THE village of Allendale is best known for lead mining, Border Reivers and, in more modern times, producing excellent beer.

But a new book, recently launched at Allendale Village Hall, takes a closer, more personal look at life in the North Pennines village in the years following the Second World War.

Author John Batey is the second son of the late Ernest Batey, who was headmaster in Allendale for 40 years, from 1932.

Although he now resides in Congdon’s Shop, Cornwall, John has returned to Allendale – which he describes as “a special place” – more and more in his retirement, leading him to write his memoirs on his upbringing in rural Northumberland.

John said: “My personal background is that I am the second son of the late Ernest Batey, who was headmaster in Allendale for 40 years from 1932.

“I was head boy at Hexham Grammar School from 1961 to 1962, after which I studied for a degree in geography at London University.

“I then became a teacher, like my father, spending much of my career in Cornwall, but also working in a field study centre in the Cheviot Hills.

“In retirement I have returned to Allendale with increasing frequency, and this memoir is an affectionate account of my upbringing in this most idyllic of villages.”

Entitled Flag up on the right!, a reference to John’s days grouse beating on Allenheads Moors, the memoir covers aspects of John’s life that will be familiar to many residents of Allendale.

As well as grouse beating, there are tales of battling the area’s notorious winters – making particular reference to the infamous winters of early 1947 and 1962-63.

John, who was in Hexham hospital following a minor operation in 1962, was left stranded there after the snowfall made the roads home impassable and missed the new year celebrations.

John also dedicates chapters to days out with the local mole catcher, Walter Rutherford, as well as Allendale’s legendary Tar Bar’ls celebration on New Year’s Eve.

John added: “I carried a barrel at the Tar Bar’ls for about five or six years, then my work took me away.

“I loved being a part of it; it gives you a real sense of belonging.”

Of course, John has a few more extraordinary stories to go alongside those typical Allen Valleys tales.

Some of the not-so-familiar situations include the perils of classic car motoring on the steep inclines of the roads between Hexham and Allendale and a transgender peacock!

Although that sounds rather bizarre, the truth is somewhat less exciting than a confused peafowl – referring instead to a memorable incident during a school inspection.

The inspector, described as a tall, gaunt man, asked the assembled children what a female peacock was called. After a moment, one of the boys blurted out: “Sir... sir! a hencock”, much to the dismay of John’s headmaster father.

Well, at least he was half right.

John’s book was launched at Allendale Village Hall on Wednesday, August 1, following a talk by the man himself.

The book proved extremely popular with locals – some of whom actually featured in the memoir.

John added: “I am pleased to say that the launch at the village hall went very well, with more than 100 people present and 60 books sold.

“My father is still well remembered in the Dale, no doubt the main reason for the high turn out!

“It was brilliant; a lot of the people who are in the book were there too, which was fantastic.”

If you missed out on the launch, copies of Flag up on the right! can now be purchased from The Forge in Allendale.