Local Historical Stories

A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL ARTICLES THAT FIRST APPEARED IN THE ALSTON MOOR NEWSLETTER

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INTRODUCTION
Early in 1996 I was asked if I would write a couple of historical articles for the Alston Moor Newsletter. I thought I could manage three or four but in the event, over 20 years later, they’re still going. Once, and only once, I received an unsolicited article from an outside source, this was the reminiscence of a school for wartime evacuees at Nent Hall that came from Mr. Michael Dickinson and it was gratefully included in the series.

They’re a real mixed bag, too random to put into a book, but they’re still worth keeping in a more permanent form, so here they are.

Material for the articles came largely from local sources, from the Alston Moor Historical Society Archives, St. Augustine’s Church Records, Alston Library, the Cumbria County Records Office in Carlisle and the County Records Office Northumberland.

There has been editing in some cases that will be noted at the beginning of each item, otherwise the articles have been left as they were written, complete with occasional references to such things as cement lorries, the millennium, and foot and mouth disease, which are themselves now things of the past (?).
Read on …

Alastair Robertson

Story No 15: Four Dargue, Five Dargue, Six Dargue, More

Dargues
FOUR DARGUE, FIVE DARGUE, SIX DARGUE, MORE

It’s not often that the origin of a place name can be dated to within a few years, but with Four Dargue, a ruined steading above Banks Farm near Alston, we can do just that.

To begin with, what is this strange word, “dargue”? Is it French? Did somebody have a disagreement, a “darguement” about it in the past? The answer is neither. It is pronounced “darg” and comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘doeg-weorc’, meaning a day’s work………….
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Story No 17: The Alston Clockmakers

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THE ALSTON CLOCKMAKERS

High up and surrounded by hills, Alston Moor could be regarded as England’s equivalent of the Swiss Alps, and the similarity does not end there, because Alston Moor was once the abode of clockmakers……………
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Story No 18: Alston's Bank Raid

Alston Market Place

ALSTON BANK RAID; 3 DEATHS



Shot manager dies: gunman kills himself in car

The Alston bank manager shot dead in a raid yesterday died shortly after the gunman killed himself in a taxi he had hired.

The three dead are Mr. A.J. Steel (59), the bank manager; Mr. Ernest Ingram of Front Street, Sacriston, the taxi-driver; and Charles Corbett Kennedy (24), of Thorp Avenue, Morpeth, the gunman…………
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Story No 19: Millennia

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The turn of the Millenium seems so far away now; we’re quite familiar with the not-so-new century. At the time of writing in 1999 it was interesting to look back a hundred years to the previous century.

The mention of cement lorries shows an aspect of history that was once part of our own daily lives, and now banks are even a thing of the past, something which would have been unimaginable not too long ago……….
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Story No 20: Mediaeval Gravestones Of Alston Moor

medieaval gravestones
During the filming of Dicken’s Oliver Twist in Alston in 1991, Peter Ryder, a Northumberland-based archaeologist, had to be called in to oversee the digging of a false grave in St. Augustine’s churchyard. In the event, a real unmarked grave was found, so, in order to leave the bones undisturbed, only a shallow grave could be dug on that spot for the film set. The bones that were uncovered, incidentally, would have been of no one that we knew since the last interment was in 1860.
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Story No 21: Destructive Fire At Alston Woollen Mill

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Story No 21: Destructive Fire At Alston Woollen Mill
Alston Woollen Mill, on Monday morning last was, for the second time within a short period, the scene of a destructive fire. About thirteen or fourteen months ago, a fire broke out in the offices, which did damage to the amount of £500, but the damage done by the fire under notice will, it is estimated, amount to upwards of £13,000.

The mill is the property of Messrs. Akerigg who bought it a few years ago, and fitted it up with excellent machinery, and some forty or fifty hands, who were employed, will be thrown out of work by the disaster. Read more……..
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Story No 22: Jacob Walton and the Iron Furnaces of Alston Moor

Jacob Walton
JACOB WALTON AND THE IRON FURNACES OF ALSTON MOOR

Alston Moor is famous for its lead production, but a mineral for which it is not so famous is iron. At the height of production in the 1850’s, it only ever reached 2% of Cumberland’s total, the rest was mined around Whitehaven. But it still has its own story with Jacob Walton, of the memorial beside the Town Hall, at its centre. What follows is part of a longer study to be published at the end of the year. (An article, ‘The Iron Mines on and about Alston Moor,’ was written in conjunction with Raymond A. Fairbairn and published in British Mining Memoirs No.69, 2001.)
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Story No 23: St. Augustine, The Canons And The Black Book

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ST. AUGUSTINE, THE CANONS AND THE BLACK BOOK

Why is the church of England in Alston dedicated to St. Augustine? – I wondered.
There is the legend about Cross Fell, formerly supposed to have been called Fiend’s Fell (a name that still appears on a part of Cross Fell), that tells of “evil spirits which are said in former times to have haunted the summit of the hill, and continued their haunts and nocturnal vagaries upon it until St. Austin (St. Augustine), as it is said, erected a cross and an altar whereupon he offered the Holy Eucharist by which he counter charmed those hellish fiends and broke their haunts”. (Stirring stuff)

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Story No 24: Baptisms and Burials

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SOME BAPTISMS AND BURIALS OF OLD ALSTON MOOR

Sometimes the well of short, presentable bits of history dried up. At this time (autumn 2001) I was running out of inspiration for new research and there were no ready-made articles to hand, so, although this article is still very interesting, I felt that it was a bit of an opt-out from writing a proper article for the Newsletter.

This may sound a bit morbid, but old burials can often be very interesting when occupations and brief character descriptions were added, especially in the 18th century. Some entries from the burial register for Alston Moor read as follows:-
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Story No 25: An Episode In The History Of Nenthall

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An Episode In The History Of Nenthall

This article was included by permission and encouragement of its author, Michael G. Dickinson.

“Glenhow” was a private preparatory school situated for most of its life (c1925-1970) at Saltburn-by-the-Sea near Middlesborough.
The headmaster during the war was Mr. Percy H. Sykes, M.A., who kept discipline to a high standard by the usual means in those days. He was a humane, Christian man who strove to give us skills, roots and mutual trust in a visibly unstable world. Mrs. Sykes was the one who kept house and maintained the school in all aspects of its daily and long-term needs.
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The next story in this series will be here soon

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We are publishing a story every few days. Please come back for more.
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About Us
Alston Moor Historical Society was founded in 1973 and, due to the nature of Alston Moor, it is a member of both the Northumberland Association of Local History Societies and the Cumbria Federation of Local History Societies.
Alston Moor Historical Society
LOCATION
Alston Moor, Cumbria
Alston Moor Historical Society - Alston Stories