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History

While records are relatively vague, it is reported that St. Anne’s school was constructed sometime in the 1800s. The school is likely to have been constructed during England’s Industrial Revolution as Bishop Auckland became a large mining town following the arrival of the railway to the area. The railways meant coal could be transported to the coast and shipped abroad much more easily; however, more miners were obviously required to meet the growing demand for the fossil fuel. Subsequently, the population in Bishop Auckland increased rapidly; the population increased from 1861 in 1801 to 10,000 in 1891, and to 16,000 by the turn of the twentieth century, and more facilities such as schools were suddenly required. 

It is well known that the town’s history surrounds its links with the Bishops of Durham, and despite causing controversy with the local aristocracy, a number of them were keen advocates for improving education for the poor, to improve their social, financial and moral circumstances. As with any powerful authority, the influence of the Bishops and their attitudes towards education continued long after they were stripped of their power in 1836, meaning the area remained a great centre for Christianity (on account of the Saints the region produced), learning and arts. To emphasise why their influence, ethics and morals lingered long after they were gone, for most of their reign the Bishops of Durham were given power equal to that of the King of England. In other words, they could hold their own parliament, raise armies, appoint their own sheriffs and Justices, administer laws, levy taxes, issue charters, collect revenue from mines, salvage shipwrecks, administer the forests and mint their own coins.

Unfortunately, the early years of the twentieth century brought a decline in the area’s booming industry, as coal reserves were starting to become exhausted. Colliery employment had halved by the 1920s, and, equally, the railways which supported the mining industry were also cut back as fewer were needed to transport coal. With lower employment opportunities, the once prosperous town faced a declining population, resulting in the closure of schools, businesses and other facilities. While St. Anne’s survived throughout most of the 1900s, the school was eventually sold and became Durham County Council’s Education Offices. The offices were moved in 2010, and since then they have been left to deteriorate. Plans to demolish the site, to make way for a housing project, were revealed in 2015. Despite the vandalism, anti-social behaviour and rats the derelict building has attracted, many locals have opposed the decision to bulldoze the former school, stating that the buildings are of an innovative architectural design. 

Our Version of Events

Realising that we’ve been focused on a lot of underground and train related stuff recently, we decided it would be good to spice things up a bit and have a look inside a few local ‘derps’. One of these was St. Anne’s school which has been on our doorstep for years. As with all buildings that look completely trashed, it’s easy to set them aside and cast them off as being empty and shit, but as we’ve found out many times in the past, sometimes you can be surprised by what you find inside. Unfortunately, though, St. Anne’s school wasn’t one of those buildings; instead, it turned out to be completely stripped, to the extent that there’s virtually nothing inside.

Access to the building wasn’t particularly difficult, as anyone who’s stood outside will notice, and after a quick scout around the outside we soon found ourselves inside – free to roam the old corridors and classrooms. As noted above, the building has deteriorated badly, so we had to watch our footing here and there. For the most part, however, the building is easy to navigate. On the whole, we were incredibly disappointed to find that there’s nothing left inside, but we did try to take advantage of how photogenic some of the decay that’s managed to spread throughout the building. It only took around twenty minutes to cover the entire site, but we were glad we took the time to visit a fine looking building that’s been completely ignored for too long. 

Like the entry, exiting the building was a smooth affair. We managed to get out again without attracting much attention (we think), and decided to have a walk down to the local shop to grab a bite to eat. Exploring is hungry work after all, and, as the Shreddies advert taught us many years ago, it’s important to keep hunger locked up till lunch. On the way, however, we encountered a few of the locals as they flew past in their chavved up automobile. In typical Bishop Auckland style, they decided to lob a chicken nugget out of the window, presumably in the hope that it might hit one of us… Well, we just thought we’d let those local goons, who were most likely the result of some chemical spillage that occurred in the area in the late 1980s, know that you missed.

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do and Box. 
 

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I love how 'school meals' is written in picture 7. Some nice other bits of signage too. Schools aren't built like this any more, would have been lovely in its day :) 

nice pics, :thumb 

 

:comp:

 

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