Mary Hamilton (Arnside Archive) and Alistair Simpson (Arnside Sailing Club) shared the story of over 150 years of boat building by the Crossfield family and their successors in Arnside with Society members and visitors. The Archive and the Sailing Club worked together on research and a joint exhibition in July 2018 celebrating Arnside’s maritime heritage.
When carpenter John Crossfield moved to Arnside in the 1810s it was a small village and by 1841 there were still only 20 dwellings. John and his sons established a boat yard and over the years they and their descendants designed & built a range of boats including Nobbies (Morecambe Bay Prawners), Bay boats (for boat trips), a pleasure steamer for Lake Windermere, yachts, dinghies, rowing boats and Arthur Ransome’s Swallow. Some of their boats have been restored and still sail including Bonita (built in 1888 and sailed round Britain in 2013), Ziska (built in 1903, now in America) and Moya (built in 1910 and now in Greece). The Arnside Sailing Club, with the assistance of lottery funding, bought and restored the Severn (originally built by Crossfields in 1912) and returned it to Arnside.
Many members and a few visitors came to the March meeting to hear about Catching Tales, Fishing Stories from Morecambe Bay presented by Michelle Cooper of Morecambe Bay Partnership. She played extracts of sound recordings that have been gathered over the past 4 years. On the day of the talk she had delivered the master discs containing the memories of about 60 people who have contributed about 150 to 200 hours of conversation to Lancashire Archives, Preston and another set will be deposited with Cumbria Archives, Barrow for long term preservation. Interviews have been conducted with fishing families around the Bay and in particular from Flookburgh, Morecambe and Sunderland Point. Under the headings of Across the Generations, Fishing Methods, Rivalry, Dangers, Wildlife and Nicknames we heard how skills were passed from generation to generation; using horses and how their replacement by tractors changed fishing; how to catch and sort shrimps; making nets; competitiveness and friendship between the fishermen; elephants bathing off Blackpool; and a record of some of the nicknames given to the fishermen. One lady also recounted her experiences of fishing. We were given an insight into a magical world.
Louise Martin, the Cultural Heritage Officer for the Headlands to Headspace initiative within the Morecambe Bay Partnership, was our September speaker. Louise presented examples of the recent archeological work; Barrow’s Military History on Walney Island, Gleaston Castle, three sites on Birkrigg Common, Hampsfell Hospice and Kirkland Tower, two sites at Jenny Barrows Point, and Warton Craggs on the south shore of the Bay. For each site available documentary evidence had been brought together and detailed recording carried out using ground survey, aerial photography using drones and geophysical surveys. One use of the data was to create dramatic 3D images. An archeological dig had been carried out at Jenny Brown’’s point. Conservation assessments were carried out and necessary restoration work identified. The projects were often carried out in partnership with Universities and all involved volunteers. Training was a key element in all the projects. The report for all the projects would be available on line.
The Walney sites included pillboxes, searchlight emplacements and gun battery foundations. At Gleaston Castle the surveys had shown an earlier tower near the thirteenth century manorial buildings, and the location of enclosing walls. The Birkrigg work had involved three sites on the Common. A major task had involved bracken removal both to reveal and protect the stone circles protect: 40 ton bags of bracken were removed in 2015. At Appleby Slack a small living enclosure and a larger stock enclosure had been identified. Documentary evidence and old photographs had been brought together for Hampsfell Hospice and Kirkhead Tower and condition assessments carried out. The chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point was shown to be associated with a calcining furnace linked to possible copper mining. A large embankment running 2km into the Bay was the remnants of a failed land restoration scheme. LIDAR had been used at Warton Craggs to clearly show the three series of remparts whish are masked by trees. They are probably hill top enclosures rather than a hill fort.
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.