Newton Aycliffe is a town in County Durham, England. Founded in 1947 under the New Towns Act of 1946, it is the oldest new town in the north of England. It has a population of 29,000 people (source: Great Aycliffe Town Council, 2007), other reports put the population between 23,000 and 25,000. It is the largest town within the Sedgefield constituency.
To the south of the town is the village of Aycliffe. Newton comes from 'New Town'. On the edge of the town is the Bishop Auckland to Darlington railway branch line which is part of the 1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway. George Stephenson's steam locomotive Locomotion No 1 was placed on the rails close to Newton Aycliffe near to where Heighington station is. Within a 10 mile radius are several towns and villages including Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Heighington.
In more recent times Aycliffe was a key element in World War II ammunitions manufacturing. The marshy land was ideal cover against the Luftwaffe as it was almost continually shrouded in fog and mist. Huge grass covered munitions factories were built and serviced by the nearby railway lines. The factories were largely staffed by women (in their thousands); these ladies were dubbed the "Aycliffe Angels", who braved incredible dangers inside the factories.
The factories were eventually replaced by manufacturing buildings that became the industrial district of Aycliffe. After the war many companies moved onto the industrial estate including Eaton Axles, and B.I.P. who where to become two of the largest employers of the town until the early 1980s. One other company was Union Carbide. Eaton Axles closed down and shipped itself to Poland, B.I.P. is now Hydro Polymers, Union Carbide was taken over by Sanyo for several years, but this has now closed. Businesses currently located in the town include Flymo, 3M and Ineos (who've taken over Hydro Polymers) with many more small factory units.
From its start Newton Aycliffe kept expanding in size until 1980 when the council stopped building council homes. Since then private houses and housing associations have been building the towns homes. From c.1983 an entire area called Woodham Village was built totally of private housing.
Another summary of the town's history is on the Great Aycliffe Town Council's website.
There has been much debate over the situation and plight (others believe it should be preserved as an example of post war architecture) of the town centre of Newton Aycliffe. During recent by-elections (2007) a comparrison was made between Newton Aycliffe itself and Peterlee. Peterlee was founded as a new town a year later than Newton Aycliffe and had been much improved whereas in Newton Aycliffe the main shopping area in the town centre was still lagging behind in upgrading. It is a widely held belief that a London based company operates the tennancies on the retail outlets in the town centre and that higher rates of rent are charged than should, it has been know for the last couple of decades that the shop rents are cheaper in Oxford Street, London than in Aycliffe, and that is why many have closed. The first stage of a new shopping centre opened on the old Avenue School site with Tesco and Argos taking occupancy and there is much delay in the 2nd stage getting off the ground because various parties cannot agree on cooperation. However due to intervention by Sedgefield Borough Council who facilitated discussions between Freshwaters the current owners of the town centre and Durham County Council along with Phil Wilson MP. The owners of the town centre have now submitted plans for the development of the town centre. Other shops such as M&S and BHS won't open a store in Newton Aycliffe while there are other branches within a 10 mile radius (both have stores in Darlington and Bishop Auckland). Plans are now on display of the next phases of the rebuilding of the town centre, which includes pulling down Churchill house and the town clock. The work will be done in stages and will take several years to complete.
There is no street in Newton Aycliffe which ends in 'Street', just the usual Roads, Close, Place etc. The oldest parts of the town are named after the Bishops of Durham.
Currently Newton Aycliffe has three councils. Durham County Council, Sedgefield Borough Council and Aycliffe Town Council. Local Government changes will have the County Council taking over the role of the Borough Council in the near future.
The A1(M) is near to the town and runs to Edinburgh in the north and London to the south, it provides as an alternative route to Durham and Newcastle in the north. The A689 is also near the town and it runs to Bishop Auckland in the west and Hartlepool and Teesside in the east.
By rail, the Newton Aycliffe railway station, which is on the Tees Valley Line, has train services provided by Northern Rail to Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Saltburn, and connecting services to Edinburgh and London.
By bus, the town has bus services provided by Arriva to Bishop Auckland, Durham, Darlington, Ferryhill, Peterlee, Sedgefield, and Sunderland. There is the X61 express to Whitby and Scarborough which runs only during early spring to late summer which is also provided by Arriva.
A speedway track was built in 1952, which was used for training purposes. There is some evidence that the site was used as a greyhound track in the late 1940's. In 1954 the speedway training track was used for the 1st time to host stock car racing. Stock car racing took place at Aycliffe Stadium from 1954 through to November 19th 1989, when it was closed to make way for factory units on the expanding Industrial Estate.
There are many places to visit from Newton Aycliffe, all within a reasonable journey time:- the Metro Centre, one of Europe's largest shopping centres, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, the historic cities of Durham and York as well as coastal towns and villages such as Redcar, Saltburn, Scarborough, Whitby and Filey. Both the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Moors are within easy reach. There are many museums and places of interest such as the waterfall High Force, Aysgarth Falls, Beamish, and The National Railway Museum at both Shildon and York. It also has nearby theme parks, located at Lightwater Valley near Ripon and Flamingo Land near Pickering.
There are two nearby Accident and Emergency departments in the area. Bishop Auckland General Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital. Both hospitals are well equipped to dealing with chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, convulsions, diabetes and general unwellness and will liaise with the regional psychiatric teams in the event of mental health cases. However Darlington is more equipped for injuries such as broken bones, severe abdominal pain which may require surgery, eye conditions and maternity and baby cases although Bishop Auckland may look at these cases and refer to Darlington if necessary. For Cancer treatments such as Radio & Chemo therapy then a visit many miles away to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough is required. The trust which runs these two hospitals was rated as 'good' for its overall quality and use of services by the HealthCare Commission Standards.
During the 1970s/1980s Aycliffe was twinned with the town of Perstorp in Sweden. This twinning operation was made possible by the partnership between the two Mayors.