New Signs for Gilberdyke
Most communities were keen to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. After much discussion the Parish Council decided that new village signs would be a permanent and meaningful way to mark this historical occasion.
The History in the Signs
It seemed appropriate that our Village history should be incorporated in the signs. Our starting point began with Gilbert Hansard, the man whose name is attached to our Village.
He was a knight from Walworth Castle, near Durham. In 1154 he was granted permission from the Bishop of Durham to construct a dyke running north / south draining water from a marshy area called Foulney (near to the present day Welham Bridge) to the River Ouse at Blacktoft. Most of the course of this dyke is still visible to this day.
We thought it would be fitting to have Gilbert’s Coat of Arms incorporated into the actual sign, with the Village name boldly shown below.
Constructing the signs
First, the Coat of Arms was produced, from which a silicone mould was made, which in turn was used to cast a concrete shield looking like hand carved stone.
With his many years of experience, we asked Mr Ray Cook of Selby Stone to oversee the casting. The plan was to build the shield into a wall, and below it would be the deep hand carved letters again looking like carved stone.
Ray put us in touch with a brilliant wood and stone carver from Selby, Mr Jose Sarabia. He carved in the letters in wood, another mould was made, and Ray did his casting magic again.
Our research took us to meet Rachel and Chris Swain, the present owners of Walworth Castle, near Durham, now a Best Western. This was the very castle where our Gilbert Hansard lived.
They knew of their history, but not about the connection with our Village. We had brought with us a freshly cast Coat of Arms, to show them what we were planning. They were both impressed and asked to have one for the castle.
They asked how we were going to use the Coat of Arms, and we described our concept of building it into walls at the two approaches to the Village.
At that point we hadn’t sourced any stone, and Chris immediately offered us stone which was half buried in the castle woods. Perfect. We traded the Coat of Arms for two and a half tons of worked stone, which was duly dug up, dragged and shifted by Parish Council members, Paul Bryan, Paul Buck (& his son Jake) and Chris Newsome, and brought to the Village.
The walls themselves needed a substantial footing and a ‘ready-mix’ was preferred. Several companies declined because the village was too far for such a small amount.
Eventually we found a splendid company called Ever Ready Mix at Howden Dyke. They had recently moved into to the area and were interested in our project. As a very kind gesture they generously did the job free of charge!
A time capsule was put under each base. The children at Gilberdyke School made the eastern one and Barbara MacDonald with other ‘senior’ villagers from Gilberdyke Good Companions handled the western one.
It was important to get the best and most expert hands to make use of the stone and actually construct our special signs. Local builder Phil Mudd accepted the challenge to undertake this unusual task, and took great care and attention in getting every detail correct.
A Sincere Thank You
The Parish Council would like to thank all those who contributed their skills and energies to this project. Many people were involved, some preferring to not be mentioned. After many months to complete, we feel that we have something absolutely right and special for our Village. A meaningful and unique sign, marking Gilbert’s Village, with stone from Gilbert’s Castle, proudly displaying Gilbert’s Coat of Arms.
~ Now that’s very special.