Keys to the Past

Local History

Harwood in Teesdale (County Durham)

Harwood-in-Teesdale lies high in the North Pennines at the western end of Teesdale. Although the land around the river is used for farming, much of the rougher surrounding moorland is now only used for grazing sheep. However, although the area now a peaceful rural area it was once a hive of industry. Like much of the North Pennines, in the 18th and 19th century, lead mining was the major employer. The remains of a series of lead mines, mainly owned by the London Lead Company can still be seen in the area. Close to the main road are the remains of the Ashgill mine- the course of the road has been slightly changed preserving a 19th century stone bridge, probably also built b the London Lead Company. Just to the north can be the ruined remains of a level and a colliery building; nearby is a mine shop. In the surrounding area are traces of many hushes and levels. Similar remains can also be seen at Cow Green. There are also traces of lead ore smelting. Although the smelting furnaces are no longer preserves, the remains of other stages of the process are still visible. For example, at Green Hurth the foundations of a 19th century water wheel can be seen. This is probably of mid-19th century date. At Backside the foundations of another water wheel can be seen. These water wheels were used to drive machinery which crushed the lead ore into a powder which could more easily processed. At Backside the remains of other parts of the processing industry, such as a washing floor and some circular buddles can also be seen.

However, even in the 19th century, lead mining was not the only industry. The landscape is scarred by the remains of many stone quarries. Some of this stone was limestone, which was burnt to make lime, but the stone was also used for building, particularly of roads. Despite all these industrial remains farming was always important. Many miners owned smallholdings and grew vegetable and kept a few animals. However, most of the land was owned by two main landowners, Greenwich Hospital and the Duke of Cleveland- a series of boundary stones which marked the boundary between their lands are still visible.

Reference number:D6814

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.