shaping our landscape and communities. The origins of the A1 in our area are from the Great North Road, you’ve guessed it….which was originally a Roman route.
It doesn’t follow the exact route now but if you look closely at other roads in the area you can see evidence of the evolution of roads and how they were used.
Take the A167 that runs from Darlington, past Newton Aycliffe to the Rushyford roundabout and then on towards Durham. This route still follows much of the original Roman route, you may have noticed all the large pubs and former pubs alongside it, these are old coaching houses
What is now a fairly short journey, that would take us an hour or two, would have taken a day or more back then. The coaching houses offered a place to stay along the way, hot food, and an area for stabling the horses. Many of these coaching inns often had other industries spring up around them, for example, Blacksmiths and Farriers.
You may have needed to get your horses re-shod along the way or repair a broken cart or carriage. They are in many ways the historic equivalent of the motorway service station with your local mechanic thrown in.
Then there’s the East Coast Mainline much of which in our area (you’ve probably guessed it) follows the route of the Stockton to Darlington Railway and other local early routes.
Did you know that because so much of the land was wet, large sections of the railway had to be floated on sacks of soddy*?
*a product of the woollen industry
Being a wetland there is speculation that in the past a lot of local travel may have been done by boat, the place names in the area give lots of clues as to how wet the area must have once been, Great and Little Isle farms are just two examples.
How do you all think transport in the area might change in the future, electric cars are becoming more popular and reliable but how else might it change in the next few centuries?
Image credit: Northern Echo