Shotley Bridge

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Shotley Bridge
St Cuthbert's Church, Benfieldside.jpg
St Cuthbert's Church
Shotley Bridge is located in County Durham
Shotley Bridge
Shotley Bridge
Shotley Bridge shown within County Durham
Population 27,394 (2001)[1]
OS grid reference NZ108511
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CONSETT
Postcode district DH8
Dialling code 01207
Police Durham
Fire County Durham and Darlington
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
County Durham
54°52′N 1°52′W / 54.87°N 1.86°W / 54.87; -1.86Coordinates: 54°52′N 1°52′W / 54.87°N 1.86°W / 54.87; -1.86

Shotley Bridge is a village, adjoining the town of Consett in County Durham, England. It is on the A694 road and beside the River Derwent which is crossed by the bridge giving the name. It was once the heart of Britain's swordmaking industry.

History[edit]

There were formerly several fords over the River Derwent near this place and in medieval times a wooden bridge. The present stone bridge was widened in 1820, but its original date is not known.[2] The bed of the river itself was the source of stone for millstones, and licences for this are recorded at "Shotley Brig" in 1356.[2] A water-powered corn mill was established in the 14th century, later replaced by a steam-powered one which was sold to the Derwent Co-operative Flour Mill Society Ltd in 1872, and continued until its closure in 1920.[2] A paper mill was established in 1788 (the first in the north of England) and greatly expanded with mechanization so that in 1894 it had 300 hands (half being girls) and was a major factor in the expansion of the village. However it closed in 1905.[2] A well near the village had unpleasant tasting water rumoured to be effective in curing disease and thus known as the "Hally Well" (hally = healthy, like hale). In 1828 a local entrepreneur John Richardson used this as the basis for a Spa which enjoyed considerable success with the well-to-do, becoming less fashionable as industry grew in nearby towns, but being remade as a playground for workers.[2][3][4] It was during the Victorian era that much of the town's architecture was constructed, including some grand residences and many listed buildings, so that by 1898 it had much of its present form.[3] and a population of over 1000.[2] This also saw the advent of Shotley Bridge railway station (closed 1952) and a gasworks which closed in the 1960s,[3] electric lighting having replaced gas lamps from 1950.[2] The closure of the steelworks at Consett in 1980 caused an economic decline, but the village has since become more popular.[3]

Swordmaking[edit]

In the 17th century a group of swordmakers (Oley, Vooz, Mole and Bertram) from Solingen in Germany settled in Shotley Bridge, in order to escape religious persecution.[2][5] Shotley Bridge was chosen because of the quality of the ironstone in the area and the softness of the River Derwent, plus its fast flow.[2] The Oley family were the makers of the highest quality swords, rivalling those of Toledo and Damascus steel,[2][5] being in great demand during the Napoleonic Wars and thus becoming very wealthy.[5] Their steel production was one of the earliest factories for the manufacture of steel, and the Oley family were involved in the formation of the Consett Iron Company.[2] New weapons and industrialization reduced demand for swords so they diversified into cutlery, but could not compete with Sheffield,[2][5] and the sword works closed in 1840.[3] However some moved to Birmingham and their business eventually became part of Wilkinson Sword.[3]

Evidence of this industry includes grooves in the stones of the river,[2] the fine house inscribed "Cutlers Hall, 1767, William Oley"[2][5] and the name of the public house "The Crown and Crossed Swords".[3][5] Before the last remaining cottages occupied by the swordmakers were torn down, there was an inscription over the door of the Oley house on Wood Street reading "Das Herren segen machet reich ohn alle Sorg wenn Du zugleich in deinem Stand treu und fleissig bist und tuest alle vas die befolen ist". This means "The blessing of the Lord makes rich without care, so long as you are industrious in your vocation and do what is ordered you".[2]

Places of Worship[edit]

The first mention of a chapel at Shotley is in 1165.[3] This is the site of the (now disused) Anglican parish church, St Andrew's, which is high on a hill above the town. It is an eighteenth century Grade II listed building rebuilt in 1892 because of subsidence due to coal workings below.[6] The current parish church is that of St John at Snod's Edge, also Grade II listed, dating from 1837 when it was founded as a chapel outpost of St Andrew's.[7] There is a Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (1952)[2], and an Anglican Church, St Cuthbert's (1850), designed by John Dobson, in the Benfieldside area south-east of the main town. The Methodist Church was built in 1894, and closed in 2014.[8]

Shotley Bridge Hospital[edit]

This originated in the construction of Whinney House in 1913 for the care of people with mental problems,[2] being known as "Shotley Bridge Mental Defectives Colony" from 1927 to 1940,[9] when it was converted to an Emergency Hospital to cope with the Second World War, particularly providing plastic surgery,[10][11], becoming a general hospital in 1948.[9][10] Although it was once one of the largest of the Northern Region[2] services have been transferred elsewhere, most of the buildings demolished for housing and the current hospital is a much smaller group of modern buildings operating as a community hospital.[12]

Other buildings[edit]

In the Victorian boom time, the village was often referred to as a town,[2] which such enthusiasm that a Town Hall was actually built in 1860.[2][3][4] It is one of several buildings from this period in Neogothic style. Another is Shotley Hall by Edward Robson. There are other grand houses from this period which are some of the many listed buildings in the area.[3] While the Wesleyan Chapel was demolished, its Sunday School remains and is now the Village Hall.[2][3] The clergyman's house is now known as The Manse.[3] The 1876 Temperance Hall is now the Assembly Rooms.[3] The Crown and Crossed Swords hotel includes what was once a separate establishment, The Commercial.[3]

Notable people[edit]

England Test cricketer Paul Collingwood played for Shotley Bridge Cricket Club in his youth.[13] Professional footballer Ben Clark was also born in Shotley Bridge as was England Rugby Union international Mathew Tait.

The Italian poet and writer Avro Manhattan spent his final years in Shotley Bridge, his wife's home town, and is buried there.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Chatt, Alice. The Story of our Village. Shotley Bridge Women's Institute. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Shotley Bridge Conservation Area Appraisal" (PDF). www.durham.gov.uk. Durham County Council. 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Parson left enduring mark on Victorian spa town". Hexham Courant. 6 August 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Harrison, Brian (2 February 2013). "The German Sword Makers of Shotley Bridge". Consett Magazine. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  6. ^ Ross, David. "Shotley, St Andrew's Church". Britain Express. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  7. ^ "St. John's Church Shotley". www.shotleystjohn.org.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "Congregation to bid farewell to Shotley Bridge church after 120 years". The Northern Echo. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Details: Shotley Bridge General Hospital, Consett". The National Archives. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Shotley Bridge Hospital". Domesday Reloaded. BBC. 1986. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  11. ^ Bell, R C (July 1986). "A brief history of the plastic surgery unit based on shotley bridge general hospital". British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 39 (3): 422–431. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  12. ^ "Shotley Bridge Community Hospital". www.cddft.nhs.uk. 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  13. ^ Brown, Alex (3 December 2006). "Double ton has family rejoicing ... after a nap". Sydney Morning Herald online edition. Retrieved 2 December 2006. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Shotley Bridge Heritage Group (2016). Shotley Bridge History. Co Durham: Shotley Bridge Village Community Trust. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Shotley Bridge at Wikimedia Commons