Concept

Shotley Bridge

Summary
Shotley Bridge is a village, adjoining the town of Consett to the south in County Durham, England. It is located on the A694 road starting from Consett and Blackhill to the south, then continuing north east to East Law, Ebchester and onward to Swalwell within the borough of Gateshead. Shotley Bridge sits beside the River Derwent which is crossed by the bridge giving the name. It was once the heart of Britain's swordmaking industry. The village is southwest of Newcastle upon Tyne. There were formerly several fords over the River Derwent near this place and in medieval times a wooden bridge. The present stone bridge was widened in 1820, but its original date is not known. The bed of the river itself was the source of stone for millstones, and licences for this are recorded at "Shotley Brig" in 1356. A water-powered corn mill was established in the 14th century, later replaced by a steam-powered one which was sold to the Derwent Co-operative Flour Mill Society Ltd in 1872, and continued until its closure in 1920. A paper mill was established in 1788 (the first in the north of England) and greatly expanded with mechanization so that in 1894 it had 300 hands (half being girls) and was a major factor in the expansion of the village. However it closed in 1905. A well near the village had unpleasant tasting water rumoured to be effective in curing disease and thus known as the "Hally Well" (hally = healthy, like hale). In 1828 a local entrepreneur John Richardson used this as the basis for a Spa which enjoyed considerable success with the well-to-do, becoming less fashionable as industry grew in nearby towns, but being remade as a playground for workers. It was during the Victorian era that much of the town's architecture was constructed, including some grand residences and many listed buildings, so that by 1898 it had much of its present form. and a population of over 1000. This also saw the advent of Shotley Bridge railway station (closed 1952) and a gasworks which closed in the 1960s, electric lighting having replaced gas lamps from 1950.
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