Tales of the Tees – Low Worsall


Low Worsall

A tiny village sat on the edge of Teesside and North Yorkshire overlooking a short straight section of the River Tees. There are several villages that fit that description but Low Worrall is different; it has a secret past.

The biggest clue is the name of the currently closed pub, The Ship Inn. A pub’s name often reflects the area it is in or commemorates a famous person, but a ship, this far up the river? Well yes. Until the 18th Century Yarm was the main port on the River Tees. It was so difficult to transport goods over land that the best plan was always to aim for the nearest riverside town to where you were producing. Yarm sat on a stretch of river that was still deep enough for the vessels of the time and had the facilities of a port despite being so far from the sea. It was also ideally located between County Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire. However, the river was still pretty deep for a few miles beyond Yarm, one of those miles passing the sleep village of Low Worrall. 

In 1732 Richard Peirse decided that the road to Yarm for lead exports was passing through Low Worsall on its slow road journey to Yarm. He reckoned that the river was plenty deep enough for boats to continue to the village so they built a port. By doing so, boats could be loaded closer to the lead mines and therefore move goods quicker. The idea worked and the town slowly expanded to house the warehouse and port workers. Unfortunately, by 1778 the the business was starting to crumble. The new quays and port fell into disuse and today, you would never even notice that it existed. Except for the pub of course.

Other resources

The in depth story of the port at Low Worsall (click on the coat of arms for multiple images)

Old maps of the area – range of dates

History and info about the town including its shipping timeline