Keys to the Past

Local History

Trimdon; Trimdon Colliery; Trimdon Grange (County Durham)

Trimdon, Trimdon Colliery and Trimdon Grange

Three separate villages, all about 4 miles north of Sedgefield, have Trimdon as part of their name: Trimdon (the main village), Trimdon Grange and Trimdon Colliery (although the northern half of this village is technically in the parish of Trimdon Foundry).

Trimdon was first recorded in 1196 as Tremeldon, but there must have been an Anglo-Saxon settlement here as the name comes from the Old English 'treo-mael-dun' meaning 'hill with the wooden cross'. A church lies at the centre of the village on an earth mound. There is a local tradition that nearby at the source of the River Skerne was the place where King Cnut (Canute) shaved his head and trimmed his beard before donning a cloak at the beginning of a pilgrimage he made from Garmondsway to Durham. However, there is no evidence to support this; it was suggested that Trimdon means 'trimming and donning', but as we have seen the real reason is quite different.

In the medieval period some of the land nearby at Wingate was owned by Durham Priory who had a grange there. Although a building still stands here it is not of medieval origin. There are also records of a medieval chapel at Fishburn. Its site was discovered in 1989 and several burials were found. As well as the settlements at Trimdon there were other villages nearby which have now disappeared. For example, although a village at Hurworth Bryan is recorded in documents there is now little to see.

In the 19th century coal mining began to dominate the area. It was the need to house the miners that led to the growth of the villages at Trimdon Grange (named after a mine owners' house) and Trimdon Colliery. On February 16th 1882 a great explosion at Trimdon Grange Colliery killed 71 men and boys. The dead were buried in Kelloe Cemetery and Trimdon Cemetery. Identical monuments stand at each site and record the names of those buried there. It also became the subject of a famous song written by County Durham Pitman poet Tommy Armstrong of Tanfield Lea, North West Durham (1848-1920). Tommy's song was composed to raise money in aid of the widows and orphans.

"Let's not think of tomorrow,
Lest we disappointed be;
Our joys may turn to sorrow,
As we all may daily see.
Today we're strong and healthy,
But how soon there comes a change.
As we may see from the explosion
That has been at Trimdon Grange"

Trimdon Colliery closed in 1925 though it was used as a place to dump spoil from Trimdon Grange colliery until the latter shut in 1968.

The inhabitants of the Trimdons who served and died in the First World War and subsequent conflicts are commemorated on a number of war memorials around the area. A memorial headstone is located in Trimdon Grange cemetery that was erected in conjunction with the memorial that was once in the Miners' Hall but is now in St. Alban's Church. Given the industrial heritage of the area it is not surprising that many of the names on these memorials are linked to the collieries and mines they worked in prior to serving in the war.

The church of Mary Magdalene at Trimdon Village is interesting in that all of the war memorial features of the building are linked to just the Second World War.

Reference number:D6897
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.