Shotley House

Built around 1860 for Jonathan Priestman, a Managing Director of the profitable Consett Iron Company Ltd that rose out of the ruins of the Derwent Iron Company in 1864. It was the largest iron works in England, even before it merged with the Shotley Bridge Iron Company Ltd in 1866, a valuable addition to its forge and mill capacity. He resigned in 1869 at the end of his 5 year contract.

During the First World War, Shotley House became a VAD hospital served by  a Voluntary Aid Detachment unit, a field nursing service trained to supplement the Territorial Forces Medical Service. For further information see the ‘Durham at War’ website.

It was later bought by the Peile Family and given by Dr Henry Peile to Durham County Council to run as the E F Peile Convalescent Home, a pioneering venture for mothers, babies and children under five.

It is a grade II listed building, for its special architectural or historic interest. The walls and gate piers in front of Shotley House are also listed.

Now divided into three separate homes. Originally there was a rear drive to a courtyard building with servants’ quarters and coach houses, built in 1876. Now known as Peile Court it was converted into 5 flats as part of the Peile Park housing development.

Jonathon’s son Lewis started a coaching business in 1891, when he bought his first coach ‘Venture’ and ran a service between Newcastle and Shotley Bridge. After the First World War he began a service to Blanchland but around 1930 he shortened the run to end at Edmundbyers.

With its distinctive red and gold paintwork, and four horses, the Venture Coach regularly passed through the village until 1939, by which time motorised transport had taken over. June 1967 saw the final outing for the Venture Coach.

His company, Venture Transport, became one of thebiggest independent bus operators in the North East, operating numerous services in and around the Derwent Valley. It was sold to the Northern General Transport Company in 1970.