Alston Moor Historical Society was founded in 1973 with the aim, according to its constitution, “to provide a focal point for members to learn about, and share in, the historical heritage of both the immediate area and further afield.” Situated in what is possibly the highest market town in England, it is a member of Cumbria Local History Federation and the British Association for Local History (BALH).

In addition to the conventional activities of monthly talks and occasional visits to places of historic interest, the Society established, with the support of Alston Moor Parish Council, a home in Alston Town Hall for the local archives, which is open every Saturday from 12 noon to 3pm or by appointment.

Our Displays

As well as the Societies below, Alston Moor Historical Society will also be displaying the following archives

Samuel King’s School, the smallest and highest high school in the country

Ruth Lancaster James Cottage Hospital, well-loved and well-remembered

Alston Moor at War, on the Home Front

Vieille Montagne Zinc Mining Company of Belgium, with its multi-national workforce

Precision Products, one-time world leader in metal castings

John Smeaton, the world’s first civil engineer

St. Augustine’s Church, its three churches from 1154-2023

PLUS - old maps, photos, a rolling slide show on a cinema screen, Etc.

Stacks Image 2610

Guest Societies

Epiacum Heritage

Epiacum Heritage CIO is the charity responsible for the protection, management and development of the Scheduled Ancient Monument known as Epiacum Roman Fort (Whitley Castle).

The fort sits within a landscape which has seen over 3,000 years of human habitation and today is managed as a remote upland farm in the North Pennines.

The primary aim of the charity is to be “a sustainable, inspirational organisation, working in partnership to conserve, research, interpret and celebrate the extraordinary landscape of Epiacum – for the benefit of all.”

Making all that happen is our marvellous team of volunteers (including the Trustees and Advisors) who organise events, improve and maintain the site for visitors, and develop new ways of sharing the wonders of the site.

The charity depends on funding through donations and grants. A vital contribution is made by our ‘Friends of Epiacum’, who receive updates and special content in our monthly newsletter for a small annual fee.

South Tynedale Railway

The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society (STRPS) operates a 5 mile long narrow gauge railway running from Alston in Cumbria to Slaggyford in Northumberland on what was the British railways branch from Haltwhistle to Alston.

Following closure in 1976 of the Alston branch, the STRPS was formed to preserve and operate a railway initially as a standard gauge line which became narrow gauge (2ft), starting at Alston in a modest way getting in stages to Slaggyford in 2017.

There are 4 stations between Alston and Slaggyford as well as engineering and other facilities at Alston.

Celebrating 40 years in 2023 since it operated the first train in preservation to a temporary halt just outside Alston the STRPS in operated entirely by volunteers who support the railway providing a wide range of skills to enable it to run during the months of April to October each year with a short program of Santa themed trains in December.

Teesdale Record Society

The Society was formed in 1934 at the proposal of E.R. Hanby-Holmes, a Barnard Castle solicitor, and some of his clients for the purpose of identifying and recording the literature or documents pertaining to the history of Teesdale, held in public and private libraries.

Much of the text or information contained in the documents was published in the Society’s Journal so that it might be available to a wider audience. Original documents donated to the Society are held in Durham County Records Office and are open to public access.

The Society adopted as its emblem a depiction of the Seal of the Burgesses of Barnard Castle, which was in use in the early 16th century.

Friends Of Killhope

The Friends of Killhope was formed as a charity and volunteer group soon after Killhope Museum opened in 1984. In the nearly 40 years since then we have supported the work and development of the museum in many ways including fund-raiding, work on site, acquiring items for the museum displays and sharing our knowledge of mining history and geology.

We publish a regular newsletter which contains articles on a wide-range of topics to do with mining and we have published a number of books.

We do more than support the work at Killhope. We have held day schools on mining topics, we have a growing archive of documents and photographs and we recently led the successful campaign to save the remaining headgear at Groverake mine from demolition. We always welcome new members, whether you are an expert or want to learn more about the mining heritage of the North Pennines. Visit our website

Coanwood, Featherstone, Lambley History Group, including Kirkhaugh, Knarsdale, Tindale, Hartleyburn and Plenmeller

Our Local History Group was formed in May 2018 with the aid of some funding from NCDN/Let’s Get Together. Regular meetings and talks were held in Featherstone Village Hall and the nearby Wallace Arms. At the end of 2019 our funding ceased and we were out on our own.

We started a fund raising campaign and then covid started. Lottery funding was cancelled so we approached local councils/businesses/charities, etc., and our group membership soared from 7 to its current 244 members (thanks to Facebook and word of mouth!) including 25 sponsors. We hold monthly talks/walks/trips, etc., which are all well attended and we are very close to having a group website.

Ultimately, we will start to write a local history book on our fabulous area. Watch this space!

Nenthead Mines Conservation Society

NMCS is a charity which is owned, operated and managed by its members. Our objectives as a charity include providing education about mining in the North Pennines, centred around the lead and zinc mines at Nenthead.

As well as welcoming visitors on our open days, we arrange regular work days for volunteers above and below ground to maintain the site and to restore structures wherever we can.
Our Nenthead Mines site includes several historic mine buildings and a restored lead and zinc mine.

We host visitor trips into the mine, and we are building an archive about Nenthead Mines. Our archive holds documents, mine plans, photos and archaeological reports about mining around Nenthead. We also have a collection of mineral specimens, mining tools and equipment, and mineral railway wagons.

Look on the Nenthead Mines website for our open days.

Allen Valleys Local History Group

The Allen Valleys Local History Group actively supports researching and recording the history of the Allen dales – the East and West Allen. The group aims to learn and share knowledge, information and skills as widely as possible.

In the past year members have enjoyed talks on local customs and buildings in Allendale, started a community archive and undertaken field visits within the region.

We also increasingly work with local bodies to identify and preserve our local heritage – with our volunteers involved this year in the renovation of a Chapel of Rest, troughs on the turnpike, and two local stone monuments.

The Hub Museum

The Hub began life as an idea early in 2000 when three individuals decided to mount an exhibition to mark the millennium. The goods shed at the station was ‘rented’ at no cost for three months, grants were obtained, and the exhibition ran daily during July 2000. The exhibition was so popular that it kept going, so the Alston Goods Shed Trust was created and registered with the Charities Commission.

The Hub is now run by the Alston Goods Shed Trust as a Transport and Heritage Museum. We have vintage cars, motorcycles, bicycles, railway ephemera, and general ephemera donated or loaned by Alston Moor families. Visitors absolutely love it and we have excellent feedback on our Tripadvisor page.

We open on days when the South Tynedale Railway runs trains, from 11.00 to 16.30.

You can become a Friend of the Hub by filling in a form. We always need volunteers, so if you can spare a few hours a week – please come and see us.

Penrith Museum

Penrith and Eden Museum is housed in Robinson’s School in Middlegate, Penrith, which served as a school from 1670 to 1970. The museum aims to preserve and display material reflecting the history and culture of Penrith and Eden District.

The museum’s exhibits include a fossil dinosaur footprint, objects from the Stone Age, and Roman period, including a coin hoard of over 600 bronze coins, Roman jewellery found locally, the medieval seal of Penrith, and a gold posy ring inscribed ‘Kepe Faith Till Death’. There are mementoes of local personalities such as Trooper William Pearson, several Cumberland wrestlers, and the ‘Monocled Mutineer’ Percy Toplis.

Other intriguing objects include an elephant’s tooth excavated from the moat at Penrith Castle. There are finds from the area discovered with metal detectors, for example the Charles 1st medallion, a medieval coin hoard and a gold and amethyst gemstone ring.

Paintings by local artist Jacob Thompson can also be seen in the museum.

Killhope Museum

Killhope is a multi-award winning 19th century mining museum in the centre of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) where you can experience the life and work of the lead mining families of the North Pennines.

Famous for its iconic working waterwheel, the venue offers so much more to do and see, including a stunning landscape, captivating art installation, fascinating lead mining history, scenic walks and amazing wildlife. Maybe you’ll spot one of the famous red squirrels.

You can also accompany one of our guides on an unforgettable underground mine tour. Killhope offers an amazing day out for the whole family, whether you’re looking for fun or to immerse yourself in history. Explore our historic site and visit the Killhope 1853 café and shop to complete a grand day out. Whatever the weather, you’ll always get a very warm welcome at Killhope!

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

* indicates required

Alston Moor

Historical Society

© Alston Moor Historical Society 1973-2024. All Rights Reserved.

Stacks Image 97
Alston Moor Historical Society - Jubilee Exhibition