Ferryhill shown within County Durham
|Population||11,651 (2001) |
|OS grid reference|
|District||Durham Unitary area|
|Shire county||County Durham|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||County Durham and Darlington|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
Ferryhill is a town in south-central County Durham, England, with a population of around 11,651 people, making it the 8th biggest town in the County. It is in the Durham County Unitary area. The town grew in the nineteenth century and very rapidly in the 1900s around the coal mining industry. The last mine closed in 1968.
Ferryhill grew dramatically as a mining town in the early 20th Century but before that it was an agricultural village. There was an agricultural settlement here 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 people of Ferryhill 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, some men supporting the Royalists whilst others backed the Parliamentarians. The people of the village suffered from plundering and persecution as troops passed through.
In 1599, the scourge of plague reached Ferryhill and during August and September of that year, 26 people are recorded to have died. This figure was probably around 5 to 10% of the population at that time. The village water supply was clean enough to ensure that no further outbreaks of the plague occurred in nearby villages, although a small farming community near the Bunny Banks and two houses in Kirk Merrington were affected.
In 1683 there was a gruesome axe murder in Ferryhill at Brass Farm (now known as High Hill House Farm, which is behind Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College) where Andrew Mills, a servant, killed and slit the throats of the three children of his employer John Brass whilst their parents were out visiting friends. He then ran to his employers are told them of the children's murders blaming it on robbers. He was tried, found guilty and hanged in a gibbet to the north of the village.
Very little changed in the way of life in Ferryhill right up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when the Clarence Railway was laid to Port Clarence in 1840, and a blast furnace was constructed. The population of Ferryhill in 1841 was 854, but by 1901 had grown to just over 1,000. 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 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 pits to produce coal to keep the Country going during the war effort. Both 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. Ferryhill was closed under the Beeching Axe in 1966, closed to goods in 1967, and finally burnt down in 1969.
The town has a thriving history society who are in the process of opening a heritage centre in partnership with the town council.
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 which was bypassed known as Ferryhill Cut in 1923, now the A167, which leads to Durham City and Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the North, and to Darlington in the south.
Ferryhill has a weekly Friday market in the Town Centre market place run by the Local Council Ferryhill Town Council. The Town has seen many improvements in recent years including the award winning Mainsforth Sports complex, Surtees Doorstep Green, King George V rec corridor improvemements at Ferryhill Station, new Town Centre public toilets paid for by funding from Sedgefield Borough Councillors and is now run by Ferryhill Town Council and a youth cafe for the Town's young people. Part of Dean Bank Park has been used to enhance sporting facilities and the remainder has recently been the subject to consultation by the Town Council. The final plans include a £70,000 play area for which funding has been secured from the lottery, a £50,000 MUGA for which funding is being sought by the Friends of Dean Bank Park but has since been turned down due to it not been a community led group. Also funding has been applied for £50,000 of playbuilder facilities. In addition to this the new park will include a viewing tower, BMX/skatepark, new planting areas to walk and relax as well as a performance arena.
The Town has many community events including an annual summer gala, Christmas market, parading of miners banners, vintage car rally, art and photography exhibitions and many more, all of which are organised jointly by the Town Council and the 2000 Committee.
Ferryhill has a free community newspaper, The Ferryhill and Chilton Chapter Community Newspaper, which is distributed to all households in Ferryhill and the neighbouring community of Chilton. The paper has its own website where the latest issue, and archive issues back to 2005, can be viewed in pdf format.
Over £1 million in funding has recently been secured by Ferryhill Town Youth in partnership with Ferryhill Town Council to develop a new sports facility for the Town including new changing rooms and recreation area public toilets and 6 football pitches in Dean Bank Park and the adjacent former Ferryhill Athletic Football Ground. The facilities will be used by the town's thriving football clubs and in particular Ferryhill Town Youth. Dean Bank Park is maintained by Ferryhill Town Council and belongs to the welfare fund for the former Dean and Chapter Colliery in 1968. The Town Council later purchased the former Ferryhill Athletic ground at auction in 2004 but unable to sell the land on, it was then given for improving recreation facilities in the Town.
- Footballer Eric Gates
- Darts Player Phill Nixon
- Religious Historian John McManners
- Pauline Murray is the lead singer of punk rock band Penetration
- Footballer Stan Cummins
- Alan White was the drummer of Plastic Ono Band and Yes
- Olympic Bronze medallist Charlie Spedding
- Weatherman Jack Scott
- "Ferryhill Virtual Tour". Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- http://ferryhilllocalhistory.com/Ferryhill/AndrewMillsIndex.htm Brass Farm Murders
- Ferryhill Archives Project
- "Local Nature Reserves". Natural England. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
- Ferryhill Virtual Tour
- Ferryhill History Society Official Web Site
- Ferryhill and District Angling Club Unofficial Site
- Ferryhill Immanuel Christian Fellowship
- Ferryhill Weather Station
- Ferryhill Business And Enterprise College
- Ferryhill Town Council
- Old Merrington Parish Website
- Ferryhill and Chilton Chapter Community Newspaper