Newton Aycliffe

Newton Aycliffe is a town in County Durham, England. Founded in 1947 under the New Towns Act of 1946, it is the oldest new town in the north of England.

It has a population of 29,000 people (source: Great Aycliffe Town Council, 2007), other reports put the population between 23,000 and 25,000. It is the largest town within the Sedgefield constituency. Within a 10-mile radius are several towns and villages including Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Heighington. To the south of the town is the village of Aycliffe. Newton comes from 'New Town'. Aycliffe Village is near to the A1(M) junction with the A167 (former A1).

Until 2009, it was in the borough of Sedgefield, based in Spennymoor. It was the largest town in the borough. Newton Aycliffe has since April 2009 been governed by the Great Aycliffe Town Council and the County Durham Unitary Authority.


Prior to the Newtown development, Aycliffe (originally 'Acley') was the site of a Saxon settlement. The name Acley came from the Saxon words: 'Ac', meaning oak, and 'ley', meaning 'a clearing'. Aycliffe was the location of a church synods in AD 782 and AD 789. Another old name was 'Yacley'. The town's motto is Latin for "Not the Least, but the Greatest we seek".

On the edge of the town is the Bishop Auckland to Darlington railway branch line which is part of the 1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway. George Stephenson's steam locomotive Locomotion No 1 was placed on the rails close to Newton Aycliffe near to where Heighington station is. The Great North Road passed (A1) through the town until 1969.

World War II
In more recent times Aycliffe was a key element in World War II ammunitions manufacturing. The marshy land was ideal cover against the Luftwaffe as it was almost continually shrouded in fog and mist. Huge grass covered munitions factories were built and serviced by the nearby railway lines. The factories were largely staffed by women (in their thousands); these ladies were dubbed the " Aycliffe Angels ", who braved incredible dangers inside the factories.

Beveridge Report
The government asked William Beveridge to produce a report on what he wanted Britain to be like after the war. In 1942 he produced his report. Five giants, he said, oppressed mankind - Poverty, Disease, Homelessness, Ignorance and Unemployment. To end this, once and for all, Beveridge proposed a state system of Social Security benefits, a National Health Service, council housing, free education and full employment. He called it the Welfare State. The Welfare State was brought in all over Britain in 1948, but Beveridge chose one place especially which he wanted to be the shining example of how his new world would work. The moors between Aycliffe and Middridge were perfect - there was a huge ordnance factory that was no longer needed for the war, and there was plenty of poor farmland to build on. It is where Beveridge chose his flagship new town - Newton Aycliffe. This man - the shaper of modern Britain - even came to live here, and had a house at the top of Pease Way.

The factories were eventually replaced by manufacturing buildings that became the industrial district of Aycliffe. After the war many companies moved onto the industrial estate, including Great Lakes Chemicals, which retained the munitions factories until 2004 when it was closed and demolished, along with these original factories used by the Aycliffe Angels. Also there were Eaton Axles, and B.I.P., who were to become two of the largest employers of the town until the early 1980s. One other company was Union Carbide. Eaton Axles closed down and shipped itself to Poland, B.I.P. is now Hydro Polymers, Union Carbide was taken over by Sanyo for several years, but this has now closed. Businesses currently located in the town include Flymo, 3M and Ineos (who have taken over Hydro Polymers) with many more small factory units.

From its start Newton Aycliffe kept expanding in size, until 1980 when the council stopped building council homes. Since then private houses and housing associations have been building the town's homes. From c. 1983 an area of private housing called Woodham Village was built.

The town has a large industrial estate to the south of the town, split into three.

  • On the Heighington Lane Business Park, Lidl have a main distribution centre on Millenium Way, and with RF Micro Devices, are to the south of the estate. The RFMD plant was formerly a DRAM factory for Fujitsu until 1999, when bought by Filtronic, who then sold their semiconductor business to RFMD in 2007. The plant uses pHEMT technologies ( High electron mobility transistor), using Gallium arsenide (GaAs) and Gallium nitride (GaN). The plant makes electronic wafers.
  • Aycliffe Industrial Estate
  • Aycliffe Industrial Park (nearest to the town)

The Ineos plant (former Hydro Polymers PVC plant) is west of the railway, south of the railway station.

Street names
There are no "streets" in Newton Aycliffe (no places of residence with the suffix 'street'.). The main road which runs through the centre of the town is 'Central Avenue'. There are many Roads, Closes, Crescents and even a Parade. In the older parts of the town the streets are named after Bishops of Durham and Saints: Van Mildert (road); St. Aidan's (walk); Biscop (Crescent). Some are named after prominent local families; Shafto (way), Eden (road), and Bowes (Road) for example. Even named after the movers and shakers of the New Town Movement such as Lord Lewis Silkin (Silkin Way) and Lord Beveridge (Beveridge Way). Second phase of building saw the end of roads, ways and crescents, instead whole areas were named after trees; Beech Field; Oak Field; Ash Field and Elm Field. The third part of building took place in three phases, Agnew 1, 2, and 3. These were named after the architect.

Schools in the area are

  • Aycliffe Village Primary School - Website
  • Byerley Park Primary School - Website
  • Elmfield Primary School - This has now closed because attendances fell to just 34 pupils. This school has now merged with Stephenson Way.
  • Greenfield School Community and Arts College - Website
  • Heighington Church Of England Primary School
  • Horndale Infant School
  • St Francis Church Of England Junior School
  • St Joseph's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School
  • St Mary's Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School - Website
  • Stephenson Way Community Primary School - Website
  • Sugar Hill Primary School
  • Vane Road Primary School - Website
  • Woodham Burn Infant School
  • Woodham Burn Junior School - Website
  • Woodham Community Technology College - Website
  • Milton and Marlow Hall's were two adjacent secondary schools which originally served the town. They merged in 1971 to create the Avenue Comprehensive. The Avenue was closed in 1992. It was later demolished and the area stood as wasteland for around ten years. The site is now occupied by a Tesco store, Argos and a betting shop.


The A167 (former A1) is the main road to the town, it runs to Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne (30 miles) in the north and Darlington (8 miles) and Northallerton in the south. The A1(M) is near to the town and runs to Edinburgh in the north and London to the south, it provides as an alternative route to Durham and Newcastle in the north. The A689 is also near the town and it runs to Bishop Auckland in the west and Hartlepool and Teesside in the east. By bus, the town has bus services provided by Arriva to Bishop Auckland, Durham, Darlington, Ferryhill, Peterlee, Sedgefield, and Sunderland. There is the X61 express to Whitby and Scarborough which runs only during early spring to late summer which is also provided by Arriva.

The Newton Aycliffe railway station, which is on the Tees Valley Line, has train services provided by Northern Rail to Bishop Auckland, Shildon, Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Saltburn. There are connections to East Coast services to Edinburgh and London at Darlington, connections to Grand Central services to Northallerton, York and London at Eaglescliffe, and connections to Northern Rail services to Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle at Thornaby.


Aycliffe Fellwalking Club
Aycliffe Fell walking Club is based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham (near Darlington in the North East of England) and is open to everyone interested in fell walking or rambling. It caters for walkers of all abilities and ages. Each outing has a variety of walks of different lengths and difficulty ratings and transport is by comfortable coach that picks up in Darlington, Newton Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland. The pickup times and routes are always published in each notification post, which can be accessed from the website.

Aycliffe Stadium
A speedway track was built in 1952, which was used for training purposes. There is some evidence that the site was used as a greyhound track in the late 1940s. In 1954 the speedway training track was used for the 1st time to host stock car racing. Stock car racing took place at Aycliffe Stadium from 1954 through to November 19, 1989. By the 1970s stock cars had evolved into purpose-built single-seater "specials" of enormous power and careful construction, and the racing attracted fans and competitors from all over England. Some of the sport's most successful builders and racers, including World Champions Stuart Smith and his sons Stuart Jnr and Andy, Willie Harrison, Doug Cronshaw, and Frankie Wainman Jnr were from the North of England. The stadium closed to make way for factory units on the expanding Industrial Estate.

Newton Aycliffe FC
Northern League Division two football team recently promoted and play their home games at Moore Lane Park.

Golf Courses
Newton Aycliffe has two golf courses, a public course - Oakleaf Golf Complex and a private course - Woodham Golf and Country Club.

There are two nearby Accident and Emergency departments in the area - Bishop Auckland Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital. Both hospitals are well equipped to dealing with chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, convulsions, diabetes and general ill health and will liaise with the regional psychiatric teams in the event of mental health cases or for referral to the West Park Mental Health Hospital. Mental Health teams operate from the Pioneering Care Centre also in the case of Child and Adolescent Mental to the new centre in Burn Lane. Darlington is more equipped for injuries such as broken bones, severe abdominal pain which may require surgery, eye conditions and maternity and baby cases although Bishop Auckland may look at these cases and refer to Darlington if necessary. For cancer treatments a visit many miles away to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough is required. The trust which runs these two hospitals was rated as 'good' for its overall quality and use of services by the HealthCare Commission Standards.


  • Perstorp in Sweden

During the 1970s/1980s Aycliffe was twinned with the town of Perstorp. This twinning operation was made possible by the partnership between the two Mayors.

Notable people

  • Ross Turnbull, goalkeeper who now plays for Chelsea F.C.. He attended the local comprehensive school, Woodham Community Technology College
  • Scott Mann, director of The Tournament , is from Newton Aycliffe.
  • George Courtney, World Cup referee. He taught at Vane Road Primary School
  • Jason Steele a current goalkeeper for Middlesbrough F.C

Building Activity

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