Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A visit to Beamish, tea in Crook and an old friend

Yesterday we visited Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum.  It was the first of two planned visits for this week.  You pay once and your ticket entitles you to visit as many times as you want for a whole year!  For the lady and gentleman we met in the Sun Inn, a real pub, with real ale, in the middle of Beamish's 1913 town, a wonderful idea, as they visit often because the pub reminds the chap of a place he used to drink many years ago.  It did sound as if they used it as their local!

As we knew we would be coming back we didn't even try to see everything; we knew that was impossible anyway, the OH and I tried it a few years ago and only managed about two thirds of the site.  With my reduced mobility, my mum on my arm (yes, but she can get up steps a lot faster than me, and beat me in Sainsbury's if she's got the trolley) and the OH's mum and her bionic knees, we really had to face reality and set ourselves just two of the areas for the first day.  We visited the town - including the pub - and the pit village.

I feel I want to write a lot about Beamish, but maybe later.  I really want to get onto Crook ... if I do another post about the museum I'll link it backwards to here, I promise.

The plan said we were going to Crook for tea at the new Wetherspoon's pub there.
A low black and white pub with a stone built extension to the left.  A recent Wetherspoon's upgrade.
The Horse Shoe Inn, Crook
The ordnance survey map I had brought along didn't reach as far as Crook, so we set the sat nav for fastest route from Beamish.  It took us along some very windy roads, up and down hills so steep that they felt like rollercoasters, and yet we were only going fourteen miles.  This is why I do like Durham so much, Barnsley and Sheffield have hills but somehow not the same.

The meal in the pub was fine, the young man serving even managed to whip up a bowl of warm water for my mum to use as a finger bowl with her rack of ribs - probably not a frequent request in a Wetherspoon's.  Then the OH and I noticed a familiar face at the neighbouring table - an old friend from the Great British Beer Festival.  Hugs and exclamations and introductions to the two mums followed.  Wonderful, what a small world!

After the OH and I had finished our tea we went for a walk around Crook so I could take some photos. 
A stone built church, two aisles with a small bell turret on one.  A porch to one side and another at the end of the nave
St Catherine's Church, Crook from an old postcard
The church now has trees all around and the wall has gone, I got a picture similar to the one in the old postcard above, but would have had to stand in the road (not a good idea these days) to get a truly comparable one.

A street view, a stone wall to the left, over a stream leads to a row of houses working their way up a hill.  The houses are old, with different styles of roofs and windows.
Church Hill in Crook
My granddad was born in Church Hill, Helmington Row, I've blogged about this before.  I worked out in February that this street was actually in Crook, so made a point of going to find it yesterday.  I know from the 1911 census summary books that the family lived a few doors up from a pub just on the other side of the stream, indicated by the stone wall to the left of the picture above, so hopefully I've got their house on this photo.

The market square has changed a lot from the old photos I've seen online.  My great granddad worked at the Co-op, or so the family story goes.  He is enumerated as a Grocer's Assistant in 1901 in Crook.

An old black and white photograph of shops, there is a large double gabled shop on the right, smaller shops running off to the left.  Children are playing in the foreground.
North Terrace, Crook from an old postcard
The big double gabled building in the photo above is just one end of the huge Co-op which used to dominate the market square.  To the very left of the picture is the entrance to Hope Street, a narrow street lined with shops.  Another relative was the postmaster at the post office on Hope Street in 1911.
A modern colour photo of the same view as above.  Modern shop fronts mostly although the shapes of the buildings are similar.  A road with cars where the children were playing
North Terrace, Crook 2013
The Co-op has been replaced by a modern office block for Durham Council, but the roof line to the left seems similar.  One old shop front has survived, a hardware shop with a bow window just to the left of centre in the picture above.  The row of shops is shorter because several shops were demolished in the early 20th century to open up the entrance to Hope Street.

We collected the mums from the Wetherspoon's and returned to the car.  On the way we spotted an advert in a building society window for a 400 page illustrated history book about Crook.  It only seems to be on sale locally and might have been a very short print run as the paperback is £20 and the 'limited edition' hard back £40.  I'll add it to my wishlist ... but not hold my breath.

1 comment:

Aaron Cowen said...

If you have a Facebook account look up Crook Town and District History Group which I admin for.