A word on local history

Ann Wolstenholme asks:
“Does anyone have a photo of Croft House, now the Buffs, up near Emmaville Hall? I am researching a gentleman who lived there in 1900’s. He’s called Thomas Spark Batey. If anyone has any information I would be very grateful.”

If anyone can help, please contact me and I will put you in touch with Ann.

I am grateful to Rytonian David Richardson (son of Dr. John Richardson) who has given me access to a fascinating scrapbook, compiled in 1965, probably by a member of the Ryton WI.  There is a trove of newspaper cuttings mentioning familiar names, describing historical events, and numerous photographs.  The scrapbook is the property of Beamish Museum, and I need to have their permission before I can reproduce it here – I am hoping this will be granted.

There are many interesting gravestones in the Holy Cross churchyard, but David tells me that he finds those relating to Henry Leonard Belt and his brother Anthony particularly absorbing. 

Photo David Richardson

David writes: “You will see from the attached photographs that Henry drowned in a pond at Doctor Stanners. Doctor Stanners is still shown on the 1:25000 OS map, and is between Ryton Golf Club (the one at Clara Vale) and the River Tyne, on the north side of the railway line. At the time his brothers were prospecting for gold in the Australian gold rush. They drew straws as to who should come back to comfort their parents, and Anthony drew the short straw.


You will see from the attached photograph of Anthony’s gravestone that he was sailing on the Royal Charter. They were almost home when the ship was caught in a huge storm off Anglesey, and sank. Anthony was only one of the hundreds that died that day, and it is thought that one of the reasons that so many died was that they were returning from the gold rush laden with gold. Not wanting to lose it with the ship they filled their coat pockets with gold, and strapped bags of gold to their belts. Sadly the weight of the gold prevented them from reaching the shore.

Photo David Richardson
So Henry drowned in April and his brother Anthony drowned in October of the same year (1859) It must have been a terrible year for their parents.
I have other pictures of interesting gravestones in the Holy Cross churchyard, but none with a story to equal this!”