Peterlee is a new town in County Durham, England. Founded in 1948, Peterlee town originally mostly housed coal miners. Peterlee has strong economic and community ties with Sunderland and Hartlepool.

The case for Peterlee was put forth vigorously in Farewell Squalor by Easington Rural District Council Surveyor C.W. Clarke, who also proposed that the town was named after the celebrated Durham miners' leader Peter Lee. Peterlee is unique among the new towns which came into being after the Second World War in that it was the only one requested by the people through their MP ”“ though whether a majority of the people living in the surrounding colliery villages actually wanted it to be built is disputable. It can be argued that the building of Peterlee was at the expense of such nearby colliery villages as Thornley and Wheatley Hill where development was deliberately suppressed by the local council in favour of the new town. The colliery village of Horden has, however, suffered perhaps more; its proximity to Peterlee has seen it lose all of its major services, including police and fire stations to the new town. A deputation, mostly if not all working miners, met with the Minister of Town and Country Planning after the Second World War to put the case for a new town in the district. The minister John Silkin responded by offering a half size new town of 30,000 residents. Subsequently, they came largely from the surrounding villages in the District of Easington. The Peterlee Development Corporation was established in 1948 under the direction of A V Williams. The original ambitious master-plan for towering blocks of flats by Berthold Lubetkin was rejected as unsuitable for the geology of the area which had been weakened by mining works and he resigned in 1950. George Grenfell Baines replaced Lubetkin and began to build quickly resulting in buildings of poor quality construction. In a bold move Williams invited an artist Victor Pasmore to be head of the design team for the landscaping. The Apollo Pavilion was completed in 1970 at centre of the Sunny Blunts estate and was named after the Apollo Space Programme. As well as a visual focus the structure acted as a bridge across a small lake. Nikolaus Pevsner provides a glowing commentary on the interaction of the housing units and the Pavilion with the landscape; however, the structure became a meeting point for unruly locals and was soon defaced with graffiti and a congregation area for drug users and drinkers. In 1982 Pasmore agreed to the connecting stairs being removed. In 1975, Artist Placement Group had contacted new towns to set up the terms for artists to propose projects. The Development Corporation of Peterlee New Town responded and in 1976, Stuart Brisley was appointed. The project contained three distinct parts:

  • to develop an ongoing process of collecting and disseminating information under the title History Within Living Memory
  • to establish a publicly available history of the Development Corporation made in association with the Sociology Dept of the University of Durham
  • to introduce a community workshop which began in 1977

Some local residents and councillors had petitioned to have the Apollo Pavilion demolished, citing it as an eyesore. Some locals also refer to the Pavilion as 'the Monstrosity' and an application to have the structure listed was rejected. Late in 2008 up to July 2009, the Apollo Pavilion has been revamped, with the original features such as the murals and stairs reinstated, more than can be found on this page from the Sunderland Echo and from the Apollo Pavilion Website.


  • Peterlee Town Council
  • Durham County Council

Peterlee has seen a number of changes in the last several years, this includes a bus station and also a partial indoor conversion of the shopping centre, which was given the name Castle Dene Shopping Centre. A larger ASDA supermarket was built and opened in November 2001. The old ASDA supermarket has been utilised by various retailers in 2002 including a Buckingham Bingo hall and a JD Wetherspoon public house, a Wilkinson store and a Poundworld store. Recent redevelopments include a number of new clothes shops including New Look and The Officers' Club. Retailers such as Sports Direct, Walter Wall and Storeys Carpets have replaced Safeway. The town also has an Argos, Boots and various shoe shops plus a couple of places serving home-made food. After the removal of the old ramp and steps, a new lift and staircase were installed in the market square of the town restoring access to ASDA and various shops and services on the top level. A Gamestation shop opened in February 2007. The lower deck carpark near ASDA is used on Bank Holidays for a Market. In 2009, the town centre has recently finished further development with a B&M Bargains store built on the plot that once housed Michael O'Connor; Grainger Games has also opened a store in the town centre. ASDA has recently expanded the store, with the opening of a second floor that houses clothing and the cafe. A Subway (restaurant) has opened recently, sharing with the Post Office and a new delicatessen and tearoom has opened recently. Redevelopment plans within the Eden Hill area of the town are underway; Saxon Park is the name of the new housing estate built by Ben Bailey Homes. The opening of the East Durham Trust building opposite the Royal Arms Pub on Yoden Road has been part of the redevelopment of Eden Hill. Under a new proposal for further redevelopment of Peterlee, Tesco are wanting to build a new Eco-store on the old college site; this new store would create 400 new jobs and include a brand new library. Further reading on this can be found in the following articles: Eco jobs in Peterlee and Tesco announces new store development and 400 new jobs.


  • Peterlee holds a two day event called the Peterlee Show, which is held at the end of the summer holidays (usually the first weekend of September) on Helford Road Cricket Ground, which is not far from the Pasmore Pavilion.
  • Peterlee has plenty of open spaces, fields and trees, with various parks and leisure facilities.
  • Peterlee is situated next to Castle Eden Dene, a national nature reserve.
  • A new community website has recently opened for the people of Peterlee and East Durham. The site, called Your Peterlee, aims to provide the community with useful contacts, such as community groups and local organisations, as well as a Whats On in the area. The site was set up by Shotton Hall School and iTech.


Peterlee is served by two main roads, The A19 runs to the west of the town leading to Sunderland in the north and Teesside in the south, the A1086 runs to the east of the town leading to Easington in the north and Hartlepool to the south. The B1320 runs through the town centre linking the town to Horden and the A1086 in the east and Shotton Colliery and the A19 in the west. The B1432 runs north from the town centre to Easington Village, Hawthorn and Seaham on the route of the old A19.

Peterlee is served by Arriva North East and Go North East who provide services around the town the surrounding villages and to the following towns and cities: Newcastle, Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland, Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, Hartlepool, Sedgefield, Newton Aycliffe, Billingham, Stockton, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, Darlington; there is also a bus to the MetroCentre. Other bus operators include Scarlett Band who run services to Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland.

Peterlee was served by Horden Railway Station on the Durham Coast Line until it closed in 1964.



  • Acre Rigg Infant School
  • Acre Rigg Junior School
  • Dene House Primary School
  • Eden Community Primary School now called Sea Scape Primary
  • Howletch Lane Primary School
  • Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Primary School
  • Shotton Hall Infant School
  • Shotton Hall Junior School
  • North Blunts Primary School (Demolished 2009)
  • Cotsford junior School
  • Cotsford Infant School


  • Dene Community School of Technology - Specialist Sports College (Formally Dene House Comprehensive)
  • Shotton Hall School - Performing Arts College
  • St. Bede's Catholic Comprehensive School - Specialist Humanities

6th Form Facilities

  • Byron Sixth Form College (On the site of St. Bede's Catholic Comprehensive School)


  • East Durham College - The building at the town centre is now closed as the college is now on one site at Howletch. Peterlee Library remains at its current location.

Adult education

  • Learn East is a Skills for Life provider situated on the 6th floor of Lee House in Peterlee Town Centre. Learn East offers a variety of educational services and courses within Peterlee and East Durham for people who want to learn new skills such as ICT, Digital Photography or build up their Literacy and Numeracy Skills; Family Learning is done through this organisation. Further information and contacts can be found via Durham County Council Adult Education Courses Website.

Town twinning

  • Nordenham, Germany (since 1981)

Notable people

  • Gina McKee - actress
  • Roy Walker - television personality and comedian
  • The Krankies - comedy duo

Building Activity

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