(From ‘Jottings over a Lifetime in and around Darlington’ by J. Douglas Chilton O.B.E.)
We now pass on to Hurworth which was noted for its linen industry. In 1830 there were one hundred and twenty hand loom weavers, mostly at the east end of the village. Men worked long hours at the looms in the weaving sheds behind the riverside houses, whilst the women bent over the spinning frames in the cottages.
At one time in Hurworth there were a number of fireplates or firemarks put up by the insurance companies to indicate the property as being insured by them. It was at the time when insurance companies owned a fire engine and employed their own firemen. The latter were instructed to attend only those fires which were shown to be on houses covered by the insurance company. These houses had the insurance plate in a very conspicuous position. Uninsured properties could only secure the services of the firemen by paying cash before any attempt was made to put out the fire.
Hurworth was the birthplace of William Emerson, an eminent and eccentric mathematician, who was born in 1701 and died in 1782. Emerson learned much from his father, the Hurworth schoolmaster, but all his thoughts were towards mathematics. After finishing his studies at Newcastle and York he attempted to take over his father’s school, but as a teacher he was a failure.
At the age of thirty-one he married the niece of Dr Johnson, the Rector of Hurworth, and it was then that, stung by the Doctor’s contempt, he applied his vigorous mind to the study of mathematics. He wrote dozens of books and became a national figure; mathematicians from all over England came to consult him.
There is nothing to be seen of the ancient Neasham Abbey which was on the right hand side of the road entering Neasham from Hurworth.