The Argles family has been part of the history of Crosthwaite and Lyth for nearly 200 years. They came, originally, from Maidstone, in Kent. It was George Argles who first came to the valley, when he married Jane Atkinson. He was a captain in the Royal Navy and saw service in the Napoleonic Wars. He probably met Jane when she was visiting her cousin, Agnes Atkinson, at her London house. Jane was the daughter of Tobias Atkinson, whose parents had built Spout House, having previously lived at Pool Bank.
Jane had two brothers, Tobias and Thomas. Thomas was a bachelor, whose business in London prospered. He put the money he earned back into property in the Lyth Valley. Tobias married Elizabeth Chorley of Leek. They had one daughter, Susannah. Jane Atkinson and George Argles had two sons, Marsham, born in 1814 and Frank, in 1816. Thomas, the bachelor, left all his money and land to his niece and nephews in a three way split, with a life interest to his sister Jane. As Frank later married his cousin Susannah, two thirds of the estate remained in one family. Both Frank and Marsham were big benefactors in the valley, as well as being the principal landowners. It was Frank, who built the house "Eversley" at Leasgill. Marsham became the Dean of Peterborough. The family gave land and money to help both the church and the schools. They donated one piece of land for use as a new burial ground. It was dedicated by the Bishop on September 24th 1894. In the collection were guineas, sovereigns and a double florin or four shilling piece. (This coin was only minted during the period 1887 to 1890. Along with the florin, which was introduced in 1848, it was the Victorians' first tentative step towards decimalisation, the florin being a tenth of a pound.) It is said that the family conferred more benefits on the community in the 19th century, than all of its feudal lords had ever done. Now in the 21st century, we are still reaping the benefits.
The next generation continued their involvement in the valley, although they did not all live here. Frank and Susannah's son, Thomas, married Agnes Wakefield, sister to Mary and a member of the Wakefield family from Sedgewick. His cousin George, son of Marsham, was to become a Canon of York Minster. He had three sons, Cecil, Hubert and Ronald. These three inherited all the Argles land as Thomas and Agnes' son died in infancy. Cecil, a land agent, inherited his father Marsham's estate, Hubert was left the property, which came down the line from Thomas of Spout, Tobias, Susannah and Thomas. The land, which Thomas inherited from his grandmother Elizabeth Chorley, in Leek, Staffordshire, went to the third son, Ronald.
Cecil, being a land agent, looked after his brother Hubert's land as well as his own. Not being a man influenced by family ties, Cecil sold all the land he owned, in the late 1920s, so enabling local tenant farmers to buy their own farms. He was an interesting character, who had a passion for American cars. He was on the Huntingdon County Council, involved in roads and bridges and was on the early committee which published the first Highway Code. A story, to illustrate his singlemindedness, is told of his meeting his friend Rowley Burke, the land agent for the Chatsworth Estate. The two men were leaning on a fence, looking at a yard of prime cattle. It was winter. The cows were housed and being artificially fed. "What do you feed them on, Rowley?" inquired Cecil. The reply came, "I have no idea, Cecil, and if I did know, you would disagree with it!"
Like his brother, Cecil, Hubert was a land agent, managing property in Nottinghamshire, where he could be seen riding around on a fixed-wheel bicycle. After Cecil's death, in 1950, Hubert took over management of the Argles land in Crosthwaite and Lyth, staying for a few days locally. He was helped in this task by Fisher Hoggarth, in Kendal. As Hubert did not drive, he visited all the farms by bus, on foot or by getting lifts from tenants. He was a familiar figure in the valley and well liked and respected by his tenants, whom he always treated fairly. One farmer remembers him as a "real gentleman". When he first started on his farm, Mr Argles waived the first six months rent and thereafter kept it at a reasonable level. It was Hubert who carried on the philanthropic tradition, giving land for both the Memorial Hall and the nurse's home.
In 1947 Hubert still owned the following estates:
Mire Side, Flodder, Rusmickle, The Row Farm, Moss Side Farm, Little Moss Side, Johnscales, Gilpin Bank, Esp Ford, Barrow Tenement, Woodside, Grassgarth, Durham Bridge, and High Town Yeat.
He also owned the following small properties:
Mireside Cottage, Gilpin Bank Cottage, Cannydale, Crosthwaite Smithy, Plum Tree Cottage, Plane Tree Cottage, Lodge Cottage, Raw Moss, Tunnel Field, Flodder Lot and woodland in Crosthwaite and Lyth.
Land at the top of Whitbarrow, called the Flodder Allotment, was given to the Lake District Naturalists' Trust (now called the Cumbria Wildlife Trust) by the Argles family. It was named the Canon Hervey Nature Reserve, after the founder of the Trust. This land is now enjoyed by everyone, who can climb to Lord's Seat and admire the wonderful panoramic views of South Lakeland.
Mr and Mrs Thomas, known to most people in the parish as Fred and Marjorie, came to live in The Howe in the early 1960s and immediately fitted into village life. They renamed their cottage Barn Howe. Fred became a very active member of the Parish Council, the Memorial Hall Committee, the Landowners, Crosthwaite Church and other local organisations, whilst Marjorie attended the Mothers' Union, the Women's Institute and Crosthwaite Church.
During his working life, Fred was involved in banking, owning and managing a wholesale butcher's business and a retail milk company. This business and financial expertise was a great asset to village organisations.
Fred and Marjorie will be remembered for their kindness in taking older people shopping, hospital visiting and to church. They will also be remembered for the beautiful array of flowers in their garden.
Fred was the prime mover in organising the levelling of graves in the churchyard, to make grass cutting easier. He contacted all the relatives for permission to do so and, at the same time, catalogued all the details on the gravestones. When the Memorial Hall needed some building alterations done, Fred was there with an interest free loan.
Nancy, Fred's daughter, tells an amusing tale about the time when he took delivery of a brand new Volvo, registration BN 2575. On his way home up the lane, he passed Draw Well and was stopped by Jimmy Inman, who was bent over a sheep. "Te bugger's deed on't mi!" Jimmy exclaimed. Fred opened the boot, helped Jimmy to load the body and transported the dead animal to Pickles, the knacker's yard, in Kendal. It was Fred's first passenger in his gleaming new car!
Hartley Trotter tells of
an occasion when Fred was helping to ferry voters to and from the polling station in the
village. He had collected one old lady from the Row and was waiting outside for her. She
came out in an agitated state. On enquiring what the matter was, Fred was told,
"She isn't on the paper!"
"Who isn't on there?"
"Margaret Thatcher, of course!"
Fred, much amused, asked what she had done about it.
"Well, I put a cross next to everyone. I didn't know who was who!!"
People who knew Fred would surely agree, that had there been a mayor in Crosthwaite, he would have been the most popular and suitable choice.
A tale from long ago… At Martinmass, the choir was meeting at the Church. As they neared the building, there was a baby, abandoned on the doorstep. The choristers took pity on the child, calling him Martin Crosthwaite, after the time and the place. He may have grown up at the Poor House, at Church Town. He became a labourer and later, a clerk. At least three generations of the family can be found in the records. One Crosthwaite was postmaster at Dodds Howe Cottage and another was blacksmith at Town Yeat Smithy. The 1851 Census records two Crosthwaite families living on Crosthwaite Green. Thomas was a tailor, John, a master tailor, and Isabelle, a niece, was a dressmaker.
One old lady in the 19th century, when asked why she went to church every Sunday, said that if she should die in the following week, she wouldn't want to go, knowing that she hadn't done her duty, the previous Sunday!
James Muckelt was a farmer in Crosthwaite, probably in the 19th century. These rhymes were given to Pam Bownass. They were on extremely old paper, typed on one of the early typewriters, all in dialect.
Jamie was once challenged to a rhyming contest by Dr Bell at the Punchbowl. Without a moment's thought he produced the following lines.
At your request,
I'll do my best,
But one thing I implore,
If Dr Bell can do as well,
He'll bother me no more.
The doctor acknowledged himself beaten and paid his forfeit like a man.
On another occasion, at the end of a long, late session at the Punchbowl, he staggered and fell into the fire and burnt himself. The next day he went to the inn to settle his bill and gave them this doggerel:
There is some men for want of sense,
Will run themselves to great expense
And I, myself, for want of grace,
Fell into the fire and burnt my face.
He was an old-fashioned Tory and didn't approve of farm lasses dressing above their station:
The world has come to a bonny pass
You can't tell the mistress from the servant lass.
Eventually hard times fell upon poor Jamie and he was glad to receive his share of bread, which was distributed after the morning service at Crosthwaite. However, for some reason, this was stopped and sadly he expressed his feelings in verse:
Spite and malice had gitten to such a head,
They won't let poor old Muckelt have a bit of bread.
John Auckland lived at about the beginning of the 18th century. He was a Quaker but apparently not a teetotaller. After a spree he gave the following IOU to the landlady:
I, John Auckland, before I go hence,
Owe Betty Woodburn just six and two pence
And Thursday come se'n-night I'll pay off the old score
And who knows but I may spend twice as much more.
Once he got into trouble with some lawyers at Dalton-in-Furness and relieved his feelings thus:
God made men and men made money,
God made bees and bees made honey,
God made asses to bear heavy burdens,
God made horses to travel long journeys,
But the devil himself made lawyers and 'tourneys
And placed them at Ulverston and Dalton-in-Furness.
John Coward was a cobbler at Rose Cottage, as was Harry "Kippers" Sheppard, in a wooden hut opposite West View Farm, on Crosthwaite Green. Harry's Aunts were all London trained nurses. One of them, Annie, became the local midwife and district nurse for many years.
Dora Clarke, with her sisters and parents, used to take a "bogey" to Bridge End from Gilpin Cottage to fetch water. The family were related to the Berrys. Later in life, Dora married Peter Griffin. In the 1960s, she sold strawberries and blackcurrants, from the garden. The cottage was a two roomed, stone building, with a lean-to kitchen, with a corrugated iron roof.
A story concerning a descendant of William Pearson, of Borderside, tells of the old man, growing green crops and collecting eggs. He had a round, selling his produce to customers at Bowness. On a Saturday night he finished at around 11.30. On his way home, he always called at the Brown Horse, Winster. On leaving, in the early hours of Sunday, he would climb into the waiting cart and fall asleep. His trusty horse was used to finding his way home, so the old man would wake up, as the horse pulled into the farmyard.
Mrs Wolstencroft was a wonderful old lady. She came to live in the Row, with her husband in the late 1920s/early 1930s, the Depression years. They had lived in one of the Lancashire mill towns. She set up a poultry farm and sold eggs on Kendal Market. When Pam Bownass knew her, she was already an old lady. She used to chew on ginger root to keep herself warm! Having been a postwoman during the war, and used to black-outs, she shunned a torch, although occasionally she would use an old fashioned lantern. She still preferred to use the light of the moon or to keep one foot on the grass edge of the lane and the other on the stony surface, so that she knew if she was straying from the path. She always accompanied her daughter to the Howe School. There, she helped the teachers, when they took the children on a coach trip. One neighbour recalls seeing her sitting on a big, square coal shovel, using it as a sledge, to slide down the steep lane from her house to the Lyth Valley Hotel, when the snow and ice was too bad to walk on. When she was very old, she said to Pam, "I went and touched his gown but I decided I wasn't ready yet, so I turned back for a while". Her husband died around 1939. She kept his ashes in a jar, on the mantelpiece. She died in the 1970s.
Richard Docker Hartley, otherwise known as Dick, was born at the turn of the 19th/20th century. He lived next to Joe Davidson's saw mill, at Crosthwaite Green.
When he was ten years old, he used to take produce to Ulverston Market with a horse and cart, home grown tatties, swedes, apples, pears and oats. Market days were Thursdays and Saturdays. He would start out at 2am and return home very late at night. At this age he was once punished for coming home late from school. He had to take half a pig to Hardriggs. There, he was given a glass of dandelion and burdock. On the way home he fell asleep in a ditch. A search was made. The family dog found him, to the relief of his parents. When the matter was investigated, it was discovered that he had been given the drink out of an unmarked bottle, the contents of which was found to be whisky! Not surprisingly, a tumbler full of neat whisky on an empty stomach resulted in the collapse into the ditch!
In 1918, he owned a threshing machine which he pulled to various farms with a traction engine. He travelled as far afield as Barrow, cycling back at night. He used to buy damsons, wholesale, and take them to Milnthorpe station, to be transported by train to the jam manufacturers. He kept bees and sold the honey. He had a contract to pull the first steel ropes across Windermere for the ferry.
He told one tale about a journey across the ferry to Sawrey. He was travelling with his Entire Horse. He arrived at the ferry, only to discover that it had been replaced, temporarily, with a rowing boat. Fearing that a walk around the lake, with the horse, would lose him a day's pay, he bribed the ferryman to load his horse onto the little boat, with a sack over his head! A few yards out, the sack slipped and the horse panicked, overturning the boat. Dick and the ferryman swam to the shore, as did the horse. Well, Dick did not get to Sawrey, until the evening, losing his day's pay after all!
Ben Edwards, the gamekeeper and farmer, from Grassgarth, was involved in illegal cockfighting in the quarry above the Plough Inn (opposite the present-day Lyth Valley Hotel). In 1930, the police raided a cockpit at High Foulshaw. It was reported in the Westmorland Gazette, that some of the men were too tired and fat to run, so they gave themselves up!
Daisy Edwards, known as the "Bee Lady", lived for all of her life at Grassgarth. She was the daughter of Ben Edwards, "Tot" Inman was his farm labourer. When these two died, Daisy carried on farming there.
She milked cows by hand, taking milk churns to the stand with a horse and cart. She never owned a tractor. She was once almost crushed to death, when she was trapped between the cart and a wall.
She wore lambs' wool and straw in her boots, to keep out the cold; kept a roe deer as a pet; had a bucket of water next to the fire, to dip the logs in before they went on the fire, so that they would burn longer! Her treatment for a swollen cow's udder was to rub it with newly dropped dung.
She was an excellent shot and trapper of vermin. One tale tells of a rat running up her trouser leg. She stopped it with her hand and turned it around! One day whilst skinning a badger, she touched an open wound on her brow and as a result had a badly poisoned eye.
As she grew older, she never lost her independence. She always sat in her sitting room, even in the most bitter weather, with the door open, her hat and coat on!
Two poems were written about her, to celebrate her life in the valley.
Rambling round the woods with three young dogs,
I came across "Old Daisy" in her clogs,
She was a lady of the woods of first degree
Her father was a gamekeeper, you see.
The woodland pads they were her daily round,
Where red squirrels and roe deer abound.
They watched her as she slowly shuffled by
With casual wary glance and beady eye.
This old familiar figure was no stranger,
She posed not a threat of any danger.
This has not always been the case in hand
As a younger woman, she did understand
The artful ways of wily Charlie Fox,
A thief whose cunning matched the wary gamecocks.
Her shoulders felt the butt of many a gun,
But to her it wasn't sport or having fun.
She shot him as he came to raid the pens
Wherein she had several laying hens
For in her livelihood, 'twas hard to make ends meet
Without this crafty fellow fleet of feet.
She's now long gone to lie beneath the earth,
No more to see the shadows of the sun,
No more to raise a smile of cheeky mirth,
No more to toil away till day is done.
She earned her rest and never wanted more.
She sat before an ever open door:
Come rain, come snow, come hail, come sun, come sleet,
A cat for company dozing by her feet.
Ageneration long gone, laid to rest,
Daisy, well she was one of the best.
Marilyn Shuttleworth 21. 11. 90.
THE BEE LADY
An ancient battered old black hat sat on her snow white hair,
The bees they buzzed around her, but she didn't have a care.
An old black veil hung imply down about her rosy face,
Tied up with twine, her old tweed coat did not look out of place.
An early riser she had been upon this new spring day,
In order to inspect the hives, and take young queens away,
Into the hive she gently puffed some smoke to work with ease,
With bare gnarled hands she worked among irate Italian bees.
Slowly and deliberately, carrying on regardless,
She peered myopically into the chamber's darkness,
Lifting up one by one, the frames to be inspected,
Until the queens, by various means, managed to be detected.
And later on as we sat down, and had a cup of tea,
She told of how her mother had been a keeper of the bee,
Of how it was the custom to keep your bees updated,
About matters of the family, and all who were related.
'Twas said bad luck would surely fall upon those who neglected
To tell the bees the family news, no honey would be collected!!
Each little bee was guided by the plants that grew around,
She would not suffer grasses to be scythed to the ground,
Especially near the hives, for she said this angered guards,
They would certainly retaliate, and buzz at you for yards.
As the sun rose high, and the power of it grew,
The busier the bees and the longer that they flew,
She reckoned that they travelled two or three miles or more
In order to collect the pollen for their store.
Avirgin queen flew on several nuptial flights,
There were those that were the scouts, to look for future sites,
For then the old Queen Bee would take into her head
To start another colony of bees instead.
I witnessed such a swarm one day, upon a low hung bough
My bee lady she came along, and then I saw just how
A swarm can be persuaded, with patience, time and care
To go into a new hive the bee lady placed there.
It was a revelation and my admiration grew
For that frail old Bee Lady, who was rising eighty two.
Marilyn Shuttleworth 21. 11. 90.
Sam Strickland lived in the Row. Dennis Inman remembers him, in his "Recollections of a Lakeland Man", as one of the village characters. He was a frequent visitor to the Plough Inn, when Mr Toulson was the landlord. After the Plough burnt down, the Lyth Valley Hotel became his watering hole.
One day Sam was not feeling so well. He went to see the doctor. That night in the pub he was asked how he had got on. "Oh, I have to cut down my beer by half but I will still have 12 pints left!"
Sam was an unorthodox fisherman. He would take a stick of dynamite to the bottom of Esp Ford front field where there was, and maybe still is, a big hole in the beck, caused by Sam, blowing fish out of the water over several years. One night the beck watcher, a Mr Watts, caught him, took him to court, where he was fined. That night in the Lyth Valley Hotel, Sam was asked how he had got on. "Not bad. I'm better off tonight than I was this morning." Sam was to catch fish for his new customers at the court; the extra business exceeded the fine!
He said that he once fiddled a man to death. He played a one-string fiddle so fast, that the poor fellow doing the step dancing fell down dead!
One night in the Lyth Valley Hotel, there was a discussion on a new thing called the "wireless". Old Sam let them carry on for a while and then chipped in, "I've got a good wireless".
"What kind is it?" they enquired.
"It's oor Sarah, (his wife). She's got a good loudspeaker and two knobs to tune in with!"
Another tale tells of Sam taking a young lad picking damsons with him. The lad asked Sam if he could eat some. Sam said he could, as long as he swallowed the stones, so that the farmer would not know! That night the two of them were sleeping in the same room. The lad was caught short and made use of a biscuit tin. Sam said it sounded just like a machine gun, as the stones came through him!
The Westmorland Gazette of 1937 reported that Sam had been brought to court, for tying the lychgates outside St. Mary's following a wedding there. PC Scott gave evidence that the pennies, traditionally thrown at a wedding, to be picked up by the children, had been gathered by Sam and spent later that day on drink! His comment on the proceedings was, "It's tradition!".
William Martindale Inman was born in 1897 to Edward and Susannah Inman, who came to live at Esp Ford, Crosthwaite, from Eller Howe, near Lindale, in the mid 1890s. He had six brothers and sisters, Agnes, Edward (Ted), Edith, Bessie, Annie and John (Lile Jack).
Dennis Inman has written about his father's life in "Recollections of a Lakeland Man".
One of the first stories he was told about "Billy", as William was known, was when Billy and Jack took one of their sisters to the top field, put her in an open-ended barrel and set it off down the hill. "They darn't go home!"
Grandma Martindale used to stay quite often. The privy was down in the orchard. Billy and Jack waited for the old lady to go and settle down on the seat. They went round the back with a bike pump, full of water and squirted her bare behind! She shot out of the privy, drawers round her ankles, shouting, "Susannah! Susannah!". The boys were duly punished.
When Billy was about 16, he went to work for Alf Robinson, Timber Merchant of Kendal. He was sent to work as a waggoner on the Isle of Anglesey.
It was not long before he enlisted in the 3rd Queen's Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment, at the start of the First World War. He trained in Ireland and then went to France. His experiences were as horrific as most of those who fought in that terrible war. He buried his mates in holes made by shells, taking their personal belongings to return to relatives in the UK. If he saw a better horse than the one he had got, he would grab it, whether it belonged to the English or the Germans. In 1918 he had the front of his horse blown off by a German shell. The horse and rider next to him were blown to pieces. Billy was taken to a casualty clearing station on a stretcher.
During one home leave, Billy told the story of going to a dance at Crosthwaite School with his "best mate", Walt Edwards, son of Ben, the gamekeeper from Grassgarth. At the dance there was a cake to be raffled. The trick was to guess how many little shells had been hidden in the cake. Mrs Edwards had made it. On the way to the dance the boys found old Ben, drunk at the foot of Row Lane. They managed to extract the correct number of shells from him. On arriving at the dance, brother Ted was selling raffle tickets. The following conversation ensued:-
"Naw then, our Bill. Are you going to buy some tickets?"
"Ney, a don't think so. I never won nought."
"Go on!" says Ted.
"Alright," says Bill and gave him the number that old Ben had told them. Of course they won the cake, to Ted's mystification. It was a long time afterwards that he heard the whole story!
At the end of the war Billy returned home to agricultural work. In 1921 Crosthwaite Mill became vacant, so Billy and his brother Jack decided to go into partnership and become millers. They travelled the district, selling their feedstuffs, on a big Ariel motorbike. Matt Walling of Tarnside delivered their sales in his Lanchester lorry. Grandma Inman looked after the brothers, until they married. By an amazing coincidence, both married a Rebecca Carruthers. Billy married Amy Rebecca Carruthers, from Cowmire Hall, whilst Jack married Rebecca Carruthers from Simpson Ground.
After a while, the partnership was dissolved and Jack went to Rosthwaite, at the top of Winster. He died tragically in 1930, at the age of 28, from pneumonia and peritonitis, leaving a wife and two tiny children, John and Margaret.
A story from Billy's time at the Mill involves a stuffed fox, which sat in the window. One day Tommy Walling came to the Mill with some corn. "Hey, Billy!" he said, "How about planting this fox on Vicar's Lot. There's a shoot tomorrow night." That afternoon they put the stuffed animal in the middle of a bush. On the night of the shoot, they steered Jimmy Moffat towards the fox, saying, "I think there's something in that bush, Jimmy, it looks like a fox". Jimmy stalked closer, cocked his 16 bore and fired. Sawdust flew everywhere! Jimmy did not speak to them for a long while.
It was nearly a religion for Billy to go to The Punch Bowl on a Saturday night, for a lemon dash and a game of darts or dominoes. Returning home down Church Lane, with not even the light of the moon to guide him, hands in pockets and whistling away, he pitched forward. He had fallen over one of the pub landlord's (Howcroft) black cows, which had decided to lie down in the road for the night. Billy shouted, the cow bellowed. It was difficult to tell who was the most frightened!
Billy sold the Mill in 1947 and moved across the road to the bungalow, "Rockleaze". In later years he had a dog, called Bess, his constant companion. The dog would lie on Billy's back, as he rode his bike. It would also make circuits of the paddock on a pig's back! Bess would race Billy home from the village shop and be there on the doorstep, waiting for him. Another of his dogs was called Pup Wizzel. It used to sit up, Billy's pipe in its mouth, with a pair of 'specs, scarf and hat on. Billy would command the dog to sing, when he struck a steel poker on the fireplace and the dog would howl its head off!
Dennis recalled that his father could be a hard, stubborn man, a bit like old Jimmy "Whiskers" Inman of Draw Well. He would not let Dennis go to the Grammar School. "You mun stop at yam and wark." He tied Dennis' bike to a beam in the barn for a week, as a punishment. Billy sold his Hillman 10 as soon as Dennis passed his driving test and did without a car for some time. This meant that Dennis had no car to drive.These tricks encouraged him to leave home.
Billy was a great parish man. He was a School Manager, Parish Councillor and Church Councillor. He was on the Memorial Hall Committee and finished his parish duties, by becoming the church cleaner, along with his wife. One day she sat down in a pew for a rest. Billy climbed up into the pulpit and began to deliver a sermon to her, when in walked the parson! "You would make a jolly fine vicar, Bill!" he declared.
Jimmy "Whiskers" Inman spoke in an interview printed in the Westmorland Gazette in 1932, of the 330 years that his family had lived at the farm. He lived there with his wife Rebecca and his children, four sons and a daughter.
Tales of "Whiskers" and his sons, Jimmy and Bert are many!
"Whiskers" came by his name because of his long beard. It is claimed that he was "sweet" on a lady in the Row and, as an excuse for visiting her, he pedalled round, bearing a gift of black pudding. On the way home, down Howe Lane, his long beard caught in the spokes of his bike and the hedge. Rescuers had to cut him out!
As "Whiskers" stood at his front door, local lads used to race down the hill, to see who could ride closest to the old man's toes. There is also the story of how he wrote every year to the Gazette, claiming that he had heard the first cuckoo of spring. Needless to say, those lads could not resist making cuckoo calls in the woods of Whitbarrow in February! "Whiskers" duly wrote off to the Gazette, with news of this untimely event.
When he reported lads for shooting a pheasant, they tipped a barrel at his front door, to leak water into the house. They also took the wheels off his cart, put it in the stable, replaced the wheels, ensuring that it was stuck inside!
"Whiskers" also boasted, rather rashly, that he had the cleanest fields in the valley. The boys cast reeds all over his fields, one night, to disprove this claim!
His only grandchild, Eileen, daughter of Archie, was a teenager when he died. She recalls that he never addressed a single remark to her. "Children should be seen and not heard!".
Jimmy, his son, courted the same lass for forty years. She came from Underbarrow. His niece recalls, that when she visited Draw Well with her parents, on a Sunday evening, he would be there on his bike, just returned from visiting her. Both Jimmy and Bert were accomplished musicians. "Whiskers" and his son Jimmy played the fiddle, Bert the accordion, organ and piano, Sally the melodeon. They had a band, which played for local dances. Jimmy sang tenor in the Church choir.
Hartley Trotter tells the story of "young" (in his 70s!) Jimmy's demise. He was walking past Hartley's farmyard, umbrella over his shoulder. Hartley turned around, and when he looked again, Jimmy was lying on his back. Hartley called for help, but the poor man was dead. The police insisted that he be taken back to Overholme, so Hartley and Margaret loaded the body onto the milk churn transporter and drove it to his bungalow. Apparently Jimmy had said that he was going to the doctor that morning, because "his timing had slipped!". He had an irregular heartbeat. So died the organiser of the Lyth Valley Sports, the Vice- President of the Crosthwaite and Lyth Agricultural Committee, a frequent winner of ploughing competitions at Levens and Selside, expert hurdle cutter, peat cutter and damson grower. Bert died shortly after his brother in 1978, bringing to an end a long tradition of the Inman family farming under the Scar.
Hartley Trotter Senior was born at South Low Farm. His father, James, came to Lyth from Lindale in the 19th century, to work as a farm labourer. He and his wife, Ann Hartley, had nine children, five of whom survived. These children were of school age when the Howe School was built, so they would have been among the first pupils. The tale is told that James ploughed a field at the end of Toll Bar Road with a spade when his horse went lame!
After his marriage to Jane Metcalf, Hartley Senior returned to the valley from Hincaster to farm at Dodds Howe and then the High, where their children Edith and Hartley Junior were born. Hartley Senior was a robust man who enjoyed shooting and fishing, was a keen bowler, a member of the snooker, darts and dominoes club, and a sidesman at Crosthwaite Church, where he was a bell-ringer. He was a big reader, having a full box of books delivered regularly. A School Governor and a JP, he was also closely involved with the building of the Memorial Hall, organizing dances to raise funds. His wife Jane and sister Hannah are to be seen on the photograph at the opening of the hall. On his wedding day, as Governor of Howe School, he gave the pupils a day off. When he moved from the High to Howe Lodge he became involved with the Drainage Board activities.
Three tales about Hartley Senior:
His mode of transport was a bicycle. He fastened his work tools to the back of his bike with string and towed them behind him. On one occasion, when his back pedal brake system broke, he threw the bicycle over the hedge, walked to Kendal and returned with a new one!
On a darts and dominoes expedition, by then the owner of a car, he took his fellow members to a competition at Levens. On the return journey, he turned into the A590, misjudged the bend and the car ended up on its roof!
Later in life he was very deaf. He had a hearing-aid. One day in church, when all was quiet, the hearing aid was giving off a high-pitched whistle. When someone pointed this out to him, he replied, "I must have been on't wrong station!".
Herbert Park is a member of one of the oldest families in the valley. He talked to Pam Bownass about his family, his school and working life and memories of the valley, its people and its activities.
I was born in 1913, the eldest of nine children. My granddad, George Park, was the licensee of the Plough Inn, forerunner of the Lyth Valley Hotel. My mother came from Grayrigg. She was called Margaret Fallowfield and married Frank Park. He was a plater on the Shap railway line. An uncle was a warder at Carlisle Castle prison and came to spend holidays with my parents at the Plough. We were evicted from there in 1923, because granddad let his customers run up large bills "on the slate". Consequently, he went into debt with the company, Alexanders of Beezon Road, Kendal. I can remember barrels being delivered and a wonderful celebration, when the road was tarmacadamed. Beer was about 6d a pint then. We sold "baccy" and treacle toffee, too.
The family lived in a tiny one up, one down with no "mod cons". It was a cottage, next to the inn. All nine children were born in the cottage, up the steps. Mum and dad kept The Plough open 24 hours a day, illegally. One old man, David Woods, used to sleep in the straw, two bales high, in the calf hull. He used to sit on a chair, in front of our coal and wood fires, clothes steaming. Every night dad would escort him home and put him to bed! Dad was always working outside with the cows. He had a horse and cart and brought all the stores and Gazettes from Kendal, for all the houses in the Row and the Howe.
After The Plough closed in the 1930s, there was a fire and the inn had to be rebuilt from the shippon and outhouses, across the road. The bedrooms were a foot too low, so the roof was lifted and six to eight courses of bricks inserted. Then they lowered the roof back down again.
A Mr Toulson bought The Plough, but soon after it was demolished to allow the road to be widened. Petrol pumps were installed outside the Lyth Valley Hotel. The landlord employed one of the customers to put the pub sign right at the top of the roof. It could be seen from the bottom of Row Lane!
I went to the Howe School, where I was taught by Miss Binns, from Keighley and Miss Wolfe, who cycled from Little Langdale every Monday morning. I never went to Crosthwaite School, because I was too useful, walking to Crosthwaite Vicarage with messages from the schoolmistress! The Howe School had rainwater stored in a trough. We took our own tea and milk and brewed our own drink.
I worked on several farms, Wilsons at Durham Bridge, Jacksons at Row Farm and for John Wilson at Michael Yeat. John Wilson was passionate about showing and won "The best turned out outfit" for farmers eleven times on the run. He bought one trap for £90. The wheels were as fine as could be, with rubber on, no thicker than your thumb. At Broad Oak, I worked for Thornborough, Carradus and Dobsons. We all helped on Boon days and shearing days. One year 8 or 10 of us picked 15 tons of damsons. Maggie, who lived at the Howe, was in hospital, so Les Park, John Jackson and I picked 3 tons from her orchard for her. Nothing was wasted. We would eat sweetbreads, from castrated lambs, rabbits and pigeons.
We used to go to the Methodist meetings in Johnny Wilson's barn. We sang to a harmonium or a melodeon. There was also a Methodist meeting at Tarnside Cottage. We went with the Jacksons three times, on a Sunday, to Sunday School and Church. The preachers were Cochrane and Cockerham, who biked from Kendal.
Every Easter Sunday we would go up to the copper mine, to roll our "pace eggs". After that we would go down the mine. One year, there was such an awful noise at the end of the passage. We were petrified! Suddenly there was such a commotion and a deer rushed past us, making his escape. I don't know who was more terrified, the deer or us!
Another day I had gone early to the Underbarrow Punchbowl. When I came out "seeing were terble difficult", so I was driving home with my head out of the window. Coming the other way was a friend, who asked me why I was driving so. "It's terble foggy, dost tha think?"
"Well," he replied, "if you removed the sack from your windscreen, you'd find it a lovely clera neet!"
Dad died when he was 40. Mum looked after The Plough for 12 months, while he was still in hospital. He had an appendix removed. The stitches kept splitting. The third time, they used gold wire but he still died.
I was exempt from the army in the war, because farming was a protected occupation. I worked at Haverflats, Milnthorpe. He was a good boss. Then I went to the Green Dragon Farm. It had been a pub. I only stayed there for two years. For dinner, we only had fried tatties and two slices of bread each. She only allowed two of us to dine at once, in case we wasted time! We washed in a big, stone slopstone, outside. There was no soap, so I asked for some. She must have had half a ton, locked up in the cupboard under the stairs.
Then I went to Welshpool, in Wales, molecatching. I worked at Powys Castle and Usk. I skinned 120 moles a night and sent the skins, by post, to Horace Friend in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. He made them into jackets and waistcoats. After three days work, I would send 450 or 500 skins. Grade A 6 inches by 6 inches, top price could bring up to 2/6d each. Maybe 20 out of 400 would only fetch 5d each.
After I came home from Wales, I worked for Willy Walling for 23 years at Dawson Fold and then for his son for 5 years. Then I went to Sedgewick and got a job on the roads. Next I got a job on the County Council, as a length man, looking after the road from Crookfoot to Crosthwaite, until I retired at the age of 65.
William (Billy) Wilson farmed at the Low from 1947 until 1996.
Three stories give a picture of Billy. Each morning at 8 o'clock, rush hour, Billy would let the cows out of the milking parlour to return them to the field, twenty minutes down the road (the A5074!). Walking ahead of them, pipe in mouth, he would delight in the queue of restless motorists, which would build up behind him!
Anne, Billy's daughter, remembers cleaning out the milking parlour, whilst Billy was upstairs in the proven loft, filling the hoppers for the next milking session. Suddenly BANG!! The walls reverberated, Anne jumped out of her skin. It was Billy, upstairs, whacking the rats and mice which had dared to climb the feeding tubes. A dead rat would land at her feet!
Lastly, Penny Mutch, who lives at Draw Well, remembers meeting Billy on his tractor crawling across the mosses at 5mph, walking pace, pipe in mouth, cap on his head and a twinkle in the eye. After greetings and establishing that she lived at "Inman's place", he remarked on the crate of empty wine bottles in the back of her car. Penny explained that she was on her way to the bottle bank. Billy then related the following tale.
A hot-air balloon had come down on a field on the mosses, at the same time that Billy happened by on his tractor. Now Billy well knew that the custom was to give the farmer a bottle of wine as a courtesy for landing in his field.
This fella came marching across the field and asked me, "Is this your field?"
"Aye it might be," I says. So he gave me a bottle of wine.
'Twasn't my field really!
John and Agnes Wilson, with his "best turned out outfit"
Lambs grazing in orchard at Gilpin Bank Farm