Rowlands Gill in old picture postcards

Rowlands Gill in old picture postcards

:   Noël G. Rippeth
:   Tyne & Wear
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5225-9
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Rowlands Gill in old picture postcards'

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The town of Rowlands Gilllies on the north side of the wooded valley of the River Derwent. about four miles upstream from Derwenthaugh, where the Derwent flows into the Tyne. In this baak is gathered a colleetien of old picture postcards, selected to illustrate the history of Rowlands Gil! and district. The area covered by the cards includes bath sides of the Derwent Valley downstream as far as Hollingside and Winlaton Mill, and upstream to Lintz Ford. Choice of this area completes coverage of the ancient parishes of Ryton and Whickham, 'in old Picture Postcards', volumes on Blaydon, Chopwell, Ryton and Whickham having already been published.

The oldest settlements in the area were hamlets that existed in the days of Saxon Northumbria. One such hamlet. which was possibly raided by Vikings and burned in William the Conqueror's harrying of the north, stood at the point where the raad frorn Durham crossed the Derwent. befare going north through Winlaton and Blaydon Burn to reach the Tyne fords at Stella. A record of the Prince Bishop in 1361 named this hamlet Huntlayshaugh. Even in those days traffic through the hamIet was fairly frequent, as anyone whishing to cross the Tyne to avoid the authorities or the bridge at Newcastie used this raad. The narrowness of the old NewcastIe bridge meant delays to any drovers of sheep or cattle , which ensured th at the ford at HuntJayshaugh was kept busy. In 1650 Cromwell used it for his artiIlery train to avoid the NcwcastIe bridge.

In 1691 Ambrose Crowley chose to partly dam the river ne ar Huntlayshaugh. He used the water power from the dam to

drive nine millwheels he erected there to provide energy for an ironworks. The vil!age which then grew up around the works became known as Winlaton Mil!.

During the 17th and 18th centuries sword makers, who came originally from Germany, settled further up the valley at Blackhall Mil! and Shotley Bridge, to take advantage of the local iron are deposits, The industries of the Derwent Valley were based on water power and were gene rally quite distant from their customers in the towns.

Toward the end of the 18th century the advent of steam power allowed factories to be built in towns much nearer their markets. This spurred on the Iocal firms to think of ways to improve their competitiveness. The best way was to imprave delivery times and cut down transport casts. Although wooden railed wagonways had developed in the district during the latter part of the 17th and 18th centuries, these were only used to deliver coal to staithes on the Tyne. The produets of the ironworks and other goods had to come and go by road as far as the Tyne.

Thanks to Crowley's dam, the fast flowing Derwent was not navigable upstream from SwaIwell. At this time most country roads were little more than cart tracks, with frequent gates. For example anyone wishing to send goods to Blaydon from Blackhall Mil! had to face a journey that included opening and closing forty gates between Blackhall Mil! and Coalburns, where the cart eouId join the Lead Raad to Blaydon. In addition, as the upkeep of most roads was a charge on the parish, the roads were quagmires in winter and heavily rutted in dry weather. It was therefore deeided to build a turnpike

road from AxweJl to Shot/ey Bridge along the western bank of the Derwent. This road saw the regeneration of the hamiet at Rowlands Gill, with the settlement developing as a vil!age around the toll house, a few farm cottages, the Towneley Arms public house and the Road Bridge that joined the Turnpike to the Gibside estate on the eastern bank of the river.

In previous centuries the Towneley Arms had started life as a drovers inn for catt/emen using the Cowford across the Derwent where the bridge now stands. When a wagonway was built from Burnopfield 10 take coal from Pontop to Derwenthaugh in 1739, wooden rails crossed the river by means of a wooden bridge. As the bridge stood at the bottom of a steep incline, which was difficult to negotiate, accidents were not uncommon, and the Towneley Arms provided a we1come respite for the wagoners. This wagonway was joined to a branch from Garesfield Colliery at Lockhaugh in 1800, but the lines between Lockhaugh and Burnopfield were lifted in 1810 leaving Rowlands Gil! in rural tranquility.

In 1835, the year the turnpike road was opened, the Newcastie to Carlisle Railway began its operations. By the 1860s the railway, now part of the North Eastern Railway, had opened a branch line up the Derwent Valley from Blaydon to Consett. To avoid the lands of the Gobside Estate the line was carried over the Derwent by two viaducts, one at Lockhaugh and the other at Friarside. This look the railway into Rowlands Gill. With the arrival of this railway Rowlands Gil! grew into a small town, as factories were built to take advantage of the high quality coal produced by local collieries .

The setting of Rowlands GiJl in the wooded valley of the Der-

went, with frequent trains from Tyneside, made it an ideal spot for members of the professional and managerial classes to live, commuting daily to and from their works, shops or offices. Thus, as the record in the postcards shows, the place grew very quickly, enjoying a building boom around the turn of the century.

The earlier history of the rest of the area has been traeed through postcards of Lintz Ford, old Winlaton Mill and the buildings and ruins of Friarside , Gibside and Hollingside.

In the compilation of the collection of postcards and photographs used for this book I have been helped by J. Carrick of Crawcrook, Anna Furness of Highfield. Bill Pears of Rowlands Gil! and the staff at the Local Studies Department of Gateshead Central Library. Once again Peter Waugh has provided sterling service in making copies of cards when necessary.

I have supplemented my knowledge of the area by consuiting the following documents:

Bourne; History of Ryton 1896

Maughan; History of Blaydon 195517 Winlaton L.H.S; History of Blaydon 1975 Pears; Highfield School 1978

Hookergate School; Rowlands Gill1982 Godfrey; 0.5 l"Sheets 20 &2118781984 Pears & Rippeth; Views of old Highfield 1988

Published on the 300th Anniversary of the building of Ambrose Crowley's Iron Mills at Winlaton Mill.

Ryton, July 1991

N. G. Rippeth

1. Rowlands Gilt; building the viaduct 1860. The Town of Rowlands Gill was ab Ie to grow from a farming hamiet because coalmining and other industries took advantage of the Derwent Valley line and began operating in the area. The railway was laid up the valley to serve the iron works at Consett. It followed a very scenic route crossing the valleys of the Derwent and its tributary streams on multiarched viaducts. This card shows the construction of the largest viaduct, where the line crosses the Derwent at Lockhaugh near Rowlands Gill. This photograph dates back to the pioneer days of outdoor photography, and was originally produced on a glass plate. It was later reprinted as one of the first local postcards. Notice the boilers and chimneys of the steam powered eranes on the viaduct. In spite of the eranes most of the energy being used here came, not trom steam, but from the musclepower of Irish 'navigators' .

2. Rowlands Gill; 'The Bottoms' 1908. These houses were built for the families of workers at the Lilley Drift mine by the Priestman Colliery Co. Constructed in the early years of the century, when the demand for coal was great, they were in every way superior to the back to back pit rows of earlier years. This improvement in housing was meant to attract miners to the Lilley Drift as competition for men increased between collieries as the dernaad for, and price of, coal rose. This area of Rowlands Gil! was always known locally as 'The Bottoms'. The postal address celebrated an incident th at occurred while they were being built during the Boer War. The official name was Mafeking. The Jingoistic mood of the nation, caught here in a street name, evaporated in the horrors of trench wartare during the Great War. No one named streets afterthe Somme!

3. Rowlands Gill; Mafeking c191O. This view of the 'Bottoms' was taken looking east from the road bridge across the Derwent. The foreground trees are growing on the river bank. This view, with th at of card 2, gives a good impression of the size of Mafeking. Like most pit villages it appears to have been put up in the middle of a field. Behind the houses is a tree covered area, typical of the Derwent Valley as it has been for centuries. In ancient times woodlands such as these covered the north bank of the river from Axwell, stretching up toward Winlaton and Barlow, then continuing across to the half dozen farms of ChopweIl township and on across the high ground to Allandale. This was the area where children were warned that the witches lived. Such a belief was cultivated in medie val times by charcoal burners and iron smelters who dwelt in the woods. They surrounded their crafts with mystery and hints of magie, to keep their trade secrets safe.

4. Rowlands Gill; Lilley Drift and brickworks c1920. The road which runs aeross the eard was built as a turnpike in 1835. Over the road to the left of the card are the workshops of the Lilley Drift. The square ehimney on the extreme left served the brick flats at its base. The flats were large ovens in which c1ay bricks were fired to harden them. The road in the foreground led to Barlow. To the right of the photograph are the colliery buildings that stood at the end of a mineralline, that carried the coal to Blaydon Burn for screening. On this line eoal wagons were hauled using an 'endless belt' system. In such a system power to pull wagons uphill, or control their descent downhilI, was supplied by stationary engines in winding houses built along the route of the line. Behind the Lilley buildings are the Miner's Institute, the Elementary School and Cowan Terrace, named after Sir Joseph Cowan Bart., a director ofthe Coal Co.

5. Rowlands Gil!; Lilley Drift workshops c1920. This card gives a front view of the workshops seen distantly from the back on card 4. In front of the buildings are the two tracks of the mineral railway. Between the lines of the railway were set pulleys and rollers, to guide the endless wire which controlled the trucks. Two of these rollers can be seen here, the one in the foreground has the wire rope lying over it. The men in the photograph were employees of the coal cornpany, the workshops kept a variety of trades busy. The man in the leather apron was a blacksmith, the other two carry the tools of a fitter and a brakeman. The brakeman rode on the back wagon of a train on the endless belt, and dismounted to change points. In emergencies his job was to apply the wagon's handbrakes.

6. Rowlands Gill; miners and horse cl91O. This card shows a colliery horse with its horse man and several miners. Around the time th is card was produced harses provided most of the motive power on the roads, puIling brewers' drays, grocers' or Coal Company delivery wagons and char-à-bancs. This horse, spruced up for the photographer, was used to haul coal wagons along the short stretch of line near the drift entrance, as no stationary engine or locomotive could conveniently do the job. Underground the colliery depended on the sturdy 'Galloways', streng but smal! ponies th at were used for horse putting underground. This involved puIling the iron tubs full of coal along narrow gauge wagonways. These were laid from the coal faces that were being worked along the roadways (tunnels) that made up the pit to the cage at the shaft or, as here, to the drift mouth. Once at the surface (at bank) the coal was transferred to ful! size railway wagons and taken for screening, wh en shale and stones we re rernoved, befare being sold.

7. Rowlands Gill; Cowan Terrace in 1920. This terrace was built to provide homes for the families of workers at the Lilley Drift and brickworks shown on card 4. At the far end of the houses can be seen the Elementary School and the Miners Institute. The Institute was built by the Coal Company and provided recreational facilities for the miners. As weil as a Hall there was a Library, with a retired miner as librarian. The miners had a smal! sum deducted trom their wages every payday to cover the running expenses of the Institute. In all buildings supported by the Coal Company, whether they were wholely owned Institutes or church halls that stood on company land, there was a ban on aleohotic drinks. This was to encourage sobriety in the workforce, instead it accelerated the establishment otWorking Mens' Clubs throughout the coalfield as more convivial alternatives to 'The Institute'.

8. Rowlands Gill; Primitive Methodist Chapel cJ900. This chapel was built in 1883 to serve the pit families of the Lilley Drift. It stands near the western end of Lilley Terrace, which was built about the same time behind Cowen Terrace. The building follows a common pattern, having a halllike main room with a stage and pulpit at the end opposite the door. This was used for services on Sundays. During the week the forms used as seats were moved to provide space for other activities. There was also a sm all room at the back for use by the preacher before services. Music played a big part in services, with the choir, here posed for the camera in front ofthe door, taking a leading role. Notice that most of the men, young and old, are wearing waistcoats, and sporting pocket watches. Waistcoats went out of general use during the years of austerity following the Second World War. The size of the ladies' hats give evidence of a successful local millinary industry.

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