A FORMER geologist swapped exploring for oil and gas for exploring history to write a book about the development of his home town of Newton Aycliffe.

Author Stephen Creaney was first inspired to write the book three years ago after joining the Facebook group ‘A Photographic History of Newton Aycliffe’.

He said: “I’d always been interested in history and I hooked up with this Facebook group.

“People were asking questions on there which I didn’t know the answers to. So I just started looking stuff up – and then I saw a quote that there isn’t a really good history of Newton Aycliffe.”

A well-known book on Newton Aycliffe by Vera Chapman consists mainly of photographs, but Mr Creaney wanted to really delve into the history of the town.

His starting point was the archive of Lord William Beveridge, one of the architects of the Welfare State and the driving force behind the establishment of the new town after the Second World War.

The Northern Echo: Lord beveridge cutting the first sod in the new town in 1948Lord beveridge cutting the first sod in the new town in 1948

He scoured the Beveridge files in the London School of Economics and spent the next three years researching for the book and sourcing photographs.

Born in Clarence Green, Newton Aycliffe, in 1952 – when the town was in its infancy – Mr Creaney attended Sugar Hill school and then Ferryhill Grammar, before studying geology at Durham University.

He spent his career in the oil industry working mainly in Canada and Malaysia, before returning to the UK and settling in Somerset. He has maintained his links to his home town and is a frequent visitor.

The Northern Echo: Sugar Hill school under construction in 1954Sugar Hill school under construction in 1954

The book is written in chronological order and is divided into chapters, starting in the pre-railway era, through the 1950s and 60s and ending in more modern times.

He has financed the publishing of the book himself and proceeds from its sale will go to a local charity, yet to be decided.

Mr Creaney, 67, said: “I really enjoyed writing it. I used to be in exploration as a geologist, looking for oil and gas – in a similar way this was an exploration of historical information.

“It looks really good and I’ve had some good feedback, particularly on Facebook – people have said they really like it.”

l Newton Aycliffe: A Long History of a New Town, priced £12.99, is available from the Newton Press offices on St. Cuthberts Way, Newton Aycliffe, or send an email to: sales@newtonpress.net