Past Events

Summer Outings 2017   Reports by Mary Taylor

Tuesday 5 September: A visit to Saltairesaltaire01

18 members of the Ewecross Historical Society travelled to Saltaire by train. Entry into the enormous Salts Mill is free; most of the party had lunch in the café, went to the David Hockney exhibition and looked round the retail sites there before meeting the guide, Maria, at the church at 3pm.

Maria was a character in character, dressed as a Victorian working class woman; she gave members cards portraying real people and their addresses, taken from the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Maria gave an interesting slant to Sir Titus Salt, the famous philanthropist. Born in 1803 he had attended grammar school, and worked with his father, who owned textile mills in Bradford, taking over the business in 1833. Conditions at that time were very bad with pollution and disease, life expectancy being only 20 years. According to Maria the workers revolted and formed a union, so Titus bought land in Shipley and built his modern mill, completed in 1853, and built the model village, now a World Heritage Site.

The mill produced worsted cloth from wool, and Titus worked out a way of spinning free alpaca wool from Peru brought to Liverpool as packing on ships. Queen Victoria wore clothes made from this; she and many famous people visited Saltaire. Everything was recycled, including food for pig swill, lanolin from the wool for soap and urine for tanning leather.

The guide led the party round the streets, named after Titus’ eleven children and various relatives and friends, stopping at the addresses on the cards given out earlier. There were shops on street corners, but no public houses, and no police, as the hierarchy of workers watched the lower ones; there are even watch towers. Underground tunnels link the workplace to the canteen, so workers had no excuse for being late back to work.

Sir Titus died in 1876 and is buried in the mausoleum in the magnificent church. The family sold out in 1892, but the mill continued in production until 1985.

Photos by Susan Bourne.  Click on any image to enlarge.

29 June: A visit to Clapham

Members of the Ewecross Historical Society travelled to Clapham, where Ken Pearce took us on an engaging and informative evening tour of the village to illustrate the influence of the Farrer family on its development.

Ken showed some of the changes that the family had made to the village; the road had been moved from next to the river where the children’s playground is now, a high banking had been made to hide the Hall and a tunnel made for the road. He spoke of the family crest the Flying Horse Shoe which perpetuates the legend that the Farrer ancestors were farriers for William the Conqueror and were so skilful that the horses appeared to fly. More up to date, about 500 years ago the family lived near Hebden Bridge with members of the family moving to this are in the eighteenth century. Oliver Farrer, who became rich in London through his own hard work, died in 1808 leaving Ingleborough Estate to his nephews. They, lawyers in London bought even more land and employed an agent to look after the estate, which at its height covered 35,000 acres with shooting rights on a further 15,000 acres. Reginald Farrer was a well known plant collector bringing specimens from all over the world; the footpath to Ingleborough Cave has recently been named the Reginald Farrer nature trail. The late and much respected Dr John Farrer returned from his home in Australia to take on the estate in 1952 working tirelessly on improvements until his death on New Years Day 2014, the moment when Clapham Church clock stopped.

Winter Talks 2017-18   Reports by Mary Taylor

 24 April   David Alder

500 Years of the Royal Mail 1516 to 2016

David Alder,  who is Post Master at Bentham Post Office, gave a comprehensive account drawing on his lifetime interest in the history of communication.

King Henry V111 ruled his realm by receiving news and sending orders to all parts of England in letters carried by messengers on horseback; this extended to his courtiers and ministers until 1635 when the public began to use the service. By the next century stage coaches carrying mail sped along the new turnpike roads, changing horses at staging posts along the way, hence the name the post service. The coming of the railways speeded the service with letters being sorted on board the night train; road transport took over in 1970. Mail was sent overseas by packet boats, then steam ships and air mail.

David told of the introduction of the penny post in 1840 when the sender paid the postage, before that the recipient paid an extortionate price to receive a letter. He also spoke of the telephone system and showed slides of magnificent main post offices, the one in Kendal being still in use. He concluded by speculating on the future of communications.

 

 27 March   David Johnson

Droving: Whys and Wherefores of Long Distance Trade

Dr Johnson began his illustrated lecture on Droving: Whys and Wherefores of Long Distance Trade, by saying that Droving, the driving of animals to market, is still carried on today in many parts of the world. There is archaeological evidence of the practice in the Iron Age, and documentary evidence in this country from 1186. Using maps the speaker showed the routes taken by the animals, usually cattle and sometimes sheep which were walked along these routes, not always roads, the animals spread out over a wide area, eating as they travelled, herded by drovers.

In the west hundreds of cattle called Galloways from Ireland and Scotland were herded along the Galloway Gate, gate meaning road, and through Carlisle to continue south along three routes. The one nearest to Bentham was past Brough, to Garsdale Head, round Great Knoutberry Hill, past Gearstones, a Droving Inn and down Chapel le Dale to Ingleton. Other routes came through Kirkby Lonsdale. Craven was a prime area for fattening cattle with 5000 head of cattle at one time in fields at Malham.

Dr Johnson spoke of the many droving families including the Birtwhistles; and of trysts and fairs along the way where cattle were bought and sold.

When drovers became redundant in the nineteenth century, mainly because animals could be transported quickly by rail, some emigrated to America to become cowboys.

 

 27 February    Sandy Grant 

Anglo-Scottish Warfare:

Robert Bruce and the Scottish Raids on Northern England 1314-28

Sandy, a Scottish Historian, began by showing how the Royal Families of Scotland and England both vied to extend their kingdoms, both by marriage or conflict. David 1 of Scotland expanded into Ireland and Wales as well as most of Northern England, but when his direct line died out Edward 1 of England took advantage, conquering much of Scotland and installing a puppet King, John Balliol. The Scots revolted led first by William Wallace and then by Robert Bruce, resulting in the English being finally defeated at the battle of Bannock Burn in 1314.

By studying original records Sandy has discovered that dates of Scottish Raids in this area incorrect. He showed the routes of the raids; they always attacked Richmond, first in 1314 and 1315. The worst raid in this area took place in 1318; the first attack was on Skipton, then one group went the southern route to Preston before turning north for Lancaster; the others rode along the route of the A65 causing havoc up to Kirkby Lonsdale when they turned north. In 1319 raids are recorded in Stainforth, Horton, Ingleton, Twisleton, Burton in Lonsdale and Bentham. In 1322 they raided Lancaster taking their army across the sands.

The Scottish army travelled fast on horseback, only staying in one place a day or two, burning dwellings, killing animals and destroying crops. Parish Valuation was reduced my more than half by this devastation and was exempt from tax for several years.

30 January    Chris Workman 

 Hatmakers in the Lune Valley: A Forgotten Trade

Chris gave a comprehensive account of Hatmakers in the Lune Valley: A Forgotten Trade, illustrated with scenes from the past and slides of present day buildings once used for Hat Making. Many families involved in the business were Quakers, and she spoke of these extended families, showing several family trees.

Knowledge of felt hat making was brought to this country by the Huguenots from France, using beaver fur, but by the time the craft reached the Lune Valley, beaver fur was scarce and expensive so a mixture of rabbit fur and sheep wool was used. This sort of hat succeeded the knitted cap, and was made in this area from the late seventeenth century to the mid nineteenth century when felt hats became machine made and silk hats became popular.

The speaker outlined the stages of making felt hats; the fur and wool were left overnight in a solution of mercuric nitrate, this was called carroting as the product turned orange. The next stage was bowing to enable the fibres to mat together into what was called a pad. The pad was then taken to the planking or felting shop where it was worked with a rolling pin on one of six wooden boards surrounding a boiler, called a kettle filled with a mixture of water and sulphuric acid, kept hot by a fire underneath. The felt was then shaped into a hat on a mould before being finished and dyed. The mercury gave off a poisonous vapour which affected the workmen, hence the saying “Mad as a Hatter”.

Using maps Chris showed the many locations of hatters, some were scattered in isolated farms, used to supplement the farmers’ income; as well as in Lancaster, Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale and Wray, with two being situated in Bentham. Some of the hats were exported, including to the West Indies for use on the plantations. Some hatters in Wray made hat bases for the London firm of Christies until the 1820s.

 

Summer (!) Outing to Ingleton Coalfield, August 2012
Photo by Edward Huddleston

ingleton1

Summer Outing to Appleby, June 2010

Summer Outing to Sawley & Whalley Abbeys, June 2009
Photos by Richard Wilson & Mike Winstanley

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Summer Outing to Shap Abbey and Burnbanks, May 2009
Photos by Sara Mason & Mike Winstanley

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Annual Dinner 2009 in the Old School, Tatham Fells

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