I had to leave the Lighting Up Whickham meeting early last night as I had another to attend at 7pm. This second meeting was the first of the Washingwell History Project. The catalyst for this project was a proposal by me a couple of years ago that the historic orchard at Fugar Bar be restored. I took this proposal to Sunniside History Society to see if they would be interested in leading it and very quickly, the proposal grew into a bigger project to record and publish the history of the Washingwell Woods area - which includes Fugar Bar.
Washingwell has an extensive history going back to the Romans. There is a Roman fort on the site though it is only identified by crop marks. The area also has an extensive medieval story to tell, based mainly on the former Fugar House (to which the orchard was attached). There was also a great deal of early industrial activity. And finally, the site was also the location for the last deep pit to be sunk on the Durham Coalfield. So there's lots to cover.
We are in the process of applying for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The application will be submitted shortly. We will put in a separate application to environmental funds for the orchard. So, lots to do and to keep me occupied in the months ahead.