Today has been a bit of a revelation in my understanding about the Geography of North East England.
So many places I’d heard of, but had always just put as being “up north”.
I knew roughly where the key big towns and places were, Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, it was all the other places that I’d heard of but hadn’t realised were so close.
First one of the morning was Stockton. It took a couple of seconds for it to sink in as to why this was a town name I knew of. In fact it’s only when you add the phrase “and Darlington” onto the end of it for it to trigger it’s importance. From here the world’s first railway left. The pretty ropey bit of railway line I was travelling along in a glorified bus on rails was genesis for railways, and it felt that in 180 years, up here at least, not much had changed (except there was a roof on the train-bus)
Two stops further on and we reached a town that until a couple of years ago wasn’t particularly known to the outside world but since “Mr Canoe” of Seaton Carew (it even rhymes, that only adds to it.), John Darwin did his infamous reappearing five years after he died trick (see this Wikipedia entry for more ) the town has gained some level of knowledge in the public consciousness (and probably for a better reason than Seascale nee Winscale almost due West on the Cumbrian coast).
Later in the evening on the way into Bishop Auckland I saw road signs pointing to another town that was only a short distance away, Sedgefield.
Which brings me to two famous ex MP’s in a day. Hartlepool had been the constituency of Lord (Peter) Mandelson. Sedgefield his erstwhile boss Anthony (trust me, I’m Tony) Blair.
Political Naivety here, but I hadn’t realised quite how close their constituencies were, not actually touching, but less than 20 miles in it!
Still, that’s unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon, so if someone say’s “Oh, it’s near Sedgefield” I’ll know exactly where they mean.