Teesdale Record Society eader picture
Barnard Castle from the river Tees
Barnard Castle from the river Tees

The valley of the river Tees, referred to as Teesdale, is both beautiful and historical. The river tees rises 754 metres up at Cross Fell in the remote and windswept pennines and over the next 85 miles passes thought nearly every form of landscape until reaching the North Sea in the industrial powerhouse of Teesside. As one of England's major waterways it has, from earliest times, been a conduit for commerce and settlement; activities which have left their make on people and landscape. For an introduction to the history of the area you would do well to read our article An Introduction to Teesdale History by Ken Fairless

Teesdale has be inhabited for at least 12,000 years and traces of this litter the landscape, but much of this information is unrecorded and what records there are are in danger of being lost. This prompted E. R. Hanby-Holmes, back in 1934, to form the Teesdale Record Society with the initial aim of preserving these historical records.

Cotherstone Church
A stained glass window in Cotherstone Church

Mr Hanby-Holmes was a local solicitor and his founding members were drawn from his clients. The early meetings were held in the homes of the members but this soon proved to be impractical and today the society uses a mixture of indoor meetings in the Millenium Room at Cotherstone Village Hall and field visits during the summer where member and guests can see the history in place. The founders decided to take the 16th century Seal of the Burgesses of Barnard Castle as the emblem, which the society still uses, and it quickly become apparent that focusing only on records was leaving a great deal of the local history undocumented. With this in mind the society now aims to preserve as much of the local history as it can.

To this end the society holds 11 monthly meetings which cover a wide range of topics. The meetings take the form of either indoor meetings, generally during the winter, and these are held in the Millennium Room at Cotherstone Village Hall, or outdoor meetings which are held at a variety of locations in the dale.

As a fundamental part of its mission to preserve records of Teesdale the Society has, since its beginnings, published a journal of original articles on the area and past copies of many editions are available to be purchased on-line and at our meetings. The Society has also run a series of study days, and it is hoped more will be run in the future, and the papers from these have been published with past copies available to be purchase on our publications page.

As a Society we know we can achieve far more working with complementary groups than we can alone and we have now become Associate Members of the Historical Battlefields trust and look forward to working with them in the future. Further details of there work can be found here (opens in a new tab).