NY8241 : Whitestone House

taken 8 months ago, near to Cornriggs, County Durham, Great Britain

Whitestone House
Whitestone House
This is just one of over 200 derelict farm buildings listed by Christine Ruskin in her book “The Disappearing Farms of Weardale” (ISBN 978-0-9574245-0-0 published in 2013) which covers upper Weardale from Cowshill/Lanehead down to Wolsingham LinkExternal link .

There are many reasons why the farms have disappeared. Some were lost to quarrying, and some now lie under Burnhope Reservoir. Some were demolished and the stone used for road building or repairing walls. There were fires, and sometimes walls collapsed or cracked and became unsafe.

From their names, some farms were in locations not best suited to agriculture, eg White Bog and Moss House, and a name preceded by "High" is usually an indication of marginal land.

Access to some of the farmhouses was quite difficult, in several cases only by footpath or (nowadays) quad bike. And most buildings would not have had either mains electricity or mains water - and it would have been very expensive to build a road or get connected to mains services.

Many of the farms were smallholdings where the man was also a lead miner or worked at a quarry, sometimes living during the week at the mine "shop" (bunk house) while his wife ran the farm. As the mining and quarrying declined in the late 19th C, there was an exodus to the towns and cities, or people emigrated.

Also, many of the farms were really too small to make a decent living, and it was only by almalgamating some of them that it was possible to survive - in which case, only one farmhouse was needed and those not needed fell into disrepair.

Changes in farming practices and regulations also led to the abandonment of many of the farms - for example in the 1950s, MAFF brought in stricter regulations on milk production and many farmers couldn't afford to upgrade their byres, so they either gave up or turned to beef production.

Some farmhouses were rented out as holiday cottages, but this declined in the 1980s and the buildings were subsequently not maintained.

Some farm buildings began to be restored from the mid-1990s onwards. Farm diversification was enouraged by the planning authority, eg for small scale employmment, and recreational use such as camping barns or holiday lets. For renovation for full residential use to be economically viable, it would often be necessary to enlarge the original building or create additional dwellings. But it was often difficult to get planning permission, especially if a new access road was required. Even when planning permission has been obtained, the high costs of rehabilitation have sometimes resulted in works being suspended, with the building ending up in a form of limbo.

The other buildings are slowly decaying, as can be seen by comparing my photos with those in the book, published only five years ago.
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NY8241, 52 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Monday, 21 May, 2018   (more nearby)
Monday, 4 June, 2018
Geographical Context
Uplands  Farm, Fishery, Market Gardening  Derelict, Disused 
Primary Subject of Photo
Farm Building 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NY 8282 4119 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:45.9206N 2:16.1117W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NY 8297 4121
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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