Argument Cottage is situated on one of Guisboroughís oldest roads. It has been suggested that Northgate was one of the routes radiating from a possible Roman fort located around the market cross area (the others being Westgate and Bow Street) although no trace of the fort has ever been found.
Thirteenth Century documents refer to a street called ëUtgangí and the name ëNorthowtgateí appears in 1532. The road was then part of ëWiltungateí, the main route from the villages around the River Tees, through Guisborough and on to Malton and York (Guisborough Before 1900). This probably gave the rich and powerful Priory at Guisborough access to its other estates in Yorkshire.
The Ordnance Survey (O.S.) of 1856 shows ëGuisbroughí as mainly Westgate and the Church/market place area. There are some buildings on Northgate, chiefly the 1839 Union Workhouse-presently the General Hospital, directly outside our cottage.
1856 Map of Guisborough with the Union Workhouse on Northgate in the top centre position, now Guisborough General Hospital directly opposite Argument Cottage
By the time of the O.S. of 1894, however, the cottage and the rest of the terrace are clearly shown, as well as the Theatre Royal and the Chaloner Hotel, both of which have long since disappeared. The landlord at this time (1901) was George William Ogden (28) from Middlesbrough who lived there with his wife (27), Sister Charlotte (20) and children Annie (5) and George (3).
The Globe Public House on Northgate was a much needed part of the ëcommunity for the 19th and 20th century workers in Guisborough. The landlord in 1901 was Frederick William Causwell (33) who lived there with his wife Lily (29), Sister Mary (18) and children Sydney (10), Florence (8), Margaret (6) Harold (4) and Elsie (2). It survives today a few doors down from Argument Cottage.
Guisborough at that time had become part of the mining boom of the later 19th Century, when men from all over the country came to work in Clevelandís many ironstone mines. It is possible that our cottage was intended as the Pit Deputy or Overseerís house, as it is the only one on the terrace with double bay windows.
Research from the Census return of 1891 shows the Barker family living at Argument Cottage; husband John (39), an Ironstone miner, his wife Eliza (38), and their children, Thomas (12), Annie (10), John W (9) and Arthur (4).
The 1901 census also provides interesting details about the residents, who were husband Henry Wanneson (31) born in Scarborough, wife Sarah A (33) and Henry ís brother George (26) an Ironmongery Joiner born in West Hartlepool. Thus census returns allow us to build a picture of the economic and social conditions of residents in the 19th and early 20th Centuries living in Argument Cottage!
The Argument family is fairly well known locally and around the Whitby area. The family was active in the Jet industry (a kind of semi-precious stone) and also operated bathing machines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on Whitby beach. The1891 census shows members of the Argument family living in 12 Clarence Place, Ruswarp, Matthew (54) – Bathing Machine Owner , wife Susanna (53), son Thomas (23) Assisting in Father’s Business and Annie Richardson (17) Domestic Servant.
Arguments Yard on Church Street leading up to Whitby Abbey is a well known local feature, once owned by the Arguments. Unlike the name suggests it is not a place to meet for a quarrel! It is named after our relative Thomas Argument who built a cottage on Church Street with its back garden running down to the harbour. To raise some more income he built five more cottages in the garden area which he then rented out. In 1871 the census return shows the tenants for 1b were Esther Knaggs (49) Charwoman and her son John (17) a Jet Ornament Maker, hence the link with both family business interests. Although Arguments Yard does not have public access many of the little alleyways are well worth exploring if ever you visit Whitby.
As the Guisborough branch of the family we are proud to carry on the tradition. Throughout Argument Cottage there are prints of Arguments Yard on display- see if you can spot them!
Although we have put much work into modernising and upgrading the cottage, it retains essentially its original layout and, we hope, its character. The exception, of course, is the bathroom – nearly all miners would have taken their baths in front of the front room fire!
Anyone interested in further research or local history may wish to visit the Public Library situated just off Westgate behind the Registry Office where free internet access is available. Alternatively you can visit the Guisborough Bookshop on Chaloner Street for local history literature.