5 Market Place, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL14 7NJ
The Laurel Room, in Bishop Auckland Town Hall, is named after Stan Laurel. Born Stanley Jefferson, Stan Laurel is better known as the thin half of the famous double-act Laurel and Hardy. Stan’s parents managed the town’s Theatre Royal. Stan was christened here and, in 1903, attended the grammar school.
Photographs and text about The Stanley Jefferson.
The text reads: This Wetherspoon pub is named after the thin half of the comic duo Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel was born Stanley Arthur Jefferson, in 1890, and brought to Bishop Auckland at the age of just 14 months.
He was baptized at St Peter’s Church, near the Theatre Royal (later the Eden Theatre) managed by his father, Andrew. The site of the theatre is now marked by a plaque. Stan was educated at the King James Grammar School and gave his first ever performance in the Staff House.
In 1918 he first appeared with Oliver Hardy in a short silent film, The Lucky Dog. They later became a team, appearing in more than 100 films and making countless thousands laugh.
Above: Stan with his father and mother in 1935
Top right: above, Laurel and Hardy in 1942, below, the dilapidated interior of the Eden Theatre in the 1970s
Far right: The Eden Theatre in the 1960s.
A photograph and text about Market Place.
The text reads: The entrance next door to the Queen’s Head in Market Street led to the livery and blacksmith business owned by Judge Hewitt’s father. Hewitt’s solicitors were once of the previous occupants of 5, Market Place.
An illustration, photographs and text about the railway.
The text reads: Despite the Darlington and Stockton line opening 18 years earlier, Bishop Auckland had to wait until 1843 before it got a station. Other lines soon followed, bringing new prosperity to the town. The Darlington to Stockton line was run by the Pease’s, a teetotal Quaker family who allowed no alcohol on trains or stations. This was held largely responsible for the almost total absence of accidents on their line.
Left: Centenary celebration of the opening of the Darlington and Stockton railway in 1925
Top: The first railway carriage
Above: Part of the original railway line at the Brusselton Incline.
Illustrations and text about the Prince Bishops.
The text reads: For centuries, the Bishops of Durham ruled over their “kingdom within a kingdom” from Bishop Auckland Castle. Bishop Pudsey was the mightiest of the Prince Bishops, acting as Regent of England north of the Humber while King Richard I was in the Holy Land.
The power of the Prince Bishops reached its peak in the 14th century with the mighty Bishop Bek. Lord Crewein was the longest serving, remaining in office for 48 years from 1674 until 1722. The last of the Prince Bishops was William Van Mildert, who left Durham Castle to become University College, at the heart of the university he helped found, and moved the sear of the Bishops of Durham to Auckland Castle.
Above: left, The gates of Auckland Castle, right, William Van Mildert
Left: Auckland Castle in the 1720s.
Photographs and text about important figures in Bishop Auckland’s history.
The text reads: Bishop Auckland has been home to several men at the cutting edge of thought, exploration and industry.
Thomas Wright (above), was born in Byers Gree in 1711. He attended the Grammar School, and was apprenticed to a clockmaker, where he learnt instrument-making and draughtsmanship, skills he applied in measuring, mapping and surveying. He wrote a book on navigation and an astronomical work entitled Original Theory of the Universe, a work that influenced ideas of celestial evolution.
The family of Jeremiah Dixon had a house (top picture, on the right) in Market Place. Dixon (born 1733) became famous, in combination with Charles Mason, for surveying the boundary line that became known as the Mason-Dixon line. It divided the free states and the slave states in the American civil war. Jeremiah Dixon’s name is the origin of Dixieland.
William Armstrong, Lord Armstrong of Cragside (right) was sent to the Grammar School in 1826, and boarded in the Market Place. Here he met his future wife, Margaret Ramshaw, who lived two doors away. He became a hugely important and successful engineer and industrialist, and the largest employer on Tyneside.
Prints and text about 5 Market Place.
The text reads: The three storey Georgian building that you are now in was designed and built in the mid-18th century. It was occupied by Richard Bowser – father and son – from the 1820s, when Squire Bowser, as he was known, was the only qualified lawyer in the town.
The Bowsers were an ancient family who held offices of trust under various bishops. They owned most of the Pollard’s lands, which were granted special rights by the bishops. The Bowsers presented each new bishop with a symbolic curved sword called the Pollard Falchion. This Ceremony of the Falchion continued into the 20th century.
The younger Richard Bowser handled the negotiations to establish Bishop Auckland’s first Board of Health, on which he served. These premises were subsequently occupied by John Proud, whose family played a major role in the legal and cricketing life of the town; and by Hewitt’s solicitors, from whom Judge Hewitt, the town’s only judge, emerged.
Above and right: Looking towards this site from Market Place in the late 19th century
Far left: Two views of Market Place, c1900
Far right: These premises, and a general view of this side of Market Place, in the late 1970s.
Photographs and text about Market Place.
The text reads: Bishop Auckland originated around a village green that extended from Town Head (top of Newton Cap Bank) to the Bishop’s Palace grounds. The Green in those days was an enclosed space with narrow access roads which could be closed off when cattle raiders from across the border came raiding.
Market Place became the focal point of the modern town after the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England effectively ended the threat from the north.
The Market Place is now dominated by the recently restored Town Hall, which houses the Library, Tourist Information service and the Eden Theatre, The enterprise that brought Stanley Jefferson to this town.
Above: top, The Market in full swing outside the Town Hall c1895
Above: Looking past Doggarts store towards this site in the 1950s
Left: The market in the 1930s.
Photographs of Bishop Auckland Football Club.
Top: The Amateur FA Cup winning team of 1935, who beat Wimbledon 2-1 in a replay
Above: The 1938-39 team, winners of the triple – the FA Amateur Cup, the Northern League Championship and the Durham Challenge Cup.
Prints and text about Peter Fair.
The text reads: Peter Fair was Bishop Auckland’s first printer and in 1820 printed the first history of the town. Fair also had a circulating library, charging an annual subscription to borrow books. It was another 100 years before Bishop Auckland got its first free library.
Photographs of Bishop Auckland’s first buses.
Top: The first double decker bus in Bishop Auckland, 1913
Above, left: A United bus in the 1920s, right, a 1921 express service in the Market Place.
Modern artwork by Bill Harris.
Bill Harris is a local artist who produces artwork which is usually inspired by the local landscape and surroundings. His artwork focuses on the way lines and colours are used to express everyday experiences. The main objective of his work is the exploration of colour.
External photograph of the building – main entrance.
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