Thornley (part 2)
In 1794, Hutchinson’s History of Durham states that Thornley, along with Helm Park and Redmyr was the estate of Henry Beaumont, and that there was a fairly large colliery at Thornley. This is thought to be the pit known as Thornley Colliery which actually lay on the north side of the B6299, between Tow Law and the present Helme Park Filling Station. Pit House Farm probably lies very close to the pit site.
By 1856, the mines and minerals belonged to G F H Russell of Brancepeth Castle, and Whelans Directory of Durham says that Thornley consisted of a church, a school, a few farm houses and some good cottages. Inhabitants included a shoemaker, a builder, a blacksmith, a butcher, a joiner, a shopkeeper, and a publican, Thomas Carrick who ran the now demolished California Inn. He is buried in the small churchyard.
The earliest existing houses date from about 1700, and show the typical alteration from single story animal accommodation to double storey dwelling houses. Most of the two and a half storey premises date from the 1800s. The original school, now a private dwelling was built in 1824 but used as the school masters house after 1845 when a larger school (now the Village Hall) was built to accommodate 70 children.
By 1894 the residents of Thornley included a curate, two cow keepers and a schoolmaster, the California Inn then being run by Thomas Heslop. Today, the residents do a variety of jobs, from farming to running businesses, but the only public services now available are the telephone box, and post box, situated within feet of each other just north of the church.The Village Hall is well used by the local community, having being refurbished recently by Village Hall Committee. Watch out for posters advertising the famous Thornley Teas; they are not to be missed. There are fortnightly whist drives, regular theme evenings and dog obedience classes. For further details contact Mrs Cruddas on 01388 730493.
Continue to part 3