Peterlee is a small town in County Durham, England, founded in 1948 under the auspices of the New Towns Act 1946. It has economic and community ties with Sunderland, Hartlepool and Durham.


Peterlee town centre
Location within County Durham
Population20,164 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceNZ430409
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtSR8
Dialling code0191
FireCounty Durham and Darlington
AmbulanceNorth East
EU ParliamentNorth East England
UK Parliament


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 be named after the celebrated Durham miners' leader Peter Lee.[3] It is one of the few places in the British Isles to be directly named after an individual, and unique among the post-Second World War new towns in being requested by local people through their MP. A deputation, mostly if not all working miners, met the Minister of Town and Country Planning to put the case for a new town in the district. The Minister, Lewis Silkin, responded by offering a half-size new town of 30,000 residents. The subsequent new residents came largely from surrounding villages in the District of Easington.

Peterlee Development Corporation was established in 1948, first under the direction of A V Williams, then under Dr Monica Felton.[4] The original master plan for tower 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, but resulting in poor-quality construction. Williams invited an artist Victor Pasmore to head the design team for the landscaping.


  • Peterlee Town Council
  • Durham County Council


Apollo Pavilion

The Apollo Pavilion (1970) was designed by Victor Pasmore. It provided a focal point for the Sunny Blunts estate as well as a bridge across a water-course.[5][6][7] It was named after the Apollo moon missions.

From the late 1970s the Pavilion suffered from vandals and anti-social behaviour. The murals on the building faded, and to discourage anti-social behaviour, staircases were removed in the 1980s.[5][8][9][10] In 1996, there was a failed attempt to list the Pavilion. English Heritage described it as "an internationally important masterpiece". However, some local residents and councillors saw Pavilion as an eyesore and campaigned to have it demolished. The campaign appeared to have been successful when demolition was proposed in 2000.[11] However, in July 2009 a six-month revamp programme was completed at a cost of £400,000. As part of this, original features such as the murals and stairs were reinstated.[6][12]

In December 2011, English Heritage gave the pavilion a Grade-II* listing.[5][13]



Peterlee is served by the main A19 road running west of the town to Sunderland in the north and Teesside in the south, and the A1086 to its east leading to Easington in the north and Hartlepool to the south. The B1320 runs through the town centre linking the town to Horden and the A1086 in the east and Shotton Colliery and the A19 in the west. The B1432 to the north of the town centre leads to Easington Village, Hawthorn and Seaham on the route of the old A19. The A181 runs to the south-west of the town at the Castle Eden and Wingate junction on the A19 leading to Wheatley Hill, Thornley, and Durham. In 2008, the A688 was extended to the A181 at Running Waters from the A1(M) junction at Bowburn, creating a trunk road from Peterlee to the A1(M) via the A19, A181 and A688.


Peterlee is served by Arriva North East and Go North East in the local area, to Dalton Park, and to the towns and cities of Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, Hartlepool, Sedgefield, Newton Aycliffe, Billingham, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Darlington.


Peterlee was served by Horden railway station on the Durham Coast Line until it closed in 1964. However, in 2017, Durham County Council announced that a new station for Horden will be built after a successful bid for funding.[14]




  • Castle Eden Dene, most of which is within the boundaries of Peterlee, is a national nature reserve.[15]

Town twinning

Notable people

In alphabetical order:


  1. "Town population 2011". Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  2. .
  3. David Kynaston (2008). Austerity Britain 1945–51. Bloomsbury. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-7475-9923-4.
  4. Mark Clapson, The rise and fall of Dr. Monica Felton, British town planner & peace activist on
  5. Historic England (14 December 2011), "Details from listed building database (1400364)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 26 June 2012
  6. "Peterlee pavilion's £400,000 revamp is one giant leap", Sunderland Echo, 13 July 2009, retrieved 26 June 2012
  7. Public artwork's plans go on show, BBC News, 21 January 2006, retrieved 26 June 2012
  8. Glancey, Jonathan (12 November 2001), If they had an A-bomb..., retrieved 26 June 2012
  9. McIntyre, Marjorie (2 July 2008), "Controversial sculpture to get £336,000 facelift", The Northern Echo, retrieved 26 June 2012
  10. Revamp for moon mission pavilion, BBC News, 12 July 2009, retrieved 26 June 2012
  11. Burnham, Nigel; Harrison, David (16 July 2000), "Sixties 'concrete bungle' sculpture to be scrapped", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 26 June 2012
  12. Revamp for moon mission pavilion, BBC News, 12 July 2009, retrieved 26 June 2012
  13. County Durham pavilion awarded Grade II-listed status, BBC News, 15 December 2011, retrieved 26 June 2012
  14. New station for Horden - Durham County Council Archived 1 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  15. Natural England site.
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