Burn Hall, County Durham

County Durham, North East England.

I am very fortunate to live in beautiful County Durham in North East England.

The countryside in Durham is very diverse, from the windswept north pennines in the west to the beautiful sandy beaches on the coast.
A lot of people believe that the North East is a very industrial area and has been described as 'It's Grim Up North', mostly by those who have never been.

Yorkshire may be famous for it's Dales, but we have two, Weardale and Teesdale, both nestling among the moors of the North Pennines, which has some of the highest ground in England. We also have more Castles and historic buildings than most other area's of the country, these range from early Roman excavations at Binchester to a Saxon church at Escomb and the castles at Branspeth, Witton, Raby, Lumley, Lampton, and Durham city, not to mention Auckland Castle the seat of the Prince Bishops since 1183.

It is true that in the past the area had a significant industrial heritage, of which the people are very proud. The area around Teesside was known worldwide for steel production and built such iconic structures as Sydney harbor bridge, Teesside and Tyneside was also a major shipbuilding area.

County Durham also had may deep and opencast mines, producing millions of tons of coal, iron ore and other minerals. This was the catalyst for the need to build a transport network to get the extracted minerals from the mines to the ports for onward shipment.

Due to the location of some of the mines being in upland areas, it was not a practical solution to build canals as was done in the Midlands and the South for transportation, so a series of horse drawn tramways were used initially.

Following the invention of the steam locomotive, most of these early tramways were converted from wooden to steel rails and so the first 'Railways' were born.

One of the first was the famous Stockton and Darlington railway, opened in September 1825, built to connect collieries near Shildon with the port at Stockton on Tees and later to Middlesbrough. This was to be the world's first public passenger railway to use steam locomotives.

Renovation work at Auckland Castle
Renovation work at Auckland Castle

Unfortunately the heavy industry and mining has all but vanished, which has left many areas in the Northeast devoid of meaningful manual employment and has been replaced with such things as 'Call centres'.

Some of the former industrial sites have been regenerated and have become areas for small startup initiatives but the days of heavy manual labor has gone forever.

So a new era has been born, the landscape has changed, both physically and in economic terms, No more dirty factory's, steel mills and coal mines, we now have a thriving technology sector and new train assembly plant, and more tourist attractions, especially in the area surrounding Bishop Auckland.

Bishop Auckland is set to become a major tourist area with the building of the Kynren show arena and conversion of buildings in the town center to be opened as art gallery's and museums and the refurbishment of Auckland Castle.