Discover the Top 10 Historic Attractions in Alston

by | Alston, Discover Alston, History, Visit Alston

This article is part of our Discover Alston series. You can find more articles here


Nestled in the heart of the North Pennines National Landscape, Alston is England’s highest market town, rich in history and charm. Its cobbled streets, quaint shops, and historic sites offer a glimpse into its storied past, making it a perfect destination for history enthusiasts. Here are the top ten historic attractions to explore in Alston.

1. Market Cross

Historic Market Cross in Alston surrounded by stone bollards, a notable historic attractions in Alston.

The historic Market Cross in Alston, built in 1765, is a central landmark protected by stone bollards, making it one of the key historic attractions in Alston.

The Market Cross is actually a shelter, originally built around the original Market Cross in 1765 by William Stephenson, a native who became Lord Mayor of London, stands at the heart of Alston. This historic structure has endured multiple collisions with runaway lorries, now safeguarded by stone bollards. Market crosses like this one, often descendants of medieval preaching crosses, became known as butter crosses for selling perishable goods.

  • Historical Significance: Built by a prominent local figure and symbolising Alston’s market town heritage.
  • Cultural Role: Served as a hub for trading perishable goods.
  • Protection: Now protected by stone bollards due to past damage from vehicles.

2. Alston Town Hall

Alston Town Hall with its 19th-century architecture, a significant historic attractions in Alston.

Alston Town Hall, constructed in 1857, showcases 19th-century public architecture and serves as a community hub, marking it as one of the important historic attractions in Alston.

Constructed in 1857, Alston Town Hall was initiated by Hugh Lee Pattinson, a renowned industrial chemist. It originally housed a library, reading room, newsroom, and various administrative offices. Despite modern renovations, the historical artefacts laid with the foundation stone remain unfound.

  • Architectural Design: An example of mid-19th-century public architecture.
  • Historical Artefacts: Contains hidden artefacts from its construction period.
  • Community Role: Continues to serve as a central administrative and community space.

3. St. Augustine’s Church

Gothic Revival architecture of St. Augustine's Church, a historic attractions in Alston.

The historic St. Augustine’s Church in Alston features Gothic Revival architecture and houses the 17th-century Derwentwater Clock, making it one of the notable historic attractions in Alston.

St. Augustine’s Church, with roots dating back to the 12th century, was rebuilt in 1769 and again in the late 19th century. The church is renowned for the 17th-century Derwentwater Clock, which was repaired and installed in 1977. The Gothic Revival architecture is a testament to the community’s enduring faith.

  • Historical Continuity: Site of religious worship since the 12th century.
  • Architectural Beauty: Features Gothic Revival architecture and historical artefacts like the Derwentwater Clock.
  • Community Importance: A central place for worship and community events.

4. The Butts

Steeply cobbled streets of The Butts, a historic attractions in Alston.

The Butts in Alston, characterised by its steeply cobbled streets and historic buildings, offers a glimpse into the medieval past, making it one of the historic attractions in Alston.

The Butts is a charming area of Alston characterised by its steeply cobbled streets and historic buildings. This area once served as a site for archery practice, which was mandatory for men in medieval England.

  • Historical Use: Historically used for archery practice.
  • Scenic Area: Features picturesque cobbled streets and traditional architecture.
  • Cultural Experience: Offers a glimpse into Alston’s medieval past.

5. Brewery Bridge

Scenic view of Brewery Bridge, a historic attractions in Alston.

Brewery Bridge in Alston, an iconic stone bridge reflecting the town’s industrial past, is one of the picturesque historic attractions in Alston.

Brewery Bridge, an iconic stone bridge in Alston, connects different parts of the town and offers scenic views of the surrounding area. It reflects the town’s industrial past and serves as a picturesque spot for photography and leisurely walks.

  • Historic Engineering: Exemplifies 19th-century bridge construction techniques.
  • Scenic Views: Offers beautiful vistas of Alston and the surrounding countryside.
  • Community Connector: Connects key areas of the town and is a popular walking route.

6. Quaker Meeting House

Exterior of the Quaker Meeting House, a historic attractions in Alston

The Quaker Meeting House in Alston, reflecting the area’s strong Quaker heritage since the 17th century, is one of the significant historic attractions in Alston.

The Quaker Meeting House in Alston is a testament to the area’s strong Quaker heritage, which dates back to the 17th century. The building has been a place of worship and community gathering for centuries, reflecting the Quaker values of simplicity and peace.

  • Religious Heritage: Important site for understanding Quaker influence in Alston.
  • Historic Building: Reflects traditional Quaker architectural simplicity.
  • Community Role: Continues to serve as a place of worship and community events.

7. Nent Force Level

Entrance to the Nent Force Level, a historic attractions in Alston

The Nent Force Level, an ambitious underground canal project designed by John Smeaton, is one of the intriguing historic attractions in Alston.

Located between Nenthead and Alston, the Nent Force Level was an ambitious underground canal project designed by John Smeaton to drain the mines of excess water and uncover new ore veins. Although it did not achieve its intended success, it remains an important historical site.

  • Industrial Heritage: Significant for its innovative engineering attempt.
  • Historical Significance: Reflects the challenges of 18th-century mining efforts.
  • Tourist Attraction: Popular with Victorian tourists for underground boat rides.

8. The Gossipgate

Weir in the Nent Burn at The Gossipgate, a historic attractions in Alston.

The Gossipgate in Alston, named for the weir in the Nent Burn where the noise resembles people talking, is a unique historic attractions in Alston.

The Gossipgate derives its name from a weir in the Nent Burn, where the noise of the water was said to resemble people talking. This charming area offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.

  • Unique Origin: Named for the water’s sound resembling people gossiping.
  • Scenic Beauty: Picturesque location by the Nent Burn.
  • Historical Interest: Reflects local folklore and communal life in historic Alston.

9. High Mill

Historic High Mill with its waterwheel, a historic attractions in Alston.

High Mill in Alston, built around 1767 with an intact waterwheel, represents an important part of the town’s industrial heritage, making it one of the notable historic attractions in Alston.

High Mill, built around 1767, is one of John Smeaton’s water-powered corn mills. Though not currently open to the public, its intact waterwheel and historical significance as part of Alston’s industrial heritage make it a noteworthy landmark.

  • Industrial History: Significant for its role in Alston’s milling industry.
  • Architectural Interest: Features an intact historical waterwheel.
  • Historical Value: Designed by the renowned engineer John Smeaton.

10. Alston Station

Restored Alston Station, a historic attractions in Alston.

Alston Station, pictured shortly before closure in 1976, offers insights into the 19th-century railway operations, making it one of the key historic attractions in Alston.

Alston Station, part of the South Tynedale Railway, was originally opened in 1852 to facilitate the transport of lead ore, coal, and other minerals. Today, it serves as a historical site where visitors can learn about the railway’s role in the town’s industrial past.

  • Transportation History: Highlights the importance of railways in Alston’s industrial development.
  • Restored Station: Offers insights into 19th-century railway operations.
  • Community Engagement: Hosts events and activities that engage with the town’s history.

Stay at Salvin House

The perfect base for exploring Historic Attractions in Alston

Salvin House is the perfect base for exploring historic attractions in Alston.

For visitors exploring Alston’s rich heritage, Salvin House Alston offers the perfect accommodation. Located near many historic sites, this charming bed and breakfast combines comfort and convenience. Guests can enjoy well-appointed rooms, a hearty breakfast, and personalised service, making it an ideal base for your historical adventures in Alston.

  • Proximity: Conveniently located near major historic attractions.
  • Comfortable Stay: Offers well-appointed rooms and excellent hospitality.
  • Local Insights: Hosts provide valuable tips and recommendations for exploring Alston.



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