Double delight for village historians
A bespoke heritage cabinet to house a wealth of information about Barningham’s past was unveiled last week along with a new book charting the village’s history. Reporter Stuart Laundy went along for a look
THERE was double cause for celebration at Barningham when the launch of a new book charting the village’s past coincided with the unveiling of a new local history and heritage unit at the village hall.
The book, Round the World, an A-Z miscellany of Barningham and its neighbours, has been compiled by local historian Jon Smith, who has lived in the village for the past 40 years. He said it actually started life as a booklet on the village’s buildings to accompany others produced by the history group on all Barningham marriages and baptisms.
“It just took off from there,” he said.
“There are all the people who have lived in the buildings in the past, the people who built them and everything that went on in them over the years, and then I went to the neighbouring villages.”
Mr Smith said he has always been interested in local history, but this passion was further ignited about 15 years ago when he promised the then vicar he would map the graveyard.
“We then set up the local history group on the back of that and here we are,” he added.
As well as Barningham, surrounding communities such as Newsham, Scargill, Smallways, Greta Bridge and Rokeby all feature in Mr Smith’s book.
“There was no end of material demanding a place in it. There still isn’t but after 180,000-odd words, I’ve decided that’s enough to be getting on with.
“The result is an eclectic collection of bits and pieces gleaned from a wide range of sources, many of them distant families who have approached me over the years asking for help about long lost ancestors with a Barningham link.”
Mr Smith said despite its small size – Barningham is home to about 180 people – queries come in from people in all parts of the world.
“It’s particularly from Australia and New Zealand; we do get some from America and, of course, from all over this country.
“Barningham is tiny, yet it produces this amount of stuff.”
Round the World, an A-Z miscellany of Barningham and its neighbours, is available from the Teesdale Mercury Shop, in Galgate, Barnard Castle, or directly from Mr Smith – email email@example.com.
ALONG with celebrating Mr Smith’s extensively researched book, villagers turned out to cast an eye over the new history and heritage unit.
The bespoke cabinet was created by Barnard Castle furniture maker Anthony Nixon and houses books, maps, documents, files and other artefacts.
The unit also incorporates a desk for study purposes and a laptop is available to access digitised records and to hear oral history recordings.
Mr Smith said the history and heritage unit was part of bigger plans.
“The village hall has projection facilities, including a large screen, and there are plans to install further research facilities, display areas and other improvements in the room where the unit is located.
“The hall is ideal for exhibition use and the local history society envisages taking full advantage of this.”
Funding for the unit came mainly from the Northern Heartlands community initiative fund and was supported by the local history group, Barningham Parish Meeting and donations.
Much of what is now available in the unit has been housed for the past decade in Mr Smith’s home.
He said moving it all to the village hall would offer better access to those from outwith the village who are looking for information about ancestors, as well as hopefully encouraging the local community to research their local history and heritage.
Access to the history and heritage unit is free. It is available at all times when the village hall is open and at other times on request.
DOUG Anderson, now in his 80s, but more than half a century ago a keen local footballer, used the evening to bring along an old picture of the team he once turned out for.
It is of Brignall FC and while Mr Anderson cannot remember the exact date, he does recall the occasion.
It was the first season of the local village Sunday football league when Brignall were all conquering, winning the league and cup. Cleatlam were put to the sword 1-0 in the final, which was played at East Layton.
Mr Anderson said the league was made up of teams from the villages – Bowes, Hutton Magna and Cotherstone among them.
Mr Anderson is pictured front row left and next to hime are Phil Beadle, Burt Hare, Ken Carter, Roy Gibson and Bernard Walton.
The back row contains Ralph Beadle but the names of the other players escape Mt Anderson. Can anyone fill in the blanks? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.