More than 100 County Durham schoolchildren have been using maps, census records and old photographs to uncover the history of their hometown.

Pupils from Cockton Hill Junior School, Toft Hill Primary, Escomb Primary, St Anne’s Primary and St John’s RC School and Sixth Form Centre have spent the past three months trawling the archives to learn what life was like in Bishop Auckland up to 100 years ago.

Supported by Auckland Castle Trust and Historic England as part of the Heritage Schools scheme, each group focussed on separate areas of the town’s heritage, with the results being shared in a special celebration held this week at Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

The work on show during the event included a film by St John’s School and Sixth Form Centre, who worked with local filmmaker Keith Alexander and the Four Clocks Centre to produce a short video following in the footsteps of a young apprentice from the 19th Century.  This included interviewing relatives of the apprentice, who worked at local engineering firm Lingford and Gardiner’s in 1866.

Claire Howard, History Teacher, St Johns School and Sixth Form Centre, said: “The students have thoroughly enjoyed the Heritage Schools Project. They have shown a keen interest in Bishop Auckland’s history and have been fascinated to explore the differences between the life of a 12-year-old boy in 1866 and their lives today.

“The film that they have created really demonstrates their enthusiasm and passion for their local heritage and I would like to thank Keith Alexander, the Four Clocks Centre, Historic England and Auckland Castle for their assistance throughout.”

As part of the celebration event, the schools were presented with certificates marking their involvement in Heritage Schools.

The scheme, run nationally, by Historic England is designed to help children develop a sense of pride in where they live and to make use of the heritage resources readily available.

Viki Angel, Local Heritage Education Manager (North East) at Historic England, said: “I am thrilled to see that the Heritage Schools project has been such a success in Bishop Auckland. When we started working with Auckland Castle Trust, our main goal was getting local children engaged with their town’s history. It’s great now to see so many exciting and interesting projects, proving that engaging with heritage in a more creative way can really help bring history to life.”

You can find out more about Auckland Castle’s work with schools at

Further information about Historic England’s Heritage Schools scheme is also available at