Town had a vital role in our social history

With new homes springing up in the area, Newton Aycliffe is fast becoming the place to live for commuters.

With new homes springing up in the area, Newton Aycliffe is fast becoming the place to live for commuters. It has everything on its doorstep. Aranda Garrard finds out more.

IT’S been the site of battles, hardship and war, but today, Aycliffe is beautiful – a far cry from its historic past.

For centuries, Aycliffe was a poor farming village, then in 1825 George Stephenson built the Stockton and Darlington Railway, taking coal from the mines to the docks at Stockton.

During the Second World War, a secret arms factory was built on moorland between two tiny villages in County Durham. The Royal Ordnance Factory was mainly underground, and an underground railway connected the factories. Some of the original buildings still survive today.

The women who worked there were known as the Aycliffe Angels.

In 1948, Newton Aycliffe was born. The 1930s had seen economic depression in County Durham.

Local mines closed, pit villages became derelict and people were desperately poor. Homes lacked even basic facilities.

The government asked William Beveridge to produce a report on what he wanted Britain to be like after the war. He proposed a state system of social security benefits, a national health service, council housing, free education and full employment.

This was brought in all over Britain in 1948, but Beveridge chose the moors between Aycliffe and Middridge to be his shining example of how this would work. His flagship new town was Newton Aycliffe.

Beveridge hoped Newton Aycliffe would become the model for a perfect society.

Since its early days, the town has changed, from its first shopping centre at Neville Parade. to the modern Tesco store, youth centre and town centre park.

Craig Peterson, managing partner of Carlton Exclusive, based in Newton Aycliffe industrial estate, said: “The main beauty of the area is accessibility. You’re right on the A1, Newcastle is only 30 minutes away, Durham is a 15-minute drive.

“I travel a lot throughout the region, so it’s an ideal base.

“Newton Aycliffe itself is in the middle of a redevelopment and there are new homes being built in the surrounding areas.

“I live in Aycliffe Village which dates back to Norman times.

“It has a lovely pub and restaurant called The County. Tony Blair has even been spotted there.

“There are plenty of things to see and do. Teesdale isn’t far away with High Force waterfall, and there’s also Bowes Museum and Barnard Castle to see.

“If you’re looking for somewhere with everything on your doorstep, then Aycliffe Village is the place to be. It’s very smart.

“There’s a great primary school, making it an ideal spot for families with young children.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer