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County Durham Travel Tips

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Billingham is a town that lies in the borough of Stockton on Tees in north east England. The earliest records show the town to have been founded during the middle of the sixth century BC by a group of Saxons known as Billa’s people, from which the name originates. The town expanded quickly after the First World War was declared, due to a high demand for explosives. It was selected to be the site of a new chemical works to supply ammonia for the war in 1917 but by the time the works had been completed in 1920, the war had ended. The site was taken over by the Brunner Mond Company who converted it to fertiliser manufacture before merging with three other companies to become ICI who then began manufacturing plastics in 1934. The technologically advanced plant was inspiration to Aldous Huxley in the writing of Brave New World when he visited the newly opened site. He gave a detailed description of the processes he saw. Henry Thorold was another enthusiastic author who described Billingham as “one of the most extraordinary experiences, a sight almost unique in England” in the Shell Guide to County Durham and went on to describe “steaming, sizzling tall steel towers, great cylinders and pipes everywhere…”

Billingham Town Details

Chester le Street

We thoroughly enjoy going in to Chester le Street on market days. Love the atmosphere. - Florence

Chester le Street Town Details


The town started life as a Saxon settlement on the river Skerne, the market now lies in the centre the town as does St Cuthbert’s church, one of the most important and impressive early English churches in the north of England. Also in the town centre is the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum in celebration of the association with the birth of railways, as the world’s first passenger rail journey was between Shildon and nearby Stockton-on-Tees on the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. Darlington became an important centre for railway manufacturing with three significant works, the largest of which was the main line locomotive works known as North Road Slope whilst another was Robert Stephenson & Co, or ‘Stivvies’, who moved from Newcastle in 1902. The third was Faverdale Works, which became a pioneer during the 1950’s in the application of mass-production techniques to the manufacture of railway goods wagons. In recognition of the town’s contribution to the railway, alongside the A66 road next to the original Stockton-Darlington railway, is a life-size brick sculpture of a steaming locomotive emerging from a tunnel. David Mach made the work, named simply ‘Train’, in 1997 using 185,000 bricks and cost £760,000

Darlington Town Details


Depending on the part of Durham you plan to visit, parking near the prison is often easier and cheaper than in the town centre. It is not far to walk from there to the castle or the cathedral but it is hilly so be prepared - Denise

For a spectacular view overlooking the city of Durham, drive up Gilesgate, just outside the city and look for a parking space at the side of the road – there are no restrictions and spaces are often available late afternoon. Walk down the hill back towards Durham and the bypass. Before reaching the footbridge, take a footpath on your left and follow it all the way down to the bottom. It brings you out on the riverbank from where you will get a magnificent view of the castle and cathedral – late in the day the sun will be setting on the left so the buildings reflect the light - Denise

Durham Town Details


Town with historical old church, five star Seaham Hall Hotel & Oriental Spa, a rich heritage, promenade, cafe and port now open, area to be regenerated more to attract visitors

Seaham Town Details

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