Category Archives: Follies & Curiosities

Unique Holy Island hut torched in suspected arson attack

An organic hut at Holy Island, Northumberland, has been damaged by fire in what is thought to have been a deliberate attack.

The fire damaged hut at Holy Island

 

Arsonists are believed to be behind a blaze that almost destroyed a unique attraction at Holy Island.

Seal Hut is a wood and stone structure positioned on a remote sand dune, which was created by visitors with items they had collected on the beach.

It also housed a book in which people could write their thoughts.

But the unusual hut’s roof was completely destroyed by a fire that broke out, on Wednesday.

And the blaze is believed to have been started deliberately.  Northumbria Police have  arrested and questioned a 49-year old man in connection with the fire.

News of the suspected arson has saddened regular visitors to the hut, but is  hoped it can be re-built.

Patrick Norris, from Belford, who runs walking tours in the area : “It is sad. My feeling is if the surrounding walls which are just built up from stone off the beach are still there, people will start to put the roof back on again.

Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle

 

In a couple of years time, it will once again become a place where you can sit inside and have your sandwiches. The whole organic process will start again.

At just after 3pm on Wednesday, Humber Coastguard was notified of black smoke on the dunes by tourists and dispatched its island team.

Local coastguards searched the area and discovered the hut on fire.

They returned to the village where they met a Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service crew which had been dispatched from Berwick.

The coastguards transported the crew in their 4×4 vehicle to the hut, where the fire was put out after around 20 minutes having damaged the structure and destroyed its roof.

Discovered inside the hut were tyres, suggesting the fire had been started deliberately.

Seal Hut is is on the sand dune close to Caves Haven and Sandham Bay, roughly three miles from Holy Island village.

It is believed it first appeared around ten years ago although the reasons for its creation and who instigated it are a mystery.

The structure is said to be popular with tourists and walking groups, who take shelter from the elements inside, or use it as a palce to eat lunch and watch seals and other wildlife through its small window.

A book was left inside in which visitors would record their thoughts while it also contained visitor information and items people had left on the beach.

The hut is said to have grown over the years as people have added to it using driftwood washed up on the beach.

At one point, Natural England – which is responsible for the dunes on which the structure sits – dismantled the Seal Hut amid apparent health and safety concerns.

But it was soon built back up again.


Source – Newcastle Journal,  23 Aug 2014

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Teeside Airport – UK’s least used railway station

Just eight people used Teesside Airport railway station in a year – helping it keep its title as the UK’s least used.

The single-figure total for the 12 months to March 2013 has emerged in new Government passenger figures.

And the dismal performance was even worse than the previous year, when only 14 passengers used the airport link.

The station has just two Northern Rail services on each Sunday – the minimum required by law to avoid formal closure.

So remote and underused is the platform that even the Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) website ignores the station less than a mile from the terminal and claims that: “Darlington Train Station is the nearest train station to Durham Tees Valley Airport, located just 7 miles away.”

The Peel Group, which owns the majority of DTVA shares said it would “welcome” improvements to the station.

Peel Group’s strategic planning director, Peter Nears, said: “It has been recognised for a long time that, while the rail line is in close proximity to the airport, the current halt is not suitable and we are aware that there are proposals to include a new station as part of plans to improve local rail services.

“Implementing improvements is, of course, a matter for Network Rail and the local transport bodies and we would very much welcome early progress.”

The low usage, revealed by Office of Rail Regulation, comes after the airport was hit by falling passenger numbers.

Just 161,092 people passed through the terminal in 2013 compared with 900,000 at its peak in 2006. But it since suffered the loss of various flights, including its London link.

A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: “The service which calls at Teesside Airport station is one which is specified in our franchise agreement.

“The line between Darlington and Middlesbrough has attracted a growing number of passengers over recent years. However Teesside Airport station on the route, has not enjoyed the same success.

“We support proposals to relocate the station, as part of the wider Tees Valley Metro development, to better serve the needs of passengers.

“We are already working with partners involved on initial stages of the scheme including the opening of a new station at The James Cook University Hospital and improvements at other stations on the route.”

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette  10 May 2014

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W.D. Stephens Fountain, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

A rather grandiose Edwardian public drinking fountain.

Situated at the junction of the Great North Road and Clayton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Not working.

Erected in memory of William Davies Stephens 1827-1901, mayor and sheriff of Newcastle, methodist and temperance reformer. He started out in business with a chemical firm, Hugh Lee Pattinson & Co, and later developed the Tyne Steam Shipping Co. with William Laing. He was elected a Newcastle councillor in 1874, alderman in 1890 and mayor in 1879 and 1887.

The inscription reads –

Erected by public subscription in recognition of the open hearted charity, ceaseless activity and unfailing geniality of W.D. Stephens, Alderman and J.P. of the city of Newcastle on Tyne, Sherriff 1879-80
Mayor 1887-88

Distinguished as the president of great organizations for the promotion of maritime commerce he earned still higher appreciation in the cause of temperance and the betterment of the poor and needy.

A citizen of lofty ideals and strenuous endeavour.

More info & photos of this fountain at –

http://spiritofplace.weebly.com/newcastle-upon-tyne1.html

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Marsden White Horse, South Tyneside

 

The White Horse is painted on a rock face in the Marsden Old Quarry nature reserve, off Lizard Lane, Marsden, South Shields. It appears to date back to at least 1887 (being occasionally repainted) , though its origins are confused to say the least, and it has generated a number of stories of differing likelyhood.

 

Reasons for its existence range from an illicit affair between a Viking warrior and Saxon maiden  to a Napoleonic era explanation.  View them in all their unlikely glory, plus more info and pictures at:

http://spiritofplace.weebly.com

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Source Of North Tyne River Marked

 

A  six-metre high sandstone monolith and base stone, lowered into place by RAF helicoptor,  now  mark the source of the North Tyne , at Deadwater Farm, north of Kielder village, Northumberland.

The stone  was provided by Robert Charlton of Border Stone Quarries in Haltwhistle, and the structural design work was carried out by Cundalls in Gosforth, Newcastle.

The stone was carved with inscriptions about the river source  by Gilbert Ward, of Fourstones village in Northumberland.

The stone column also pinpoints the start – or finish – of a planned national trail dedicated to those who are affected either directly or indirectly by cancer.

More details at – http://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?pid=886#p886

 

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Conversation Piece, South Shields

Conversation Piece is a sculpture by Spanish artist Juan Munoz, located at Littlehaven, South Shields.

The 22 figures are around 1.5 meters tall and weigh around a quarter of a ton.

More info/pictures at:  http://spiritofplace.weebly.com

 

 

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Stone Circle, Seaham, County Durham

 

This rather nice modern circle of eight monoliths straddles a pedestrian / cycle path on a new housing estate at Seaham, County Durham.

Are they any the less for the fact that they weren’t erected thousands of years ago ?

More pictures & info at : http://spiritofplace.weebly.com

 

 

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