Film ID:
NEFA 21225



Visitor Tabs


This amateur travelogue focuses on rural and picturesque (non-industrial) locations along the River Wear, from source in the Upper Weardale hills to the industrial river mouth at the North Sea, and the coastline from Tynemouth to the Roker lighthouse. Footage includes sequences on farming in Upper Weardale, fluorspar mining, quarrying for ganister stone, quilting in the dales, church architecture, Durham Cathedral, Raby and Brancepeth castles, Durham Regatta and the famous Durham Miners' Gala at its most popular. This film was a Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) production, probably led by George Cummin.

Title: Downstream Through Durham (title over old map)

Title: A Journey down the River Wear (with side trips) which we hope will prove that County Durham means much more than Shipbuilding and Mining

Title: High among the hills of the Durham – Cumberland border the Kilhope [sic.] and Burnhope Burns rise. Where they unite the River Wear begins –

The film begins with general views of the hilly landscape of Upper Weardale, the Burnhope Burn, and Burnhope Reservoir, and nearby villages (possibly Cowshill).

Shot of the Wearhead road sign on the B6295 road and of the main road through the village.

General views of the River Wear in its upper reaches, just a rocky stream. A stone bridge straddles the river. General view of farms nestled in the hills.

A farmer leads a cow through a farmyard. A farmer’s wife grapples with a young calf. She lets a calf suckle on her fingers. A farmer digs up a field of potatoes. A sheepdog and farmer herd up a flock of sheep.

Title: Though obviously a farming district it has some rather unusual industries. The Romans, they say, got lead from this mine -

Miners emerge from the dark of an old lead mine entrance, possibly at Blackdene Mine, their miners’ lamps glowing in the gloom. One miner rides with a short train of tubs pulled by a pit pony.

Title: It now produces fluorspar for the Steel industry – lead is only a bye-product – and is blended so well with its surroundings that it passes unnoticed in the general picture –

General views of a field of cattle and the village of St John’s Chapel in the landscape. Shot of road sign for St John’s Chapel on the B6293. General view of town and a road sign in the town pointing to nearby locations – Langdon Beck, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Alston and Allendale.

Title: This road to the south is the highest in England. It serves another industry peculiar to Durham – quarrying ganister stone, again for the steel trade -

Men quarry for stone, a dumper truck nearby. A sequence of shots records the setting of explosives in the rock face, the blast itself, the loading of rock by hand onto a truck, and the washing down of the rock on the truck using a hose.

Title: This washing water, reaching the Wear by way of Harthope Burn, joins us on our trip downstream –

A woman walks down to the Harthope Burn. General views follow of the upper reaches of the River Wear and Eastgate Falls.

Title: Eastgate’s falls are quite charming but for a real waterfall we must go across the fells to Teesdale and Caldron[sic] Snout -

General views of the bleak upper Teesdale Valley and of a couple of men perched on top of the Cauldron Snout falls on the upper reaches of the River Tees, immediately below the dam of the Cow Green Reservoir. General views follow of the waterfall.

Title: This is shared with Yorkshire, of course, but it is big enough to stand it, as is High Force, some miles lower down the river –

General views of the powerful High Force waterfall, near Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Title: The road back into Weardale brings us out above the dale’s capital – Stanhope -

General views of the hills around Stanhope and the town itself nestled in a valley. A signpost reads Stanhope B6278 I mile. General views of a ford with stepping stones across the River Wear, and of the small market town, including its church.

Title: -but we must not leave the upper dale without mention of the craft of Durham quilting –

Sarah Annie Peart walks outside on a windy day around St John's Chapel and drapes a hand-crafted quilt over a chair in the garden. Details of the stitching are shown. Her grandaughter joins her outside with another example of a quilt. Sarah Annie and her granddaughters pose with examples of their quilted work.

Title: Possibly the ladies get their colours and designs from the local wild flowers –

A woman picks a bunch of wild primroses. The many varieties of wild flowers in the local region are shown.

Title: Up among the broom you might come across raw material of yet another local trade – Shetland ponies for the mines –

Shetland ponies graze in a field.

Title: Away below them the valley is opening out and we come to Wolsingham –

Various general views follow of Wolsingham follow – the church, Whitfield Place on Front Street, where there are three cottages, one dated 1677 and with the initials 'DM'.

Title: This ancient town is modern enough to have a steelworks although along the river there is little sign of this –

General views of the picturesque River Wear where a group of boys plunge in for a swim, one-by-one.

Title: On the south bank at Escomb is one of England’s oldest churches. The nearby Roman camp of Vinoria provided the stone to build it –

General views of the exterior of Escomb Church

Title: A few miles further south there are other historic buildings – Staindrop Church –

General views of the exterior of Staindrop Church including close-up of an Anglo-Saxon sundial, built into the chancel.

Title: Barnard’s castle and town –

General view looking towards the stone bridge at Barnard Castle. There’s a close-up of a sign for Raby Castle and general exterior views of the castle.

Title: Barnard and Raby covered the old road to the North – Dere Street – and another link in this military chain was Brancepeth Castle –

General views follow of an ivy covered row of cottages and the imposing Brancepeth Castle with grand entrance.

Title: But Whitworth Hall is more of a naval HQ – the seagoing Bobby Shafto lived here –

General views of the exterior of the country house, Whitworth Hall, on the outskirts of Spennymoor and shots of the resident fallow deer wandering around the parkland and near an ornamental pond. General view of an imposing stone bridge over the River Wear.

Title: Leaving the Wear to make a very winding approach, we go direct to one of Britain’s most famous views – Durham Cathedral from the railway –

General views of Durham Cathedral. Three women look at the sanctuary knocker on the Cathedral’s northern door. There are shots of statues above an entrance, a stained glass window from the interior, an interior courtyard, the lawn in Palace Green, cottages, the tower and an overhead view from the Cathedral of Durham City and the River Wear.

Title: Coming down to earth again we find that all the old town’s streets seem to lead eventually to the river –

General views of a Durham street, possibly Silver Street, Durham Market Place with the 1861 statue of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, and another street leading from the Market Place, possibly Elvet Street (with shops including Dewhurst the butchers). General view of Elvet Bridge over the Wear, and people boating and rowing on the river.

Title: A quiet scene – but the Regatta, claimed to be the oldest in the country brings Durham people flocking to the river banks –

General view of viewing stands for the Durham Regatta set up on a pedestrian bridge over the Wear, possibly Baths Bridge. People lounge on a grassy river bank. Various shots record the boat teams competing on the river, the regatta taking place on the 14 May and including Durham ABC and Hatfield College teams.

Title: And for the Miners’ Gala each July the city centre is completely closed to wheeled traffic, for obvious reasons –

The streets of Durham city centre are crammed with crowds of people during the Miners' Gala, possibly on North Road looking towards the Viaduct, many women in summer dresses on a gloriously sunny day. Amongst the crowd, banners are carried in the procession. There are close-ups amidst the crowd, as the banners and a brass band pass by in the parade. A woman observes the parade. People are dancing and enjoying the parade. Two policemen chat together in the crowd. A teenage girl is carried on the shoulders of a male friend. Various shots from the crowd show National Union of Mineworkers banners, a brass band playing trombones, the Beamish Air Lodge banner. The parade moves through Market Place, the main assembly point for the march to Old Elvet, and downhill on Sadler Street, towards the Elvet Bridge.

There are huge crowds at Durham Racecourse as everyone assembles after the parade. A woman is spread-eagled on the grass, her face shaded against the sun, whilst a group of older people are sitting on a low wall behind her. Close-up of a boy eating an ice-cream amongst the crowd of adults. Various shots follow of the racecourse crowd, the “parked” banners, people enjoying picnics, holding balloons. A band’s brass instruments are discarded beneath a banner. One of the banner bearers looks out over the crowd. Close-ups of children enjoying the Gala. A clown musician entertains the crowd. Women in summer frocks sip soft drinks at a stall. A man sells balloons at the racecourse.

People make their way back along the streets after the event, the focus on some of the children in the crowd. A balloon seller in a toy clown’s hat blows up a balloon. A child clings on to his balloon decorated with two caricature African boys.

Back at the racecourse, there are still crowds enjoying the day, a Valentines ice cream van parked at the edge of the field.

Title: As evening falls we go on downstream once more for a last look at the Cathedral –

General views of Elvet Bridge at dusk, and of Durham Cathedral.

Title: From here to the sea industry is more and more in evidence but there is also much that is worth seeing. Historic castles and houses – Lumley, Lambton, Hylton –

General views of Lumley Castle and Lambton Castle. Close-ups of heraldic details on the west façade of Hylton castle. There are also shots of the Washington Arms pub and Washington Old Hall.

Title: Ancient religious establishments, some in ruins, as at Finchale and Hylton, others still in use –

There are shots of the Finchale Priory ruins and a church board for the Parish Church of Saint Paul Jarrow, “The Home of the Venerable Bede from AD 685 – 735”. General views of the church follow. A man wanders around the ruins of St Paul’s monastery next to the church.

Next, there’s a sign for Monkwearmouth Parish Church and general views follow.

Title: In its last few miles before Sunderland and its shipping the river still has pleasant reaches with their own kinds of activity –

Pleasure boats, speedboats, a water skier and canoeist enjoy leisure time on the River Wear, towards the outskirts of Sunderland.

Shot from across the river, general view of Penshaw Monument, a Victorian folly replica of an ancient Greek temple with Doric columns, on Penshaw Hill between the districts of Washington and Houghton-le-Spring,

Title: High above them stands Penshaw’s never completed monument and from it Durham’s coastline is in view. It stretches from the Tyne’s mouth in the north to the Tees in the south.

After a general view of the countryside, this section looks at coastline locations starting at a quite empty beach at South Shields looking towards Tynemouth, sailing on a river, Marsden Rock with its distinctive arch down the coast south of South Shields, various sandy coves moving down the coast, sand dunes, and a children’s competition on a beach, perhaps a treasure hunt. On an empty beach (not identified) an old boat has been transformed into a home, its chimney smoking. There’s also a shot of the Roker lighthouse at the end of a harbour breakwater.

Title: - and, midway along this coast, past the ships and cranes of Sunderland, our travels come to an end as our river comes to the sea –

Shipyards and cranes line the banks and coast at the mouth of the River Wear. There’s a shot of the harbour and Roker Lighthouse. The film ends with a shot zooming out to the North Sea.

Title: Our journey downstream has revealed a little of non-industrial Durham. To anyone who did not know this historic country, we hope it may be a signpost to many more discoveries.

Title: The End

[The quilter is Sarah Annie Peart and her grandaughters. She lived at The Garage, Hood Street, St John's Chapel and her husband, Joseph Emerson Peart had the first ambulance in the Dale and was also a Wesleyan preacher.]