Loft Conversions Cleadon
The North East of England has the most diverse and interesting of cultures in the UK and each town or city has its own unique features that make working and living here such a joy.
There has been a village on the site of Cleadon for over a thousand years. Cleadon has a traditional village pond which is the remnants of an ice age lake and dates to Roman times, and an early history of South Shields suggests that there may have once been a Roman watchtower or turret on Cleadon Hills. The name of the village is derived from 'Cliffa-dun' meaning a hill with a cliff, which over years became Clevendona, Clyvedon (recorded in 1280), Clevedon, and in the 17th century Cleydon. The village was first mentioned in print in the Boldon Book, a survey of the local area completed in 1183.
The oldest houses in the village, one of which contains a priest hole, date to the 15th century. Located on the main north—south road of England, Cleadon was a popular rest spot for those passing back and forth from London to Scotland. During the 19th century, Charles Dickens lived for a time in Cleadon House on Front Street.
Cleadon village and its environs suffered some bomb damage during the Second World War. Bombs fell in Whitburn Road, Bywell Road and on Boldon Flats, some of these incidents resulting in fatalities. A 'stick' of bombs fell on a line between Underhill Road and the Whiteleas Isolation Hospital. In another incident a bomb fell on Cleadon Farm and some livestock were killed, the Cleadon Cottage Homes also suffered some damage. The bombing of the village, on some occasions at least, could have been due to its proximity to a 'Hedgehog', a decoy designed to simulate burning buildings that was situated at Welland's Farm, at the foot of Cleadon Hills in nearby Whitburn. A container of propaganda leaflets was also found on Cleadon Hills during the war years that had been dropped from an enemy aircraft.
Cleadon Hills is a ridge of high ground standing between the village and the coast. Around 260 million years ago the hills were, together with others in the area, a group of small low islands in a tropical lagoon referred to as the Zechstein Sea.
The ruined windmill on the hills was constructed in the 1820s. The mill is built on the highest part of Cleadon Hills on a slight artificial mound. The building incorporates a stone reefing stage, a feature that was peculiar to windmills in the area.
The mill was severely damaged in a storm at some time during the 1870s, and then suffered the indignity of being a target for gunnery practice during the First World War. A photograph dating from the 1920s shows the rotating cap and the windshaft more or less intact but without the sails, which were presumably destroyed during the storm that put the mill out of business. Nowadays the entrances to the mill are barred and locked, the remains of internal machinery that were visible in the mill during the 1970s are now gone, although broken fragments of a millstone remain.
A local legend relates the story of Elizabeth Gibbon, a heartbroken woman who threw herself from the top of the mill tower and whose ghost apparently haunts the ruin of the mill to this day. The windmill was operated by the Gibbon family at the time the storm took place, which lends some weight to the tale of Elizabeth's suicide.
Cleadon Water Tower
Also on Cleadon Hills is a former water pumping station, which once provided water to the South Shields area. The site is dominated by the landmark Cleadon Water Tower, in fact a chimney for the former steam-powered pumps, which is visible for miles around.
The works were built for the Sunderland and South Shields Water Company to a design by Thomas Hawksley and opened in 1863. The facility was typical of the grand Victorian waterworks style of the day, and resembles its sister station at Ryhope which was built a few years later.
It was one of a chain of wells that stretched from Cleadon in the north to Hesledon in the south, which were constructed to exploit the reserves of clean fresh water that lay trapped in the permeable limestone. Little is known about the engine that drove the pumps, it was described as a 'high class' beam engine of 130 hp, driving a pump that drew water from a well 258 feet deep and 12 feet in diameter, the water standing 18 feet deep at the bottom. The works were electrified in 1930 and the steam plant removed.
The chimney itself is 100 feet tall and the balcony is 82 feet above ground level, a square spiral staircase of 141 steps winds around the central flue. It was designed to resemble the well-known Italian campanile bell towers, and was placed above the works on the highest part of the hill to facilitate boiler draughting and the dispersal of smoke and steam. While the other buildings have since been converted into homes, the chimney has been threatened with demolition at least once, notwithstanding the fact that it now houses a number of radio aerials, and presumably generates revenue in the form of rent.
It was also, together with the Paper Mill chimneys at Grangetown, south of Sunderland, used as a navigation landmark by Luftflotte (Air Fleet) 5 of the Luftwaffe, operating from Stavanger in Norway and Aalborg in Denmark during the Second World War, while engaged in attacks against Belfast and Liverpool.
The reservoir was later covered with a large concrete dome, then believed to the biggest of its type ever constructed, which is still in place today.
Cleadon is a really diverse mix of old and new, but our vast experience ensures that our conversions fit beautifully with your home and its surroundings.
For Loft Conversions in Cleadon, try Joseph James Loft Conversions.