As it is Friday 13th March we thought we would share one of the historic superstitions we have here in the Beamish collections, a witch or hag stone.
These stones were found in fields or often by the river or sea with natural holes formed in them, so they are quite rare. They would traditionally have been hung on a piece of strong threaded through the hole. Such stones were considered a most effective defence against witch-craft, they were often found hung inside the door of cottages or in cow byres. For cottagers in the 1800s their cow was their most valuable possession and so were fiercely protected as they were thought to be particularly susceptible to the evil influence of witch-craft. In rural communities of the North these were still frequently used through the early 1900s.
When a cow was considered to have been ‘witched’ it was customary to put salt on her back. If this didn’t work the cow would be sold to a neighbour with the money being passed literary over the cow’s back. Apparently this invariably cured the problem!
We’ve a couple of interesting photographs from the museum’s own past to share today – hard to remember sometimes that we’ve been at the Beamish site for nearly 45 years, and the collection itself was started over half a century ago!
Before the Regional Resource Centre was built in 2000 the museum’s offices and object stores were a little way down the road at Beamish Hall, the stable block of which was used as a vehicle store. At an evening event for the Friends’ group in June 1972 the Bishop Auckland horse drawn fire engine and Ringtons Tea Van are seen posed in the stable yard (now the outdoor seating area for the Beamish Hall hotel restaurant!)
Photo Taken by Durham University Industrial Archaeology Group on Foulbridge Project 1971 -72
Familiar yet unfamiliar! This is Ravensworth Terrace, now a highlight of our Edwardian Town, but this unusual view is of the street in its original location in Bensham Gateshead before the terrace was dismantled and six houses moved and re-erected at the museum.
That’s right, paws for a minute and prebear for an onslaught of bear puns. As usual we’ve had a large assortment of objects being donated this week – everything from a seal (not bear) press from Consett Building Society to a lovely set of 1950s kitchen units, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this chap to turn up!
This enormous 1980s Teddy Bear, seen here with Rachael and Lydia, two of our dedicated band of 20th Century Collectors, is rapidly becoming the team mascot – we can’t bear to put him in the stores so we might leave a shelf bear and keep him in the office so he can bear witness to all the curatorial goings on . Sorry, these bear puns are pretty grizzly…
Even by Beamish collection standards this curved lino-type printing plate is an unusual object. Donated by the Sunderland Echo newspaper, the cast plate was used for printing the front and rear pages of the 24th April 1976 edition. It is an intriguing (though heavy!) insight into the matters of the day, concerning such varied subjects as the 1975 ‘Wedding of the Year’ competition, horse-racing odds, and the closure of a Sunderland shipyard. Interesting to make the contrast between this and the racks upon racks of individual block-type in our Edwardian printers!
Detail of the lead article, picture flipped for clarity
As we’ve said more than once on this blog, one of the joys of being in Beamish’s collections team is one never knows what weird and/or wonderful objects will turn up at the Regional Resource Centre next. This rather swish pair of 1980s roller boots were donated on Friday afternoon, and once we found they fit Meg, one of our dedicated band of ’20th Century Collectors’, she was away!
Hello, Beamish Collections followers, you might have noticed it’s been very quiet on the blog front lately. Although we’ve plenty of objects and miscellanea from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries we’d like to share, we’re currently dealing with some very 21st century I.T. issues which sadly have resulted in our losing every post since early November (we’re hoping they’ll turn up again soon!)
We’re hoping to resume normal service as soon as possible, but in the meantime here’s a rather appropriate photograph from our archive…
23512 – This 1898 photo shows two Chaldron wagons which have come to grief at the foot of Blackhouse Incline on the Pelaw Main Railway near Birtley after the haulage rope broke.
The museum was very fortunate recently to be given many of the personal effects of Norman Cornish, the famous ‘pitman painter’, including his collection of books. In the course of processing them into Beamish’s library one of our volunteers made this remarkable discovery – Norman’s rough, preliminary drawings for paintings in a paperback copy of ‘Doctor at Large’. His drawings give details of the colours he intends to use in a seaside scene and the biographical details of a retired pitman sketched in 1961. We’re now checking the other books for similar hidden gems!
The cover of ‘Doctor at Large’ – a unique hand-illustrated edition!
- One of the ‘rough’ sketches from page one.
Julie, one of our far-from-ephemeral ephemera volunteers, has certainly come up with an intriguing post this week. This old, undated, paper appears to be a riddle! All we know about it is that it came in to the collection in 1972 as part of a collection of mid-late nineteenth century objects. Around the edges we can read as follows;
‘In the right sense it ought to be
Come try your skill and bet with me
I’ll hold a wager of a pot
In half an hour you read it not’
But the sense of the lines in the middle – though evidently about tobacco – remain a mystery! Can you read it? For clarity we’ve ‘translated’ the text as best we can;
‘Chear and Tobacco
Potent Man to shew’d Goodness its
Herb whose kindled leaves such Plant
And exhaling contain …oth virtues this
Sweet healthfull fumes the head in
Repast noxious of clear to Heaven
Friend humours and the Spirits task
To the Thought gratefull to thee’
Make of it what you will…
Our scanning volunteer Stan’s selections for the blog this week show how diverse Beamish’s photographic collections are – from last week’s capture of German airmen during the Second World War, to this week’s theme which can only be described as ‘locomotives come to grief at Brandon Colliery’!
Brandon Colliery was a couple of miles outside Durham and was worked between 1856 and 1968. At its peak of operation in 1921 the colliery employed 1,461 men.
65660 – An un-identified 0-6-0 steam locomotive lies overturned after an accident on the line to Brandon Pit House in 1929. We don’t know much about this incident but sadly it seems that four men were killed.
65654 – This view is undated but It looks like loco’ no. 555 (of the North Eastern Railway class J26) has over-run buffer stops on the Boldon Colliery railway and slid down an embankment, barely missing a road. Despite appearances the engine was salvaged and ran until 1960, when it was scrapped at Darlington works.
2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, as well as 75 years since the start of the Second World War, so our scanning volunteer Stan’s choice of images from the collection this week are certainly topical!
This fascinating series of photographs show the capture of the crew of a German Heinkel III bomber 74 years ago in Amble, Northumberland, on 15th August 1940. The aircraft was shot down over Druridge Bay and the airmen picked up by a Fisheries Protection vessel. The pictures were taken as the crew were escorted through the streets of Amble by the Police and soldiers from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Given how restricted photography was during the war, particularly of subjects directly associated with the war, the existence of these images is quite remarkable.
70104 – The crew of the Heinkel are escorted through Amble. On the left is Inspector Dodds of the Police and Zimmerman, the German officer, is wearing a cap in the centre of the group. The aircrew were carrying a good deal of Norwegian money as they had flown from an airbase at Stavanger in Norway.
70103 – Another view of the captured German aircrew being marched through Amble.
70102 – One of the crew members, Henrichsen, was wounded as the plane was forced down.
Our volunteer Stan has been busy as ever scanning the museum’s million+ photographic negatives, and this week has chosen to share a real treat.
Below are some highlights from a collection of glass-plate negatives depicting the transport of turbine electricity generators from the works in Heaton, Newcastle of C.A. Parsons & Co. Ltd. The company was founded in 1889 by Sir Charles Parsons, inventor of the steam turbine, and for more than a century produced turbine generators which were exported across the world and even found their way into several of Britain’s nuclear power stations. Parsons & Co survives today as part of the Siemens group.
As can be seen from the photographs, transporting the behemoth generators was no easy task!
Quite a change of pace from furniture removals – a Pickfords Scammell lorry picks its way through an unknown location in the early 1960s while transporting a generator to Kincardine Power Station in Fife, Scotland. The station opened in 1962.
Sadly the photographs are mostly of unknown date or location, and this image gives little clue as to either. It ably demonstrates though the size and weight of a typical Parson’s load – requiring two tractor units to move and presumably a route avoiding low bridges…
Another undated view, though likely to be pre-WW2 based on the vehicle, owned by Currie (?) and Co, Transport Contractors, Newcastle. Handily, the load tells us exactly what it is and where it is going!
’15,000 K.V.A. Transformer
For Central Electricity Board
Weight 26 Tons
From C.A. Parsons & Co. Ltd. Heaton Works
Julie and Bill, the volunteers auditing the museum’s vast collection of ephemera, have a real treat for Magpie fans this week – they write;
‘Here is an interesting character! Septimus Donaldson (1877-1949) was Newcastle United’s first mascot. His family were well-known chimney sweeps. We have a newspaper cutting about him and also one of his business postcards, which is very eye-catching!’
Front of Donaldson’s business postcard.
Reverse of Donaldson’s business postcard.
Objects GS 24/06/1998.25 a + b