A COUPLE of callers chastise us for suggesting that Chop Gate, Spout House’s nearest northern neighbour up the B1267, is pronounced “Chop Yat”.

One of them quotes a local farmer who once told him: “That’s just for them silly buggers in Middlesbrough.”

Although Bilsdalers may once have pronounced it “Chop Yat”, they now apparently say “Chop Gate”, but outsiders feel compelled to pronounce it “Chop Yat” so that they think they sound like a local. Is this correct?

But we don’t think there ever was a gate at Chop Gate.

It looks like the first part of this name comes from an Old English word “ceap”, which was an itinerant salesman or pedlar. The word “cheap” comes from the same source, meaning buying and selling at a good price – transactions of cheap goods took place in market streets now called Cheapside involving pedlars called Chapman.

“Yat” was Old Norse for “road”, so Chop Gate is a pedlar’s road.

Unless, of course, another theory about Chop Gate being a chopped down version of Chapel Yate is to be believed. A “yate” was a tongue of land in between two streams, and Chop Gate is where Raisdale meets Bilsdale, so perhaps a little chapel was once there.

What is in a name?

“I WAS especially pleased to see the photograph captioned "Lonely farmstead near Chop Gate, Bilsdale, October 1955" in last week’s Looking Back,” says Martyn Cowton.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

“This is Holme Farm (or The Holme) situated near the foot of Hasty Bank just east of the main road.”

Now we are north of Chop Gate, still on the B1267, past Urra but before we get to Haggs Gate and the climb up Clay Bank.

“My great-grandfather, John Cook, was a tenant farmer there, and my grandfather, John Knaggs Cook, was born there in 1872.

“John Cook senior was born in Moorsholm and came originally to Raisdale where in census records he is listed variously as a farmer or jet miner – the choice of occupation seems to have depended upon which was considered the most prestigious at the time!

“Our family has a photograph of the same view of Holme Farm which we believe this was taken around 1890 by a local photographer FL Stainsby.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

“I took the same view this week, and it is interesting to note that despite a time gap of 130 years, the buildings are instantly recognisable but with some change of use. Credit should go to recent owners for maintaining all the original features.”