For years there has been a constant argument among many people about the original name of Consett. From most local history books it was stated that the original name of the town was actually Berry Edge and that it only later became known as Consett. An initial letter sent to a Newcastle paper in the late 1850’s had a person stating this was the case and nearly all the local Historian’s of the last Century have used this as their basis. However, Berry Edge was not even mentioned until 1791 and then only as an “allotment” in a part sale of Conside. It seems there was a lot more to it than I had initially realised.
If you look on the early maps Berry-Edge is actually written next to the new town in big bold letters, peculiarly at a place where anyone today would say Berry Edge existed, just above Consett College. Going back further you can find mention of Berry Edge Farm and Berry Edge House situated next to Blackfyne. In reality it seems that Berry Edge was a section of land that ran from Blackfyne across the top of the park and along Albert Road, almost like a boundary.
Consett or Conside was different however, it encompassed a very large area which in 1723 enclosed some 693 acres which stretch from the Stamfordham to High Conside (approximately half a mile from Shotley Bridge) and stretch all the way up to Carr House. Most of this land was owned by Sherburn Hospital, originally a Leaper Hospital set up in 1181 by Bishop Pudsey and that had been granted huge amounts of land in this area (probably were the name Sherburn Terrace originated).
Also the name of Consett has ancient origins in that it can be traced back to 1183 and its entry in the Bolden Book as Conekesheued. The name Consett as we know it today can be seen written in documents of the court of Henry VIII in the 1500’s. One side of this document is Latin and the area is stated as Conside the other side in old English and written as Consett.
But once again the point that Consett was an established place did not mean that the town was initially called that when the Iron Works built it. So I began to dig deeper. Each newspaper seem to state Berry Edge one minute then Consett the next and there seemed to be no continuity, until I came across an account of the meeting of the Consett Board in 1866. In this article it stated that the town had always gone under the name of Consett but that the postal authorities had designated the postal area as Berry Edge. The local business men where not happy with this at all as it was detrimental to their businesses so they had demand the postal area be changed to the correct name of Consett. This was granted in the same year and the confusion ceased.
So it seems as though the name Consett was never disputed by the inhabitants of the area but that it was the postal authorities and other bureaucratic agencies who had caused all the confusion.
This is a very simple break down to my findings and I am sure this will not be the end of the debate but hopefully will give food for thought.