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History Today, Newsham is a small suburb of Blyth. Blyth itself, meaning ‘gentle’ or ‘merry’ in Old English, is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, and from the early 18th century the town rapidly expanded as a result of the Industrial Revolution, as coal mining, fishing and ship building industries quickly established a foothold in the area. Newsham quickly became part of the town as new houses were required for the growing number of workers in the area. Prior to the growth of industry, however, it is noted in John Wallace’s History of Blyth and a number of other sources that Newsham comprised only a few farms and a mansion as early as 1341, which were occupied by the prominent Ogle family. Despite the distinguished status of the Ogle family though, it is reported that the main holders of the lands and buildings at Newsham were in fact the Delaval family. They owned the lands from the 12th century right up until the 17th century. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, James Radclyffe, was the last successor to Newsham after the death of his father in 1705. It is unknown how the lands passed into the hands of the Radclyffe family, but they were said to have several estates in Northumberland and Newsham was one of those. James Radclyffe’s reign over the estate was short-lived, however, as he became a Jacobite – a member of a rebellious movement that sought to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James VII of Scotland, II of England and Ireland, and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. After his following of 70 (mainly gentlemen, a small number of soldiers and servants) were defeated in a short battle he was captured in 1715 and escorted to the Tower of London. The 3rd Earl of Derwentwater pleaded guilty to the charge of treason held against him, in the hope that he might gain a royal pardon. Radclyffe lost his trial and was immediately stripped of his honours and titles and sentenced to death for treason. Although most of the other Lords and Earls were granted clemency, Radclyffe’s sentence remained to set an example for others who might try to overthrow the king. He was beheaded on 24th February 1716. Following the death of Radclyffe, the Newsham estate fell into the hands of the Ridley family. At some point during their tenure of the lands (one source suggests 1880) the mansion was dismantled and the materials were said to have been used to construct a farmhouse. Another source from 1720 suggests that the former mansion was already in a state of dilapidation, with it being described as ‘an ancient structure but something ruinous’. An additional reason for its demolition may be attributed to the fact that the mansion itself was a relatively basic structure; it was only two storeys high, the grand hall was plain and simple and it had only a small number of surrounding buildings. In other words, the building was no longer deemed important enough to warrant its ‘mansion’ status. Now in the 21st century, the farmhouse and its surrounding buildings lie derelict. It is not known why the site is abandoned, the only hint is that Wallace of Kelso Ltd., a large independent agricultural company, may have been based at the Newsham site but decided to close or relocate their premises. Their main base in Dundee still exists still, so the company did not fall into different hands or go into liquidation. As things stand, there are plans to build forty new homes on the site. The main farmhouse and its other buildings will be demolished to make spaces for the new development; however, the stone wall bordering the property will remain to give the scheme a so-called historic link. A number of local residents have opposed the plans, having raised concerns about flooding, loss of privacy and the increased pressure on nearby schools, GP surgeries and other important amenities. Some residents also suggested that the old farmhouse ‘boasts character and holds heritage value’. The council, though, disagree, and argue that the site has no heritage value whatsoever. Our Version of Events Our night beganwith high aspirations. To start off with, we tried our luck at getting ourselves inside an abandoned museum. As it turned out, the museum was much less abandoned that we’d first thought. A large number of sensors were the first indication that the site was still quite active, and then the alarms we triggered supported the fact even further. We left in a hurry, feeling fairly disappointed, and continued on well into the night trying various other explores that would all turn out badly. As a last resort we found ourselves just outside Newsham, where we decided that we’d try our luck with a farmhouse we’d recently heard about. We gathered outside the car – at least what was left of our sorry looking assemblage did. Spirits were low and the night had resulted in an abnormal number of injuries. At this point the opinion was unanimous, if we failed to get into a derelict farm we would be forced to retire from exploring and take up something else. Knitting, swinging and baking were the favoured options. After that quick discussion, we decided to stop wasting time and scale the really high three-foot wall to get inside the farmyard. From there we ran for the shadows and set about trying to find a way inside the farmhouse. Inside the house it felt as though we were suddenly in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. In fact, for the entire half an hour we spent in that building it felt exactly as though we were in Nelson Mandela House. For instance, the carpets throughout the building were… Well, they were very different by conventional standards. We might even go so far as to say they were a little spicy. What is more, though, is that even the furniture matched the Peckham vibe we had going on. We were half expecting to find Uncle Albert in the living room sitting in one of the armchairs sipping on a snifter of rum, or a blow-up sex doll tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Needless to say, we found neither. Unfortunately, we were prompted to move on to the other buildings on the site after hearing what we thought sounded like a riot outside. In the knowledge that we didn’t have any ski gear to protect ourselves, or a Russian VCR to film it, we decided to split. As for the rest of the premises, it had its own unique bits and quirks, such as the pianos we stumbled across in small backroom, or the strange dining room setup inside one of the large barns. All in all, then, considering the place looked like an incredibly trashed farm from the outside it ended up being a decent wander. After taking a look around the entire site and seeing everything there was to see, we headed back to the car. It was just starting to snow at this point, so it was time to switch the car heater to full blast and warm up a wee bit. Explored with Meek-Kune-Do. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: