Banner for a pictorial guide to Ferryhill, an ex-Mining Village in South Durham

Ferryhill in County Durham

a walk through the town of Ferryhill and it's history

Ferryhill is a small town in south-central County Durham, in North-East England, with a population of around 10,000 people. It is in the borough of Sedgefield, which is now well known as the consituency of Tony Blair (The British Prime Minister from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007). It straddles the main Londow-Edinburgh railway line.

The town population first grew noticeably in the nineteenth century and then very rapidly in the 1900s around the establishment of the coal mining industry in the North East of England. The mining industry brought people to the region from all counties of England, Scotland and Ireland. Coal mining was the primary living for Ferryhill men through the first half of the 20th century, but the last two mines in Ferryhill had been closed by 1966. The effect of the mine closures (and the closure of Ferryhill Station under Beeching) on the town's employment rate was devastating, but slowly it has recovered as different companies set up in the area, providing more jobs. Black and Decker at Thinford, Courtaulds and Thorn Lighting at Spennymoor, and firms on Aycliffe Industrial Estate have provided Ferryhill with emploment.

The Post Boy, Ferryhill The Town Hall, Ferryhill

Ferryhill sits on the western edge of the Ferryhill Gap, a natural gateway in the Limestone Escarpment that outcrops on the Eastern Durham Plateau. The main settlement lies along the SW-NE ridge, with later development to the south of the ridge. Ferryhill lies on the medieval Great North Road which formerly was the A1, now the A167, which leads to Durham City and Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the North, and to Darlington in the south.

The town grew dramatically in the early 20th Century because of coal mining, but before that it was an agricultural village. There was an agricultural settlement at Ferryhill in medieval times and maybe much earlier than that. Before the Reformation, Ferryhill belonged to the Priory of Durham and was a thriving agricultural concern. In 1539, the properties and rights were transferred to the Dean and Chapter of Durham. This did not affect the ordinary people of very much, but some Yeoman families became quite prosperous and it is recorded that in 1615 a Lawrence Wilkinson was granted a personal Coat of Arms.

During the English Civil War between Charles I and Parliament (1642 - 1648), Ferryhill was split, with some men supporting the Royalists whilst others backed the Parliamentarians. The people of the Village suffered from plundering and persecution as the troops passed through.In 1599, the scourge of The Great Plague reached Ferryhill and during August and September of that year, 26 people are recorded to have died. This figure probably represented around 5 to 10% of the population at that time. The village water supply (various springs) was clean enough to ensure that no further outbreaks of The Great Plague occurred in nearby villages, although a small farming community near the Bunny Banks and two houses in Kirk Merrington were affected by it. Compared to other towns in England, the Great Plague let Ferryhill off quite lightly.

In 1683 there was a well known murder in Ferryhill at Brass Farm (now known as High Hill House Farm, which is now behind Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College) where Andrew Mills, a servant, killed the three children of his employer John Brass, whilst their parents were out visiting friends. He was tried, found guilty and hanged in a gibbet to the north of the village, near Thinford.

Very little changed in the way of life in Ferryhill right up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when a railway was laid (1840) and a blast furnace was constructed. The population of Ferryhill in 1841 was 854 and in 1901 had grown to just over 1,000, but by the time the two main collieries (Dean and Chapter Colliery and Mainsforth Colliery) opened, this had swelled tenfold to 10,133 in 1911. Lots of new terraced houses (999) were built to accommodate the great influx of labour that came to work in the North East Coalfields. A lot of these houses are still occupied today. In 1941, over 5,000 men were working at the two Ferryhill pits to produce coal to keep the country going during the war effort. Both Mainsforth and Dean and Chapter Collieries closed during the 1960s and the great pit heaps are now unrecognisable. New landscaping has hidden much of the evidence that this was a village driven by coal.

A noteable recent scheme, and one which may have a long term positive affect on Ferryhill is the DURHAMGATE development. This will hopefully provide jobs, housing and retail outlets to the communities of Ferryhill and Spennymoor. DURHAMGATE is the largest mixed-use regeneration scheme in the North East of England, incorporating commercial, living and leisure opportunities. The developer is investing over 100m UKP and the site is recognised as having key, strategic importance for the region.

DURHAMGATE has received strong support from Durham County Council, ONE NorthEast, the Homes and Communities Agency and County Durham Development Company. Major opportunities exist for Headquarter commercial occupiers, residential developers, retail, leisure and hotel operators.

Noteable Ferronians


Eric Gates (footballer for Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Carlisle Utd)
Phill Nixon (darts player)
John McManners (religious historian)
Pauline Murray (singer in punk band Penetration)
Stan Cummins (footballer for Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Minnesota Strikers and Kansas City Comets)
Alan White (musician, drummer in the Alan Price Set, Yes and The Plastic One Band)
Charlie Spedding (athlete, Olympic bronze medallist at Los Angeles 1984)
Jack Scott (TV weatherman for BBC, ITV and Channel 4)

Click on the links below, or the map to begin exploring Ferryhill...


Index
The Broom | The track to Little Chilton | A167 road and 'the cut' | Dean Road - Catholic Church | East of The Market Place | Top of the Broom Road
Top of Darlington Road | The Market Place | The Cut from the Bridge | Church Lane | Cleves Cross | Wood Lane Junction
Ferryhill Carrs | Ferryhill Recreation Centre | Linden Road / Broom | Rudds Hill Junction | Top of Station Bank | The Station Bank
Linden Road | The Mill | Merrington Road | Ferryhill Gap | Morrison Terrace | Little Chilton Farm
Dean Bank Recreation Ground | Dean Bank Villas | Ferryhill Primary School | Ferryhill Station | Dean Bank Miners Houses | Dean Bank Miners Bungalows
Site of Mainsforth Colliery | Dean and Chapter Industrial Estate | Little Chilton Farm Road | South of Little Chilton | West Close Farm | Entrance to Strawberry Cott
Manor Farm | Spooky Alley | Lower Dean Bank | Top of Durham Road | Bottom of Durham Road | Top of Lime Road
Church Lane East | Ferryhill Town Hall | Thrislington Quarry | Dean Road - Dean Park Roundabout | Lime Road | Bottom of Brancepeth Road
The Bunny Banks | Bottom of Kitchener/Gordon Terrace | Mainsforth Cricket Field

Map of Ferryhill

The Broom The track to Little Chilton A167 road and 'the cut' Dean Road - Catholic Church East of The Market Place Top of the Broom Road Top of Darlington Road The Market Place The Cut from the Bridge Church Lane Cleves Cross Wood Lane Junction Ferryhill Carrs Ferryhill Recreation Centre Linden Road / Broom Rudds Hill Junction Top of Station Bank The Station Bank Linden Road The Mill Merrington Road Ferryhill Gap Morrison Terrace Little Chilton Farm Dean Bank Recreation Ground Dean Bank West End Ferryhill Primary School Ferryhill Station Dean Bank Miners Houses Dean Bank Miners Bungalows Site of Mainsforth Colliery Dean and Chapter Industrial Estate Little Chilton Farm Road South of Little Chilton West Close Farm Entrance to Strawberry Cott Manor Farm Spooky Alley Lower Dean Bank Top of Durham Road Bottom of Durham Road Top of Lime Road Church Lane East The Town Hall Thrislington Quarry Dean Road - Dean Park Roundabout Lime Road Bottom of Brancepeth Road The Bunny Banks Bottom of Kitchener/Gordon Terrace Mainsforth Cricket Field


Do you have any old photographs of Ferryhill?
Durham Cathedral Webcam
Eric Thompson Watercolours of Ferryhill
Ferryhill Street Map

The Weather of Ferryhill

The North East Forum
The Ferryhill and Chilton Chapter - Our Free Newspaper
The North East Forum - Ferryhill Section

Ferryhill Weather Station
Google
Ferryhill Weather Station

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© Copyright Dave O'Hara 2009, 2010, 2011 Last updated 31 May 2009.
Ordnance Survey for the map of Ferryhill and the surrounding area.
Anquet Maps for the Aerial Photograph of Ferryhill.
My dad for his thoughts on Ferryhill's infamous Cinemas and 'Dens of iniquity'

The photographs and other material on this site are copyright of the author, unless stated otherwise. If you wish to use any of them or link to them, please ask me and your request will be considered. The contact address is on the site.

Created using Touroid Virtual Tour Creator


Other local websites to visit
North East Forum | Lake District Sports and Hotel Directory | Current Weather | Downsize Dave | Aycliffe Fellwalking Club | Ferryhill Chapter
LateRooms Hotels | Tasty Tea Rooms | Durham City Photos | Adsense Alternatives