Lambley, Northumberland

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Lambley Viaduct - - 168397.jpg
Lambley Viaduct
Grid reference: NY675585
Location: 54°55’12"N, 2°30’29"W
Post town: Brampton
Postcode: CA8
Dialling code: 01434
Local Government
Council: Northumberland

Lambley, formerly known as 'Harper Town',[1] is a village in Northumberland about four miles south-west of Haltwhistle.The village lies adjacent to the River South Tyne.

The name 'Lambley' means 'lamb pasture' in Old English (Lamb leag).[2]

Lambley used to be the site of a small convent of Benedictine nuns, founded by Adam de Tindale and Heloise, his wife, in the 12th century. The Scots led by William Wallace devastated it in 1296 or 1297[2] but it was restored. One William Tynedale was ordained priest to the nunnery in about 1508. (Despite the yearnings of local pride this was probably not William Tyndale the reformer, as was once believed[3] but another man of the same name.)[4] At the time of the suppression of religious houses by King Henry VIII, the nunnery contained six inmates. Nothing now remains but the bell from the nunnery which hangs in the church and a few carved stones.[1][5]

What was left of the nunnery was washed away by a great flood in about 1769.[6] On 8 January 2005 the River South Tyne flooded.[7]

Coal Mining

The village lies in the Midgeholme Coalfield and there are reserves of good quality coal remaining.[8]

The area has previously been noted for coal mining based at Lambley Colliery. Coal reserves still exist in the area as part of the Midgeholme Coalfield. In 1990 an application was submitted to the County Council to open cast work on 81 acres of land, an application noting the high quality coal to be mined. This plan did not go ahead, but a more recent plan was unveiled for an open cast mine at Halton Lea Gate, a village one mile to the west of Lambley.[9]

Parish church

The parish church of Lambley is in the area called Harper's Town, which suffered badly at the hands of the Scots in the Middle Ages. John Hodgson found the church a very humble edifice, measuring 40 feet by 19 feet. The pews and furniture were very rough carpentry, but it was used and had a Sunday School.

The church was rebuilt in 1885 to the designs of W. S. Hicks, and dedicated to St Mary]] and St Patrick]]. It has a chancel with fine stone vaulting, and three lancet]]s in the east window with stained glass showing the Magi, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Painted panels by the communion table show the itinerant missionary of the north: St Kentigern, St Cuthbert, St Aidan and St Ninian. The bell in the bell cote came from the ruined nunnery.[2] The church bell, cast in America, is one of the only two foreign bells in the Diocese of Newcastle: the other is at Eglingham.[10]

The Lambley and Hartleyburn War Memorial is located in the churchyard.[11]

Lambley Parish Church falls within the Parish of Alston Moor within the Diocese of Newcastle.

Sights about the village

Lambley Viaduct

Lambley Viaduct in 1973

Lambley Viaduct crosses the River South Tyne as a series of elegant stone arches. Eight hundred and sixty feet long, it once carried the Haltwhistle to Alston railway. The railway opened in 1852 to haul coal and lead from the Alston mines, was closed in 1976, and the viaduct allowed to decay. In 1991 the British Rail Property Board agreed to repair the viaduct and hand it over to the North Pennine Heritage Trust who would maintain it in the future.

The viaduct may have been designed by George Barclay Bruce, an eminent Victorian engineer who was involved in the Alston line before leaving for India to pioneer railway construction there. It is a particularly elegant example of Victorian engineering: the river is crossed by nine 56-foot wide arches which support a deck 105 feet above the river but, as it carried a single rail track, only twelve feet wide. The piers to the arches are built of massive rough-faced stones each weighing up to 250 lb, with similar-sized stones in ashlar to the main arch voussoirs. The spandrels and piers to the 19.7-foot (6.0-m) wide approach arches are built of coursed rubble masonry. One end of the viaduct has been fenced off to stop people straying into Lambley railway station which is now a private house.[12]


Lambley was served by Lambley railway station on the Alston Line from Haltwhistle to Alston. The line opened in 1852 and closed in 1976.

Since 1983 a narrow gauge railway has opened on part of the original track bed. The railway, known as the South Tynedale Railway, is a 2-foot gauge line and runs 3½ miles from Alston to Lintley and includes a viaduct or 2 over the River South Tyne. Efforts are being made to extend the line into Slaggyford. Subject to funding coming into place in September 2013, work should start on the one and a quarter mile extension from Lintley towards the end of the year. The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society plans to reopen the entire branch line from Haltwhistle to Alston.

Lambley was also served by a line west to Brampton, Cumberland, which closed in the 1950s. This line, sometimes referred to as Lord Carlisle's line, served Lambley colliery and other coal mining areas.

From old railway bridge towards Lambley coalfield

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lambley, Northumberland)


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Haltwhistle Partnership Ltd". Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 T. H. Rowland (1994). Waters of Tyne (Reprint ed.). Warkworth, Northumberland: Sandhill Press Ltd. ISBN 0-946098-36-0. 
  3. Parish of Alston Moor. Welcome leaflet to the Parish Church of St Mary and St Patrick, Lambley.(2008)
  4. Parish of Alston Moor. Welcome leaflet to the Parish Church of St Mary and St Patrick, Lambley.(revised 2015)
  5. Nancy Ridley (1966). Portrait of Northumberland (reprint ed.). London: Robert Hale. OCLC 503957631?referer=br&ht=edition. 
  6. Parish of Alston Moor. Church leaflet (2008)
  7. accessed 11.1.14
  8. Planning application 1 August 1990 by R and A Young Mining Ltd., Leadgate, Consett
  9. Hexham Courant 10 Jan 2014 'Villagers admit defeat after 15 years battling opencast'
  10. Geoffrey Purves (2006). Churches of Newcastle and Northumberland. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Tempus Publishing Limited. p. 67. ISBN 0-7524-4071-3. 
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Illustrated
  12. "Elaine Rigby Architects". Retrieved 2008-12-04.