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The musings of GERALD - December 2017 - January 2018

The new church central heating is finally up and running, a whole lot of thanks must go to John Pinch and his group of volunteers. Over the last few months I have watched as they dismantled the old oil-fired system, then dug the trench to connect the new boiler to the gas main, after which they updated the radiators in the Church. I am sure all the congregation will want to congratulate them on a job well done.

I hope that the council roadmen will one day find the time and material to come along and repair the deep potholes on Church Street. They are now so deep they could easily damage a car's suspension or cause an accident.

The Dawson family have recently moved to Welshpool. They will be sadly missed by their friends in the village. They were always willing to support events and organisations. No matter what the situation was, they were always willing to help.

They were the kind of people that all villages need to survive.

We have been reading this week about the repairs needed for the Iron bridge over the River Severn built in 1792 by Abraham Darby - but what you may not know is that the decorative cast iron porch over the front door of the Old Rectory pre-dates the bridge by over fifty years. Should we let them know Whittington was there first? Happy Christmas everyone.

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The musings of GERALD - November 2017

What a happy night we had at the Harvest Supper, good company, good food, and surrounded by fellow villagers – far more enjoyable than sitting at home watching TV.

Congratulations to Malcolm Fell for winning the prize for the Best Managed Farm at the Westmorland County Show. Well done for all the hard work it must have required to reach such a high standard.

Once again the Church was beautifully decorated for the Harvest Festival, each individual window was so nicely decorated and the screen and altar flowers were once again superbly crafted – it really is a pleasure to view these colourful displays.

This month we will be commemorating Remembrance Sunday when we recall the lives of the young men who left our village to fight for their country and never returned. They never got to enjoy the world as we know it today. But for their sacrifices we may never have enjoyed the freedom we take for granted. [Services start in each church at 10.30am – Ed.]

A word of advice to the young man we passed one dark night riding his bike dressed in dark clothing and with no lights to warn other road users – he is an accident statistic waiting to happen. Your parents should have more sense than allow you out on a bike so poorly prepared for the conditions, what a pity we no longer have a local policeman, he would certainly have given you a dressing down and made you walk home!

The next dance at the Village Hall is on Saturday 18 November when Dennis Westmorland will be providing the music.

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The musings of GERALD - October 2017

Best wishes to Gordon Woodward, who over the years has done so much for the village and especially the Church. Gordon broke his wrist two months ago, and being unable to look after himself, he has spent his time at Saint Wilfrid’s nursing home at Halton. I am sure you will join with me to wish him well, and hope to see him back in the village in the near future.

Arkholme resident Jim Hayton of Bainsbeck Farm is at the moment being cared for at Hornby Nursing home. Jim – who I think will qualify as the oldest resident to have been born and lived in the village all his life – is well respected in the farming community, and is well known for his interest in vintage tractors, and his ability in vintage ploughing matches. Best wishes Jim, hope to see you back home soon.

Another invalid is Margaret Blades of Keer Holme Farm. Margaret had a brain tumour removed in an operation at Preston Hospital ten weeks ago, and is making a very slow recovery, best wishes Margaret from your friends in village.

My apple tree has produced the best crop of fruit this year it has ever had. A lot of the fruit finished as windfalls after last weeks storm, and first the blackbirds came to eat them, and then when the sun returned this week a swarm of red admiral butterflies appeared, and what a beautiful colourful sight they are. They only appear when the sun is shining so it is a mystery where they go when it rains.

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The musings of GERALD - September 2017

t is amazing what some families will do to defend their privacy. When Thomas Greene built Whittington Hall, he had a bill go through Parliament that allowed him to build a new road from the Church to the top of Moor brow, with bridges over Pearson Ghyll and Moor Ghyll, with a spur off to West Hall. The drive had previously been a public road ever since the Romans built it as part of the Keighley to Kendal highway.

The North family built a short by-pass from Docker Lane to Laundry Cottage, to divert the road away from Newton Hall, and Francis Pearson allowed two cottages in the field in front of Storrs Hall to become derelict, so that he could close the old green lane that served them, and is now Storrs Hall back drive. This road then carried on down the fields until it reached the river where it turned left up the river side and joined the road at Ferry Cottage. The two cottages in front of Storrs Hall were eventually demolished, and the stone was used to build the barn and shippon at Storrs Gate farm.

I hear that some young drivers see the speed device at the School corner as a challenge to see who can record the fastest speed as they approach it. They should have more sense.

If you want a good night out and value for money come to the Village Hall on Saturday 9 September when Dennis Westmorland is playing his own brand of Lakeland music. You will be well-entertained for four hours, get a good wholesome supper and two drinks at the bar, and come away with change out of a twenty pound note. Not much dearer than a lonely night at home with a bottle of wine. I know which I prefer.

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The musings of GERALD - July/August 2017

What a happy afternoon we had at John Haston’s one hundredth birthday party.

John was in sparkling mood, and was proud to show us his telegram from the Queen, and also one from the Prime Minister – he well deserves them both for all he has done for the community over the years. Being in John’s company has always been a pleasure, we are so lucky to be able to call him a friend.

The Church Heritage Day was a great success – very well attended, and an interesting talk by Andrew White on the history of the Church. I took part of my Whittington archive across so that anyone interested in the history of the village could study the old photographs, the old sale adverts, the paper cuttings, and lots more material I have collected over the years. I am quite willing to lend out any of the folders to any one who would like to study it more deeply. Just call round and tell me which one you would like to borrow and I will be happy to oblige.

We had a great night in the Village Hall dancing to the music provided by The Tartan Sound dance band from Lockerbie. The hall was full of happy dancers just like old times. Today’s youngsters just do not know what they are missing!

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The musings of GERALD - June 2017

The swallows returned on 21 April, when I first saw them flying around the Church tower. Year on year the numbers returning get less and less, and even in my life time I have seen various varieties of birds getting fewer and fewer. I suppose our lifestyle is now so hygienic that the food chain that they feed on has disappeared. We are no longer bothered by house flies and swarms of butterflies – all good food for hungry birds to feed on. A pair of swifts were seen on 10 May, doing wonderful aerobatics.

I have been watching a pair of buzzards that are nesting nearby, they fly so gracefully, soaring away with hardly a wing beat whilst climbing high in the air on a thermal. We are so lucky to be able to view these birds whilst sat in the back garden. For over forty years I have been digging my vegetable garden, and during that time.

I have raked off barrow-loads of fragments of broken stones – limestone, fossillimestone, sandstone, sedimentary rock and river stones – so many different types of stone that I think my back garden was once the stone masons yard when the Church was built. But this spring I dug up some iron slag probably raked off an iron founder’s crucible – so has my garden once been a cottage-industry iron foundry?

My neighbour’s son Christopher Bibby has just won the coach driver of the year title at the Blackpool National Coach rally, well done Chris.

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The musings of GERALD - May 2017

That wonderful man John Haston will be 100 years old this month. Over the years John and his late wife Muriel devoted much of their leisure time on village committees, first helping to raise funds to build the village hall, and later as chairman of the committee. He and Muriel rarely missed an event held in the hall. John was also the chairman of the Horticultural Society which held the annual flower show. It was always the case if you wanted something doing in the village John was always willing to help. I will always have so many happy memories of our work together on the village hall committee and the friends we made running the dances there. Have a very happy birthday John.

Whatever happened to the Solar Farm that was going to be built on Sadler Nook Lane, that promised untold funds for the village? Did they find out that there is not enough sunshine in Whittington, or are there great crested newts in the beck?

Our street had not been swept for at least six months until last week when a sweeper suddenly arrived, the driver must have enjoyed the scenery as for the next two hours he went up and down the street at least ten times. He left the street beautifully clean but surely with all this modern equipment one time up and down should have been enough.

Come along to Whittington Church Heritage day on Sunday 21 May when some of the collection of my Whittington Archive material will be on display, along with old photos, maps, and other items I have collected over the years. I hope to see you there.

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The musings of GERALD - April 2017

Once again the spring flowers in the churchyard have been beautiful – first the snowdrops, followed by the crocus and daffodils – they really have been a superb sight, also the large carpet of snowdrops in the ghyll at the lower end of Moor Brow gets bigger every year, well worth stopping for a few minutes just to admire the beauty of them.

Does the village really want to spend upwards of £7,000 on a speed awareness camera? Could someone not make a dummy policeman with a high viz jacket and a fake camera in its hand a bit like the Wray scarecrows and place it at strategic places around the village? I am sure motorists would slow down just to view him.

John Jackson and Gerry Hoggarth – two of Arkholme’s older residents – have recently moved to an old folk’s home at Hornby, where I am sure they will be enjoying each other’s company. Best wishes to both of them.

The rooks and jackdaws are busy building new nests, there are new born lambs in the fields, the hawthorn hedges are just starting to show green – what a wonderful time of year, we are so lucky to be able to enjoy it.

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The musings of GERALD - March 2017

I moved from Arkholme to Whittington in 1959 and what a change I have seen in the village in that time. There were two shops and a post office, Fred Hall the builders, Pelters' the coal merchants, and haulage contractors Fred Goad had the garage and filling station. Vince Watson was the joiner and undertaker, Jack Usher was landlord at the Dragons Head, Herbert Thornber was a general dealer. There were seven working farms and a poultry farm in the village, and another fourteen around the parish. Sellet Mill was still working, and Tommy Tallon the Blacksmith had just retired.

The school was educating around thirty pupils. At that time the children could stay on until they were fifteen years old. I think Keith Bateson would be the last boy to stay full time. Almost all the residents at that time had been born and gone to school in the village and were very proud of their heritage.

The main street was very narrow. There were no street lights and no main sewerage, but we did have a very good bus service, and butchers, bakers and hardware vans calling every week. Mr Watson was the Rector and lived in the new Rectory. Hardly anyone owned a car as most men of working age worked locally, either on farms or as roadmen, forestry workers, or river board men - all these jobs have since disappeared. We all made our own enjoyment back then, whist drives, dances, social evenings, or a night at the Dragons Head. What a pity it has all changed.

What a sad state the bottom end of Hosticle Lane is in. The walls retaining the bank sides are falling down, the centre of the lane is inches deep in mud, the road surface is breaking up in long lengths, and the drains are level full of mud. Not the best destination for a Sunday afternoon walk.

My grandson Jamie is working on a very remote farm in Patagonia at the moment. His wife Laura is helping to look after the family's eight children. There is no electric on the farm, and they go to bed by candle light. Nothing changes does it. They hope to move back to Santiago in Chile next month to take up a teaching post.

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The musings of GERALD - February 2017

What a happy occasion the Arkholme Pensioners Lunch Club Party was - a very well- cooked traditional Christmas dinner, very neatly served by the school children, followed by some very good carol singing, again by the school children, making it a lovely start to the Christmas season. Thank you to everyone who helped to organise it, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Church carol service was well attended. We love singing those old traditional carols and hearing the Christmas story once again. It brings back so many happy memories of families and days long gone.

I suppose there was a good reason to renew the street lights. It certainly hasn't improved the quality of illumination. In fact you almost have to shine a torch to see if they are on. The new lights might have worked if the lamp posts had been ten feet taller and the light spread wider. I just think this is progress going backwards.

The next dance in the Village Hall is on Saturday 4 February when Dennis Westmorland is back playing, raising funds for Lupton Church.

It is seventy years this month since the big freeze of 1947. As an eleven year old at Arkholme school, I remember it well All the becks and ponds were frozen as well as the river Lune, lots of snow for sledging, and great fun sliding on the frozen ponds. Not much fun for our parents though, food was scarce, there was a shortage of coal, and every house then was heated by a coal fire. The miners were threatening to go on strike to make matters worse, and the dockers' were holding up deliveries of fresh food on the docks. We just do not know what it is like to see shops selling food having empty shelves nowadays do we.

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