Welcome to the History of Gainford

This website is about Gainford upon Tees, a small village in County Durham on the A67, midway between Darlington and Barnard Castle. It is hoped that it will help family historians who have ancestors with a Gainford connection and also provide information about the history of the village to people who currently live here or who have lived here in the past. It is designed to help people to get an in-depth understanding of how the village has evolved through the ages. The photographic gallery with explanations and descriptions should bring to life Gainford's past, from pre-historic times to the present day.

People from Gainford

Most probably Gainfords first village inhabitants were Saxon and certainly the first written evidence of Gainford was produced by Simeon of Durham who tells us that Eda or Edwine, a Northumbrian chief who had exchanged a helmet for a cowl, died in 801 and was buried in the monastery at Gegenforda.

Doubtless the village is older than this and the people would've known the area because of its two river crossing points called waths or fords, the Gainford waths and the Barforth wath. In Roman and pre Roman or Brigantian times, Gainford was on the A1M north to south heading towards the Brigantian camp at Stanwick, the ford and and ferry would've been of great importance.

Geographically Gainford is an excellent spot to site a village for it is in a sheltered place with good agricultural land gently sloping down to the river. The soil is exceptionally well drained, the green never floods or holds water and there is an abundance of fresh water springs being on the springline. Most houses in the village a hundred years ago had their own wells and those that didn't gathered their water from St. Mary's Well situated by the churchyard which never runs dry. Of course the river itself provided the water for drinking or washing, it provided timber being brought down by the river and provided fish, especially salmon for food - a perfect site for this south facing village.

However the people who first settled here knew the power of the river and the destruction it could cause with its bore or wall of water produced by the rapid run off further up the valley. There are many accounts of fatalities throughout its history and so they built the village on the first and second terraces beyond the bounds of the river. The river in the past provided power for a mill which was originally sited at Neeshams Willows just upstream from the Barforth Bailey Bridge and later in the 1600's transfered by the Vicar Craddock to an area near Snow Hall. The quality of the land to grow cereals by the farming community was well known and its pastures provided the base for a self sufficient farming community.

Recommended Reading

Two excellent small books tell the pattern of Gainford's history in much more detail and are highly recommended:

Gainford in Teesdale Gainford In Teesdale by Janet McCrickard
Price £2.50 from the Teesdale Mercury or £3 inc.p&p from this website.

A Brief History of Gainford A Brief History Of Gainford by Nancy Deas
Recently reproduced by the Gainford History Society
Price £3 from Gainford Post Office or £3.50 inc.p&p from this website

Click here for e-mail orders 

The first history of Gainford was called "The Antiquities Of Gainford" by John Richard Walbran, published 1846 however it is very Victorian and quite academic.