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Last updated 28 November 2012

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

December 12 - November 12 - October 12 - September 12 - July/August 12
June 12 - May 12 - April 12 - March 11 February 12 - January 12

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The musings of GERALD - December 2012

Our Remembrance service was again well attended the wreath was placed on the war memorial and the two minutes silence observed, we all stood there with our own memories, possibly remembering family and friends no longer with us. It is perhaps a good time to repeat a piece I wrote a few years ago and also to inform people new to the area of the brave young men who lived here many years ago who went away to fight for their country. The young men of Lunesdale were renowned for their skills with the long bow and every man had to take part in archery practice each week and all other sports were banned. At the battle of Flodden in 1513 when the English defeated the Scots the bowmen of Lunesdale had a poem written of their bravery, it is as follows.

Sir Edward Stanley stiff in stour, He is the man of whom I mean,
With him did pass a mighty powr Of soldiers seemly to be seen.
Most lively lads of Lonsdale Bred, With weapons of unwieldly weight,
All such had Tatham Fells had fed Went under Stanley's steamer bright.
From Bowland, billmen bould were bourn With such as Botton banks did hide,
From Wharemore up to Whittington, And all to Wennings water side.
All Lancashire for the most part, The lusty Stanley most did lead,
A stock of striplings, strong of heart, Brought up from babes with beef and Bread.

Sir Edward Stanley who lived at Hornby Castle was given the title Lord Monteagle for his prowess in the battle, also there were Bryan Tunstall of Thurland Castle who commanded the Lunesdale Bowmen and Edward North of Docker and Newton Hall.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - November 2012

I was driving home one night last week when I caught up with a lone cyclist, he was dressed in dark clothing, nothing reflective but worst of all there was no rear light on his cycle. Did he not realise how dangerous it is riding on a dark country road especially when vehicles coming behind him could be dazzled by other vehicles and fail to see him. I am sure the price of a rear light would be a lot cheaper than the results of a very nasty accident.

I hope that it is possible to keep publishing Wagtail, it is so useful, always packed with information which we would never get to know without it. The topics are so diverse from Church services, the weather, WI meetings, a bit of history and the activities of the Parish Councils. How else could we find out what is happening in our villages. I have several versions of the Parish Magazine dating from 1898 when The Rev Piggott describes the day he and his wife celebrated their Golden Wedding, all the village celebrated that day starting with the Church bells being rung at 7am and finishing with a dance in the school at night. There are two hand written ones from the 1920fs and several different ones from later years - what a shame if the magazine fails after so many years.

With a bit of luck I will be spending Christmas and New year with my sister Joan and her family in New Zealand so may miss the last edition of Wagtail so I wish you all a happy Christmas and goodbye to the readers who have enjoyed my contributions over the years.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - October 2012

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, Gerald Hodgson, Stuart Close or Helen Mackereth 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 Widdodale a small field down Coneygarth Lane, if you qualify please let us know.

David Kenyon is once again producing a calendar to sell on behalf of St Johns Hospice the theme once more is early photos of Lune Valley villages and once again he is using some of the Rev John Hodgkin's photos, one shows three old motor cycles outside the Old Rectory Gateway and the other is of a truck accident at the Devils Bridge, the Arkholme picture is of the Old Forge when Christopher Bibby and his son Jim were the blacksmiths. Copies of the Calendar can be obtained at Arkholme Post Office or from me, a lovely Christmas present for someone with happy memories of our beautiful Lune Valley.

You may recall the story I related two years ago about the three Arkholme pranksters who convinced a large number of villagers to attend a demonstration of a wonderful new invention that would produce lots of lovely drinking water from the atmosphere. I have just been given one of the original notices by John Hayton of Laihom that were passed around the village. The name of the company was The Hans Menson Atmo Condensing Carburetor Co Ltd Lee Muren Paris. It claims that its no 1 plant would cost 7-10 shillings and produce 150 gals of water every six hours and the No 3 plant would cost 12-10 Shillings and produce 4O0 gals every six hours. There was no mains water in the village at this time and all the drinking water came from either pumps or wells so it was a very clever con trick, as you may recall a large crowd was stood around the cross roads waiting for the demonstration when Albert Ireland the Postmaster and one of the jokers came out of the Post Office with a telegram which said that owing to a seagull having being drawn into the inlet pipe at a previous demonstration the machine was inoperable and until such times as it was repaired the demo was cancelled A bit more trivia to add to my Arkholme folder.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - September 2012

Have you been watching the programme about finding wonderful hidden treasure with metal detectors? Did you know that in 1989 a very rare seal matrix was found on land at Providence Farm. The seal is similar to a 12th. century one from Nostell Priory and is on view at Lancaster City Museum, also found around the same time were some Viking coins and a Roman one. There were also some Roman gold coins found on Docker Moor a few years ago so you never know - there are a few Roman roads going through Whittington and who knows what might have been lost or hidden all those years ago.

Looking out of my bedroom window last week I saw a Peregrine Falcon capture a wood pigeon that was flying towards the wood behind my house, the two birds landed in the field and immediately the falcon started pulling out the pigeons feathers, soon there was a large circle of feathers on the ground and only a few minutes later it flew off carrying the remains of the carcass.

The flooding at Low Hall corner has finally been cured. How lucky that no accident was caused by it, I still think the County Council took far too long to do the repairs, far too many man hours were wasted looking and discussing instead of a quick cure for the problem. Not so long ago the local road foreman would have had the job soiled along with lots more small troubles, that is the price we pay for progress.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - July/August 2012

For a number of years I have delivered the letters for the Electoral roll around the Parish. This year I have just received a letter from the City Council saying that they have just found out that I am over seventy years old (seventy six actually) and for that reason they are unable to employ me as their insurance only covers employees up to the age of seventy. So here I am out of work, unemployable, on the scrap heap and enjoying every minute of it, they should have sacked me years ago.

My Arkholme folder is doing the rounds and has been very well received it contains many old photos, cuttings and articles about the village, if you would like to see it, name any of the people in it add to it or copy any of the contents please let me know you are more than welcome.

The Church flag has had quite a battering in the recent gales but thanks to Marie Blackburn who has repaired and strengthened it we can once again see it flying from the flag staff.

We must thank everyone in the village who worked so hard to make the Jubilee Celebration so successful I am sure the children will have long and happy memories of a wonderful weekend it was so nice seeing all those happy faces and all those mums and dads making it happen, congratulations.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - June 2012

I have just returned from a weeks holiday in the North West corner of Southern Ireland, the food, the hospitality and the entertainment was great, it was just the condition of the country as a whole which was so sad. The roads were virtually empty, the fields and hedges were neglected, large hotels and boarding houses were shut down and there were for sale notices on hundreds of brand new houses many of them that had never been lived in. There was at least twenty fishing boats tied up in Killeybeg harbour, we were told they had run out of fishing quota but there was a Spanish trawler there unloading its catch on to a large Spanish refrigerated truck. A local man I spoke to said American, Australian and Canadian firms had been recruiting young workers and two of his sons were leaving for Australia - he wondered if he would ever see them again. Aren't we lucky we never joined the Euro our country might just as easily have been in a similar situation.

I called on Gerald and Vera Hoggarth last week both in their ninetieth year and still enjoying life. They both came from black smithing families - Gerry from Lindale and Vera from Quernmore, Vera was in the WAFFS during the war stationed at Hollywood in Northern Ireland a lasting memory is seeing Air Crew leaving on a flight and of them not returning and only finding out months later whether they were safe or not. Gerry worked for the War Agriculture Committee and his job was to plough thousands of acres of grass land to be sown with cereal crops to stop the country from starving, early spring saw him working up to sixteen hours per day driving a Fordson tractor no protection or heater for the driver in those days. Vera and Gerry were married in 1945 and set up home at Brookhouse. Tractor driving had kept Gerry very fit and he took up wrestling as a weekend hobby, early photos show him with a body to rival Charles Atlas. He was spotted by an agent and eventually turned professional his finest moment came in 1952 when he beat Jock Ward the Scottish Champion at The Royal Albert Hall in London to become the British Heavy Weight Champion. One of his last fights was against a newcomer at the time called Big Daddy. Gerry beat him that night but retired later that year and bought Providence House farm at Arkholme. As a farmer he had 5000 laying hens and a herd of dairy cattle in his spare time he was a ganger man during the construction of the Lancaster By-Pass Gerry was responsible for laying the ground water drains. Vera was also busy looking after their three daughters and helping on the farm, she seems to have done a good job as the girls now take a pride in looking after mum, Gerry and Vera have six grand children five girls and a boy I just wonder if one of them will be a champion in the future?

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - May 2012

The swallows have arrived. They were seen on the 6th of April at both Loyne Park and Docker Hall, I have yet to see one - the cold east wind is possibly slowing them down. Why would they want to leave all that lovely sunshine to hunt for food in these cold conditions? Maybe they will be later next year.

What a sad loss both to his family and to the village was the death of David Ridgeway. Ten years younger than me, I watched him grow from a child to schoolboy, young man to a father and business man. His Grandfather William Read was the last Arkholme Ferryman; his auntie Eva was probably the last person to row the Ferry Boat. Dave allowed me to copy some of his family photos for my Arkholme collection some years ago, these included some of the last photos of the ferry. After moving to The Dragons Head as both Landlord and Postmaster Dave did such a lot for the village, the bars at the Village Hall, the food for the Harvest supper, the field for the Children's Sports, the Pool team nights, the golfing days, the Pensioners Lunch Club plus the thousands of pounds he raised for charity. We are all so sorry for Helen, Jason, Andrew and his family. What a wonderful tribute to Dave's memory were the number of people at the funeral. I have never seen such a congregation at Arkholme Church.

I think it is about time the PCC employed a dog warden or used hidden cameras to spot the dogs that are leaving the Church Yard in such a disgusting state. The grass around the West Door seems to be a favourite toileting area. It would be impossible for wedding photos to be taken there without a massive clean up at the present time, so come on you dog owners everyone of you is suspect. I know the majority of you carry pick up bags but for the guilty few who don't, you should be banned from using our beautiful Church Yard. The flood at Low Hall corner just gets worse. Every time there is a shower of rain water spreads half way across the road. I can just imagine what would happen if a motor bike swerved around the flood and met a large four by four coming the other way. I think it is time something was done. Why wait for accidents to happen before lessons are learned.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - April 2012

It was only as I read in last months Wagtail of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer that I realised that we had missed another anniversary last year for the Royal Coat of Arms. Written in large letters on the back of the panel it says "Made and painted in 1661" it was obviously made and placed in our Church the same year the Monarchy was restored after the death of Oliver Cromwell and just as the Prayer Book was being written. We are so lucky that it survived I just wonder if it will last another three hundred and fifty years.

Don't forget to watch for the first swallows. Last year they were here on the 10th of April that is a good three weeks earlier than they came fifty years ago so with a mild spring they may arrive sooner than ever.

Another beautiful display of snowdrops in the ghyll at the bottom of Moor Brow, this lovely white carpet of flowers gets bigger every year, it really is a pleasure to see them.

A message from Hazel Martin to say that she still has three unsold copies of the Whittington Millennium Book and also some copies of the Village Hall "Beefcake Calendar" I am sure you ladies would love to see the change in your men folk over the last few years. They are bound to be collectors items in years to come so be sure to get your orders in early.

That lovely man John Jackson has been putting his thoughts and experiences in a book he has just written, he writes about his family, life on the farm, his holidays and the satisfaction he gets from helping other people at Capernwray Chapel, I always feel that little bit better after speaking to John - he really is a gentleman.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - March 2012

What an awful state our roads are in. Main Street has a very dangerous permanent flood at Low Hall corner, are the council waiting until two cars have a nasty head on collision there before any action is taken? And between Harrison Farm and Whittington Farm there seems to be a new pothole every day, they are very difficult to avoid if you meet traffic coming the other way. Hosticle Lane is just as bad, all the drains are blocked, the bank sides are falling in and there are tree roots and dead branches just waiting to fall into the roadway. Some greedy landscape gardener hasn't helped he has dumped loads of cut turves on the verges either side of the lane but worse still he has dumped a large tree root in the layby right on top of the only place in the village where the wild flower Goats Beard grows, the flower is not much to look at but the seed head is beautiful similar to a dandelion clock but about four times the size, I collected seeds from there to put in the time capsule that is buried in the Church Yard it only needs a thoughtless act to kill off a colony of wild flowers that I have had the pleasure of watching for over thirty years.

The annual Charity Dance held in the Village Hall raised 1,200 to be shared between four different Cancer Charities.

I have now sold all five Motor Cycle books and 80 is heading for the Church funds, another author has seen the book and wants to use one of the John Hodgkin photos in a book he is compiling.

Once again the winter gales have destroyed all the rook's nests in that large oak tree on Kirkby Lonsdale road but they will not be beaten and once more they are collecting sticks and have started rebuilding, how clever they are would we be able to rebuild our houses if they were blown down.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - February 2012

Continuing the story of Albert Greenwood, I told you how his ship had been torpedoed in mid Atlantic and how it took fifteen days to reach the West Indies, he eventually arrived home via New York and passage across the North Atlantic. His next ship was a troop carrier - The Empress of Canada, their destination North Africa loaded with troops to reinforce the Eighth Army, after unloading the British troops they were then loaded with Italian prisoners of war who were destined for P O W camps in South Africa but half way down the West African coast they were again torpedoed, this time the ships crew and all the prisoners finished up in the sea with just their life jackets for support, they swam around in groups for twelve hours before being picked up by H M S Crocus and taken ashore to Freetown. The journey home this time was on the liner Mauretania and after a short time ashore he joined the Empress of Russia which was part of the D Day landing flotilla, his next ship was the Letitcia, a hospital ship with orders to transport wounded American service men from Manila back home to America. Albert's wartime service finished in 1946, by this time his family had returned to Southport so he finished training as a decorator and took a job at Ormskirk Hospital in the Maintenance Department. There was a shortage of nurses at this time and Albert volunteered to retrain as a nurse and he eventually made S R N and also a psychiatric nurse, by this time he was married and they decided to move South and took up posts at Yatton Hospital near Bristol where he stayed until he retired, he now lives at Braunton in Devon with his second wife Joy. His last words to me were 'Don't make me out to be a hero I only did what thousands of other young men did when their country needed them" I will let you be the judge of that.

Author Paul Ingham who writes motor cycling books has used some of the Rev John Hodgkins photos in his latest book - the title is "Bert Houlding - T T Pioneer" all about motor cycles that were made and raced in this area in the early twentieth century. There are five pages devoted to John Hodgkin's photos all taken in the village, Paul has donated five copies of the book to be sold on behalf of the Church so if you would like one or just view it let me know.

My family and I would like to thank everyone who sent sympathy cards and messages of tribute on hearing of Theresa's death they have been a great comfort to us all. Thank You.

Gerald Hodgson

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The musings of GERALD - January 2012

Most people in the village will have heard of the death of my dear wife Theresa. We moved to the village fifty two years ago as newly weds when I took the job of driver mechanic at Pelters looking after their tipper trucks. Theresa was soon involved in village life and was for a time the Treasurer of Whittington WI and also the School Clerk as well as being involved along with other young mothers and Mrs Braithwaite from Home Farm in arranging the children's Christmas Party. We had always been keen on dancing having met at Morecambe's Winter Gardens Ballroom and after I was invited to join the Village Hall Committee we were soon helping to run the dances there. For the next thirty five years once or twice every month would find us at the Village Hall helping to run the dances. In the hot summer of 1976 we spent our summer holiday at Minehead in Somerset. As usual we found a dance hall where we learned a new modern sequence dance called The Waltz Marie and after returning home we started a dance club to teach our dancers Modern Sequence Dancing. For the next ten years you would find us each Wednesday night either practicing or learning new dances, at one time more than sixty dancers from far and wide would come - some to learn new dances which they in turn would teach at other village halls. The most popular dances we ran were the Easter Saturday Dance and the New Years Eve Party. On Easter Saturday we always had a competition, for an Easter Bonnet or a fancy waistcoat, the standard was always very high and the competitors keen. Again the dancers came from miles around, some making a weekend of it booking in at local caravan parks or camp sites. New Years Eve was always a sell out - very hard work. One year the water froze, another year the central heating failed and the supper room roof leaked but everyone joined in the fun and we had very few complaints. Theresa was always there helping at the door or selling raffle tickets and serving suppers, afterwards we always went home with a few friends to wind down over a cup of coffee. We had our last waltz in the Village Hall on November the 26th, so many good nights surrounded by friends and so many lasting memories. Thank you Theresa for fifty two wonderful years, I was so proud of you.

David Kenyon asked me to thank everyone who helped to sell the Lune Valley Calendars. Over 2,000 has been raised for St John's Hospice. I will finish Albert Greenwoods life story next month.

Gerald Hodgson

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