Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             

©2010 C.J.S.Wilson

The Skelton engine arrived at 10 pm., too late to save the house’s south end.

     The Middlesbrough engine raced 16 miles through darkness, then thundered across the Halfpenny bridge before one horse, exhausted, fell dead in the traces as it came to a halt under the flame reddened sky at Rushpool.

Rushpool Hall Saltburn after fire

hall in 1912, attended by Sir Winston Churchill who was heckled by Suffragettes. The story adds that the ringleader’s fervour was doused in the same lake which had provided ammunition against the great fire.

     Like all country residences, Rushpool has its own ghost stories. Eerie organ music has often been heard, and a grey lady seen disappearing through a wall in 1975. The face of a nun has also been seen peering in a ground floor window. On investigation, freshly fallen snow revealed no footprints.

     During this century (20th) after a lengthy period closed up, the hall even became a mixed boarding school for a period in the 1940s. When the teachers first arrived to organise their class-rooms the furnishings had deteriorated to the point where carpets and curtains disinteg-rated at the slightest touch.  Rushpool has also served as a country club, but more familiarly under various owners as a hotel. By the 1970s, officially listed as providing accommodation, only occasional functions and Medieval banquets were held. The owner’s main interest was breeding Borzois, Russian wolfhounds, for competition.

       During the past year (1985-86) Manxguard Properties have extensively renovated the hall, restoring its former glory. Black swans and rare ducks now swim in the lake and a fountain plays in the hotel’s lavish new conservatory. Visitors can sit and imagine the luxury enjoyed by the ironmasters 120 years ago. Rushpool now looks set for another century.

At least.

 

- oOo -

 

 

After witnessing the roof collapse in the hall’s centre, the brigades combined to fight the blaze but it was a battle they lost. By dawn the building was a smoking ruin.

Two months later Mrs Bell and daughter Sybil left Cleveland to live in the south, but one year after the fire the press announced Rushpool Hall’s smoke-blackened shell was to be restored.

After re-roofing and interior remodelling, Sir Joseph Walton MP for Barnsley, moved in with his family. It is said he hosted a meeting  at  the  

 

above : The chimneys stand gaunt against the sky on some enterprising photographer's post-card. Interesting that all the foliage wasn't burnt off the outer walls. As the hall was only left derelict for one year, there would not have been enough time for it to regrow.

RUSHPOOL HALL   2

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