Cattle shelters worth repairing

A photograph of one of the cattle shelters.
A photograph of one of the cattle shelters.

I was amused to see our listed, but deteriorating, 19th-century cattle shelters referred to as ‘cow sheds’ in a recent report (Northumberland Gazette, November 7).

The article did not enlighten further and readers might wonder why Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council is so concerned about the repair of agricultural buildings on private land.

There are two stone-built shelters, both Grade II-listed, and Pevsner’s Northumberland refers to them as looking ‘a little like escaped gingangs’.

Along with Swarland Hall Cottage, two gate lodges and some of the Home Farm buildings, they are the remnants of the 19th-century phase of Swarland Park, owned in the early part of the century by Nelson’s friend and prize agent Alexander Davison.

They are tucked into the south and south-westernmost corners of the park, on what is now the golf course forming part of Percy Wood Country Retreat (a mixture of static caravans and chalets), adjoining farmland and Forestry Commission woodland.

The conical slate roofs have deteriorated badly since I took this photograph two years ago, the lead caps and finials having disappeared long ago.

The owners have so far failed to comply with numerous requests from Northumberland County Council (initiated by both the parish council and concerned individuals) to repair the shelters and we have been at a loss to know what else to do.

I’d have thought it was in the owners’ interest to repair them if only to please their golfing customers on showery days! Sadly, I think it is a case of out of sight, out of mind, the limited practical value of the shelters, the reluctance of owners to spend ‘unnecessary’ money, and the county council’s lack of resources to pursue non-compliance, though we appreciate NCC’s efforts on our behalf so far.