Boldron History

Boldron Community Buildings

Boldron Village Hall

THE first reference to the building of the village hall was a  letter to the Director of Community Service Council at Durham, Mr J W Twenlow on the18 March, 1946, from Mr M Welsh, The Cottage, Boldron who was chairman of the Parish Meeting at that time.  There had originally been a house on the land where the village hall was built and this land was sold to the WI by Mr Thomas Cook for £15 in 1945.  In the early 1940s, the derelict house was used by soldiers from Deerbolt for exercises and there was a lot of old ammunition left around.  The site was the gift of the Boldron Women’s Institute. 

The Teesdale Mercury of 28 February, 1962 included an article headed ‘Work Starts on Boldron Village Hall’ and says that ‘work has now commenced on the new village hall at Boldron. The contract is in the hands of a firm of Darlington builders and the architect in charge of the construction is Mr John Lawton, ERICA, of Barnard Castle.The estimated cost of the hall, plus equipment, is approximately £4,000, and the Ministry of Education have approved a 50 per cent grant towards this. 

Instead of an official laying of the foundation stone, everyone had the opportunity to put their name on a brick and lay it in the foundations for a donation to the fund.  A footnote to the article in the Teesdale Mercury about this ceremony said: ‘It is understood that there is no extra charge for the cement and that for the inexperienced, the foreman builder will be available to assist when needed and he will supervise so that bricks are properly laid’. The first and second bricks were laid by the oldest in the village, Mrs Bradbury, and the youngest, Catherine Lawton.  One fund-raising idea was a farm open day with teas, stalls and sheep dog trials.  Whist drives were also held to raise funds — in various places, including outside if the weather was good.

By the Year 2000 the Village Hall was getting dated with no hot water and poor insulation and heating and there was another big fund raising effort made the Parish which included garden open days, car boot sales, the publication of a local history booklet and grant applications were made to a number of funding bodies.  This was successful and the Village Hall was completely re-modelled and updated.

In 2013 the Parish received a grant and it was decided that a stone seat would be commissioned to be sited in front of the Village Hall.  It was made and installed by a local stonemasons - P & S Coverdale Masonry Contractors and is used regularly during events such as Boldron Sports and village barbecues. 

One of the village projects for the Millennium was to produce a patchwork wall-hanging for the village hall.  Large quantities of blue and cream material were purchased at a cost of £40 and these were cut into 25cm squares, which were then delivered to all the homes in the Parish, with a note asking the owners to depict their household on it in any way they chose.  Most people joined in enthusiastically, some sub contracted the work and a few just had their house name embroidered on their square.  All names were requested in black.

The returned squares show a diverse selection of techniques. The central larger square depicts the outline of the Parish and surrounding that are squares representing the George & Dragon Inn, The Quoits Club, Athelston’s Well, Kearton Plant Hire Company, Boldron Church, Boldron WI, The Village Hall, Dominoes & Quiz teams, the telephone box, Saunders Caravan Park, Sunday Club and Boldron Chapel. The squares of individual homes are placed around these.  The central square of the Parish was taken from a map obtained on the internet and one unit depicts the railway emblem, otherwise all other designs are original.  Materials and techniques used are silk threads, fur fabric, cotton material, beads, fabric paints, fabric pastels, counted thread material, felt, plastic, artificial flowers, satin material, acrylic paints, felt pens, knitting and photographs transferred to the material. Stitches include cross stitch, satin stitch, straight stitch, blanket stitch, daisy stitch and machine stitching.  One villager had the daunting task of joining all the squares together – not as easy as you would imagine – and she finished it off with a plain cream border.

Once joined together there was the mammoth task of getting the wall-hanging framed and transported.  Various quotes were received and it was agreed to use Gallagher & Turner in Newcastle.  The deep rebated solid ash fronted frame, finished with wax and French polish with 3mm acrylic glazing, measured 1980 x 1980mm.  The joined squares were stretched over a softwood frame to sit inside the main frame.  The cost of framing the wall-hanging amounted to £1,116.00.  Grants were received from Teesdale District Council.  A local kindly transported the finished item from Newcastle in a large van and another fixed it to the wall with brass plates.  A white blind was installed to cover the wall hanging when not on display, to keep it from fading, and this doubled as a screen for presentations!

The National Needlework Record’s Stitch 2000 Project

The wall-hanging was registered with the National Needlework Record’s Stitch 2000 Project.  The National Needlework Record was established in 1999 to raise the profile and value of needlework in the community - meaning those displayed in public or semi-public locations or owned by community groups or associations - and to build an extensive data resource for academic research.  The Stitch 2000 Project was a unique research study – the aim of which was to record 1,000 needleworks produced in the Millennium and to show the wonderful achievement in terms of skills, dedication, community spirit, art and history.  It also aimed to monitor the physical condition of the works and to record activities, celebrations, etc. in which the needleworks ‘take part’. The work had to be on permanent or frequent public display over a period of a minimum of twelve months.  The needleworks will be recognised as a major contribution to our national Second Millennium.  We have the Registration Label below with the number ST2DUR005C – ST2 shows the needlework was created for the Millennium,  DUR shows the county where it was located when first made, 005 is the individual number of the needlework in Durham and C tells the type of building where the needlework was located when first made.

Boldron Primitive Methodist Chapel

Boldron Primitive  Methodist Chapel was built in the 1860's, but Methodism was active in the village from at least the 1820's with worshippers meeting in houses.  The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Richardson and it opened on Good Friday 1868.

The picture shows Mrs Richardson and a large congregation at the laying of the foundation stone.  She was presented with an inscribed silver trowel.  Mrs Richardson also gave a Bible to the finished Chapel.

This picture was taken at the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Chapel in 1937.

The Methodist Chapel was often used as a meeting place for villagers before the construction of the Village Hall and many Parish Meetings were held there.

The Chapel had a thriving Sunday School for many years and a congregation who came from all over Teesdale as well as the local area to worship.  However, as with many other places of worship the congregation dwindled and the Chapel closed.  

The building had planning permission to be turned into a house, but with the close of the George and Dragon Inn, the community building that was Boldron Chapel was converted into a social club, known as the Pinfold Club.  This name refers to the time when this piece of land was the village pinfold, where straying stock were kept until their owners collected them.

Boldron Mission Church

Boldron C of E Mission Church was built in the 1880's.  Before that date, parishioners from Boldron worshipped at Holy Trinity Church, Startforth or St Giles' Church, Bowes.It was built on the site of an old house, occupied by Jonathan Clarkson in 1841, and much of the building stone was recycled from this house.  The font, bell and pews were also recycled from Startforth Church.

There was a thriving congregation for many years and numerous babies were baptised in the reputedly Saxon font.  However, in recent years the numbers dwindled and the Church was sold and is now being converted into a house.

Boldron  Quoits Hut

Boldron have two teams that play in the Zetland Quoits League every summer.  The quoits hut is used to by players to shelter from the occasional rain shower whilst the teams are playing. It was originally a barn for one of the village farms.

It also is used every December when the village Christmas tree lights are ceremonially lit.  This year carols were sung in there and hot soup, mulled wine and mince pies were enjoyed while the villagers sheltered from Storm Desmond.

The George And Dragon, Boldron


with dates they took over if known

(children who lived with them in brackets)


2006                 Julie & Terry Race

2002                 Sara Eastgate

1978                 Dennis & Ruby Johnson (Denise)

                          Bill & Terry Saunders

1961                 Harry & Lily Kealey

                          Len & Eleanor Wade

                          Fred & Flo Anson

                          Laura Zwiegler

                          Isabella Allison

                          Jean Rodber

                          Jack & Mrs Howson

1953                 Gladys Shirley & Family

1938                 Percival Collins

1933                 Robert Hewitson

1929                 John Thomas Kavanagh (Myra, Gordon & Margaret)

1925                 Dora Woodhams

1921                 Albert Woodhams

1912                 George Leslie

1909                 Thomas Walker

1905                 James Brunskill

1851-93            Richard & Hannah Jackson (with William, Robert, Newby, Hannah & Richard)


There is the odd discrepancy between the above and the dates in The George & Dragon Timeline – any further information would be of interest.




compiled by Nicky Carter


1552 - The Alehouse Act.

1753 -The Licensing Act ordered that Clerks of the Peace at Quarter Sessions should keep a full register of victuallers and their recognizances. This was the beginning of a more complete recording of licensing business. 

1828 - The Licensing Act (9 George IV c61) confirmed that it was necessary to obtain a full licence from the Justices in order to sell any excisable liquor by retail. However, it failed to make provision for the keeping of licensing records by the clerk of the Peace. 

1830 - The Beer Act 1830 (I William IV c64) made it permissible for any householder assessed to the poor rate to take out an excise licence, granted by the Excise authorities, to sell beer, ale and cider, removing the requirement that a licence should be obtained from local justices, thus reversing, to a large extent, the main thrust of previous licensing policy. 

1844 - In the 1841 census there is no mention of a victualler in Boldron and although the Beer Act was passed in 1830 it is possible the ‘George and Dragon’ only came about in the mid-1840s, as in1844, Richard and Hannah Jackson, the first land lord and lady of the George and Dragon, listed Boldron as their address at the baptism of their son William Spark Jackson (however, interestingly, John Hurworth is listed as a victualler for Boldron in the 1840 White's Directory).

1851 - Richard Jackson, a native to Barnard Castle and his wife, Hannah, who was born at Brignall, are listed on the 1851 census.  Richard's occupation is listed as Innkeeper and Cordwainer.

1857 - In the North East Post office directory Richard Jackson is again listed as the landlord of the George and Dragon and as a shoemaker as well, which would be reasonable to assume owing to the fact that he would have a good working knowledge of leather as his grandfather, John Jackson, had been a prominent saddle maker in Barnard Castle. 

1859 - During the 44 years Richard ran the George and Dragon he had one or two ‘run-ins’ with the authorities. Notably in 1859 Richard was hauled to the Greta Bridge Magistrates court for allegedly allowing card games to be played within the pub. Although a report of the proceedings was not printed within the Teesdale Mercury, his landlord and immediate neighbour, Rowland Stephen Richardson, took it upon himself to write to the editor and lambasted the magistrates for the ridiculous charge. The two-column letter charged the policeman with incompetence and bullying and insulted the prosecuting solicitor, William Watson. The correspondence between Richardson and Watson went on for several weeks within the publication.

1876 - It was a full 17 years before Richard or the George and Dragon appeared in any newspaper again and it wasn’t for good news. Richard once again, as landlord of the George and Dragon, had had a ‘run-in’ with the local magistrates, this time about the licence for the pub.  He had approached four separate magistrates for the licence and was turned down by all and ended up reprimanded in the local court for doing this.

1885 - The George and Dragon was put up for auction by the auctioneer Christopher Coates. The owners, Margaret Richardson (nee Benson) and her husband Rowland Stephen Richardson had died (she in 1863 and he in 1870) and the estate they left was divided between their four daughters - Ann, Margaret, Emily and Sophia. The division of the estate meant that Emily, who had married Henry Coates of Brignall (also a descendant of the Bensons by his mother's side, Anne Newton Benson, who had married Christopher Coates) inherited the George and Dragon. It doesn't appear to have been sold until 1895 when Thomas Clayhill of Clayhills Brewery, Darlington, purchased it on 26 September. However, it also appears that S Helmer and RSM Cooke had an interest/share in the pub.  Interestingly Thomas Clayhill was the family solicitor for the Theakston family (of brewing fame) and also rented the Baydale Beck in Darlington before he was able to eventually purchase it from the family estate in 1910.

1896 - Richard and Hannah Jackson’s daughter, Elizabeth, took over the running of the pub.  She had married a local village lad, James Brunskill, who took over the licence.

1901 - Mrs Elizabeth Brunskill, nee Jackson, takes over the licence from her late husband.

1902 - Mr William Jackson Brunskill takes over the licence from his mother.

1909 – transfer of licence from Mr Thomas Walker’s wife to Mr George Strong.

1930 - transfer of licence (name illegible).

1931 – transfer of licence to Mr Robert Hewitson.

1934 – transfer of licence to Mr Percival Collins of Wolsingham.

1941 - The George and Dragon is under the new management of JA Brown and has also seen the addition of a garage/pumps.

1943 - Mrs Isabella Pearson was granted a protection order for the George and Dragon.  She had previously run the Forrester's Arms at Middleton.

1951 - J Howson takes over the licence.

1955 - F Anson leaves and it is put up for rent and two months later the pub is put up for sale.

1973 - Harry and Lily Kealey leave after 12 years having built a bungalow next door.  A ‘Peeps into the Past’ article stated that thieves had broken in during their time at the pub, taking cash and cigarettes, but fled when the couple woke – Mr Kealey had a rifle by his bed, but had no time to use it!  The planning application for the bay window received consent this year.

1976 - A new extension is granted.

1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s – During these years the George and Dragon had several 'sports' teams for pigeons, dominoes, darts and quoits.

1978 – transfer of licence Dennis and Ruby Johnson.

2002 – transfer of licence to Sara Eastgate

2006 – transfer of licence to Terry & Julie Race

2017 – Sadly the George and Dragon ceased to be a public house when Durham County Council gave permission for change of use to a private dwelling on Monday, 20th February 2017. 



The Inn consisted of the large room with the bar and smaller side room, where there was a pool table, and Ladies and Gents toilets. The living accommodation with a flat roof, had been added on and included, kitchen, two bedrooms, bathroom, pantry and the sitting room and storehouse were part of the original building.  The storehouse, with a steel door and no windows for security, was for keeping the wine, spirits and beer kegs, which had pumps that ran into the bar.  

Ruby recalls using several breweries – Newcastle, Theakstons and John Smiths and Addison & Woodhams for the wine and spirits, and then eventually supermarkets were used. 

There was 2* and 4* petrol, no diesel or unleaded and she had had various suppliers over the years including Q8, Esso and Saddlers. 

Cigarettes were sold from behind the bar and a cigarette machine was installed which was stocked by the supplier.  Crisps were delivered.  At one time there was a juke box, one-armed bandit machine and a quiz machine. 

The two bedrooms and a bathroom for Bed & Breakfast were in the main building with their own entrance from the garden.  Ruby would also serve an evening meal if they would have it before 7pm when the pub opened.  Carol Bristow, who lived next door in Conifer Lodge, would clean these rooms.






We moved into the George and Dragon Inn in July 1978 after previously owning a general dealer’s and off-licence in Darlington. Our first thoughts were what a lovely country inn in a beautiful village and life would be slower. However, it became clear that this was not just a pub it was a community centre and a meeting place for those, not just in the village itself, but its larger boundaries and outlining areas as well.

From the first few months we were introduced to farming life. We had everything brought in to show us from a pony, a goat, a chicken and a rabbit (that was skinned and ready to cook). There was many a joke played not just on us but on each other as well. After a while we were accepted and instead of just customers they became friends. The weather was another eye-opener. Our daughter, Denise, and her husband, Stephen, got married in February 1979 at Startforth Church and it only took place due to Keartons and their plough and snow blower as we were blocked in by snow. A fortnight later we were blocked in again. I remember vividly walking my dog between six-foot snow drifts.

Besides the pub I ran the bed and breakfast side. We had two rooms and a bathroom which were occupied by some memorable people who visited on a regular basis who liked our hospitality, the area and to mingle with the locals.

As well as the pub we were the village Post Office which I ran from the front room. It was basically a door with a glass top panel and a drop-down flap along with a writing bureau, a filing cabinet and two sets of scales.

Outside we had two old style petrol pumps which I think worked out to be 69p per gallon when we first moved in. We were open all hours with that! The police used to send people to us who had been caught low in fuel and no other petrol station open. We had the pumps removed and the tanks filled in about 1994 under the guidance of the local Fire Chief.

The strangest thing we took over when moving in was the hand generated early warning siren which Dennis, my husband, had to wind up every now and then to make sure it was still functional when authorised to do so by whoever it was!

We and many of the customers had many trips out – visiting a brewery, Blackpool and my favourite, the annual trip to the York Races.

In the early years we had two darts teams, two domino teams and two quoits teams. In the latter years numbers depleted due to various reasons but we still managed to have two teams for quoits, a lady’s quoits team for a while and two teams for dominos. We then proceeded to gain members for a quiz team too!

We catered for a wide variety of functions from birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, work do's and special occasions for raising money for different charities. We also provided an 'outside bar' in Boldron Village Hall, Startforth School and Bowes Village Hall for various functions.

The busiest but happiest times were Christmas and New Year. Christmas was all about a big party with a number draw, raffle, prizes, pie and peas and entertainment usually by a singer or small group. In fact Christmas day was the only true day we closed. It was our family day when our son Keith, daughter-in-law Carol and grandchildren Ben and Kate joined us with our daughter Denise, son-in-law Stephen and grandchildren Paul, Emma and Joanne to celebrate the day. New Year’s Eve was one massive party when everyone came together, people we hadn’t seen for a while dropped in and there was no need to pay for entertainment as it was made by the customers (our friends) and ourselves. After the clock had struck twelve, holding hands in a very large circle we would all sing Auld Lang Syne then we would all leave the pub and go first footing around the village and beyond. The boundaries of Boldron are fields away. We would often return around five in the morning. Luckily not many people made it to lunch time opening, which gave us a break, but there was always some who would make it in the evening with some tales to tell!

Sadly, my husband, Dennis, died suddenly in June 1989 and I thought life had come to a halt. My daughter, Denise and husband Stephen stepped in. Although they were used to moving in to help with functions and running the place whilst I went on holiday, they made it a routine to move in on a weekend with their children Paul, Emma and Joanne and along with help from Carina and Doris to help on domino and quoit nights I found I could manage. With the help of our friends, Ron and Olive, we could still manage to do the outside bars. It was also the support of our friends, (the customers and helpers) that gave me the strength to carry on. Again it was that community spirit that the locals of The George and Dragon Inn had that shone through, a true village pub!

I had twenty-four years of happy times, some sad, fond memories, endearing moments and a genuine helpfulness when needed for both myself and my family. I also experienced and witnessed many crazy pranks, hilarious nights and some truthful confessions under the influence of alcohol. I could write a book but the secret of being a good landlady is to be a pinnacle of discretion, a good listener and to keep what’s said private and confidential.



I remember a Mrs. Wake and a big dog called Trudy in the late 30s. Then a family called Brown that did a runner.  Harry Kealey started the petrol.  Bill & Terry Saunders put the bay window extension in.



I remember a roaring fire in the pub.  Father-in-law, Harry Lowes, would go to the pub with his son John, his helper Syd Mulley and neighbour Fred Wright.  As closing time drew near John would be dispatched home to put the kettle on and get the ‘Butter Puffs’ prepared for supper.  I remember the sign in the Gents which read ‘Our aim is to keep this bathroom clean, Your aim will help.  Stand closer; it’s shorter than you think’.  Conifer Lodge was built on the original pub car park.



I was part of the quiz team that was in the Teesdale League along with Robert , Fred  and Maureen.  However, before that Dennis used to enjoy hosting quizzes (or even charades) on a Sunday night and these were much enjoyed by all involved, including some archaeologists who were renting one of the three Rose Cottages while taking part in a dig.