Brief History of Gearstones
“Crossing a ford, Mr. Blakey led me to a public house called Griestones, the seat of misery in a desert”. This extract drawn from the diaries of Lord Torrington in 1792 is, to date, the earliest documented reference to the existence of our hostel.
He goes on to paint a very sombre picture of what can best be described as a den of iniquity (hovel – his words). His diaries confirm our previous belief that the Inn was the focus of cattle and corn markets, being frequented by drovers attracted to the seasonal fairs, and the patronage of gentlemen by the opportunity to shoot “grouse in their abundance” [Lord Torrington].
Construction of the Settle to Carlise railway link, in particular the Ribblehead Viaduct, marked another significant period in the history of the Lodge.
Providing lodgings and succour for “navies” building the viaduct the lodge seems to have been lucky to have survived this turbulent period, when one George Young, in a fit of pique, tossed onto the fire “priming caps and a portion of Nobel’s patent safety powder” in 1873
The earliest record of ownership found to date is that recording sale of the property by a Francis Whalley to J.W. & O.Farrer. The Farrer family are still prominent in the Dales today, with Dr. Farrer owning much of the land adjacent to Gearstones Lodge.
Appreciated by many, the environment surrounding Gearstones presents to the traveller a peaceful, if at times lonely, bleak panorama.
The area is, however, one of great historical and geological interest. There is physical evidence of the many differing cultures that have inhabitated the area, the “hill forts of Ingleborough”, the Celtic fields and pastures of Ribblehead, along with the roads and camps built by the Romans. Gearstones sits astride the Roman Road joining Ingleton and the fort at Bainbridge. Many place names bear the influence of early Angles, Danish and Norse settlers.
Industrial development presents a wealth of interesting sites to be explored throughout the area, rope mills, lead mines, coal mines, quarries and lime kilns are but a few. Geographically the area is ideal for both the “academic” and the “athlete”: properties that create the study for one offer a personal challenge to caver, climber and walker.
Around 1911 the Dales experienced great social change. Gearstones became a shooting lodge of some prominence and still holds today a national record for the sport.
Physically the building went through a prolonged period of decline until being rescued by the people of Mirfield under the auspices of Gearstones Lodge Charitable Trust. The trust, through the generosity of Mirfield, was able to purchase the property in 1972.
We are currently working through a rolling development programme, designed to secure Gearstones for the long term to the greater benefit of the community.
Throughout its history Gearstones has played a prominent part and has been a focal point in the Three Peaks Area, and as we approach each New Year the Management Committees sights are firmly set to provide a place of excellence and maintain our historical heritage.