Last updated January 2009
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The Trustees of the Whittington Charities paid out the following amounts this year, Arkholme School £250, Wagtail Playgroup £150, The Sunday School £ 100, and five first year full time students each received £ 30 book tokens. Four widows shared the income of the Mary Hardy Charity each receiving £ 20.
Congratulations to Geoff and Elsie Stone of No1 Church Close who celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary last month.
It is 65 years this month since Reg Bateson and his fellow prisoners of war were ordered to evacuate their prison camp in northern Poland and start marching south ahead of the advancing Russian army. Reg was taken prisoner in 1940 and had endured harsh conditions for five years. They were given very little notice of their move and took only the food and clothing that they could carry. The Germans had made no proper provisions for food and shelter and in very bitter weather conditions the prisoners suffered greatly, the column of men sometimes reaching 20 miles long marched south for four months eventually reaching the River Danube where they met the American army and freedom only days before the War in Europe ended.
One of the questions that I am regularly asked is "How did Hosticle Lane get it's name"? and I think the most obvious answer is that it is the lane to the spittal. Spittal Farm is the farm on the road to Kendal it was originally built by Kirkby Lonsdale Council on the Parish Boundary to house people with incurable and infectious diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy and smallpox, the patients were not allowed to return to the village but relied on relatives and friends to leave food and other supplies at dropping off places close to the house, this way they hoped to prevent diseases being spread around the community. Hosticle Lane was for hundreds of years a Drovers Road, these roads away from the stage coach routes where thousands of cattle and sheep were driven by cattle drovers from Scotland to be sold at English markets lower down the country. As early as the 1600s 80,000 cattle and 150,000 sheep were coming south from Scotland each year it was a very slow journey as the drovers had to let the animals graze on the road side as they travelled and let them drink where streams crossed the road.
The lanes must have ankle deep in mud and with thousands of cloven feet digging up the road surface and an enormous amount of erosion occurring especially on hills like Hosticle Lane and Storrs Hill where the road surface had been turned to mud which was then washed away by heavy rain eventually leaving high banks either side of the road, no wonder pedestrians started using footpaths.
It seems that one of the large electric generating firms wants to site eight of their wind turbines at Long field Tarn astride the Northern border of the Parish. We probably wont be able to see them from the village but they will be towering over the people who live at Sellet Hall and Biggins, they will be right on the site of the Roman Road I wrote about last month they might even access the site following the line of the old road, whatever your feelings are about wind turbines life will never be the same once they are installed so if you are for or against them now is the time to let your feelings be known.
Sue O'Grady has been in touch, the BBC have sent her a letter saying that they were unable to show the interview they did with her about her great great grandfather William Sturgeon and the silver medal that the members of the Royal Society had presented him with when they recorded The Antiques Road Show at Bowes Museum they offered no explanation. The valuation experts said the medal was unique and valued it at £7,400.
Our neighbours at Biggins were rather upset when Cumbria County Council removed the road sign directing all heavy traffic to travel via Whittington when heading for Hutton Roof Saw Mills so they are now hoping to get all heavy traffic banned from using their roads not very neighbourly is it why should we have to accept them just because they don't want them passing their houses.
Perhaps if they are allowed to build the wind turbines the wood trucks will be able to use the access road they will have to build to get the enormous towers and blades on site.
I have been reading another book that again describes the route the Roman Road took from the fort at Burrow, it claims the road is under the line of the footpath from the River Lune to Cockin House where it turned left and headed up the field behind the Manor House, who knows? perhaps one day with satellite photography they will be able to pinpoint the exact route the road took, or if the families living on Manor Farm dig deep enough in their gardens they may unearth a 2000 year old road. Another interesting point, could the stone standing at the river end of Coney Garth Lane and always known as the village boundary stone possibly be a Roman Mile Stone?
How well the Church looked decorated for the Harvest Festival those very talented ladies who spent hours arranging the fruit and flowers once again did a wonderful job. What a happy weekend first a very enjoyable Harvest Supper followed next day by a beautiful wedding on a lovely day then Sunday saw a large congregation celebrating a successful harvest, something for every one.
I have just been reading a small book called The Roman A65, it describes the route of a Roman Road from Ilkley to Kendal which was then called Water Crook, it came by way of Clapham Station, Fourlands at High Bentham, Burton in Lonsdale and crossed the River Lune at Tunstall it then came up Coney Garth Lane followed the line of Whittington Hall drive passed High House and crossed Saddler Nook Lane via the old green lane that takes you to Longfield Quarry on the Hutton Roof boundary. There was also another Roman Road that crossed the river opposite Burrow Hall and came straight up the fields to Whittington Farm where it joined the Ilkley to Kendal road near High House that is what the historians tell us but I have a feeling that the roads joined somewhere close to the Old Rectory crossed Church Street near the lower Church steps then carried on up the field behind Hillside, perhaps one day someone will uncover traces of the road that was built all those years ago.
It is Fifty years this month since my wife Theresa and I moved to Whittington, I had taken the job of maintaining and driving the tipper trucks owned by Jackson Pelter and Sons.
The village at that time had not altered much in the last one hundred years, the School was well attended, there were two shops and a Post Office Fred Halls the builders, a joiners shop, garage, general dealer, haulage contractor and coal merchant and a part time blacksmith as well as eleven working farms in and around the village almost everyone worked close to their homes. The butchers and bakers from Kirkby Lonsdale delivered meat and bread twice a week and a hardware van called every other week selling paraffin which was used to fuel the heating stoves often needed on cold winters nights. Main Street was very narrow and was often blocked by the enormous loads that were directed this way, there are still scratch marks high up on the walls of Park House and at School Terrace as the large trucks just managed to squeeze through quite often a telephone engineer followed behind to replace wires that were broken by the tallest loads.
I was asked to join the committee of the Village Hall after I repaired the main electric fuse which failed during an all in wrestling match leaving every one in the dark I served that committee for 35 years, I was also co opted on to the Parish Council and have been a member of it for over 40 years, my wife tells me it is time some younger person took over. We have had a wonderful fifty years in Whittington thank you for making us so welcome in the first place.
The Whittington Charities Trustees meet next 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. Also are there any widows who have recently moved into the Parish as four widows share the rent of Widdowdale a small field down Coneygarth Lane, if you qualify please let us know.
As I said last month Sue O Grady, William Sturgeons great great granddaughter arranged to call on us, she arrived bringing with her the silver medal and an inscribed leather purse which had held thirty guineas this had been presented to him in 1825 for inventing his Electro Magnetic Apparatus.
Sue had only just found out how important her great great grandfathers inventions were when quite by chance she and her husband visited the Science Museum in London. There she found a special exhibition featuring "The Worlds 100 most influential inventors and their inventions" and there up amongst the best was William Sturgeon, she came home and searched for the medal and other papers that she had had in her possession for over thirty years never thinking how important they were, she then did an internet search and came up with the Whittington Village web site which includes some information about the great man. We called on Lois Clarkson at Croft House where Sturgeon was born in 1783 and then visited the Dragons Head Hotel where a working model of the worlds first ever electric motor invented by Sturgeon in 1832 is on display this one was made by apprentices at Heysham one Power Station in 2003.
Due to failing health Sturgeon came to stay with the Vicar of Kirkby Lonsdale in 1845 and Sue has a letter he wrote to his wife back home in Manchester, he thanks her for sending him yesterdays Manchester Guardian which arrived this morning and tells her he has set up an Electro Culture apparatus at Sedbergh, Casterton Hall Estate and also in a barley field at Burton in Lonsdale, he goes on to say " Mrs Harrison is looking after me very well for breakfast this morning I had a splendid rasher of ham with a smiling egg on top." William Sturgeon died in Manchester in 1850 never really benefiting from giving the world the electro magnet and the first working electric motor, where would the world be without them today.
Sue has been asked to appear on The Antiques Road Show that was recently recorded at Bowes Museum so watch out for the show and see what value the experts put on the medal and purse.
The first mention of the Tallon family in the Whittington Church Registers was in 1733, since that time this family of blacksmiths could be found working in village smithies the length of the Lune valley and up to Selside north of Kendal. They were very skilled in the manufacture of horse drawn ploughs and in 1861 James Tallon of Whittington won a silver cup and numerous other prizes for a plough made at the Whittington smithy. Arthur was born in 1925 at The Cottage the last of his family to serve his time at Whittington his parents being Thomas and Agnes Tallon, he attended Whittington School full time and left when he was fourteen years old, he well remembers teachers Mrs Clarke and Mrs Brown and Rector John Hodgkin.
The older boys were responsible for looking after the School gardens and he loved taking home the vegetables they had grown for a family meal. He started working for his father in the village smithy just as the Second World War was starting and one of his first jobs was making horseshoes for the army, at that time the army still used lots of horses for all different duties. The smithy was a regular meeting place for the older men of the village and he would often here stories of earlier days and of the hard times these men had endured in the First world War, all this talk going on around him whilst he was hard at work pumping the bellows to keep the forge red hot. Aged seventeen and a half he joined the R A F and was taken first to Lords Cricket Ground in London and spent the rest of his training around St Johns Wood and Regents Park before being posted first to Devon and then the Midlands.
As the war ended he volunteered for the Palestine Police there they tried to keep the peace and stop the Jews and Arabs from fighting each other, a task no one has ever mastered, his duties took him all over including Gaza and Jerusalem and he often watched ceremonies at the Wailing Wall. In 1948 the State of Israel was formed the Palestine Police were disbanded and Arthur came home first to serve in the Prison Service and later as a Fireman In the Liverpool Fire Service. He met his wife Jean who was a waitress at the Waverley Cafe in Kirkby Lonsdale and shortly after they married he transferred to the Yorkshire Fire Service at Huddersfield, where he eventually was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and after retiring from active duty he was appointed Chief Fire Safety Officer for Kirklees Distinct Council a post he held for eleven years.
Arthur and Jean had three children Tony the eldest lives with his family on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, their youngest daughter Jane was tragically burned to death in the Summerland Leisure Centre fire on the Isle of Man in 1973 she was just thirteen years old, Ann the elder daughter married and emigrated to South Africa where she died of cancer having been nursed by her father for several months. Arthur and Jean moved to Ulverston in 1997 but sadly Jean died in 2001 but Arthur still keeps active he still thinks of Whittington as home and will often be seen worshiping in the Church on a Sunday morning he says he is very proud to see his and his brothers name on the Roll of Honour Board. He reads Wagtail every month so I just hope I have done his life story justice.
I have just had a phone call from Sue O'Grady, William Sturgeons great, great, great granddaughter. She is visiting the village and bringing a Silver Medal presented to him by the Royal Society in 1824. More news next month.
Cumbria County Council have admitted that they got it wrong when they placed the notice at Biggins cross roads directing all heavy goods vehicles heading for the sawmill at Hutton Roof to travel via Whittington. The Parish Council would like to thank all the people who supported them by sending letters of objection over the erection of the sign to John Bell, the head of the highways department at Kendal. He has suggested three alternatives. 1) To remove the sign, 2) Let it remain as it is or, 3) to modify the wording on the sign. Personally I think the sign should be removed and let the truck drivers decide which route is the best. To be fair to the sawmill it would appear that traffic heading for the mill comes through Whittington or Burton and outgoing traffic is routed through Biggins. Cumbria County Council have also allowed Buttle House farm buildings at Hutton Roof to be converted for industrial use, which will again create more commercial traffic - why don't they think to improve the roads before making these controversial decisions?
The Tallon family had quite a reunion with relatives traveling from both America and Australia to exchange photos and fill in gaps in their family trees. We met first at Hutton Roof Church where Anne Huntington, a granddaughter of the Lupton Tallons, showed us around the Church pointing out the Rev Theodore Bayley Hardy Memorials and the lovely stained glass windows. Whilst we were there a cuckoo was calling from a tree In the Church Yard - the first one I have heard this year. After looking round Whittington Church we took the visitors to view the bluebells and rhododendrons at Mansergh and Rigmaden where they were all In full bloom - there's nothing like that in either Australia or America.
After lunching on a bacon buttie at Devils Bridge and explaining the story of how it was built we spent some time at the Church and Ruskins view. Saturday night saw us sitting down to an evening meal at the Stonecross Manor Hotel and again swapping stories and photos and seeing a list of the many prizes and trophies that the family had won In local shows and exhibitions. The mystery disappearance of Thomas and Rebecca Tallon around 1840 has still not been solved so I suppose that it is an excuse for another get together in a few years time.
I have been digging my vegetable garden every year for the last thirty five years and every year I have raked the largest stones off the seed beds and have, over the years, got rid off barrow loads of stones. This spring amongst the stones was a piece of fossil limestone made up of broken Crinoids - a small sea creature shaped like a miniature palm tree and probably about three hundred million years old Also among the stones were two pieces of iron slag left over from some local iron founders furnace. Iron making was a source of income in this area for two and a half thousand years and local addresses still reflect that, such as Red Load (load) - a source of iron ore, Cinder Hill - where the slag off the top of the molten iron was dumped and Gowan Hall - the 'valley of the smiths' according to the early English interpretation. The last iron foundry was In Wash Dub wood at Docker and it closed in the early seventeen hundreds.
The Tallon family reunion will now be held at the Stonecross Manor Hotel Milnthorpe Road Kendal on Saturday May the 16th at 7-30 pm. If you have any connection to the Tallon family and would like to meet your long lost cousins could you please get in touch with me as soon as possible to arrange your invitation.
The swallows have arrived slightly later than last year, the sand martins always the first to arrive were swooping over the river on the 10th and a single swallow was seen on the 13th but the majority of them only arrived today the 18th how nice to watch them circling the Church and already viewing their last years nests.
Three years ago when Hutton Roof Sawmills applied for planning permission to extend their sawmills,the Whittington Parish Council objected saying that it would increase the volume of heavy traffic using Church Street needless to say the objections were ignored and the plans were passed. How ironic is it that now Cumbria County Council have placed an enormous road sign on the A65 at Biggins cross roads advising heavy goods traffic heading for the sawmills to use the B6254 road to Whittington rather than the shorter route through Biggins. Do you think it justifies an organised mass trespass to Biggins armed with a large pot of blue paint and a handful of paintbrushes, if the good people of Biggins object to the heavy traffic why should we have to accept them?
What a good month weatherwise it has been the early spring flowers have been a picture and now it is the turn of the blackthorn the cherries and the damson trees to be covered in blossom, gardening is so much easier this spring and it is a pleasure to get outside to plant the garden and cut the lawn I only hope we are not disappointed with the results at the end of the season.
If your name is Tallon or the name appears in your family tree your long lost American cousins would like to hear from you as they hope to arrange a family reunion at the Crooklands Hotel in May, I hope to be able to give you the time and date next month.
Two Gressingham stories that have been passed down through our family, my great great grandfather John Hadwin was a blacksmith at Gressingham at the end of the eighteenth century I don't know how true the stories are. In 1744 when Bonnie Prince Charlie's army was heading back to Scotland after their trip south as far as Derby some of the stragglers decided to head up the old drovers road which is now the road through Halton Arkholme and Whittington, on reaching Sunny Bank these Highland Soldiers came across a group of farm workers from Gressingham working in the fields the soldiers must have felt conspicuous in their Highland dress so they stripped the farm workers of their clothes and sent them home unharmed but rather red faced to tell their families what had happened.
An army Regiment was camping in the fields near Loyne Bridge as was usual at that time the soldiers wives and families and other camp followers were in another camp close by, a young woman possibly one of the soldiers wife's died giving birth to still born twins, all three bodies were placed in a single coffin and were buried in a paupers grave in Gressingham Church Yard.
Quite by chance I have been reading a library book called "Under The Wire" written by William Ash an American fighter pilot who flew with the R A F during the war some of his adventures featured in the film "The Great Escape", in the last chapter he describes vividly the long trek south as taken by Reg Bateson the column of men was 20 miles long with no proper provisions for food or shelter, the weather when they left Poland in January was bitterly cold with constant sleet and snow showers and temperatures down to --10 c. how lucky so many survived.
I think the boundary walk is a non starter already one landowner informs me they don't want Villagers walking over their land and as I will not go where I am not welcome we will just have to wait till someone in the Village owns a helicopter.
Keep watching for the first swallows last year they were at Docker on the 10th and Whittington on the 14th two weeks later than the previous year.
Once again there is a wonderful display of flowers in the Church Yard it just seems to get better every year.
The village has suddenly gone quiet the Church clock has stopped and everyone going past looks up and then down at their watch to see what the time really is. The reason is the Church bells have been taken down from the tower and have gone away to have new heads and pivots fitted. What a sight it was to see those enormous bells being lowered to the floor, the biggest one weighs about 600 KGs and stands around 1 metre tall and 1 metre in diameter at its base, it is the first time the bells have been out of the tower since 1875 and once they have been repaired they should be good for another 150 years. The repairs will take about eight weeks so it may be May day before everything is back to normal again.
I have been asked if I will organise another Parish Boundary walk the last one six years ago was very successful and a great chance to see parts of the Parish we had never seen before. There has only been two other recorded times that the circuit had been completed but these were both on horseback. Before we go ahead it is important to get permission from all the landowners and tenants of the land we cross over as the majority of the route is not on public footpaths. If you would like to take part please let me know, it's not a walk for the very young or people with dogs as some of the ground can be quite boggy and there are fences to climb and ravines to scramble up and a lot of the fields have sheep and cows in them. Last time it took us a leisurely eight hours over two days the distance is approximately twenty two miles, we could possibly do the walk over the August bank holiday week end so if you are interested please let me know.
I have a large collection of Whittington memorabilia the subjects include the life of William Sturgeon the attempts to launch an aeroplane off Sellet Banks the Victorian and Baines History of Whittington and the listed buildings of the village plus many other books and maps, if you would like to borrow any of this material please let me know, my wife says it is only gathering dust on her shelves.
There aren't many better views than a snow covered Ingleborough in bright sunshine viewed from either Sunny Bank or the top of Moor Brow at Whittington we are so lucky to live in the Lune Valley.
Thank you the couple who spent a Sunday afternoon picking roadside litter up around Moor Brow and Saddler Nook, what a pity the people who drop the empty food and drink containers never get caught.
The annual charity dance held in January raised £1,400 for four different cancer charities.
The life story of Reg Bateson last month caused quite a lot of comment, neighbours in the village who have known him for years had no idea of the hardships he had endured during the war.
I wrote last month about the early life of Reg Bateson and how he was posted to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, he landed at Le Havre from the Ulster Prince ferry boat and was moved forward to a defensive position near St Vallery but it was then that the French Government surrendered and Reg and his comrades were told every man for himself and try and get back home the best way you can. Reg and seven other soldiers joined more refugees and started walking back towards Le Havre but they were betrayed by the Mayor of a small French town who reported them to a passing German patrol who then took them prisoner, he had not had a chance to fire his rifle in anger and buried it in a French field along with the ammunition. They were taken to the German Army Headquarters situated in a large apple orchard and here Reg was taken in front of General Rommel who looked at him and said " Are the English reduced to using school boys in their army now" (Reg was never very tall but always slim and fit).
He then joined more captured soldiers and they were imprisoned in Rouen Cathedral. Shortly after orders were given that the prisoners would be marched back to Germany and they set off and marched through Belgium and Holland but when they arrived in Germany they were told to carry on marching and they finally arrived at Stalag 8 B, a prisoner of war camp close to the Russian border in Poland. After a short time settling in Reg was sent to work first in a large brick factory and later in a factory which produced sugar from sugar beet, he well remembers the German technicians being annoyed because the Tate and Lyle sugar the prisoners got in their Red Cross parcels was a lot whiter than the sugar their factory produced. About this time one of the prisoners obtained a radio valve and managed to build a radio that allowed them to listen in to the B B C. The first broadcast they heard was the loss of H M S Hood with all hands but the news gradually got better. One day a fellow prisoner came to Reg and said " I have got a letter from home with a list of girls names and addresses would you be interested in writing to one of them".
It took quite a while to persuade Reg but he finally wrote to Joan a nurse who lived with her family on Ormskirk Road in Wigan and he was quite surprised a few months later to get a reply. He quickly responded to her letter and asked her to send him a photo so that he would know who he was writing to. In early 1945 the Russian army broke through the German defences and orders came to evacuate the prison camp and only take what you can carry so started another long march, back south through Poland into Germany passing through the ruined cities of Dresden and Stuttgart finally after three months and one thousand miles marching they arrived at the river Danube in Southern Bavaria where they met the American army going in the other direction. Their German guards quickly disappeared and after a few days of freedom Reg and a friend decided to head home under their own steam they hitched a lift in a large American supply truck which took them to an airfield at Metz in France here the truck driver persuaded the American airforce to fly Reg and his friend back to Amersham.
On VE day Reg was heading home to Whittington on the train when he decided to stop off at Wigan on the way, he found Joan and her family, like the rest of the Country celebrating the end of the war,. After leaving the army Reg worked for Gravesons the timber merchants of Warton felling trees and clearing up bomb and building sites he helped clear the path of the M6 Motorway from Warrington to Penrith and also the railway marshalling yard at Kingmoor north of Carlisle, finally fed up of being away from home Reg joined the staff of Fred Hall and Son and for the next thirty years he could be seen working on numerous local buildings. Reg and Joan were married at St John's Church in Wigan and started married life in two rooms at the Malt Kiln where their son Keith was born they later moved to 2 Docker Lane just after it was built and he has lived there happily ever since. Joan passed away a few years ago, Reg suffers from arthritis and finds it difficult to get around the house but still stays cheerful.
It is impossible to get such a full life story into two pages it would really fill a book and how many other local men do you know who have walked the length and breadth of Europe in wartime?
The Heritage Society are finally going ahead with the lighting up of the Georgian Coat of arms in the Church, after trying several different types of light we have finally decided on a theatre type spot light that makes it possible to see all the detail on the Coat of Arms something that at the moment can only be seen on an early summers day with the sun shining through the east window.
I have never known our roads to have been so dangerous and icy as they have been this month, why do the council spend so much money on these wonderful gritting machines and then refuse to grit our roads, all this expensive machinery will only be used for a few hours each year surely we deserve a better service for the council tax we pay.
The trustees of the Whittington Charities paid £500 out of the Marginson Charity last month, £250 went to Arkholme School £150 to Wagtail Toddlers and £100 to the Sunday School. Four widows shared the income from the Mary Hardy Charity each receiving £20.
I spent a few hours visiting 90 years old Reg Bateson this month he is probably the oldest resident in the village and what wonderful and varied memories he has. Reg was born in Leeds where his father worked at the Kirkstall Forge Iron Foundry, his parents decided to move to the country and rented rooms at Mireside in Old Town, Mrs Bateson was put on the train at Leeds with two small boys and a baby daughter and a pram loaded with their luggage but she was sent to Oxenholme station instead of one nearer Old Town, when she arrived there and found there was no public transport she set off to walk the ten miles pushing the pram with one small boy either side and the baby girl in the pram under the luggage. They lived at Mireside a few months before moving to Nanny Hall at Hutton Roof and then to No1 Church Cottage and finally to Entry Cottage by now the family had increased to five boys and two girls. Reg has happy memories of Whittington School, Mrs Brown the Head Mistress used to get him to carry a bucket full of drinking water each day from the Parish Pump at Hillside by way of the Church footpath to school for this task he was paid 6.1/2d per week, this was paid into the Yorkshire Penny Bank for him and was used for buying new shoes and clothes. He has fond memories of Rector John Hodgkin who regularly called on the large families in the village and would quite often leave bottles of emulsion and other food supplements for the children. He especially remembers the School Christmas parties when the Rector would appear as they were playing games, he would scatter handfuls of pennies over the floor for the children to scramble for making sure there was some for every child. Reg left School aged fourteen and had several jobs before joining the army at the outbreak of war he was posted to the Border Regiment at Carlisle where he was trained as a morse code signaller. He was posted to France as part of The British Expeditionary Force but was only there a few weeks when France surrendered and he was told it is every man for himself, but Reg was one of the unlucky ones and was captured by the Germans and spent the next five years in a Prisoner of War Camp. More about Reg next month.