Some quirky facts from the Durham Riverside Walk:
1. The name “Durham” comes from the Old English “dun”, meaning hill, and the Old Norse “holme”, which translates to island.
2. Durham City saw the birth of modern English mustard when Mrs Clements hit upon the idea of grinding mustard seeds like flour at a mill in Sadler Street. This new style of mustard quickly received Royal approval from King George I ensuring Mrs Clements’ success. Through the marriage of Mrs Clements’ daughter, the business passed to the Ainsley family who sold out to the Colemans of Norwich in the early 20th Century.
3. Durham’s Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site was one of the very 1st to be designated, along with the Taj Mahal and Palace of Versailles.
4. Known as “the Henley of the North”, Durham Regatta actually pre-dates its southern counterpart by five years. Foundered in its present form in 1834 by Durham University, Durham School and Durham Boat Club, oarsmen from the Tyne, Wear and Tees were invited to take part in the three-day festival. Sometimes racing nine boats abreast, they rowed upstream from Prebends Bridge, through the arches of Elvet Bridge to a buoy tied to an ash tree in Pelaw Wood.
5. Neil Fingleton (born 18 December 1980 in Durham) is the tallest British-born man and the tallest man in the European Union at 7 ft 7.56 in (232.6 cm) in height and among the 25 tallest men in the World.
6. In total, 92 men and three women were hanged at Durham between 1800 and 1958. Up to 1816, the place of execution at Durham was in the grounds of the present day Dryburn hospital. The name Dryburn may have come from the case of a man who was hanged there for being a Jesuit priest. The legend has it that after his death, the local stream (burn) mysteriously dried up and never flowed again, hence Dryburn.
7. In 1981 following a series of high profile prion escapes, the Government of the day decided that Durham would hold some of the country’s most difficult prisoners and particularly those prone to escape. A specially-prepared wing, described as “a prison within a prison” was developed. It would become the famous E-Wing and was thought to be escape-proof.
One man proved otherwise. His name was John McVicar.
His method of escape was so ingenious it became the inspiration for the film “Shawshank Redemption”.
Photographs from the walk can be found within the Gallery: Here