Before Bell Brothers Ltd sunk Bowburn Colliery (1906-08) and the colliery village was built to accommodate its workforce, Bowburn was a small hamlet north of Crowtrees (now the Cooperage Inn). In the 1890s, Bowburn and the surrounding area consisted of no more than 11 stone cottages, 5 farms, 1 large private house, 3 ale houses and a blacksmith’s forge.

The original Bowburn, circled on a modern (c.2010) map (with thanks to Google Maps)

Bowburn in 1850s (OS 1st edition)

Bowburn in 1850s (OS 1st edition)

Bell Brothers built the first colliery rows – Durham Road, Steavenson Street, Clarence Street, Wylam Street and Walker Street – between 1906 and 1908. The photograph below shows them to the left of Durham Road, from across a field now occupied by Bowburn Medical Centre and Bowburn Community Centre.

These first colliery rows are circled in red, below. In about 1923, Bow Street and Burn Street (circled in blue) were added, as well as Bell Bros’ Agent’s house, Bowburn Grange (now Bowburn Hall Hotel) – circled in green.

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While some private houses had been built in the colliery’s early days along Durham Road West, and some at the south end of Park Hill, many more followed in the 1930s (circled in blue, below). These were in Crowtree (aka Crowtrees, aka Crow Trees) Lane (possibly built by Kenny & Parker Ltd); in Romaine Square, Tweddle Terrace & Castle Street (built by E.M. Tweddle Ltd, of West Hartlepool); in Grange Park Crescent, Lansdowne Crescent & Neville Terrace (built by Wm Forster, of Houghton-le-Spring, & Wm Rutherford, of Sunderland); in Oxford Terrace & Cambridge Terrace (built by Lane Fox & Co. Ltd, of Norton-on-Tees), and in Edna Street.

More significantly for the future of the village, Durham Rural District Council also started building houses (circled in red) at Park Hill and in Heugh Hall Row at Old Quarrington.

Council house building increased enormously in the 1950s, to accommodate the growing number of miners who had been traveling from all directions – from surrounding villages and from Durham and Spennymoor – to work at the expanding colliery. (281 miners were employed there in 1908; 724 in 1930, and 2,432 in 1958.)

Further private housing estates were built from the 1970s onwards. (These are circled in blue, below. Council houses built in the 1950s and ’60s are circled in red.) Much of the private housing built after 2000 was on sites cleared of Council houses as part of a regeneration project conducted by Durham City Council and the Durham Villages Regeneration Company.

The population of Bowburn and the rest of Quarrington (including Old Quarrington, Heugh Hall and Park Hill) had risen from about 200 in 1901, to over 1,600 in 1911 and about 4,200 in 2011.

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