Westgarth Forster 1772 – 1835

Westgarth Forster Junior was the son of Westgarth Forster (1738 – 1797) who was  mine agent for the Blacketts and Beaumonts at Coalcleugh and Allenheads.  Westgarth Forster senior was cousin to William Westgarth, chief mine agent for the Blacketts at Coalcleugh.  Westgarth Forster Junior was born at Coalcleugh, but lived in Allenheads from 1775 when his father became chief agent there.  In 1786 Forster senior employed his son as third agent under him at Allenheads when Forster junior was only 13.  In 1795 when Westgarth Forster senior left his post, Westgarth Forster junior was moved to be second agent at Coalcleugh.   He was “discontinued” in the 1805 re-organisation of structure and personnel in the Beaumont mines and thereafter his career as a mine agent was patchy and entirely outside the North Pennines.  His fame rests on a slim volume he published in 1809 entitled “A Treatise on a section of strata commencing near Newcastle-upon-Tyne and concluding on the west side of the mountain of Cross Fell etc.”.  He published a revised and enlarged edition in 1821.   Geologists have largely assumed that Forster’s “Section of Strata” was an original work, and that Forster should be regarded as one of the pioneers of modern geological science.   In fact large parts of the narrative text of his book were plagiarised from earlier authors and the “Section” itself has been shown to have been compiled by Forster from the work of others.

Ian Forbes

See also:

I Forbes “Westgarth Forster’s Strata – a Reappraisal of a Geological Pioneer” (MSS due for publication 2015)

G.A.L. Johnson “Westgarth Forster’s Rule” in B. Chambers (ed) Out of the Pennines (1997)

B.P. Wilkinson “Leadmining Families – the Westgarths & the Forsters” in B. Chambers (ed) Out of the Pennines (1997)

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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