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Thursday 4th Aug.t Having settled every thing at Alston we set out this morning for Hexham and passing by several places where lead mines are working, & Trials making at a considerable expence, by different adventurers, we came to Long Cross Pool the boundary of the manor on this side & were shewn the part which was in dispute with Mr.Ord; Here we parted with Mr. Jospeh Hilton Junr who attended us every day during our stay in Alston Moor. He is Clk of the Deliveries of Ore & was appointed to that office in consequence of the Hospital’s undertaking to smelt its own dues; his duty is to see that the Hospital’s ore is properly weighed to the Carriers & to keep an account of the quantity delivered to each of them & from what mine. He is also Assistant to his Father who is Moormaster, for both whicvh duties he is allowed £40 p. ann vizt £30 from the Hospital £10 from his Father, whose salary as Moormaster was increased a few years ago (upon that condition) from £40 to £50 p. Ann. We cannot help expressing the satisfaction we received from this young man, having found him a very intelligent, well behaved person and, as far as we could judge, extremely well qualified for the employments he is in. The Moor Master’s Duty is to survey the Mines, to see that 1/5 part of all theclean wash’d Ore is delivered for the use of the Lords of the Manor & safely kept apart by the tenants til otherwise disposed of; this the tenants are by their leases, obliged for 12 months nit no longer. The time we spent in Alston Moor, which is supposed to contain not less than 40000 acres & to be near 70 miles round the Boundary which was rode by the Receivers about 12 years ago, afforded us great satisfaction when we considered it not only as producing great Riches to the Hospital & private adventurers, but giving bread to near 3000 people, men women & children employed in various occupations in & about the mines & to numbers of others one way or other depending upon them. The Hospital’s dues have for some years past amounted to upwards of 3000 Bings of ore one year with another, and produced clear of all charges, between 8 & 9000 p ann. After quitting this source of industry & Wealth we continued our journey to Hexham, and in our way visited Gregshield Colliery at High Stublick (part of Langley South Common) which is at present under Lease to Christopher Bell, the Hospital’s Bailiff for Langley Barony, for 21 yrs expiring in 1781 at £18 p ann. This colliery which is now working in an indisputed part of the above Common is at a very small distance from the Hospital’s new erected smelting Mill & Refinery at Langley & consequently very conveniently situated for supplying it with coals & Cinders, but it is much to be feared that the Seam will be exhausted in a few years, the ore carriers horses, after delivering their Loads of ore at the Mill, carrying back great quantities of Coals with them into Alston Moor. However should this happen the Mill will not be essentially hurt by it, as, in consequence of Trials made about 12 months ago, other Seams have been found in the neighbourhood. [Added in the margin in a different ink:] Since 1775 this Colliery has been new won or laid dry by a level & <that> Coals are used for the consumption of Langley & Blagill Mills for many years to come, also a considerable increase of water obtained for the working of those mills. [The ‘Blagill’ mill adjacent to Langley was commenced in about 1785, suggesting that this comments was added no earlier than that date.] The Ore Carriers’ Horses abovementioned bring back each of them ¼ of a Bing of 2 Pokes of 1 cwt each, for which their owners are paid from 5s to 6s p Bing according to the distance. One man generally attends 15 of them. From the above Colliery we went down to the Lead Mill & took a cursory view thereof intending to take a more particular one the first convenient opportunity. The buildings appeared to be in good order & the smelters at work in their different Branches. We then went on to Hexham where we lay, tho very uncomfortably this night, the town being in great uproar & confusion owing to a Canvas carrying on by the different Candidates for the County of Northumberland.
This is an extract from the general visitation of the Greenwich Hospital’s northern estate in 1774, undertaken by James Stuart and Thomas Hicks, directors of the Hospital.