Looking down to Wearhead (Winter 2009)
Wearhead shown within County Durham
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||County Durham|
|Ceremonial county||County Durham|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Bishop Auckland|
|Fire||County Durham and Darlington|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
|UK Parliament||North West Durham|
Wearhead is a village in County Durham, in England. It is situated at the top of Weardale between Cowshill and Ireshopeburn. It is named after the nearby source of the River Wear which runs eastwards for approx 40 miles to Sunderland.
The first settlement at Wearhead may have been a farmstead, possibly a summer base for the Bishop's cattle which would have been taken to lower ground in winter. East of the village lies a steep hillside, which has evidence of shallow shafts and hushes which were the early methods used to extract lead and iron. In County Durham there were rich deposits of lead lying within a circle of about 10 miles radius drawn around Wearhead, hence the lead-mining industry of Weardale and Teesdale.
In 1858 the Post Office Directory listed - Beer Retailer, Grocer / Draper, Tailor / Draper, Grocer, Joiner / Postmaster, Grocer and Drapers / Joiner. In 1915 the Post Office Directory listed - The Bank of Liverpool. In 1971 Barclays Bank (formerly Martins Bank) was sold and the property became a Butcher shop, which has since closed.
Wearhead stands 1,104 feet above sea level and has some of the highest peaks in County Durham, Killhope Law (673m) and Burnhope Seat 2,452 feet (747 m). Burnhope Reservoir is approx 1 mile from Wearhead. In the construction six farms were submerged when water rose to fill the man-made reservoir in 1937.
Wearhead was the terminus of the Weardale Extension Railway which opened in 1895, being mainly a freight line carrying limestone, iron ore, lead ore and fluorspar to the industrial areas of North East England. It closed to passenger traffic in 1953 and later to freight in 1961.
Decline then seeds of revival
In 2005 Wearhead lost its last shop with the closure of the Co-op and shortly afterwards, the Methodist Church held its last service after being in existence for over 179 years.
Some signs of revival however in that the former Co-Op Shop has re-opened as an independent village store & the former Post Office was opened as a Craft Shop/Cafe. But that has now closed after only a couple of months.
Wearhead United Football Club who play in the Second Division of the Crook & District League celebrated their Centenary in 2008 with 3 days of events including a fly over Ullsfield Park by the Red Arrows, and culminating in a sportsmans dinner with over 100 guests seated in a purpose made marquee on the field with guest of honour Eric Gates.
Ullsfield Park is reputedly the highest football ground in use in England being at an elevation of 338 metres (1110 ft) above sea level.
The Black Sike, tributary of the River Tees
What to Do
- Burnhope Reservoir
- A Mineral Valleys Project walk - Wearhead (The River Starts Here)
- Killhope, The North of England lead Mining Museum
- The Weardale Museum
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wearhead.|