HARRATON, a township, in the parish and union of Chester-le-Street, Middle division of Chester ward, N. division of the county of Durham, 3 miles (N. E.) from Chester-le-Street; containing 1601 inhabitants. This place, anciently called Harvertune, was the property of the Hedworths, in whose possession it remained undivided until the 17th century, when, through the mismanagement of Sir John Hedworth, Knt., and the seizure of the lands, with the collieries of Harraton, the district passed to other owners, with the exception of a small portion: the whole now belongs to the Lambton family, partly by marriage, and partly by purchase. The township is situated on the north bank of the Wear, and comprises 1991 acres of land, whereof two-thirds are strong arable ground, producing wheat. Valuable and extensive coal-mines are in operation, in one of which, in 1708, an explosion took place that caused the death of 69 persons; and in 1817 another mine exploded by which 38 individuals lost their lives. Here stands Lambton Castle, situated in a beautiful park, and occupying the site of the old Hall of Harraton. There are several staiths for shipping coal on the Wear, across which was once a ferry at the village of Fatfield-Staiths.
Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.