County Durham

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County Durham
County Durham UK locator map 2010.svg
Coordinates: 54°40′N1°50′W / 54.667°N 1.833°W / 54.667; -1.833 Coordinates: 54°40′N1°50′W / 54.667°N 1.833°W / 54.667; -1.833
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region North East England
Established Ancient
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament List
Police Durham Constabulary
Cleveland Police
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Susan Snowdon
High Sheriff David Andrew Gray [1] (2020–21)
Area2,721 km2 (1,051 sq mi)
  Ranked 18th of 48
Population (mid-2019 est.)866,846
  Ranked 26th of 48
Density324/km2 (840/sq mi)
Record high °C (°F)16.7
Average high °C (°F)6.9
Daily mean °C (°F)4.1
Average low °C (°F)1.3
Record low °C (°F)−17.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)51.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 60.984.4121.7160.8187.1167.1174.3167.3135.398.964.657.61,480
Source 1: Met Office [51] [52] [53]
Source 2: Durham Weather UK [54]

Green belt

County Durham contains a small area of green belt in the north of the county, surrounding primarily the city of Durham, Chester-le-Street and other communities along the shared county border with Tyne and Wear, to afford a protection from the Wearside conurbation. A smaller green belt separates Urpeth, Ouston, Pelton, and Perkinsville from Birtley in Tyne and Wear. A further small segment by the coast separates Seaham from the Sunderland settlements of Beckwith Green and Ryhope. It was first drawn up in the 1990s. [55]

North Pennines

The county contains a sizeable area of the North Pennines, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, primarily west of Tow Law and Barnard Castle. The highest point (county top) of historic County Durham is the trig point (not the summit) of Burnhope Seat, height 746 metres (2,448 ft), between Weardale and Teesdale on the border with historic Cumberland in the far west of the county. The local government reorganisation of 1974 placed the higher Mickle Fell south of Teesdale (the county top of Yorkshire) within the administrative borders of Durham (where it remains within the ceremonial county), although it is not generally recognised as the highest point of Durham.

The two main dales of County Durham (Teesdale and Weardale) and the surrounding fells, many of which exceed 2,000 feet (610 m) in height, are excellent hillwalking country, although not nearly as popular as the nearby Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks. The scenery is rugged and remote, and the high fells have a landscape typical of the Pennines with extensive areas of tussock grass and blanket peat bog in the west, with heather moorland on the lower slopes descending to the east. Hamsterley Forest near Crook is a popular recreational area for local residents.


152 species of birds are recorded as breeding; however, not all are considered regular breeders. [56]


County Durham, as considered a county for lieutenancy purposes by the Lieutenancies Act 1997, is administered as a part of the constituent country of England in the United Kingdom. [2] The area is appointed a lord lieutenant and a high sheriff.

The ceremonial county is divided into four administrative counties (see table below), one of which - Stockon-on-Tees - also extends into North Yorkshire. Technically, for administrative purposes, the County of Durham only consists of the area goverened by Durham County Council. [57] The three other areas are counties in their own right. [58] [59]

Area nameCouncilCouncil headquartersEstablished
Durham Durham County Council County Hall, Durham1 April 2009 [57]
Borough of Darlington Darlington Borough Council c. 1995 [58]
Stockton-on-Tees Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council c. 1995 [59]
Hartlepool Hartlepool Borough Council c. 1995 [59]

The county is partially parished. The city of Durham is the most populous settlement in the county to have a parish. Multiple parishes are styled as having town councils: Billingham (in Stockton Borough), Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Chilton, Ferryhill, Great Aycliffe (Newton Aycliffe), Greater Willington, Peterlee, Seaham, Sedgefield, Shildon, Spennymoor, Stanley and Tow Law. [60]

1836 to 1889

The county was aligned to other historic counties of England from 1836 until 1889; multiple acts were passed removing exclaves, splitting the county from the bishopric and reforming its structure.

1889 to 1974

The ceremonial county and administrative county were created under the Local government act 1888 in 1889. Darlington, Gateshead, West Hartlepool (later known as Hartlepool), South Shields and Sunderland became county boroughs during the administrative counties years of administrating; each remained in the ceremonial county while outside of the administrative county.

The ceremonial county remained under the same borders as the historic county until 1968 when the County Borough of Teesside formed. Ceremonial duties of the borough (which were made up of areas from two counties) were in the North Riding of Yorkshire ceremonial county. [61]

1974 to 1996

Banner of Durham County Council since 1974, based on the council's coat of arms. This was used as County Durham's unofficial flag until an official flag was adopted in 2013. Flag of Durham County Council.svg
Banner of Durham County Council since 1974, based on the council's coat of arms. This was used as County Durham's unofficial flag until an official flag was adopted in 2013.
Ceremonial county from 1974-1996 England Police Forces (Durham).svg
Ceremonial county from 1974–1996

From the 1974 until 1996, the ceremonial county was re-aligned to eight districts: [62] [63]

A non-metropolitan county replaced the administrative county. The boundaries only deviated from the ceremonial boundaries after 1995 when the Darlington Borough became a unitary authority. [63]

1996 to present

On the 1 April 1996, the county of Cleveland was abolished with its boroughs of Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees (north of the River Tees) becoming a part of the ceremonial county. [4] [64]

The non-metropolitan county was reconstituted on 1 April 2009: the strategic services-providing Durham County Council was re-organised into a single district of the same name, merging with the seven local facility-providing districts in the non-metropolitan county and became structured as a unitary authority. It has 126 councillors. [65] The three pre-existing unitary authorities were unaffected.


The county boundaries used for parliamentary constituencies are those used between 1974 and 1996, consisting of the County Durham district and the Darlington Borough. This area elects seven Members of Parliament. As of the 2019 General Election, four of these MPs are Conservatives and three MPs are Labour. The rest of the ceremonial county is included in the Cleveland parliamentary constituency area.

2019 General Election Results in County Durham
PartyVotes%Change from 2017SeatsChange from 2017
Conservative 123,11240.6%Increase2.svg4Increase2.svg4
Labour 122,54740.4%Decrease2.svg3Decrease2.svg4
Brexit 25,4448.4%new00
Liberal Democrats 21,3567.0%Increase2.svg00
Greens 5,9852.0%Increase2.svg00

Emergency services

The police and fire services operate according to the 1974-96 ceremonial county boundaries:

The North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust cover North East England and are responsible for providing ambulance services for the NHS. Northumbria Ambulance Service and County Durham Ambulance Service (following historic county borders) merged on 1 April 1999 to become the North East service. [68] In 2005 the area was adapted to the modern North East England regional extent.

Air ambulance services are provided by the Great North Air Ambulance. The charity operates three bases, including one in Eaglecliffe.

Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, are based at Sniperly Farm in Durham City and respond to search and rescue incidents in the county.



#Local authority2011 census
Ceremonial county853,213
1 District of County Durham 513,242 [69]
2 Borough of Stockton-on-Tees (north Tees)136,079 [70]
3 Borough of Darlington 105,564 [71]
4 Borough of Hartlepool 92,028 [72]

The Office for National Statistics estimated in 2016 that the Durham County Council area had a population of 522,100, the Borough of Darlington a population of 105,600, the Borough of Hartlepool a population of 92,800, and the part of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham (the other part being in North Yorkshire) a population of 137,300 [note 1] . This gives the total estimated population of the ceremonial county at 857,800. [73] [74]

Former non-metropolitan county

Population over time of the current remit of Durham County Council between 1801 and 2001 County Durham Population.png
Population over time of the current remit of Durham County Council between 1801 and 2001
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time. [75]

At the 2001 Census, Easington and Derwentside districts had the highest proportion (around 99%) in the county council area of resident population who were born in the UK. [76] 13.2% of the county council area's residents rate their health as not good, the highest proportion in England. [77]

96.6% of County Durham's residents are indigenous White British, with other white groups making up a further 1.6% of the population. Around 77% of the county's population are Christian whilst 22% have no religion, and around 1% come from other religious communities. These figures exclude around 6% of the population who did not wish to state their religion.

As at 2001, Chester-le-Street district has the lowest number of available jobs per working-age resident (0.38%). [78]


Economic output

The chart and table summarise unadjusted gross value added (GVA) in millions of pounds sterling for County Durham across 3 industries at current basic prices from 1995 to 2004.

Gross Value Added (GVA) (£m)
Agriculture, hunting and forestry453348
Industry, including energy and construction1,7511,8271,784
Service activities2,2822,8693,455


Phileas Fogg snacks are made by the United Biscuits subsidiary KP Snacks in Consett on the Number One Industrial Estate. Nearby CAV Aerospace make ice protection systems for aircraft. Thomas Swan, an international chemicals company, is in Crookhall. The Explorer Group, who own Elddis, make caravans at Delves. The LG Philips Displays cathode ray tube factory at Carrville, Durham was the second largest employer in the north east after Nissan, before the company went bankrupt in 2006. Northumbrian Water is in Pity Me, Framwellgate Moor. Esh Group is a large construction company based south of Durham in Bowburn. Schmitz Cargobull UK is the UK's biggest trailer manufacturer, notably for refrigerated trailers, and is based at Harelaw near the Pontop Pike mast.

Flymos are made in Newton Aycliffe Flymo-e25.jpg
Flymos are made in Newton Aycliffe

Black & Decker and Electrolux had large factories at Spennymoor, but moved production overseas. Thorn Lighting of the Zumtobel Lighting Group are on the Green Lane Industrial Estate at Spennymoor. Since 2007 RF Micro Devices (RFMD) have made electronic wafers on the Heighington Lane Business Park at Newton Aycliffe, on the site formerly owned by Fujitsu. Slightly to the north, TKA Tallent make automotive axles and chassis components. Husqvarna-Flymo, formerly owned by Electrolux, are on the Aycliffe Industrial Estate, where the world's first hover mower was built in 1965. In West Auckland, Potters Europe make road reflectors. GlaxoSmithKline has a site at Barnard Castle that makes pharmaceuticals.

NSK make ball bearings on the North West Industrial Estate at Peterlee, and GWA International subsidiary Gliderol UK build garage doors. Mecaplast Group UK produce automotive components on the Low Hills Industrial Estate in Easington Village near Peterlee. Reckitt Benckiser make cough syrup and indigestion remedies at Shotton, near Peterlee until 2014. Walkers Crisps have a site north of Peterlee.


Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Darlington QESFC.jpg
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Darlington

Durham LEA has a comprehensive school system with 36 state secondary schools (not including sixth form colleges) and five independent schools (four in Durham and one in Barnard Castle). Easington district has the largest school population by year, and Teesdale the smallest with two schools. Only one school in Easington and Derwentside districts have sixth forms, with about half the schools in the other districts having sixth forms.

The University of Durham is based in Durham city and is sometimes held to be the third oldest university in England. [79]

Places of interest

AP Icon.svg Abbey/Priory/Cathedral
UKAL icon.svg Accessible open space
Themepark uk icon.png Amusement/Theme Park
CL icon.svg Castle
Country parks.svg Country Park
EH icon.svg English Heritage
Forestry Commission
HR icon.svg Heritage railway
HH icon.svg Historic House
AP Icon.svg Places of Worship
Museum icon.svg
Museum icon (red).svg
Museum (free/not free)
NTE icon.svg National Trust
Drama-icon.svg Theatre
Zoo icon.jpg Zoo

See also


  1. The total estimated population of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees (195,700) less the populations of the electoral wards of Ingleby Barwick East, Ingleby Barwick West, Mandale and Victoria, Stainsby Hill, Village, and Yarm.

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Further reading