Birtley


 

Birtley is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. In the past mining and iron making were important industries in Birtley; at its height the Birtley Iron Company (est. 1827) ran 10 pits in the surrounding area. During the First Word War Belgian refugees were housed in Elisabethville and worked in the National Projectiles Factory (Royal Ordnance Factory) at Birtley. Today the heavy plant engineering firm Komatsu is the town's main employer. The iconic Angel of the North by Antony Gormley overlooks the area to the north of Birtley.

Birtley is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, in Tyne and Wear, England. It is situated to the south of Gateshead and is physically linked to Chester-le-Street across the county boundary. Until 1974, Birtley and the adjoining areas of Barley Mow, Vigo and Portobello were part of the old Chester-le-Street Rural District in County Durham. Since 1974, these neighbouring areas have been considered part of 'greater' Birtley. Birtley was a civil parish with a parish council (which also covered the adjoining neighbourhoods) until 1 April 2006, after a local referendum agreed to abolish it. The former parish had a population of 11,377 in 2001. The ward of Birtley in the Gateshead MBC had a population of 8,367 in the 2011 Census.

Industry

Birtley is the home of the Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Birtley and the Komatsu Heavy Engineering Company, which operates from the previous premises of Birtley Iron Works (opened in 1827, which became premises of the Caterpillar Company in the mid-20th century). A 'CarCraft Hypermarket' was built on the site of an old factory in southwest Birtley, reclaiming much wasted brown field site.it is also the home of the new morrison opened in 2015.

The Royal Ordnance Factory was a major target of the German Luftwaffe in World War Two. Thanks to its reputation as a 'misty valley', Birtley and the factory survived many hits. The phrase 'misty valley' was coined by Tommy Lawton, a worker at the ROF in the 1970s.

The ROF factory, operated by BAE, was replaced in late 2011 by a new purpose-built factory in nearby Washington and replaced the old Dunlop Tyre factory. The entire Birtley workforce moved to this site.

The Japanese heavy engineering firm Komatsu is now the town's main employer, with almost 400 staff.

Danish supermarket operator Netto had a premises in Birtley until October 2011, but it was bought out by rival supermarket The Co-operative Food, which opened soon after. Also in 2011, it was announced that the supermarket Morrisons was to build a 25,000 sq. ft. new supermarket development in the town, which would create hundreds of jobs. In July 2013, Watkin Jones, a Welsh firm, were appointed contractors and after lengthy delays. Construction began in autumn of 2013, and following problems with laying foundations, a revised store opening date of January 2015 was announced. However, the revised date of January 2015 was subsequently revised again because of delays in the building process, with a current and on-target planned opening to take place in April 2015. The new Morrisons store opened in the summer of 2015.

Just near the site of the old station is the former well-known Birtley Brick Works was located. Once employing most of the town's workforce, it is a shadow of its former self.

Mining was a very important industry in Birtley. Birtley Iron Company had 10 pits in the area surrounding Birtley, employing 3,736 below ground and 960 people above ground. There was also a lot of coal mining in the area, with the earliest recorded instance was in 1351. This continued until the 1960s, when the trade declined.

Elisabethville

Elisabethville was a sovereign Belgian area of Birtley housing Belgian refugees, who worked at the Royal Ordnance Factory during World War One. It was a community of 6000 residents who were accommodated in a mixture of hostels and cottages. When the war ended and the inhabitants were largely repatriated, it was occupied by people of British and other nationalities before its demolition and replacement with more permanent housing. Its history is told in the book The Birtley Belgians.

Angel of the North

Antony Gormley's famous Angel of the North, completed in February 1998, is on high ground at the site of the baths of the old 'Betty Ann Pit' to the north of Birtley. Overlooking the area, it is seen by around 90,000 people per day by people on the A1 and on the East Coast Main Line. In summer 2011, a landscaped car park, near the Angel, was laid to accommodate the increased number of cars and coaches visiting the site.

Religion

There are altogether three mainstream churches in Birtley, which also has a large cemetery with a chapel and crematorium:

#St Joseph's (Roman Catholic) (Built in 1843 after the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 and designed by John Dobson in early Gothic style, it is currently served by Fr Antony Duffy and Deacon Peter Lavery.)

#St John the Evangelist (Church of England)

#Birtley Methodist Church

Transport links

The main road through Birtley is the non-primary A167, which runs from Topcliffe, North Yorkshire through to the north of Newcastle upon Tyne and is the same road which runs across the Tyne Bridge. This was an original route for the Great North Road and the A1 until a bypass was built (which was upgraded to motorway standard in the 1960s).

The main East Coast railway line is used as a county border to the west of the town. Mainline trains used to stop at the town's long dismantled station. Birtley railway station was closed on 5 December 1955. The Station Hotel was closed in 1971, having been opened in 1868 or earlier.

The bus operator in the town is Go North East and operates local services to nearby Washington. Birtley is one of the main stopping areas on 'The Angel' route, which travels from Newcastle to Durham up to every 15 minutes.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 24/12/2016).
Visit the page: Birtley, Tyne and Wear for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
from Beamish (flickr)
Birtley pool

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from Beamish (flickr)
Compilation postcard of Birtley, c1917

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xBIRTLEY {BIRTLEY} (Co-operative Buildings, Durham Rd, Birtley, T&W DH3 2PS) Jun12

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Birtley, St Joseph

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from Geograph (geograph)
Statue of Lt Colonel Edward Moseley Perkins, Birtley

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The William IV pub, Birtley

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Primitive Methodist Church

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Birtley town centre

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from http://www.dmm.org.uk/colli...
South Birtley Colliery

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from http://www.dmm.org.uk/compa...
Birtley Iron Company

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from Geograph (geograph)
War Memorial Garden, Birtley

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Ravensworth Road, Birtley

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Evacuees at Beamish - Written Work from School Children

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  Co-Curate Page
Angel of the North
- Overview About The Angel of the North Map Street View The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture, made with 200 tonnes of steel, with a wingspan of 54 metres (177 ...
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National Projectile Factory, Birtley
- The National Projectile Factory at Birtley was built in the First World War by Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd. Interestingly all the management and workers there were Belgian, from the ...
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Plant manufacturers, Birtley

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from http://www.gateshead.gov.uk...
IPA17: Conservation Area Character Statements, Strategies and Policy Guidelines
- "This Interim Policy Advice contains conservation area character statements for Gateshead’s 22 Conservation areas along with adopted strategies and development policy guidelines for fourteen of these areas. The Advice ...

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