Washington, Tyne and Wear facts for kids
A view over Washington from Penshaw Monument
|Washington shown within Tyne and Wear|
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||NE37, NE38|
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Washington is a large new town in the City of Sunderland local government district of Tyne and Wear, England, and part of historic County Durham. Washington is located geographically at an equal distance from the centres of Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, hence it has close ties to all three cities.
Washington was designated a new town in 1964; it expanded dramatically, by the creation of new villages and the absorption of areas of Chester-le-Street, to house overspill population from surrounding cities.
At the 2011 census, Washington had a population of 67,085, compared to 53,388 in 2001.
Early references appear around 1096 in Old English as Wasindone. The etymological origin is disputed and there are several proposed theories for how the name "Washington" came about. Early interpretations included Wasindone (people of the hill by the stream, 1096), or Wassyngtona (settlement of Wassa's people, 1183).
The origins of the name Washington are not fully known. The most supported theory (especially amongst local historians) is that Washington is derived from Anglo-Saxon Hwæsingatūn, which roughly means "estate of the descendents (family) of Hwæsa". Hwæsa (usually rendered Wassa or Wossa in modern English) is an Old English name meaning "wheat sheaf", the Swedish House of Vasa being a more famous cognate.
Due to the evolution of English grammar, modern English lacks the Germanic grammatical features that permeated Anglo-Saxon English. This adds an air of confusion for most in regards to the name Hwæsingatūn. It is essentially composed of three main (albeit grammatically altered) elements:
- "Hwæsa" – most likely the name of a local Anglo-Saxon chieftain or farmer.
- "ing" – a Germanic component that has lost its original context in English: ing means roughly "[derived] of/from". It can still be seen in its original context in the word "halfling" meaning "that [derived] from an half". In the name Hwæsingatūn, "ing" is conjugated to "inga" in accordance with the genitive plural declension of OE.
- "tūn" – root of the modern English "town", and is a cognate of German Zaun (fence), Dutch tuin (garden) and Icelandic tún (paddock). The word means "fenced off estate" or more accurately "estate with defined boundaries".
The combined elements (with all correct conjugations in place) therefore create the name Hwæsingatūn with a full and technical meaning of "the estate of the descendants of Hwæsa".
However, there has been no evidence found of any chieftain/land owner/farmer in the area by the name of Hwæsa, although any such records from the time would likely have been long lost by now.
Although this is by no means the definite theory of origin, most scholars and historians (especially local) agree that it is the most likely.
Another of the popular origin theories is that Washington is in fact derived from the Old English verb wascan (said wosh-an) and the noun dūn meaning "hill"; thus making the name Wascandūn, meaning "washing hill". This theory likely originates from the proximity of the river Wear to the actual Anglo-Saxon hall at the time (most likely where Washington Old Hall stands today).
This idea is not backed by linguistic evidence. Combining the two Old English words "wascan" and "dūn" would actually have meant "washed hill" and not "washing hill". Also, the Old English "dūn" meant a range of gently rolling hills, as evidenced by the naming of the North and South Downs in southern England.
George Washington connection
William de Wessyngton was a forebear of George Washington, the first President of the United States, after whom the US capital and many other places in the United States are named. Though George Washington's great-grandfather John Washington left for Virginia from Hertfordshire, Washington Old Hall was the family home of George Washington's ancestors. The present structure incorporates small parts of the medieval home in which they lived. American Independence Day is marked each year by a ceremony at Washington Old Hall.
The Old Hall may have been built by William de Hertburn, who moved to the area in 1183. As was the custom, he took the name of his new estates, and became William de Wessyngton. By 1539, when the family moved to Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, the spelling "Washington" had been adopted.
Building the New Town
Washington's design was developed through the New Towns concept aiming to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth. The new town is divided into small self-sufficient "villages". It was originally also divided into the 15 numbered districts, a fate that confused many visitors to the area. These numbered districts have gradually been removed as well as increased, and now road signs indicate the villages' names instead of district number.
Washington's villages are called:
- Usworth (originally Great Usworth)
- Washington Village (the original village and location of the Old Hall)
Mount Pleasant was also added to the list of numbered districts (14), despite being out of the Town "boundary line" of the River Wear and having a DH4 Postcode (Houghton le Spring); however, it does hold a Washington dialling code starting 0191 415/416/417.
Built on industry, Washington contains several industrial estates, named after famous local engineers, such as Parsons, Armstrong, Stephenson, Crowther, Pattinson, Swan and Emerson.
A lot of the land that makes up the town was purchased from the Lambton family, Earls of Durham who own the estate of the same name, which includes their ancestral home, Lambton Castle.
In 1970, Washington hosted the English Schools Athletic Association (ESAA) annual National Championships, attended by the then Lord Lieutenant of County Durham.
On 15 November 1977, the very first SavaCentre hypermarket (a venture between Sainsbury's and British Home Stores) opened at The Gallaries. By 2005, however, it had been rebranded as a traditional Sainsbury's as the SavaCentre brand was phased out.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust nature reserve and the Washington 'F' Pit mining museum are within the town. The Washington Arts Centre is a converted farm building. The Centre includes an exhibition gallery, community theatre, artist studios and a recording studio. The North East Aircraft Museum occupies part of the old RAF Usworth base. The Nissan plant takes up much of the rest. The municipal airport previously run from the site was closed to make way for the Nissan plant.
Washington is located on the mothballed Leamside Line and, until the mid-1960s, had regular passenger services to Sunderland, Teesside and Newcastle upon Tyne, via Pelaw Junction. Freight services continued until 1991 and the line is currently out of use, with all major infrastructure extant. Washington is therefore one of the largest towns in Britain without an operational railway station (see Dudley, Newcastle under Lyme and Gosport).
In June 2009, the Association of Train Operating Companies called for funding for the reopening of this station as part of a £500m scheme to open 33 stations on 14 lines closed in the Beeching Axe, including seven new parkway stations.
There is a major bus station situated at The Galleries, and another at Concord in the north of Washington. The primary provider of transport (buses) in the area is Go North East, with local services as well as connections to Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, and many other towns and cities in the region.
Major roads run through Washington: the A182, the A1231 and the A195 all connect to the A1(M) motorway (which acts as the western boundary of Washington proper) or its feeder, the A194. Washington Services is situated between Junctions 64 and 65 of the A1(M), and incorporate a Travelodge.
Washington, Tyne and Wear Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.