Top day!

We celebrated a major milestone for the project last Friday : the topping out ceremony. Friends, Parish Councillors, contractors, neighbours and volunteers all came together on a beautiful sunny morning.

Lead volunteer Greg Finch said ‘it was about three years ago that Anne Porter raised the need to ‘do something with the Arches’ at the Parish Council meeting. It is tremendous to have got to this point today and the remains of the lead smelt mill are looking better than ever. It is a huge milestone for the project, even though we are only five months in. Thank you to all the funders, project volunteers, Allendale Estates and all who have worked on the project so far’

Guest of honour, Ridley Roddam, helping stone mason Gary Simpson put the finishing touch to the lime pointing. Ridley Roddam said ‘the last time I was here was with a horse and cart in about 1980. It is lovely to see it again’


Andrew Swallow of nearby Dukesfield Hall said, ‘I’m over the moon to see this happen. I grew up with the Arches at the bottom of the garden and have always been fascinated by them. Other people are too, we often end up giving history lessons about them. I am just sorry that my father is not alive to see this today, it is tremendous.’

Cath Swallow…’week after week, in bad weather, we’ve seen a little bit more fall off, the trees on the top getting bigger and bigger and the roots damaging the structure. Now we can go down and it’s fabulous, all pointed up and with its new ‘hair’ on the top. It’s brilliant and it’s safe. Let’s hope it’s all there in another hundred years.’

The Arches and their admirers

We’re now looking forward to embarking on a creative new phase for the project in 2014.

“We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted to see the project reach this important milestone. The significance of the lead industry to the North East and Tyneside is often overlooked despite being such an integral part of its economic and social history, with the Dukesfield mill considered to have been the largest in Europe at one point. This project will preserve this great legacy and provide excellent opportunities for the volunteers involved and the wider community.

Congratulations on all your achievements today. It’s great to know that Mr Ridley Roddam is officially completing the lime mortar work and marking this occasion with the project team. We are confident that this project will go from strength to strength and are proud to have played our part as a funder.” Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East”

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