Tow Law is a small Township situated in an area of fringe moor land, on the eastern approaches to Weardale, some 10 miles from Durham City and intersected by the main A68 road.It has a population of about 2000 and offers a range of shops and services.
The name "Tow Law" is from the Old English tot hlaw meaning "lookout mound," the name of a house which stood there before the iron works and the village were built. In 1841 only one building stood in the locality, called Tow Law House, but by 1851 the population of the town stood at almost 2,000. Despite its unpromising location - the town being at more than 1,000 feet above sea level on an exposed site - its growth during the 19th century had been rapid. By the early 1870's the population had reached 4,968 reaching a peak in 1881 of 5,005 inhabitants.
The founding architect of this growth was one Charles Attwood who in 1845 established an Iron Works near to this solitary house to take advantage of the Iron Ore to be found in upper Weardale and of the coal reserves in and around Tow Law. The iron works was short lived lasting only until 1882 and the last deep coal mine in the town 'Inkerman' closed in 1969. While the iron foundry closed Mr. Joseph Bond still carries on iron making in the town today. It is interesting to recall that during the Crimean War of 1853 cannon balls used in that conflict were made from Tow Law Iron, and the small hamlet to the east of the town called Inkerman takes its name from the battle of Inkerman.
The railway, under the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, was one of the first developments in Tow Law. The line lead from Crook and Bishop Auckland in one direction and Consett in the other carrying passengers until the early 1960s. It closed in 1965.