ALSTON, Cumberland - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"ALSTON, (or Alston Moor or Aldstone), a parish and market town in Leath ward, in the county of Cumberland, 29 miles to the S.E. of Carlisle, or 35 miles by rail; and 281 miles from London, or 290 by the Great Northern and York, Newcastle and Borwick railways. It contains the curacies of Garrigill and Nenthead, and the hamlets of Clarghyll, Nentsbury, Leadgate, and Nenthall. The town stands on the slope of a hill, on the right bank of the south Tyne, near the confluence of the Nent with that river. Each of these rivers is crossed by a stone bridge, that over the Tyne being a handsome new one. In the western part of the parish are some traces of the Roman road called Maiden Way, and at Hall Hill, a little below Tyne bridge, are the foundations of an ancient fortress surrounded by a moat. The surrounding district is chiefly moorland, shut in on all sides by lofty hills. On the west are the mountains Cross-fell and Hartside. Large flocks of black-faced sheep are pastured on the moors. There are magnificent views, at several points on the new road from Hexham to Penrith, over the lake of Ulleswater, the mountains of Cumberland and Westmoreland, the Solway Frith, and the coast of Scotland. The sterility of the surface in this district is compensated by the wealth of its mines. The parish of Alston contains about forty large and productive lead mines, yielding usually about nine thousand tons per annum. A small proportion of silver is contained in the ore, not exceeding on the average, ten ounces per ton. In the ore, from one of the mines, a much larger proportion has been found, nearly a hundred ounces per ton. Copper is also obtained. There are some magnificent caverns in the mountain limestone, splendid with variously coloured crystals of fluor-spar, the yellow copper-ore, and pyrites One of the caverns, called Tutman's Hole, extends for a mile from its entrance. There are large smelting furnaces, and machines for breaking and cleansing the ore. Thread and flannel are manufactured on a large-scale. There is a grand subterranean aqueduct, called "Nent Force", 5 miles in length, from the town to the Nenthead shaft. This was constructed by the trustees of Greenwich Hospital, the owners of the estates, which were forfeited in 1715, by James, Earl of Derwentwater, and were conferred on them by act of parliament. The town is irregularly built, the houses mostly of stone and roofed with slate. A very handsome building has just been erected in the centre of the town, consisting of news-rooms, mechanics' institution, and reading-room, with board-room and townhall above; costing upwards of £2,000, which has been raised by voluntary contributions. The market cross was erected by Sir William Stephenson, Bart., who was lord mayor of London, in 1764. The living is a discharged vicarage* in the diocese of Durham, value, with the curacy of Garrigill, £139, in the patronage of the governors of Greenwich Hospital. The church, which was rebuilt in 1770, is dedicated to St. Augustine. There is a chapel of ease at Garrigill, 4 miles to the S.E. of the town, and a handsome new district church at Nenthead, the living of which is a perpetual curacy,* value £140, in the patronage of the vicar. There are also places of worship belonging to the Independents, the Society of Friends, and the Wesley an and Primitive Methodists. The grammar school, which was rebuilt in 1828, has an endowment of £22 per ann. The subscription library was established in 1821. The national school, at Nenthead, was founded in 1820, by the London Lead Company, who still support it in conjunction with the governors of Greenwich Hospital. Petty sessions are held in the town, once a month, by the county magistrates; the county court is also held once in two months, and the board of guardians meet every fortnight. Saturday is the market day. Fairs take place on the third Saturday in March, the last Thursday in May, the Saturday on or before the 27th September, and the first Thursday in November; a tup fair, and also a cattle show, in October." "NENTHEAD, a chapelry in the parish of Alston-Moor, ward of Leath, county Cumberland, 4 miles E. by S. of Alston. This place takes its name from its situation near the source of the river Nent, a tributary of the North Tyne. The village, which is considerable, contains a market-house, surmounted by a turret. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the neighbouring leadmines and smelting-houses belonging to the London Lead Company. The living is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Durham, value £140, in the patronage of the Vicar of Alston. The church is a modern structure. There are chapels for the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, also schools on the National system, established by the London Lead Company."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]