Kevin Grice gave an entertaining and informative talk on a relatively hidden aspect of our local history. It seems that the Dad’s army of WW2 was not the first time that Volunteer Forces had been used in military history.
A number of events in the mid nineteenth century including the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the limited effectiveness of the Crimean War, and an assassination attempt on the life of Napoleon the Third in 1858 which involved a grenade made in Birmingham all raised fears of a possible French invasion in 1859. Thus RVC’s ( Rifle Volunteer Corps) were formed all over the country with Lancashire over the Sands and Kendal being no exceptions.
He talked principally about the rifle ranges which were created to fulfil the 24 days a year target practice the RVC’s enlisters were required to carry out. Needless to say these sites were of necessity in relatively isolated areas and amongst those he discussed in detail was the site at Silver How, above Grasmere. Others noted were on Torver Common another at Helsfell, Kendal and one even in Cartmel at Holker Bank in what is today part of the Cistercian Way.
Simon Williams, chairman of the Mourholme local history society which covers the Carnforth, Arnside and Silverdale area gave a lively and interesting talk in April 2017 about two boating disasters in Morecambe Bay. The first known as the Kent’s bank tragedy of 1850 involved the North family and their guests from Know Hill Lodge, Lineth ( the name was changed to Silverdale in 1930) The family and boatmen set off for lunch in Kent’s Bank Hotel in a Lancashire Nobby but the young men and boatsmen delayed their return by visiting the bar. Tragedy struck whilst they were rowing back and a verdict of accidental death was reported.
The other accident happened in 1894 and involved members of the Riley family,mill workers from Queen St. Burnley, during their September Wakes week holiday to Morecambe : its details survive due to the daughter Fanny’s diary. A thirty three foot Lancashire Nobby called the Matchless overloaded with 34 day trippers ,was being sailed single handed by Samuel Houghton from Morecambe to Kent’s Bank via Jenny Brown Point. The boat was caught broadside by a gust of wind at Jenny Brown Point and it sank in seconds. Very few of them could swim and their clogs hindered them despite help from a nearby boat. Fanny Riley 9 and her brother Ben 7 and an engaged couple were amongst the 9 survivors. The King’s Arms in Morecambe acted as both a mortuary and the location where the inquest was held. Identification of the bodies was left to the landladies in Morecambe. Despite being overloaded, the authorities accepted no responsibility for the inadequate licensing regulations.
Members of the Society time-travelled back to the Victorian era at the June 2018 lecture through a selection of photographs taken by John Garnett of Windermere (Photographer, Post Master, Printer, Bookseller and Chemist) at the end of the 19th Century. Ian explained the different type of glass negatives (full plate, half plate and stereoscopic pair) and that if properly stored the images are permanent. The photographs required an exposure time of 10 to 20 seconds or the images would be blurred, but most of the photographs were extremely clear even when he zoomed in to show particular features. The photographs shown included the shore at Grange-over-Sands (after the railway but before the promenade was built ie c1868); Holker Hall (before the 1871 fire which destroyed the West Wing); High Fold Farm at Troutbeck (showing Peggy Longmire on her 100th birthday in 1864); Bowness (both before and after the promenade was built); and Windermere Station (c 1900 featuring horse-drawn coaches built in Windermere). Ian displayed a wealth of knowledge of local history which enabled him to date the photographs very accurately.
Ian Gee, a Director and Trustee of the Lakes Flying Company, gave an absorbing and fascinating Talk to a large audience about “Aviation on Windermere 1909-1919”, describing how Edward Wakefield pioneered flight from water on Windermere.
Wakefield built hangars at Bowness and used boat engineers from Barrow to adapt an Avro plane as a seaplane. Despite widespread ridicule “Waterbird” made the first successful flight from water 25th November 1911 from the Lake. The pilot sat at the front with the engine and propellers at the rear. The float was stepped, (a crucial adaptation) and the outriggers made from bamboo.
Wakefield recognised early on the military advantages of seaplanes for scouting purposes as land- based aircraft at the time did not have the range to reach enemy lines. During World War I Windermere was an important centre for training Naval Pilots and the first seaplanes were used 25th December 1914 against Zeppelin bases in Germany.
A replica of the “Waterbird” is currently being built and approaching “air worthiness”.
Despite the cold, windy evening a few brave members attended Dr Suzanne Tiplady’s March 2018 lecture on 300 years of schooling in Satterthwaite. A church survey of 1718 referred to local education for the poor. Poor parents paid 1p per week to Satterthwaite’s curate who was licensed to be a teacher. Richer parents’ children went to Grammar Schools at Hawkshead or Cartmel. We were entertained by stories about successive school teachers some of whom were also curates. Increasing population led to a school being built because the Chapel was deemed unsuitable and in 1850 money was raised from across the district to build a replacement, joint, village school for Satterthwaite and Rusland with a grand house for the teacher. Donations were received from William Wordsworth and people from the Cartmel area. Shakespeare was taught and teaching was rated as excellent but the introduction of compulsory education in 1876 caused standards to fall and needlework was the only subject mentioned. Information about many of the teachers was illustrated with pictures. The school closed in July 2006 when there were only 9 pupils and 1 teacher left.
In October 2017, Dr. Rob David gave a fascinating talk on the fate of the those men retaining their German/Austrian nationality were mostly interned, including an enclave of German miners at Nenthead and hotel waiters from Keswick. Losing the wage-earner left many families in great poverty.
Those who were naturalised British had mixed fortunes, especially when “Germanaphobia” spiked after events such as the sinking of the “Lusitania” and horror stories from Belgian refugees. Some pork butchers in Barrow had their windows smashed, and “spy fever” fuelled by the media led to the German wife of an ex MP near Whitehaven being interned. This followed a U Boat attack on Lowca Coke Ovens. Some others however lived unmolested.
After the War most were deported but some such as the Head Waiter from Keswick were allowed to remain. Some families were never reunited.
At the end of Rob’s lecture, he mentioned his interest in the Trapp family and Harry Mudd of Grange. Subsequently Pat Rowland has been helping Rob with his research and Rob has produced two papers which are both on this website:
The Trapp Family of Grange-over-Sands during the First World War
Harry Mudd of Grange-over-Sands
Despite the wet weather there was a good turnout for the fascinating talk by Dr Bill Shannon on Dr Kuerden’s 1685 map, and other early maps of the Cartmel Peninsula in September 2017 . The history of mapping in the area included the 1025-1050 Anglo Saxon Map, 1410 Gough Map and the first printed map in 1540. Dr Kuerden (1623- 1702) was a medical doctor from Cuerden near Leyland who developed an interest in history and surveying. He collaborated with Christopher Towneley in compiling material and had ambitious plans to produce a 5 volume History of Lancashire. Eleven volumes of his manuscripts including 84 maps were discovered in the 1950’s in Towneley Hall. The maps include detailed surveys of roads (including buildings, notable inhabitants and roadside features like shrubs and walls) on the southern part of Cartmel Peninsula and a survey of the boundary of Cartmel Parish. Unfortunately Dr Kuerden died without publishing any of his materials. However Dr Shannon intends to publish a book about Dr Kuerden and his research.
Following Bill’s talk I looked for the Houseman family in Cartmel as Bill had mentioned that Widow Houseman’s was where Dr Kuerden lodged whilst surveying the Cartmel Peninsula. Widow Houseman may have been married to John who died in 1661. His will described him as living at Cartmel. The only entries in the Parish Register (online records start in 1664) for the Houseman family of Cartmel are between 1664 and 1673. Ellin, a daughter, was buried in 1664, Jane Houseman was married in 1671 and Elizabeth Houseman was married in 1673. Houseman is a common name in the Warton, Lancaster area and the family may have originated from there.
See also his research paper:
The landscape and people of the Cartmel Peninsula in 1685: the Keuden &Townley maps. Transactions C&WAAS CW3, 18, 2018, 201-222.
In Feb 2018, Mike showed how important the West Indies trade with Britain was in that period. Lancaster and Liverpool were important ports but direct colonial trade was more important to Lancaster than the slave trade as many ships went via the Canary Islands rather than Africa.
There were many roles involved in the West Indian trade, which was considered both a risky and prosperous business. Various Quaker families from the Cartmel and Furness areas were involved in some capacity, connected to others through marriage or business.
Quakerism was introduced to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, by James Birkett of Cartmel Fell, in the 1750s and there was a strong trading relationship between Lancaster and Tortola with materials for supporting a community going one way and sugar and cotton returning. The Rawlinson family originally from Rusland were more influential than most.
Mike supported his fascinating talk with various research materials including letters, census, shipping registers, muster rolls, photographs, invoices and newspapers.
In July Pat Rowland and David Shore took 2 groups of members around the village and surrounding countryside to look for evidence of the Flax Industry that disappeared at the beginning of the 19thcentury.
The walk took them from High Newton, where the weaving sheds were located on the edge of the village, towards Barber Green. En-route, there were the retting ponds, one of which is used today to collect run off rainwater from the A590. Retting is the process where the harvested flax was immersed for 10-14 days. In Barber Green we visited the engineered water-course that provided the power to the fulling mill, a place where the bleached cloth was beaten to flatten the fibres. Then, just outside Barber Green, we looked at the fields where the flax was grown, and the amazing “consumption wall”, created from the process of clearing the fields. Afterwards we walked to Low Newton, viewing more retting ponds and engineered water course and to enjoy some afternoon refreshment.
Kelly Spronston-Heath spoke about the history of Fell Foot and the National Trust’s future plans for the estate. Kelly described the history through the various families that owned or rented the estate.
In the 15th century the land was owned by the Canons of Cartmel Priory. Following the reformation the land passed to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1567. By the seventeenth century Fell Foot was a productive and prosperous farm; in 1713 the land was valued at £615. In 1784 the Robinson family, yeoman farmers, sold the land and house to Jeremiah Dixon, a merchant from Leeds, as his family’s second home. At the time there was probably a modest farmhouse on the site. With his wife, Mary, Jeremiah expanded the house that was then described as a substantial villa with pleasure ground and lawns sweeping down to the lake. Mary contributed to the local community, establishing a Sunday School for 12 local children and a number of heath related schemes. The next owner was Francis Duckinfield Astley a businessman from Manchester who purchased the estate in 1813. Up until this time the road to Ulverston passed through the estate, crossing two fords but in 1813 it was moved to the current line when a bridge was built. On Mr Duckinfield Astley’ death the land, house and contents were put up for sale and many of the contents ended up in houses around Windermere. The estate didn’t sell and was eventually rented out but in 1851 Francis Duckinfield-Astley Jr moved back with his family
The next owner, Col John George Palmer Ridehalgh bought the estate in 1859. He and his wife extended the house further and added a gas house with gas lighting throughout the house, an entertaining area and additional boathouses. Col Ridehalgh had two steam yachts, the largest 60’ long could carry 122 passengers, and various yachts and rowing boats. The grounds were landscaped and an arboretum created. The family was immersed in the local community. He was a JP, a founder member of the Windermere Yacht Club and a Col in the Border Regiment. He also maintained a large pack of hounds that he transported to sites around the lake in one of his steam yachts. (Ms Spronston-Heath circulated some fascinating photographs of the interior of the house and the steam yachts from this period). The trust has some artifacts from the Ridehalgh period of occupancy and a quilt which was made for Mrs Ridhalgh is in the Textile and Quilt museum in York and has been taken on a world exhibition tour.
In 1907 Oswald Hedley purchased the house and estate. Mrs Hedley didn’t like the house and so Oswald demolished it planning to replace it with a Jacobean style building. The foundations for the new house were dug but Mrs Headley died suddenly and Oswald abandoned the project and the estate and moved to the north of Windermere. In 1948 Oswald’s third wife, who survived him, gave the land to the National Trust. The Trust leased it, for 21 years, to a Mr Rhodes as a camping and caravanning ground. In 1969 the Trust took the estate back under it’s management as what might be best called a country park; there were also a number of chalets which could be rented.
The National Trust is now planning a major restoration and development of the estate. The gas house and boathouses, which are of architectural interest, are to be restored. A watersports centre will be developed around the boathouses. The arboretum will be restored with further planting, new gardens and footpaths added. Catering facilities will be developed on higher ground to avoid the risk of flooding, Overall access will be improved and better links to public transport developed. Interpretational material will allow visitors to engage with the history of the estate. Ms Spronston-Heath finished by encouraging people to become volunteers at the site, particularly in bringing together stories about the history of the estate.