The Fairhill has been around since 1889. It has provided much fun and pleasure to generations of Alston Moor children, their parents and adults alike

The Alston Recreation Ground known fondly as Fairhill has been a part of the lives of people in Alston for many years. It was gifted to the people of Alston in 1899 for the benefit of leisure and recreation.

The Bull Ring

In past centuries drovers from the east en route to markets in the Penrith area rested their animals on Fairhill, where a metal ring, still to be seen, was set in a large stone to which the bulls were tethered.

During the early 20th century many circuses came here. Once again, the bull ring was used, this time to tether the elephants!

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A circus on Fairhill- Coll John James Armstrong. Showman's caravans in distance

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A Horse Show

The Fairhill Dam

There was a dam on Fairhill which fed the millrace.

This flowed down through the town and powered machinery for two small grain mills; the wheel house of the High Mill can be found behind the Co-op in the town centre.

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From W H Walton’s book of collected postcards, made up in/after 1918- found by Christine Habberjam of Nenthead in 2003. Held by Alston Moor Historical Society.

Whole plate contact print. H W= Hugh Walton, Market Place, Alston, active from around the turn of the century to 1929.

Ropery, the Topp school and Fairhill pond, (sluice gate just visible), with ducks surround a variety of posing/shifting humans. The round windowed building was the school toilet block.

The chapel (on Nenthead Road, far R) is now much altered, having lost its ‘tower”. “Vestry extends forward & was only way in, up steps. “Ranters bank” name given as in Nent. The chapel railings were left up during WW2 because it was used as a school canteen & the children had to be kept safe.” (Jimmy Davison- the owner >2005)

Over the years


Many events and sports have been held at Fairhill over the years. Gala days, markets, fancy dress, tennis competitions.

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Coll AMHS. A big outdoor event complete with sturdy tables & benches and a marquee. Late C19 or early C20- from the dress. Straw boater. Celluloid collars, Norfolk jackets.

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Gala Day at Fairhill Mid 1930s

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Coll. Alwyn Hind. Copied with permission @ Front Street shop 1999.

Alwyn Hind and his brother Neil at a Fairhill gala day.

Their father offering a hand of support.

For many a long year it was a case of "Here come Minnie and Mickie!" Alwyn probably drew the longer straw, being dressed as Mickie.

Pitting wits and skills


Anyone for tennis?

4 tennis players at Fairhill court, (built in the 30s Depression by unemployed workers). Their fashions could be up to the 50s. Topp school in R background.

Coll. Joe Little-David Jackson.

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Coll. Joan O'Hanlon née Cousin- herself (right ) and Shelia Bell née Donaldson celebrating a championship tennis match at Alston's Fairhill. ca1955 The old wooden pavilion was later burned down.

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The War Years

What we're witnessing are the bottoms of Fred Renwick and Willy Greig as they face Park Fell.

The bowling pavilion is at the right of the image.

Coll. Walter Davidson - took the photo.

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Observers base

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Observers Corp Display

Fitness and fun!


Bicycles have been a feature of Fairhil right from its inception to present day with the pump track

Coronation parade fancy dress Alston 1953, Main figures L Peter Dickinson, R Ian Henderson. Young Tony Alderson to L. they were inside the tennis court at Fairhill- chainlink visible- handbell to R. From Arthur Middleton- piper: "That's me on the far right, dressed as town crier with my Granddad [Jack] Ramsay's town crier's bell.'

Coll. Ian Henderson. Scanned 2020.

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and finally....

The Famous Banana Slide

The Fairhill Recreation ground in about the 1950s with the old pavilion and dangerously high banana slide. The children were not, of course posing in any way!

Noreen Oxley Clark wrote: “Remember it well, always a long queue up the steps waiting to go down, sometimes we took a bit of candle to rub in the slide, made it extra slippy, shot right off the end ? you were a ? if you went down backwards. Happy days.”

Coll. common in 2006.

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Closet queens or chamber pots?

The highlight from a newspaper article dated 1901 reporting on the Annual General Meeting of the Alston Recreation Ground Trust.

“As he saw reporters present, he would refer to one matter he hoped they would note, and that was that some person or persons were in the habit of depositing night soil on the grounds. He warned those persons through the press, that if caught, they would be severely dealt with personally, and the landlords of such houses made to provide proper water closets.”

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Copyright: Alston Recreation Ground Trust 1899 - 2024

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Fairhill Recreation Ground- Alston Moor | Our History