THERE are at least a couple of places called Croxdale, which is just to the south of Durham, and a little to the west on the Wear from Shincliffe, which featured here last week.

The oldest Croxdale is around Croxdale Hall, the home of the Salvin family. This settlement dates from the 12th Century, and includes the village’s first church – Catholic, of course, like the Salvin family.

But on the A167 is the second Croxdale – a proper colliery village.

The first borings in the area were carried out about a mile north of Croxdale at Farewell Hall in 1837 and a pit opened near there in 1845. Its coal was taken away by a wagonway powered by a stationary engine. The wagonway ran east through a tunnel beneath the wooded Hollingside Hall to Houghall and then on to Shincliffe where it joined the line to Sunderland.

It must have been an expensive operation, especially as this pit only lasted 20 or so years.

However, the coming of the mainline in the 1870s – crossing the Wear over Croxdale viaduct – encouraged another go at mining, and in 1875, the Weardale Iron and Coal Company created a second Croxdale Colliery, this time to the south of the river.

The colliery chimney, which lasted into living memory, had the date 1875 prominently displayed in which bricks overlooking the A167 which was then the Great North Road.

A colliery village sprung up along the road – this is what most people today think of as Croxdale.

By the turn of the century, the colliery, which was also known as Thornton Pit, employed more than 400 men, and they lived in houses that nodded to the old – Salvin Terrace – as well as the new: Rogerson Terrace is named in deference to the director of the coal company, Captain John Rogerson, who lived at Mount Oswald.

Durham mining peaked around the time of the First World War, and Croxdale Colliery succumbed to the subsequent slump, and it was abandoned in the mid 1930s.

Like Shincliffe, Croxdale then had to battle to reshape itself. Its battle was complicated by the dawn of the motor car and the major road running through it. As early as the 1930s, there were plans of moving the road from the west of Durham City to the east, and work finally started on the “Durham motorway” in 1958. The full 22 miles opened from Darlington to Chester-le-Street in September 1969 and the Croxdale area was finally free of the traffic carnage that regularly filled its streets.

THE name Croxdale is interesting, It could come from an Old English word, "krokr", which, like the town of Crook, refers to bends, or crooks, in the river. Another theory is that Krokr was the name of a landowner who had a crooked back. This would mean the place name is "Krokr's tail", where a "tail" is a Scottish word for a piece of land that juts out. Could the course of the Wear here be said to follow such a pattern?

FOLLOWING last week’s article about Shincliffe, John Harper of Durham, who used to live in High Shincliffe, writes: “You refer several times to "High Shincliffe", which I believe is a modern renaming. I believe it was a term invented to make the place sound more desirable when the first of the modern housing developments, Hill Meadows, started in the early 1960s.

“Prior to that it had been known for over a century as Shincliffe Colliery.

“In fact the old red telephone box outside what was then High Shincliffe Post Office carried its location label of "Shincliffe Colliery" right up to when it was removed in the mid 1980s.

“You also refer to High Shincliffe as being called "Bank Top", but this term was also adopted by the locals as a part-way upgrade in terminology. There is a house named "Bank Top" on High Street in High Shincliffe, but this is a modern in-fill house, having been built some 150 years after its neighbours.”


BY happy coincidence, having written this little piece about Croxdale, we turned to the Darlington & Stockton Times of October 27, 1945 - 75 years ago this week - and the headline "Death of Captain JC Rogerson at Hurworth" caught the eye. This Capt Rogerson was the son of the Capt John Edwin Rogerson of Mount Oswald in Durham who was the director of the Croxdale Colliery.

The obituary said how Capt JC Rogerson had won the Military Cross with the 15th Hussars in France during the First World War. A keen huntsman, he was the son-in-law of Lord Zetland, and lived firstly at Kirkbank, in Middleton Tyas, and then moved to Hurworth House on the centre of that village's green.

During the Second World War, Capt Rogerson had led the establishment of Darlington's Local Defence Volunteers, and had been the commander of the Darlington Home Guard. He was 51 when he died, and the following year, Hurworth House became a preparatory school.