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

December 08 - November 08 - October 08 - July/August 08 - June 08 - May 08 -
April 08 - March 08 - February 08 - January 08

Archives for the following years
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2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 -

The musings of GERALD - December 2008

A lot has been said and written this last month about the 90th anniversary of the first world war, so when I called on an old work colleague he told me of his experiences in the second world war. Ernie Corless was born at Farleton near Hornby in 1921 and moved to Biggins near Kirkby Lonsdale when he was two years old, he attended the National School and was then apprenticed as a butcher at Richardson's the butchers in Kirkby Lonsdale. At that time butchers had their own slaughter houses close to their shops and animals were killed skinned cleaned and cut up on the premises so a butchers boy was kept very busy as he also had to serve in the shop and deliver meat on a carrier bicycle around the local large houses and hotels, at that time his weekly wage was 3. Ernie was called up to join the Royal Army Service Corps in 1940 and after training was sent to North Africa where he arrived shortly after the Battle of Allemain his job now was to keep a Royal Artillery Battery supplied with ammunition, as this could only be done at night time and the Battery was constantly advancing after the retreating German army the big problem was finding the Gunners in the dark without using lights in a vast open desert a difficult task in rapidly changing scenery.

The German army was finally defeated in North Africa and the army then fought in Sicily and Italy fighting around Naples and Monte Casino Ernie was now a motor cycle dispatch rider and his job was to keep in contact with the gunners find out what ammunition they needed and then guide the loaded trucks up the narrow mountain roads back to where the big guns were firing from, on two occasions he was attacked by dive bombers but each time he heard the aeroplane coming left his bike on the road and dived into the roadside ditch each time his bike was wrecked but he survived unhurt. Later he took part in the Anzio landing at that time there was a shortage of infantry troops so Ernie was given a rifle and sent to defend the front line in case of a German counter attack, he finished his war in Northern Italy guarding the Gothic Line and after the war ended he came home by train through a war torn Europe.

After he was demobilised Ernie returned to his old job his wage had increased to 4 per week but meat was now rationed and the butchery trade was very quiet as ration coupons had to be produced before meat to the value of 1/2d per person could be purchased. He married his wife Mable in 1947 and their son Richard was born in 1950, always a keen sportsman Ernie was playing football for a local team when he fell and broke his leg life became very difficult then as the team had no insurance and his employer wouldn't pay sick pay and it was almost three months before he was fit to work again, it was then that his friend Jim Pelter who's family haulage firm was expanding offered him a job as a truck driver and for the next thirty years until he retired he worked from the garage at Whittington delivering building and road making material all over the country. Ernie is now quite lame needing two sticks to walk with and a mobility scooter to get around on, a long way from the fit gardening, cycling, dancing, bowling sporting friend I met over fifty years ago a bit slower now but he certainly has some wonderful memories.

Syd Banks will be playing for the very last time at the Lupton Church Dance in the Village Hall on the 20th December Syd will be 80 years old in February and has been playing the drums in the family band for 66 years. Still one of the best bands to dance to we are going to miss him singing all the traditional hunting and lakeland songs, before he retired Syd was the head gardener at Holker Hall quite a challenging job as he regularly played three nights a week sometimes as late as one or two o'clock in the morning at some of the Lakeland Hunt Balls.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - November 2008

After meeting John Hayton at Whittington Hall I was reminded of a scary incident his brother Lesley had one dark night during the war when he was cycling down the lane to Higher Broomfield farm to visit his Uncle George's family. There was a total blackout during the war and all car lights had masks covering them also bicycle lights shone downwards so that you could only see about a yard in front of you so travelling at night was slow and dangerous. Lesley had just passed the Lower Broomfield Lane end when he heard a terrible whirring crashing swishing noise and immediately thought it was a German invasion or a glider landing he was all alone on a pitch dark night scared to show a light and quite a long way from the nearest telephone. He eventually made his way back to Arkholme and reported the incident to the police but it wasn't until the next day that they found that a large barrage balloon towing a long steel mooring cable had escaped from an anti aircraft gun site and was being blown by the wind across the countryside leaving a trail of damage behind it. Poor Lesley really thought his end had come that night.

We saw a small flock of swallows flying around the Church Tower on the 9th of October at least a month after they usually leave, can we now expect a nice warm winter.

I uncovered a small mystery when I printed two of the photos that were shown at the Harvest Supper they both show the Church taken from behind Hillside they must have been taken about 1910 but what puzzles me is that the three old grave stones that stand upright against the north wall of the Church are not there so when were they put there and where did they come from? Two other photographs were identified at the show one was Lane Foot farm at Newton with I think the Makinson family who farmed there at the beginning of the last century and the other a rather sad one that was taken at the Memorial Service for twenty year old John Charles Dawson Green of Whittington Hall who died in April 1918 and shows a beautiful wreath alongside his sword and bearskin cap, it could be that the stained glass window in his memory was dedicated at the same time.

The judges of the Gardens and Hanging baskets had quite a few surprises in store especially for some of the winners, but it was the judges comments describing why they chose the winners that makes you realise what a difficult task they have and what a good job they did.

The policeman who caused that terrible accident at Sunnybank has finally been brought to justice, let us hope that the Police Authority will take heed of the jury's recommendations and stop using our country roads as race tracks. The victims could so easily have been a bunch of cyclists a young mother pushing a pram or a couple of horse riders, the roads are there for all of us to use with care not like some idiot policemen who think they are above the law.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - September 2008

Whittington Hall open gardens were well worth waiting for one of the best days we have had all summer, lots of people turned out and enjoyed cream teas under the awnings and being entertained by the Cat and Mouse duo. The McKay family crest outside the front door was again greatly admired it just seems to get better and better, the children had a great time running around the woodland paths, what a marvellous time they had and what a friendly enjoyable afternoon we all had raising money for such worthy causes.

That talented young pianist Jason Ridgway has just released his first CD, Jason who started playing when attending Arkholme School went on to study music at Chetham Music School. On this CD he is playing music composed by Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Joplin, music to suit everyone's tastes, if you would like a copy they are on sale at the Dragons Head price 9.99.

John Hayton from Lathom near Ormskirk was visiting Whittington Hall he had seen the Open Gardens advertised in The Wagtail which he has delivered every month, John was born at High House in 1926 but moved with the family when they took over a farm at Lathom. During the war John and his brother Lesley returned to Arkholme to help their granddad and uncle Jim at Bainsbeck Farm they soon settled in and made lots of friends in and around the village, he later worked for the Robinson family at Thorneys nursery gardens working in the green houses where the tomatoes and chrysanthemums were grown. He has lots of happy memories of Arkholme and still thinks of it as his second home, he promised to send me some cuttings out of the local paper that he has collected over the years we will just have to see what turns up. Living at Lathom I wonder if he ever sees that other Whittingon old boy Bill Tallon who lives at Ormskirk as they both have Wagtail delivered perhaps they will get in touch.

The Trustees of the Hardy's and Marginsons charities meet in November to distribute the annual income, if you live in Whittington Parish and are about to start your first year in full time education at either university or college you could be entitled to a small grant, or if you are a widow just arrived in the Parish please get in touch with either Sally Hall, Eric Pelter, Stuart Close or Gerald Hodgson so that you can be included in the distribution of the fund.

The man from the Council Highways department has just been round spraying the weeds on the footpath just ten weeks after they promised to come no wonder we never get anywhere in the Best Kept Village contest they probably run out of weedkiller before they reach us.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - July/August 2008

I walked down the river side from Arkholme to Thrushgill Wood last month it is a walk I used to do almost on a daily basis when as a schoolboy I exercised the dogs from Storrs Hall. It was such a disappointment virtually all the birds have disappeared, there used to be hundreds of sand martin's nests and the birds would be swooping and diving over the water catching flies, you could always see six or eight water hen's nests built on branches overhanging the water there were no snipe or redshank or sandpipers just a pair of mallard ducks and another pair of shovellers.The fields where I used to help with the haymaking and harvest are neglected there are large patches of nettles and thistles and sheep have made holes in many of the hedges also the river bank has become overgrown with self seeded hawthorn and alder trees and what used to be an uninterrupted view across the river to Melling and as far as Ingleborough is no longer possible. More disappointment when I arrived at Thrushgill it used to be a wall to wall blue carpet of bluebells a wonderful sight but now all I could find were a few odd patches of them, what a shame where has all the wildlife gone? and what sort of legacy are we passing on to future generations, will all the small song birds and the ground nesting birds have disappeared by the end of this century I hope not.

Alex Graham of 'The Vintage Motor Cycle Club' has found two articles about the Rev John Hodgkin copies of which he has sent to us, the first published in The Motor Cycle magazine dated July 28th 1910 is a photo of the Rector sat on a Scott Motor Cycle in the Old Rectory garden he is dressed in clerical robes as though he has come straight from a church service, the second article dated March 1991 uses the same photo and after describing the motor cycle the writer says "With a sprung saddle and telescopic forks, the Reverend was obviously a man who enjoyed travelling in comfort"

We have sent a C D containing some of the motor cycle photos to Alex Graham their librarian wants to see if any of them have been published and also to check the registration numbers to see if any of the old bikes are still around.

Congratulations to Alice Mackereth who is 86 this month, it's a pity she is no longer dancing as she was always my favourite partner in the La Va we will just have to have a quiet celebration at the pensioners lunch club and make sure she doesn't get to many of her favourite white wine drinks.Have a great day on the 27th Alice.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - June 2008

Gordon Woodward is back home not quite fully recovered yet but managing to look after himself with a little bit of help from his friends, just keep up the exercises Gordon and do as you are told you will soon be back to full fitness.

Congratulations to Peter Bibby of Closeburn who once again has won the Coach Company Director Driver of the year competition at the Brighton Coach Rally, his son Chris won the Coach Driver of the Year trophy.

Please keep the village as tidy as possible for the Best Kept Village inspection this month, not the prettiest of villages but let us show the judges that we do care for it.

Alex Graham the Chaiman of the North West Vintage Motor Cycle Club tells me their librarian is about to start searching through their collection of Motor Cycle magazines to find the articles written by the Rev John Hodgkin he feels confident that they will find them, he has been looking at the photos on the village web site and thinks we are lucky to have such a fine collection.

May Jackson who died last month helped her husband John farm Newton Home Farm for over forty years, she was one of eight Barker sisters and one brother born at Gunnerthwaite Farm,they attended Priest Hutton school to which they had to walk the three miles in a morning and back home at night.She met her future husband John at the local Chapel where they were married in 1948 and lived at Newton Home Farm with their son and daughter until they retired to their bungalow at Arkholme in 1990.Both John and May worked very hard to support their Chapel John as a Preacher and May as one of the organists, one of her greatest pleasures was playing her keyboard at home and singing along to the music.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - May 2008

Whittington is not the same without Gordon Woodward around, at the moment he is at Brant Howe in Kirkby Lonsdale recovering from a shoulder joint replacement. We all miss him calling in or passing by as he goes to open and close the Church it is only when people like Gordon are no longer around that we realise how much work he does for our village and especially the Church, hurry up back Gordon the gardens are missing your green fingered touch and there aren't queues of people offering to take over all your voluntary jobs just yet.

Some swallows are back but not all of them by any means two were seen at Arkholme on the 5th of April another two at Docker on the 10th and two were flying around the Church Tower on the 14th, they must be feeling the affects of the cold weather just like us let's hope we haven't to wait to long before we get some nice sunny spring days.

We had a visit from four members of the Tallon family last month, they are still searching for Thomas and Rebecca who disappeared without trace around 1840. They would like to arrange a Tallon family reunion in Whittington next year and hope for success in their search before then, I was allowed to copy photos of two ploughs made by this family of blacksmiths one clearly marked F Tallon Middleton unfortunately this plough has recently been stolen by a scrap metal dealer so another piece of our history has gone along with it.

Our best wishes to Jenny Metcalfe who is still in Kendal Hospital receiving treatment, we hope she is soon well enough to return home.

Congratulations to Tim Kimber of Newton Hall on succeeding to his late fathers hereditary baronetcy title. It is now Sir Tim and Lady Sue Kimber how nice for two such hard working people.

I have just had a phone call from a person reading the village web site who has put me in touch with the chairman of the North West Vintage Motor Cycle Club they have a large collection of old motor cycle magazines and he thinks he will be able to find some of the articles written by Rev John Hodgkin, let's hope we have some good news next month.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - April 2008

The March Wagtail had only just been delivered when a regular walker of the Church Street, Moor Brow, Sadler Nook, Hosticle Lane circuit called and asked to borrow the Parish Council litter picking tongs she said she was fed up of seeing all the litter dumped on the road sides and volunteered to pick some of it up on her regular walks. In fact she and her husband spent all one Sunday morning filling three large bin liners with litter which they took home to sort and put in their recycling boxes, in just over two miles they had picked up 103 beer cans 150 plastic bottles numerous wine and spirit bottles crisp packets and fast food containers and the remains of quite a few picnics neatly tied in carrier bags and dumped on the road side. Thank you Ann and James for making the effort lets hope the litter louts have noticed the clean up and take their litter home instead of dumping it on our road side verges.

John and Phyllis Pinch have very kindly loaned me their collection of The Rev John Hodgkin's photographic slides which have been stored in their loft for a number of years, they date back to around 1890 and include a few early photos of the village but most of them are of old motor cycles some taken on Church Street and a lot of them in the garden behind the Chestnuts. At the moment I am busy photographing all the slides before I develop them on my computer.John Hodgkin also wrote articles for a motorcycling magazine under the pen name "Cyclops" I would like to trace these articles to try and match them to the photographs but don't know where to start looking.

As you head for Kirkby Lonsdale have you noticed the rooks busy rebuilding their nests in that old oak tree at Keld Bank Corner, all the old nests were destroyed in the winter gales and needed replacing but in around two weeks they have been rebuilt and the birds are ready to start a family. There are not many trees around the nesting site so the birds must have travelled quite long distances to collect the necessary sticks let's hope the young birds have flown their nests before the next storms come.

That lovely lady Jenny Metcalfe is in hospital, Jenny the lady who delivers our magazines who is always there supporting village events, a regular Church goer who rarely misses the pensioners lunch club get well soon Jenny we are missing you already.

Arkholme bowling club is due to reopen after the winter break, if you would like to try your hand at bowling come along any Monday night at 6-30 pm all you need is a pair of flat soled shoes to wear on the green everything else can be provided.There is no age limit either up or down so why not give it a try you never know you may have a hidden talent.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - March 2008

Grace Williams who has been playing the organ in Whittington Church for fifty one years retired at the end of last year. Grace has worked hard on behalf of the Church in many different rolls not only as the Organist but also as a member of the PCC for part of which time she was the Church Treasurer she is also one of the oldest members of the Mothers Union. Grace and her husband Bob celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on the 30th of January when she was presented with an engraved handmade glass plate by members of the Church and gratefully thanked for faithfully enriching the worship in the Parish for so many years, we wonder if this could be a record length of service to one church? Amongst her many anniversary gifts were bunches of flowers from the Mothers Union and the PCC. All Churches rely on the dedication of such people as Grace to carry on, let's hope there is someone willing to maintain the good work. Best wishes to Grace and Bob from all their friends in Whittington.

At the annual charity dance held in the Village Hall last month 1440 was raised for four different cancer charities. Well done the dancers.

What a good time we had at the Pancake Party on Shrove Tuesday all five cooks were kept busy supplying the party goers I watched one small boy eat six one after the other but granddad had to eat the seventh I wonder if he had tummy ache that night?

Have you seen the beautiful display of snowdrops in the ghyll at the bottom of Moor Brow they really are a picture, only trouble is you will have to get out of your car to look over the fence to see them but I promise you it really is worth the effort.

Don't forget to watch out for the first swallows one was seen on the 1 st of April at Loyne Park last year about a fortnight earlier than the previous year so keep watching and let me know as soon as you see one.

What a mess the road sides are with all the litter thrown out of passing cars. Who is the Carling Lager drinker who thinks someone should follow him round picking up empty beer cans and the fast food eaters who seem to finish their meal and dump their containers all over the Parish? We could organise a litter picking day but the roads are so dangerous with all the traffic that it would probably not be wise.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - February 2008

Congratulations to Guy Pinch on being chosen to represent the R A F in their skiing team. Guy specialises in the downhill slalom where he skis down the mountain at high speed swerving in and out of a series of flag poles, we wish him lots of luck in his competitions. Guy an old boy of both Arkholme and Q E S schools is stationed at Lossiemouth and is a fully trained Weapons Technician at the moment he is training with other members of the team at Hinterglemm in Austria.

I attended a Lancashire Police Authority meeting at Lancaster last month and a member of Lancashire Crime Stoppers gave a short talk on the work of the organisation. I hadn't realised that Crimestoppers was totally independent of the police and is in fact a registered charity, anyone who sees something suspicious or think a crime has been committed are asked to ring 0800 555 111 to pass the information to a trained operator. The calls are totally anonymous and no details of the caller or their telephone number can be traced back to them. Last year over two thousand calls were made in Lancashire and one call in six resulted in success for the police. Well worth a phone call if you see something suspicious. I was given some leaflets to hand out if anyone would like one.

The police and highways counted all the traffic travelling through Whittington from the 20th-26th of November the total number for the week going both ways was 11,418, from 7am--7pm travelling towards Kirkby Lonsdale the daily total was 727 going in the other direction the total was 717 in the same 12 hour period. These last two figures are average over a seven day period so will be higher during week days.They also measured the average speed through the village the highest reading being 32.8 MPH between one and two o'clock one morning.

Jethro "Jeff" Dixon has passed on. No longer will we see him on his beloved Fordson Major travelling up and down Church Street giving us all a wave. Jeff and his wife Marjorie moved to Docker Lane in 1951 from where he ran his agricultural contracting business, they bought and moved to Harrison Farm in 1955 here he managed to run the farm and carry on spreading lime and basic slag as well as threshing and baling for other farmers. The lime spreading was the hardest job because quite often it meant loading the spreader by hand as much as 30 - 40 tons some days and then come home to do his farm work, no cabs on tractors then, the conditions were quite often very bad but Jeff never complained. His one relaxation was attending Chapel on a Sunday a place to meet friends and to give thanks to his maker for all his blessings. As he got older and struggled with arthritis we saw him determined to carry on working even though he had to use a frame to help him walk around the farm. A hard working man who has probably done the work of three men in his lifetime he will be sadly missed by Marjorie daughters Jean and Ruth son in law Barton and their grandchildren.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - January 2008

Congratulations to Arkholme School for being in the top one hundred primary schools in the country - it takes a lot of hard work and dedication from both pupils and staff to achieve such high standards, well done.

What a change from when I started at Arkholme School almost seventy years ago with only slates and slate pencils to write with, and a bead frame the nearest we came to computing, but I wonder how modern day pupils would cope with pounds, shillings and pence, yards, feet and inches and pounds and ounces. The decimal system is so much easier.

For years I have looked at the first world war Roll of Honour board in the Church and noticed the name William Huggonson MM and wondered for what brave act had he been awarded the medal, and thanks to his niece Janet we now know. William Huggonson was born at Croft House in 1895, his father (also William) was head gardener at Whittington Hall. Young William trained as a butcher and joined the army when the war started. By 1918 he had been promoted to Lance Corporal, he was awarded the Military Medal for showing "Great courage and devotion to duty under heavy shell fire" from the 9th to the 13th of April. The citation was signed by Lt General Haking Commanding 11 corps Liverpool Scottish. After the war William moved to Liverpool where he ran his own butchery business. What type of man does it take to stay in a muddy trench for four days with shells exploding all around and the only protection a steel helmet and some cotton wool in your ears?

A question in the Daily Telegraph general knowledge crossword: William ????? English electrical engineer who devised the first practical electromagnet? Of course we all knew the answer was. ..William Sturgeon also born at Croft House in 1783 but did you realise how internationally famous he was?

This year the Trustees of the Margison Charity paid out 400: Arkholme School received 200; Wagtail Toddler Group 100; The Sunday School 50 and two first year university students each got 25. Four Widows shared the income from the Mary Hardy Charity each receiving 20.

Gerald Hodgson

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