Alston Parish

  > Anciently written Aldenestone, that is Alden's-town, and more recently, Aldstone, is a region of dreary wastes and narrow dales, pent in on the west by Cross Fell, Hartside Fell, and Thackmoor Fell, and on all other sides by high lands in the counties of Northumberland, Durham, and Westmorland. This parish is rich in mineral treasures, and extends about nine miles in length from north to south, and about eight miles in breadth from east to west; is intersected by the rivers South Tyne, Blackburn, Nent, Gildersdale Burn1, and several smaller streams, which rise and unite in the parish, and flow through deep dells, where in some places there is good pasturage for sheep and cattle, but only a few acres of land in tillage, the high lands and wastes being generally covered with heath and bent. The soil is of a mixture of clay, moss, and sand. Small trout abound in the rivers, and grouse upon the moors, where grow clustered bramble-like cranberries, commonly called cloud-berries. Houseman says, "on Gildersdale Fell is a bog, or dead-water, the top of which is covered some inches thick with a sort of mud, which the neighbouring people use for painting yellow and red; it produces colours like yellow ochre and Spanish brown; but no scientific person has hitherto had the curiosity duly to investigate and analyse this uncommon production." Upon Hall Hill2, a little below Tyne Bridge, there is the foundation of a fortress, which was surrounded by a moat; and the west side of the parish was crossed by the Roman road, called Maiden Way, the remains of which are very distinct in some places. This rich mining district was formerly very difficult of access, owing to the rough and broken state of its roads, but in 1823, an Act of Parliament was obtained for making new roads from the town of Alston, to Penrith, Brampton, and Hexham, all of which have been completed; and another road has since been made from Alston, over Yadmos, to Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire. In 1841, the population of Alston parish was 6063, and of the town of Alston, 1650 souls. "Most of the men are miners, and by long continuance in the works they show a simplicity of manners rarely found among other labouring people; they are strong of limb, and when in liquor, a vice too frequent, they are quarrelsome and resolute; but when from home, are remarkably tractable, and steadfastly attached to their countrymen and fellow labourers." But the most visible quality of the inhabitants of the town and parish of Alston are their remarkably kind disposition, their hospitality, and their courtesy and attention to strangers - characteristics which we have seen strikingly exemplified, in our own regard, during our perambulations through this highly interesting district. Mining renders the people later in manhood, and unhealthy, so that the most robust person amongst that class seldom exceeds the age of 50 or 55 years. The rateable value of the parish, including the chapelries of Garrigill and Nent Head, is 9792, and the estimated number of acres of meadow, pasture, and common land, is 40,000, the principal owners of which are Robert Hodgson, Esq., Salkeld Hall; George Elstob, Esq., Hexham; William Bartley, and Thomas Wilson, Esqrs.

The Manor of Alston Moor was confirmed to William Vipont, or Veteripont, by William the Lion, king of Scotland; and a further confirmation was given by king John, in 1209. By an inquest taken in the 8th of Edward II, (A.D. 1315) after the death of Nicholas de Veteripont, it was found that he died possessed of "the capital messuage of Alston, 14 acres of arable land, 100 acres of meadow, 33 tenants at Gerardsgill, with 33 shielings, at 5 18s. yearly rent, 13 tenants at Amotes-halth, at 3 8s. 4d., 22 tenants at Nent and Corbrig-gate, with 22 shielings at 5s. 2d. yearly rent; also a water corn mill, a fulling mill, and 3000 acres of pasture in Alston Moor; all which premises were held of the manor of Werk3." John de Clifford held the manor of Alston with Ellerington and Gerardsgill, in the 10th of Edward V, paying yearly into the king's exchequer, at Carlisle, 6 13s. 4d. rent. In 1443, it was granted by Thomas Whytlawe to William Stapylton and Margaret his wife, with whose daughter, Mary, it passed in marriage to the Hilton's, of Hilton Castle, who, in the reign of James I (A.D. 1618) sold it to Sir Francis Radclyffe, of Dilston, and continued in that family till the attainder of his descendant, James Radclyffe, third earl of Derwentwater, in 1716, after which it was settled by Act of Parliament on Greenwich Hospital, to which institution it still belongs. Between the years 1611 and 1616, the lands were leased off to the tenants for 999 years, by Henry Hilton, Esq. for rents amounting to 63 per annum, and a twenty-penny fine at the end of every twenty years. Mr. Sopwith says it was in 1629 that the manor was sold to Sir Edward Radclyffe for 2500. The governors of Greenwich Hospital let out the mines on working leases to the London Lead Company, and many other adventurers under the firms specified in the directory at a subsequent page. The lessees pay one seventh part of the ore raised in the mines as duty, or rent, on which conditions the veins are let to the first applicants, without distinction. Mr. John Grey, of Dilston Castle, is the receiver for the Greenwich Hospital estates and lead mines, and the resident agents are a moor master, (Mr. William Paul) and a clerk of deliveries.

The lead mines in this parish are both extensive and productive; those situated in Alston Moor, alone, at one time yielded 30,000 bings4 of ore in one year, though the quantity raised at present does not exceed 17,000 bings, producing about 4200 fothers of of lead,* each fother containing from 8 to 10 ounces of silver. The number of mines great and small, at present working, is about sixty, the most productive of which are Nent Head mines, Rodderup-Fell, Brownley Hill, Hudgill Burn,† Dowgang, Bentley Field, Galligill Syke, Nentsberry green, Blagill, &c. The manor of Alston has for some years produced a quantity of copper ore, which is found in the same veins with the lead ore. About twenty years ago Sir John Vein, in the manor of Tynemouth, yielded considerable quantities of copper, but at present the quantity raised is comparatively trifling. The lead ore got in those veins containing copper is generally very rich in silver. From the rental of the earl of Derwentwater's estates, it appears that the manor of Alston yielded 153 per annum in 1723, about which time the mines yielded 650 pre annum. In 1805, Greenwich Hospital had a rental of 684 5s. 2d. in this manor, and in 1816, 1463 19s. 1d. In 1768 there were 119 lead mines in this parish, 103 of which were leased under the Greenwich Hospital; and the average annual produce of the same year was 20,943 bings, of the value of 70,000. At the close of the last century the clear annual produce was stated at 16,000, and the number of persons employed in the mines, 1100. The number of mines held under the hospital in 1814 was 102, and the number of bings produced was 11,496; the price for the lead in 1813 was 4 5s. for bowse ore, and 3 5s. for culling, or inferior, ore. There are two large smelting establishments in the manor, viz., the Nent Head Smelt Mill, belonging to the London Lead Company; and the Tyne Head Smelt Mill, belonging to John Cresswell Jobling, Esq. Newton Hall, Northumberland. The former consists of four smelting hearths, one smelting furnace, one refining furnace, reducing furnace, and a separating house. The latter consists of two smelting hearths, one smelting furnace, one roasting furnace, one reducing furnace, one refining furnace, and a separating house. The smelting companies are the Langley Smelting Company, the London Lead Company, Jacob Walton and Co. Bollihope Mill, and J.C. Jobling; the first of these companies have Walton and Stotroe's patent condensor in operation, which is one of the most efficient yet tried in the kingdom. Ores of zinc also abound to a considerable extent in the manor; the sulphurets are found in abundance at Nent Head and neighbourhood, and the carbonates at Nentsberry Haggs, Bayle Hill, Farnberry, and other veins in the district. Extensive smelting works have lately been erected by Messrs. Atwood and Co. at Tindal Fell5, on the Hartley Burn coal field, where the above ores are manufactured.  

Iron ore and iron stone of a very superior quality is found in great abundance throughout the greatest part of the manor. It has been lately explored to a considerable extent by Mr. Jacob Walton, who, together with the Messrs. Atwood, is one of the principal lessees of all the iron stone belonging to the commissioners of Greenwich Hospital in the manor of Alston. This discovery will be of the greatest importance to the district, and will add a new feature to mining in Alston moor. It is probable that valuable lead mines will be discovered in the iron mine operation, inasmuch as the ores of iron and lead frequently abound in the same veins. It is the intention of the lessees to build a number of iron furnaces somewhere between Alston and the Hartley Burn coal field, near to where the intended railway from Haltwhistle will pass to Alston, which is now in course of construction. After the erection of the furnaces and the opening out of the rich iron mines, employment will be given to a great number of workmen, which will have the effect of greatly improving the trade of Alston, and the condition of the labouring classes, who are exclusively depending upon mining for their support. The chief varieties of iron ores are the hydrons per oxide, or brown hematite, and clay or iron stones, or argilaceous carbonates. The former class are found in veins varying in width from a few inches to upwards of twenty yards; the latter are found in bands or layers in shale or plate beds in considerable abundance. The lead ores found here lie in cracks or fissures of the strata; the small fissures and such as have not altered the level of the corresponding strata on each side, are called by the miners strings; and those which are so large as materially to affect the coincidence of the strata, by raising one side or depressing the other are called veins.

These fissures are generally nearly perpendicular, inclining downwards from that side where the strata is higher towards the other. The veins which extend from north to south are designated cross veins, on account of the principal veins which extend nearly east to west. The lead mines are often separated longitudinally into two or more divisions by hard and heavy stone vein, technically called a rider. The most prevalent stone in mineral veins is SPAR, of which there are four sorts, viz., calcareous, flour, cank, and quartz, the latter of which is often very beautiful, being so fine and smooth as not to exhibit any grain, and so hard as to cut glass like a diamond. Flour spar occurs in a variety of hues, but green, white, yellow, violet, red and brown, are its most prevalent colours. Cank, or barytic spar, is chiefly of a dull yellowish, brownish, or reddish white, and is very difficult to separate from the metallic ores. Large caverns are often met with in the lead mines, exhibiting all the variety and splendour of the most curious grotto work, being formed of the variegated spar, shot into a diversity of figured crystals; and when some of the yellow copper ore, or of pyrites, or black jack, appears in them, these cavities are most splendid, for the minerals, when found in hard veins, display the most beautiful colours imaginable. Mr. Pattinson, the late assay master, discovered that the iron pyrites contained a small quantity of gold, but not sufficient to pay for extracting it. The crow coal found on Alston Moor and Cross Fell, contains a large proportion of pyrites of iron, burns very slowly, is intensely hot, with very little flame, and emits a strong smell of sulphur. It is found in thin seams near the surface, and by mixing with clay, is formed into fire balls, and used by the miners.

Nent Force Level - When it is ascertained that ores exist in any particular place, a shaft is sunk in the ground, or if the situation admit, a level or audit is driven; means being likewise employed to remove water and destructive fluids from the mine. Fire damp is not often met with in lead mines, but choke damp is very common. The Grand Aqueduct, called Nent Force Level, cut by order of the trustees of the hospital, extends to Nent Head, a distance of five miles. Several boats are kept in it by the lords of the manor, and guides are in readiness at any of the inns for those who wish to explore these subterranean wonders. Its mouth is near to the town of Alston, where the river Nent forms a very romantic waterfall.

 
THE TOWN OF ALSTON

Which gives name to this interesting parish, is built on the declivity of a steep hill, near the confluence of the South Tyne and Nent, 19 miles E.N.E. of Penrith, 20 miles S.E. by E. of Brampton, 23 miles W.S.W. of Hexham, 29 miles E.S.E. of Carlisle, and 281 miles N.N.W. of London. In 1841 it contained 1650 inhabitants, and 420 houses, generally constructed of stone, with slated roofs, and placed without much attention to regularity. Hutchinson says it is "pent in a narrow valley, over which mountains frown with a melancholy sterility;" but since that author wrote, the town has assumed a more cheerful aspect, by various improvements in its buildings, and the formation to it of good roads, &c. It is well supplied with water, by five tanks, situated in convenient parts of the town, and replenished by means of lead pipes, extended from an excellent spring, on Broad-pot Hill, distant about half-a-mile southward. These waterworks were formed about 30 years ago, and the expense was defrayed by a public subscription. The town was first lighted with gas in May, 1843. The market is held on Saturday, and is abundantly supplied with all the necessaries of life; and fairs for sheep, cattle, &c. &c. are held on the third Saturday in March, the last Thursday in May, the Saturday on or before the 27th September, the Saturday before the feast of St. Luke, (for rams only) and the first Thursday in November. There were formerly races, with wrestling matches, &c. held on Easter Monday, but these diversions have not been practised for the last few years. In the centre of the town is a market cross, which, till lately, bore the following inscription :- "This Market Cross was erected by the Right Hon. Sir William Stephenson, Bart. born at Crosslands, in this parish, and elected Lord Mayor of London, in 1764." Crosslands is a farm house, pleasantly situated on the Penrith old road, about a mile S.W. of Alston. The inscription is still preserved in the vestry of the church.

Although the numerous lead mines in the parish give employment to most of its inhabitants, and are the main support of the town, yet here are a large common brewery, a candle house, and an extensive worsted mill, belonging to Messrs. Smith, Stobbart, and Co., in which about eighty persons are constantly employed. Courts Leet and Baron for the manor of Alston Moor, are held here twice a year, within a month after Easter and Michaelmass. Petty Sessions are held at the Blue Bell Inn, once a month, when the vicar, and Thomas Wilson, Esq. of Shotley Hall, or Robert Hodgson, Esq. of Salkeld Hall, are the sitting magistrates, who have for their clerk, Mr. J. Dickinson, jun. solicitor.

The church is a neat and well-built structure, but destitute of architectural ornament, erected about the year 1769, at the expense of the parishioners. It consists of a nave and one of those modern projections at the east end, intended as an apology for a chancel, with a tower. It is dedicated to Saint Augustine, "to whom and his followers, when travelling on their missionary labours in these parts, a legendary tale ascribes the expulsion of the demons of the storms, from which Fiend's Fell had its ancient name, and the erection of a cross, from which it has since been called Cross Fell. In the time of Henry II it was in the advowson of the king, but was afterwards appropriated to the monastery of Hexham. In third Edward VI it was granted to Sir John Peryent and Thomas Reve, and afterwards to Arthur Lee and Thomas Archer, &c. but the governors of Greenwich Hospital are now impropriators and patrons of the living, which is a discharged vicarage in the deanery of Corbridge and diocese of Durham, and in the incumbency of the Revd. Hugh Salvin, M.A. who has for his curate the Revd. Joseph Hudson. The vicarage house is a commodious mansion built at the expense of the impropriators, in consideration of the Revd. Benjamin Jackson, who was then vicar, having ceded to them his right of every third presentation of the benefice of which they are now the exclusive patrons. In 1535, the vicarage was assessed to tenths at 7 13s., and in 1663, the parochial church and chapel of ease at Garrigill were supplied by one clergyman, whose stipend was only 12 6s. 8d., with "some small glebe." In 1777 the church was worth about 80, and in 1835 its net value is stated at 130; it is now worth about 140 a year. By an act passed in the 33rd of George III the governors of Greenwich Hospital received 3551 acres in lieu of great tithes; and by a voluntary rate of 4d. in the pound, the parishioners purchased a close of land which the vicar now possesses in lieu of tithes, together with a small yearly modus. In December 1846, Mr. Pattinson, clerk of the parish, found in an old grave in the church yard a gold coin of Edward III, in good preservation. It bears the following inscription :-

Obverse
EDWARD DI GRA REX ANGL X FRANC DNS NDB

Reverse
TRANSIENS PER MEDIVM ILLORUM IBAT IRD AVTEM

On The obverse is the king in a ship, crowned, and in armour, with a sword in the right hand, and a shield in the left, the latter bearing the arms of England and France, quarterly.

The chapel of ease at Garrigill, formerly called Gerrard's Gill, is annexed to the vicarage. This chapelry forms the southern part of the parish, and contains the village of Garrigill-Gate6, 4 miles S.E. of the town. The ancient chapel was on the west bank of the Tyne. In 1215 "the advowson of the church at Alderstone with the chapel of Gerards-gill" was confirmed by king John to the prior and convent of Hexham. The present chapel, built about sixty years ago, is a plain edifice. For a long time there was divine service here only on every third Sunday morning, but now the curate of Alston officiates at this chapel on every Sunday afternoon. In the parish are thirteen dissenting chapels, of which four are in the town of Alston, viz., the Independent, built in the year 1804, and rebuilt on a larger scale in 1845, and now under the ministry of the Rev. Jonathon Harper; the Wesleyan, built in 1797, and enlarged in 1825, and the Primitive Methodist chapels and the Friends Meeting House. The Rev. Mr. Harper officiates at another chapel in Garrigill-gate, where the Wesleyans and Ranters have a chapel. The Wesleyans have also chapels at Tyne-head, Nentsberry-green, Nenthead, and Cowgap, and the Primitives or Ranters have a chapel at Nent-head, and one near Nentsberry hall. In the parish are four Sunday schools, attended by about 470 children. The Alston free school was erected in 1811, and is supported by subscription, for children of all religious denominations; and the number of children at present reaping the benefits of this excellent charity is about 100, who pay only 6d. pre annum each for defraying the expenses of coals, &c. Mr. John Sadler is the master, and has been for several years.

The Grammar School, rebuilt by subscription, in 1828, is endowed with lands yielding about 34 a year, together with 10 yearly from the governors of Greenwich Hospital. The master does not receive any free scholars, but is limited by the parishioners to a certain scale of charges for education, as is the case with the school at Garrigill, which has an endowment of about 8 a year, from the same charity. The number of scholars at present in the Grammar school is about 80, and Mr. Thomas Holme is the master.

The National school was built by subscription, in 1844, and the children are taught at a very small quarterage, the governors of Greenwich Hospital contributing 10 a year to it. Sarah Lowthian is the mistress, and the number of children in attendance averages about 100.

Here is also an Infant school, erected by subscription in 1845, and now attended by nearly 100 children. It is supported by yearly contributions, the governors of Greenwich Hospital giving 5 a year.

A subscription library, commenced at Alston on the 19th of July, 1821, in commemoration of the coronation of George IV, and now containing 500 volumes, belonging to twenty-five subscribers, is kept in the free school, and the works are lent out gratuitously to the children, by Mr. John Saddler, the librarian and schoolmaster. The Alston Savings Bank was instituted on the 24th of June, 1825. This is also kept in the free school; and on the 26th of October, 1846, had deposits amounting to 18,022 2s. 3d. belonging to 450 depositors, who receive 3 per cent interest. The bank is open every Saturday, from three till four o'clock in the afternoon. Mr. John Saddler is secretary, Mr. Joseph Dickinson, treasurer, and the Rev. H. Salvin and R. Bainbridge, Esq. are the trustees. The Alston Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in the year ending August, 1846, distributed 196 bibles, and 251 testaments; besides the sum of 12 was subscribed as a free contribution to the funds of the parent society. The Independents and Methodists also contribute to their respective missionary societies. Clothing Clubs have been established at Alston and Nenthead, and are of great use to the poor.

A Mechanics' Institute was established at Alston, in 1847, and has now about 40 members. Attached to it is a reading room, a circulating library containing about 500 volumes, a museum of natural and artificial curiosities, and a cabinet of minerals. Rev. Joseph Hudson and Mr. Robert Watson are the secretaries, and John Atkinson is librarian. Here are lodges of Odd Fellows and Druids, the former having about 200, and the latter, one hundred members.

BEQUESTS TO THE POOR AND SCHOOLS OF ALSTON AND GARRIGILL

Shield's Gift - In 1617, John Shields, a citizen and cook of London, left a rent charge of 40s. per annum to the poor of the parish.

Wilkinson's Charity - In 1685, Robert Wilkinson left 100 for the purchase of lands of the clear yearly value of 5. Of this sum, 3 is paid to the Garrigill schoolmaster, for teaching six poor children till they can read the bible; 10s. to the minister for preaching a sermon at Garrigill, on the 1st of February; 10s. to the poor of the same village; and the remaining 20s. are divided among the four trustees.

Stephenson's Charity - In 1759, John Stephenson, alderman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, left 4 a year to be equally divided among sixteen poor widows of Alston and Garrigill.

Langhorne's Charity - In 1802, Charles Langhorne, of Craig Nook, devised property, mortgages, &c. which were sold, and in 1818 the proceeds were vested in the purchase of 777 2s. 1d. three per cent reduced Bank Annuities. The interest (23 6s. 2d.) is distributed yearly to the poor of the parish resident above Nent hall.

The Fairhill Estate was purchased in 1739, by the churchwardens and overseers of Alston, with 217 left by several benefactors to the poor and schools of Alston parish. It has since been enlarged by an allotment of common land, and now lets for about 77 a year. From this charity the trustees pay to the schoolmaster at Alston about 33, and to the school at Garrigill about 8 a year; and the surplus is distributed amongst the poor of each place, nearly in the ratio of three-fourths to Alston, and one-fourth to Garrigill; the payments in each case depending on the rent of the estate.

Poor Law Union, which only extends over the parish, is governed by thirteen, and two ex-officio guardians. The workhouse is situated near the town of Alston, and is capable of accommodating 80 inmates, though in November 1845, there were only 38 paupers in the house, and the expense each averaged about 2s. per week. Mr. Thomas Nattrass is the acting overseer, Mr. John White, relieving officer, and Robert and Mary Armstrong, governor and matron.

In 1839, a service of plate was presented to Mr. Routledge, of this town, bearing the following inscription, "Presented to Mr. Edward Routledge, surgeon, as a mark of respect for his valuable professional services, during a residence of 32 years in Alston Moor, May 1st, 1839." This gentleman attended at no less than 5120 births, during a period of 40 years practice in Alston Moor.

Leadgate is a small hamlet about 2 miles from Alston. The school, which was built here by subscription a few years since, receives 10 a year from the governors of Greenwich Hospital; and in 1843 a small subscription library was established at the school room, by Mr. Isaac Walton, mining agent, and a few friends, chiefly for the benefit of the miners of the neighbourhood. It contains at present above 100 volumes.

Garrigill chapelry, as has been seen, is 4 miles from Alston. It has fairs on the third Friday in May, and first Friday in September; and in the chapelry is a sick club. The school endowment is already noticed, Mr. John Parmerly is master.

Nent Hall, a hamlet two and a half miles E. by S. of Alston. Here is also a school, rebuilt by the Hudgill-burn mining Company, who contribute handsomely towards it; and a Literary and Philosophical society was established here in 1845, with a library of more than 100 volumes. Lieut. George Wilson is its president, and Mr. Thomas Gill is the librarian and schoolmaster.

Nent Head is a populous village and chapelry, on the eastern limit of the parish, near the source of the River Nent, five miles E.S.E. of Alston, contiguous to the extensive lead mines and smelt works of the London Lead Company, who have erected several neat houses here for their agents and surgeon, with a commodious inn, and convenient shambles. There is a market held here on Thursday. In 1820, the company built a school here, at which all the children who wish to avail themselves of it are educated at the small charge of one shilling per quarter. The lords of the manor contribute 10 a year towards the support of this school, and the remainder is liberally made up by the founders, who also supply also both the day and Sunday school with books, slates &c. There are upwards of one hundred children at present educated here on the monitorial system, by Mr. John Hyslop, the master. Actuated by the laudable desire of removing the veil of ignorance from their workmen, the company enforce it as a general rule that all their children, from six to twelve years of age, shall attend this school daily, and all between twelve and eighteen years of age are expected to attend on Sundays. All the workmen of the London Lead Company contribute thirty shillings a year to a Provident Fund, from which each member receives in case of illness six shillings per week, and on attaining the age of sixty-five years, four shillings a week for life; and at the death of a member, 2 are paid to his widow or friends. A salary is paid to a surgeon for the benefit of all the members. Nent Head has lately formed into a chapelry, and in 1845 a very handsome district church, or chapel, in the Gothic style of architecture, was erected here, on a site given by the governor and company. It is dedicated to Saint John, and is capable of seating nearly 400 persons. The field which was given by the governor and company, for this purpose, contains two acres, and has been made freehold by the governors of Greenwich Hospital, who are lords of the manor. The pulpit, reading desk, and altar rails are of elegantly carved oak, the gift of the Rev. H. Salvin, vicar of Alston, who is the patron of the living, which is a perpetual curacy, worth about 120 a year. Revd. Blythe Hurst is the present incumbent. Mr. Phair, of Frenchfield, presented a triplet of stained glass for the chancel window. Here is a Wesleyan, and also a Primitive Methodist chapel. The Nent Force Level, which terminates here, is entered by a shaft at the south side of Nent Head House.

Nentsberry Green is a hamlet three miles E. by S. of Alston. The extensive lead mines of R. Hodgson, Esq. and Co., are situated here, and are won by a long level, called Nentsberry Haggs, and is driven in the High-Raise-Sun-Vein, which is crossed by two other rich veins, called Wellgill, and Nentsberry Green-Cross-Veins. Another good mine has been recently discovered at High-Raise-Sun-Vein, which it is expected will be very productive. The Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists have each a chapel here.

Tyne Head is a hamlet and manor at the source of the South Tyne, seven and a half miles S. by E. of Alston. J.C. Cobling, Esq. has a smelt mill here, and the Wesleyans have a chapel, in which is a day school, endowed with 25 per annum. Mr. John Maugham is the master. Mr. Fiddell is lord of this small portion of Alston parish.
 

* A bing of lead is 8 cwt., and a fother is 21 cwt. Since the year 1796, the price of lead has fluctuated from 12 to 40 per fother: the present price is 19 and the principal market is Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The operation of refining or separating the silver has been greatly improved and simplified by Mr. Pattinson, the late assay master.

† This celebrated lead mine, the richest ever opened in the kingdom, produced, in one year, the enormous quantity of
12,000 bings !!

‡Tutman Hole is a large cavern in Gildersdale Fell, of unknown length. It has been explored by several persons for more than a mile from its mouth. On the south side of Alston Moor, at a place called Dun Fell, in Westmorland, is another large and very curious cavern, whose chambers and passages are so intricate that some persons who viewed it found it necessary to adopt the contrivance of Daedalus in the labyrinth, by taking with them a clue or thread to guide them in their return.
 

Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847

 

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Notes

1. Blackburn and Gildersdale Burn are now Black Burn and Gilderdale Burn respectively.
2. I have been unable to find Hall Hill on the map, but the fortress which is referred to is probably Whitley Castle, a Roman fort with very impressive earthworks.
3. Werk may be Wark, in Northumberland.
4. A "bing" of ore equates to about 400 Kgs, and a fother to just over the ton. Bowse, or bouse is the rough lead ore.
5. Tindal Fell is now Tindale Fell.
6. The village of Garrigill-Gate is now known simply as Garrigill.


19 June 2015

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