Geoff updates story of village’s ‘doomed field’
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A LOCAL historian has updated the tale of Startforth’s “doomed field” in his latest publication.
Former teacher Geoff Milburn, from Barnard Castle, has produced a limited number of spiral-bound and laminated copies of his 57-page booklet, The Doomed Field of Startforth and the Demise of the Corncrake.
The unusually titled book explores the history of the field, now topped with bungalows and known as Gill Lane, was once owned by Mr Milburn’s ancestor Thomas Henry Milburn.
The story the “doomed field” first appeared in print 165 years ago in the Teesdale Mercury and tells a tale of drought, storms and a disappearing hay harvest.
Mr Milburn said: “So great was fear of the doomed field that whenever the sandbeds meadow grass was cut the locals on both sides of the river would proclaim loudly to all and sundry that heavy rain was sure to follow and that all the hay would soon be blown away into the Tees.”
Also included in the booklet are natural history notes collected by his father Ken, who lived at Braeside, the house at the top of the doomed field.
There are also details of the field’s unique flora and fauna and notes of the last years the rare corncrakes nested in the meadow.
The Doomed Field of Startforth is available to view at the Fitzhugh Library in Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Anyone wishing to obtaining a copy can contact Mr Milburn by emailing geoffrey.milburn6@ googlemail.com.