Carlbury: a lost hamlet

The Northern Echo: Carlbury Arms Carlbury Arms

FOLLOWING yesterday's overwrought posting about mileposts, I had to calm down and look out what I knew about Carlbury.

It is on the A67 between Darlington and Piercebridge. There's just a hall high on a hill - now, I think, a nursing home - and practically in Piercebridge itself, there's the Carlbury Arms.

Somewhere down below the Carlbury miley (see yesterday) you can walk through a riverside paddock and can clearly make out an old millrace. Stone channels can be seen as you walk over them on a narrow wooden footbridge.

But once there was much more, as I wrote in 1995 during my series of articles on the Barnard Castle branchline... ==================================

LEAVING High Coniscliffe, destination Barnard Castle, the A67 sweeps around a couple of corners, whizzes down a hill and speeds past Piercebridge. In the last few months it has developed funny red bits to keep the cars on the straight and narrow.

But until the last War, the road wobbled its way down the hill, wound round a hamlet, over a little bridge and into the village of Piercebridge before heading out for Teesdale.

And until the mid-Sixties, those who didn't have cars could always take the train which ran parallel to the road and the River Tees.

This area on the very edge of Teesdale is properly called Carlbury or Kerleburie as it was known in the very olden days.

At the foot of Carlbury Bank there was the little hamlet of Carlbury.

It had its own pub, the Railway Inn, and, as all self-respecting hamlets should have, its own big house, Bank House. It had its own bridge which spanned the Dyance Beck the beck that powered Carlbury Mill before it ran into the Tees.

The mill was the first part of the hamlet to be destroyed. Fire ravaged the four-storey building in 1889. The blaze was discovered by a cyclist at 11pm one night. He pedalled furiously to Piercebridge but found it impossible to get through to Darlington fire brigade. So then he pedalled back to Darlington to raise the firefighters in person and they eventually reached the scene at 2am. By this time, as a contemporary report described it, "the mill was gutted, the roof and floors having fallen in, and the machinery was lying in a confused mass on the ground floor".

The hamlet seems to have become derelict before World War Two and in the late-Forties the whole lot was demolished so the straight A67 could be built.

Carlbury probably owed its existence to the Barnard Castle branch line which ran to the north of the hamlet. The line was built in 1856 and Piercebridge Station was created where it cRossed the Roman road of Watling Street. Workmen uncovered Roman coins, urns and human remains during their digging.

The railway and the hamlet have gone but at least Carlbury Hall still stands at the top of the bank.

Now a nursing home, the Hall was built for Thomas McLachlan in 1875. As befits a Scot, Thomas was a bank manager for 45 years, running the National and Provincial on High Row. He loved his native Caledonia so much that he bought the hilltop in Carlbury so the raging Tees below would remind him of the raging waterways of his homeland.

The architect he employed to design the hall in the style of a Scottish baronial mansion was John Ross. Thomas had employed Mr Ross some years earlier to rebuild the front of the National and Provincial. That building is now occupied by NatWest and Mr Ross's three masked faces can still be seen above the windows.

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