History of the Derwent Walk
Derwent Valley Railway
The Derwent Valley Railway was opened in 1867 by the North Eastern Railway Company.
The construction of the railway was a major engineering feat including the construction of a deep 800m long cutting near Rowlands Gill and 4 viaducts
Nine Arches Viaduct
The Nine Arches Viaduct is 150m long, and was built because the Earl of Strathmore would not allow the railway to pass through the Gibside Estate.
At its peak in 1914 the railway was carrying over half a million passengers a year with a regular goods traffic of timber, bricks and coal to the staiths at Derwenthaugh and iron ore on the return trip to Consett.
As road traffic became more efficient and suffered competition for passengers from buses, the service declined and finally closed in 1962
The railway is commemorated in the Geordie folk song about an ill-fated train journey from Rowlands Gill, Wor Nanny's a Mazer.
Winlaton Mill Ironworks
The Country Park at Winlaton Mill was part of a large complex thought to have been one of the earliest 'factories' in Europe. Winlaton Mill Ironworks were built by Sir Ambrose Crowley in the 1690s.
Crowley's Ironworks is considered by some as being able to make a claim of being the birthplace of the industrial revolution as it was several years ahead of Abraham Darby's Ironworks at Coalbrookdale at Shropshire.
The goods produced by Crowley played a role in the development of the British empire as the Royal Navy had a need for iron goods including ship nails.
At its height the Crowley works employed up to 1,000 people. Crowley provided housing for his workers and the village had its own set of 'laws', an early form of social security, a health service, a school and widow's pensions - all over 200 years before such things were available nationally.
Winlaton Mill Ironworks was designated as a national Scheduled Ancient Monument in 2004
Very little of the Ironworks can be seen today but in 2019 conservation was carried out on part of a visible structure - Crowley Dam. The Dam which can be viewed from adjoining paths, was designed by John Smeaton - the 'Father of Civil Engineering'. The Dam controlled the level of water used by the ironwork's watermills and can be seen in the paintings by JMW Turner of the Derwent Valley in 1817.
For more information on the conservation works carried out in 2019 download our Crowley Dam Conservation [2.27MB] leaflet.
The Butterfly Bridge
The originally Butterfly Bridge was built in 1842 by local stone mason John English. Lang Jack as he was known, also worked on the original Scotswood Bridge.
The stone bridge was replaced by a steel and timber decked bridge in 1950 but this was destroyed by the floods of 2008.
Near to the Bridge are the remains of the house of Flour Miller George Eavan's. This was the last remaining property at the village established by Crowley.
Hollinside Manor is a 13th century manor house situated east of the Nine Arches Viaduct. It was the home of the Harding family for 200 hundred years during which time the manor became known as the 'Giants Castle' since the residents were very tall. The estate passed on to George Bowes of Gibside in 1730 for the sum of £10,000. Hollinside Manor is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Difficult to imaging now but this path now a bridleway was once the main highway from the north to Durham. It crossed the Tyne at Newburn then passed to Winlaton via Blaydon Burn and from there to Winlaton Mill.
Cromwell's army of 16,000 men passed this way on their way to the Battle of Dunbar on 15 July 1650.