A look back at Durham's history through rarely seen pictures

Written by retired Durham University lecturer Douglas Pocock, The Story of Durham takes a look at thousands of years of history and Durham’s impact on the world

 

Rarely-seen pictures of a changing Durham have been unveiled as an author charts the city’s history.

The photographs have been included in a new book which looks at Durham from the prehistoric age up to the present day.

Written by retired Durham University lecturer Douglas Pocock, The Story of Durham takes a look at thousands of years of history and Durham’s impact on the world.

Through more than 120 illustrations the book shows how Durham’s landscape has changed over time, paying particular attention to the formation of Durham Cathedral.

Dr Pocock, who moved to the city around 40 years ago to teach Geography at the university, said: “The book is written out of four decades of acquaintance with the city, during which time I was privileged to work in the university’s geography department and be secretary of the City of Durham Trust.

“During this time the inquisitiveness of an newcomer matured into a deeper form of engagement, appreciation and caring.

“The book tells the story of how Durham came to be by looking at chunks of time, from the formation of its dramatic physical setting up to the present day, to assess the contribution which each made to the city we see today.”

One chapter named Durham Distilled tells the story of three early Norman bishops, who were responsible for the establishment of the cathedral, monastery and castle. William of St Calais survived a treason charge, Rannulph Flambard escaped from imprisonment in the Tower of London and Hugh of Le Puiset was enthroned below the canonical age for a bishop and having already fathered three children by different mothers.

Another chapter takes a look at Durham in the 1650s when Letters Patent were issued for England’s third university in Durham, but the end of the Commonwealth, plus opposition from Oxbridge, killed the project at birth.

The book also looks at the history of the city’s railways and how it took 70 years before it had a direct link to London.

Dr Pocock said: “Over the time I have got to know the city well and care for it. It gives a picture of the evolution of the city. I have written other books on the history of Durham and I was delighted when the publishers asked me to write this book.”

Dr Pocock is a well-published local writer. He is Reader Emeritus in Geography at the University of Durham and is honorary secretary of the City of Durham Trust.

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