WHEN Pat Brophy sent in a wonderful old picture of a newsagent's shop in Westgate, we were prompted to delve into the dale packets in The Northern Echo's photo library and found a wonderful array from Weardale.
Westgate was the west gate of the Prince Bishops of Durham's Stanhope Park, the second largest hunting ground in England, where deer, wolves and wild boar ran free, for best part of 1,000 years until the railway penetrated the upper dale in 1895.
Only then did it realise that it wasn't the only Westagte in the world. In fact, there were already two of them with stations of their own: Westgate-on-Sea, in Kent, which had gained a station in 1863, and Wakefield Westgate, which had been thus named in 1867. So Weardale's Westgate had to think of a new moniker in 1895 and plumped for Westgate-in-Weardale.
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The opening of the railway must have been a Godsend for Mr Kidd and the newspaper he is advertising so prominently in his shop-window: The Northern Echo. Now the latest news could be whizzed up the dale on the train.
ABOVE: In medieval times, the Bishop of Durham customarily came to hunt in Weardale in autumn, and in 1465, a chapel was built for his use, and dedicated to St John the Baptist – hence St John's Chapel got its name. This, though is an undated photo of the St John's Town Hall, built in 1865 – our car enthusiasts might entertain themselves by identifying the two-tone vehicle, 286 CUS, on the left.
ABOVE: In 1788, a small group of dalespeople founded a "sixpenny" subscription library with 40 books – most of which had been written about Methodism by John Wesley. In its heyday, it had 150 members and 3,000 books, housed in Library House in Westgate, which, when this picture was taken in 1989, had the most perfect net curtains in the world. The library closed in 2002 and the books were donated to the Weardale museum in Ireshopeburn. Library House is now a house.
ABOVE: All it says on the back of this picture is "Weardale Association for the Prosecution of Felons". This august body was formed on July 29, 1820, with its members clubbing together to share the cost of prosecuting the neighbourhood's felons. Every district had its own association up to the 1850s, when the police took on a more active role in prosecuting miscreants. We believe the Weardale Association still meets annually, and, just as in 1970, it still vigorously adopts a no-nonsense approach to felony in the dale.
ABOVE: That is Ireshopeburn down below, with the Wear in the foreground and the railway running along its bank. The picture was taken on April 11, 1964, when the last snow was still in the gills on the tops. Snaking up the dale on the left is Stony Path, which goes up on to Langdon Common. Then comes the Ireshope Burn in its valley with Causeway Road running up the centre of the picture - it goes up on Ireshope Moor and over Teesdale, but where is its causeway.
If you have any information about any of the pictures, or they trigger any thoughts or memories, or if you can help with the milestone mystery, please email email@example.com