Of the twenty or so farms that could be found in the Bowburn area at the start of the 19th century, many have disappeared. Some gave way, in whole or in part, to industrial, residential and infrastructural developments. Others were merged or absorbed into larger units.
Following the Tithe Commutation Act, 1836, the ancient system of paying tithes in kind (crops, eggs, cattle, timber, fishing, etc.) was replaced by monetary payments.
Tithe Maps were were produced, so all properties could be valued, to determine how much should be paid.
The Tithe Apportionments shows who “owned” (or leassed from the Bishop of Durham) which farm fields and other properties, and who was farming (i.e. occupying) them.
A summary of the 1839 Quarrington tithe apportionments is shown below.
Field boundaries, even allowing for the removal of hedgerows to combine many of them, have been remarkably constant for some 200 years. However farms, too, have combined, and individual fields have changed hands. It is therefore difficult to provide a single map to show the areas covered by each farm over a long period.
The map above attempts to show where most of the farm boundaries were on the 1850s first edition of the Ordnance Survey map.
The map below shows those same boundaries over a modern satellite view.
(Note: Not all farm boundaries have yet been identified.)
19th century farms shown on today’s satellite view (thanks to Google maps)
1. Bowburn farm
2. Brandon Hill farm
3. Cassop Grange farm
4. Cornforth Moor farm
5. Cornforth Moor House farm
6. Crowtrees Tilery
7. Crowtrees farm
8. Heugh Hall farm
9. Hill Top farm
10. Hoggersgate farm
11. Lambs Close farm
12. Paradise farm (re-named The Willows in 1926)
13. Park Hill farm
14. Peat Edge farm
15. Quarrington farm
16. Quarrington Grange farm
17. South Grange farm
18. Standalone farm
19. Tursdale [House] farm
20. Whitwell East farm
21. Whitwell House farm
22. Whitwell South farm
Willows farm [see Paradise farm]
The Bowburn area farms are listed below. Most of the farms in Cassop, Coxhoe, Cornforth and Shincliffe are not included, not least because those villages have their own local history societies. Some are, however, where they seem most relevant to Bowburn’s own history.
Many farms are known locally, not by their formal names but by the names of the farmers who are or were most associated with them. In those cases, their names have been included.
Bowburn farm, aka the Colliery farm (“John Hare’s farm”). The farmhouse was Bowburn Hall / Bowburn House – a magnificent stone building which is not to be confused with today’s Bowburn Hall Hotel. It was situated at the bottom of “John Hare’s Drive”, now on Bowburn South Industrial Estate. The fields farmed gave way first to Bowburn Colliery, then to part of Bowburn council estate and later to Bowburn North Industrial Estate. (Size in 1905: 114.3 acres.)
Brandon Hill farm (“Wearmouth’s farm”). In Cornforth parish (even today!) but included some fields in the Tursdale colliery area. The farmhouse is a timber-framed building of some antiquity, recently clad with stone. Not to be confused with Brandon House farm, with is south of the Metal Bridge to Coxhoe road.
Cassop Grange farm. The farmhouse is near the Sherburn road bridge over the A1 motorway. Some of the farm was lost when the motorway was built in the 1960s. Part was an opencast coal mine in the 1990s but was later restored. The farm was most recently worked by Alan Whitburn, who died in 2015.
Cornforth Moor farm. The farmhouse is south of the motorway and part of the farm was lost when that was built. (Size in 1957: 89.298 acres.)
See Cornforth Moor farm for Census records of farmers at this farm.
Cornforth Moor House farm (“Dixon’s farm”). The farmhouse is north of the motorway, though much of its acreage is to the north. Hence “Dixon’s Bridge”, the accommodation bridge between Park Hill and Peat Edge. (Size in 1930s: 32 acres.)
See Cornforth Moor House farm for Census records of farmers at this farm.
Crowtrees Tilery. “Crowtrees”, the house next to “The Forge”, opposite the motorway service station, was once the tile sheds associated with a 19th century brick and tile works to the south west (before you reach the sewage treatment works). Its original occupants, as a dwelling, were described as Tile Manufacturers and Farmers. The fields in question (only 30 acres) were probably part of what was later included in Cornforth Moor House farm. (Size in 1922: 28 acres.)
Crowtrees farm. The original farmhouse doubled as the Wheatsheaf Inn, though a separate pub was built in the late 19th century. This farm has disappeared completely. Its fields gave way to the colliery streets, the recreation ground, much of the Bowburn council estate and then Bowburn Modern School (later Landsdowne Comprehensive lower school) before becoming the Croxdale Park housing estate. (Size in 1904: 63 acres.)
See Crowtrees farm of Crowtrees farm and the Wheatsheaf.
Heugh Hall farm (“Harry Story’s farm”) survives, though it is farmed, together with Whitwell House farm, by Stephen Kemp. The farmhouse is just west of the new A688 Bowburn-Wheatley Hill link road. (Size in 1946: 275 acres.)
Hill Top farm (“Laing’s farm”). The remains of the farmhouse can still be seen east of the heugh (the magnesium limestone spur locally known as “Big Wood”), between Heugh Hall farm and Old Quarrington quarry). The farm was absorbed into Quarrington Farm (q.v.) in second half of the 20th century.
See Detailed history of Hill Top farm
Hoggersgate farm. No farmland is now associated with the farmhouse, which is just south of Tursdale business park. Folklore has it that, when Tursdale Colliery was first sunk in the 1860s, it would have been called “Hoggersgate Colliery”, had one of the Bell Brothers’ wives not objected to the coarseness of that name.
Lambs Close farm (“Hodgson’s farm”). The site of the farmhouse, which was always painted white, is now beneath the motorway southbound exit slip road. It had already been absorbed into Bowburn farm some thirty years earlier. Its fields included what are now Grange Park Crescent etc. and the football fields. (Size in 1921: 37.33 acres.)
See Detailed history of Lamb’s Close farm and the Pit Laddie Inn.
Paradise farm (re-named The Willows in 1926). In Coxhoe parish. Became part of Park Hill farm in the 1960s. Famous for being the source of the Coxhoe typhoid epidemic in 1906. It was re-named in 1926 because its new owner, Major Walter Dodds, thought it was nothing like paradise! He was the first to use deep litter farming, with huge sheds, and up to 30,000 hens. (Size in 1967: 56 acres.)
Park Hill farm (“Oxley’s farm”). The original farmhouse had to be demolished when running sand meant that it was too near the northbound entry slip road of the A1(M). Although a couple of fields remain (including one that was re-purchased), most of the farm disappeared first under housing in Durham Road West, Bowburn, and houses along the main road to Coxhoe; then under the Council estate and other housing at Park Hill; then the motorway, and finally the Roadchef service station. (Size in 1881: 295 acres. Size in 1967: 42 acres.)
Peat Edge farm (“Stephenson’s farm”). The farm house is near the edge of the old Park Hill farm, west of the Tursdale road. The farm is largely intact, though it has been sold for development as the Durham Green business park and is now farmed, by Alan Stephenson, from Broom Hill farm. (Size in 1946: 60 acres.)
Quarrington farm (“Roger Story’s farm”). Although the farmhouse was on the south of the OQ settlement, the fields were mostly north of the OQ road from Bowburn. It took in the former Hill Top farm early in the 20th century and was combined with Quarrington Grange farm in the 1980s. The combined farm is now known as Quarrington farm, farmed by the Johnson family. A new farmhouse was built in about 2010. (Size in 1851: 380 acres.)
Quarrington Grange farm (“Oliver’s farm”). Although the farmhouse was on the north of the OQ settlement, the fields were mostly south of the OQ road from Bowburn, between Park Hill and Old Quarrington quarry. It was combined with Quarrington farm in the 1980s and the whole farm is now known as Quarrington farm. (Size in 1851: 300 acres.)
South Grange farm (“Johnston’s farm”). Although this farm was originally all in Shincliffe parish, much of it has been absorbed into Bowburn. This included the land used to build the northern part of Bowburn council estate and then both PC Henderson’s and Cape Universal’s factories, followed by much of the rest of Bowburn North Industrial Estate.
Standalone farm. The site of the farmhouse (possibly once a mediaeval moated building, owned by Eustace de Balliol) disappeared under what is now the A688, when the Tursdale road was straightened in the 1970s. The farm itself had ceased to operate independently around 1900. Part was developed for housing at Tursdale. The rest is believed to have been absorbed by Brandon House farm. (Size in 1901: 65 acres.)
Tursdale [House] farm (“Stevenson’s farm”). The farmhouse, near Hett Mill, is the only listed building in Cassop-cum-Quarrington parish. The farm is still intact, though part of it could give way to part of a rail-freight interchange in due course. (Size in 1861: 270 acres.)
See Detailed history of Tursdale House.
Whitwell East farm (“Sedgewick’s farm”). In Sherburn parish. Still intact. One field was part of an opencast coal mine in the 1990s but was later restored.
Whitwell House farm. In Sherburn parish. Still intact. Farmhouse beside the motorway north of Cassop Grange. Now farmed by Stephen Kemp, of Heugh Hall farm, since his father died. (Size in 1987: 298 acres.)
Whitwell South farm. In Sherburn parish. Now part of Whitwell House farm (again). The former farmhouse is a dwelling now unconnected with the farm. (Size in 1987: 51 acres.)
Willows farm [see Paradise farm]