Shield Street, Allendale Town
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Allendale, often marked on maps as Allendale Town, is a village and civil parish in south west Northumberland, England. At the 2001 census, the parish had a population of 2,120, decreasing to 2,021 at the 2011 Census. Allendale is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); the second largest of the 40 AONB's in England and Wales. The local economy is predominantly based on agriculture (notably sheep farming) and tourism, although of late it has become a popular commuter town for Newcastle upon Tyne.
Allendale refers to the "dale" or valley of the River Allen. Evidence of prehistoric settlement has been found on the surrounding moorland. In the 16th century this area, close to the Scottish border, was a lawless and troubled place. Fortified farmhouses known as 'bastles' were constructed to protect residents and livestock against reiver raids. Allendale has a concentration of bastles, around 40 can still be seen, many as scenic ruins.
Local mining for lead has occurred since Roman times, with the first smelting mill being constructed in the 1600s. The significant growth of Allendale Town and the surrounding villages was fuelled by that of the local lead-mining and smelting industries in the 19th century. The remains of two flues from the former smelting mill (between Allendale and Catton) run to chimneys up on the fells high above the village. The smelting mill is now home to the Allendale Brewery and the Allenmills Regeneration Project.
In 1869, the Hexham and Allendale Railway was opened to provide improved transport, but its opening coincided with a rapid decline in the industry due to cheap imports of lead. The last mines in the area closed in 1894 (although an attempt was made to re-open the mine at Allenheads in the 1970s).
With the closure of the lead mines, the population rapidly declined and Allendale became a popular tourist destination for Edwardian Tynesiders seeking a country escape. The railway was finally closed to passengers in 1930 and to goods in 1950 (when the local terminus was bought by the stationmaster and opened as a caravan park.
Popularly held to be the town or dale that is referenced in Charles Jefferys' and Sidney Nelson's 1835 ballad The Rose of Allandale Rose of Allendale, published in the New York Mirror, and later sung by Paddy Reilly, The Dubliners and many others, it seems more likely that this song is either metaphorical or refers literally to the community on Allan Water in the Scottish Highlands at the beginning of the Firth of Forth. The explicit reference to Allendale, moreover, in 'Lucy Gray of Allendale', a musical setting of the earliest known work by Cumbrian poet Robert Anderson, manages to get the spelling of the town correctly.
New Year fire festival
The town's New Year celebrations involve lighted tar barrels that are carried on the heads of revellers called guisers. This tradition dates back so far its untraceable. It appears to have originated from the lighting of a silver band that were carolling at New Year. They were unable to use candles to light their music due to the strong winds, so someone suggested a tar barrel be used. Having to move from place to place, it would have been easier to carry the barrels upon the guisers' heads, rather than rolling them. There have been claims that it is a pagan festival, however, these claims are unfounded.
For Local Government purposes it belongs to Northumberland County Council a unitary authority, with Allendale lying in the Tynedale Division. Prior to the 2009 structural changes to local government in England it was part of Tynedale Council.
There is also a fire station within the town housing one fire appliance that is staffed by part-time firefighters
Allendale is located 10 miles (16.1 km) miles from the A69 at Hexham. The village is served by the 688 bus service (operated by Go North East) to Allenheads, Hexham and Langley as well as by local bus + taxi companies.
Allendale had a Primary School. Allendale Middle School this was closed in July 2013 and 2 tier education came into force in September 2013. Allendale First School left their site on Shilburn Road and moved over to the previous middle school site on 6 November 2013 after a refurbishment.
Allen Valley Angling and Conservation provides permits to fish the River East Allen and supports conservation efforts to improve fish stock and riverside access. The river is home to wild brown trout and visiting spawning sea trout and salmon.
Allendale Sports Club operates senior and junior football clubs and other associated sports groups, including a local league netball team. It also has 4 full size tennis courts. The Allen Valley Striders running club welcomes runners of all abilities, including novices, and is also based at the Allendale Sports Club.
Allendale Golf Club was founded in 1906, and the scenic course and clubhouse are located south of the village with green fees offering both annual and easy per-round playing opportunities.
Allendale Cricket Club fields two weekly teams and is affiliated with both the Northumberland Cricket Board and the West Tyne Senior Cricket League. The cricket ground is located just below the village on the riverside.
Each Spring, the Allendale Challenge is a popular fell challenge walk. Organised by the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team the 25 miles (40 km) route covers some of the finest peat bogs in the North Pennines on an anti-clockwise loop from Allendale town.
The village was the all-England winner of the Calor Village of The Year competition (2007). The Calor Village of the Year competition is organised annually by Community Action Northumberland with sponsorship provided by LPG supplier Calor.
- Philip Larkin (poet)
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