Bygone Bentham Trail
This is a series of seventeen plaques placed at strategic positions in High and Low Bentham so that a comparison can be made between the photographs in the plaques and the scene as it is today. Fourteen of the plaques are in High Bentham and the rest in Low Bentham.
Although the plaques can be viewed in any order a suggested route is given for those in High Bentham beginning at the Millennium Garden at the bottom of Robin Lane.
The walk round High Bentham can be combined with a walk along the river to Low Bentham and back.
David Johnson, Low Bentham, was the inspiration behind the project and he selected the photographs and prepared the text.
Funding for the project was provided by North Yorkshire County Council Small Projects Fund and Bentham Market Town Initiative Small Projects Fund.
The first plaque is in the Millennium Garden at the bottom of Robin Lane and depicts Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in 1897. There is also a photograph of The Wednesday Market.
Robin Lane in the 1920’s is shown on plaque 2 found on the wall at the entrance to the Auction Mart across the road from the garden. There is also a photograph of School Hill.
Cross the road and walk a short distance up Robin Lane. Plaque 3 is on the left opposite the bus shelter and shows the Diamond Jubilee Procession in Robin Lane.
Go back down Robin Lane and turn right. Plaque 4 is on the wall to the left of Bentham Imaging part of what is known as Central Buildings. This shows what Market Day was like about 1935 and includes information about the old market cross.
An idea of what Central Buildings looked like around 1900 can be seen in Plaque 5. This is on the left of King Street just past the HSBC bank. There is also a view of Main Street without parked cars. ( In 2008 the ground floor of Central Buildings was converted into a photographic studio and gallery by Bentham Imaging.)
Plaque 6 is on the wall to the left of the Fish & Chip Shop across the road. This shows some of the shops on the Main Street in the 1930s.
Retrace your steps for a few yards and go down Station Road to the Town Hall. On the right of the entrance is a view of the scene in 1888 on plaque 7.
Cross to the other side of Station Road and go down towards the station. Plaque 8 is on the side wall of Chestnut House opposite the Masonic Hall and has another picture of Station Road taken about 1920.
Plaque 9 is just a few yards away on the left of the entrance to the station and has a photograph of The Wenning Hotel.
Continue to the station and over the footbridge. Plaque 10, with a photograph of Bentham Station around 1900, is under the bridge.
( In 2008 the station building was converted into a Youth Café and offices for the Little Red Bus Community Transport.)
Leave the station and walk down the track back to Station Road and the river. Plaque 11 is behind the seat on the opposite side of the road. This has a photograph of the river as it was in 1930 and a 1912 photograph of Bentham Amateur Swimming Club.
Cross back over Station Road and walk over the bridge. There are more photographs of the river Wenning and Bentham Bridge on plaque 12 on the wall to the left of the road to the caravan site.
At this point there is a choice of routes. The plaques in Low Bentham can be viewed by continuing to the caravan site and walking by the river as described below. The walk, including a tour of the Low Bentham plaques, is about 2½ miles and takes 1½ to 2 hours. The paths are easy to follow with some way marking and mainly on the level. But there are two short climbs.
Parts of the path can sometimes be muddy. Herons, dippers and occasionally a kingfisher have been seen along this stretch of the river Wenning. There is also the locally renowned Bentham Oak to look out for. This can be found on a sharp bend in the river with many of its roots exposed.
To complete the tour of High Bentham go back over the bridge and turn left along Wenning Avenue. Turn right after the sports pavilion. Pass Atkinson Vos and take the track to the left over the railway and up Duke Street. Plaque 13, is by the post box and has a photograph of Scotland Row.
Turn right along Main Street. The last plaque, 14, with a view of Main Street about 1912, is on the wall at the entrance to Parkinson Farm, just before the pavement narrows.
Riverside Walk to Low Bentham – South Bank
From plaque 12 walk along the road towards the caravan park. At the cattle grid take the path on the right through the wood. Go over the footbridge, through two gates and over a stile into the caravan park. Follow the site road straight ahead through the caravans until it bends sharply to the left. At the bend take the footpath on the right and continue past the red phone box to the wall by the next bend in the site road. Go through the stile in the wall (it may be hidden by a caravan) then turn left to another site road. Turn right and a short distance after the shower block go through the gate on the left into a wooded area. Keep on the level path then up the slope (can be a bit muddy) to a wall on the right and go up the steps. Go through the stile and continue along the riverside, passing the Wenning Oak on the opposite bank, for about a mile.
After the path turns away from the river go up the steps to the stile leading out on to Mill Lane. Turn right here and go down the lane to the main entrance to the housing development built on the site of a former silk mill as shown on the front of the leaflet. Mill Lane can be seen on the right of the photograph. Turn right into the development then immediately left and head for the passage by the lamp post between garages. Follow the path over the footbridge and keep left under the railway. The first plaque in Low Bentham is on wall where the track joins Main Street.
Plaque 15 is on the wall behind the post box on the Main Street, near to the junction with the road to Burton-in-Lonsdale. The plaque shows Main Street in 1915.
Cross the Main Street to plaque 16 behind the lamp post at the bottom of Burton Road. This has a photograph of the Victoria Institute.
Continue up Burton Road and take the first road on the left to the Green. The last plaque,17, is on the wall behind the Green and shows The Cross in 1902.
Riverside Walk to High Bentham – North Bank
After you have visited the plaques in Low Bentham you can return to High Bentham along the main road to the left hand bend near the Horse and Farrier. Plaque 13 is by the post box at the end of Duke Street on the right.
If you want to return to High Bentham along the north bank of the river go back to plaque 15 and walk along the track under the railway bridge. Take the footpath on the left past the trout farm (look out for herons) and along the river bank towards High Bentham.
Soon after the river turns sharply to the left the path climbs up above the river. Go through the gate on to the track and turn right. Then go through the white wooden gate on the left. Cross the level crossing with care and follow the path that goes alongside the railway and into a field. Go across the field and follow the path to the right alongside the hedge. Carry on through the stile at the top of some steps and through the next field. The next stile leads to Duke Street. Turn left, go round the bend and look out for the post box and plaque 13. Plaque 14 is to the right on Main Street.