The family which shaped part of Hartlepool - before war wiped them out

An old view of Hartlepool docks.
An old view of Hartlepool docks.

From eloping couples to encounters with highwaymen - retired teacher Maureen Taylor-Gooby has investigated one of the North-East’s most influential families.

Her focus turns on the Burdons who were behind the construction of railways, Hartlepool docks, and Hartlepool hospital.

Maureen Taylor-Gooby.

Maureen Taylor-Gooby.

The family started out in Stockton, settled in Castle Eden and eventually had most of their estate overtaken by the rise of Peterlee newtown.

It’s a 550-page read. Maureen, 76, admitted: “It’s that long because there were so many of them in the family.”

Husband David has prepared an introduction and said: “It is interesting to speculate how things might have turned out differently if the Burdon family had not been wiped out by the First World War and had been able to maintain its influence in the area.

“The Burdon family did not just look after their estate. They and their relations were involved in many contemporary events, from the Civil War, to the wars in India, the abolition of the Slave Trade, mining disputes and of course the First World War. The Burdons were also responsible for building the Turnpike (now the A19) and the first Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland (although there was an ongoing dispute as to actually designed it.)”

Like so many landowning families the advent of the First World War wiped out many of their sons who would have continued the line.

David Taylor-Gooby

One of the Roland Burdons, as they were commonly known, was a friend of William Pitt and had an encounter with a highwayman. There were at least two elopements in the family and a JP who sentenced convicts to be transported.

Horden-born Maureen, a former advisory teacher in maths across County Durham, said: “It is not the sort of book you wuld read all at once but it’s the sort where you will find an interest.”

Husband David added: “A picture emerges too of a family which was concerned about, and cared for their local community, albeit in a paternalistic way. The Burdons were involved in the construction of railways,Hartlepool docks, and perhaps most importantly Hartlepool hospital. They also helped many local charities and community organisations on a smaller scale.”

He said the Great War wiped out all the sons who “would have continued the line” including Roland Burdon VII who would have inherited the estate.

David said: “Now the family home has become flats and the church where the family was buried has been closed. It is therefore important that we remember the contribution the Burdons made to East Durham.”

The book, The Rowland Burdons, North Country Gentlefolk, is available on Amazon at £20, and directly from the Taylor-Goobys - email david.taylorgooby@btinternet.com or call (0191) 3741827.