Janice’s Jottings

During the recent pandemic Janice  shared some of her extensive local knowledge on our Facebook feed. In case you missed her jottings, we’ve gathered them together here. A PDF version is also available Janice’s Jottings


The building with 3 addresses

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The building with 3 addresses: 50 Saddler Street or 1 Owengate or Owengate House was built around 1820 as a Subscription News Room since newspapers were not as freely available.


Look carefully at the writing above the door.




Time Capsule

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Tucked away in Back Silver Street is this round stone pedestal containing a time capsule. It first stood on the Market Place to commemorate the Floorscaping Scheme of 1976.

Around the cast iron plate on the top are the names of the city’s major streets and of surrounding settlements.

For further information refer to Bulletin 72 of the Durham City Trust of February 2012. If you know what the time capsule contains we’d love to know.



Charles William Vane

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Charles William Vane, the third Marquess of Londonderry is not just the mine owning “Man on the Horse” in Durham Market Place.

Having fought with Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars he sold him the horse Copenhagen which he rode at the Battle of Waterloo.

The Marquess was one of the pallbearers at Wellington’s funeral. He was also Winston Churchill’s great grandfather.




Raisby Way

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.11.33It’s not just schoolchildren who have been continuing their education in Lockdown. I now know that by burning limestone at 900 degrees Celsius you produce lime which is used for mortar in building. The Romans knew this. Since County Durham had plenty of limestone quarries and coal it’s not surprising to find the well preserved remains of lime kilns along the Raisby Way Railway Path just outside Coxhoe and very near the site of the medieval village of Garmondsway.

Durham Count Council have a leaflet – Raisby Way Railway Path and Nature Reserve. Take A 177 from Coxhoe to Sedgefield. As you exit the village the only parking I can think of is in a pull in outside the semis which are raised high above road level on your left. Continue on foot  past the quarry road.

On your left below the road level are two large houses which used to be the station hotel. Take the sloping path to them, bypassing them on the left and pass between two boulders. Turn right and continue until the path leads you across a clearing and you see the sign above. Continue until Garmondsway appears on your right and lime kilns on left.The path continues to Trimdon.


The Wheel Cross

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.11.41     Just when you think you’ve seen Durham Cathedral from every possible angle the view from St Aidan’s College has the added bonus of Fenwick Lawson’s Wheel Cross erected in 2013.

The cross was erected in commemoration of the 21 year contribution made by Durham City Arts to the cultural life of the city






Charles Robert Fitzroy

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.11.50 Durham Pointers enjoy telling people about our lovely city but we also enjoy learning new things.

One day last year a charming couple from Northern Ireland were admiring the statue of Charles William Vane (born Charles William Stewart). They were National Trust volunteers at Mount Stewart, the ancestral home of the Stewart family.

A nephew of “our” Charles was Robert Fitzroy who was captain of the Beagle during Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos. As a vice admiral he provided a daily weather forecast for ships putting out to sea and created what was to become the Met Office. If you listen to the shipping forecast you will find that Finisterre has been replaced by Fitzroy.

If you wondered why, you now know!



Industrial archaeology

 Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.11.58     County Durham is crisscrossed by enough abandoned and dismantled railways to provide a whole series of Rob Bell”s TV programme Walking Britain’s Lost Railways.

Where once the lines provided transport, jobs, prosperity, smoke and noise they are now havens for wild life and provide walks to improve our physical health and mental well being during lockdown and beyond.

These features of industrial archaeology are found on the Great North of England , Clarence and Harlepool Junction Railway near Cornforth.





Ferryhill Carrs

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.12.13The Norse word Carr means bog or fen and the North East has quite a few.

Ferryhill Carrs Nature Reserve lies between Ferryhill and the East Coast Mainline Railway and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The ancient woodland and open water are managed by the Woodland Trust and the route we took was on a well maintained path skirting the water for some way. There were tantalising paths leading up and away from the lakes which would be more challenging  for another day.

The slopes of the ancient woodland were covered with masses of wild garlic blooms which more than made up for the fact I’d missed the bluebells  in Houghall Woods and made this our best lockdown walk so far.


Cassop Vale

Cassop Vale, cared for by the Woodland Trust, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest about 7 km South East of Durham City. 250million years ago this part of NE England was under shallow tropical water, the Zechstein Sea and sedimentary rock was laid down as sea creatures and plants decayed. The resulting Durham Magnesian Limestone is the reason you see so many quarries in the area and areas of woodland, wetland and grassland to explore.
Park in Cassop village and head downhill into the signposted Vale.

Dogwalks4atwebpages.com>Cassop gives an excellent description of the walk and Visit Durham also has helpful information.



Rainton Meadows


Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, managed by the Durham Wildlife Trust on the restored site of Rye Hill Opencast Mine since 1996.

We had an enjoyable walk past ponds with hides, beautiful flower meadows and in fields we saw a flock of geese and the sweetest foals we’ve seen this year.  Excellent sign posting meant we got to see everything, including Joe’s Pond which I’ve meant to visit for years.

Best of all, when we got back to the Visitor Centre, there were toilets and a cafe.

Gates to the car park are open from 9.30 – 4.30.

Entry is free but it is asked that donations will be made for car parking. Knowing that so many businesses have failed due to Covid 19 lockdown and knowing that volunteers do so much work for the Wildlife Trust it would be good if the donations were generous ones.


Clapper gate

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 14.12.26     Have you ever heard of a clapper gate stile?

They are the last word in ingenious craftsmanship. A length of timber fence-rails is loosely held horizontal by a weight attached to one end of each.

The other end is unattached, finishing just shy of the adjacent post.

These rails can be readily pushed down at the unattached end, enabling the walker to step over them.

When the hand is released, the rails spring back up to their earlier position. They’re quite rare but this one is close to Durham City, near to Houghall.