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Coordinates: 54°37′N 1°16′W / 54.61°N 1.27°W / 54.61; -1.27
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From the top, Town Centre, Kingsway, Billingham Manufacturing Plant
Billingham is located in County Durham
Location within County Durham
Population35,165 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceNZ470240
• London219 mi (352 km)
Civil parish
  • Billingham
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtTS22, TS23
Dialling code01642
AmbulanceNorth East
UK Parliament
List of places
County Durham
54°37′N 1°16′W / 54.61°N 1.27°W / 54.61; -1.27

Billingham is a town and civil parish in County Durham, England. The town is on the north side of the River Tees and is governed as part of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees unitary authority. It had a population of 35,165 in the 2011 Census.

The settlement has been around since Anglo-Saxon times as a village, a post-Second World War modern town centre was built north of the old village centre on the town's grange.[2] It was a township with an urban district from 1923 until 1968, when it was absorbed into the County Borough of Teesside, and part of the county of Cleveland.[3]

Billingham is home to the Billingham Manufacturing Plant which is a major producer of Chemicals for agriculture.



The town was settled by Angles and has a name either meaning Billa's people's home or bill-shaped hill people's home. The town was in one of the Northumbrian regiones. This regione is thought to cover much of the land of northern Teesdale and had late Viking rule. It was later broken up with Billingham in the Hartness district then into a small shire called Billinghamshire.[4]

St Cuthbert's Church

St Cuthbert's Parish Church has elements dating back to the late-7th/early-8th-century in its nave and a tower dating c. AD 1000. There is also a 7th-century grave-marker from the church in the British Museum.[5]

Chemical industry and ICI

Fertiliser chemical works

The town's chemical industry started in the early 1900s. In 1917, the town was chosen to be the site of a new chemical works supplying ammonia for the war.[6] However, the plant wasn't completed until 1920, after the war had ended. The Brunner Mond Company took over the site and converted it to manufacture fertilisers. In December 1926, Brunner Mond merged with three other chemical companies to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), who took control of the plant. With the World Wars creating a high demand for explosives it led to a massive expansion of Billingham and post-Second World War a new town centre was built. ICI began to produce plastics at Billingham in 1966.

Aldous Huxley visited the newly opened and technologically advanced Brunner and Mond plant at ICI and gave a detailed account of the processes he saw. The introduction to the most recent print of Brave New World states that Huxley was inspired to write the novel by this Billingham visit. Henry Thorold in the Shell Guide to County Durham states:

This is one of the most extraordinary of experiences, a sight almost unique in England. On either side of the road are the works. Steaming, sizzling—tall steel towers, great cylinders, pipes everywhere... At night the whole industrial world along the banks of the Tees comes to life... brilliant with a thousand lights, the great girders of the Transporter Bridge dark in silhouette: a magic city.

From 1971 to 1988 ICI operated a small General Atomics TRIGA Mark I nuclear reactor at its Billingham factory to produce radio-isotopes for use in process instrumentation such as level measurement devices. In addition to its own on-site coal-fired power station, ICI also operated the coal-fired North Tees Power Station, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, on the banks of the Tees to provide electricity for its plants. The latter was eventually decommissioned and demolished (at a ceremony attended by Environment Secretary Nicholas Ridley) in 1987. The site of the power station is now Billingham Reach Industrial Estate, an international wharf owned by Able UK Ltd. ICI no longer operates in Billingham, having sold many of its businesses during the restructuring of the company in the 1990s. Some of the company's former manufacturing plants are still in operation, run by other chemical companies. Several chemical plants close to the town were subject to explosions and leaks in 2006 and 2007.[7][8]

Following the fragmentation and ultimate loss of the chemicals conglomerate ICI, the Billingham Chemical Industrial park became a multi-company facility. The chemical, biotechnology and engineering companies that continue to operate at Billingham are members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). They include GrowHow, Johnson Matthey, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and Fruitarom. Other members of the NEPIC Cluster operate from the 62 acre (25 hectares) Belasis Business Park in Billingham such as Cambridge Research Biochemicals, ABB and Biochemica. Growhow not only manufacture fertilisers & industrial chemicals in Bilingham, but also capture the CO2 for use in the food and drink industry. Tomatoes are grown in Billingham by North Bank Growers using the recoverable energy from the Billingham complex, which further reduces the area's carbon footprint.[9]

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies have a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Billingham. Subject to regulatory approval, at least 60 million doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will be manufactured there for the UK government from 2021.[10][11]

Anhydrite Mine


In 1983, NIREX announced a proposal to use the disused anhydrite mine as a site for the disposal of intermediate level nuclear waste. There was a certain amount of opposition to this, led by Billingham Against Nuclear Dumping (BAND), as despite the suitability of the site in geological terms, it was very close to a large population centre.[12] Subsequently, in 1985, the plans were dropped. In 2007, more recent plans to reopen the mines for "use as a long-term disposal facility for low hazard waste" were met with similar opposition and a petition of 3,200 signatures against the mine's opening was presented to the local authority.[13]

In March 2011, Stockton Council's planning committee accepted an application from NPL Waste Management to reopen the mine for the disposal of hazardous waste. NPL planned to convert the mine into a 4,000,000 cubic metre waste storage facility receiving over 100,000 tonnes of waste annually.[14]




Octavious Evitts, the last mayor of Billingham (in 1952) before the civil parish was recreated

Between 1923 and 1968, Billingham had its own urban district council which built, among other things, the Billingham Forum, Kennedy Gardens and Billingham Golf Club (the UK's first municipally-owned club). Billingham's last mayor was Octavious Evitts in 1952.

It was included into the County Borough of Teesside in 1968. In 1974, Teesside County Borough was replaced by the County of Cleveland, which had four districts: Hartlepool, Langbaurgh-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees. Billingham was then part of Stockton-on-Tees. In 1996, with the abolition of Cleveland County, Billingham remained within Borough of Stockton-on-Tees which became a unitary authority.

Town parish

Billingham Library, the parish meeting point

Billingham civil parish is the largest area and size in the Stockton Borough. Other than the town itself, areas of the parish include Haverton Hill, Port Clarence, Cowpen Bewley and Seal Sands.

A petition to Stockton Borough Council and referendum held in 2003 both having given assent to proposal for Billingham to become reparished. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Electoral Commission issued orders for the creation of a Billingham Parish and the setting up of a new town council in February 2007. It is funded by a precept of £80,000. The first elections for the new Town Council were held on 3 May 2007.



Protected and green spaces


Billingham Beck Valley Country Park (also known as Billingham Bottoms) was landscaped from a reclaimed industrial waste tip and has steadily grown to include former grazing land to form a 120-acre (0.49 km2) site including wetland habitats. Designated as a Local Nature Reserve by English Nature in 1992, it won a Green Flag Award in 2005. The beck itself is one of the major tributaries of the River Tees and has a tidal reach around the former ICI site.



The town is effectively split into two separate areas by name: Old Billingham (the area around the village green adjacent to St Cuthbert's church and built up around the ICI works) and the more planned estates that have spread out since the 1950s, increasing the town's size and borders towards the villages of Wolviston and Cowpen Bewley to the point of almost incorporating them.

Billingham Town Centre provides the town with national retail chains such as Asda, Greggs, Iceland, Argos, Aldi, Costa, Poundland and Boyes, as well as several charity shops, estate agents and banks, with a market featuring in the centre every Monday and Friday. The town centre lacks some services[example needed] but Stockton Town Centre is less than 3 miles (4.8 km) away and Middlesbrough Town Centre is also less than 3 miles (4.8 km) away.

Town Centre Statue

In 1967, Associated Dairies' fledgling stores division, launched in 1965, opened their first store outside of its Yorkshire heartland in the town centre. Asda Billingham was their first store to open in the North East and is now the oldest continuously trading Asda supermarket in the UK.

Kingsway, looking east and west

In March 2012 it was confirmed that a Wetherspoons Public House would be opened in the Town Centre, along with a Fulton Frozen Foods superstore.

In August each year the town centre hosts the Billingham International Folklore Festival. Dancers and musicians perform traditional and contemporary dance.

In November 2013, a time capsule was buried in front of 'The Family' statue in Billingham Town centre under a stone with the inscription 'FOREVER FORWARD 30 11 2013'. The capsule is not to be unearthed until the year 2078.


High-rise flats in Billingham

The population of Billingham, according to the census of 1801, was 962. This number increased slowly until the beginning of World War One, when the need for nitrates to use in explosives brought about a significant burst of growth for the town.[15] In 1917, after Billingham was chosen as the site for the production of synthetic ammonia[16] due to its good transport links and access to the resources needed, the population of the town nearly doubled in just a few years from 4500 to 8000. After the war, the site was bought by Brunner Mond and converted for use in the production of agricultural fertiliser. Brunner Mond soon merged with a number of other companies to form Imperial Chemical Industries. This furthered the growth of Billingham's population, which reached nearly 18,000 by 1931. With the onset of World War Two, synthetic ammonia for explosives was once again in demand, further sustaining the town's development.

Shopping Parade at Station Road, Billingham, County Durham.

During the latter half of the 20th century, the population of Billingham slowed significantly due to the industrial decline of the area. Furthermore, Billingham attracted relatively few immigrants after its de-industrialisation. Across the wards that make up Billingham, just 2.3% of the population at the 2011 Census were born outside the UK, compared to a national average of 13%. The population was also recorded as 99% white.

Population data for 1801–1971 is available at Britain Through Time.[17]

Population of Billingham
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 962 940 1154 1212 1652 1811 n/a n/a 1488 2675
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991
Population 3729 4463 8058 17972 n/a 23993 32139 n/a n/a n/a
Year 2001
Population 35765



Billingham is served by two secondary schools: Northfield School, a specialist sports college, and St Michael's Catholic Academy, a specialist Science Catholic academy. Northfield Marsh House site, formerly Campus, was closed in 2012.

At the moment[when?] construction is ongoing for St. Michael's to join the Billingham Campus and New Bede/Riverside College facilities on the Marsh House Avenue site. The council has published plans for a £40 million investment in primary schools which will include some being rebuilt or re-designed and refurbished. Roseberry Primary School and Bewley Infant and Bewley Junior Schools are on the list for action within the next few years.

Bede College has served the town for several years, and attracts students from Hartlepool and Stockton, consistently achieving higher results than nearby colleges in Stockton or Middlesbrough. Formerly one of the smallest colleges in the UK, with under 400 students, its recent amalgamation with Stockton Riverside College and relocation to an adjacent new campus has seen its student body increase significantly. As part of the new campus, the college has also gained its own sports facilities.



Billingham is home to several religious communities, the largest of which are the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of England community is served by a single Team Parish, with five parish churches: St. Cuthbert's, St. Luke's, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Aidan's, and St. Peter's. The parish covers all of Billingham, the Clarences, Cowpen Bewley, Newton Bewley, and Wolviston. It is part of the Church of England Deanery of Stockton in the Archdeaconry of Auckland, which itself is within the Diocese of Durham.

St John the Evangelist Church

The Roman Catholic community is served by three parishes, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Billingham, St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph's. These parishes are based in Hexham and Newcastle's St Hilda Partnership. The Parish Priest is the Rev John Butters.[citation needed]There is also St Michaels RC Secondary School in Billingham, which is part of the Carmel Trust based in Darlington.

The Christian community is also served by two Methodist churches, one Baptist church and a Pentecostal Church called "New Life" based on Low Grange Avenue. There is also a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Spiritualist community is served by one Spiritualist Church located on Chapel Road, TS23 1DX, just off The Green. This is the second oldest Church in Billingham and started out life as a Methodist church that was then sold on to the Spiritualist National Union when the Methodists needed a larger premises. The chapel has been serving Spiritualism and the local community since 1932.





Billingham is served by the A19 running to Sunderland in the north and Thirsk in the south.

A139 entering Billingham Bottoms from Norton

Billingham is also served by the A689 to Hartlepool in the east and Bishop Auckland in the west.


Level Crossing, Station Road

Billingham railway station is on the Durham Coast Line with hourly services provided by Northern to Newcastle and the MetroCentre in the north and to Stockton and Middlesbrough in the south. Grand Central provide an express train from Sunderland to London but the service does not currently serve Billingham.

The original Billingham railway station was closed in the late 1960s and moved a mile east along the line. Rail services were infamously operated using Pacer trains which were in essence converted Leyland National buses, but these were withdrawn in late 2019 due to them not meeting government disability requirements.



Stagecoach provides services 35 to Stockton via Norton Glebe & High Grange, 36 Middlesbrough & Hartlepool, 52 Stockton High Street & Low Grange and 34 Middlesbrough & Owington Farm. Many route changes were made[when?] with Billingham's buses, such as the re-routing around High Grange on the 34. In summer 2018 the 34A was introduced but withdrawn in late 2019.

Go North East provide services X9 & X10 To Newcastle & Middlesbrough.

Local operator Stagecarriage provided local services, such as the X7 to Stockton, Teesside Retail Park and Middlesbrough. This service was withdrawn around a fortnight before the company's collapse in July 2019. The service has not been replaced.

Leven Valley formally provided service 45 to Wolviston. After the closure of Leven Valley, Stagecarrige took over this service, but it stopped running shortly after.



Billingham is the home of Billingham Town F.C., who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2017 having been initially founded in 1967 as Billingham Social Club.

The chemical industry's creation of ammonia in the town also led to the formation of Billingham's other football team, Billingham Synthonia, Synthonia being a portmanteau of synthetic ammonia. At the beginning of the 2017–18 season, financial difficulties spurred Billingham Synthonia F.C. to relocate to the Norton Sports Complex in Norton in a ground-share with Norton & Stockton Ancients and are currently ground sharing with Stokesley SC.

Billingham Synthonia Cricket Club is of similar origins to the football club of the same name. The club play in the North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League.

The town also has its own ice hockey team (the Billingham Stars) in the English National Ice Hockey League, whose home rink is Billingham Forum Ice Arena. There is also another ice hockey team called the Billingham wildcats which is made up of women aged 16+.

The town has one Rugby Union club, Billingham RUFC, which has four senior teams, the 1st XV currently[when?] playing in National 3 North, four leagues from the Premiership. The 2nd XV (Lions) currently playing in The "Candy League" Division 1. The 3rd XV currently playing in The "Teesside Merit League", with the Colts playing in a competitive Saturday Colts League. The club also has a junior section, ranging from U-7 minis to U-16s, with teams winning Durham county cups and leagues.

Billingham Forum

Billingham Forum

In 1967, Billingham Forum was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. A sports and leisure complex, it contains a swimming pool, an ice rink, and a number of sports halls. The complex also houses the Forum Theatre. Notable personalities that have performed in the theatre include Wendy Richard, Jimmy Edwards, Eric Sykes, Darren Day, Arthur Lowe, David Jason, Penelope Keith, Terry Scott, Timothy West, Carroll Baker, and Dame Anna Neagle. Roy Chubby Brown performed there for the first time in November 2006; his DVD for 2007 was recorded there as well.

As part of the proposals to regenerate Billingham, a 'Gateway' initiative proposed the construction of a new sports and leisure centre on John Whitehead Park to replace the Forum. This proved highly controversial, particularly as the Forum's would-be-replacement did not contain a theatre. The proposals were abandoned in November 2004, shortly after the Forum Theatre was granted Grade II listed building status.

Following a survey that reported 98% of participants in favour,[18] Stockton Borough Council submitted a bid of £15-20 million[19] to refurbish the Forum Complex in partnership with The Billingham Partnership group.[18]

On 2 June 2011, the Billingham Forum returned from its £15m refurbishment, which started in mid-2009. The Billingham Forum now encompasses a theatre, business standard conferencing facilities, a swimming facility, a large Ice Arena, a state-of-the-art Activ8 Gym with TechnoGym Digital exercising equipment, a sauna and steam room, fun indoor climbing (GoClimb), a sports injury centre, and dry sports and drama facilities. There was originally a fish pond in the centre of Billingham Forum but it has been removed. The exterior wall panels have also been replenished with a colour scheme of Dark Blue, Grey and Yellow. Billingham Forum is owned by Stockton Borough Council and is managed by Tees Active Ltd.

Notable people








Billingham has an oceanic climate (Cfb). The town is fairly warm in the summer and the temperature can rise above 30 °C (86 °F) but this is rare. In the winter temperatures can drop below 0 °C (32 °F) but this is also rare.

The highest recorded July temperature occurred on Tuesday 19 July 2022, reaching 37°C.

Climate data for Billingham, England (2003–2011)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.3
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 2.1
Record low °C (°F) −6.7
Source: Weather statistics collected from Billingham Weather Station[22]


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  2. ^ "A Brief History of Billingham" (PDF). Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Billingham UD". Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Billingham". Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  5. ^ The British Museum – Gravestone Retrieved 15 October 2020
  6. ^ "Cities of Science - North East - An Explosive History". Citiesofscience.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Explosions rock chemical factory". BBC News. 1 June 2006.
  8. ^ "Dozens injured in chemical leak". BBC News. 4 January 2007.
  9. ^ "Teesside fertiliser plant praised for more production yet decreasing discharges". Environment Times. 27 October 2009.
  10. ^ Boseley, Sarah; Davis, Nicola (28 January 2021). "Novavax Covid vaccine shown to be nearly 90% effective in UK trial". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  11. ^ Brown, Mike (14 August 2020). "60m doses of new covid-19 vaccine could be made in Billingham – and be ready for mid-2021". TeessideLive. Reach. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  12. ^ BBC: Waste to be stored in Billingham anhydrite mine. News.bbc.co.uk, Retrieved: 15 October 2020
  13. ^ "Petition handed in over anhydrite mines (TS23 – Billingham)". Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Hazardous waste set to be dumped in Teesside mine". Evening Gazette. Middlesbrough. 3 March 2011. p. 4.
  15. ^ "History of Stockton-on-Tees". England's North East. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  16. ^ "NITROGEN FIXATION. (BILLINGHAM FACTORY)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 7 April 1925. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  17. ^ Britain Through Time, Visionofbritian.org.uk
  18. ^ a b "Billingham Forum – Stockton Borough Council". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Billingham Forum FAQ's – Stockton Borough Council". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  20. ^ The Northern Echo: Ann Ming's Fight to overturn archaic double-jeopardy law, Thenorthernecho.co.uk, 15 November 2019
  21. ^ Middlesbrough Evening Gazette – Crimes that Shook Teesside: 'Double jeopardy' killer Billy Dunlop, Gazettelive.co.uk, 28 November 2013
  22. ^ "Billingham Weather Station". Billinghamweather.com. Retrieved 22 January 2022.