Albert Hill is to the north east of Darlington town centre, and lies on a plateau of land over which George Stephenson constructed the track of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.  The plateau was about one square mile of farmland on which cows grazed and was about seventy feet higher than the surrounding terrain.


In the wake of the first railways came a demand for heavy engineering forges and a lot of it was built in and around Albert Hill.  That in turn created a demand for labour and so rows of houses were built for the workers and their families.  As new communities grew, so there was a need to provide amenities, including churches.


The first church to be built was St John’s at Bank Top in 1853.  Then in 1872 St Paul’s was taken out of Holy Trinity parish to serve the people now living in Rise Carr.  The third church to be built was St James the Great in 1876, although the parish was formed in 1872.  At the Dedication service on 30 August 1876, the then Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Charles Baring made it very clear in his sermon, what he thought of 'high church' ways.  But it made no difference - St James has always been and remains in Traditional Catholic tradition of the Church of England.


Father Christopher Gibson Davis was the first vicar from 1872 until 1901.  Then came Father Theodore Crombie Gobat from 1901 until 1930.  Father John Creagh-Coen followed in 1930 until 1934 and was succeeded by Father Walter Limb Guyler from 1934 until 1949.


Father Arthur Gordon Cross was the next vicar from 1950 – 1959 and a second stint from 1963 until 1968.  Father Thomas Barton McKee was in post from 1960 until 1963.  After Father Cross retired in 1968 Father Denis Gilbert Smith became vicar and remained until 1988.


Father Ian Grieves took up the reins in 1989 until he left to join the Ordinariate in 2012.  There then followed a two-year interregnum until Father Kenneth Crawford was appointed as Priest in Charge, in a half-time post, in which he remained until 2020 when he left to become part-time Priest in Charge of St John the Evangelist in Newcastle upon Tyne.


Our current priest is Father Michael Way who was appointed as Priest in Charge soon after Father Crawford left.  But Father Michael is a non-stipendiary priest, i.e. he is not paid by the Diocese.


A more detailed account of these incumbents will be published in time for the celebration of our 150th Anniversary.

Page last updated: Friday 28th April 2023 4:26 PM
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