Monday, September 10, 2012

Restoration project

Fugar Bar is a historic area of my ward which was the crossroads of the Tanfield Railway, the oldest railway in the world, the turnpike road to Consett, now the A692, and a possible medieval road that connected various great houses in the area. One of those great houses was Fugar House which, alas, was demolished in the 1950s before serious consideration was given to protecting historic buildings. Fugar House's orchard is now all that remains.

I am aiming to get a restoration project off the ground. The aim is to have a community group take the lead and the Sunniside History Society has agreed to be that organisation. I am a member of it and at a recent meeting, I played the video above which I filmed one weekend in July. The orchard is in a poor state. The pear trees are over 100 years old and are probably a rare variety. I remember picking pears in the orchard with my Dad as a child but the site is so overgrown now that it is difficult to get any access. The orchard belongs to Gateshead Council and I've had meetings with officers and a site visit with them. There is interest in moving the project on.

The History Society's lead is welcomed as the site is packed with history. There is a 16th century culvet created for the waggonways of the time. The outline of an old pond can still be found - it was used to cool off the wooden waggonwheels which themselves ran on wooden rails. Fires were not uncommon at the time. The waggonway carried coal to the Tyne for export, mainly to London. So the site is important for the region's history as well. So hopefully we will be making progress with this project. The key is to put a case for funding to outside bodies as the Council itself has no money to put into it.

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