Monday 15 September 2014

Life is full of surprises - A Follow Up

In March of this year Arthur Flounders Brown kindly shared the results of his family research in 'Life is full of surprises',  as a result of that Paul Gray got in touch with us to tell us the result of his own family investigations which turned up a link with Arthur. Paul explains in his own words:

Hello, my name is Paul Gray.

I read Arthur Flounders Brown's story “Life is full of surprises” with great interest, please allow me to explain why.

A few years ago I became interested in my family history. At the outset I knew of only one great great grandparent called Sarah Jane Smith.

I discovered that her husband Thomas Smith (1856-1935) was a farmers son born near Stape. Thomas alternated between farming and ironstone mining resulting in his family living at many places around the moors, Rawcliffe, Loftus, Saltersgate, Rosedale and finally at Great Ayton.

Luckily for me Sarah Jane's granddaughter had a box of family photo's which had been passed down from Sarah Jane. Amongst the photo's of the Smith family there was one of an old man wearing a dishevelled railway uniform but his identity was a mystery.

Further investigation revealed that Sarah Jane, the youngest of ten children, was born near Levisham in 1858 and her maiden name was Harrison. Her father Charles spent his working life as a labourer and plate layer on the Newtondale railway line. This identified the old gentleman in uniform as my GGG grandfather Charles Harrison. I put together a good record of Charles's life going back to 1851 but I was unable to find much information about him prior to that date.

Now we come to the Huttons Ambo connection.

I knew that Charles was born in Westow in 1816 and the fact that his first three children where born in Huttons Ambo between 1840 and 1843 strongly suggested that he should be there in 1841. He had a wife Sarah and young son William but I found no sign of them. Neither could I find any birth or baptism records for Charles Harrison. Charles was missing and the trail had gone cold.

Eventually after much fruitless searching I noticed a family in High Hutton closely matching Charles's family but with the surname Hepton. A few doors away was another family of Hepton's which looked likely to be his parents and siblings. If I was correct then Charles's parents were William and Charlotte Hepton but there was a problem. I had reliable information that Charles's father was called John and this potential father was called William. I gave up on this line of enquiry for a while but eventually returned to it. I noticed that Charlotte's daughter Emma Hepton was calling herself Emma Harrison from 1851 onwards, despite being unmarried, this was intriguing and supported the idea that she was the sister of Charles Hepton/Harrison. Investigating Charlotte I discovered that she did not marry William Hepton until 1843 and her name on the day of marriage was recorded as a Harrison and also that her mother was called Mary. I was now feeling confident that I had found my GGGG grandmother Charlotte Harrison.

I discovered that William Hepton's first wife, Jane Walker, was the daughter of a John Walker. Jane gave birth to a son John Walker Hepton in 1794 only four months after her marriage to William. John Walker Hepton, being the same age as Charlotte, is possibly the father of Charles Harrison. With the Walker surname in mind I discovered that Charles Harrison was baptised in Westow as Charles Walker, his mother named as Charlotte Walker.

It was at this point that I found “cousin” Arthur's very interesting and informative article which gave me the links between John Walker, Mary Harrison and their daughter Charlotte.

So I believe that my GGG grandfather Charles is the eldest son of Charlotte. He was baptised as a Walker in 1816, recorded as a Hepton in 1841 and called himself Harrison in 1851.

I am still hopeful that I may discover the identity of his father. If he turns out to be John Walker Hepton then that might explain why Charlotte did/could not marry him.

Paul Gray

As before, if you can shed any more light on this story or any of our other requests for family history information, please get in touch either via email  to 'updates' at or the website contact form and we'll be happy to put you in touch.


The Zambo Pantry

The Zambo Pantry

The Zambo Pantry is a farmers cart venture by Joanne Castleton of Low Hutton. Zambo Pantry sells a range of delicious sweet and savoury treats: homemade cakes, pastries,  biscuits, soup, pickled onions - the selection changes from day to day.

Zambo Pantry - Saturdays menu
I took a stroll down the hill for a quick sample, I was particularly looking forward to trying the pork and apple sausage rolls but alas too late, they had been polished off, so I contented myself with some very nice iced lemon slice, a square of excellent chocolate cake and some refreshing Zambo apple juice.

Zambo Pantry works on an honesty box system and Joanne kindly provides plastic bags to put your goodies in as well as disposable plastic forks. Dog walkers will also find free pet treats and a water bowl.

If you want to keep up with the latest offerings from The Zambo Pantry, drop Joanne an email here:

- and ask to be added to her mailing list.

© 2014

Sunday 14 September 2014

Trial Lowering of the River Derwent - 8-24th September 2014

 Lowering The Derwent?
River Derwent, Upstream from Swingbridge, Low Hutton
It comes as a surprise to hear that the Environment Agency are undertaking a trial to lower the level of the River Derwent by opening the sluice gates at Kirkham Weir. This trial is already under way and the sluice gates will gradually be opened until the 24th September when they will be fully open. They will be returned to their normal position by the 3rd October when the river will start to recover its normal level.

Why are they doing this?

Apparently 'in-river structures' such as the Kirkham and Howsham Weirs cause the flow rate of the river to decrease and makes water 'pond' upstream. This has the effect of reducing the range of habitats that the river would normally support and decreases amount and variety of wildlife that the river could support. The whole of the Derwent from Ryemouth to Barmsby on Ouse is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), however the river is considered to be in an unfavourable condition resulting from a combination of agricultural run-off pollution and silting which is caused in part by the presence of weirs which reduce the flow rate.

So the Environment Agency are undertaking this trial with a view to collecting data on how the flow rate of the river changes as it reduces to its natural level and to assess the state of the river banks and river bed when the water reaches its lowest level.

Derwent and Meadowsweet, Low Hutton

What happens next?
Once the trial is complete the gates will be returned to their normal position and the level of the river will be restored. The Environment Agency will then look at the data and present several options for managing the river level.

One of these options may include the complete removal of the Kirkham Weir.

The Environment Agency say they will undertake public consultation about the options but some concerns have already been expressed about the possible effects on fish populations, river bank erosion and flooding, as well as long term changes to the character of the river.
How can I find out more?
You can download copies of the Environment Agency's materials here:

Kirkham Weir

Q&A Document_27 August 2014-1

(note that these are hosted via as I have been unable to locate any publicly accessible materials about this on the Environment Agency website)

River Derwent from Swingbridge, Low Hutton
Who can I contact?
If you have any questions or concerns about the trial and its possible outcome, then you can contact the project manager Rosa Foster on 0113 819 6939 or email
or Ben Hocking

And if you have got any concerns then it's probably best to express them to your Parish Councillor as well.

© 2014

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Huttons Ambo Photographers - Can you help fundraise for the Village Hall Refurbishment?

Are you a bit of a snapper?

Have you got some good quality photographs of the village (particularly snow scenes)?

Would you be willing to give permission to the Village Hall Refurbishment project to turn them into cards to sell for fundraising?

If so, please get in touch with Liz Ellis no later than September 28th.

Electronic images (hi res) can sent to Liz on:
© 2014

Monday 1 September 2014

Laysike House and Ferry

We've received an enquiry for any information about Laysike House and Laysike Ferry:

I am looking for information about Lay Sike ferry. Thomas Wilson (1806) of Menethorpe was a 
wheelwright, coal merchant and ferryman in 1840. Jane Wilson was a miller 
there and her daughter Mary married James Strangeway. Do you have any 
information please?

Can you help? I know that the house and ferry were demolished some time ago but that's all. Any information greatly appreciated!


© 2014