The village of Easington Lane is a south eastward extension of Hetton on the road between Pittington and Easington, from which it takes its name. It came into being in the nineteenth century following the development of nearby Elemore Colliery by the Hetton Coal Company. This particular colliery operated from 1827 to 1974.

The historic manor of Hetton has an interesting link to the present Royal family and is one of two notable and very different connections that Hetton has to the family. The first connection begins in the 18th century (1746) when Hetton was sold by Spearman to Jean Lyon, the Dowager Countess of Strathmore.

In 1819 a colliery company was formed called The Hetton Coal Company and was the first major public company in County Durham. Its eleven shareholders included a Captain Archibald Cochrane but the main man was a former banker, of previously dubious dealings, called Arthur Mowbray. Three of the shareholders were relatives of Mowbray.

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

The decommissioned St Nicholas' Church on Front Street was destroyed in November 2006. It is unknown if arson was the cause of the fire.[2] It had previously been listed due to its architectural significance.

Hetton railway opened on November 18, 1822 and was operated by three locomotives along with five fixed engines and five self-acting inclines. Four of the locomotives were given names. One was simply called 'Hetton' and another three - Tallyho, Star and Dart were named from local racehorses.

Hetton le Hole (see Houghton le Spring) on GENUKI

To find the names of the neighbouring parishes, use England Jurisdictions 1851. In this site, search for the name of the parish, click on the location "pin", click Options and click List contiguous parishes.

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Durham Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

There are in fact two Eppletons. To the south of Hetton Lyons industrial estate out towards Murton is another Eppleton, a farmstead settlement called Eppleton Hall which was historically called Little Eppleton. Eppleton was historically associated with the Shadforth family from at least the 1500s up to the 1690s. A hall at Great Eppleton was demolished in the late 19th century. The hall at Little Eppleton, once owned by the Hetton Lyons Colliery Manager is now divided into apartments.

FamilySearch Historical Records includes England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds and Allegations (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Today, nothing now exists of the mine in Hetton. The former mine complex has disappeared and spoil tips have been removed, although some remain in nearby Haswell. The surrounding area has been landscaped and is now occupied by a lake and leisure facilities. There is also a quarry where sand is mined. This is now undergoing a reformation; around 15% of it has been smoothed and grassed over.

Paisley played two seasons for the famed amateur County Durham side of Bishop Auckland FC where he was approached to sign for Liverpool to which he agreed. He kept his promise despite a change of heart  from Sunderland who now wanted to sign him.

Just to the south west of Hetton-le-Hole within Sunderland are the long straggling villages of Low Moorsley and High Moorsley which hug the main road up to the the top of a hill where there are great views before the road descends Moorsley Bank into Pittington in County Durham. Back in medieval times the Anglo-Saxon name was Morselaw possibly meaning 'the hill belonging to Morulf'.

George Stephenson's son, Robert assisted his father at Hetton, but it was another Robert Stephenson, George's brother, and also an engineer, who undertook the building work for the colliery and railway. This Robert Stephenson resided in Lyons Cottages near the edge of Hetton to the south. The cottages can still be seen near the present Hetton Lyons Industrial Estate and Robert Stephenson's residence here is commeorated by a plaque.

Their daughter, Carole (born 1955) married Michael Middleton in Buckinghamshire in 1980 and their daughter Catherine (Kate) Middleton was born in 1982. Catherine of course married Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. William is himself a descendant, through his mother, Queen Elizabeth II of the Lyon family of Hetton and Rainton.

The Hetton Colliery Company seems to have been very confident of finding coal. In 1819 before the coal was even found they set in motion the development of the Hetton Colliery Railway and employed the then barely known engineer, George Stephenson, who also laid out the colliery, to design it.

Hetton Lyons Colliery (1822-1950) was the first colliery to develop in the immediate vicinity of Hetton-le-Hole but others soon followed. Right up close to Hetton Lyons to the north was Eppleton Colliery (1833-1986) a site which is now a focus for limestone quarrying on the eastern edge of Hetton-le-Hole.

This street was named from John Lyon on whose land the nearby colliery was built. Lyons Street has long been demolished. Like the other rows of terraced pit cottages in this colliery town they were simply unacceptable homes by later standards of living. A care home and medical centre now stand on the site of the street.

As the town grew the miners were joined by a whole host of tradesmen, publicans and people providing services that any small town required. The population growth at Hetton was as follows: 1801 : 253; 1811 : 322; 1821 : 994; 1851: 5,751 and this clearly shows the impact the opening of the mine had. So rural was this neighbourhood before the colliery that a study of the heads of household in the census of 1851 shows that less than 4% were born in Hetton parish.

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Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections DDR/EA/PBT/2/134 1832-1835 Parish Register transcripts are available to search free online at FamilySearch Historical Records.

Today Hetton-le-Hole is sometimes described as a village which probably reflects the community feel of the place but it is in reality a small town. Considering that it really only started to grow from the 1820s it will come as no surprise to discover that there are few very early buildings.

Early owners of the Heppedons included the Hepdon family who took their name from the place. Other medieval owners included Finchale Priory near Durham and later the Laytons, Musgraves and Tylliols. From the 1600s the prominent name in Hetton was the James family who included William James, a Bishop of Durham from 1606 to 1617. The James family sold Hetton in 1686 to John Spearman of Thornley, the Under-Sheriff of Durham.

The two places were originally called Heppedon and were of comparable size. In both places the name Heppedon was later corrupted to Hetton. Spellings were notoriously inconsistent in the past and evolved over time but the fact that Hetton was originally a 'don' rather than a 'ton' is significant because 'don' is a word for a hill suggesting that the name comes from a hill, probably the one on which Hetton-le-Hill is situated. The original name Heppedon meant 'hill where wild roses grow'.

Parish registers from 1832-2006 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL

Originally, however, there was no mining in this area and in medieval times there were only two Hettons both of which were tiny farming settlements forming one manor. One was called Hetton-le-Hill, situated on a hill to the south and the other to its north in Houghton Vale (probably the 'hollow' or hole of the name) was called Hetton-le-Hole.

In the 1390s Eppleton passed to the Herons of Ford Castle in Northumberland but one William Heron, Captain of Berwick upon Tweed, Governor of Norham on Tweed and Warden of the Eastern Marches sold it to a tenant called Todd.

Hetton Hall was once at the centre of an extensive park and although the hall and park have gone much greenery remains including the wooded Hetton Dean of the Hetton Burn to the north, the neighbouring Eppleton Football Ground (home to Sunderland AFC Reserves) and a small park in which is contained a memorial to the extraordinarily successful Liverpool Football Club manager and former footballer Bob Paisley (1919-1996), who was born and raised in Hetton-le-Hole.

The Lyon from whom Lyons Street was named, as we have noted, was the wealthy grandson of the 8th Earl of Strathmore. Strathmore was of course an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II. Such a future Royal connection might not have surprised John Lyon, given his family's aristocratic background. The humble Harrison, on the other hand, whose descendants also include Royalty would have been rather amazed.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s attempts to find coal had failed for many years. From around 1796 John Lyon of Hetton House bored for coal and although his attempts were set back in 1810 by problems with severe flooding he persisted with the challenge. His continued efforts were to no avail and he was virtually bankrupted.

Bob Paisley was a talented footballer for Hetton's Eppleton Junior School and later for Hetton FC. Paisley had hopes of playing for Sunderland but when Hetton FC recommended Paisley Sunderland considered him too small.

John Harrison's son, another John Harrison was born in Hetton in 1874. This Harrison had a son called Thomas who was also born in Hetton (1904). Thomas had a daughter, Dorothy Harrison, born in Sunderland in 1935. The Harrisons moved to London where Dorothy later married a Richard Goldsmith.


The dowager Countess was the wife of the late 8th Earl of Strathmore. She was called Jean Nicholson (alternatively spelled Nicholsen) before her marriage and records show she was born in the Hetton neighbourhood. Nearby West Rainton is given as her birthplace in 1713.

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Around 53% of the heads of household at Hetton were born in County Durham with about half of these originating from the nearest mining areas like Fatfield and Rainton. The other half were mostly from those parts of the old County Durham that lay to the east of Gateshead particularly Jarrow and Hebburn.

The back yard of Lyons Street terrace was back to back with those of the next street - Francis Street - the pit row now preserved and rebuilt at Beamish Museum's colliery village.

Along the road to the South East Easington Lane becomes South Hetton, site of South Hetton Colliery from 1833 to 1982. This place remains in County Durham despite Easington Lane and Hetton now being in the City of Sunderland.

A small colliery operated at Moorsley from 1826 to 1935. Low Moorsley has the dubious fame of being the birthplace of the Victorian multi-murderer Mary Ann Cotton who was born here in 1832. She is thought to have murdered at least 21 people and was eventually hanged at Durham in 1873.

The family tree link above also shows the other Royal family connection at Hetton relating to the ancestry of Kate Middleton, the present Duchess of Cambridge whose ancestors were miners at Hetton. You can read more on this further down the page.