The town of Peterlee was named after a prominent East Durham man, Peter Lee (1864-1935), who was a miners’ leader, methodist preacher, local councillor and trade unionist.
Although very much part of the friendly community of East Durham, we’re technically a ‘new Town’, built under the 1946 New Towns Act to provide modern housing and amenities for the mining and rural communities of East Durham.
The case for Peterlee was put forth in Farewell Squalor by Easington Rural District Council Surveyor C.W. Clarke, who also proposed that the town was named after the celebrated Durham miners’ leader Peter Lee.
Peterlee is unique among the new towns which came into being after the Second World War in that it was the only one requested by the people through their MP. A deputation, mostly if not all working miners, met with the Minister of Town and Country Planning Lewis Silkin to put the case for a new town in the district.
The minister responded by offering a half size new town of 30,000 residents, and in 1948 the Peterlee Development Corporation was established to build the new town. The original master-plan for towering blocks of flats by Berthold Lubetkin was rejected as unsuitable for the geology of the area which had been weakened by mining works and he resigned in 1950. George Grenfell Baines replaced Lubetkin and began to build quickly, resulting in some buildings of reputedly poor quality construction that the local council had to contend with in subsequent decades. Williams invited an artist Victor Pasmore to be head of the design team for the landscaping, and he left his mark with a number of prominent local landmarks including the eccentric Apollo Pavilion, his architectural reference to the optimism of the 1950/60s Apollo Space Programme. Pasmore described the Pavillion as:
“… an architecture and sculpture of purely abstract form through which to walk, in which to linger and on which to play, a free and anonymous monument which, because of its independence, can lift the activity and psychology of an urban housing community on to a universal plane.”
Today Peterlee is a vibrant town with a population of around 23,000, set amongst a stunning local environment. The town is built on rolling hills overlooking the Durham limestone coast to our east and and surrounded by rural farmland to our north, west and south. We’re blessed with some outstanding areas of natural beauty including the stunning and wild-feeling Castle Eden Dene, the largest area of semi-natural woodland in north-east England.
We hope to see you soon!!