Category D coal mining villages in County Durham

Some notes about the 1951 Durham County Development Plan

William A GEENTY - County Development Plan, 1951. Written analysis prepared for the County Council of Durham.
Printed by the Billingham Press for the County Council.
This publication is held in the County Reserve Library of Durham County Council.
Class 942.86, Super Outsize

The 1951 Durham County Development Plan classified villages as an A, B, C or D settlement.
In Category D settlements no future development would be permitted and property would be acquired and demolished. The population would be relocated to new housing.

114 settlements were listed in the 1951 plan, rising to 121 in the revised Durham County Development Plan of 1964. No more than three had been completely demolished by 1969.
The Durham County Council "Category D" policy officially ended in 1977.

This page notes a few of these villages, plus some other lost communities in Northumberland and Teesside.

BBC - Planning for Destruction: the D-villages of County Durham
"Caroline Beck uncovers the hidden story of the Durham villages which were lost after the decline of the local coalfields during the 1950s and 60s."
Last broadcast 01 Sep 2008, 20:00 on BBC Radio 4,

Planning For Destruction, May 20th 2008 by Russell Davies.
Listen to the radio programme, or download it for later - mp3 file, 24.3 MB
Hear the voices of residents of Waterhouses, Witton Park and Thornley, who were made to move away from their Category D homes.

Copyright acknowledgement - Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Wikipedia - Villages in County Durham

Blackhouse - These miners houses near Edmondsley were demolished in 1978, after the Category D threat had been lifted.
Originally called Clayton Ville, the site of Blackhouse Council Houses at Beechville has now returned to farmland.
There are ghostly images of the foundations in the aerial photos.
Northern Echo archive - 28 May 2004, "Durham Memories: Following the herd down to Edmondsley"
Geograph NZ2249
Bing aerial photo
Google aerial photo and Street View
Old Maps (select 1939 map, click "Switch Print Extent Off")

Burnhope - "The County Council designated the village Category D and condemned it to wither on the vine."
Northern Echo, 16 June 2003, "School Closures".

Old Maps - Geograph NZ1948 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Chopwell - "In the development plan of 1964, Chopwell was categorised as a type D village, a settlement where new capital expenditure was limited to the maintenance of existing facilities. Chopwell was to be allowed to decline."
Gateshead Local History, - "Gateshead Places: Chopwell, by M Dixon".

Old Maps - Geograph NZ1158 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps

East Hetton included Burrell Street, Cross Street, Green Street, Braddyll Street, High New Row, Low New Row and 2 Methodist Chapels. Demolition began before the 1951 "Category D" scheme, as shown on the 1939 map. The site is between Raisby Quarry and Kelloe.

Old Maps - Geograph NZ3435 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Haswell - "The D village policy officially ended in June 1977 when Durham County Council eventually decided to encourage investment in previous D villages."

Old Maps - Geograph NZ3743 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Herrington - "Many of you will know before the birth of Tyne & Wear, New Herrington was a category D village in the County of Durham, the local council being Houghton le Spring Urban District Council." - from the extinct "My Marras" website.

Old Maps - Geograph NZ3352 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps

High Spen - "was categorised as a Category D village by Durham County Council, one of many scheduled for destruction and demolition following the decline of mining in the west of the county in the 1950's and 60's."

"Condemned by Durham County Council to wither on the vine as a Category D village, it was eventually saved when local government reorganisation placed it in the newly created Tyne and Wear." - from the extinct "Garesfield" website.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Robert Woof) - "I refer to the profound despair, hardship and lingering regret which has been created by the decision of Durham Planning Authority to refuse any further housing development in the village of High Spen in my constituency."
Hansard - 10 May 1961, High Spen, Durham (Development)

High Spen had the nickname "Little Moscow".

Old Maps - Geograph NZ1359 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps

Marley Hill - "In 1974 Gateshead MBC undertook an investigation into its Category D villages. It was not until the 1990s that new building took place in Marley Hill for the first time in fifty years."

Old Maps - Geograph NZ2058 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps
RAF aerial photo 1944 - Marley Hill Colliery and Tanfield Railway.

The Middles - Bloemfontein Terrace, Ladysmith Terrace and Kimberley Terrace have been demolished. Greylingstad Terrace and Standerton Terrace are still standing. They were named after places in the 1899-1902 Boer War. - "Angela Bruce, well-known actress of stage and screen revisits her former home town of Craghead in County Durham."

Old Maps - Geograph NZ2051 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Newton Aycliffe - "Building began on 28 June 1948. The County Council wanted people to move into 'Newton Aycliffe' from the old 'Category D' (scheduled to die) pit villages."

Old Maps - Geograph NZ2624 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps
RAF aerial photo 1944 - Aycliffe Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF)

Page Bank - Terraced housing including East Terrace, Long Row, New Row, Old Row, Railway Terrace, School Row and West Terrace has been demolished in this isolated Category D village.
Northern Echo archive, 10 July 2003, "John North"

Old Maps - Geograph NZ2335 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Quebec - Rows of terraced houses, a chapel, church, school and drill hall have been demolished.
Old Maps - Geograph NZ1843 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Stanley Crook - Church Terrace, Jobson Terrace, Stanley Terrace and Wooley Terrace have been demolished.

Old Maps - Geograph NZ1637 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Thornley - Terraced housing including Albert Street, Bow Street, Coopers Terrace, East Street, Henry Street, Percy Street, South Street and Vine Street has been demolished.
Old Maps - Geograph NZ3639 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Waterhouses - Terraced housing including Arthur Street, Dale Street, East Terrace, North Terrace, West Terrace and Whitewell Street has been demolished.
Old Maps - Geograph NZ1841 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Witton Park - Terraced housing including Garden Street, High King Street, High Queen Street, High Thompson Street, John Street, Low Albion Street, Low King Street, Low Queen Street, Low Thompson Street, Park Terrace and Vulcan Street has been demolished.

Witton Park had the nickname "Jam Jar City". It was the original terminus of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825, and was famous for its Iron Works. That trade eventually moved down to Middlesbrough, South Bank and Grangetown.

Northern Echo archive, 9th January 2009, "A visit to Canada for Rose and Crown"

Northern Echo archive, 27 July 2000, "Jam jar citizens gather" - Dale Daniel's website about Witton Park.

Old Maps - Geograph NZ1730 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps - RAF aerial photo 1944

Planning for decline - the 'D'-village policy of County Durham, UK
Source: Planning Perspectives, Volume 19, Number 3, July 2004 , pp. 311-332(22)
Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

ABSTRACT - "From the 1930s to the 1970s the contraction of the coal mining industry in County Durham in northern England was followed closely by plans to abolish many of the settlements that had supported the mining population. This article examines the development of the policies that were used to classify villages for demolition, the local resistance that developed in defence of the villages and the justifications provided in support of this policy. The bulk of the research is based on archived contemporary newspaper reporting of the events as they happened. Through this approach it is possible to document the course of popular opposition to planning policies. The policy was wide ranging, with 121 villages designated as category 'D', meaning that they were to be demolished. This paper examines the local response in specific case study localities, showing that the main tensions were between the economic concerns and aesthetic appraisal of policy makers and community-based perceptions of social relations and the environment. The paper suggests that the legacy of the 'D'-village policy continued until relatively recently in the minds of planners and residents in Durham's ex-mining localities."

1951 - Category D - "Durham County Council publishes its Development Plan in which it addresses the problems of 350 scattered villages which have grown up around small mines. The mines were no longer economic and the villages were haemorrhaging population. The Plan classified a third of the villages as Category D because the council felt there was no way of sustaining them in the future. These villages were to be left to die without economic assistance." - "Timeline of North East History, 1950 to 1969".

David SIMPSON is the author of fourteen books on northern history. He works for The Northern Echo and Durham Times newspapers in Darlington.
Business Education Publishers Limited ISBN 978 1 901888 51
176 pages including 16 pages of colour inserts

House of Commons - "Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1 - 19), Monday 10 November 2003
Q10 Chairman: Many years ago Durham County Council, for instance, had a policy of what they called Category D villages - this is a long time back - and a category D village was basically a village which was doomed; it was not going to survive, because the coalfield had closed and the community could not survive on its own. Not that that has reversed, but some of those villages have only survived because they have become commuter villages. Do you see the future of most regenerated villages being on the basis of commuting rather than developing their own energy?"

Some more demolished communities

Chevington Drift (Northumberland) - East Chevington. The 1920s map shows Hartside Terrace, Hedgehope Terrace, Linhope Terrace and Simonside Terrace in Chevington Drift, later demolished for opencast mining.
Old Maps - Geograph NZ2699 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps -

Radcliffe (Northumberland) - Terraced housing including Centre Row, Cross Row East, Cross Row West, Dandsfield Place North, Dandsfield Place South, Leslie Row, Long Row North, Long Row South and Newburgh Row was demolished in 1971. The inhabitants were re-housed in more modern accommodation in Amble, on the Radcliffe estate.
Wikipedia, Radcliffe, Northumberland

Old Maps - Geograph NU2602 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps -

Grangetown (Teesside) - The grid of terrace houses was started in 1881 for the nearby Cleveland Steel Works.
Bessemer Street, Vaughan Street, Stapylton Street, Laing Street, Holden Street, Wood Street, Vickers Street and Cheetham Street have been demolished. There was a Market Square with cross streets West Lane, Whitworth Road, Pochin Road and Lee Road. Only a few original houses remain on Bolckow Road. The A66 road now goes through the site.
Some later terrace houses have been demolished, including Alexandra Road, Granville Road and Roberts Street.
Old Maps - Geograph NZ5420 - Microsoft Virtual Earth - Google Maps

The end of Category D

In 1978 the "Coal House" headquarters of the National Coal Board (NCB) on the Team Valley Trading Estate had a list of former colliery houses for sale to the public.
Prices started at about £1000 for a 3-bedroom terrace house in County Durham.

Durham coal miners who were sitting tenants could buy their house from the NCB for about £500.
A miner could get a Council grant to modernise the house.

A Newcastle estate agent was offering NCB houses to the public for about £3000 in East Cramlington, Northumberland.

The Distant Future?

The original intention was to demolish the Category D villages so that the coal underneath could be opencast. The miners left behind pillars of coal to support the roof and prevent subsidence beneath houses.

For a distance around each old mineshaft the seams of coal were left undisturbed to maintain stability of the shaft.

There has been extensive opencast mining in County Durham, such as at Chapmans Well, but much of it did not reach the lowest seams of coal. Roads were not diverted as happened in Northumberland, so a lot of unmined coal and archaeology remains under roads.

In a time of national emergency in the distant future, the coal still under County Durham might be worth more than the houses above!

Northern Echo archive - Monday 10th July 2006 - "Hundreds of families may move for £54m development".
"More than 360 houses in Stanley town centre, New Kyo, South Moor, Quaking Houses and Craghead could be knocked down."

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