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GERALD'S MUSINGS
As chronicled in Wagtail, the Parish Magazine in Whittington, Arkholme and Gressingham.
(Most recent first)

December 07 - November 07 - October 07 - September 07 - July 07 - June 07 - May 07
April 07 - March 07 - February 07 - January 07

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The musings of GERALD - December 2007

As expected the Church Memorial Inscriptions book sold out immediately on the first day of publication, it has been very well received so we have reordered and now have a few in stock should any one want one, at 10 each they are very good value as they contain a whole lot of information about the Church plus the inscriptions on every gravestone and memorial both inside and outside the Church. There is also a very good DVD which includes everything in the book plus photos of every gravestone and memorial.

Mr and Mrs Lowe attended the rededication service they had travelled from Hartside near Huddersfield after they read details of the service on the Whittington web site; they brought with them a hand painted certificate that had been presented to John Tallon by Rector John Hodgkin, the Church Wardens and congregation of Whittington Church for fifty years loyal service as a chorister and forty years as a bell ringer.John Tallon was the eldest son of Thomas and Ellen Tallon who I mentioned last month, he was born in 1862 and trained as a tailor with his father, he started singing in the Choir aged eight in 1870 so must have known the Church before it was extended and restored in 1875.

Congratulations to Bill Tallon an old boy of Whittington School, he celebrated his 97th birthday last month Bill worked as a blacksmith and now lives in retirement in Ormskirk he is a regular reader of Wagtail and has just bought a Church Memorial book. We all wish Bill many happy returns and hope to help him celebrate his centenary in three years time, good luck Bill.

A local coach operator asks me to thank the local farmers for keeping their hedges neatly trimmed "It is so much easier driving a coach with these tidy hedges" he says I wish all the hedges in the rest of the country were as neat.

A friend has seen an otter in Bainsbeck close to the road bridge, I can never remember anyone seeing one so far from the river there must be a good source of food for it, how nice to see them in your own back yard.

We had an E mail from Helen Saum of Maryland, she is a regular reader of the village web site and wanted to get in touch with Jodie Williams who was over here in the summer she thinks they may be related via the Tallon family tree, she has been following the story of the Coat of Arms and says she is determined to come and see it the next time she is in this country.

Miss Marjorie Turner was the last in a long line of Head Teachers at Whittington School that stretch back over three hundred years. She moved here from Garsdale in the mid fifties and carried on until the school closed in 1973 through a lack of pupils. When she first took over at Whittington the facilities were very basic, cold water to wash with and toilets across the yard also one of the last junior schools where pupils could stay on until they were fifteen years old. She joined in local activities as a member of the Village Hall committee and also of the WI, After the school closed she taught the children at Morecambe West End Road Junior school until she retired. In later years her mother and father came to live with her and she nursed them both in their final years.

It was goodbye this month to that cheerful happy smiling gardener Bill Greenhow, Bill who's wonderful garden displays were always close to winning in any competition. Bill was born at Askham in Furness seventy eight years ago, after attending school there he started work at Underley Hall Farm Kirkby Lonsdale where he met his future wife Emily, they were married and lived in Kirkby Lonsdale for two years before moving to number 5 Crosslands where Bill lived for the next fifty years. On moving to Whittington Bill started working for Lancashire Highways Authority where he worked until he retired. It was Bill who built the wall from the School to Wayside Cottage in 1969 when the road through the village was widened and he constantly helped maintain and improve the roads along the Lune Valley. Bill and Emily were founder members of The Dance Club that was formed in 1976 they were quick learners and made lots of friends enjoying many happy years of dancing .1 have fond memories of a good neighbour who was devoted to his wife and family, he will be sadly missed by Andrew, Patricia and their families.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - November 2007

The Whittington Charity Trustees meet this month to distribute the annual income, as usual part of the income goes to first year full time university or college students living in Whittington Parish. Sally Hall, Eric Pelter or Gerald Hodgson would like to hear from you, or a relative, if you qualify. Please let us know.

Jodie Williams from Chicago called on us last month, her eighth trip over this year, she is searching for two members of the Tallon family who went missing in the 1840s. Thomas Tallon was born at Whittington in 1808. He married Rebecca Jackson here in 1829. They lived at Hutton Roof where sons Thomas and John were born, they then moved to Blackburn where Rebecca and James were born.

In 1851 the children were living at Newton, James and John who was thirteen that year lived at Newton Gate with the Hardman family and were classed as servants, Thomas, nineteen and Rebecca who was only six years old lived with the Cragg family and were classed as pauper scholars, no mention of their parents, had they died, gone abroad to make their fortune in the gold rush or just disappeared? Jodie would like to know.

Thomas trained as a tailor and stayed on in Whittington with his wife Ellen and their nine children but what a responsibility for a young man of nineteen to try and keep the family together in such trying times.

Whittington has been lucky over the years with the quality and dedication of the Rectors who have served the Parish. One such man was the Rev Richard Jackson M A, you will find his name on the sun dial, he was Rector from 1641 - 1680 so would be responsible for the Royal Coat of Arms being placed in Church in the first place. He it was who organised collections in the Church for good causes all around the country as well as Ireland and North Africa, these were all listed in the back of the Church Register by the Church Wardens of the time. He died in 1680 and was buried in the Church but after the Church restoration in 1875 the history book tells us "his gravestone was moved to the Churchyard to the East of the Chancel, it bears his arms and has recently been recut" probably one of the three gravestones stood upright against the north wall of the Church and which is now so badly eroded it is impossible to read the inscription.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - October 2007

Five years after it was found the Georgian Coat of Arms is finally back on the wall in the Church over one hundred and thirty years since it was taken down and placed in the Old Rectory stables for safe keeping. How lucky we are that it survived in such good condition and that it was never chopped up for firewood or taken apart to make a Childs tree house. It really is very impressive and with the light shining from the right direction it is possible to see the original saw marks on the panels that were cut from an oak tree that started life around eight hundred years ago or about the time King John signed the Magna Carta.

We hear that a small group in Manchester are hoping to have the gravestone on William Sturgeon's grave in Prestwich churchyard made a listed monument as a tribute to the man born in Whittington who's research and inventions contributed so much to the early electrical industry./p>

The Heritage Society are holding an exhibition on Sunday October 21st at 2pm in the Village Hall, on show will be some of the photos of the Rev John Hodgkin. local maps including the Tythe map where we want to name the fields and enclosures, books of local interest a copy of Whittington Parish Records from 1530--1760 The life of William Sturgeon, an account of early attempts to fly on Sellet Banks. There are also early photos of Arkholme Church, Arkholme School Photos 1924--1954, and of Carus House and several others plus a couple of items made by Charlie Ireland the last Arkholme basket maker.

The Lancashire Family History Society have promised that the Church Memorials book will be printed on time and will be on display.If you are interested in local history please come along and if you have any questions about our villages we will try to answer them.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - August 2007

If you would like to be a part of the history of Whittington come along to the Church between 11am and 12 o'clock on Tuesday September 4th when the Lancashire Museum Services will be returning the King George 3rd Coat of Arms, it is almost three hundred and fifty years since the plaque was first placed in the Church and one hundred and thirty years since it was removed.

Once the plaque has been replaced on the north wall of the Church it will be impossible to read the writing on the rear of the panels which tells us that it was first made in 1661 and was repaired and repainted by Robert Smith of Kirkby Lonsdale in 1819.

The Coat of Arms was found in 2002 when Fred Halls and Son's workmen were clearing out the Old Rectory garage, it would have landed on the village bonfire if one of the workmen hadn't noticed the writing on the back and decided to take it to the office for a closer investigation. It was impossible to see anything on the front of the plaque as the paintwork was totally covered with dust and dirt but with a bit of careful washing it was soon apparent that it was a Royal Coat of Arms.After the curator of Lancaster Museum had inspected it and decided it was quite an important find it was taken to the Lancashire Museums Restoration Studios where it has been reframed, cleaned, restored and refurbished a very painstaking operation that took two and a half years to complete, once it is back on the wall in Church let's hope that it's good for another three hundred and fifty years.Of course none of this work would have been possible without a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for which we are for ever grateful.

There will be a service of Rededication on October 21st.

The Heritage Society are holding a small exhibition in the Village Hall on October 21st following the Rededication Service, the Church Memorials and Gravestones book should be on display if it is back from the printers. There will also be old photos, articles, books, maps and memorabilia to look at something for everyone.We also have an old Tithe map showing all the fields and enclosures in the Parish around 800 of them if you know the names of any of these fields would you please come along so they can be recorded before they all disappear and are forgotten.

The swallows have been forming packs and moving south since the beginning of August almost a month earlier than usual, there are still a few late nesters and single birds around but the majority have gone, are they like us fed up of the wet summer or is it a warning of worse weather to come.

Once again the bus stop notice board has been enlivened with drawings, this time warning us of the dangers of smoking to our health, not all youngsters go around causing trouble and doing damage well done girls.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - July 2007

The Whittington Heritage Society have heard from the Lancaster City Museum that they are changing their exhibits around in August and that the Royal Coat of Arms will be ready for collection any time after September the 3rd so hopefully it will be back in Church on display shortly afterwards.

The Church Memorial Book is almost ready to go to the printers all the photographs have been taken the script written and any small mistakes taken care of, so if you would like a copy and haven't ordered one yet please let us know immediately as it is a very limited edition but I am sure once you have seen it you will be delighted with the very professional job Catherine Newstead has achieved.We have been unable to fix a date for our display in the Village Hall but should be ready to announce it in the next Wagtail.

Thank you the clever artists whose drawing appeared on the bus shelter notice board, it made reading the notices a pleasure and it's nice to know you enjoy living in Whittington. I look forward to your next contribution.

I mentioned at the lunch club that I hadn't heard a cuckoo for several years, Nancy a regular at the club said get yourself to the Killington to Old Hutton road one night there are plenty of them up there. Sure enough we set off one lovely sunny night took the right fork road at Old Town and headed off on the old Scotch drovers road across the moor, on the right rhododendrons surrounding the boating lake above Rigmaden Hall were a sea of colour a picture in the evening sun. We saw our first cuckoo shortly after when one flew across the road in front of us it was being chased by a mob of small birds, having parked in a gateway we walked along the road and were entertained by three or four cuckoos constantly calling to one another as they flew from tree to tree what a performance we had timed our trip just right.We returned home via Killington Lake and George Fox's pulpit, a large rock in a field where a plaque tells us how George Fox preached to thousands of his followers.early one morning. Where his followers were from and how they got to such a remote place says a lot for their devotion and his ability as a preacher.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - June 2007

Please try and keep the village tidy for the Best Kept Village Competition, the judging period is from the 1st of June until the 13th of July. Can we all do our own little bit by keeping the weeds down and the footpaths clean and neat, we know it's not one of the most beautiful villages around with all the heavy traffic passing along the main street but we do enjoy living here.

Don't forget the Parish Council contest for Hanging Baskets, Window Boxes and Front Gardens judging is late July early August so be prepared.

The Heritage Society are hoping to hold a display of the photos maps and books they have collected later in the year, we hope it will coincide with the publishing of The Church Memorials Book and the replacing of the Royal Coat of Arms in the Church, more news next month.

There were three practical jokers in Arkholme during the nineteen twenties and thirties they were Tom Williamson (Waxer) the village shoemaker Tom Mercer head gardener at Storrs Hall and Albert Ireland the postmaster, probably their most notorious prank was about the 'Atmos Condenser.' Before mains water came to the village all the water had to be pumped or carried from the well, a water shortage was a serious problem in dry times, so when a printed flyer was delivered with the weekend papers one Friday in March inviting local people to attend a demonstration outside the Bay Horse Hotel of the miraculous Atmos Condenser lots of people became interested. The machine it claimed extracted water vapour from passing clouds via a long pipe which pointed skywards providing a never ending supply of clean fresh water, everyone thought their prayers had been answered. Came the night of the demonstration and quite a crowd had gathered in the road outside the Bay Horse including farmers Bowness and Moss from Docker Park and Brown Edge farms who had decided to buy one machine between them and place it on the hilltop between the two farms, it was a cold night and there was no sign of the machine, Tom Mercer and Tom Williamson had disappeared after seeing the size of the crowd, eventually Albert Ireland came out of the Post Office waving a Telegram informing the waiting crowd that the demonstration was cancelled as a seagull had been sucked into the induction pipe and until such times as it could be freed the machine would not work, they were very sorry and would be in touch at a later date The waiting crowd realised then that they had been tricked and looked around for the culprits but they had gone and it was a few days before they were again seen in the village. A local newspaper heard the story and tried to get to the bottom of the mystery but none of the jokers were willing to talk so only part of the story was ever told.

For over a hundred years a statue of Old Father Time stood in a flower bed facing the front door at Storrs Hall one year just before the annual Church Garden Party Tom Mercer chiselled a coin slot in the middle of its back and on the day of the party a notice was placed on the statue inviting people to contribute to the Society for Distressed and Needy Gardeners, I don't know if anyone posted any money but if they did it is probably still there as there was no way of getting it out again. I wonder if the Old Man is still around?

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - May 2007

The mapping and recording of the memorials and gravestones in and around the Church yard is almost complete and we hope to have the book printed by late summer.The usual print run for a book of this type is usually very small possibly ten or less copies so if you think you would like one please let us know as soon as possible, I am sure you will be very pleased when you see the finished article and we hope it won't cost any more than 20.

The swallows have arrived, a single swallow was seen at Loyne Park on April 1st not an April's fool I was told, a pair were seen at Arkholme Station on the 11th another pair at Sellet Hall on the 12th and I saw two flying around the Church on the 13th, so the old saying that the swallows come when the damson blossom blooms is again correct what this has to do with global warming I have no idea.

I had a surprise phone call from Jim Leach last week, Jim was evacuated from Salford in 1939 and he and his brother Joe were taken in by Mr and Mrs Tom Howarth of Whittington Hall. He has happy memories of Whittington and he must have been well liked there as Tom Howarth left him and his brother 100 each in his will.

Whittington is so lucky to have so much recorded history, I have just been reading 'The Registers of the Parish Church of Whittington Vol 1 1538--1764' it is available from the library on request.Started in the reign of Henry the eighth the records are one of only three complete sets in the whole of Lancashire one of the entries for 1616 is as follows.

"From the xix days of December 1616 unto the iiijth day of November 1617 next ensuinge it pleased God to visit this pish of Whittington with a dangerous disease or contagious sicknes within the which time and space afforsaid there was sicke in this said pish about twoe hundred in which tyme there deceased as followeth." Twenty nine people died in those twelve months what a blow it must have been to the Parish.In the two hundred and twenty six years covered by the records there was an average of ten deaths per year so in the eight hundred years since the Church was built it must be assumed that around eight thousand people have been buried in the Churchyard.

Congratulations to John Haston who celebrates his 90th birthday this month, always there supporting village events with his wife Muriel, have a great day John you have earned it.

Colin Davies has been in touch he was tracing his family history and found a forbear named Edward France lived in Whittington, three of Edwards sons trained as cabinet makers and upholsterers and moved to London where they won the Royal Warrant as furniture makers to King George III. Not a bad effort from three village lads, Colin promises to supply us with more information at a later date.

(Colin has sent a lot of details which we are making into a new web page at the moment - Web Editor)

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - April 2007

Catherine Newstead has done a marvelous job mapping the Church Yard and marking the positions of all the gravestones and memorials both inside and outside the Church.When it is finished all the gravestones will be numbered and listed alphabetically so that it will be possible to locate the position of each one without having to scramble all over the Churchyard searching.We uncovered five stones that had been hidden for quite some time all laid flat down and covered with soil and grassed over it isn't possible to read all of them but the earliest one is for Richard Gunson who died in 1733.

Doreen Airey and George Woodend are about to create a Roll of Honour for the men and women of Arkholme who served in the armed forces during the Second World War the list of names suggested to go on it are as follows.Cecil Cooper Thomas Denyer Cecil Hayton Edward Hayton Thomas Metcalfe Nellie Metcalfe Jack Moss Ernest Newby Harold Newby Betty Read Bill Read William Taylor Wilfred Richardson George Richardson Frank Webster Harry Webster Donald Webster William Woodend. If you think this list should be altered or added to would you please let either Doreen or George know before the 30th of June so that they can get on with the project.

As usual this time of year before the grass starts to grow I have been picking up litter left on the road sides, it's a slow job this year as my wheelie bin can only digest one extra bag full per week and as it is possible to fill a sack in a matter of 500 yards the biggest problem is disposing of the rubbish. What a pity they shut the Parish tip!

Don't forget to keep watching out for the first swallows to see if global warming is affecting their habits, they used to arrive about the 24th of April but last year they were here on the 12th surely they wont be any sooner this year.

For a few years my vegetable garden has been the home for several colonies of Solitary Bees. Somehow these clever insects manage to make a pile of small pebbles with one or two tiny pieces of straw or stick standing upright in the middle, how they manage to move the small stones I have no idea isn't nature wonderful. You may have them in your garden and never know there there.

John and Mary Fell both celebrate their 70th birthdays this year and over the years they have both worked hard in their own quiet way for both the Village and the Church, at a party held recently for family and friends they raised 450 for the North West Air Ambulance.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - March 2007

We hear a lot about waste disposal and recycling now a days but it isn't so long ago that it was left to the Parish Council to get rid of the village rubbish. Most parishes had an old quarry or a hole in the ground which was used as the communal tip, Whittington had Township Quarry which was used until the 1970's Arkholme had Bainsbeck Wood which closed years earlier.Most Parish Councils employed a local farmer to provide a horse and cart with a driver to travel around the village once a month to collect rubbish and take it to the local tip.Leonard Mason assisted by Jack Buckley operated the last tip cart at Arkholme and quite a row developed when a new Sanitary Inspector employed by Hornby Rural District Council decided to shut the tip to prevent rubbish getting into the beck and this anonymous poem appeared on the parish notice board.

Bainsbeck Wood is now taboo,
What are residents to do?
'Till the council sack George Formby, ( comedian)
Let's tip our rubbish down at Hornby.

As children during the war we were encouraged to rummage through the tipped rubbish to collect any scrap metal, glass bottles and jars to help in the war effort.

It's good to see Stuart Close out and about again after his triple heart by pass operation, he must be feeling better as he thinks sitting around convalescing is boring especially when there is all that farm work waiting to be done.Sit back and enjoy the rest Stuart I'm sure those cows won't miss you for a few extra days.

Congratulations to Ian Close on winning an Asda / Arla Dairy Farmers Scholarship, with it he intends to visit top dairy farms in California and Wisconsin to study large dairy herd management matters.Quite the seasoned traveler is Ian he has just returned from a three week trip to Australia where he watched two of the recent Test Matches as a member of the "Barmy Army."

The restoration of the Georgian Coat of Arms is now complete and is on display at the Lancaster City Museum, the restorers have done a wonderful job and the finished work is really impressive. The Museum is well worth a visit if you have an hour to spare next time you are in Lancaster or you can simply wait and view the plaque when it is replaced in the Church later on this year..

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - February 2007

John Haston remembers the school trips I wrote about last month, he tells me you never mentioned the first one we went on to Keswick and Derwent Water, he recalls stopping at Caldbeck to view John Peel's grave and having a photo taken outside the Post Office there. On the trip to Birkenhead they were shown around a large ocean liner being repaired in the dry dock where his school friend leaned against some wet paint and got it all over his new suit first time on that day. They later visited the Lever Soap Works at Port Sunlight where they spent the rest of the day having a meal and being shown around the factory.

It will be 50 years this month since I last used Arkholme Station as a passenger, the dreaded brown envelope had arrived complete with travel warrant inviting me to present myself at Heathfield Camp Honiton in Devon to start National Service. I was given a rail ticket in exchange for the warrant and orders to change trains at Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston, Crewe, Bristol and Exeter in all a sixteen hour overnight journey. I met another young man equally lost on Preston Station who was heading in the same direction it turned out eventually that he was a relative of Geoffrey Ford's Mother and knew Arkholme quite well.We spent the next six weeks in the same hut in adjoining beds along with another eighteen trainees as a Sergeant and a Corporal did their best to teach us to march and drill, clean our kit fire rifles and bren guns and become a proud member of the British Army. Harry and I have been friends ever since and still have a laugh about our army days.The pay then was 2.00 per week less ten Shillings 50p which was sent home to my mother, how ever did we manage? I eventually qualified as an armoured fighting vehicle fitter and spent the next eighteen months dashing around Salisbury Plain maintaining Centurion tanks for the 7th Hussars Cavalry Regiment as part of the 3rd Infantry Division formerly the Desert Rats. It doesn't seem that long since where did those fifty years go?

My sister Joan and her husband Jim who were married at Arkholme in 1956 emigrated to New Zealand shortly after I joined the army and it was twenty five years before we met up again when they came home to celebrate their silver wedding, she still keeps in touch with her old friends and is a regular reader of the village web site and soon lets me know if I get things wrong. She was a founder member of Arkholme WI and still has the wedding card they sent her when she was married.

The Snow Drops in the Church Yard have started flowering the jackdaws are looking at their old nests in the Church Tower spring must be just around the corner it seems to come earlier every year.

The Church flag has taken a battering in the recent storms the poor thing is almost down to half size hardly enough left to repair.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - January 2007

Four members of the Heritage Society visited the Lancashire Museums Conservation Studio last month, our visit coincided with a visit from the Lancashire Heraldic Society chairman Mr Derek Walkden, he showed us how the coat of arms had been altered to the Hanoverian crest.The Coat of Arms is due to go on display in the City Museum mid January and return to Whittington in July. Whilst we were there they showed us the Roman Gravestone found at Lancaster, that is their next project it is very big and quite bloodthirsty for a gravestone it shows a Roman soldier beheading a Barbarian with his sword and holding the head aloft by the hair.

We finished the day off in the County Archives I requested the second of four school log books it dated from 1887-1950 it was like reading a sixty year village diary.The weather was a regular subject October 1st 1888 terrible snow storm children unable to get to school January 27th 1940 terrible blizzard for two days the roads are completely blocked and all communications cut off 10 out of 56 children at school, January 26th 1947 another awful snow storm only 2 children at school the headmistress comments the temperature in the classroom at 9-30 was 39 degrees F how can I teach children when we are all freezing.The school was closed for a trip to Blackpool We gathered at Arkholme station took the train to Heysham boarded a steamer which took us to Fleetwood from there we travelled by tram to Blackpool to spend the rest of the day, returned home in a Char-A-Banc. The following year it was Birkenhead via the recently opened Mersey Tunnel. On the11th of September 1939 40 evacuees arrived from St Andrews school in Salford they didn't all stay as not all their parents could afford to pay their boarding fees, there was 68 children on the roll at this time.Another entry 'We had a delivery of sports equipment today 20 small rubber balls, 2 large hoops, 6 small ones, 2 long skipping ropes, 6 short ones' Some names still around Fred Hall presented us with an Honours Board, little Vera Bateson (Harrison) fell in the school yard and broke her ankle, Eric Pelter fell in the school yard and broke his wrist, Gordon Woodward has passed the entrance examination for the Storey Institute and starts on January 19th.One regular appearance was 'The school was closed today so as to allow the children attend the Kirkby Lonsdale Agricultural Show' Happy days?

Mary and Joanne Woods really put Docker on the map when they found that young seal pup on the road side it seemed to appear on every news programme. It would seem that even seal sat navs go wrong occasionally or was it really wanting a starring role and free board and lodging at Docker Park Farm.

It never seems to have stopped raining this month and the rivers and becks have been constantly overflowing, the biggest flood I remember was in 1954 when my sister and I watched the water rising at Gressingham where it came up the road and ran through an iron gate which is on the right hand side of the road going down the hill we called Skelly Bank Brow, the gate is still there but appears unused and overgrown, that day the whole valley was flooded and everyone struggled to move around.

Gerald Hodgson

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