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The Village of Rowlands Gill, Co. Durham

by Mrs. K.A. Low and Rowlands Gill Women's Institute 1961

Reproduced by permission of the Women's Institute, Rowlands Gill.

This is a shortened version of the entry which gained "Highly Commended" in the Women's Institute Village History Competition held in Durham County 1960. The purpose of the competition was primarily to collect facts on village life since 1900 from the memories of older people, seeing that so many written records were destroyed in the paper salvage in 2 world wars.

(Italicized notes by Brian Pears with the assistance of Dr Alan Rounding, Terry Middleton and others too numerous to mention.)

ROWLANDS GILL DOCTOR'S MURDER - GIBSIDE - THE ROWS

When asked about the History of Rowlands Gill the older inhabitants so often reply: "You'll have heard about Doctor's Murder?" "Then there is Gibside!" "You should ask someone along in the Rows".

DOCTOR'S MURDER: a hundred yards of country lane within a stone's throw of the centre of Rowlands Gill, where in 1885 the local Doctor Stirling [No, the murder was 30 years earlier on 1st November, 1855 and he was based at Burnopfield] was inadvertently murdered by person unknown [this is speculation - we don't know who did it, let alone why?], is the only very small "battlefield" which Rowlands Gill can claim as "local history". The tragedy is still alive in the minds of the oldest inhabitants of the village as it happened within the lifetime of their parents, - and has been a focal point of historic interest in this recently built village.

GIBSIDE: the now derelict and dilapidated estate once belonging to the Earls of Strathmore, situated across the river from Rowlands Gill, still dominates the landscape, but had its heyday long before the village was built. It is the only visible showpiece of historical consequence near Rowlands Gill.

THE ROWS: are two very plain looking streets of mining cottages built at the end of last century, which have pride of place in being the first homes in the village. The proximity of a handful of mining families fostered a friendship and communal spirit which is still very much alive among those same folk - now getting on in years, and they are rightly proud to remember and recall the "beginnings of Rowlands Gill". Rowlands Gill has been put on the map since 1900. It has never had a rich and turbulent history, nor any legacy of traditions; it is not the centre of any important agricultural community nor an industrial area, but has grown up as an unusual mixture of a small coalmining village and a residential dormitory feeding labour to Tyneside.

WHERE ROWLANDS GILL WAS BUILT

Rowlands Gill is in the Parish of Winlaton in N.W. Durham. Winlaton Village was built about 350 years ago by Ambrose Crowley. One of the foremost industrialists of all times, he carried out some amazing experiments in the employment of his large labour force of Iron Workers and the example of their enlightened social conditions extorted the admiration of labouring populations in all surrounding areas. A demand for fair working conditions from employers is still the essence of the Stronghold of Socialism in this Parliamentary Division of Blaydon, N.W. Durham. Winlaton is near the junction of the River Tyne with its tributary the River Derwent and upstream in the Derwent Valley were "woodlands venerable in their growth and magnificence". Here were the estates of landowning gentry, notably the Hollinside family at Swalwell, and the Bowes family at Gibside Hall. Fitting like jigsaw pieces in the district where Rowlands Gill is built was property of the Towneley Estate, the Clavering Estate, Ravensworth holdings, the Marquis of Bute's estate, the land of Joseph Cowen of Blaydon and Smailes Estate.

In the Eighteenth Century coal-mining developed at Pontop near Burnopfield, on the eastern side of the Derwent Valley. Mining conditions were very hazardous and ill-paid, and seeds of discontent were sown in this area where Crowley's Crew lived in such contrasting conditions. However, the mining at Hobson Pit, Pontop, opened up the Derwent Valley, because a "wagon way" was built to haul the coals down the hill past Gibside Estate, over the river Derwent at Cowford Bridge now Derwent Bridge, and along the valley by the riverside to the staithes at Derwenthaugh on the Tyne, a distance of eight and a half miles. The rails were made of local beech wood and the cauldron shaped trucks were pulled by horses. The journey distance worked by a man and a horse per day in leading heavy wagons down the line and the empties back up again was known as a "gate" - a word found in many local place names such as Hookergate, Leadgate and Catchgate. [The word "gate" had no specific connection with waggonways and does not imply any particular distance; it is from the Old Norse "gata" and simply denotes a route, road, direction or way.] However, by the middle of last century a branch railway line was built to take Burnopfield coal direct by steam engine to Gateshead, and the famous Hobson wagon way was needed no more. [The waggonway was never the "Hobson wagon way". It was initially called the "Bucksnook Way", and is usually referred to today as the "Western Way" or "Western III". It principally served collieries at Bucksnook, Collierley, Pontop and Tantobie - never the Hobson Pit which is of later date. The waggonway opened in 1728 and was definitely out of use by 1800, long before the Bowes Railway reached Burnopfield.] But in 1881 an outcrop of coal was discovered bursting through the roadside at Busty Bank, Burnopfield, more was unearthed in Gibside Estate, and with prospecting ripe in the Valley, Rowlands Gill was about to be born.

BUILDING OF THE VILLAGE

In December 1867 a railway was built from Scotswood (Newcastle) to Leadgate and Consett passing up the Derwent Valley in front of the Gibside Estate. Here where the railway crossed a small ravine situated on land once owned by Robert Rowland [No - see Who was Rowland?], a railway station was erected and named "Rowlands Gill". A road [the Rowlands Gill Turnpike of 1835] also ran up the valley and near to this Station another road led off to Burnopfield along the track of the old wagon way. This road junction was controlled by a Toll House, with gates, until 1888 when the Toll was taken off and the house used as a residence only. The Toll had been a halfpenny for a donkey, a penny per horse and threepence for a horse with vehicle. Near to this Toll house and the station was the Towneley Arms, a Road house used by itinerant cattle dealers. The stables at this Inn housed four horses belonging to the wealthy-coal owner Priestman of Shotley Bridge, who liked to change horses on both outward journeys to Newcastle and home again. It was also the local pub for farmers and workmen in the district and at such times as Col. Cowen's 5th Durhams camped in Gibside grounds, the beer flowed very freely indeed. Also when Irish workmen were visiting the area to build the railway it is recorded that a Special Constable was appointed to help the local priest to whip up his flock on pay-Friday nights and get them back from the Towneley to their billets.

[The railway closed for passengers in 1953 and for goods in 1962. The track was lifted in 1966 and in 1972 the trackbed became the Derwent Walk.]

In a shed at the Toll House was kept a store of disinfectants for earth closets - for by 1890 those "Rows" mentioned at the start of this story; were being built [the time-line here and the details below seem to be incorrect - a Winlaton Poor Rate book of 1878 (which appears not to have survived the 1974 Local Government upheaval) showed that Cowen was already paying rates on "14 Houses (Drift)" at that early date. These would appear to be the northernmost 14 houses on Cowen Terrace. Examination of Cowen Terrace itself shows three distinct blocks with differing construction - probably reflecting 3 phases of construction (a) the northernmost 4, (b) the next 10 houses (c) the remainder. (a) and (b) together fit in well with rate book reference. The minutes of the Blaydon Local Board for 3rd June 1880 record the granting of planning permission to Jospeh Cowen & Co for the "remainder of 65 houses" - ie all of the present Cowen Terace and Lilley Terrace plus the officials houses north of the Institute.] Joseph Cowen of Blaydon had prospected for coal in this area and decided it was worth his while to sink the "Lilley Drift" into the hillside about a quarter of a mile north of Rowlands Gill Station, So houses had to be built for miners - seven of them at first were the beginning of "Cowen Terrace". In 1881 was the first "cavil" a cavil being the periodic drawing of lots for allocating the sites of work on the coal face. As the colliery got bigger more houses were added to Cowen Terrace, then Lilley Terrace was built behind it. Hard-working Primitive Methodist families collected money to build themselves a Chapel, and this was built with the whitish bricks to match the houses -bought from Cowen's brick yards at Blaydon, and erected on land given by Joseph Cowen [this chapel opened in April 1883 and closed in 1955 - it is now the Scout and Guide Centre.]. The coal was led under the main road to the colliery yard to be screened, and the miners' free coal was led by horse and cart past Low Thornley farm to the Rows. When it was discovered that the coal had good coking properties, coke ovens were built in the colliery yard. But soon vast quantities of clay were being brought from underground so it became more prudent to convert the coke ovens into a brick yard the necessary extension to the chimney being still quite visible. This brickyard is still a going concern, but now the clay has to be brought in from Blaydon. [The brickworks closed in 1977.]

As the colliery made more profit the management bought a strip of marsh land near the river where children had gathered nuts and skated on small ponds, and there were built five rows of houses and flats officially called Mafeking [the name was "Ladysmith" and it was built to house miners working at South Garesfield Colliery near Low Friarside which opened in August 1887], but always known locally as "The Bottoms". Then came the building boom. South of the Railway a part of Smailes Estate was for sale. A group of 44 business men from many places in Northumberland and Durham Counties did band together to buy and develop this land as a residential area for the better class. Under the guidance of Clayton Gibson solicitors of Newcastle, they drew up an "Indenture of Mutual Covenants" regulating the apportioning of the land into building sites, and the general layout of the estate. They stipulated that there should be:-

1. A building line for the houses
2. No ale house nor Inn -to be built
3. No part or the estate to be used for any offensive business such as chemical works or slaughter house.
4. And not more than two pigs be kept in any garden

The last plot of land to be built up before 1930 was the centre site between the railway and the Covenanter's land. In 1919 a Picture Hall and a few shops were put up, then Bowers, Williamsons and Stoddarts built bungalows, flats and small houses all with gardens. In 1904 [1903] a branch of Burnopfield Co-op had been built in the village, and about the same time the Wesleyan Methodists began to erect a fine stone chapel on a commanding site in Strathmore Road [opened 31 May 1902], where they had previously worshipped in a temporary wooden hut [opened 31st December 1899], and the Anglican community purchased a very central site and put up a pleasing temporary church of wood [dedicated 11th June 1904] which was replaced in 1957 by a new brick church [dedicated 13 June 1956]. So by 1930 Rowlands Gill was an established village of two communities - the miners living in the Rows, and the business people and professionals living "over the railway line". Social activities got under way, and gradually people met and mixed together in a type of "industrial - village" life.

[Two other churches must be included in any history of our village - St Joseph's and the Gospel Hall.

St Joseph's Church, though located at Highfield, serves the Catholic community of Rowlands Gill. The church was built in 1914 and it became a parish church in 1929. The early parish covered a large area including Barlow, Winlaton Mill, Lintzford, Victoria Garesfield, High Spen, Highfield and Rowlands Gill, but part of the area was transferred to St Anne's Church at Winlaton when it opened in 1962.

The Gospel Hall opened on 13th November 1937 in what is now the premises of Abel Building and Roofing Services Ltd on Station Road. This hall had been built around 1928 and had been used as an Auction Room by Oswell Carter. In the 1960s the hall was taken over by the Elim Pentecostal Church, but it closed in the 1970s.]

VILLAGE LIFE AND TRADE

At the beginning of the Century foodstuffs such as milk, eggs, and potatoes could be supplied in Rowlands Gill from the local farms such as Gibside Farm, Smailes Farm, Robinson's Farm, Hollinhill Farm, Lintzford Farm and Davison's Farm near Hamsterley Hall. But groceries had to be brought in from other places, Broughs of Newcastle and the Newcastle Tea Co. both sent representatives by train to seek orders and deliver goods fortnightly. In 1889 Burnopfield Co-op was built, and a covered cart brought goods to Cowen Terrace, to the delight of young boys who had previously walked to Winlaton or Blaydon on messages for 1d. Tweddle the family butcher from Blaydon, Tommy Best the dealer from Swalwell, and Irish packman "Whistling Jack" Pagan arriving by trap on fine days and in the train if wet, with bundles of fine linen cloths. Davison of Consett with paraffin, a woman with clothes pegs, crackets and baskets from the Hagg Farm, a dentist from Winlaton, a chemist from Leadgate, Polly Donkin and daughter Mary Gay with fresh fish from Cullercoats Dr. Andrew Smith from Ryton, - all these people served the village with their trades and wares, in the days when peace did prevail and small boys lay down on the road to listen for the sound of the horses' hooves heralding an expected tradesman still half a mile away. At the Toll House Mill Robina Robinson took orders for sewing, as well as being postwoman for 30 years, collecting every week the "doctor's money" so long before National Health contributions. But major articles of clothing had to be bought in Newcastle. Our only local song "Wor Nannies a Maiser" tells how

"Wor Nannie and me made up wor minds
To gan and catch the train,
To take us to toon to buy some claes
For wor little Mary and Jane"

[The Towneley Arms was rebuilt in 1961 and it closed in 2000.]

And when were best clothes needed? Mostly for church and chapel functions such as the Easter Monday picnic up at Thornley Village a mile away, or an occasional Open Air Evangelical Campaign there, or maybe a Field Day for a Sunday School along at Lockhaugh, or even an outing in summer to the coast. Other activities which sprang up included a most enthusiastic Glee Club under the leadership of Foster Slee, which gave concerts in many villages around. An energetic Cricket Club was formed in Sherburn Park in 1890 under Captain Hetherington, and Mr. Jack Oliver still recalls how as a very young aspiring cricketer he travelled for a match to Newcastle, and how when the bowler had taken three consecutive wickets for no runs, the game was stopped, a public collection taken on the spot, and after the match someone was sent immediately to Lennard's hat shop to buy a new "bowlers" hat for the hero. Unfortunately that custom soon died out. Football did not make much headway, but many local supporters of Newcastle United Team would travel by train every Saturday to see their match, and these jovial fellows returning by the last train armed with pease pudding (before the days of fish and chips) are said to have enforced their arguments with this fare, and left the very sticky "Pease pud train". Pigeon fancying always did and still does well in Rowlands Gill area. Billiards was very popular and the local team were League Champions.

Gardening, the outdoor relaxation for underground workers did well enough to support a local flower show. One interesting activity running in the district but not actively supported by Rowlands Gill village was "The Vale of Derwent Naturalists Field Club" at Burnopfield. Regular expeditions were made throughout the valley, to study unusual flora, fauna, and geology; very eminent scientists and entomologists came to lecture; and a most elaborate magazine was published with such articles as "Discovery of a Royal Fern at Lintzford", "Blasting of clay with gunpowder to make a railway cutting at Lockhaugh", and "The catching of a lamprey eel at Derwenthaugh". At Strathmore Road end of the village, tennis and gardening filled the lighter nights. In 1930 a Welfare Hall was built in Strathmore Road by the Lilley Drift Colliery, and this more than anything else brought together all sections of the community [it was built in 1928 and extended in 1930 - now known as the Community Centre.]. It housed Whist Drives, dancing, bazaars, the Child Welfare Clinic, and the Women's Institute.

And what about schooling for the children? In 1896 after a delegation of parents had consulted Blaydon School. Board, to try to better conditions for children who either had to walk to Winlaton Parish School, or to Burnopfield up a steep lonely road, or even go to Whickham by donkey, - permission was given for building a new school between Cowen Terrace and the Lilley Drift Pit, and this building had new extensions added as needed. [Rowlands Gill ratepayers first asked for a school in 1890, the delegation and agreement referred to was in 1894, and the school opened on 21st September 1896.] As Rowlands Gill Village grew big, many children from Strathmore Road area attended Highfield School. [Highfield School began in 1883 as Victoria Garesfield British School and in 1905 it was taken over by Durham County Council. On 17th August 1908 the staff and pupils moved to the present Highfield School premises and the old school at Victoria Garesfield became houses - they still exist.] For further education at the beginning of the century a few pupils travelled by train to Consett Tech., but after 1912 a new Grammar School was opened at Blaydon, catering for a wide area. By 1933 demand called for still more Grammar School accommodation, and Hookergate Grammar School was built on a very open country site about a mile and a half west of the village, and children by that time were conveyed up there by bus. Many children from this area have always travelled to Newcastle secondary schools by train and later by bus.

[1933 also saw the opening of St Joseph's Roman Catholic School at Highfield. In 1965 Rowlands Secondary Modern School was built on land west of Lilley Terrace to replace High Spen Secondary Modern School, and two years later a new Infants School opened nearby at Sherburn Green. In the early 1970s Rowlands Gill Secondary Modern and Hookergate Grammar Schools merged to form Hookergate Comprehensive School. Both schools were used until the former Grammar School premises were extended sufficiently to accommodate all of the pupils. Then, in 1982, the former Secondary Modern premises were taken over by Rowlands Gill Junior School and the old familiar red-brick school was demolished.]

TRAVEL IN THE AREA

Prior to 1910 travelling from Rowlands Gill was on foot, by train, or by horse and trap. Then Mrs. Bessford of High Spen village nearby began to meet the trains at Rowlands Gill Station to collect passengers, papers and parcels in her "tub". Trade did well and she later got a "dickie-trap" with rug and coachman to meet special visitors, followed by a back-to-back brake holding 8 passengers, and later still some 'brakes' to hire out for community outings, About the time of the General Transport Strike in 1920 Mrs. Bessford purchased a motor van locally known as the Grey Ghost, and in this took passengers to Scotswood Bridge where they alighted and crossed by foot to join the tramcar service into Newcastle. For a while Clydesdale and Parker from Chopwell village ran brakes to Rowlands Gill station duplicating part of the way with Mrs. Bessford.

Then along from Shotley Bridge came a bus service run by Harper and Lockey. These factions amalgamated eventually to form the Venture Bus Company which took its name from the private Venture coach of Priestman of Shotley Bridge. This private coach complete with coachman, and horn, was regularly seen around the district right until the 1939 war and the last coachman was called to service in London for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

ROWLANDS GILL SINCE THE 1939 WAR

Rowlands Gill was not materially affected by the war - neither by bombing nor evacuation. [Wrong on both counts. Bombs fell on the village in the early hours of May 1st 1942 - see When Bombs Fell on Rowlands Gill - and many evacuees came from the London area to Rowlands Gill in 1944 because of V1 and V2 attacks.] But since then much has changed. The first move by Blaydon Council was to bring loads of prefabricated bungalows to the empty land between Rowlands Gill and Highfield Village to the west. In the last fifteen years a huge new estate of several hundred houses of many patterns has spread right down to Rowlands Gill from this site. The old houses in "The Bottoms" have been pulled down, and re-housing goes on continually, for the village is being developed essentially as a residential dormitory for Tyneside. N.W.Durham has become a depressed area since the war, and the Lilley Drift Colliery has had to close - as has South Garesfield pit at Low Friarside which during the war flew a flag for record output, and which also gave employment to local miners. The local railway station has been closed for many years for passenger traffic and now seems to have lost all industrial trade in competition with road services. The other local industry not mentioned yet, and also redundant in the last three years, was the Coke Oven at Whinfield works between Rowlands Gill and Highfield Village. Here for 98 years was manufactured some of the best Beehive Coke in the country, supplying iron foundries such as Wards of Sheffield, Armstrong Whitworths, and Staffords of Darlington. Wards alone are reputed to have sent their own trucks to take 40,000 tons of coke per year, from a weekly production of 1300 tons.

Alongside these Coke Ovens was a small factory locally known as "The Alloy" where for a time during the 1914-18 war was manufactured very hard steel for the sides of battleships, made by a secret process, and the smelting was done by electricity. [Not quite - since 1907 "The Alloy" had been producing ferrochrome, an alloy essential to the production of armour-plating, using electric furnaces. In WW1 overseas sources of ferrochrome were inaccessible, so production at "The Alloy" was massively increased - new plant was installed, a new power-station was built and a supplementary electricity supply was provided through a new underground cable from Dunston. The workforce went up from a few dozen to over 1000 and production rose from 40 to 650 tons per week. It was the country's only source of ferrochrome throughout WW1, but at the end of the war demand for the material ceased, placing the company in an impossible position. "The Alloy" turned its furnaces over to steel-making, but this venture failed, and in 1922 the company - The Newcastle Alloy Company, a subsidiary of Priestman Collieries - went out of business. "The Oxide", described next, was not affected.] The third part of this industrial plant was the "Oxide" - where protective paint for ship's bottoms was prepared, viz. copper oxide.

[The Whinfield Industrial Estate now occupies the sites of the cokeworks, the "Alloy" and the "Oxide".]

It has been a great heartbreak to employees that all this industry has been closed and dismantled by the N.C.B; when N.W. Durham is declared a distressed area and is in need of industry. Social life in the village has altered very little since the war. Extra activities at the Welfare Hall include "Housey", and the "Over Sixties" Club. Other societies such as Gibside Music Club; Friends of the Hospitals; a branch of the N.S.P.C.C. and a W.V.S. contingent have all got supporters. The Wesleyan Church has added a very fine hall to its premises, and the Anglicans have built a new combined Church and Hall. County Evening Classes have gradually fallen off with the advent of T.V. Many young folk who work in Newcastle by day, return again in the evening for social entertainment.

GREATER ROWLANDS GILL

About a mile north of Rowlands Gill where since the 'twenties' has been a row of bungalows by the roadside known as 'Lockhaugh', speculation building has attracted a community of young married people from many parts of the country, mostly working in Newcastle. And a quarter of a mile along the Shotley Bridge road near a collection of houses known as "Whisky Jacks", a similar building project is attracting young people. Altogether these newcomers are quite likely to give a boost to social life in the district. Perhaps Hamsterley Mill Estate on the property of Lord Gort and situated about two miles from Rowlands Gill, in the Consett Urban District, should also be included as a suburb of Rowlands Gill. The dwellings there are of a considerably more expensive type than those in the village. Many people from this estate come to shop, attend social functions, and worship along at Rowlands Gill.

And as for the future of the village as being planned by the local Council, it is hoped to improve the general layout with recreational facilities. A large field near where Whinfield Works once stood, has been prepared and levelled for development as a park for tennis, bowls and the like. By the riverside where the "Bottoms" once stood, next to the old Football field, schemes envisage a Riverside Park with maybe a swimming pool. A new secondary modern school is soon to be built, as well as many more council houses, on the land behind Cowen terrace. The Lilley Drift Welfare Hall, under new management, is being reconditioned and modernized. And the first building in our village the "Towneley Arms" is being replaced by a fine new up-to-date hotel complete with Car Park, but still on the old site by the Station.

And so there is a future for Rowlands Gill as a large housing site, - and the beautiful Derwent Valley which has been a rendezvous for cyclists and picnickers in the past may still attract visitors who will gaze at the ruins of Gibside over the water, see the Rows still bright with new paint, and wonder if they heard right that there had been a Doctor's Murder.

PAST HERITAGES GIBSIDE ESTATE The first recorded owners of this stretch of forest were the Marley family who held it in 1200, and on until 1540 when the estate passed to Roger Blakiston of Coxhoe. Gibside was the home of his descendants till 1713 when Sir Francis Blakiston, second baronet, was succeeded by his only daughter who had married Sir William Bowes of Streatlam Castle and went to live there. In 1721 Sir William's son George Bowes, member for the county, came to live at Gibside in the Jacobean House, to develop and add to it, and to lay out the grounds and perfect the landscape around. From 1750 - 57 he had built a monument 140 feet high of British Liberty, costing £2,000. The carving of the figure was done in position at the top of the column, and 66 books of gold leaf costing £5.15s.6d and also £8.14s.0d worth of copper were used to decorate it.

A long grass terrace (known as the racecourse) led from in front of the column to a Chapel and mausoleum begun in 1760 but not consecrated till 1812. This beautiful building is in the form of a Greek Cross, has a 3 decker pulpit with sounding board above, and is still open for worship once a month. Bodies of the Bowes family resting below the Chapel in the Mausoleum were take to Barnard Castle during the last War. A Banqueting Hall in ornate Gothic Style with ornamental ceiling, spire over the front door, mirrored walls, and staircase to the roof overlooked a slope to an octagonal lake flanked with fir trees. Stables, an orangery and walled gardens were also built, and winding roads edged with unusual trees.

George Bowes died in 1760, and he was succeeded by Mary Eleanor, the millionairess, who married the 9th Earl of Strathmore in 1767. Nine years later when a widow she had the misfortune to accept the hand of Andrew Robinson Stoney, (Stoney Bowes) an Irish opportunist who ruined her life, used up her fortune, and the tragedy of their existence is told in the book "The Unhappy Countess", by R.C.M. Arnold. After that, very little was done for Gibside, it was lived in rarely, and finally became united to the Earl of Strathmore's other estates.

[In 1965 Gibside Chapel was given to the National Trust and in 1993 the Trust puchased 347 acres of the estate.]

WHISKY JACK who gave his name to a brook near the village, was a smuggler from Norfolk who roamed Scotland and the Border Country and fell in with illicit distilleries. He came to the Coquet and Tees areas, acquired a still of his own, and marketed in mines and factories. In 1885 [1855] he lived in the woods near Rowlands Gill and was tried for, and acquitted of, the murder of local Dr. Stirling. Joseph Cowen then employed him for 13 years as gardener, and he proved sober, honest, reliable, and most industrious and knowlegeable, but he eventually emigrated it is believed, to Australia, though it is reported he was seen in Kentucky. [Whisky Jack was John Kane - born 1797 - and his cottage was situated where Woodside Cottage, Lintzford Road now stands. Coincidentally, one of Jack's direct descendants, who understandably wishes to remain anonymous, was very recently living within 300 yards of this location - and may well still be living there!]

FRIARSIDE is the remains of an old hospice lying across the river from Rowlands Gill. Earliest name was Frere Johanside. In the 11th century a recluse named John obtained a licence to erect a habitation for solitude as a hermit. In 1183 a rent book for the See of Durham recognises two shillings rent from hermits of Derwent. In 1540 at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Friarside became the property of the Gibside estate. Rumours of hidden treasure there were groundless.

LINTZFORD. This hamlet lies about 2 miles south of Rowlands Gill, where the river is spanned by a very old single arch bridge, probably dating from the middle of the 17th century when a Corn Mill functioned there. The Richardson Printing Ink Co. holds parchment deeds complete with wax seals, some written in Latin, for the Corn Mill and land, dated 1695.

Ninety years later the Annandales took over the Corn Mill and ran it as a paper mill until 1912. They built Lintzford House in 1790, but recent alterations have uncovered an example of dragon-wing roofing, which may be of an earlier period. This house including recent extensions by the river is listed as an ancient monument. From 1912 - 1922 Charles Marsden ran the paper mill then in 1923 the present owners converted it into a printing ink factory with world wide trade, agencies in many countries, and also three factories in India.

In the garden adjoining the factory are relics such as grindstones from the corn mill, an Elizabethan stone urn, and a boundary stone, marked with an Elizabethan E. Over the river from the dam is a row of cottages due for demolition, - and they must have been converted from an old inn which once stood by the roadside near to the old ford. It is thought there must have been a Pilgrim Way from Jarrow to Blanchland Abbey via Friarside Hospice, and Lintzford, as a very old blacksmith's forge has been discovered in a remote part of the ink works.

Excepting Lintzford Farm owned by the Lawrence family, all the property and houses belong to the Richardson Printing Ink Co.

[The inkworks was taken over by Dufay Paints in 1966 and it finally closed in 1987. The premises have since been converted into flats.]

Some collections of photographs taken in and around the village are available online:


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