TOM HUTCHINSON has been compiling local history books about the Bishop Auckland area for 19 years, and each year he says his latest book will be his last because he is running out of pictures.

And yet for 2018 he has found another 250 new pictures of Bishop Auckland and District, some of which are truly startling, as this selection shows.

As well as Bishop, the book covers the villages of the valleys: Wear Valley, from Escomb to Harperley; Gaunless Valley, from West Auckland to Butterknowle, and Dene Valley, from Auckland Park to Eldon, plus Coundon and Leeholme.

The book costs £9.50, and is also available from Etheringtons, Cockton Hill News, Bishop Trains and Bondgate Books, all in Bishop Auckland, plus Sheldons in Willington and Ann Gilligan in Cockfield, and online at

This remarkable picture from the book, showing the unveiling of Newfield war memorial, near Willington, on Saturday, August 19, 1922.


Sitting scribbling on the decking may even be The Northern Echo reporter who compiled the piece for the following Monday's paper which told how the "handsome granite war memorial" had been erected in a new recreation ground on land given by the colliery owners, Bolckow, Vaughan and Company.

The ground was opened by John Carroll, the colliery under-manager and treasurer of the War Memorial Committee, which had raised £325 from villagers for the monument. The monument was unveiled by WW Storr, director of Bolckow, Vaughan – is that him holding forth on the dais?

The event was presided over by MH Watkin, chairman of the fund-raising committee, and addresses were given by the Anglican rector, the Reverend FE Loxley, and the Methodist minister, the Reverend FR Brunskill.

The Echo reported that the small village had sent 170 men to the front, and the names of the 21 who did not return were engraved on the memorial. There are now 23 on the memorial, as those of Matthew Elliott and Thomas Pratt appear to have been added at a later date.

Then, of course, came the Second World War, and three more names were added on a new face of men killed in that conflict.