When Norton Was the Gentry's Social Centre; 19th Century Norton

Article excerpt

THE move of industrialists and merchants to Norton in the 1880s saw many of the big houses occupied and extended to the owners' Victorian standard - Norton Hall being a prime example.

Norton Heritage has found some of the history regarding Norton House of this period, which Bob Harbron has passed on.

Built in 1770-1780, by the Hogg family on a smaller manor, the family acquired hundreds of acres of rich grain-land around the village to the south, east and north from Portrack to Hardwick. The family moved back to their ancestral home in Buckinghamshire, 1879, retaining rental to this day on many acres around the village

Norton House became the social hub of South Durham from 1780-1820, unti1 the building of Wynyard Hall in 1825.

The new owner of Norton House was a Mr Richard Denton JP. The Dentons were shipbuilders, starting in Hartlepool in 1836. So successful was their business, working with Mr Ward Jackson, that by 1863 and employing 2,000 men it attracted the attention of Mr William Gray, later Sir William Gray.

They joined forces and opened more yards as Denton and Gray Co Ltd from 1863 onwards.

1865 saw John Denton in partnership on the Tees with Richardson, Denton and Duck, South Stockton (Thornaby). This venture lasted two years then Denton sold his share and concentrated on the Hartlepool yards.

John, the prime mover of the Denton family, died in 1871 and his son Richard left the company in 1874. …