Bishop Auckland town centre.
Bishop Auckland town centre. © Durham County Council
Bishop Auckland town centre. © Durham County Council

Take a Virtual Tour of Bishop Auckland's Historic Town Centre

We are celebrating the rich history of Bishop Auckland’s town centre with a new virtual guided tour, which we’ve created for this year’s Festival of Archaeology.

The tour has been developed through research carried out as part of the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone. It reveals the town’s fascinating history by unearthing the lives of 14 of its most historically important buildings.    

One of these buildings is 27 Railway Street, which originally opened in 1909 as a theatre and cinema. It was built for the flamboyant theatre impresario Signor Rino Pepi who created a chain of music halls across Northern England including Darlington Hippodrome.

Another stop off on the tour is Gregory’s butchers on Newgate Street. This building used to have its own slaughter house and a boiling house that would heat up animal fat to make tallow for candles.  

Also included is 10-11 Fore Bondgate. Now housing a café and a takeaway, this late 18th century building was once a public house, part of which was used as a local magistrates court.  A passageway leading to the building became known as the ‘Doctor’s Tunnel’. This is because one of the visiting magistrates, who was also a doctor, reputedly held surgeries there and requested that his poorer patients wait their turn in the tunnel.

Online activities such as this story map are a great way of showing just how fascinating our familiar high streets can be under the skin. We hope this Heritage Action Zone map will see people raring to get back in to town to explore their local historic streets and help support town centre businesses again.

Jules Brown, Historic Places Advisor Historic England

The Festival of Archaeology is coordinated by the Council of British Archaeology, in partnership with Historic England. It showcases the very best of archaeology, with special events right across the UK.

In response to the pandemic, this year’s festival is digital and is running from 11 – 19 July.