Keys to the Past

Local History

Brandon (County Durham)

The colliery village of Brandon lies to the south-west of Durham, not far from Brancepeth. It was once part of the parish of Brancepeth, but became a separate parish when the population increased in the 19th century after the colliery opened in mid-19th century.

The earliest evidence for occupation in the area is as early as the Bronze Age. A bronze axe has been found- this may have been used for clearing trees to allow the area to be opened up for farming. Also of Bronze Age date was a stone-lined grave discovered in 1904. By the Iron Age the area was clearly being opened up for settlement. Aerial photographs of the area have shown the cropmarks of at least two simple settlements, containing round houses surrounded by a ditched enclosure. Given this evidence for late prehistoric occupation it is a little surprising that so little has been found from the Roman period, particularly as the main Roman road north Dere Street ran through the area; so far only a single glass bottlehas been found.


Little has remained from the medieval period, though Littleburn Farmhouse may have been built on the site of an earlier medieval moated site. When the lands of the Neville family who owned most of Brandon were confiscated after the Rising of the North, Brandon was sold to a London silk merchant, Edward Cropley. By
It is really only from the 17th and 18th century that we begin to have substantial surviving remains. A 17th century barn stands on the east side of the village green. Littleburn Farmhouse is probably of early 17th century date, but has 18th century additions.

In the 1830s there was a decline in the population due to many workmen moving to Brancepeth to work on the rebuilding of Brancepeth Castle- the stone used for this was quarried in Brandon. The rest of the workers mainly worked in agriculture, though in 1836 the first colliery was recorded. Unusually, the coal was raised using a gin gang driven by a bull, rather than the more usual horse.

In the 1850s, however, the coal industry expanded massively, and a new pits were sunk in 1856 and 1860. By 1894 over 1000 men were employed at the colliery. As the population increased the new parish of Brandon and Byshottles was formed. The collieries closed in the 1960s.

The parish of Brandon and Byshottles now encompasses a number of other small villages including Ushaw Moor, Esh Winning, Waterhouses and Langley Moor. After the First World War there were many buildings constructed as memorials in these villages. Esh Winning, for example, has a Memorial Miner's Hall, institute, and community hall with a memorial garden - all of which were built to remember those who served in the conflict. Many of the local churches contain war memorials in the form of Rolls of Honour, books of remembrance and plaques dedicated to individuals from the local area who fought and died in the conflict whilst town memorials such as the obelisk in Brandon contain details of all those of a particular place who chose to serve their country.

Reference number:D6751
Event(s):The identification of Historic Landscapes in Durham Project; Chris Blandford Associates

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.