Early April saw the launch of the first of the centenary celebrations marking 100 years since the birth of the artist Norman Cornish. Exhibitions and events have been planned in the region throughout 2019 to commemorate his life and work. The most enduring is The Norman Cornish Trail.

A painting by Norman Cornish of Spennymoor

Spennymoor Town Council, together with Durham County Council and the Cornish family, have developed the trail in the artist’s home town of Spennymoor - where visitors can follow in the footsteps of the beloved local artist. 

As an artist, Norman found everything he needed in Spennymoor, some would even say his artistic inspiration came from a 'narrow world', but according to him his world offered everything he needed. 

Covering approximately 1.5miles (2.4km) The Norman Cornish Trail takes visitors back to a time, when coal was once the life blood of industry and an important part of community life.

Visitors can follow in the artist’s footsteps to ten key locations to see where Norman gained his inspiration. Each trail board along the route displays a narrative explaining why Norman was drawn to each location and showcases wonderful examples of his artwork.  

Panels of the Norman Cornish trail inside Spennymoor Town Hall

  • First stop on the trail, once leaving Spennymoor Town Hall, is Eddy’s Fish Shop. Now demolished, it is easy nevertheless to imagine the hustle and bustle that was once centred around this place. 
  • Next stop, the Zebra Crossing where the artist would often stop to capture the energy of this scene.
  • Onto St Paul’s Church. The images here depict perfectly what this place was once like, and show that, over time, very little has changed here.
  • The next location on the trail brings the walker to Edward Street with its horse drawn cart and the church gracefully crowning it at the top.
  • Rosa Street School on the route is a busy scene providing a rich source of inspiration for the artist.
  • Spennymoor’s roots are steeped within the mining industry and, within the beautifully tended Jubilee Park, visitors can view the artist’s mining themed images and learn about the tough existence miners faced below ground. 
  • From the park, the trail directs the walker back towards the town centre to the last four locations.
  • Opposite the Town Hall is a hard-landscaped area where Norman himself would often sit to sketch the fascinating characters passing by.
  • Further down the High Street, vibrant bar scenes show exactly what life was once like in the many thriving pubs around the town.
  • Across the road, the Leisure Centre stands on what was once the site of the artist’s former colliery home in Bishop’s Close Street. The images show the street surrounded by remnants of the town’s industrial past as well as tender images of family life within the home.
  • The final stop on the trail is the much-loved Berriman’s Chip Van - rekindling fond memories for so many local people.

A painting of a miner walking home by Norman Cornish

For those wishing to venture a little further, Norman's home of 45 years is identified on the map, as is the Spennymoor Settlement building which provided inspiration and encouragement for the young artist.

 Visitors can pick up trail guidebooks from Spennymoor Town Hall or download a digital copy by clicking here >

Visitors can also enhance their trail experience, by downloading a free digital version of The Norman Cornish Trail Guide to their smart devices, which has additional visual/audio content - memories and anecdotes recounted by locals and old photograpghs showing what the town once looked like. Click here to download the mobile guide >  

Throughout the trail, shops, cafes and public amenities are never very far away. The walk is completely free and can be completed at any time of day, allowing walkers to go at their own pace.

Norman Cornish Trail starting point at Spennymoor Town Hall

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