A settlement at Allenheads was first recorded in 1670. At this time, it was no more than a few scattered farm houses surrounded by wild hills and small-scale mine workings. At the end of the 17th century, the Blackett family bought several estates in the area and with growing knowledge of mining began the expansion of lead mining operations at Allenheads. In the 18th and 19th Allenheads became one of the largest lead mine networks in Europe and the Blackett and Beaumont families dominated British and European lead production.
By the end of the 19th century cheaper lead from overseas saw the importance of Allenheads decline. At the turn of the century the mine was closed and the village population dwindled as families left seeking work elsewhere and the area became once again reliant on upland hill farming. Speculations for Fluorspar in the 1970’s briefly brought mining back to the village but ultimately deemed unprofitable. The mine yard is now used by local engineering contractors and the Allendale Estate which has helped retain some of the mining archaeology.
Allenheads may have shrunk and its boom be long behind it, but it thrives today as an area of upland hill farming, individual businesses and as a magnet for visitors to the North Pennines and the Allen Valleys. The Allenheads Trust was set up in 199? to conserve and celebrate the remarkable history of this small village and secure a sustainable future. The Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme has conserved and developed more of the rich industrial and natural heritage including an observatory to view the dark skies and new trails to explore the village and surroundings.
Discover these and more using this interactive guide to the remarkable story of Allenheads.