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Local Histories - C

Chopwell

The earliest recorded evidence of human activity at Chopwell is a bronze age barrow (HER 337) identified in 1975. Chopwell Grange (HER 496) is known to have been been in existence since the mid 12th century, occupying a tract of land lying largely on the north bank of the Derwent. It was granted by Bishop Hugh Pudsey to Newminster Abbey in the time of St. Robert, the first abbot (1138-59), and in the following century came to be called a grange, or in the 14th century, a manor, when there is reference to the abbot's east sheep pen. On a map of 1721 a large house or tower is shown on the site of the later Chopwell Hall, which is assumed to be the site of Chopwell Grange, although West Chopwell may have also been part of the same complex. Following the Dissolution: Chopwell was split into farms, with the rest, including Chopwell Woods being was reserved by the Crown in the later 16th century. Chopwell Woods were an important feature in the medieval period, when it is recorded that they were used to supply timber for castles such as Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, as well as for shipbuilding. A road made from tree trunks at Blackhall Mill (HER 5191) is thought to have been a roadway used for the transport of timber. The area settled into a an economy based largely on farming - West Chopwell farmhouse is probably of comparable date to the original Chopwell Hall, probably dating from the early 18th century. However, small-scale coal working using surface quarrying techniques probably occurred from an early period and became more important in the 18th century. A large number of coal shafts are marked on early Ordnance Survey maps around the village (e.g. HER 3390-4), and some survive as visible remains. Local wagonways used for the transportation of coal include the Bail Hill Wagonway (HER 3351) and the Chopwell Way (HER 3342). The 19th century saw the opening of Chopwell Colliery and Armondside brickworks (HER 3385), which it supplied with fuel. The Colliery remained in operation until 1960, using the Garesfield and Chopwell railway for coal transportation (HER 3465). Industrial development, particularly coal mining led to the construction of extensive housing developments, along with schools, chapels and other public buildings.      

Cleadon

The earliest recorded evidence of human activity at Cleadon is provided by prehistoric flint artifacts (HER 883). The first documentary reference to Cleadon village (HER 963) is in the Boldon Book of1183; it is also mentioned in Hatfield's Survey of 1380. However, since Cleadon is listed with Whitburn, it is not possible to give any idea of the number of tenants and holdings particular to either. Cleadon lies at the junction of 4 roads, from South Shields, Whitburn, Sunderland and from the west along the norht side of Boldon Flats. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey, which may represent its medieval and later layout, shows the village with a squarish outline and western extension; two rows face a very wide street with a pond, which is still there. A number of stone buildings survive to mark the core, though the outskirts are now much built up. Other medieval features of the village include ridge and furrow cultivation features on Cleadon Common Fields (HER 973 and 4911) and the now demolished Cleadon Tower (HER 964), which is thought to date to the 15th or 16th centuries. Five burials were discovered near to Cleadon Tower, perhaps members of the Chambers family from Cleadon House who were excommunicated from the church (HER 5452). A medieval bronze belt tag has also been found at Cleadon (HER 4614). During the 19th century, Tilesheads Farm brick kilns (HER 1582), a windmill (HER 1587), several limestone quarries (HER 2396 and 2399) and a water pumping station (HER 2480) were in operation. The water station opened in 1860 and is still in use pumping water to South Shields. The windmill was used as an artillery base in World War One after it went out of use. Features from the Second World War period include a pillbox, anti aircraft battery and a searchlight (HER 4652, 4912 and 5541). Cleadon was not heavily indistrialised and has retained its rural character with several farms and residences surviving, including Undercliff, West Hall Farm, Sunnyside Farm, West House and Moor Farm.

Crawcrook

No early human activity represented by archaeological finds is recorded from the centre of the village of Crawcrook, although it is reasonable to suggest that its location in the gently undulating river valley of major river, will have provided resources to sustain human settlement over several millennia. Indeed, the work of M. A. Cocks within 1 km of the village centre has produced abundant evidence, mainly in the form of flint artefacts, for the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (e.g. HER 529-539 and 531), while bronze age and iron age finds are also known in the area (see Blaydon and Ryton). The first documentary references to Crawcrook are in the Boldon Buke of 1183, showing that the village (HER 521) was well-established by that time, and included a mill. In the 13th century the bishop of Durham granted the vill to Kepier Hospital, and later historians seem agreed that Crawcrook then came to be divided between the Hospital, and the Horsley family; the Horsleys holding, among other things, the manor of Bradley. In 1794, when the open fields were enclosed, there were said to be 12 ancient farms. Early maps show that the village was of two-row plan, which means that either side of the main street was lined with tofts, each of which represented one farmstead or cottage with a strip of land running back to a parallel back lane. A feature from medieval Crawcrook is Crawcrook Mill (HER 525), a water corn mill referred to in the Boldon Buke (above). In 1800 it was referred to in the enclosure award, but has since been demolished. Coal mining was probably important as a supplement to the agricultural economy from the medieval period, and was certainly a major industry by the early 17th century. The Crawcrook Wagonway, which ran from Crawcrook to Townley Main Colliery, is thought to predate 1640, therefore very early in the history of railway development, and remained in use until the 1850s. The Stanleyburn Bridge (HER 3627), still in use today, was built by 1766 to carry the Gateshead to Hexham Road across the Stanley Burn. It was the main point of crossing until the late 1840s when a new bridge was constructed, leaving the older one to be used by pedestrians. The later history of the village is dominated by coal mining, which in turn led to the increasing size of the village in the 19th and early 20th centuries as terraced housing for workers was erected. Other amenties followed, such as a Catholic church for the large number of Irish immigrants attracted to the coal mines.