Keys to the Past

Local History

Tanfield (County Durham)

Tanfield is an attractive rural area to the north of Stanley

The village was first recorded in 1179 as 'Tamefeld', which in Old English probably translates to field by the river Team (team meaning dark). The hillside village church is originally 10th century in date, though there are later alterations. Inside the church are memorials to the families who lived at nearby Beamish Hall.

Tanfield Hall is a mansion house which was constructed in the 17th century (alterations also occurred by the 18th century). It has elaborate wrought-iron gates.

Tanfield is famous for having the oldest surviving railway in the world. The railway's original purpose was the movement of coal from nearby colleries to ships on the River Tyne. The oldest part, c1647, was the Lobley Hill section, it had over 300 years of coal traffic when closed in 1964. The surviving 1725 Sunniside to Causey section is now the World's Oldest Working Railway and the Causey to East Tanfield section dates from 1839.

Nearby is the famous monument of the Causey Arch. This may be said to be the oldest railway bridge in the world. It was built in 1727. It consists of a stone-built arch and was built to carry rails for horse-drawn trucks over Tanfield Beck. A sundial with the date 1727 can be seen on one of the supporting columns.

Reference number:D6894

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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.