Storytelling by Candle light

In the lead smelting days, people made their own entertainment – one form was known as “Tom Trot” and was a gathering of families in someone’s house around the fireside. We can’t move back to how things really were in the days when lead was the “gold” of the Northern Hills, but we did something similar around the Dukesfield Arches.

This event was dangerous, because there were real flames (candles);  this event was exciting because we were outside in the dark; best of all, this event was fun because we heard songs, funny stories, sad poems and even made up new stories and poems ourselves.

Our singer, Anita James sang the traditional song “4d a day”, about the washer lads working at the mines, and then we all jined in with her own song, written specially for the project “Lead Smelting at Dukesfield”.

Time for some poems and stories – the children listened to “The Carriers Ponies” and a short story of 300 words called “Walking the Dog”.

Now it was time for parents and children to make up a story or poem of their own. Families were given ten minutes and then asked if they wanted to read their own stories or poem to everyone. First up to read were James and Aaron with a poem entitled “At the Arches”. Daisy with her story of the dead fox was next, followed soon after by Lara and James, Tilly and Amaaya.

Eleanor then read her story from Slaley Show 2013 about her birthday party of 1809, Eleanor as she said was 214 years old. The children were then asked if they knew what a Badger was and if they had heard about sightings of a Black Cat, Pat explained that the next poem was a sad poem called “Badger”. (So good was Pat’s reading of this poem, Daisy shed a tear that Badger’s wife was having dinner on her own (comment by her mum)). Charlotte then read her very funny story “Farmer Fred wears his fluffy slippers”.

Before everyone went home a specially written tale of a little Slaley kitten who wanted to visit Hexhamshire was told to the delight of the audience. Charlotte, Lara and Morrin helped with the story. Humorous pictures had been attached to raquets and as the story enfolded the relevant pictures were held high in the air to amuse the audience.

The children ran off to see Daisy’s dead fox remains while parents laughed and talked together. Thanking everyone for coming, the site eventually returned to nature and as Pat collected the last parking site notice a pheasant called “thanks” and was left in peace with the wind as company.

My Birthday in 1809 – by Eleanor Sowerby
A POEM FOR DUKESFIELD by Eleanor Sowerby
Heritage Funding by Pat Wilson
Our life in 1809 by Pat Wilson
Fred wears slippers to check the sheep.
The Carriers Ponies by Charlotte and Pat Wilson
Stories & Poems written at the Arches
Lyrics to ‘Lead Smelting at Dukesfield’ by Anita James
Walking the Dog – Pat Wilson
The Arches – Pat Wilson
The Badger – by Pat Wilson
The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467