Cramlington - a new town with old values
PUBLISHED: 11:36 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 18:09 20 February 2013
Scratching the surface reveals so much more to Cramlington than its former New Town label might at first suggest - a long history, sense of community and proud tradition being much in evidence, as Louise Brown discovers
The shopping centre, as with much of Cramlington, was developed in the 1960s. Originally an open local centre exposed to the elements carrying a small number of basic needs shops, Manor Walks has grown with the town, mirroring its ever-expanding nature.
I class it as a district shopping centre, remarked centre manager Stuart Butler. To help maintain its success, we pull in custom from surrounding areas, principally within an arc from Seaton Delaval to Ponteland.
When discussing plans for the centres future, he added: At the moment, Hammerson Plc have put in planning applications for a major development of the centre, which will take place in the next few years when the economic climate improves. We expect the development to attract major retailers.
Achieving successful development in business and industry makes it easy to overlook Cramlingtons vibrant local community.
A reflection of the towns strong sense of community is the Cramlington Folk Club. Established in 1972, it is one of the longest running folk clubs in the country.
Organiser Keith Taylor, who has been involved in the club from inception, comments that the folk club has always played a part in the community of Cramlington and is known for being very friendly, so much so that visitors often remark on how they have been made very welcome, adding that the future of the club looks assured for the next two or three years. However, as we are a non-profit organisation - all money is ploughed back into the club to pay for guests- the present economic situation may mean that we have to make a few cutbacks,
but with a little effort I am sure the
Club will continue and go from strength to strength.
The club is held every Tuesday at The Hind pub, with invited guests performing every other week. Offering a wide variety of music and styles, from traditional and contemporary folk to blues and bluegrass, there is every reason to go along, enjoy the entertainment on offer and, if so inclined, join in. The club would be delighted to see you and a warm welcome is guaranteed to new members and occasional visitors alike.
With a wide variety of restaurants on offer, Cramlington is the perfect place to come for a bite to eat.
A real treat for the palate is the family-run Lal Qila restaurant. Located in the centre of the town it has been serving Indian cuisine since 1986.
Combining quality food with locally sourced ingredients and contemporary aspect, the Lal Qila has established and clearly maintained high standards.
When discussing what first prompted them to start a business in the area, manager Jubayer Alom, said: Back in 1986 there were no Indian restaurants in Cramlington, so my father identified a great opportunity to be the first.
Since then we have gone from strength to strength, extending the restaurant and even expanding the business elsewhere.
Highlighting the towns credentials, he added: Cramlington is a great place to run a business as the people are very friendly and supportive. Our restaurant has benefitted greatly from its location.
Such a positive view on Cramlington is shared by owner of Rydales Estate Agents, Jeff Stockdale, who observed: Cramlington has over the last 50 years evolved from a sleepy village into a popular, vibrant town benefitting from a high standard of amenity, typified by the award-winning schools, high quality private housing, excellent medical centres, and modern leisure and shopping facilities.
He added: This is truly a successful town with a big future, which has something for everyone.
It may be said of Cramlington that while a great deal has changed, much has stayed the same, the current generation preserving the culture and identity of the town, under the challenge of development, and preparing to pass this responsibility on to those who follow. Plus ca change... For Cramlington a brave, but clearly recognisable, new world.
The term New Town conveys to some the notion of a bland industrial/ housing landscape, less brave new world than grave new world, and of locations rather than communities.
It might be said that Cramlington has, to some extent, suffered by its New Town identity, but visitors and first-time residents soon discover that the town, steeped in nostalgia, possesses a charm and spirit with strong links to its historic past, establishing it as much more than a workshop or dormitory servant of Newcastle and the surrounding area.
Situated nine miles north of Newcastle, just off the A1 and A19, with excellent road and rail links, Cramlington combines a convenient location with a variety of retail and leisure outlets and facilities providing strong reason to visit.
The origin of place names not infrequently gives rise to conjecture and debate and Cramlington is no different. One theory most often quoted is that the name is of Danish or Anglo-Saxon origin, combining the Scandinavian Kramel or Kram, meaning chief, with ing, meaning men of the same kin and ton meaning enclosure or town.
The 12th century saw the first recorded mention of The Manor of Cramlington. Over the centuries the town has undergone many vicissitudes, existing for many years as an agricultural settlement, growing due to the development of the mining industry, particularly from the early 19th century, although this industrial heritage began with coal mined at Plessey at the beginning of the 17th century.
It underwent dramatic expansion from 1964 when Cramlington was proclaimed a New Town and large housing estates were created, principally by William Leech and JT Bell. This expansion has significantly increased the population of Cramlington, but the pretty village centre remains, as does its character as the focal point of a community which values and continues to develop its rich culture and tradition.
Long-term local resident, successful architect and founder of Seymour Architecture, Paul Seymour, casting a professional eye over the town, refers to initial house building work as employing very similar house types but comments that over the years, estates have developed an increasing diversity with ever-changing house designs and green space, creating new communities with character. There is now a wide range of housing stock in Cramlington to suit all tastes and budgets.
The core retail area of Cramlington is Manor Walks shopping centre. Located next to Concordia Sports Centre, regarded by Paul Seymour as being of high quality design and planning and the best example of civic architecture in the town, and the Westmorland Retail Park, the centre offers a wide variety of shops and eateries.