Whiteburnshank is an old farm building situated 2 miles (3km) to the North West of Kidlandlee. This steading has been lived in for many years and is one of only three farms that remain in use in the Kidland forest today.
Before 1935 Mr Tommy Jackson lived at the farm with his son, Harry, and presumably his wife. Harry was called up to serve in the Army during World War One. He was killed by severe bullet wounds.
In 1936 Mr. William Cook lived at Whiteburnshank with his family.
|Mr William Cook (Bill)||Husband|
|Mrs Janet Cook||Wife|
|Miss May Cook||Niece|
|Mr William Cook (Billy)||Son|
|Miss Olive Jackson||Nurse|
Only sheep were farmed at Whiteburnshank by the Cooks. All work was done at the farm with the exception of the Clipping. This was done at Kidlandlee. On a June morning at 4am Mr Cook would drive the flock to Kidlandlee to be clipped and then back to Whiteburnshank in the evening. In the summer months the sheep were allowed to roam the land from Middle Hill to almost Kidlandlee. However in the winter the flock were kept in the stone pens at the foot of the hill. The remains of the pens can still be seen today. The tin hut by the pens was used to store tools such as iodine, markers, clippers.
The main method of transport used was by Horse and Cart or by "Shanks' Pony" (foot). The main access route to Whiteburnshank was up Clennel St. from Alwinton, past Wholehope to Nettlehope Hill and then down the hill on the track that can be seen on the photograph above.
The garden was very small considering the size of the farm. It was ideal for growing 'Tatties' (potatoes), Honeysuckle, Elderberry, Gooseberries and Cabbages. Other vegetables were also grown. However these were never sufficient to survive on through the winter. In November they would place a large order with 'Crowns and Oliver'. This merchant had a warehouse in Alwinton were the order would be laid out on benches waiting to be collected. The order would typically include:
|For People||Flour, Yeast, Sugar|
|For Horses||Oats, Hay|
The order took 4/5 days to collect as the cart could not be fully laden due to the age of the horse. The horse was 16 years old and could not pull a fully laden cart up the hills, particularly Whiteburnshank hill and Clennel St.
There was a shed on the back of the cottage, on the area dug into the hillside. It was a wooden shed with a felt roof and wooden doors that opened outwards. Many things were stored in the shed including the cart, Rapier and other hand tools. The hillside was so steep that there was only a gap of one foot between the bank and the roof. This made access to the chimneys and roof easy for maintenence.
There was little to do during the winter days and evenings once the sheep had been fed an watered. The time was spent reading, knitting and darning socks. All men knew how to knit. It was compulsary if they wanted socks and other warm garments to wear. They made there own walking sticks using the Willow tree by the gate. A branch would be bent and tied to the ground. A year later it would be cut into walking sticks. These were very flimsy and never lasted long.
In 1937 Mr Billy Cook, 17, left Whiteburnshank to work on a larger farm, Milkhope. If he had stayed at Whiteburnshank the farmer would have had to pay him 2 Shillings more because he was 17 years old. Four and a half years later he moved to Kidlandlee to join his father.
The replacement worker for Billy Cook was Andrew Tully. Andrew Tully's parents used to own a sweet shop and so he always had sweets before he went to bed. One morning he was violently sick and complained of a sore stomach. Mr Bill Cook put him on the cart and set off to Dr Smails in Harbottle. Andrews stomach had swollen significantly since leaving Whiteburnshank, so much so that he stopped at Wholhope to ask for someone to drive the cart while he sat in the cart with Andrew. No one obliged. Andrew sadly died of a ruptured spleen half way between Wholehope and Alwinton.
Mr Bill Cook left Whiteburnshank in 1938 soon after Andrew Tully's death. He moved to Kidlandlee to look after the Lodge for Mr Thomas Lee of Rothbury. Mr Cooks main reason for leaving Whiteburnshank was that each year he had to teach a new assistant what to do. This became hard work and so he gave it up.
In 1942 Mr Jock Dunn moved into Whiteburnshank with his family. He lived there for 20 years till moving in the early 1960s down into the Coquet valley. His son Mr Robert Dunn moved to Kidlandlee in 1944/5. He moved again down to The Star Inn at Harbottle.
During the period after the Dunns left Whiteburnshank the cottage lay derelict for several years. In this time Mr Dagg of Milkhope lost 6 bullocks. THey could not be found anywhere. They beasts were found some months later in the kitchen of Whiteburnshank, all dead. They had died of starvation. Once in the building they must have latched the door and been unable to open it. The place is said to have smelt quite a bit.
Prior to 1982 Whiteburnshank may have been used by school groups or of a similar nature because two beds were found in one room and twelve bed in the other room upstaires. Also since the 1930s one of the rooms on the ground floor had been split to create a bathroom.
In 1982 Mr Eddie Clarke and his wife rented the farm and its surrounding land from a pension firm based in Manchester. They used Whiteburnshank for a holiday home for nearly two years.
The building was not in the best condition. The fire place had collapsed in the sitting room because the cast iron stove had been removed. Mr Clarke repaired this by putting in an open fire place. However the fire place in the kitchen was in good condition, only needing a few new fire bricks. The wooden window in the bedroom above the kitchen was rotten and considered unsafe to open. Other improvements made by Mr Eddie Clarke include adding a copper hot water tank and boiler; putting locks and shutters on all the windows.
The Clarkes would drive up to the house on a friday evening and then return, back to civilisation, on the following monday morning. If the weather was not too good they would leave the car at the foot of the hill, by the sheep pens. The garden was not in use and had over grown. Over the course of the 2 years that they used the steading they took up furniture such as setee and chairs. They also took up china wear which wouuld be left through the week. For cooking they used a twin burner which ran on camping gas.
When they first went up to the house, they would often find an Owl nesting in the toilet. Also many eggs were removed from all over the house. On the way up to the house on an evening or first thing in the morning the Clarkes would more often than not see herds of Deer along with the horses from Kidlandlee that have the right to roam the forest.
The Clarkes only used the house at the week end so let Stalkers stay there through the week. A three year syndecate to shoot deer was issued from Economic forestry to the stalkers. Over time the stalkers began to assume that they owned the property and started to stop the Clarkes from using the house even though they were paying for the privilage. Then in 1984 the Clarkes reluctantly terminated the lease. The syndecate continued to be renewed by Economic Foresty until 1987.
In 1993 the Whiteburnshank Trust was set up to provide an outside centre for young people in the county. The house had been left in an uncared for state. A big clear out and bonfire was had in 1993.
Over the past ten years a complete renovation of the building has taken place including the rebuilding of the tool shed which now named the genni house. The centre now sleeps up to 24 people in the main house and 8 in the barn adjoining the building.
Among other improvements a new wood burning stove has been put in which heats radiators in the bedrooms upstaires. Loft insulation has been installed and the kitchen fitted out with a gas cooker. The original floor in the sitting room has been cleaned - even after the sixth wash the water was still as black as the first wash. Two new flushing toilets and basins were put in the bathroom.
More recently batteries have been installed that are trickle charged by a device situated in the nearby White burn.
The barn provides basic accommodation with the old hay loft as the sleeping platform with table and chairs below. It is often used as the drying room when it is wet. With the stove on it can be quite cosy and warm even when it is blowing a gale out side.
The centre is used mainly by Morpeth Duke of Edinburgh's Award Unit for training but other groups also use the centre.
Every year there is fundraising walk held in June to raise money for improvements and general maintenance. This is a popular walk ending with a barbeque in the Rose and Thistle, Alwinton.
In 2000 the estate was bought by Mrs Bliss and she wishes the centre to remain open and commended the work that had gone in to its renovation.