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Wetheral and Great Corby - an Illustrated History
Wetheral and Great Corby - an Illustrated History
Denis Perriam & David Ramshaw
Previous local history books published by P3 Publications, such as Linton Holme and Smithfield & Kirklinton Parish History, have proved popular so a new illustrated history of the villages of Wetheral and Great Corby, just outside the city of Carlisle, was worthy of fresh endeavour.
This area first attracted the Romans, who quarried the distinctive red sandstone for parts of Hadrian's Wall. Anglo Saxon settlers came later to establish a church and Benedictine monks also built a priory. The two medieval villages were separated by the River Eden, which was crossed with difficulty by ford and ferry. This did bring businessmen, however, who were able to commute to Carlisle to build fine houses in the neighbourhood and later the great railway viaduct over the river, which joined Carlisle to Newcastle in the 1830's, consolidated the area. The expansion of Wetheral and Great Corby continued into the 20th century, with new estates and an influx of outsiders contributing much to the community. Many aspects of this diverse history have been compiled by the authors and presented here in a unique and informative way.
210mm x 295mm paperback
Colour & black & white photographs
The front cover seems to say it all. A straw-hatted idler leans on a wall and gazes across a sheep-encrusted sward. In the distance a train puffs happily across a red sandstone viaduct above a wooded valley. In front of it a grand church sits benignly among its gravestones and quiet cottages send up wreaths of smoke.
The painting shows Wetheral in 1842 and is by Sam Bough. He pitched his tent in the Wetheral meadows for a month or two, wore great navvy boots and velveteen knee breeches and adopted a decidedly Byronic air. Not the sort of demeanour you would expect of someone born in Abbey Street, Carlisle. He was supplied with free butter, milk, eggs and vegetables by Fergus Graham of Abbey Farm and there was, so we’re told, “dancing and singing till late”. He also did a little painting because there’s another picture of the Wetheral ferry with the oarsman pulling away from shore as more passengers approach down the hill.
Wetheral was a favourite spot with artists even though the famous eighteenth century sculptor, Joseph Nollekens, was dismayed to discover that one of his finest works was to be housed in Wetheral Church. However, fifty years after Sam Bough sported himself in the Wetheral meadows, Thomas Bushby was delighted to paint pictures of children gathering flowers in the local woods and upright women gossiping at the gates of thatched cottages. William James Blacklock made a fine print and an admirer of his, W J Fairlie, made an equally fine painting of the Priory, Matthew Nutter painted the same puffing train crossing Corby Bridge and J W Carmichael produced a book of “Views on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway”, which was published in 1839.
The railway transformed Wetheral. It had begun life as a sheep pasture – that is what the name might mean. It had been a place of religion. A fragment of a substantial Anglo-Saxon cross was found in the churchyard in 1965. The Priory was founded in 1112 by Ranulf Meschin to house twelve Benedictine monks and the Howard family of Corby Castle had been responsible for expanding and enriching the very fine church over the centuries.
But the coming of the railway, meant that Wetheral was within commuting distance of Carlisle and Brampton. In 1843, George Elliot, the proud proprietor of Elliot’s Spirit Vaults in Brampton built a neat mansion on a slight eminence overlooking Corby Castle. John Scott built Westerley House, later known variously as Oak Bank and Killoran, out of red Dumfries sandstone, in 1872 for the considerable cost of four thousand pounds and a wealthy Chinese-tea merchant spent a thousand pounds less building Eden Mount the year before.
In 1856, Elizabeth, Annie and Jane Robinson were advertising a “Ladies’ Boarding School”, which later became Lime House.
The grandest house of all was built for Christopher Ling, a corn merchant and future mayor of Carlisle. Wandales cost £5000 in 1881, but Mr Ling rented the house out in 1904 as he could not bear to live there after the death of his wife.
Great Corby and Wetheral were not just the preserve of the wealthy and artistic. Children in their precarious bonnets and a patient dog posed for a picture of the Sunday School well over a hundred years ago and in 1959 the 67 children in Great Corby School waited patiently for the cameraman to click his shutter. Half a century earlier, Mr Beaton posed in his cabbage patch with six reluctant lads leaning on gardening implements as they learnt the arts of horticulture.
Denis Perriam and David Ramshawe present a wide ranging collection of history, anecdote and picture, that portrays the everyday story of these two villages. Their picture-spreads cover everything from the Women’s Land Army to a novel by Thomas de Quincey, a murder, a railway accident, fishing, ferrying, Fantails, farming, milling, buses, village parties, including an Abba performance, and an aeroplane crash.
Those peaceful sheep in Sam Bough’s picture have had plenty to think about over the years.
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