Crook is a historic market town in County Durham, in the North East of England.
Located a couple of miles north of the River Wear, Crook lies about 9 miles (14.5 km) south-west of the historic city of Durham, 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Bishop Auckland and 2 miles (3.5 km) from Willington. The A690 road from Durham turns into the A689 leading up through Wolsingham and Stanhope into the upper reaches of Weardale (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Located on the edge of Weardale, Crook is consequently sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to Weardale".
The centre of Crook, a designated conservation area, features a variety of shops and businesses with the market held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. There are two prominent churches, the centrally located St Catherine's CE and Our Lady Immaculate & St Cuthbert's RC on Church Hill. On top of the hills to the east sits Crook Golf Club. For a town of its size Crook also features a good selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
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Crook first appeared as an agricultural village around 1795 although its surrounding districts – Billy Row, Stanley, White Lea, Roddymoor and Helmington Row – were established much earlier. In these days Crook was predominantly farmland; however, it also had an Inn and a blacksmith shop, consequently the primary field of employment was within the agricultural industry. 40 years later; Crook became a mining village, and thrived as the coal was very close to the surface and soon there were over 20 mines around the Crook area, and by the end of the nineteenth century the town had developed rapidly in population and economy. However a lot of the population in the area had declined in the following century as the coal mines and industries closed with over 34% of the population being unemployed.
Crook's football team, Crook Town F.C., have won the FA Amateur Cup five times, most recently beating Enfield F.C. in 1964, before the cup was abolished in 1974. This record is second only to Crook's near neighbours, Bishop Auckland F.C.. The club have also reached the third round of the FA Cup and formed a key role in the development of FC Barcelona, playing a number of friendly matches in the 1910s and 1920s.
The town is also home to oldest purpose built Cinema in the North, built as the Electric Palace and opened on 21 November 1910. Currently the building is a Car Parts and Accessories shop but a group was set up in 2015 with the intention of restoring the building back to a working cinema. Much of the original interior features remain inside.
In 2014, Lidl announced they were to open a new store in Crook, on the site of the former Co-op Food store on New Road, the store opened in June 2017. In September 2016, Aldi announced plans to open a new store in the town on Elliott street, which was to create 30 new jobs.
Crook has a backdrop of traditional and modern buildings. The tallest building in the town is the Council Building. It has 5 floors and at about 100 ft, it is a prominent feature of the Crook skyline. However, the council building is dwarfed by Crook's surrounding hills, which completely surround the town except on the south side. The tallest stands at 300 metres above the town, about 980 ft. The highest point in the town is on West Road where the height is 210 metres (about 690 ft).
Approximately 2 miles to the west of Crook on the A689 towards Wolsingham and Weardale, 400 yards past the roundabout junction with the A68, is the surviving World War II Harperley POW Camp 93, a Scheduled Ancient Monument within English Heritage.
A World War 1 and World War 2 Cenotaph, located in the market place.
An erratic of Borrowdale volcanic. Originally located at Dowfold Hill, it is currently situated in the market place.
Crook Primary School was opened formerly in 1950. A larger than average community school that shares a site with Crook Nursery School. It has a pupil capacity of 371. It has more disabled, special educational needs and free school meal eligible pupils than the national average. The current headteacher is Mrs Antonella Lupton.
Marilyn Tempest – a local legendary teacher – retired after thirty years of employment on 30 April 2014 and received a standing ovation from the then current pupils and teachers. During an interview with The Northern Echo, she said "I have had the most wonderful time here, teaching is the best job in the world.".
A smaller than average community school, it has a pupil capacity of 210. It also has a large proportion of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The current headteacher is Mr Shawn Laws.
An average-sized voluntary aided Roman Catholic school, with a pupil capacity of 210. The proportion of pupils with disabilities and/or special educational needs is below average, although the amount eligible for free school meals are above average and ever increasing. The current headteacher is Mrs Donnelly.
Crook hosts various annual events including Crook Carnival, Crook Community Christmas Event and the Crookfest music festival.
Crook Carnival is held in early July and features a parade, rides, stalls and live music. Crook Community Christmas Event held at the end of November also features a parade and the switching on of the town's Christmas lights.
Crookfest is an all day music festival held on the Sunday of the early May Bank Holiday weekend within Crook AFC's Sir Tom Cowie Millfield ground. It is organised by Marshall Rippon on behalf of the football club and features around 20 bands over 3 stages with marquees erected on the pitch.
Malcolm Dixon (born 1953) is an actor best known as Strutter in the 1981 movie Time Bandits. He has had many roles that take advantage of his 4'1" size, such as Ewoks and dwarfs. Before becoming an actor, Dixon worked in Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
People associated with Crook include:
Archibald "Archie" Campbell (15 August 1904 – c. 1980) was an English footballer who made 58 appearances in the Football League playing for Aston Villa and Lincoln City. He played as a right half or centre half. He was a nephew of Scotland international and Celtic and Aston Villa player John Campbell.Bill Rowe (sound engineer)
William Oliver "Bill" Rowe (2 February 1931 – 29 September 1992) was an English sound engineer. He won a BAFTA Award for Best Sound in 1985 for The Killing Fields and an Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for The Last Emperor in 1988. He worked on over 160 films between 1955 and 1992.Billy Taylor (sportsman)
William Taylor (1896–1986) was a football and cricket player.Crook Town A.F.C.
Crook Town Association Football Club is a football club based in Crook, County Durham, England. They are currently members of the Northern League Division Two and play at the Sir Tom Cowie Millfield. The club won the FA Amateur Cup five times.Dent Oliver
John Walter Denton (Dent) Oliver (13 April 1918 in Crook, County Durham, England - 1973) was an international speedway rider who qualified for the Speedway World Championship finals three times.Eddie Readfern
Thomas Edward Readfern (born 9 July 1944), better known as Eddie Readfern, is an English former footballer who played as a centre-forward.Fred Colling
Fred Colling (23 November 1897 – 15 April 1973) was an English footballer who made 16 appearances in the Football League playing as a forward for Darlington and Durham City. He also played non-league football for Darlington Railway Athletic, Shildon and Chopwell Institute.Jack Alderson
John Thomas Alderson (28 November 1891 – 17 February 1972) was an English professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper, making one appearance for the full England national team.
Born in Crook, County Durham, Alderson played from a number of amateur sides before moving to Newcastle United where his career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. Following the war he had a successful spell at Crystal Palace and another at Sheffield United making over 100 appearances for each club.Jack Greenwell
John Richard Greenwell (2 January 1884 – 20 November 1942) was an English footballer and manager. He served as manager of Barcelona for seven consecutive seasons, a record that has only been beaten by Johan Cruyff and later had a second spell as Barcelona manager. In 1939 Greenwell became the only non-South American coach to date to win the South American Championship when he guided Peru to their first win. He also served as a manager with CD Castellón, RCD Español, Valencia CF, Sporting de Gijón, RCD Mallorca, Universitario de Deportes and Independiente Santa Fe.Jack Howarth (footballer)
Jack Howarth (born 27 February 1945) is an English retired professional footballer who played as a centre forward. Active in England and the United States, Howarth made over 500 appearances in the Football League, scoring nearly 200 goals. His 171 league goals for Aldershot is a club record.Jackie Milburn (footballer, born 1921)
John Nicholson "Jackie" Milburn (15 September 1920 – 18 June 2006) was an English footballer.John Brown (footballer, born 1921)
John Lewis Brown (23 March 1921 – 10 January 1989) was an English professional footballer who played as a full-back in the Football League for York City, and in non-League football for Stanley United and York Civil Service.Joseph Stones
Lance Sergeant Joseph William Stones (1892 – 18 January 1917) was a British soldier during the First World War who was executed for cowardice. He later became the first Briton so executed to have his name added to a war memorial.Les Latcham
Leslie Arnold Latcham (born 22 December 1942) is an English former professional footballer who played as a defender. His away début at Manchester United in February 1965 and his 2nd game one week later was in the FA Cup, again against Manchester United, both at Old Trafford. He made 178 appearances for Burnley.Parkside Academy
Parkside Academy (formerly Parkside School and then Parkside Sports College), is a coeducational secondary school with academy status, located in Hall Lane Estate, Willington, Crook, County Durham, England.
Parkside teaches a wide range of standard, and specialist curriculum subjects as well as a multitude of after school activities. It is a well known community association and hosts a state of the art Gym and activities for youths under 16. The school specializes in Information Technology and Physical Education.Ray Parkin (footballer)
Raymond Parkin (28 January 1911 – 18 July 1971) was an English professional footballer who played at inside right and later in his career at right half. He spent a large part of his career at Arsenal, where he played mainly in the reserves, and also appeared for Middlesbrough, before becoming a regular member of Southampton's Second Division side.Roy Stephenson
Roy Stephenson (27 May 1932 – 4 February 2000) was an English professional footballer. During his career he made 144 appearances for Ipswich Town between 1960 and 1965. He was born in Crook.Steven Chapman (cricketer)
Steven Chapman (born 2 October 1971) was an English cricketer. He was a right-handed batsman and a slow-left arm bowler who played for Durham. He was born in Crook, beginning his cricket career as a junior with his hometown club, Crook Town CC.
Chapman appeared in his debut first-class match during the 1998 season, in which he bowled conservatively in spite of his team's poor form, which saw them lose the match by an innings margin. Chapman made two further first-class appearances the following season, though he was released at the end of 1999 after making his final Second XI appearance against Worcestershire Second XI, in which team-mate Quentin Hughes scored a double-century and Chapman himself took match bowling figures of 12 for 48, a County Second XI record.
Having made his first appearance for Northumberland back in 1997, Chapman rejoined the team in 2001 following the end of his first-class career, and played in the Minor Counties Championship and Minor Counties Trophy until 2003.
From 2000-2009 he appeared as a club professional at a number of clubs in the North East of England and spending each winter coaching and playing in Melbourne in Australia. Since 2010 he has played back at his hometown club Crook Town.Wilf Proudfoot
George Wilfred Proudfoot (19 December 1921 – 19 July 2013) was a British Conservative Party politician and former Member of Parliament (MP). He was also a prominent North Yorkshire businessman, well known for his ownership of the Proudfoot supermarket chain and Radio 270. In later life he embarked on a new career as a hypnotist and hypnotherapist. He died in 2013.