Bilsdale

I didn’t realise it this morning but in the skyline is the Bilsdale transmitter mast that was damaged by fire on 10th August1Lewis, H. (2021). Investigation in to fire at Bilsdale mast. [online] York Press. Available at: https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/19505130.investigation-fire-bilsdale-mast/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].. And this afternoon, it was demolished2ITV News (2021). 314m Bilsdale mast crashes to ground in controlled demolition following August fire. [online] ITV News. Available at: https://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2021-10-06/314m-fire-damaged-bilsdale-mast-demolished-and-dismantled?fbclid=IwAR1SQw0BCm6RxTrE6Jugqk2l99cmTduSry-NuO89qHHhVIyP7M08bStTYXM [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].. It is no more. Wish I had known, I would have got a bit closer. And there were blue skies too unlike this morning.

The replacement mast was visible but it is much smaller and thinner, so much so that the resolution of the photograph does not pick it up. Night time navigation on the moors will be harder now.

By coincidence it was on this day that another explosion occurred further north in Gateshead. In 1854, at around 12:30 in the morning, a worsted mill caught fire which spread to a bonded warehouse containing thousands of tons of sulphur and other materials used in the manufacture of gunpowder3Wikipedia Contributors (2021). Great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_fire_of_Newcastle_and_Gateshead [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].4Google Books. (2011). A Record of the great fire in Newcastle and Gateshead, to which is prefixed a History of Newcastle, including its antiquity, historical events, and general description. [The preface is signed, J. R.]. [online] Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?vid=0tuSHJrVdKgWa2V0T1I&id=S89TnkThXTgC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=great+fire+of+newcastle+and+gateshead&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=great%20fire%20of%20newcastle%20and%20gateshead&f=false [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021]..

The warehouse was rocked by a series of explosions but it was the third that did the most damage leaving an explosion crater 40 feet deep and 50 feet in diameter. The explosion was heard at Hartlepool and the fire jumped the river into Newcastle. 53 people died in total and between 400 and 500 were injured; fire engines came from Durham, Hexham, Carlisle, Morpeth and Berwick.

A benevolent fund of £11,000, in today’s morning £1,247,0005Bankofengland.co.uk. (2020). Inflation calculator. [online] Available at: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation/inflation-calculator [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021]., was raised assisting 800 families. Queen Victoria gave £100.

It is said the reflection of the flames in the sky could be seen in Northallerton so it is quite possible that any dalesfolk of Bilsdale up before dawn on that morning, 167 years ago, would have been bewildered by the silhouette of Hasty Bank and Cold Moor. Middlesbrough was still in its infancy and had yet to dominate the northern sky.

I wonder how news of the conflagration reached Bilsdale. The Yorkshire Gazette, a weekly newspaper, carried a report the following day (7th)6‘Fire and Explosion’ (1854) Yorkshire Gazette, 07 Oct, 8, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JE3230881170/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=1ba3fd6f [accessed 06 Oct 2021].. The public houses may have acquired a copy, perhaps brought back by someone visiting Stokesley for the day.

 

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