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Places of interest in Northumberland

Hadrians Wall

Northumberland has been a border territory for almost 2,000 years. The Romans occupied Britain from the middle of the 1st century to the beginning of the 5th century and for much of this time Northumberland was the very edge of their mighty empire.

It was in AD 122 that the Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a wall across the country from the Tyne to the Solway to separate the land of the Britons from the land of the Picts.

Now officially recognised as a World Heritage Site, the remains of the central section of the Wall still snake their way across the whinstone cliff on which it was built. There are also many forts, museums, temples and other remains.

When it was built in stone, the Wall was some 73 miles long and 5 metres high. It was one of the Roman Empire's greatest feats of engineering. Today, the best remaining sections of the Wall in Northumberland are only 1 metre high but they are still very impressive. They may be accessed from signposted car parks off the B6318, Military Road, which runs parallel to the A69, Newcastle to Carlisle, Highway. There are good car parks close to the Wall at Housesteads (see below), Steel Rigg, Cawfields and Walltown. A year round "Hadrian's Wall Bus" connects all the major sites to the main town of Hexham. For more information on the bus route and timetable, contact the Hexham Tourist Infomation Centre. Other sections of the Wall are in the neighbouring counties of Cumbria and Tyne & Wear.

Taking Care of the Wall

Hadrian's Wall is officially recognised as a World Heritage Site.

Northumberland has been a border territory for almost 2,000 years. The Romans occupied Britain from the middle of the 1st century to the beginning of the 5th century and for much of this time Northumberland was the very edge of their mighty empire. It was in AD 122 that the Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a wall across the country from the Tyne to the Solway to separate the land of the Britons from the land of the Picts.

Now officially recognised as a World Heritage Site, the remains of the central section of the Wall still snake their way across the whinstone cliff on which it was built. There are also many forts, museums, temples and other remains, the most important of which are described below.

The "Hadrian's Wall Visitor Guide" is an introductory leaflet to all the attractions of the Wall. It is available free of charge from Hexham Tourist Information Centre.

More detailed information about the Wall and its construction can be obtained by visiting the official Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site Website.

A curiosity about the Wall is that it is often used as an alternative term for the Scottish border - "The other side of

Hadrian's Wall" being used (especially by people from the south of England) to mean Scotland. In fact, 90% of the English county of Northumberland is north of the Wall and at no point over its entire length does the Wall separate the two countries. The tribe of people known as "Scots" did not come to Britain (from Ireland) until hundreds of years after the Romans had left the country.

 

STOCKTON AND THE RAILWAYS

The opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 brought about further significant increases in the trade and population of Stockton as lead from the dales could now be quickly brought to the town along with coal from mines in the Bishop Auckland area. The history of this famous railway to Stockton can be traced by those who explore the town.Of particular interest is Bridge Road where two plaques can be found highligting Stockton's railway history. One plaque commemorates the place where the first section of Stockton and Darlington track was laid by Thomas Meynell of Yarm on 23rd May 1822.

The second plaque marks the building that was arguably the world's first railway ticket office. In Stockton the railway ran along the course of the quayside by the Tees and linked up with four sets of coal staithes which were jetties from which coal could be loaded into the ships. Staithe of course is a Viking word which originally meant landing place or landing stage but in the coal trade of northern England it signified a loading place.

The railway which brought about such a rapid increase in the development of Stockton was ultimately to bring about the downfall of this port, with the extension of the Stockton and Darlington line to Middlesbrough in 1830. Middlesbrough was six miles nearer to the sea than Stockton and had many advantages over the old heart of Teesside. A nineteenth century writer records the change in Stockton's fortunes;

"Vessels now anchor at Middleburgh snug and comfortable, which before strove to mount the river and reach Stockton after overcoming the sad surf tossed over the bar by the easterly gales; so that Stockton as a maritime place has become insignificant"

 

ROPES, SUGAR, COTTON AND POTTERY

Ropemaking associated with Stockton's role as a shipbuilding centre was an industry of significance at Stockton judging from the import of 1,178 tons of hemp into Stockton in 1825. Stockton's Ropery Street was the site of this particular industry.

Cotton was made at Stockton from a Cotton Mill established in 1839 while an earlier industry located close to the river was the refining of sugar. The Stockton Sugar Refinery situated at a place called `Sugar House Open' dated from 1780 and was the only sugar refinery between Hull and Newcastle .

Brickmaking was a prominent and well-needed industry in the rapidly expanding towns of nineteenth century Teesside. Some of the clay used in Stockton's brick works was also a useful material for the local Pottery Industry. In 1825 William Smith opened his `Stafford Pottery at South Stockton (Thornaby-on-Tees) followed in 1860 by his brother James's factory at Stockton called the North Shore Pottery. Other potteries included the Ainsworth's white and printed ware pottery of North Stockton and the Harwoods Norton Pottery which specialised in the so-called ` Sunderland Ware'

 

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