Local Historical Stories

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

INTRODUCTION
Early in 1996 Alastair Robertson - one of our local historians was asked if he would write a couple of historical articles for the Alston Moor Newsletter. He thought he could manage three or four but in the event, over 20 years later, they were still going. Once, and only once, he 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 the Historical Society website seemed the perfect place to have them.

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 …


Story No 35: Taiping Rebellion

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Historic events in far-off countries can often have repercussions, no matter how small, in places such as Alston Moor. For example a rebellion in China in 1860 had a direct impact on the James family of Clargill Hall near Alston.
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Story No 36: The Alston Mountain Rifles

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After the Crimean War of the 1850’s, diplomatic relations between Britain and France deteriorated to the point that war between the two seemed possible. In response this, on the 1st July 1859 Parliament announced the formation of volunteer corps (the forerunners of the Territorial Army) up and down the country. ………..

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Story No 40: the Alston Limestone Company Limited

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A hundred years ago, right next to Alston Station there was a large quarry operated by the Alston and Nentforce Limestone Company. The company had started life about 1890 and by 1901 it had become the Alston & Nentforce Limestone Quarry Co. Its typical output was illustrated in 1906 when consignments of limestone chippings for road making totalling 426 tons were delivered by the North Eastern Railway to Slaggyford, Coanwood, Lambley Crossing and Gilsland. The railway was helping in its own demise.

The North Eastern Railway was also the company’s biggest customer for stone to be used as railway ballast. To fulfil these orders quarrying activity had to be extended to a new quarry beyond the gas works on the other side of the main road to Hexham, which involved construction of a railway siding through a new tunnel that still exists under the road from Alston Station.
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 41: Farming on Alston Moor in Victorian Times

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Alston Moor has never been known for its agriculture for two reasons, one - the lack of suitable land, two - the climate due to the high altitude. In 1833 Thomas Sopwith described the usable land as, “A narrow range of rich loam (that) extends along the lower part of the valleys, producing luxuriant crops of fine meadow and rich pasture with some few sheltered patches of corn, the extensive growth of which is prevented by the climate.” Read more……..
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 42: The Cain Familiy. They came and they went

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Sometimes in rummaging around Alston’s past, I come across a surname that for some reason attracts my attention and I have to find out more about it. In this case it was Cain. I became interested in the Cain family when I discovered from my house deeds that in 1851 Joseph Cowper Cain, a prosperous lead mine agent, had lent money to the man who built the house. This started me off on the quest to find out more about Joseph and his family, who, from their surname, were obviously not from these parts. From church and chapel records, census returns and other bits and pieces I unearthed the following saga.
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 43: Why is Alston Moor in Cumbria?

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WHY IS ALSTON MOOR IN CUMBRIA? (Issue No.75, Winter 2010/11)

(A note in August 2020: This slightly tongue-in-cheek article was written ten years ago, so look out for changes that have happened since then – history moves on.)

Have you ever wondered why Alston Moor is in Cumbria?
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

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Story No 44: The Ayle Burn Trail

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THE AYLE BURN ‘TRIAL’


(Issue No.79, Winter 2011/2012)

The family of Jacob Walton, of monument fame, kept a large number of documents that are very informative about the local lead industry and demonstrate that not all of their enterprises were successful. The following story happened at a time when the financial worth of lead mines of the north Pennines was teetering on collapse. All the known veins had been explored and worked for many decades if not centuries, cheap Spanish ore was being imported, and on Alston Moor there was an air almost of desperation to find new sources of ore in old workings, or in veins previously untried because they were thought to be too poor.
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 46: Canadian Cousins?

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CANADIAN COUSINS?



(This brief article was written in 2012 – but nothing came of the suggestion for a 200th anniversary commemoration in 2018.)

Are you from an Alston Moor family? Have you any connections with a group of people who emigrated from Alston Moor to Upper Canada, now Ontario, in 1818? Can you trace your family back to 1800? Would you like to trace your family back to 1800?
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

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Story No 47: Nowell Oxland - Alston’s War Poet

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Nowell Oxland - Alston’s War Poet



In St. Augustine’s Church there is a portrait on either side of the altar depicting a knight in armour, each with a halo, each with the face of Nowell Oxland. In one he is St. George, having slain the dragon, and the other he is St. Alban, Britain’s soldier-saint. Both portraits have middle-eastern scenes in the background, but neither has the name of the artist. Part of the dedication beneath the left hand portrait reads ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’ (‘It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”.)
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 48: The Boundary Crosses of Alston Moor

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Short's Cross above Middle Cleugh on Killhope.

The Boundary Crosses of Alston Moor


In the Middle Ages at least five crosses were placed around the boundary of Alston Moor - and why? In many ways Alston Moor has a history different from that of its surrounding areas. For example, before the time of the Norman Conquest Alston Moor was probably part of Northumbria, not Cumbria where it is now. Then for about 150 years from the middle of the twelfth century, it was part of the Scottish kings’ Liberty of Tynedale, quite separate from England and governed more or less as part of Scotland from its administrative centre at Wark in the North Tyne valley.
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 52: The Professor of Adventure from Nenthead

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Millican Dalton, 'Professor of Adventure,' was a native of Nenthead, he was a pioneer of the movement for getting back to nature, for learning to live in harmony with nature and not try to subdue it. He practised what he preached, he lived in a cave in the Lake District for nearly fifty years, during which time he taught many others about the natural world.
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 53: Wilhelmina Lee - Alston's Unsung Heroine

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We rightfully remember people of Alston Moor who gave their lives in war, but we must not forget those who offered their lives but, thankfully, returned home. As well as the men who served there were women, Wilhelmina Lee was one of them. At the age of 29 she went to Cumberland Infirmary to train as a nurse…………….
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 54: Alston's First World War "War Crimes" Prosecutions at Alston Magistrates’ Court

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Alston's First World War "War Crimes" Prosecutions at Alston Magistrates’ Court



"Occasionally residents of Alston Moor, either intentionally or unintentionally, broke government regulations during the First World War.
The illustration is the cover from a fund-raising booklet in the care of Alston Moor Historical Society, written by George T. Elliot from Alston who toured the battlefields in Belgium and France."……..
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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Story No 55: The Milburn Colonists - Updated

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The Milburn Colonists - Updated


Many thousands of people have left Alston Moor over the years, mainly due to economic recession and the decline in the lead industry. Those who left in the early 1800’s must have been among the first to do so. In the archives of the Alston Moor Historical Society the fate of a few of these people can be traced.

"With thanks to Jim McCarry of the Lowbyer Manor Hotel for his old map of the region."
We need photographs to illustrate these posts. Do you have something suitable? If so, and you are happy to share it, please upload it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a historical story of your own or that you know of ? Please contact us to share it with the Society!

Thank you.
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We are adding a story every few weeks, so bookmark this page to come back for more………..


Alston Moor Historical Society Archives are staffed by volunteers. But even though we give our time for free there are still ongoing costs. Filing cabinets, electricity, heating, hosting costs and more.

We would appreciate any contribution you could give us to help us with our work.
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