City of Durham (UK Parliament constituency)

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Coordinates: 54°46′37″N 1°33′22″W / 54.777°N 1.556°W / 54.777; -1.556

City of Durham
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of City of Durham in County Durham.
Outline map
Location of County Durham within England.
County County Durham
Population 94,375 (2011 census)[1]
Electorate 72,659 (December 2010)[2]
Major settlements Durham, Brandon, Coxhoe, Bowburn, Framwellgate Moor, Sherburn and Ushaw Moor
Current constituency
Created 1918
Member of parliament Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour)
Number of members One
Number of members 1678–1885: Two
1885–1918: One
Type of constituency Borough constituency
European Parliament constituency North East England

City of Durham is a constituency[n 1] represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Roberta Blackman-Woods of the Labour Party.[n 2]

Constituency profile[edit]

The constituency contains a large minority of students, researchers and academics at the early 19th century founded University of Durham,[n 3] that has a claim towards being the third oldest in England and has elected Labour MPs since 1935, although there have been strong Liberal-SDP Alliance and Liberal Democrat challenges to Labour since the 1980s.


The parliamentary borough (1678–1918)[edit]

The City of Durham was first given the right to return Members to Parliament by an Act of Parliament in 1678, the last new borough but one to be enfranchised before the Great Reform Act of 1832. It was the only borough in County Durham, the county also having been unrepresented until the same Act of Parliament, which created two MPs for the county and two for the city. Both constituencies were frequently referred to simply as Durham, which can make for some confusion.

The constituency as constituted in 1678 consisted only of the city of Durham itself, though this included its suburbs which were within the municipal boundary. The right to vote was held by the corporation and the freemen of the city, many of whom were not resident within the boundaries. Unlike the situation in many small rotten boroughs, the corporation had no jurisdiction over the creation of freemen: freemen were generally created by connection with companies of trade, either by apprenticeship or by birth (by being the son of an existing freeman), though the common council of the city had a power to create honorary freemen.

The creation of honorary freemen with the specific intention of swaying elections was a common abuse in a number of boroughs in the 18th century, and at the Durham election of 1762 became sufficiently controversial to force a change in the law. The election was disputed because 215 new freemen, most of them not resident in the city, had been made after the writ for the election was issued. The existing freemen petitioned against this dilution of their voting rights, the candidate who had been declared elected was unseated by the Commons committee which heard the case, and the following year an Act of Parliament was passed to prevent any honorary freeman from voting in a borough election within twelve months of their being accorded that status.

Through having a freeman franchise the electorate was comparatively numerous for the period, though comprising only a small fraction of the city's population; at the time of the Reform Act there were between 1,100 and 1,200 freemen in total, of whom 427 were resident and 558 lived within seven miles, while the total population of the borough was 9,269. The Lambton and Tempest families were influential, and were generally able to secure election, but fell far short of the sort of control common in pocket boroughs.

The city retained both its MPs under the 1832 Reform Act, with its boundaries adjusted only very slightly, although as elsewhere the franchise was reformed. The Reform Act 1867 extended the boundaries to include part of Framwellgate parish which had previously been excluded. Under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, the borough's representation was reduced at the from 1885 general election to a single MP. In the boundary changes of 1918, the borough was abolished, but a division of County Durham was named after the City.

County constituency (since 1918)[edit]

From 1918, Durham City was included in a county constituency officially called The Durham Division of (County) Durham, consisting of the central part of the county. Until 1974 it included the town of Hetton-le-Hole and between 1950 and 1974 that of Spennymoor, as well as the rural districts in between, in which coal mining was the principal industry. The Durham county constituency from 1974 to 1983 included Durham itself, the Durham Rural District except Brancepeth and Sedgefield Rural District. In the 1983 boundary changes, the constituency officially acquired the unambiguous City of Durham name for the first time and its boundaries were realigned to match the new City of Durham local government district.

Current boundaries[edit]

The constituency corresponds to the former City of Durham local government district and as such includes a number of surrounding villages and suburbs as well as Durham itself, the largest of these are Brandon, Coxhoe, Bowburn, Framwellgate Moor, Sherburn and Ushaw Moor. The seat extends as far west as Waterhouses and as far east as Ludworth. The seat has traditionally been dominated by Labour, with support particularly strong in those villages historically connected to County Durham's mining industry. Durham is famous as an educational centre, for Durham University and the feepaying preparatory school, Chorister School where Tony Blair was educated. The city centre is more inclined to the Liberal Democrats. Like many other university cities such as Cambridge and Oxford, in the 2005 election it swung strongly towards the Liberal Democrats, one possible reason being these cities' sizeable student population who were viewed as being hostile to Labour's policies on areas such as top-up fees and the Iraq War. The Liberal Democrats were able to reduce Labour's majority by over 10,000 votes, although they were still unable to gain the seat from Labour, as was the case in the 2010 election.

Following a review of parliamentary representation in County Durham, the Boundary Commission for England has made no changes to the City of Durham constituency, which will remain co-terminous with the boundaries of the former district. The City of Durham local council was abolished in the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Durham City (borough)[edit]

  • Constituency created (1678)

MPs 1678–1885[edit]

Year First member[3] First party Second member[3] Second party
1678 Sir Ralph Cole John Parkhurst
February 1679 William Tempest
September 1679 William Blakiston Sir Richard Lloyd
1681 William Tempest
1685 Charles Montagu
1689 George Morland Henry Liddell
1690 William Tempest
1695 Charles Montagu Henry Liddell
1698 Thomas Conyers
1701 Sir Henry Belasyse
1702 Thomas Conyers Tory
1708 James Nicolson
1710 Sir Henry Belasyse Tory
1712 Robert Shafto
1713 George Baker
1722 Charles Talbot
1727 Robert Shafto
1730 John Shafto
1734 Henry Lambton
1742 John Tempest
1761 Ralph Gowland[4]
1762 Major General John Lambton
1768 John Tempest Tory
1787 William Henry Lambton Whig
1794 Sir Henry Vane-Tempest Tory
1798 Ralph John Lambton Whig
1800 Michael Angelo Taylor Whig
1802 Richard Wharton[5] Tory
1804 Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto
1806 Richard Wharton Tory
1813 George Allan Tory
1818 Michael Angelo Taylor Whig
1820 Sir Henry Hardinge Tory
1830 Sir Roger Gresley[6] Tory
March 1831 William Chaytor Whig
May 1831 Hon. Arthur Trevor Tory
1832 William Charles Harland Whig
1835 Hon. Arthur Trevor Conservative
1841 Thomas Colpitts Granger Whig Robert FitzRoy Conservative
April 1843 The Viscount Dungannon[7] Conservative
July 1843 John Bright Radical/Anti-Corn Law
1847 Henry John Spearman Whig
July 1852 William Atherton[8] Liberal
December 1852 Lord Adolphus Vane[9] Conservative
1853 John Mowbray Conservative
1864 John Henderson Liberal
1868 John Robert Davison Liberal
1871 John Lloyd Wharton Conservative
February 1874 Thomas Charles Thompson Liberal
June 1874[10] Farrer Herschell Liberal Sir Arthur Middleton Liberal
1880 Thomas Charles Thompson Liberal
1885 Representation reduced to one member

MPs 1885–1918[edit]

Matthew Fowler
Election Member[3][11] Party
1885 Thomas Milvain Conservative
1892 Matthew Fowler Liberal
1898 by-election Arthur Elliot Liberal Unionist
1906 John Waller Hills Liberal Unionist
1918 Parliamentary borough abolished

Durham, Durham/City of Durham (county constituency)[edit]

MPs since 1918[edit]

Year Member[3][11] Party
1918 John Waller Hills Conservative
1922 Joshua Ritson Labour
1931 William McKeag Liberal
1935 Joshua Ritson Labour
1945 Charles Grey Labour
1970 Mark Hughes Labour
1987 Gerry Steinberg Labour
2005 Roberta Blackman-Woods Labour


Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2015: City of Durham[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Roberta Blackman-Woods[13] 21,596 47.3 +2.9
Conservative Rebecca Coulson[14] 10,157 22.2 +8.9
UKIP Liam Clark[15] 5,232 11.4 +9.6
Liberal Democrat Craig Martin[16] 5,183 11.3 −26.3
Green Jonathan Elmer[17] 2,687 5.9 N/A
Independent John Marshall[18] 649 1.4 N/A
Independent Jon Collings 195 0.4 N/A
Majority 11,439 25.0
Turnout 45,699 66.5
Labour hold Swing -3.0
General Election 2010: City of Durham[19][20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Roberta Blackman-Woods 20,496 44.3 −2.9
Liberal Democrat Carol Woods 17,429 37.7 −2.1
Conservative Nick Varley 6,146 13.3 +3.9
BNP Ralph Musgrave 1,153 2.5 N/A
UKIP Nigel Coghill-Marshall 856 1.9 N/A
Independent Jon Collings 172 0.4 N/A
Majority 3,067 6.6
Turnout 46,252 67.2 +5.1
Labour hold Swing −0.4

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: City of Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Roberta Blackman-Woods 20,928 47.2 −8.9
Liberal Democrat Carol Woods 17,654 39.8 +16.1
Conservative Ben Rogers 4,179 9.4 −7.9
Veritas Tony Martin 1,603 3.6 N/A
Majority 3,274 7.4
Turnout 44,364 62.1 +2.5
Labour hold Swing −12.5
General Election 2001: City of Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Gerry Steinberg 23,254 56.1 −7.2
Liberal Democrat Carol Woods 9,813 23.7 +8.4
Conservative Nick Cartmell 7,167 17.3 −0.2
UKIP Chris Williamson 1,252 3.0 N/A
Majority 13,441 32.4
Turnout 41,486 59.6 −11.2
Labour hold Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: City of Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Gerry Steinberg 31,102 63.3
Conservative Richard E.O. Chalk 8,598 17.50
Liberal Democrat Nigel Martin 7,499 15.26
Referendum Margaret G. Robson 1,723 3.51
Natural Law Paul A. Kember 213 0.43
Majority 22,504 45.80
Turnout 49,135 70.78
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1992: City of Durham[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Gerry Steinberg 27,095 53.3 +8.3
Conservative Martin I. Woodroofe 12,037 23.7 +1.7
Liberal Democrat Nigel Martin 10,915 21.5 −11.7
Green Ms. Jane Banks 812 1.6 +1.6
Majority 15,058 29.6 +17.8
Turnout 50,859 74.6 −3.6
Labour hold Swing +3.3

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: City of Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Gerry Steinberg 23,382 44.92
Social Democratic D. Stoker 17,257 33.16
Conservative G.M. Colquhoun 11,408 21.92
Majority 6,125 11.77
Turnout 78.19
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1983: City of Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Mark Hughes 18,163 36.48
Social Democratic D. Stoker 16,190 32.52
Conservative M. Lavis 15,438 31.01
Majority 1,973 3.96
Turnout 74.40
Labour hold Swing

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Mark Hughes 30,903 52.25
Conservative M. Lavis 19,666 33.25
Liberal Chris Foote Wood 8,572 14.49
Majority 11,237 19.00
Turnout 76.35
Labour hold Swing
General Election October 1974: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Mark Hughes 31,305 58.51
Conservative Derek Conway 13,189 24.65
Liberal P.A.J. Heeson 9,011 16.84
Majority 18,116 33.86
Turnout 71.62
Labour hold Swing
General Election February 1974: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Mark Hughes 31,405 52.48
Conservative Timothy Kirkhope 16,202 27.07
Liberal A. Heesom 12,235 20.45
Majority 15,203 25.41
Turnout 80.82
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1970: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Mark Hughes 33,766 66.90
Conservative E. Greenwood 16,707 33.10
Majority 17,059 33.80
Turnout 73.27
Labour hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 32,200 70.64
Conservative R.M. Yorke 13,383 29.36
Majority 18,817 41.28
Turnout 74.70
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1964: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 32,818 68.33
Conservative J.M. Whittaker 15,209 31.67
Majority 17,609 36.66
Turnout 78.75
Labour hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 33,795 66.39
Conservative C.P. MacCarthy 17,106 33.61
Majority 16,689 32.79
Turnout 81.84
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1955: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 32,412 66.08
Conservative C.P. MacCarthy 16,640 33.92
Majority 15,772 32.15
Turnout 79.46
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1951: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 35,597 67.11
Conservative R. Fisher 17,447 32.89
Majority 18,150 34.22
Turnout 86.10
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1950: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 36,024 68.06
Conservative H.C.R. Laslett 16,903 31.94
Majority 19,121 36.13
Turnout 87.03
Labour hold Swing

Election in the 1940s[edit]

General Election 1945: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Charles Grey 24,135 66.18
Liberal National J. Bunyan 12,331 33.82
Majority 11,804 32.37
Turnout 79.82
Labour hold Swing

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1935: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Joshua Ritson 21,517 59.07
Liberal National William McKeag 14,910 40.93
Majority 6,607 18.14
Turnout 85.20
Labour gain from Liberal Swing
General Election 1931: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal William McKeag 17,406 50.39
Labour Joshua Ritson 17,136 49.61
Majority 270 0.78
Turnout 83.67
Liberal gain from Labour Swing

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1929: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Joshua Ritson 18,514 56.8
Liberal William McKeag 7,266 22.3
Unionist George Mervyn Anstey Hamilton-Fletcher 6,820 20.9
Majority 11,248 34.5
Turnout 80.1
Labour hold Swing
General Election 1923: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Joshua Riley Ritson 13,819 56.8 +1.6
Unionist Thomas Andrew Bradford 10,530 43.2 -1.6
Majority 3,289 13.6 +3.2
Turnout 80.1 +2.9
Labour hold Swing +1.6

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ A county constituency (for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer)
  2. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
  3. ^ In the 2001 Census 14.5% of those aged 16-74 were further education students and 2.4% were students aged 16 or 17 such as at a sixth form or college.
  1. ^ "City of Durham: Usual Resident Population, 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Electorate Figures - Boundary Commission for England". 2011 Electorate Figures. Boundary Commission for England. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "D" (part 4)[self-published source][better source needed]
  4. ^ On petition, Gowland's election was declared void and his opponent, Lambton, was seated in his place
  5. ^ Wharton was unseated on petition for illegal practices during the election
  6. ^ On petition, Gresley's election was declared void and a by-election was held
  7. ^ Dungannon's election at the by-election of April 1843 was declared void on petition and a new election held
  8. ^ Sir William Atherton from 1861
  9. ^ Vane's election at the by-election of December 1852 was declared void on petition and a new election held
  10. ^ Henderson and Wharton were re-elected at the general election of 1874, but the election was declared void on petition, and neither stood in the ensuing by-election
  11. ^ a b "Durham (city) 1678-". Hansard 1803-2005. UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Craig Martin". 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "BBC NEWS – Election 2010 – Durham, City of". BBC News. 
  21. ^ "Politics Resources". Election 1992. Politics Resources. 9 April 1992. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  • F W S Craig, "British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885" (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • J Holladay Philbin, "Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Michael Kinnear, "The British Voter" (London: Batsford, 1968)
  • E Porritt and AG Porritt, "The Unreformed House of Commons, Vol I: England and Wales" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903)
  • Henry Stooks Smith, The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847 (2nd edition, edited by FWS Craig - Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications, 1973)
  • Robert Waller, "The Almanac of British Politics" (3rd edition, London: Croom Helm, 1987)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)
  • The Constitutional Yearbook, 1913" (London: National Unionist Association, 1913)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "D" (part 4)[self-published source][better source needed]

External links[edit]