Our aims as a circuit are to bring Christ’s love to the communities by affirming, encouraging, supporting and helping the Churches to achieve their mission. We are people who worship, witness and work together to share the love of God with everyone. God has called us to serve the present age and look forward with hope.
About the Circuit
The Circuit was formed in 2007 as an amalgamation of three smaller circuits in East Durham. These three circuits were:
• Hartlepool, serving the town and port at the mouth of the River Tees
• Thornley, serving the coal mining villages between the A1M and the A19
• Durham Coast and Peterlee, serving the New Town of Peterlee and the large coalfields villages on the Durham Coast
The present Circuit is still a compact one. It stretches from Seaton Carew in the South to Easington in the north, about 10 miles in the extent; from the North Sea in the East to Coxhoe (5 miles south of Durham) in the West. This is also about 10 miles in extent.
It was basically an area of industry and commerce. The countryside was dotted with pit villages, connected by railways, and the coast was dominated by the large pits of Blackhall Colliery, Horden, and Easington, all working well out under the North Sea. All these areas were served by the towns of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool, later merged to become Hartlepool and, beginning in the late 1950’s, the New Town of Peterlee, which was built to serve the old inland mining villages as their coal became depleted and the mines began to close.
Today the area is very different. People pass through it and comment on how rural it all looks. This is true; the pits have all closed, the spoil heaps and mining areas have all been cleared up and the scene is again dominated by the rolling landscape of the magnesian limestone escarpment. The seaside areas have been largely cleaned up since the pits closed, with the “Turning the Tide” initiative cleaning the beaches and making good the coastline landscape.
On the downside, the closure of the pits and all the infrastructure which went with it, has led to the villages losing many of their amenities and much of their close-knit social fabric. It has led to widespread unemployment and social problems so that this part of East Durham suffers from social deprivation.
The circuit still has many chapels in the former pit villages, a collection of churches and chapels in Hartlepool and a church in Peterlee. This is a total of thirteen Methodist societies in fourteen churches and chapels.
The area is bisected by the A19, which is the principal road in the circuit running from north to south. Link roads from the A19 join all the settlements in the circuit, although in recent years public transport has become a problem in many of the more isolated, rural regions. Anyone with their own means of transport will find it very easy to get around all the circuits, others less so (especially on a Sunday!) There is a coastal railway running from Hartlepool north to Sunderland which connected with the main East Coast line. However Hartlepool is the only station on the line within our circuit.