Allendale's history

Allendale's history

Allendale (or Allendale Town as it is often marked on maps) is a large village in south west Northumberland, England.

Allendale is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the second largest of the 40 AONBs in England and Wales.

The local economy is predominantly based on agriculture (notably sheep farming) and tourism, although of late it has become a popular commuter town for Newcastle upon Tyne.

Allendale refers to the "dale" or valley of the River Allen. Evidence of prehistoric settlement has been found on the surrounding moorland. In the 16th century this area, close to the Scottish border, was a lawless and troubled place. Fortified farmhouses known as 'bastles' were constructed to protect residents and livestock against reiver raids.

Allendale has one of the greatest concentrations of bastles in the country and around 40 can still be seen, many as scenic ruins.

Local mining for lead has occurred since Roman times, with the first smelting mill being constructed in the 1600s. The significant growth of Allendale Town and the surrounding villages was fuelled by that of the local lead-mining and smelting industries in the nineteenth century. The remains of two flues from the former smelting mill (between Allendale and Catton) run to chimneys up on the fells high above the village. The smelting mill is now home to the Brewery and the Allenmills Regeneration Project.

In 1869, the Hexham to Allendale railway was opened to provide improved transport, but its opening coincided with a rapid decline in the industry due to cheap imports of lead. The last mines in the area closed in 1894 (although an attempt was made to re-open the mine at Allenheads in the 1970s). With the closure of the lead mines, the population rapidly declined and Allendale became a popular tourist destination for Edwardian Tynesiders seeking a country escape. The railway was finally closed to passengers in 1930 and to goods in 1950 (when the local terminus was bought by the stationmaster and opened as a caravan park.

The town is famous for a New Year celebration where lighted tar barrels are carried on the heads of revellers called "guisers". This tradition dates back to 1858. It appears to have originated from the lighting of a silver band that were carolling at New Year. They were unable to use candles to light their music due to the strong winds, so someone suggested a tar barrel be used. Having to move from place to place, it would have been easiest to carry the barrels upon the guisers heads, rather than rolling them.

The town is also well known thanks to the 1840 ballad Rose of Allendale, sang by Paddy Reilly, The Dubliners and many others.

The village hosts a health centre, village shop, Post Office, Co-Operative store, brewery, butchers, church, chapel, chemist, gift shop, tea-room, art-cafe, library, caravan park and several pubs.

Owing to its location, Allendale is a popular country-holiday destination. There are a number of holiday cottages in and around the village as well as an award-winning Caravan Park .

Allendale has a thriving First School and a Middle School. There is also a Sports Club, Golf Club , Cricket Club, and Running club, the Allen Valley Striders

The River East Allen is teeming with wild brown trout, with sea trout and even salmon entering this tributary of the River Tyne to spawn. The River East Allen, situated in the beautiful North Pennines - a designated area of outstanding natural beauty - is home to wild brown trout and provides a spawning ground for sea trout and salmon, which swim up the River Tyne on the North East Coast, to where it joins the River East Allen, near Allendale. These wild native fish provide great sport for anglers and Allen Valley Angling & Conservation welcomes anglers of all levels of experience. Please do take some time to find out about becoming a member of Allen Valley Angling & Conservation, or if you are visiting the area for a short time, this is where you can get your day or weekly fishing permit. Apply online at

Contact Allen Valleys on 01434 683030 or 07801 336 010 at anytime