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Spennymoor Parish - 1894

Spennymoor / Whitworth / Old Park / Page Bank

This was constituted a separate parish in 1875, and taken from the parish of Whitworth. It includes the whole of Spennymoor Local Board District, which now has a population of nearly 7000, but is still situated in the township of Whitworth for all civil purposes.

Tudhoe Grange, in the township of Tudhoe, forms part of the town of Spennymoor, was constituted a separate parish in 1884, and comprises the whole of Tudhoe Grange, part of Mount Pleasant, the whole of Merrington Lane, and a small portion of Spennymoor, having a population, in 1891, of 6000.

Little is known of the early history of Spennymoor beyond what might be gathered from its connections with the surrounding manors and parishes. As its name would infer, it was an extensive waste or moorland, covered with thorn or whin, stretching from Park Head to Hett, and was parcelled out amongst the different manors and parishes adjoining. We find the Prior of Durham as being the first to hold and exercise the rights of ownership. Whitworth formed part of this Spennymoor, and about 1100 the manor of Merrington, which must have claimed a considerable portion, was granted to the clergy for the maintenance, and from thence till the present it has belonged to the Prior and monks, and the Dean and Chapter successively. Whitworth was at that time in the parish of Merrington, as were also Fery, Park, and Chilton, and were held of the Bishop. The principle of land holding was, at that time, that no lord was absolute owner, but held it for some service rendered. William the Conqueror found the men of this district stubborn and not easy to overcome. Gubyon, Lord of Tudhoe, granted “prior’s tenants of Merrington should hold in severalty certain portions of Spennymoor which had been brought into tillage, saving to Sir Hugh and his men of Tudhoe, the right to enter common after crops were carried.” For this the priors “grant Sir Hugh may turn his mill race belonging to Tudhoe Mill into its ancient channel; and Sir Hugh and his men shall dig marl wheresoever they will, within Prior’s lands, so that they do no damage in corn nor meadow.” The mill race here mentioned is specially interesting as being a visible link between the present and the far past. It may still be seen, near the top of the bank on the east of the hedge from Wood View Gardens down to Tudhoe Wood, and on to the old mill at Tudhoe. Tudhoe Grange is part of the old moor previous to its annexation to the Tudhoe estate. The foregoing gives us an idea of the rights of proprietorship of the lords, priors, and common holders. Sir Hugh Gubyon, in 1303, we find, gave up all common of pasture in Fery (Ferryhill), Kirk Merrington, Midlest (Middlestone), and West Merrington (Westerton). Peter of Trillesdon (Thrislington) does the same, and also Christian, daughter of Isabel Kellaw of Hett, “all common rights on Spennymoor.” In 1446 Ralph Earl of Westmorland, surrendered all right on the south side of Spennymoor. This ends the more ancient connections with Spennymoor. When next we hear of Spennymoor it is in connection with the brilliant display of arms, which took place in 1615, when Bishop James summoned all men between the ages of 15 and 60 who could bear arms, to undergo a course of training. There would be a goodly gathering of rough and ready, though no doubt, hardy and willing recruits.

It appears that at this time coal was to some extent worked. A family called Wright held certain portions of land, and a lease of all the coal and coalpits within the manor. Hugh Wright, we learn, sublet or leased all the coal mines, collieries, &c., to William Brabant of Whitworth, on payment of three pounds a year for each pit. Compare this with the present cost of royalties, and what “all the coal and coalpits” would mean today. In June 1633, we can imagine that the moor presented a scene, brilliant, imposing, and animated; for riding in state, is Charles I ., and with him an immense retinue of nobles, retainers, and courtiers. Charles is journeying to Scotland from Raby, upon his ill-advised mission, which ended so disastrously eventually. 1652 brings us to the time of the Shaftos’ possession of the manor of Whitworth. William Baxter conveyed it to Mark Shafto at this date, he having been one of the king’s supporters. Sir Robert Shafto agreed with other freeholders, in 1667, to divide the moor in severalty; and a division took place between “Ralph Salvin gentleman, Anthony Salvin gentleman, and Thomas Longstaff quaker.” Sir Robert enclosed his portion and erected at the cross roads a house for the accommodation of travellers, to be called Spennymoor House. This, as we see, was to be the nucleus of the town of Spennymoor. The small lots were subsequently bought by the Shafto family, the last being the Wrights in 1803. From that time to the present little of any note occurred, until the mining interests opened out the moor’s vast wealth of coal, and we find a thriving and populous town, with its ironworks and collieries. Thus the Spenny or Thorneymoor we have tried to picture, has undergone a most complete transformation within the last fifty years.

The town of Spennymoor is situated on the road from Bishop Auckland to Durham, four and a half miles from the former, and seven south of the latter. It consists of one long street, which contains all the places of business, of which there is a goodly show both in size and number. Being in the centre of a populous mining district, it is a good business town, and has developed rapidly during the past twenty years. The Tudhoe ironworks provided employment to many of the inhabitants, in addition to those engaged in the pits. The streets are well laid out, and lighted with gas, and a good supply of water is provided by the Weardale and Shildon waterworks. There are two market-places, as well as an open space at Tudhoe Grange for holding fairs.

The Church of St. Paul is a handsome Early English stone structure, pleasantly situated on the main road from Durham to Bishop Auckland, consisting of nave, chancel, porch , and square tower of four stages, containing a peal of eight tubular bells. The church was first erected in 1857, and enlarged in 1870, to accommodate over 500, and the tower was added in 1890-91, to the memory of the late Robert Duncombe Shafto, Esq., at the cost of nine hundred pounds, including one hundred and eighty pounds, cost of the bells. The living a vicarage, valued at three hundred and twenty pounds, and one hundred and twenty pounds for the curate, is in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, and the incumbency of the Rev. John Gaskill.

The vicarage, also well situated a little west of the church, on the opposite side of the road, in an enclosure of one acre and a quarter, was built in 1876 at the cost, including six hundred pounds for the enclosure, of over two thousand four hundred pounds.

St. Andrew’s, Tudhoe Grange, was erected in 1884, at the cost of three thousand pounds, and enlarged in 1891, at a further cost of one thousand five hundred pounds. It is in the Early English style, and consists of nave, north aisle, with separate roof, similar to that of St. Paul’s, north and south porches, and is capable of seating 550. The living is a vicarage, valued at three hundred pounds, with provision for curate, is in the patronage of the Bishop of Durham, and incumbency of the Rev Enos Fenton.

The vicarage, within an enclosure of an acre, very well situated on the North Road, Mount Pleasant, was erected in 1888 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

St. Andrew’s Mission hall and Institute, situated in Cheapside, Tudhoe Grange, is a good stone structure, erected in 1888, and since enlarged. It is a fair brick building, capable of accommodating 450, and the total cost was one thousand five hundred pounds.

Wesleyan Chapel, Tudhoe Grange, is a good stone structure, erected in 1875, to seat 900, at a cost of three thousand five hundred pounds. The first chapel in Church Street was sold to the Baptists in 1876 for four hundred and fifty pounds.

Methodist New Connexion Chapel, in Oxford Street, was built in 1859, at the expense of Mr. Joseph long, and in 1874 it was enlarged and the gallery added at the cost of seven hundred pounds, including purchase of the site and organ. It is of stone, with gabled frontage of white brick, and will seat about 400.

The Primitives have a chapel in Rosa Street, which was erected in 1869, of brick with stone frontage, and of two storeys, capable of seating 800. There is a Sunday School at the rear to accommodate 250, and keeper’s house adjoining, and the total cost was one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine pounds fourteen shillings and four pence. Their old chapel in George Street, built in 1855, is now used as a cabinetmaker’s workshop.

United Methodist Free Church, in Duke Street, is an iron erection.

The Baptist Chapel, in Church Street, formerly belonged to the Wesleyans, who sold it to the present possessors in 1876.

The Welsh Methodists have a place in Clarence Street, which was erected to seat 220, in 1876, at the cost of four hundred and fifty pounds. Rev. Owen Jones, minister

The Christian Lay Church have a place in Church Street, erected in 1886, of brick to seat 500, at the cost of five hundred pounds.

The Gospel Union sect occupy the Hedley memorial Hall in Oxford Street.

SCHOOLS, - National School, mixed and infants, in the High Street, was erected in 1841, by the late Bishop Gray, of Capetown. The infant school was added in 1862, and the present accommodation is for 390, with an average attendance of 350.
The Board School, for boys, girls, and infants, is well situated in Rosa Street, and was erected in 1879, at a cost of eight thousand pounds. It is a very good building of stone, capable of accommodating 750, having an average attendance of 600.
The Wesleyan School, mixed, is situated in Tudhoe Grange, close to their chapel, is also a good building of stone, erected in 1861, at the cost, including master’s house adjoining, of two thousand pounds. The accommodation is for 250, with an average attendance of 200.
The Church Institute, Reading-Room, and Library, containing 300 volumes, occupies a house in Whitworth Terrace. It was established about the year 1880, and its present number of members is 100, who pay 1s. 6d. Per quarter.
The Spennymoor Reading - Room and Library, of about 600 volumes, occupies a cottage in George Street, held on lease by Messrs. Bell Brothers. The present number of members is nearly 100, who pay a shilling each quarter, and hon. Members 5s. Per annum.

Spennymoor is well provided with market accommodation, having two market halls, on the main road, within about 300 yards of each other, but in separate local halls, on the main road, within about 300 yards of each other, but in separate local board districts and parishes. That in the High Street, Spennymoor, was erected in 1870, and the other, situated in Cheapside, Tudhoe Grange, was also built in 1870 by the Tudhoe Grange Market Company. In 1887 it became the sole property of the Weardale Iron and Coal Company, who are the present owners.

Petty sessions are held on Friday at the Police Station, Oxford Street.

The Town Hall, adjoining the Market Hall buildings, at the west end, in the High Street, was erected at the same time as the Market hall by the Town hall Company, Limited, at the cost of one thousand pounds. It is of stone, and will seat 500.

Public Buildings.- The Central Hall, in Dundas Street, is a very plain building, erected about the year 1851, will seat 400, is the property of the Shafto family, and is held on lease by Mr. Winstone.
There is also the Hedley Memorial Hall, in Dundas Street, the property of Mr. Hedley, which was formed out of two houses in 1887. It will seat about 300, and is at present rented to a sect calling themselves the Gospel Union.
The Masonic Hall, Dundas Street, the property of the Shafto family, was formed out of a cottage in 1887. There are at present 48 members in this neighbourhood belonging to the order.
There are two banks having branches in the town, one belonging to the National Provincial, in the Town hall buildings, High Street, and that belonging to the North Eastern, in Whitworth Terrace.

Spennymoor and Tudhoe Gas Company, incorporated in 1875, succeeded the limited liability company which was formed in 1855, when the works in Thomas Street were erected, and have since been several times enlarged. The present paid up capital is fifty four thousand pounds, in ten pound shares. There are two gas holders, having a carbonising capacity of 130,000 cubic feet. The present annual consumption is 1,000,000 feet, which sells from 3s. 3d. To 3s. 9d. Per 1,000, according to distance and quantity. There are 180 public lamps in the district, which includes Spennymoor, Tudhoe, Low Spennymoor, Ferryhill, Cornforth, Coundon, Byers green, and Windlestone.

Post, Money Order, and Telegraph Office, 45 High Street,- William Byers, postmaster. Delivery begins from all parts at 7 A.M. and 5 P.M., and despatch to Bishop Auckland, Darlington, and the South at 11 . 10 A.M.; to Durham, Newcastle, and the North at 1 . 50 P.M.; all parts at 6. 30 and 8 .15 P.M. On Sundays, to callers, 8 to 10 A.M.; despatch at 5 . 10 P.M.

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