MARSDEN in Shields is one of those areas that’s imbued with a multiplicity of characters.
On the one hand it’s home to a large community of housing. For the rest, its half- dramatic coastline and half-green and hilly countryside.
And one building that enjoys picturesque aspects of both is Marsden Hall, today a grand house in a fine setting.
But was it always such?
The Marsden Banner Group, which works to preserve the mining and industrial heritage of the area, has been doing some digging into the hall’s past, given that, for a period, it was associated with coal company ownership
But what’s been illuminating to discover is that, like many other now-fine houses in this area, the hall had humble beginnings as a farmhouse.
The last person believed to have farmed there was John Henderson who, at the time of the 1881 census, was living in retirement in John Street in South Shields. He died just a few years later but by then, Marsden Hall had long since ceased to be a working farm, having been sold to the Whitburn Coal Company.
From 1878 until 1891, the house was occupied by John Daglish, who was the company’s chief engineer and managing director.
It was Daglish who developed the hall into the grand house it became, and he comes across as a dynamic and interesting character.
The hall’s life in subsequent years makes fascinating reading. There was the unrealised role as a Government Marconigraph station, for instance; while during the First World War, it became the headquarters of 3 Company, The Durham Light Infantry.
There was a possibility that it could have even become a convent at one point.
The research gives a lovely insight into the upstairs-downstairs world of the hall at various times. There were chauffeurs’ and gardeners’ houses at one point, for instance.
During the Second World War, the Army was back in residence again, with links to the decoy bombing site on Cleadon Hill, intended to draw enemy raiders away from the industrialised areas of Tyneside and Wearside.
The hall’s subsquent journey back into private ownership is also explored. Overall, the pleasing impression is of a place that has evolved comfortably in time and location.
l To read more about Marsden Hall’s story, visit www.marsdenbannergroup.btck.co.uk