About Gainford

Gainford is located in the county of Durham, North East England, seven miles south-west of the town of Shildon, eight miles west of the major town of Darlington, 113 miles south-east of Edinburgh, and 220 miles north of London. Gainford lies just north-west of the North Yorkshire border. Gainford falls within the unitary authority of County Durham. It is in the DL2 postcode district. The post town for Gainford is Darlington.

Anglo-Saxon Ancestry

Most probably Gainford’s first village inhabitants were Saxon and certainly the first written evidence of Gainford was produced by Symeon of Durham who tells us that Eda or Edwine, a Northumbrian chief who had exchanged a helmet for a cowl, died in 801 and was buried in the monastery at Gegenforda.

Gainford Wath

Historians believe the village is older than this and well known  because of its two river crossing points called waths or fords, the Gainford waths and the Barforth wath. In Roman and pre Roman or Brigantian times, Gainford was on the A1M north to south heading towards the Brigantian camp at Stanwick, and the ford and ferry would have been of great importance.

Bounding box showing extent of Gainford


Legend has it that residents on the two sides of the river disputed ownership of a ford across the Tees. In the eventual battle, residents of the Durham side of the river gained the ford, and their village became known as Gainford. On the Yorkshire side of the river lies the site of the village of Barforth or Barford, said to be named in memory of its residents’ attempt to barricade the ford during the dispute.

Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

In Anglo-Saxon times, Gainford was the centre of an estate, part of the Northumbrian Congregation of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.In the Dark Ages this area was taken by Vikings. Archaeologists have found Viking sculptures at Gainford and some examples of these may be seen on display at Durham Cathedral.

Victorian Spa

Gainford station, on the Darlington to Barnard Castle line, opened in 1856, and brought in the vacationers. Substantial guesthouses were built on the high ground above the station for them to stay in as they took the whiffy waters.

The sulphur content of the water was said to be good for indigestion, constipation, flatulence, acidity, liver disorders and chronic skin diseases. Probably the last piece of tourist infrastructure, the Spa Boarding House on the Green, closed in 1910 and the attraction fizzled out during the First World War.

The stonework around the spa, though, survived into the 20th Century, although it did attract interest from vandals. In 2000, part of it was fished out of the Tees by divers, and in 2002, with the help of proud villagers, the spout was remade.