News, Meetings & Events Diary

Group Meetings

The Thorpe Thewles History Group normally meets on the first Friday of each month at 7:00 PM in Grindon Parish Hall, Thorpe Thewles. All are welcome! 

A complete list of the group meetings dates for 2015 is listed below.

 Month  Meeting Date
January Friday 2nd - Annual AGM
February Friday 6th
March Friday 6th
April Friday 3rd
May Friday 1st
June Friday 5th
July Friday 3rd
August Friday 7th
September Friday 4th
October Friday 2nd
November Friday 6th
December Friday 4th

Events For 2015

Throughout 2015 the Thorpe Thewles History Group will be mounting a series of informative and entertaining public talks. The group will also be attending certain local plus regional exhibitions at which they will be mounting displays. A list of these events can be found below.


1) Yesterday Belongs To You - This regular event in the County Durham local history calendar is moving to New College Durham and will be held on Saturday 9 May 2015. The event, now organised by the County Durham History and Heritage Forum rather than Durham County Council, provides a valuable opportunity for everyone interested in local history and heritage to share their knowledge and passion with local, regional and national organisations and the general public. Information to follow shortly. Update 09/02/15

Field TripsUpdate 09/02/15

1) Auckland Castle - Spring. date to be advised.

2) Binchester Roman Fort Excavations - Late Summer. date to be advised.


The following illustrated talks are open to all members of the public as well as TTHG members. To acquire or reserve tickets contact any committee member of the Thorpe Thewles History Group or alternatively contact use by e-mail or by telephone on 01740 630014.

All talks will be illustrated and held in Grindon Parish Hall, Thorpe Thewles and will commence at 7:30 PM prompt and normally finish around 9:00 PM.


Title: ""The Roman Army - With an update on the latest discoveries from the Roman Fort site at Binchester"Update 09/02/15

Date & Time: 7:30 PM Friday 13th March 2015

Presenter: Gordon Henderson of the Roman life re-enactment group Roma Antiqua


This talk will introduce the subject of life in the Roman Imperial Army. It will examine military recruitment, training, weapons, battle tactics, payment and much more. Our speaker will illustrate the talk with the aide of authentic reproductions of military equipment and original artefacts. An update will also be given on the latest discoveries from the archaeological excavations at the Roman fort at Binchester, Co. Durham.





Title: "The History of Aerial Surveillance"Update 01/02/15

Date & Time: 7:30 PM Friday 15th May 2015

Presenter: Arthur Dodds


This talk will describe how the discovery of manned flight in 18th century France was exploited during the American civil war, WWI and WW2. The further development of photographic interpretation techniques coupled with advances in engineering during the Cold War led to satellite spying and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan and Syria.


In 1903, Julius Neubranner designed and patented a breast-mounted aerial camera for carrier pigeons. Weighing only 70 grams the camera took automatic exposures at 30-second intervals along the flight line flown by a pigeon


Title: "The Northumberland & Durham Coal Owners"

Date & Time: 7:30 PM Friday 18th September 2015

Presenter: Margaret Hedley


Margaret’s talk does not intend to discuss every Co. Durham coal owner in detail, but will give a flavour of their collective behaviour towards their employees and their families. It doesn’t seem to matter how wealthy these people were or how many pits they owned, they were united in treating the miners and their families badly. They had control over every part of a miner's life and that’s how they liked it. This is an opportunity to take a closer look at the people who had so much power over our coal mining ancestors.


A typical late 19th Century stereotype image of a North Eastern Coal Owner  


Title: "Poverty and the Treatment of Poverty in Britain through the Ages"Update 27/09/15

Date & Time: 7:30 PM Friday 13th November 2015

Presenter: Alison Hodgson


This illustrated talk will look at poverty in Britain from the Middle Ages through to the present day, the causes and the way poor people were regarded and treated by others including the governments of the time. It will also give a brief review of associated subjects such as the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Elizabethan Poor Law, Highland Clearances, Irish Potato Famine, Industrial Revolution and the coming of the Welfare State.





Research Projects

1) Thorpe Leazes Farm History Project - (Completion due in February 2015)

A historical survey of the farm and land around Thorpe Leazes Farm in Grindon Parish. Commissioned by the farm’s current owners Tom Walker & Sons (Cheese Packers & Distributors). This project is primarily based on archival history plus elements of genealogical and field name research.

2) The Grindon Medieval Coped Grave Slab Conservation Project - See Separate Project Page

3) The David McLaren Diary Project

Transcription leading to the planned partial publication of a set of recently discovered (at a car boot sale in Hull) Edwardian teenage schoolboy’s diaries (1911-13) that once belonged to David McLaren. These diaries are not only an excellent source of Grindon Parish history but also give an excellent view of one school boy’s view of national sporting plus world events in the years leading up to the Great War. David belonged to an eminent farming family who moved from Brancepeth to Thorpe Thewles in the late nineteenth century.

4) Grindon Parish Area Historic Walks Booklet Project

The compilation and planned publication of a set of illustrated walks based on public rights of way in and around Grindon Parish. Each walk will incorporate a historical commentary of the places, buildings and landscape through which each path passes.

5) Survey of Local Armed Service & Civil Defence Personnel – Twentieth Century Conflicts

A long-term project to record the names plus service history and family backgrounds of those from Grindon and the surrounding parishes who served their country in armed conflicts of the twentieth century. While much of the research associated with those men who are recorded on Grindon Parish’s Roll of Honour has now been completed the more difficult task of identifying and researching those from the area who survived the war and lived to return to the UK.

For a taste of what has been discovered to date relating to those men recorded on the Grindon Parish Roll of Honour in St. James' Church, Thorpe Thewles why not down load our informative presentation slide show by double clicking on the image below. Depending on your Internet connection speed this down load may take 1 to 2 minutes.

The slides in this presentation will automatically move on to the next after a period of 15 seconds or alternatively whenever you are ready for the next by hitting the ENTER button on your keyboard or via using the navigation arrow keys (forward and reverse).

6) St. James Church, Thorpe Thewles - Church Yard Survey Project - (Completion December 2010).


Starting in the summer of 2009, members of the Thorpe Thewles History Group began a survey of all the graves in St. James churchyard. The survey is getting to be quite an urgent project, as many of the inscriptions on the sandstone headstones are becoming illegible.

The ultimate aim of this project will be to produce an interactive database including details of all the information on the existing graves together with their photographs and precise locations within the church yard. The group hopes that the output from this project will provide not only a resource to family historians but also act as the basis for further research into life expectancy and death rates in and around Thorpe Thewles over the last 150 years.

For a preliminary report of results from this project see the appropriate entries in the "Local History Notes" plus "Members Area & Resource" sections of the TTHG web site.

7) Thorpe Thewles District War Time Memories & Monuments Project - (Phase I of Project due for completion in early 2016)

This project was first proposed in 2006 when research carried out by the Thorpe Thewles History Group highlighted the existence of several local World War II Invasion Defence monuments. Subsequent investigations indicated that less than half of these structures were officially recorded on either the Tees Valley SMR or in the Defence of Britain Survey database. It also became evident at this time that there was a great wealth of local memories and community information related to north-west Teesside during the last war that was in danger of being left unrecorded and potentially lost within the next decade.


Former TTHG member Gordon Parkin pictured during a recent interview with the Evening Gazette appealing for information about the Kiora Gun Battery in Roseworth.


A Type 23 Variant Pillbox built in 1940/41 to guard the approaches to Thorpe Thewles Railway Viaduct as a defence against German invasion.

The aims of this 2 year duration project will be to investigate, record and raise public awareness and understanding of the World War II Military and Civil Defences Works (i.e. pillboxes, Auxiliary Unit operations bunkers, roadblocks, anti-glider trenches and poles, anti-aircraft battery locations plus search light battery and barrage balloon positions etc.) that either still survive or once existed in and around the village of Thorpe Thewles Co. Durham. The extent of the geographical area to be studied will essentially cover that of the Parish of Grindon and its immediate borders.


Members of V.E.R.A. dressed in authentic 1940s Home Guard attire and sporting the DHM 19 shoulder titles as would have been worn by the Thorpe Thewles Home Guard (TTHG Exhibition November 2008).


Sarah Hillier & Carole Sharkey compare finds during a TTHG Field Walking exercise to locate the crash site of a WWII Allied Bomber Plane (April 2009).

One of the 4.5" Anti-aircraft Guns that made up the Kiora Gun Battery at Roseworth

The study will comprise a survey of relevant entries in existing SMR databases related to the area of study (i.e. Tees Valley and County Durham) plus that set-up by the Defence of Britain Project. In addition investigatory fieldwork will be undertaken to assess the condition of the existing monuments and related landscape features and to record those that are currently unlisted plus others that are either suspected or no longer survive. These investigations will be coupled with further research that will look at how aspects of the war affected the lives of people living in this largely rural part of south-east County Durham. It is planned to use oral history techniques to gather first hand accounts of life in and around the village during the war with particular emphasis being put on recording accounts and information related to the following topics;

1)   The activities and operating centres of the local Home Guard and special operations Auxiliary Units.

2)   Recollections of former children evacuated to the village from other areas of the country (notably Sunderland) during this period. 

3)   The anti aircraft gun battery at Kiora Hall, Roseworth.

4)   Information about any local public or school's air raid shelters.

5)  Recollections of notable local air raids.

6)  The use of Land Army girls on farms in the area.

7)  The use of POW labour on local farms during the war and information relate to the POW camps at both Kiora and Wolviston Halls.

8)  Information relating to the locations of local search light batteries, barrage balloons, bombing decoy stations plus anti-glider landing poles and trenches.

At the end of this two year study a report will be compiled copies of which will be lodged with the central reference libraries and records offices in the Tees Valley area. A copy of all relevant new findings will also be presented to Tees Archaeology in Hartlepool for inclusion onto their Sites & Monuments database.

Thorpe Thewles History Group is pleased to announce that this project is being largely funded by the award of a Challenge Funding grant from the Council For British Archaeology (CBA).

Anyone interested in participating in this exciting project or who may be able to provide us with any old pictures, film clips or stories relating to areas in and around Grindon Parish should contact the group via one of the means listed below;

By e-mail:

By telephone: (01740) 630014

By letter: TTHG War Time Memories & Monuments Project; c/o 2 Mill Terrace, Thorpe Thewles. Stockton-on-Tees. TS21 3JS.

Past Events

1) Local History Exhibition & DVD Launch  - 8th November 2008 saw the climax of  the TTHG's audio-visual local history project with a major exhibition being in Grindon Parish Hall to officially the group's DVD entitled "A Snapshot of Thorpe Thewles in the Twentieth Century". This 100 minute long professionally produced DVD was The DVD interviews have been extracted from a collection of over 50 hours of video and audio-recordings that were made as part of the £10,000 Lottery Funded Project. This larger collection of film and audio material now forms an invaluable local history archive of this rural part of former County Durham. The Thorpe Thewles History Group is keen for local history collections and researchers to become aware of this unique archive of material which is to be made accessible through application to the group.

Both the book launch and exhibition were extremely well attended. The exhibition featured much new and previously unseen material. Displays and features of the event included the following;


Visit by the Major of Stockton-on-Tees followed by the official presentation of DVDs to the villages oldest resident and the last resident to have been born in the village during the twentieth century.


Historic police re-enactor in period uniform representing one of the many Thorpe Thewles policemen that were resident in the village for 100 years up until the 1960s. 


Victory In Europe Re-enactment Association (VERA) Home Guard Section - VERA's north-east based Home Guard section  in  authentic 1940s uniforms bearing the shoulder titles and insignia of the DHM 19 Battalion. This being the local battalion for Thorpe Thewles, Carlton, Stillington and the surrounding areas of Stockton-on-Tees. VERA brought with them a plethora of original Home Guard uniforms and training manuals, equipment including gas masks and a large selection of original de-activated weapons including a Vickers machine gun, Bren gun, Lewis gun, Browning automatic rifle, P17 rifles, Thompson machine gun, Sten gun, 38 mm calibre revolvers, grenades and gammon bombs plus wooden pikes.


Drilling of pupils from William Cassidi C. of E. School by members of VERA on the Village Green.


Original period artefacts of domestic and family life throughout the twentieth century. These hands on exhibits are kindly provided by Stockton Borough Council's "Museums On The Move Scheme" based at Preston Hall Park & Museum.


A huge range of newly discovered local history maps, plans and photographs of Grindon Parish.


2) Local History Exhibition & Book Launch  - After the huge success of the group's first Local History Exhibition in 2005 a second such event was organised on 26th May 2007 in Grindon Parish Hall, Thorpe Thewles. This event was timed to coincide with launch of the group's first book "Thorpe Thewles of Grindon Parish - A History". A copy of this LHI/LHF funded publication was made freely available by the TTHG to every single household in Grindon Parish.

Both the book launch and exhibition were extremely well attended. The exhibition featured much new and previously unseen material. Displays and features of the event included the following;


New display material covering all aspects of Grindon parish history and archaeology.


Recreation of a Victorian School Room (courtesy of Preston Hall Museum).


St. James Church (Thorpe Thewles) open day plus Grindon church history display.


A 18 ft long by 5 feet wide working scale model of Thorpe Thewles Railway Station and environs as it was in the 1920s and 30s. This display was made available courtesy of David Thurwell of "Durham Modellers".


Chance to see and handle some of the recent archaeological field walking finds made by David Parkin from his work in the neighbouring village of Carlton.


Children's colouring-in and craft table.


A sales stall of local history books plus postcards of  Grindon Parish in "by-gone days".

To view thumb-nail images taken at this event use the directional arrows below. Double click any selected picture from the scroll bar below to see an enlarged version with caption details.


Sir John Hall & Lady May receive their complementary copy of TTHG's new publication from group founder Phillipa Cooper.

2) Yesterday Belongs to You 8 - Saturday 12th May 2007.

The Thorpe Thewles History Group was pleased to be able to attendance the 8th presentation of "Yesterday Belongs to You" in County Hall, Durham. This event is held every two years and is the North East's premier gathering of local history groups, genealogical societies, museum groups, history re-enactment associations plus archaeological societies etc.  Over 100 different groups had stands at the event which was attended by well over 2,000 members of the public.

TTHG's display stand in the main hall at Yesterday Belongs To You 8

We thoroughly enjoyed the day and were pleased to meet with new friends and fellow local history enthusiasts. We look for ward to seeing everyone again at  Yesterday Belongs to You 9 in 2009.

3) Living History Coffee Morning - 30th September 2006

Below are a selection of the images taken during the Thorpe Thewles History Group's "Living History Coffee Morning" which was greatly enjoyed by all who attended.

Above - Local history display boards at the coffee morning.

Above - Olive Lindley finds a picture displayed of herself as a young girl playing in Thorpe Beck. 

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