In 2006, the village of Allendale embarked on a campaign to become the Calor Village of the Year. The campaign required written submissions at the county and the regional stages, in addition to site visits by judges. This campaign was instructive (not only for winning the VoTY of all England), but also for illuminating the strengths, and weaknesses, of the village itself.
Glancing back now, a decade and more from the writing, it’s also amazing to see what has transpired over that time, in village life. Indeed, it was contemplation of these events that helped to inspire this year-long blog concept, so as to create a document that would go some way to illustrating where Allendale is now.
The submission from Allendale in 2006 is available in pdf format, and makes for interesting reading, for sure.
For a more succinct synopsis of the past thirty or so years, you might want to consider this poem (with apologies to Robert Burns) that was read out at the Burns Night Supper the year we won Calor’s Village of the Year for all England.
In the last decade?
So much has happened, it’s very hard to keep up, as even a truncated bullet-point list will demonstrate:
- With the VoTY winnings, a Toddlers’ Play Area was installed in the derelict recreation ground
- The old Band Hut behind the village hall was demolished, opening the way for a complete renovation of the play area, new tree, shrub and path installations, and facilitating a new skate/BMX park, in addition to renovation of the Bowls Pavilion and the wooden surround around the Bowling Green
- Lloyds-TSB abandoned the last bank in Allendale, but the MarketPlace installed a cash machine and the Post Office still accepts deposits for any bank
- The Forge emerged from the old Allendale Motor Company and blacksmith’s shop premises, helping entrepeneurial artists and providing a dramatic improvement in meeting space for community groups
- New social housing was built at Denefields opposite Denelands
- Allendale Primary School was accommodated within the premises of the Middle School, as two tier education swept inexorably across the county
- St.Cuthbert’s church installed new heating based on wood chip technology; Catton Village Hall installed an air-exchange heat transfer unit; Allendale Village Hall installed a new oil-fired boiler for the main hall, while also enhancing safer oil storage
- The grounds of Allendale First School were taken over by Higher Ground for gardening and mental health purposes, while the community waited to hear what would become of the First School building
- The Becks, tenants at Deneholme, expanded into the old and derelict Dale Hotel, bringing a long-term project nearly to complete fruition by the end of 2018 with the renovation of this 18 room complex
- Allen Mill Regeneration continued with a host of volunteers working with the Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership under the auspices of the North Pennines AONB, to facilitate an injection of some £2.5million from the Heritage Lottery into the community
- This Heritage Lottery money also funded a renovation of footpaths, and an accessible bridge, in Deneholme Wood, bringing a fairy glen back to the community
- Five years of Allen Valleys Folk Festival have been developing out of Allendale with HLF funding; everyone hopes it can be sustainable for 2019.
- Allendale Brewery continued to expand, gaining prizes for their beers in national and international competitions.
- Allendale Agricultural Supplies took over the front premises of the old Hadrian Crystal Factory, selling equipment to local farmers
- A new beauty enterprise took over the premises of the Village Shoppe
- The North Pennines Astonomical Society set up its new observatory in the premises of Allenheads School
- Broadband 4 the Allen Valleys (B4AV) began its campaign to bring hyper-fast fibre-optic broadband to places that BT could not reach, and launched its digging programme in the autumn of 2018.
- A Museum of Classic Science Fiction opened up on the Allendale Inn side of the square, in October 2018
- A new ‘friendliness club’ was inaugurated to help isolated folks find a space for a friendly chat and social interaction
- A pedestrian Pelican Crossing was opened autumn 2018 across the main road through Allendale going on towards Allenheads, to complement the new 20mph speed bumps at the north and south entrances to the village