About The Parish
The Parish of Woodland is located in Teesdale in the South West of County Durham. The Parish serves the village of Woodland together with the surrounding settlements.
Land to the west of Woodland bears evidence of a medieval farmstead and field
boundaries. This would seem to be the earliest evidence of population in an area then
predominately consisting of rough grassland and deciduous woodland. If we take a leap
through time to the Enclosure Act of 1761 the area that was to become Woodland
consisted of a scattering of isolated houses and coal mines. It was the presence of coal
that laid the foundations for a population explosion.
Coal mining and the birth of Woodland
The 19th Century saw an incredible period of growth due to widespread mining of coal
which was used to fuel developing heavy industry on Teeside as well as being transported
to Lancashire. The population rocketed from a small scattering of families to its peak of
about 700 in the middle of the 19th Century. Extra housing was built to house migrant
workers, many from Ireland. A school was built, paid for by the colliery, a miner's
welfare hall was erected, funded by the men themselves, and a corrugated iron mission
church was built with the bell cast by local men in the neighbouring pit. Woodland
Colliery ran four locomotives and at the turn of the century fuelled 196 coke ovens.
The mines brought jobs and wealth but the price to pay was danger and frequent loss of
life. Many tragedies occured caused by rockfalls, bad air or explosions. The miners
worked day after day, many feet under the ground in a space often only big enough to
crawl in, a lifestyle incomprehensible to most of us today. In 1857 Woodland and the
neighbouring villages of Copley, Butterknowle and Cockfield, which collectively make
up an area known as The Upper (River) Gaunless Valley, laid claim to 549 collieries,
drifts and shafts, many of which were small, privately owned concerns employing small
numbers of men.
By the beginning of the 20th Century the growth of the coal industry was slowing rapidly
as demand for coal fluctuated. By 1921 Woodland Colliery was in the process of being
closed, its railway dismantled, its chimneys and coke ovens levelled. The last colliery
closed in 1953. The boom times were over and the population began to decline.
The Modern Village
Today coal mining is only a memory to those members of the community old enough to
recall this period of the village's past. In places the land bears the scars of mining,
remains of tramways and tunnels can be seen and many pit heaps of shale lie hidden by
grass, but coal plays no part in today's village.
Woodland is now a typical small rural community with most villagers finding
employment in local towns and cities. Agriculture provides a living for a number of
villagers, livestock rearing being the most suitable practice for such an upland area. The
population of the village is now around 275 people. They are served by a primary school,
St. Mary's Church , a village hall, a single shop/post office and ‘The Edge’ pub.
Villagers enjoy a high quality of life. Woodland is located in a beautiful area of the
country. It stands 1100 feet above sea level and commands outstanding views of the
Cumbrian Mountains to the west, the moors of North Yorkshire to the south and, on a
clear day, the east coast and North Sea.
Although within easy reach of towns and cities Woodland is on the doorstep of some of
England's most unspoilt countryside. Teesdale and Weardale offer many opportunities for
outdoor leisure and Hamsterley Forest, only 1 mile from the village, is a very popular
attraction offering walks, bike rides and horse riding to name just a few of the available