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Canny lass

Halfpenny Woods

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I went up the Happenny woods on my bike this morning. Didn't notice the no cycling sign until I came back out honest!

 

I haven't been along there for about 30 years and was pleased to see that some sort of path has been put down. The place used to be boggy and inaccessible in a few places but was okay today.

 

The path isn't a tarmac path like the free woods side of the river but is a bit better than a one which has been 'worn in' by walking over grass etc. The route continues for about three quarters of a mile before you come to private land with a barbed wire fence and no access signs which means you then have to retrace your route back to the bottom of the Hairpin Bend.

  The path is wide enough for only one person in most places but there are no steep inclines so would be suitable enough for any ages especially when it's a dry day. There were a couple of branches that you had to duck under and some exposed tree roots to watch out for too.

 

Maybe some of the £74,000,000 allocated to Ashington could be diverted to pay for some stepping stones across the river which would allow a nice circular walk along both sides. There are a couple of natural shallow sections with one close to the far end which would be a great crossing point.

 

post-3028-0-84664300-1404494196_thumb.jp

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Is it really no cycling?

One of the Development Trust directors is looking at putting together a possible cycling event in Bedlington soon.

There will proabably be two 'routes, one for families and the other for the more earnest cyclists.

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That's why they call a Fox..a Fox...cos they are Foxy!....and very intelligent creatures.

When we as kids played,nay.....spent wor lives doon them woods,as Keith says,the Seven Sisters,trees, still stood beside the toll-house.[on the Ha-apenny wood side..]

The cliffs were fully exposed,and the plaque was there for all to plainly see.

Noo it's aal covered wi trees,a cudn't see it thi otha day when a went doon.

The Free woods stretch,from Attlee Park,[the Picnic field..],was on the Blyth side of the river,starting from the Bedlington bridge,aal thi way ti thi Humford swimming baths,and steppy-stones.

The picnic field was a lovely grazing meadow,full of pink clover,[which we used to suck the juice from the flower heads..],and a herd of cattle wi greet nasty horns,in 1950-ish,[when kids 6 yrs old CUD gaan doon the river wi tha aada brother's and friends!!]

Noo,at the far end of the field,where the tarmac path starts,through thi woods,THAT used ti hae a greet high wood fence aal thi way up from the waataside,ti the fields reet at thi top,and was clearly marked "Private-No Tresspassing."

That land was Dinsmoors land,[probably leased from Lord Blagdon],and there used to be a lot of deer roaming,unless they fell foul of thi poacher's...that is....and it wasn't thi first time me and my friends came across a shot deer lying ,dead.

Dinsmoor must have had CCTV, on every tree,[my little joke....!],cos thi minute we climbed the fence,and went inti thi "Plantation"[as it was caaled],he used ti come after us wi his dogs,never caught any of us cos we would splash straight across thi river,fully-clothed!,and climb up the biggest beech tree we cud find,and he cudn't touch us!!

Eh....wat happy times we had!!

Only fault was noo,we had ti wesh wa clarty claas in the river,mek a fire ti dry wasell's oot,afore gaanin yem,or else wa Mutha's wud kill wi for gaan yem clarty.......[money was scarce,new clothes even scarcer,and Mutha med sure yi knew aboot it!

This was on thi Bedlington side,remember!

If ye gaan doon thi Furnace Bank noo,thi Plaque says .."Welcome to Bedlington Free Woods"..[a bit different noo,ti 1950!]

Somehoo,and a divvent knaa HOO,but them free woods on thi Blyth side are noo marked "Private land-no tresspassing!

Ivrythin's torned topsy,since aa was a bairn!

There wasn't any paths like tarmac,yi knaa,in them days,just thi paths that thi kids med through thi weeds and trees....and thi woods were a lot denser as weel.

There was a lot of clearance work done,to create the tarmac path ti Humford from thi Picnic field.

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As far as i recall the halfpenny woods had a toll becuase the Ridley estate had no problems with access, but the toll of the minimum amount (apart from a farthing - remember the wren) was so that the pathway could never be considered a right of way due to usage - its a bit like the modern thing of certain houses having to open up the grounds or the house 1 day every year. It kept the land within the full control of the estate and didn't compromise their full control in perpetuity.

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Hello all,

               my first post. I read with interest about the Ha'penny woods. Having lived in Bedlington station all my life except for a years folly into Newbiggin I think I have something to add. 

 I remember that Fergusons, the transport company had something to do with the Ha'penny woods, probably owned it at sometime. There was a Ferguson daughter whose name may have begun with an 'E' who either died young or inherited the woods, probably the former, and the woods were handed to the people of the community as a free amenity by her relatives. The woods still retained the Ha'penny woods title.

 I did seek and find the plaque which I did read when I was a lot younger but sadly weather has taken it's toll and cannot be read. I cannot remember what was inscribed on the plaque. I don't remember anything about a fox and a horse rider but that doesn't mean it's not correct, most likely is.

 Something I noticed when reaching the second half of the path before the barbed wire fence was what appears to me to be slag from the iron works as a surface of the path. This got me thinking, why is it there. The rock faces in that area appeared to have been worked at sometime so was the slag laid so the iron works could transport the limestone rock for the iron making process or as blocks to reinforce the banks upstream of the dam and water wheel that supplied power to the iron works. If I'm correct it wouldn't have been a single path because rock is heavy so was probably transported by cart on a much wider track rather than on the back of horses or mules. I will take a magnet to confirm it is slag on my next walk on the path.

 I think Doyles shop closed at the end of the 60's or early 70's. I used it 1,000's of times being brought up in Tomlea Ave.

 I remember a 3 or large 2 story house at the start of the free woods at the furnace bank end. I believe a family called Blackburn lived in one of the houses and were the last occupants before it was demolished.

 Something else that has me thinking. Which way were the completed steam engines moved from the works. I suppose they could have travelled towards the Kitty Brewster or beyond to flatter ground and joined the rail network in the Bates pit area. The furnace bridge is an arch but is flat on the top so the engines could be wheeled/dragged across it with teams of horses. Then there would be the problem of getting them up to the bank top. I doubt horses could pull them up but perhaps a stationary steam engine could pull them up but where would they go from there. There was a rail track from the iron works that ran along the edge of the river towards the black bridge. This track was paid for by the Iron Works and connected with the Barrington pit track that brought coal to the riverside for transfer onto barges. The iron works then had coal delivered directly to the works. I'm not sure if the trains went along that track because it was probably not a standard gauge track and was used to carry tubs of coal. The trains could have been loaded onto a barge though that would be risky and where would they be off loaded. I'm a bit puzzled.

 There is a stone block wall next to the furnace bridge which was probably reinforcing the land behind it and was used to tie up barges bringing supplies to the Iron Works or taking some of the other goods produced at the Iron Works. The Iron works also produced 100,000's of stamped nails that were transported all over the UK and the world.

 Further info on the Barrington Pit track. It originally ran only to Granery point staithes through Binnes farm. This could have been limiting for getting the coal away via ships because they will have needed a full tide or very close to it to get docked and then cast off so would have had a turn around time of 12hrs from high tide to high tide. There could be full coal trucks or tubs waiting to discharge their loads when the next ships were able to dock so inefficient. A branch line was brought to the area west of the black bridge where barges were tied up and then filled. They would also have to wait for a full tide but the coal wasn't waiting to be loaded because several barges could be docked at the same time. The stone block wall can be viewed from the south bank of the river. Also an arched underpass can be viewed in the same area. This is not very high which is why I don't think the steam engines left that way.

Jammy

       

 

 

 

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On 10/04/2020 at 16:49, Jammy said:

 I think Doyles shop closed at the end of the 60's or early 70's. I used it 1,000's of times being brought up in Tomlea Ave.

 

Jammy - this photo and info was posted on the Bygone Bedlington Facebook group by Ann Doyle - 1st June 2014.

Boyles.jpg

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On 10/04/2020 at 16:49, Jammy said:

 I remember a 3 or large 2 story house at the start of the free woods at the furnace bank end. I believe a family called Blackburn lived in one of the houses and were the last occupants before it was demolished.

 

@Jammy - I only have a very vague recollection of Dene House etc - I think my memory has locked stuff away that will only pop out every couple of years :). I was born 1948 and played down the woods mid 50's to early 60's.

My memories of the Furnace Bank area was mainly the Free woods where the Bandstand was and that's where we used to try an build a dam across the river so the river was deep enough for us to jump into the river off an area on the Hapenny side where there was a stone platform.

Photos of the area that are all said to be in the 1950's 

Dene House from Tony Green.jpg

Furnace Bridge.jpg

Furnace Bridge mid 1950s.jpg

John Fox postcard Furnace bridge etc.jpg

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It is interesting that there are two separate buildings which look very similar in that both are next to Furnace Bridge and both are  old buildings with a more modern extension that have bow windows. Dene House is the top photograph and is the building on the right in the third  photograph. The other building is shown on the second photograph and is on the left in the third photograph and is the one shown on the fourth photograph. Dene House had four bow windows in total, the other building has only two. The third photograph shows that these were clearly two separate buildings and that the second and fourth photographs do not show Dene House. Another feature that distinguishes them is that the old part of Dene House had three stories whereas the old part of the other building only two. 

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2 hours ago, Richard Pyle said:

It is interesting that there are two separate buildings which look very similar in that both are next to Furnace Bridge and both are  old buildings with a more modern extension that have bow windows. Dene House is the top photograph and is the building on the right in the third  photograph. The other building is shown on the second photograph and is on the left in the third photograph and is the one shown on the fourth photograph. Dene House had four bow windows in total, the other building has only two. The third photograph shows that these were clearly two separate buildings and that the second and fourth photographs do not show Dene House. Another feature that distinguishes them is that the old part of Dene House had three stories whereas the old part of the other building only two. 

@Richard Pyle - quick reply to your comment. This is an extract from one of Evan Marin's books on Bedlingtonshire with some info on the houses. Don'y know if there is any info on the houses in the booklet on the Iron & Engine works but if I find anything I will scan the page(s).

001.jpg

Evan Martin5.jpg

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5 hours ago, Richard Pyle said:

 I wonder what the house on the left was, Alan? It is surprising that they look so similar.

 

@Richard Pyle - as far as I can remember that one line - ......... shows some of the old ironworks buildings on the left............. - by Evan Martin is the only info I can recall on the buildings.🙂

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On 20/08/2020 at 08:15, Richard Pyle said:

 I wonder what the house on the left was, Alan? It is surprising that they look so similar.

Evans says that the photo shows some of the old ironworks "office" buildings and office accomodation seems like a reasonable description looking at its placement  as can be seen on various maps. The building was adjacent to the main body of the Ironworks while Dene House was set back a little from the work area. Both may have been built about the same time and that could account for the architectural similarities. They don't appear on a map of the area dated 1828 but both appear on a map of the railway sidings from 1859 and on subsequent OS maps.

Dene House marked in yellow and office accommodation marked in red:

 

 

1859 Railway sidings Old MapsUK_LI.jpg

 

It may be an extension to an already existing building.

Its proximity to the work area is shown more clearly in this map from 1869 ( but nothing seems to have changed) You can see it is only a few steps away from the work area and it's also worth noting that the main entrance to the building faces the Ironworks, not the bridge, so is presumably part of the Ironworks.

 

 

Skärmbild (49)_LI.jpg

Edited by Canny lass
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That’s a very comprehensive answer. Thank you very much both of you!

What do you think the attribution of the house to the early 19 century? Stylistically, I would say the right hand side of the house was more early to mid 18th century and the right hand side with the bow windows, late or very early 19 century. I also assumed that this was the house which in a 1757 sale advertisement for the ironworks which was described as a “commodious dwelling house, fit for a gentleman's family consisting of ten fine rooms, four of which are hung with genteel papers, with good cellars, a stable, large garden and other conveniences". 
 

Any thoughts?

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2 hours ago, Richard Pyle said:

What do you think the attribution of the house to the early 19 century? Stylistically, I would say the right hand side of the house was more early to mid 18th century and the right hand side with the bow windows, late or very early 19 century. I also assumed that this was the house which in a 1757 sale advertisement for the ironworks which was described as a “commodious dwelling house, fit for a gentleman's family consisting of ten fine rooms, four of which are hung with genteel papers, with good cellars, a stable, large garden and other conveniences". 

I agree wholeheartedly! The right hand side of Dene House is much earlier than the left which is why I said it may be an extension to an earlier building. It’s interesting to learn that the house had a stable. Could that have become the office block? That building, as can be seen from the photo has undergone several changes: The central, upstairs window has been removed and the two doors are a later addition as evidenced by the dividing upright and lintels, which seem to be much newer than the window lintels. It’s possible this has been an archway, wide enough for a carriage, leading to a small stable yard – possibly the walled area behind and to the side of the house with a single storey covered area on the side nearest the river, as shown in the first photo. It wasn’t uncommon to find married accommodation above the stables, which would explain the windows.

 

I might add, that the advert you mention states that there are 80 years left on the lease, suggesting that the house is about 20 years old in 1757 (Leasehold is generally 99 years).

Edited by Canny lass
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