Journal entry – John Grey – 22 Jun 1833

Document Type: Journal entry
Date: 22 Jun 1833
Correspondent: John Grey
Archive Source: TNA ADM 80 18
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Saturday 22nd June 1833

	Went to Dilston New Town North Farm to inspect the cutting down a Bank to make an easyer entrance to Mr Leadbitters Farm Offices, & at the same time contracted with Thomas Harle for raising the Embankment at the west end of the Haugh, at 5d per yard, his estimate previously having been at 6d. – I did not consider it safe to delay the work any longer. 

      I then proceeded accompanied by Mr Hunt to the Farm of Wooley in the Parish of Slaley, which I found occupied by a fine family of very young people who have lost both Parents, & who are under the care of an uncle who visits them & looks after their concerns, one a fortnight – the land is generally very poor and exhausted by constant cropping, the Buildings are pretty good and the Dwelling House modern, but so ill built that the rain penetrates at the corners and injures the Ceilings and floors – the Wood work inside is much in want of painting, as well as the outside doors. We then crossed over into Hexhamshire – The first place belonging to the Hospital in that district is called the Staples, a poor farm, the tenant of which, like all the others upon theses estates, being employed in carrying Lead Ore to the Smelting Mills – some part of the buildings, especially the roofs, are in very bad condition. The next place called Mire-house, is much like the last – occupied by one of the Thorburns, who hold three very bad Farms under the Hospital and who are, for each one of them in great arrears of Rent.

	Aydon Shields is a good Farm for the Country it is in, & most respectably cultivated by Mr Dixon, a relation of Mr Smith the Lessee – The thrashing Machine is his own, & therefore he takes care of it.

	The Farm buildings are good, but the Dwelling House so bad that it is dangerous to venture upon the floors in the second storey – It is quite unfit for the family to reside in, but as there is a very good & newly built Cottage standing on the spot where the farm House ought to be, I would recommend to convert it into the Kitchen & Pantry, and to add in front of it a small House, consisting of two rooms on the ground floor & three above, which would make a farm House at a small cost, quite adequate to the wants and wishes of the Tenant, and as the walls of the old House are pretty good, by taking out the rotten floors etc, it might easily be made to serve for the Cottage Houses. It is not the wish of the Tenants to have large Houses, & some of those whose houses have been lately built, complain that they are an incumbrance to them.

	Salmonfield Farm, occupied by Josh Richardson, also contains a good portion of land of tolerably good quality though in a cold and exposed situation – connected with this farm, is an allotment of Common Land of very poor quality, & also the right, which the tenant, unlike some others, avails himself of, of keeping 140 Sheep upon the undivided Common of Hexhamshire. The Farm House is new, but much too large – a new set of Offices had been begun & half finished – This might do as it is for a time, by repairing the part which remains of the old buildings – the gable of the Cow House is entirely down & the thatch nearly off, but the timber of the roof being Oak is very strong – The house covering the outer wheel of the Thrashing Machine should be rebuilt – These matters were nearly in the same bad condition when the present Tenant entered to the Farm in 1830.

      Rowleyhead Farm, occupied by Mr Shield, who came to it three years ago, is nearly in the same situation as the last, the new Buildings incomplete and the old ones exceedingly out of repair. I had here an opportunity of seeing the incomplete way in which draining is too often done, & of giving a warning to both tenant and workmen, that it should be prohibited altogether, if I ever again found it done in so unsatisfactory a manner – The Tenants exculpate themselves by saying, that however dissatisfied they may have often been with the execution of the drains, they could not help themselves, as they had no control over the workmen, who would not follow their directions – I have therefore made it every where known over the estate, that I shall hold the Tenants responsible for the proper execution of the work.

	Gairshield, held by the elder Thorburn is the ‘Ultima Thule’ of Hexhamshire – the perfection of poverty displayed – a large house, useless buildings, and fences in ruins, which had been made for the purpose of cultivating land, the fee simple of which must have been expended in their erection, & which will never produce Corn more than sufficient to feed the Horses that are employed in ploughing it. A ring Fence and Shepherd’s house would have answered a better purpose – The arrear of Rent previous to last May, was £90 & the half years Rent then due , £51 more – all the stock I could find on the premises was one horse, half a dozen back faced Sheep, a few pigs and some Geese – The old man it was said had gone over the fell with some ponies carrying Ore – But it is evident that he had no property worth seeking, & that what he has, could be removed in an hour or two at any time.

	Eadsbush, a few small Fields of pretty good land with 147 Acres of very poor Common Allotment, is held by Curry, a Cattle Jobber, who makes rent of it.

	Turfhouse & Peacock House, two small Farms in the occupation of Mark Maughan, he and two very industrious Sons, do all the work themselves and have the land in good condition, but complain that they cannot make the rent – He is £36 in arrear at present.

	Rawgreen – held by Edward Todd, a small farm of cold, heavy land, with scarcely an Acre of turnip soil.  The Buildings are good, except the Roofs of grey slate. – Todd could hardly be persuaded that I was in earnest, when I told him that having been 17 years in the Farm, it was his fault that they were bad, and he must see to it.

	Whitley Mill – a small concern, the water Wheel very good, but nothing else – unfavorably situated for business of any extent & scantily supplied with water.

	Returned to Corbridge at ten o’clock at night; impressed with a feeling of commiseration for the poor tenants of that high and remote districts. They are certainly an industrious, frugal and sober race; but poverty cramps all their exertions & forces them to reckon upon every trifling economy in management, rather than embrace any extensive & efficient system of improvement – This district much resembles that of Whittonstall & Newlands, in respect of climate – the Soil is with the exception of Gairshield and the Common Allotments, of better quality, but having been longer in cultivation, wants the freshness which is still apparent in Whittonstall. I never saw lands where liberal application of lime would produce greater benefit than on both theses properties, but they are equally unfortunately situated in that respect, having none within a distance of from 10 to 12 Miles over rough and mountainous roads – The best Soils in Hexhamshire have a crudeness and want of friability in them, which render them unproductive of any crop, but especially unfits them for the reception & growth of the smaller seeds, so that they rarely succeed with turnips and clover. Lime in good doses, would divide and stimulate the Soil & bring all its powers into action. The Tenants are required to lay on three Loads per Acre when they have not dung – this is commonly received as a dead letter, & it is as well so, for its effects would not be perceptible – I tried hard to persuade the tenant of Salmon Field to try the experiment of laying from 8 to 10 loads per Acre upon a field he is now fallowing, engaging to be answerable for the benefit he would derive from it in his Wheat, but especially in the grass and succeeding Crops. The poor man admitted the soundness of the advice, but shook his head in despair – The Grain produced in this district is much inferior to that produced on the lower lands on the Tyne, and in this Season of bad prices they have hardly been able to dispose of it at all – How their rents are to be made up in the Autumn I cannot conceive, unless they can obtain a large proportion of them by the carriage of Ore.

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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