Just at the junction of Catton and Allendale, where the road sign says Allendale on one side, and Catton on the other, sits a lovely, hand-carved bench with a recent history.
Liz Conway writes to chat about the bench:
“My suggestion [for an entry in Allendale Diary] would be a piece about Terry’s bench, beautifully made and carved by Andy Morgan for me back in 2014. I had had the idea of a bench for some time, as I had noticed the ruins of the original bench in the space where it is now, which were finally removed some time back, but I was thus aware that there was a precedent for there being a bench in that spot.
I had wanted a bench to commemorate my parents, who used to come to Acomb for any leisure time they could get, usually weekends in the summer, when they stayed in their caravan at Fallowfield Dene. When Terry died, the project gained an urgency, and so the bench actually commemorates all three of them, who had in common a great love for our county of Northumberland. Since a bench is also for the living, as well as the dead, it made sense to me that it should be here rather than in Acomb, since no one in Acomb will remember my parents, but many people will remember Terry, and the bench is where I pass it most days on my way into Hexham.
A few days ago, on a sunny day I happened to be passing it on foot and stopped there for a little rest, and had a nice conversation with a lady who was passing by and wasn’t aware of the bench or its origins, as she is not currently living in the village. I hope other walkers going past the spot are using it too, for a brief break in their journeys.
A video can still be seen on Youtube of the Dale Singers singing “Eastern Allen Runs” by Terry, as they stand around the bench with the occasional car interrupting proceedings!
The carvings on the backrest of the bench illustrate several of Terry’s songs [and parts of his life working for the council, especially the snow-plough], There was originally an information note on the side of the bench about the songs, but time and the weather have removed it. “[?Perhaps a more robust explanatory plaque would prevail for longer?]
Thanks for this, Liz — I’ve been meaning to stop off and take some photos of the bench for sketchifying, so your words have been a good stimulus to do just that!