Consett is a town in the northwest of County Durham, England, and is the administrative centre of the district of Derwentside.
Consett is a town of 27,000 people, high on the edge of the Pennines in north-west Durham. In 1841, it was a village community of only 145, but it was about to become a boom town. Below the ground was coking coal and blackband iron ore. Nearby was limestone. These were the three ingredients needed for blast furnaces to produce iron and steel.
The town is perched on the steep eastern bank of the River Derwent and owes its origins to industrial development arising from lead mining in the area, together with the development of the steel industry in the Derwent Valley, which was initiated by immigrant German cutlers and sword-makers from Solingen, who settled in the village of Shotley Bridge (original home of Wilkinson Sword and now part of Consett) during the seventeenth century.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Derwent Valley was the cradle of the British steel industry, helped by the easy availability of coal from Tyneside, and the import of high quality iron ore from Sweden via the port of Newcastle upon Tyne. However, following the invention of the Bessemer process in the nineteenth century, steel could be made from British iron ore (which was otherwise too heavily contaminated by phosphorus), and the Derwent Valley's geographical advantage was lost, allowing Sheffield to become the leading centre of the British steel industry.
GovernancePolitically, Consett is dominated by the Labour Party although a grouping of Derwentside Independents has grown in strength and is now the official opposition on Derwentside District Council. The town is part of the North West Durham Parliamentary Constituency represented by Labour MP, Hilary Armstrong. Armstrong has held the seat since 1987 and "inherited" the position from her father Ernest Armstrong. Prior to 1983, the town had its own Member of Parliament.
In the 2005 General Election, both Labour and the Conservatives suffered a swing to the Liberal Democrats who are beginning to get a foothold in the middle-class Shotley Bridge area. The Liberal Democrats moved from third to second place, although Hilary Armstrong retains a 5 figure majority in this safe Labour seat.
GeographyThe Derwent Reservoir is located just west of the town.
Consett centre is over 200m above sea level.
EconomySmall and medium-sized businesses now provide most jobs in the area. Phileas Fogg Company (Co Durham), with its factory on the town's Number One Industrial Estate, were mildly famous for a few years from 1988 for their snack food "Made in Medomsley Road, Consett" television adverts. The Phileas Fogg Company is now owned by KP Snacks as part of United Biscuits.
Since 2000 several new housing developments have taken place on the former steelworks site and surrounding areas. Derwentside College has relocated to a new campus at Berry Edge and national retailers have moved into Hermiston Retail Park. There are also plans to build a new hotel complex and a second retail park within walking distance of the town centre.
CultureConsett was the first town in the world to have a Salvation Army Corps Band. The band was formed in December 1879 and went out on the streets playing at Christmas. The original band consisted of just four players, bandmaster Edward Lennox, and bandsmen George Storey, James Simpson and Robert Greenwood.
Consett is home to The Empire, one of County Durham's oldest theatres. Recently refurbished, the theatre stages variety acts, plays and a Christmas pantomime. The theatre also screens blockbuster films at times when there are no live performances.
Several pubs have at least taken names that reflect the town's steel-making past - The Works, The Company, and The Company Row. With the steelworks gone, visitors and inhabitants are beginning to realise the beauty of the picturesque views over the Derwent Valley, and Consett is becoming a popular place to live for commuters from Durham and Tyne & Wear looking for a taste of the country.
SportThere are plans for a new £20,000,000 sports complex, incorporating a swimming pool, regional tennis centre and new football stadium for Consett A.F.C. (The Steelmen).
- Alun Armstrong, actor. Born in nearby Annfield Plain, original cast member of Les Misérables, playing Monsieur Thénardier. Also in New Tricks and The Mummy Returns.
- Rowan Atkinson, star of the Blackadder and Mr. Bean comedy series. There is speculation that he became interested in acting after visiting the Consett Empire Theatre, which was at the time owned by his grandfather. However, a number of other places in the North East of England also make this claim.
- Alan Campbell, the present MP for Tynemouth and government whip was born in the town.
- Mark Clattenburg. English football Referee.
- Paul Collingwood, England and Durham cricketer, born in Shotley Bridge.
- Alan Heath - publisher and holocaust historian, now lives in Poland.
- Anthony Hutton, Big Brother winner.
- Susan Maughan, singer, who reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1962 with "Bobby's Girl".
- Bob Murray, kitchen & bathroom magnate and former chairman of Sunderland AFC.
- Robert Riddell, semi-professional goalkeeper. Also co-founded the sybian with neighboring Annfield Plain's very own Anthony Askew.
- Mathew Tait - England and Newcastle Falcons Rugby Union player. Born in Consett but brought up in the nearby town of Wolsingham.
- Steve Thompson, songwriter, producer. website. Born 1952 at the Grove. Served apprenticeship in the steelworks and began performing career at the Freemasons Arms with Consett band, Bullfrog. Later left the Steelworks and the area to begin a successful career in the music industry. Returned briefly in 2000 to the Empire Theatre with a musical entitled Steeltown.
- Barry Venison - retired footballer and pundit was born in Shotley Bridge Hospital, although is from Stanley.
- Denise Welch, ex-star of Coronation Street and Soldier Soldier drama series. Married to Tim Healy and now starring in Waterloo Road on BBC1.
consett in Bulgarian: Консет
consett in Welsh: Consett
consett in Dutch: Consett
consett in Romanian: Consett
consett in Volapük: Consett