Category Archives: Cumbria

Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900 : Peter Roebuck Oct 2019

Peter Roebuck gave a superb talk on “Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900”.  He explained why they were driven (because they were too big to be carried), and their value.  Cattle provided materials for making leather, glue and tallow, as well as meat and dairy products.  Organised droving could only begin once reiving had been almost eliminated in the early 1600s.

Most cattle came from Galloway and were driven about 60-100 miles then sold on as most drovers only knew the routes, inns etc in their local area.   Strenuous days were followed by easy days to allow cattle to recover, and the outer parts of their hooves were shod.

During the C17 the trade was bolstered by supplying the armed forces who required beef rations for the men as well as huge quantities of shoe leather. The Navy carried live cattle. This booming trade helped businesses such as banks to be set up.  When an outbreak of Rinderpest broke out in 1745 it did not reach Cumberland so that even more cattle were sold from this area.

Cattle droving declined with the growth of canals and railways from 1850s onwards.

Catherine Bottomley

The Corpse roads of Cumbria : Alan & Leslie Cleaver Sept 2019

We had a fascinating and light-hearted talk on what appears to be a rich regional heritage. Cumbria has many words such as bier roads, lyke roads, coffin lines, lych ways and corpse roads which have been used to describe more than 25 paths in Cumbria which were used in medieval times to transport the dead either in coffins or shrouds from their remote rural homes and parishes to the mother church of the parish. It was the mother church of the parish which had the right to bury the dead in consecrated land and they fought hard to keep this financial advantage but by the late sixteenth century parishes won the right to bury their dead themselves claiming the journey and the often harsh weather made transportation very difficult. The paths sometimes covering a distance of  20 miles had features along the way such as coffin rests and coffin crosses where the cortège would stop to read a prayer. The Victorian fascination of the supernatural popularised the many ghosts stories of the corpse roads that abounded at that time. Today they are quiet byways.

 

Aviation on Windermere 1909-1919 by Ian Gee

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”.

Cumbria Vernacular Buildings Group

At the March meeting of Cartmel Peninsula Local History Society, June Hall talked about Cumbrian vernacular buildings and the Cumbria Vernacular Buildings Group that was set up in 2013. We heard how, in the 1950s, Dr Brunskill developed a system for recording traditional historic buildings that were not designed by architects. Subsequently a national group and affiliated local societies were established to record local buildings. The history of the development of Cumbrian buildings was covered and where the building materials came from. The key features such as window and door styles, wall thickness and layout helped to date a building. Documents can give clues to the age of the building and can help to understand how the building was used. The talk ended with a review of the wide ranging activities of the Cumbrian Group during 2016. This illustrated how the Group covers the whole county and how diverse are the styles of buildings. In the summer June will lead a walk around High Newton looking at the features of vernacular buildings in the village.