Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel went to school in Gainford, that’s more than enough of a reason to have a wander around.


Lovely Medieval cross slabs line the church porch walls

Inside the church, a pair of carved stones

AD stones

AD stone

There is a dragon carving on the opposite face of the second stone, it is almost impossible to see the carving as the stone is close to the wall and fixed into the floor. A photograph of it can be seen here


The house next to the church has an impressive piece of garden architecture.

A path from the churchyard leads down to the Tees, its waters stained with Pennine peatShap Granite

 A boulder, transported from the Shap Fells.

Peg Powler

Peg Powler patrols the banks

A wall blocks access to a broken Bailey Bridge, many of its boards are missing, one of the supporting columns has been washed away.


With no convenient river crossing, the distant dovecote will have to wait

Returning to the village, I stop to admire this lovely Festival of Britain bench.

Illustration of Gainford Carved Stones from The Antiquities of Gainford. J.R Walbran 1846

The Gainford Stone

The Barforth Bailey Bridge 

The Girsby Bridge

There has been a church at Sockburn since Saxon times. The estate was bought in the 1830’s by Henry & Theophania Blackett of Newcastle. They decided to demolish the church to create a romantic ruin. A replacement church was built about a mile away at Girsby.


After the church had been moved, the locals continued to use the Sockburn river crossing and paths across the estate as they had done for generations. The Blacketts resented this intrusion and blocked the pathways.  This led to legal action against the Blacketts by the Darlington Highways Board. The Blacketts lost the case but used their wealth to pursue the case through the courts.

After two years of constant legal wrangling with ever increasing court costs, the Highways Board came up with a novel solution for paying the solicitors bills, they levied a rate upon on the inhabitants of the township of Sockburn. Since the main inhabitants were the Blacketts, this meant that the family were paying the legal costs of both sides. The matter was eventually settled, the paths across the Sockburn estate remained closed and the Blacketts built a new bridge across the Tees.

The new bridge was designed by Thomas Dyke of West Hartlepool. It was constructed  with five spans of wrought iron, bowstring girders supported by cast iron trestles set into the bed of the river.

girsby-bridge-stone To this day there remains no public right of way through Sockburn.


Bridge over Troubled Water. Northern Echo June 2009 

Bridges over The Tees. C H Morris June 2000