A VILLAGE OF CHANGE
Acklington is a village of change, reinvention and transformation. From farming to collieries, to open cast mining, before transforming back to farming, and in doing so, creating some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain.
Along the way, Acklington was also home to an RAF station with Spitfires, Hurricanes and fighter jets.
All that remains of RAF Acklington are the airman’s married quarters; today, lovingly transformed into beautiful, village homes.
Neolithic ring carvings, Bronze Age human bones, an Iron Age settlement and a relic of a major Roman road bear testament to the existence of human activity in this area since time immemorial
Aecceley or Acklington, as it is now called, first came into being as a village when an Anglo Saxon farming family named Aeccel, built their homes on this spot. Accurate records of the parish have only been kept since these times.
Guyzance, a hamlet within today’s parish boundary, has existed since around 1242. The name is thought to be derived from a priory, built nearby for nuns in 1147, which was dedicated to St Wilfred of Gysnes.
The Normans, having arrived in Britain, built Warkworth Castle in the 12th Century. Acklington and Guyzance were included within the parish of Warkworth and the inhabitants of both became bond tenants of the Lords of Warkworth. It was not until 1859 that Acklington became a parish in its own right.
During the 14th Century Northumberland fell victim to violent incursions from North of the Border. Acklington was left devastated, plundered and raised to the ground on many occasions. Worse was to follow with the arrival of the Black Death. It ravaged the area already laid low by the constant savagery from the Scots. Gradually the area recovered.
The Industrial Revolution briefly came to the parish when a foundry was built in 1779 on the banks of the Coquet in Acklington Park. A curved dam, even today considered to be the finest in Britain, was also constructed in order to provide power for the mill. In 1980, after several other manufacturing uses, the building was finally converted into private housing.
During Queen Victoria’s reign the Railway Station, the Village School (closed in 2018) and The Parish Church were erected. It was after the building of St John the Divine that Acklington gained its own parish. Throughout the middle ages, and continuing right up to the present day, farming has been the enduring economic activity. A leading cattle mart, mainly auctioning prime cattle and sheep, also selling farm machinery, has been at Acklington for over a century. Coal has been mined in the parish since the 18th Century. The last open cast mine closed in the 1991 and the land restored to farming use.
In 1916 a small field, made into a landing strip, just south of Acklington, was used by the first biplanes during WW1. After 1918 it expanded and became known as RAF Acklington. It was to play a major part in the 2nd World War. A housing estate was built on the eastern side of the village to accommodate the officers and their families. Even today, although most houses are privately owned, it is often locally referred to as ‘The Married Quarters’.
After the war the importance of the airfield declined until finally Acklington prison was developed on the former site of the RAF station in 1972. Apart from the Church which still holds a Sunday morning service, Acklington Village Hall, opened in 1925, provides the central hub, not only to the village, but for the wider community at large. In many ways the Village Hall is the beating heart of Acklington, the place where it all happens: Bowls Club, WI, Christmas Fayre, dance glasses, pilates, dog training and weddings.
Today’s Acklington is a village of enterprise: from the big, multi-million pound turnover Acklington Auction Mart, to the smaller, specialist businesses like Morwick Dairy Ice Cream, and the family run brewery Rigg & Furrow.
So that’s Acklington: nice people, with a warm welcome, in the beautiful, Northumberland countryside. Supported by the Acklington Community Team: working together, having fun, and making it a great village to live in.