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Title: Killingworth  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Tyne and Wear, Newcastle upon Tyne, The Mark of the Rani, Hetton-le-Hole, Houghton-le-Spring
Collection: Towns in Tyne and Wear
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Killingworth is located in Tyne and Wear
 Killingworth shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 49,120 (not including surroundings) (Jan. 2006)
OS grid reference
Metropolitan borough North Tyneside
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NE12
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament North Tyneside
List of places
Tyne and Wear

Killingworth, formerly Killingworth Township, is a town north of Newcastle Upon Tyne, in North Tyneside, United Kingdom.

Killingworth was built as a planned town in the 1960s,[1] next to Killingworth Village, which existed for centuries before the Township. Other nearby towns and villages include Forest Hall, West Moor and Backworth.

Most of Killingworth's residents commute to Newcastle, or its surrounding area. However, Killingworth developed a sizeable commercial centre, with bus links to the rest of Tyne and Wear. Killingworth is not on the Tyne and Wear Metro network. The nearest metro station is Palmersville.

The town of Killingworth in Australia is named after the British original because of its extensive coal mines; it lies west of Newcastle, New South Wales, so-named for the same reason.


  • Culture 1
  • History 2
    • Medieval 2.1
    • Division 2.2
    • 19th century 2.3
    • New town 2.4
  • Killingworth Colliery 3
  • Housing 4
    • The Garth Estates 4.1
    • Highfields 4.2
  • The Towers 5
    • Decline 5.1
  • Town centre 6
    • History of commerce 6.1
    • White Swan Centre 6.2
  • Transport 7
  • Schools 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Former British Gas building

Killingworth was used in the filming of the sitcom Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? in 1973/1974.[2] The Highfields estate (Garth Sixteen), built in the early 1970s and containing some of Killingworth's first privately owned houses was seen as a suitable location for the new home (on Falkirk) of the young couple Thelma and Bob,[3] while Terry Collier works at a factory (filmed at the Killingworth industrial estate). Although Killingworth is not mentioned, its presence can be seen as reflective of the times.

In an episode of the architecture series Grundy's Wonders on Tyne Tees, John Grundy deemed Killingworth's former British Gas Research Centre to be the best industrial building in the North East.

The Blücher Killingworth was home to a number of pits including the world-famous Killingworth Colliery. In 1814

Coal wagon, Killingworth
Dial Cottage

Killingworth Colliery

Around 1964, during the reclamation of the derelict pit sites, a 15-acre (61,000 m2) lake south of the town centre was created; spoil heaps were leveled, seeded and planted with semi-mature trees. Today, swans, ducks and local wildlife live around the two lakes, which span the main road into Killingworth. The lake is kept well stocked with fish and an angling club and model boating club regularly use it.

Originally named Killingworth Township, the latter part was quickly dropped through lack of colloquial use. Killingworth is referred to as 'Killy' by many residents of the town and surrounding areas.

This new town centre consisted of pre-cast concrete houses, with millions of small crustacean shells unusually embedded into their external walls, 5 to 10 storey flats, offices, industrial units and service buildings, which often consisted of artistic non-functional characteristics, shops and residential multi-storey car parks, interconnected by ramps and walkways. These made up a deck system of access to shopping and other facilities, employing the Swedish Skarne method of construction.[11]

Unlike that town, Killingworth's planners adopted a radical approach to town centre design, resulting in relatively high-rise buildings in an avant-garde and brutalist style that won awards for architecture, dynamic industry and attractive environment.

Killingworth boating lake, 2 May 2006 Taken by Pat Alexander

Construction of Killingworth, a new town, began in 1963. Intended for 20,000 people, it was a former mining community, formed on 760 acres (3.1 km2) of derelict colliery land near Killingworth Village. The building of Killingworth Township was undertaken by Northumberland County Council and was not formally a 'New Town' sponsored by the Government.

New town

Killingworth Township was part of Longbenton parish. It was held as part of the barony of Merlay (Morpeth). Land within the township was held and tenemented by many individuals and institutions, mostly the Killingworth family.

The 1841 Census recorded a population of 112 spread through 14 dwellings. The village consisted of two rows of cottages on both sides of the road. By the mid-nineteenth century a terrace had appeared, possibly connected with the developing mines in Killingworth and surrounding areas. To the north farms persisted. This pattern of development with 18th and 19th century stone buildings is identifiable today, though with recent infilling.[7]

On 13 March 1828 Henry Utrick Reay died in London. His eldest daughter Elizabeth Anne inherited his lands. She married Matthew Bell of Woolsington. They were to live in Killingworth Hall. He served as a Member of Parliament.

19th century

Other enclosed land was kept as common land; 1,800 acres (730 ha) formed Killingworth Moor. The commoners were the owners of land in Killingworth and Longbenton. Prior to enclosure Newcastle races were held on the moor from the early 17th century. Racing eventually transferred to Newcastle Town Moor.[10]

Some enclosed land became individual farms, each adjoining the village. Henry Utrick Reay was allocated Hill Head farm, although part of this may have been sold shortly afterwards to the Ogle family of Burradon. Thomas Pugh was allocated West House farm, which ran to the line Moor View now occupies. He was also allocated White House farm, which covered the west side of Camperdown now occupied by an industrial estate.[9]

The common lands of Killingworth Township were enclosed by a parliamentary act in 1793. It is possible that some enclosure had taken place previous to this date – Dimisdale Farm could be almost coterminous with Hill Head farm which survived until the 1960s. Each landholder was allocated a tract of land within the township to enclose, where before they would have had scattered strips and closes throughout the township. About 20 north–south ridges can still be seen in a field to the south of the main road through the village.[8]

John Williams sold his Killingworth land and property in 1767 to George Colpitts. Colpitts was to pay a land tax of £8 4s. 9d. that year and again in 1779. This is just short of the figure for Burradon township. Calculations indicate that he held about 500 acres. In 1790 his niece and heiress, Elizabeth Harrison, married Henry Utrick Reay of County Durham and ownership of the lands passed to Utrick.

The last male heirs of the Killingworth family (Oliver and Luke) were dead by 1704. Their lands in Killingworth were divided between their sisters: Mehitabel, Deborah, Blandina and Bethseba. Dimisdale was assigned to Mehitabel Killingworth, wife of Thomas Partis. This was subsequently sold, along with other lands, around 1737 to John Williams of the Close Gate glass house. Williams died in 1763, leaving his Killingworth property to his son, John Williams, who rebuilt Killingworth Hall.


Documentary evidence for Killingworth starts in 1242 when it is recorded as part of the land held by Roger de Merlay III. There were nine recorded taxpayers in 1296, falling to eight by 1312. In a survey of the township dated 1373 listed sixteen tenements (holdings).[7] The township was divided into more than twenty named fields. Within each field the various landholders farmed strips, or selions, of land. Fifteen landholders are mentioned as holding tenements in Killingworth and strips of land scattered among the fields. One of the fields mentioned is Dimisdale (Dymmyngesdale). This name survived until the 18th century and can be identified with the lands abutting Burradon township.

According to Morrison[6] there is no recorded evidence of early human activity at Killingworth. She asserts that this may be due in part to a lack of fieldwork in the area. Subsequent mining, spoil heaps and landscaping disturbed the stratigraphy and damaged or destroyed artifacts.



[5] Filming of the episode took place in the 19th Century mining village at Blists Hill Open Air Museum in Ironbridge, however.[4] with the help and encouragement of his manager, Nicholas Wood, in the colliery workshop behind his house "Dial Cottage" on Lime Road. This locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h). It was used to tow coal wagons along the wagonway from Killingworth to the Wallsend coal staithes. Although Blücher did not survive long, it provided Stephenson with the knowledge and experience to build better locomotives for use both at Killingworth and elsewhere. Later he would build the famous Rocket in his locomotive works in Newcastle.[12]

At the same time Stephenson was developing his own version of the miner's safety lamp, which he demonstrated underground in Killingworth pit a month before Sir Humphry Davy presented his design to the Royal Society in London in 1815. Known as the Geordie lamp it was to be widely used in the North-east in place of the Davy lamp.[13]

The gauge of the Killingworth tramway was 1,422 mm (4 ft 8 in). [14]


The Garth Estates

Killingworth originally consisted of local authority houses. The first houses at Angus Close, owned by the local authority, were built to house key workers for the British Gas Research Centre. The rest of Killingworth's estates were cul-de-sacs named "Garths" – all numbered, although Garths 1–3 never existed. The numbering was: 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, etc. In the 1990s the Garths located in West Bailey changed their names to street names with estates adopting patterns such as trees (Laburnum Court, Willow Gardens), birds (Dove Close, Chaffinch Way), stones (Crumstone Court, Longstone, Megstone), etc.

The houses in most of the Garths in West Bailey (the west of Killingworth) were built of concrete and had flat roofs, but around 1995 the Local Housing Association modernised these houses by adding pitched roofs. They renewed fencing, built new brick sheds and relocated roads and pathways.

The lowest remaining numbered Garth is Garth Four in West Bailey and the highest is Garth Thirty-Three in East Bailey aka Hadrian court. The housing estate formally known as Garth 21 was built as a private estate with detached and semi-detached 3 and 4 bed room homes.

Many Local Authority Homes were purchased by the tenants, some of whom still reside in the houses that were built in the 1960s.


Killingworth has grown since the early 1960s with the addition of private homes. Highfields Estate was built in the 1970s to host the town's first privately owned homes with streets named after battles, e.g. Flodden, Agincourt, Stamford, Culloden and Sedgemoor.

The Towers

The most eye-catching and radical aspect of the township was the 3-tier housing estate called Killingworth Towers – apartment blocks built in the early 1970s.[15] Tenanted by the local authority, they were made of dark grey concrete blocks and were named Bamburgh, Kielder and Ford Tower etc., after castles. They consisted of a combination of 1, 2 and 3 storey homes built on top of each other rising to 10 storeys in some towers, with tremendous views.

The estate was originally designed to mimic a medieval castle with an outer wall and inner keep connected to lifts and rubbish chutes by ramps and a two-tier walkway (see gallery). This design could be seen on maps of the Towers imprinted on the cast-iron drain covers within the estate. The walkways all led to a ¼ mile-long elevated walkway leading straight through the mostly covered Killingworth Citadel Shopping Centre. This communal configuration was experimental and somewhat typical of the time.


The concept was to create community interaction, with large parks in the grasslands around the towers and adult social clubs. The design did not live up to expectations and the estate started to look and feel like a prison rather than a castle with the introduction of measures to stop anti-social behaviour from youths congregating within the tower instead of in the parks.

Grating was retrofitted to prevent risk takers sliding down the 100 ft high girders holding up the walkways. Cast iron grills were erected to stop transit by over-exuberant youths racing bikes and skateboards along the smooth walkway "racetrack". Dogs fouled the walkways, rubbish chutes were blocked, vandals damaged communal bins, stairwells, lifts and multi-storey residential car parks joined the list of problems. The Towers were never widely popular and were demolished in 1987.[16]

The last remaining eyesore, the walkway to the shops, was eventually demolished as it served no purpose after the Towers' demise, but it stood alone for 10 years until funds were found to bring it down.

The land is now occupied by two new estates of privately owned homes built by Cussins Homes and Barratt Homes.

Town centre

The original town centre was built in the 1960s. The boxer Henry Cooper declared the shopping centre open while standing on the steps of the Puffing Billy pub. The centre included a large department store, Woolco that sold groceries and car parts and even incorporated a tyre service bay.

History of commerce

The Killingworth Centre, 2 May 2006, taken by Pat Alexander

The first two shops in Killingworth in the 1960s were Moore's and a small confectionery shop, situated between Garth Six and Angus Close and adjacent to the West House pub, but these shops were demolished in the 1970s.

The Killingworth Centre with Amberly House in the background, Spring/Summer 1987 Taken by Dave Gilmore.

The shopping centre included Dewhurst butchers, Greggs bakery and newsagents, but it was demolished in the 1980s. The Puffing Billy Pub was built on a bridge over the road.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Morrisons shopping complex (containing Morrisons supermarket) became the commercial centre, while the former Woolco site stood as wasteland for more than a decade. In the early 2000s, Killingworth Centre, a modern shopping mall, was built there. Morrisons moved into a new purpose-built store. The premises vacated by Morrisons were occupied by Matalan.

In 2010, a new KFC and public house ('The Shire Horse') were constructed next to McDonald's in Killingworth Centre.

White Swan Centre

White Swan Centre, 8 May 2006 Taken by Pat Alexander

The White Swan was a large white building in the town centre. It was originally owned by Merz & McLellan and built in the 1960s. It contains 100,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of office space and employed 600 professional and clerical people. It was constructed by Northumberland County Council, the building towered over Killingworth.

Over the years, the office space became vacant and, like the former Woolco site, was disused through the 1990s. The building was reduced in height, remodernised, reopened and renamed White Swan Centre. The name White Swan was chosen from suggestions provided by local school children and reflects the swans found on the local lake. The White Swan Centre was built to house local services previously provided in demolished buildings that had been attached to the high-level shopping precinct. For example, a doctors' surgery and library and a small gym was housed in the White Swan centre as the swimming pool and sports centre had also been demolished. The new Lakeside swimming pool and sports centre was built alongside the lake next to the High School.


The Killingworth Centre incorporates a covered Killingworth bus station that is served by Stagecoach, Arriva and Go-North East.


Killingworth is home to Bailey Green, Moor Edge and Amberley primary schools and George Stephenson High School. In recent years Killingworth moved from a three-tier education system consisting of, First, Middle and High schools, to a two-tier system.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Morrison, Jennifer, "local Histories", twsitelines, sect. Killingworth, retrieved 30 November 2012 
  7. ^ a b Morrison, Jennifer, "HER(800): Killingworth village", twsitelines, retrieved 4 December 2012 
  8. ^ Morrison, Jennifer, "HER(801): Killingworth common fields", twsitelines, retrieved 5 December 2012 
  9. ^ Killingworth fields, retrieved 28 November 2012 
  10. ^ Morrison, Jennifer, "HER(1386): Killingworth Moor", twsitelines, retrieved 5 December 2012 
  11. ^ "Record View". 1998-01-05. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Edwards, Eric, The Safety Lamp "The Miners’ Safety Lamp" , England: The other Within (Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum), retrieved 28 November 2012 
  14. ^ The Rocket Men, by Robin Jones, p33; Mortons Media Group.
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links

  • Killingworth lake
  • Burradon Camperdown
  • Killingworth Towers 1986 Home Video
  • Killingworth Mr Brown's / Puffing Billy Fire 1990 Video
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