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County Durham

This article is about the English county of Durham. For other uses see Durham (disambiguation)

County Durham is a county in north-east England, with an area of 558,000 acres (about 223,260 hectares or 870 square miles) and an estimated population (November 2002) of 486,000.

County Durham is a traditional county of England, a ceremonial county and also an administrative county (the area currently administered by Durham County Council).

The form of the county name is unique in England. Many counties are named after their principal town, but the expected form here would be 'Durhamshire'. The reason it is called Durham instead is that the Prince-Bishops of Durham historically exercised power in regions outside the county as well, so the inner part was named County Durham as opposed to the rest of the estate of Durham. (But the form "County X" is standard for Irish counties, with no such significance.)

The traditional county extends to the south bank of the river Tyne and includes the cities of Sunderland and Gateshead. It borders the Counties of Cumberland,Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire. The east of the county between Ryhope, Sunderland and Seaton Carew, Hartlepool is the coastline of the North Sea. The county town is Durham.

The traditional county had several exclaves, including Bedlingtonshire, Norham, Islandshire (incorporated into Northumberland in the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844), and Crayke, now in North Yorkshire.

Geographically, Durham is roughly bounded by the watershed of the Pennines in the west, the River Tees in the south, the North Sea in the east and the River Tyne/River Derwent in the north.

Durham County Council was established along with all the other English county councils in 1888. Major local government reorganisation on 1 April 1974 created the administrative metropolitan boroughs of Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead out of County Durham into the newly established administrative county of Tyne and Wear. At the same time, the new administrative county of Cleveland took out Stockton on Tees and Hartlepool. The County Councils of Tyne and Wear and Cleveland have since been abolished but the administrative county names are occasionally used in postal addresses. The administrative area of County Durham did however gain the rural district of Startforth south of the River Tees near to Barnard Castle.

The administrative county is divided into seven district councils, they are:

On 1 April 1997, the town of Darlington with its population of 100,000 became a unitary authority and thus separate from County Durham although its postal address remains County Durham. It also shares a police and fire service with the county.

Towns and villages

Places of interest External Websites