© 2019 Sacriston Parish Council

A Short History of Sacriston

Sacriston is a village and civil parish in County Durham, England, situated 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the city of Durham.

 

Although the area has been populated since the Bronze Age, the first recorded settlement dated back to the 13th century to the Sacristan's Heugh. According to old maps it was once known as "Segerston Heugh" and is now known to local people as "Segga". This farm and manor house was once the residence of the Sacristan, a monk who held the Office of the Sacristan or Sextant of the monastery at Durham Cathedral. The Sacristan was responsible for providing everything necessary for the services of the Cathedral: bread and wine, the vestments etc. He was also responsible for repairs to Durham Cathedral. The funds for carrying out the official duties were generated from the estate of Sacristan's Heugh which was finally demolished shortly after World War II.

In the 15th Century the farm was retained, but the estate surrounding it was let to three businessmen Hugh Bonet who was a Durham merchant, Nicholas Hayford who was a Draper and William Aldingshell who worked as a Spicer.

 

In the 16th Century Leonard Temperley a retired soldier lived in the house until his death in 1577.

 

In the 19th Century leases were issued to sink collieries at Charlaw, Acorn Close and Sacriston (1838-9). At this stage Sacriston only had two houses Lingey Close and the House on the Heugh (which was known as Sacristan).

 

Not long afterwards the Charlaw and Sacriston Coal company was formed and they acquired the estate on the Heugh. In it's heyday the company is believed to have farmed over 1,100 acres as well as operating the three mines.

Mining History

 

Sacriston Colliery shaft was sunk in 1838 and by 1890 it employed 600 men and young lads producing 1,000 tons of coal per day. It was estimated that 8423 people lived in Sacriston at this time. In 1921 there were over 110 shops and businesses operating in the town. By 1975 the thick coal seams were being exhausted and at their best they were producing about 1,500 tons per day. On the 15th November 1985 the last coal production took place and on the 28th December 1985 the colliery was closed.

Over the last 32 years since the colliery's closure the town has diversified. Sacriston has became very residential with a number of small shops and businesses located in the main street and a small industrial estate at the centre of the village. The town also has a Community Centre, a cricket and football club and other redeeming features. It has managed to retain the open countryside.

The Disaster of 1906

On the 16th of November 1906, water poured into the mine workings of the 'Busty' Seam. The rising water killed two hundred miners: John Whittaker was one of them. During the incident rescuers stumbled on another 199 miners: 'Richardson' was found standing on his container having been stranded for over 93 hours. The unfolding story made for headlines around the world. Decades later workers stumbled on the skeleton of one of the pit ponies that died during the accident and a full tub of coal that still bore the miners name, he then received his back pay.

The Disaster of 1941

On December 4, 1941, a fall of stone on one of the work areas killed 5 miners they were:

Joseph Welsh, 46, George W. Scott, 39, William Richardson, 50, William Smith, 40, John William Britton, 47.

The Decline and Fall of Mining in Sacriston

As a result of the exhaustion of thick coal seams, only 1,500 tons of best quality coal was being produced a week in 1979. The last coal production was on 15 November 1985 and the colliery closed on 28 December 1975. As in many mining areas, the loss of the 'pit' led to significant unemployment and related social problems. Sacriston narrowly avoided Category D classification in 1985 due to social deprivation and general poor quality of housing. Little evidence of the mining operations now remains, with the area around the former coal mine having been landscaped and turned into woodland. A few mining-related buildings do survive, the largest of which was used as a depot for the former local authority's refuse vehicles, while the foundations of demolished mine buildings can be seen in places in the new woodland. Sacriston Wood is now a 30 hectare (75 acre) Local Nature Reserve.

Life in Sacriston today

More than 31 years since the closure of its last coal mine, the village retains a strong sense of community. A new community centre (the Fulforth Centre) has opened, and the village has started to shake off its coal mining past. The village has a Post Office along with a large number of shops for a village of its size. On 13 of December 2010 a milestone for the village was achieved when Tesco opened a local express branch in the village, and shortly afterwards a new supermarket Heron’s was opened in the former cinema and latterly bingo hall.

There are also a couple of social clubs and similar organisations including Sacriston Working Men’s Club and a Roman Catholic social club, cricket club and one remaining public house, The Shoes. 'The Daisy Hill' previously a Working Man’s Club became a restaurant. Two other pubs, The Village Inn' which  was closed, and 'The Robin Hood' was closed and demolished.

     

The parish of Sacriston has a population of approximately 6,000

 

Education

The village had a Nursery and Infant school, as well as a Junior School, a Roman Catholic primary school and Fyndoune Community College previously a secondary school.

The Junior School, and Nursery and Infants School

Sacriston junior school was a school that had been quoted by Ofsted as having "a well-deserved reputation for being inclusive, friendly and welcoming....The school excelled in the personal development of its pupils and the high quality of care, guidance and support it provides." The Nursery and Infants School was graded as “Outstanding” they both have been amalgamated into the new Sacriston Primary School which  was formed in 2014.

Public Services

A new health centre, which includes a dental practice as well as a GP surgery, was officially opened by Sir Bobby Robson in 2008. This facility was constructed on the site of the village's former swimming baths, which closed in the 1990s.

In July 2009 the Northern Integrative Health Practice (NIHP Sacriston Practice) opened in the vacated GP surgery building on Sacriston Crossroads. Offering services that complement traditional healthcare, the newly renovated building also included an out-patients centre for Sunderland Eye Infirmary from January 2010.

Sport

Sport in the village consists of a village cricket team who regularly play in the Northumberland and Tyneside senior league and have a 1st, 2nd and 3rd XI, along with under 11's, 13's, 15's and 18's.

The village also has two football teams - Sacriston Working Men’s Club FC. and Sacriston Colliery Cricket Club FC. Both play in the Durham & District Sunday League in the first division, with the Working Men’s Club’s Youngsters pushing up the league with an eye on promotion.

Notable people

Melvyn Betts (born 1975), ex Durham, Warwickshire and Middlesex cricketer, born in Sacriston.

Ian Hunter (cricketer) (born 1979), ex Durham and Now Derby cricketer, born in Sacriston.

Wendy Craig (born 1934), English TV and film actress, born in Sacriston.

Sir Bobby Robson (1933–2009), football player and manager, born in Sacriston.

Kevan Jones (born 1964), Member of Parliament for the area, lived in Sacriston now Pelton Fell, but retains his constituency office in Sacriston.

Written by Councillor Ralph Harrison