Our village developed from the important Roman staging post of Longovicium, on the route between York (Dere Street) and Hadrians Wall (Corbridge), after the conquest of the Celtic Brigantes tribe in the 1st Century. The Durham Genome Centre, is likely to have been close to the confines of the Roman fort. The Romans left in the 4th Century to be replaced by Viking raiders and eventually the Saxons, who started to build the parish church of All Saints in 1142, possibly using stone from the Roman fort. In the 17th to 19th centuries, the village was an agricultural one and only grew quickly when the Durham to Consett railway station opened in 1862.
Notable residents include the Greenwell family and Lanchester was the formative home of the Canon William Greenwell, who invented (albeit on a trip to the Tweed) what is probably the most famous fishing fly of all time, the Greenwells Glory (Figure 1). As a youth he fished for brown trout on the river Browney which gently meanders south of the village and, after a hard day analyzing genotypes and biomarkers, it is interesting to reflect that over one hundred years later we still do the same. Indeed, we still use the Greenwells Glory to great effect in the same way that Canon Greenwell did all those years ago (Figure 2).
Park House (which is now the Durham Genome Centre) was converted to Council offices in 1939. Before that very little can be traced, other than its construction in around 1860 and a pivotal place in the history of the village as the “Manor of Lanchester”. Rooms in Park House have variously been a doctors surgery (now the DNA extraction lab), a rent collection office and a police station (now the researchers office) and the meeting room for the Parish Council (now the DNA lab).
With two thousand years of history (though not necessarily progress) behind us, we are now developing something very new: state of the art biotechnology businesses, employment for local people and new uses for this exciting technology are the name of the game.
We can but wonder what the building will hold in the next 50 years...
An up winged Greenwells' Glory, tied dry.
Oliver Sullivan (attending Durham School, as did Canon Greenwell) with a nice brown trout caught at Watersmeet on the Browney, where Canon Greenwell himself fished over one hundred years before.