It is not known exactly when West Auckland was first inhabited but there is evidence
of the existence of "Auckland West" in the history of St. Cuthbert in the 11 Th Century.
The Boldon Book in 1183 showed West Auckland was inhabited by a number of Serfs who
were part of the tenantry of the Bishop of Durham, Hugh de Puset, the first of the
The creation of a church dedicated to St. Helen in the 13th Century in "Auckland
West" heralded th beginning of a separate community in what was later known as St.Helen
After the opening of the Darlington and Stockton Railway in 1825, the search for
coal escalated, so drilling started in 1826 in West Auckland and 1828 in St Helen
Auckland, so with the better prospect of jobs the population rose from 978 in 1801
to 1,509 in 1840 and increased to 3,651 by 1891. By the turn of the century West
Auckland Colliery employed 620 men and St Helens Colliery 352 men.
A school that catered for only 20 children was enlarged in the 1870 and then amalgamated
into a National School to accommodate 533 Children. 1880 Elementary Education was
West Auckland made criminal history in the 1870's when Mary Ann Cotton, a miner's
wife, was convicted and hanged in Durham Jail for poisoning her stepson, Frederick
at their home at 13 Front Street.
Although only convicted on one charge, she was believed to have murdered 20 people
by poisoning and to have been the greatest poisoner ever - as witness her entry in
the Guinness Book of Records.
West Auckland Brewery operated behind the old hall that had been the home of the
Eden Family. It was begun by J.H. Taplin but was taken over by a limited company
of wealthy tradesmen.
West Auckland Football Club won a world football cup in 1908 to 1909 when they beat
a Milan team and then, two years later, beat teams from Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
The trophy, donated by Sir Thomas Lipton, used to stand in a display case in West
Auckland Working Man's Club. Unfortunately, it was stolen in 1994 and to date has
not been recovered. An exact replica has been put in its place
The Boldon Book
As many people know, the famous Domesday Book of 1086 does not cover English lands
north of the River Tees. For whatever reason – be it that the area had been ‘wasted’
by the Normans in previous years, or, more likely, that the region was considered
ungovernable – the surveyors
studiously avoided the present-day counties of Northumberland and Durham when the
most famous manuscript in English history was compiled 900+ years ago.
King William I was happy to let the infamous Prince Bishops of Durham get on with
it up here, it seems. And they were pretty powerful men in their day. Perhaps the
most famous of them, Hugh de Pudsey, considered himself so important, in fact, that
he commissioned a ‘Domesday Book’ of his own in 1183 – a work that came to be known
as ‘The Boldon Book’.