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Tudhoe & Spennymoor, County Durham

Situated on the south side of the Wear Valley, midway between the ancient settlements of Bishop Auckland and Durham, Spennymoor only came into existence during the mid 19C. Previously, eight villages, all now satellites of this small market town, surrounded the open common known as the Spenny Moor.  

Most of these, including Tudhoe, already existed when the Boldon Book, the North East’s equivalent to the earlier Domesday Book, was compiled in 1183.  

650 years later, exploitation of County Durham’s mineral wealth, principally its huge reserves of coal, began to help satisfy the needs of Britain’s industrial revolution. This resulted in the creation or expansion of many towns and villages in the eastern half of the County.  Spennymoor is one such example of this change. 

By 1840, coal pits were being sunk around the Moor, soon accompanied by houses to accommodate the ever growing number of miners. An iron and steel works quickly followed, established here to exploit the large quantities of coal now being produced around the expanding settlement. While never completely absorbing any of the villages, it is now physically linked to Tudhoe. 

By the turn of the 21C, coal and steel had long given way to service and manufacturing industries while the expanded town now also functioned more widely as a dormitory to the large coastal conurbations set around the mouths of the Tyne, Wear and Tees. It is from the combined settlements of Tudhoe and Spennymoor that the Local History Society was formed late in 1998.

Origins of the Tudhoe & Spennymoor Local History Society

Tudhoe & Spennymoor Local History Society owes its existence to Joyce Urwin who, in October 2010 became only its second President. It was she who mounted an exhibition at the Tudhoe Show in September 1988, proposing formation of a local history society in Spennymoor. On 16th December that same year she hosted the inaugural Committee meeting of the newly formed society in her shop, Poppies, situated in King Street, Spennymoor.

At that meeting it was resolved that William Fleming - whose Great Grandfather had become the first Land Agent for the Croxdale Estate after travelling down from the Borders by stagecoach to take up the position on 2nd. January, 1844 - be elected the Society’s first President. Duncan MacIntosh was made Chairman while other appointments included Joyce Urwin as Secretary and Treasurer, Maureen McKellar as Meetings Secretary and John Banham and Tony Smith as Meeting Recorders. 

Since that time the Society has had three further Chairmen – Tony Coia, Joyce Urwin and Tony Smith - while Sylvia Wright and John Banham took over Joyce Urwin’s duties of Secretary and Treasurer respectively when she became Chairman. Since 1989, meetings have been held monthly, initially in Tudhoe Community Centre and later in St. David’s Parish Hall, Tudhoe, where attendances now regularly number around fifty.

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