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    Burnbanks project

    Interview with Arthur Cannon

    31st August 2006

    Mr Cannon would like to point out that his memories are from almost 70 years ago and whilst true and factually correct as far as he can recall, they may not be 100% correct in every detail.

    Additions in italics made 23/10/06

    To begin, Arthur read out his prepared account of his years at Burnbanks.
    Experience of a fourteen year old boy who commenced work on the construction of the Haweswater Dam in July 1937:

    My name is Arthur Cannon and I was born on 2nd June 1923 at Brough, Westmorland, the youngest of a family of five ? one brother and three sisters. I was orphaned having just reached the age of nine and went to live with my uncle Abraham on Stainmore who also, like my father, was a well known farmer.

    I came to the village of Burnbanks in 1937 having first left Brough School at the age of fourteen to live with my brother Colin and two sisters at the Manchester Corporation Waterworks Club.

    Colin at the age of twenty four and previously landlord at the Greyhound Hotel, Shap, had been appointed manager of the club in 1934 when the scheme to build the dam reopened. Initial work on the construction was commenced in 1930 but ceased in 1931 due to the depression. My two sisters were also employed as assistants in the running of the club. My other sister was employed by Lord Dawson of Penn, the then King's physician, in London doing secretarial work whilst we all lived at Burnbanks, and later became a squadron officer in the RAF.

    The premises, a very large wooden built ground floor building, consisted of three bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. The club was one large room with a long bar on the public side at the front of which at ground level there was sawdust and spittoons which the navvies used. There was also a best room for senior staff. The beer barrels on stillages were in a concrete ground floor beer cellar, kept cool with water sprinklers spraying on them. Beer arrived on a regular basis to Shap Station, mainly Tetley's of Leeds, and was delivered by Jack McCormick, Bampton Grange, on the back of his lorry.

    The club members, I estimate some 200 to 250, mainly navvies, were hard drinkers and could easily down 12 to 14 pints on a good night.

    The premises opened at 5pm when the hooter sounded at work and there would be a mad dash to get in to be first served. Some of the navvies would stay all night until closing time and not go to their lodgings for their evening meal, so much so that Colin had instructions to close the bar at 5.30pm for half an hour. But it made little difference ? they just sat on the wall outside until it reopened.

    This for me was a big change having lived on Stainmore where my uncle and his daughter and son were staunch Methodists. To live among the environment of the navvies was a real shock to me but I feel has been a blessing in disguise because the experiences I have gained have meant a lot to me in later life.

    I commenced work in short trousers (but later had long bib and brace overalls) in July 1937 in the electricians' shop. Fred Bourne was the foreman electrician and if I remember correctly there were two other electricians and one mate. Frank Millican was one of the electricians and Harry Toone was the mate. We carried out all the electrical work in the course of construction of the dam and I also remember assisting to lay the 3.5 KV cable which runs from the dam and terminates in the substation located in the garage at the foot of the hotel. The cable runs behind the wall on the main road to the hotel. Power lines and telephone lines were run round the village, which covered some 60 buildings, for the navvies and work people and probably a dozen or so staff bungalows for senior people. The village policeman, PC Ostle, and his alsatian lived in one of these. Mr Harrison followed by Mr Prescott, chief cashiers, and Albert Ord were names I remember who lived in them.

    In the village substation I carried out the work of charging batteries for the radio sets. DC power was supplied by two Rushton Hornsby generating sets with a further one I believe on standby and there was also an AC rotary converter coupled to them.

    Hours of work were 49 a week from 7.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday with half hour lunch break. Saturdays were 7.30am to 12 noon. Every six months on a Saturday you were sacked to avoid paying superannuation as the work was only classed as temporary. You clocked on and off each day eyed closely by one-eyed "Hock-eye" (his nickname) Johnson to ensure you clocked no one else in.

    Albert Ord was in charge of the diesel generating plant and the Jewells were members of his staff. Syd Weir was in charge of building maintenance, Bill Pugh the joiners' shop. Tommy Wilson was a joiner and also Walter Bracken who came on his motorbike from Penrith each day. Alec Little was a blacksmith from Bomby. Alf Mounsey from Bampton was employed as lorry driver and Jack Hutchinson from Bampton Grange as a dry-stone waller. Bill Sandham was painter/decorator and sign-writer. Harry Dodd was chief sawyer. Harry Eastham and his son Bobbie were office staff. Jack Fountain and his sons were employed on the cableway which ran above the dam to carry the skips of concrete required in the construction. Bill Kirby was a flagman employed on this work. Dr Prentice of Shap was the village doctor,Tom Bell, of Helton, the milkman and Totty Lowis, Penrith, the tailor who got quite a lot of work off the navvies. There was a village store and separate newsagents ? Madge Robinson looked after the latter assisted later by Tim Scott. Ronnie Scott was the village postman. His son Geoffrey worked at the Haweswater Hotel, but he dies at a very young age. The Idle sisters also worked at the hotel.

    Coulson's, Penrith, provided the transport. Last bus was at 10.30pm Saturday which my sister and self often missed because we were enjoying ourselves dancing at St Andrew's parish hall until five minutes to twelve midnight, and then had to walk the long 10 to 11 miles back to Burnbanks (happy days).

    The work on the dam for the navvies was very demanding, working in all weathers, keenly watched by foremen whilst using their pick and shovel. Some started at 7.30am and were sacked by 12 noon. Mr Jamieson was the resident engineer and every afternoon did a tour of the site works, the offices being located on the hillside. I remember when in 1941 I volunteered for the RAF and after spending three days at RAF Padgate being called back to work by him and being severely reprimanded as I was in a reserved occupation ? the only person then left on site with any electrical knowledge. Shortly afterwards I repaired on my own the main LV underground cable that ran from the dam to the village substation after it had been damaged by workmen during excavation.

    I eventually was called into the forces 5th November 1942. With a name like Cannon it was obvious they needed more firepower. After war service I resumed work as an electrician with the Manchester Corporation in Manchester, April 1947.

    End of prepared account

    PG:You have told me already quite a bit about when you were at Burnbanks, and where you lived and so on, but is it possible to be quite precise about when you went to Burnbanks? What would the date be, did you both go together, or one after the other -how did you organise that?
    AC:That's all I have to say you see. Now I could go on and say about the characters such as Marmalade Joe, Nottingham Tom, Major Paddy Burns.
    CW:Are these some of the navvies?
    AC:These are some of the navvies and the stories they told, you see?so I could just say that normal could I now?
    CW:You can just say what you want. Just tell me any stories you know of.
    AC:I don't know whether that's any good, that first bit.
    CW:Yes, it's brilliant but it's all the facts. That's a brilliant collection of names and facts and dates ? now you want to fill in the human side of it.
    AC:I daren't mention one thing that happened. At the substation at Haweswater I was with this electrician and we had to move this panel off one wall onto another, and in so doing he'd removed the main earth on this panel and we were nearly electrocuted.

    The people that I can remember such as I've just mentioned, Marmalade Joe, Nottingham Tom, Major Paddy Burns, these were hard drinking personnel and one evening Marmalade Joe asked for a bottle of Guinness and the men had asked me to fill him a bottle of water. He almost cleared the bottle before he realised that it was water and he then flung the bottle at the mirror behind the bar. My brother Colin was most annoyed and said "Arthur, you must never do that again".

    CW:Had some of these people been on the road for a while, going from job to job?
    AC:Yes, they had. You see these people came mainly I thought from west Cumberland ? work was very difficult to get over there and they usually came with a stick over their shoulder with a red handkerchief and that was all their belongings in there. There was about fifteen or sixteen of them located in these huts and the man and his wife they looked after them, the man working on the scheme, and they looked after the men. But they were just in a very small?just a corridor, like it was just a small room.
    CW:How long did they stay?
    AC:Well, the majority of them stayed. Once they'd got accustomed to the work they were quite good work people. There was only one or two you might say were called dossers and they were soon found out.
    CW:These are the ones you said would start in the morning and be sacked by?
    AC:By lunchtime, yes.
    CW:What about the people with families? There were men with families, weren't there.
    AC:There were. I don't know how to describe them really. They were just ordinary-living people but there was quite a lot. You see there was like the Crabtree family, there was the Sullivans and the Cooks and they were a close-knit community. Rather strange, if there was any trouble in the club it usually occurred at a break time, at Christmas or Easter and it usually involved the family. My brother was pretty athletic those days and he was soon over the bar and he had a very nice way with him and he used to say "Look, I think the best you can do is go home. You'll be better ? you've had probably too much". There was one thing about Colin, he certainly knew how to handle men. He was a very well-respected person and he was also very interested in cattle and used to regularly attend the auction marts in Penrith. He used to buy cattle and he would have them rented out with various of his farmer friends and then at the back end of the year he used to have a sale. He was very knowledgeable. He could sell a cow or a calf and years after he could recognise it in the fields. And the stories I used to hear from him with other farmers when they came to see him and probably they were thinking of sending the cattle to the auction mart and he would say "Well, don't you think Tommy if I gave you so much now it would be better that way. You've got the expense of getting it there, then if it isn't sold you've got to bring it back home again. I'll tell you what?". Anyhow, these discussions used to go on well past midnight. My sister, Binnie, used to say "Well I'm going to bed". He liked the county life, he liked farming ? whereas myself, with having lost my parents at such a young age and being with my uncle on Stainmore it was rather a strict upbringing. Mind, it did me no harm, there's no doubt about that ? but I really wanted to get away from there and I didn't really take the same interest in farming as I should have done. I was made to work very hard and if I went off, say, to any football matches and hadn't told them they were worried where I was and I used to be sent home to bed ? I didn't used to have any food. But really at the end of the day it didn't do me any harm. But then from having experienced that life and going as a young lad it was good to be among these people, these navvies.
    CW:They must have had some interesting tales to tell.
    AC:Yes, there were really. You know time's gone on now, I cannot really remember.
    CW:Presumably when you started at fourteen they would have given you training on the job. Had you done anything before, any electrical work?
    AC:Oh no, nothing at all. I'd come straight off the farm so I went in there at first to the electricians' shop. Again it was of wooden construction with an iron stove and my first job was to light the stove, make the tea. You had the usual tricks played on you as a young boy. Probably such as Frank Millican, the electrician, working for him in the dam, and he'd say "Look, we're trying to reach up to something we can't get to. Just pop along to the electricians' shop and see Tommy Wilson, see if you can get the long stand off him". So you went for the long stand and that's all you got ? it was a long stand: "Wait over there".
    CW:You got used to that in the end. So did you have someone to work with? Were you like an electrician's mate?
    AC:Well I was the apprentice.
    CW:Did you work with lots of different people?
    AC:I did. As I say there were about four other staff and you were sent with them and you watched what they did. I must have had a good knowledge of what they did because you were able to repair cables on your own. Quite a responsibility, I feel I couldn't do it today, but it was only by having seen what was done that you were able to do this work. For instance, while I was there, I think he was the man who opened the dam, Alderman Sir William Walker, he came to reside in one of the staff bungalows at the village and I remember being sent down there. He wanted sockets and electric clock points and lights in different places. Alderman Sir William Walker and Lord Citrine, they were two of the three members of the committee for the whole of the country that investigated any electrical breakdowns. The Westmorland supply company were rather concerned because he was often on to them when there was any interruption of supply and his electric clocks stopped and they were not aware of who he was until I explained
    CW:So quite a responsibility wiring his house for additional sockets and lights.
    AC:Yes it was.
    CW:What about the other electricians? Had they had a similar start to you? Had they learned on other jobs?
    AC:They would be properly trained, they would be. They were senior to me ? they were in their twenties and they would serve their apprenticeships with local electrical contractors such as, say, WH Smith of Penrith. There was another man that came, he did come to assist me from time to time, Tommy Watson, who was employed by a Carlisle firm, David Thompson's, he did come to assist me if there was some large jobs I could not complete, but I had been left at the age of seventeen in 1941 as the only person on the building of the dam because the others had been called away to other places on war service and some had been called out to West Cumberland. There was only four to start with. I was the only one left.
    CW:At that point the project wasn't finished so how on earth did you ? there must have been a lot to do.
    AC:The project was completed in early 1941 and, aged seventeen, I was left on my own to do electrical maintenance work on the equipment on the dam and including the village and the Haweswater Hotel. The instructions were?Mr Waddecar who was in Manchester, he was the head electrical and mechanical engineer and having been on my own I felt I would have liked to have gone to Manchester to gain further experience but when I spoke to him about it he said he would see what he would do and I did get the chance to go. The letter came and I was friendly with Florence McCormick in the typists' office and I came in that morning to tell her that I'd just got my papers to go into the army. She said "Well that's strange. There's a letter arrived from Manchester which says you're going to start work in Manchester and Mr Ralph Hattersley is coming to take over from you on November 5th 1942". On that particular day, that was the day I got my papers to join His Majesty's Forces. That was rather amazing. So up till that time I was entirely on my own (from 1941).
    CW:That must have been a bit scary.
    AC:Well I don't really think ? when you're young you don't realise really. The work was only carrying out maintainance to supply machines and that and the fact that you'd taken notice of what was said? You always had at the back of your mind what if there was something you couldn't do and I think it was only on two occasions that I had to go to see Mr Jamieson and say to him that I felt it was too much and they would send out this Tommy Watson from Carlisle who would come and do the necessary work. In the village there was the recreation hall and the mission hall. In the recreation hall, that's where they held the dances. They'd a very good maple floor there for dancing. Billy Bowman used to come from west Cumberland, he was the main one, dances were that good. I remember my sister having to cater for them for evening meals there. But the dances were that good I've seen them being clapped and the dances not finishing until 2.30 in the morning and people still went to work the following morning at 7.30.
    CW:People used to come from quite a way off.
    AC:They did. And there was only two cars in the village: Colin had one and Texters had the other and Colin on a night time he probably did about, well, four to six journeys to Askham and Lazonby with different car loads. You had a long wait after the dance finished if you were one of the last to be picked up. He had a Standard Twelve and they used to get eight in it. How we did it I don't know. It was the only means of transport.

    We had a very good football team ? Haweswater United. The team consisted of

    • Jim Fountain, Goalkeeper
    • Harvey Wightman, Right back (Captain)
    • Bill Farrell, Left back (Later, custodian of St Partrick's Well in Bampton)
    • Pat Murdock, Right half
    • Bill Johnston, Centre half
    • Judd Thompson, Left half (lost his life in the Navy)
    • Joe Rideout, Right wing
    • Harry Toone, Inside right
    • Jim Lewis, Centre forward
    • Wee Alfie Bell, Inside left
    • Jakey Watson, Fiery left winger (often got sent off)
    Charlie Eastham had a lot to with the football club. Harry Dodd was the manager and Bob Sheils the "spongeman".
    CW:Did you play any of the other sports because there was also a bowling green, wasn't there?
    AC:I don't remember bowls being played. I played a lot of tennis, tennis was played quite a lot. I didn't remember bowls being played. I may be wrong.
    CW:And quoits as well, where you throw horseshoes.
    AC:Oh yes, that was a popular pastime, quoits, and ringboard, for throwing rings at, and of course darts was very popular in the club. I became quite a professional at darts because I played really all weekend. I was playing fictitious names ? I was playing against Bill Farrell in my mind, Johnson in my mind. We played with wooden darts with lead in the centre of the wooden dart and they had goose feathers ? they were all one, the flight wasn't separate, the shaft and the flight were all made one with a lead barrel or ring depending on the weight of the dart you required. With throwing so many darts at a young age I got very very quick, so quick that as soon as the first dart had gone in the last dart was following it ? you hadn't seen the second dart go in. By that I used to baffle a lot of people. I used to go into Penrith on a Saturday night and there wasn't very many people that would beat me. We used to play for money too in those days. I remember one occasion a man coming and he was supposed to be an expert dart thrower from the north east, came doing some building work. Oh I'm sorry ? this was later in life at Shap where I was told this man was bragging about playing darts, so the locals asked me to go in and just play around as if you couldn't throw because he was challenging people, he'd play anybody when he got his pay on Friday for a fiver. So I duly went in on the Friday and I cleaned up. The man was very annoyed but I was very lucky that my brother Colin just happened to come into the King's Arms at the time and it all passed off OK. It just shows that it doesn't do to brag too much about what you can do and what you can't do.
    CW:What were your sisters called?
    AC:Sisters were Binnie ?
    CW:Is that short for something?
    AC:Albina I think. And Phemie, not Euphemie, Phemie. P-H-E-M-I-E. And Dorothy was the third sister. Dorothy was the only one of the family that went to grammar school, she went to Kirkby Stephen grammar school. She left home after being at grammar school ? she must have left home before my father had died. Colin had left before ? there was only my sister Phemie who was four years older than me and myself left at Brough with my father when he died. Colin had gone as a boots boy to the Greyhound Hotel at Shap, he would go at the age of fourteen and Binnie went shortly afterwards to be a maid there. These were the days when hotels were hotels. Lord Lonsdale was the big man in the place then and he used to visit the place and they used to have visitors. I went to the hotel on my holidays from Stainmore when I was twelve years of age and I thought it was marvellous. Visitors were staying there and I got the odd shilling and I had a lovely time. I got back home on Stainmore and I thought "There's a better life than this", so I ran away the following morning. I got the workmen's bus at half past six from Brough and I arrived back in Shap about nine o'clock and I was knocking on the front door of the hotel and my sister Binnie came and she said "It's our Arthur here", so I ran away and hid under the railway bridge. Anyway eventually they got me and the end of the story was I was marched through Brough by my sister, never ever to do that again. So that was it. That was why when I became fourteen I was so keen to get away. My brother Colin was good to me when I was there ? he made me such things as a snow sledge and bought a cycle for me which helped me. I had three miles to go to walk back and forward to school and I had to go to the Wesleyan and Methodist chapels twice a day for Sunday schools. I was born at Highfield Farm at Brough. That was next door to the well known Dr Bainbridge who went on horseback round the countryside. His daughter, Joyce, she was featured in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald having kept the surgery for forty years just as he had left it when he died. She was also in the Sunday Express in January 1990. The surgery was open as a museum for medical students. She said her father also tested eyes, was the village dentist, put dogs to sleep, and farmers expected him to treat their 'livestock'. Joyce and my sister Dorothy were very friendly. Going back to my sister Dorothy, she went to grammar school at Kirkby Stephen and her first job was in London in a secretarial position with Lord Dawson of Penn who was the then King's physician. I remember this vividly because I was collecting foreign stamps at the time and I used to get envelopes addressed to Lord Dawson with the stamps on. As soon as I'd been called into the Forces in 1942 Dorothy had then left ? and she was working for the ICI at Millbank in London, but they'd been evacuated during the war years to Hawkshead in the Lake District. As soon as she knew I'd been called into the forces she volunteered for the RAF with a view to getting a commission, which she did later, and she finished up as a squadron officer, did Dorothy. So that's why she was never with us when we were at Burnbanks. This is why Colin I think did a marvellous job to keep the rest of us, four of us, together having lost our parents at such an early age. As I say, he was a man I have every respect for and so had many other people.
    CW:Did your sisters stay on at Burnbanks?
    AC:When in 1941 the construction of the dam was completed my brother all he got from the Manchester Corporation was a simple letter to say that on ? I can't recall the date but it was in 1941 ? it just said that as from this date his services would no longer be required. There was no thank you for his service from 1934 to '41. It just said you'd have to vacate the premises so Colin and Binnie and Phemie went to Bampton Grange, Grange Farm. He was renting the farm. He could have bought that farm for 600 but he was renting it. Binnie had got married to Bill Johnson, who had worked on the scheme, and he was away in the Coldstream Guards. When he got injured in Louveigne in Belgium, when the Belgians capitulated, he came back to live at Bampton Grange but then they shortly took a pub themselves. It was the Fish Hotel in Penrith. They got the tenancy for that from Glasson's brewery and they finished up they had two or three others ? they had the General Wolfe. Phemie?I just cannot recall properly?I think she'd volunteered for the RAF. Phemie became a corporal cook in the RAF, so there was just Colin, Binnie, Bill Johnson and myself at Bampton Grange. I used to go from there to work till I was called up in '42.
    CW:So did you cycle in?
    AC:That's right. When I cycled to work from Grange Farm, the cat used to come to meet me at the chapel and have a ride back on my shoulders. Colin, he then got married and he took the tenancy of a farm at Shap, that's right. My sister Binnie finished in the licensing trade ? she died when she was sixty at the General Wolfe, and Phemie, my other sister, died 1995. She lived at Lytham St Anne's, Blackpool. She'd married an RAF sergeant while she was in the Forces and after in civvy life he'd worked for the premium bonds in London, but got transferred to their place in Blackpool. So we were a closely knit family really. As I say, my two sisters are both dead. Colin died in 1986 and Dorothy, who was the middle sister, she's now 91 and unfortunately not in good health and is going to shortly go into a nursing home.

    I attended the church at Bampton Grange and was confirmed by the Bishop or Carlisle at St Andrews parish church in Penrith.

    CW:What was Burnbanks like towards the end of that time? There must have been far fewer people around compared to its heyday when it was bustling.
    AC:There were far fewer. You see, there wasn't much then because with the work having ceased in '41 there was only a few left, really, employed on forestry work and there was odd people employed on the maintenance work. I know Mr Long, he was the resident engineer, because when I came out of the Forces in 1946 I was thinking I was going to go back to Haweswater and he told me they had been asking about me in Manchester, but when I applied to go back they said that there was no work there, it had only been temporary. All the other people, they'd finished and they'd no reason to take me back ? there wasn't any work for me. So I went to the Labour Exchange in Penrith and saw Mr Brown who was the manager there and he said that that was wrong, they had to take me back I think it was for a minimum of two years. So I wrote back and eventually it finished up I had to go to Quay Street in Manchester to a tribunal to put my case. Mr Waddecar was there. They asked me if I was legally represented ? I said I wasn't, but I told them what had happened prior to going into the Forces, that I had been promised a job in Manchester and I think with Mr Waddecar being at the interview they found in my favour and I started back with them almost a year after I'd come out of the Forces. I'd been helping my brother, Colin, on the farm at Shap ? he'd taken this farm over at Shap. It was due to that that enabled me to get day release to study electrical engineering at Salford. I think that again was all due to Mr Waddecar ? the fact that he had remembered me when I was at Haweswater.
    CW:When you were actually working as an apprentice electrician at Burnbanks were you out of doors quite a lot or was it mainly inside?
    AC:Oh no no.
    CW:Laying cables, it would have been outside.
    AC:Oh yes. I mean it wasn't easy. This was during the time I was assisting the electricians. As the dam got up the height of that dam ? well the length of it is roughly quarter of a mile and it's roughly 100 foot, the height, where the slipway is. I had some arduous tasks, I mean, I used to have to go up into the control room at one side, climb up the steps and carry out maintenance work on the machinery within the tower that drove the cableway across the dam. I had to do work up at the valve shaft ? that's beyond the hotel. I would say it's about a mile beyond the Haweswater Hotel. That's where the water is taken through the fellside to the north side of Kendal, tunnelled through. I think that was tunnelled before the actual work commenced on the building of the dam in 1930 ? I think that was done in the 1920s, probably '26 time. There could have been one or two people killed when that tunnel was built and from there there's a joining point with the Thirlmere one and it's taken through. There's booster pumps on the way through.
    CW:Was it pumps you were maintaining?
    AC:Yes. There was pumps in the bottom of the valve shaft. I did the electrical work maintaining those. Then later when I came out of the Forces when I went to Manchester I got the job of doing work at Thirlmere. I did the electrical work, putting up poles and doing all the work connected with the forestry because they had been on their own private generating, they just had batteries at Thirlmere. We then received the supply from the Mid Cumberland electricity supply and it was quite good that I got the job of doing all this work. I used just to employ, say, a labourer. So without being big headed you got a fairly good electrical knowledge. This paragraph and those following refer to the time when I was assisting the electricians.
    CW:And you had to do other things as well. If you're dealing with putting up poles who would dig the holes and all that kind of thing. Cables have to go in trenches and you had to do all the digging ? was that you as well?
    AC:That's right, yes. You see the thing was, going back to Haweswater, I remember when the work had ceased on the dam as you quite rightly say it became pretty dormant, did the village then, so a lot of the overhead lines that had been put up, well, they were put up prior to me starting in '37, well all that had to come down. And I remember just working on your own, with the ladder up on the pole and sawing through the overhead cable and then coming to the last cable that wanted to be cut and then sawing through it then the pole going ? the fact that it had lost the tension of the cable ? the pole swinging and being thrown off and fortunately landing in a heap of bushes. You don't realise how lucky you were, you could have been killed if you'd fell on the concrete road and you hadn't realised what you were actually doing, that that pole was being held up in a vertical position due to the wire that you were cutting. Of course there was three or four conductors up there plus telephone wires - you probably had five different cables. Well all that had to be dismantled. Then the huts and that, they would be being dismantled but there was always a few remained. Well there was no need to keep it there after '41 and it would probably be the summer at the latest that the scheme was finished. I remember when it was done and the water coming over the top. There was always compensation water that went in the base of the tunnel that goes out to the River Lowther down there. That lake I would say when it set off it would only be maybe about two and a half mile in length but it finished up after it was full about four miles I would think, it holds quite a volume of water.
    CW:When was it finally full then?
    AC:Well, it was in '41, that's when it came over the top, yes. It was marvellous to see it being constructed as it went up, you know shuttering work, the shuttering was ?
    CW:The joiners did all that.
    AC:That's right, yes. Then, as I say, where the concrete mixing was and then the skip overhead, came down and picked the skip up full of concrete and then they were taken up and then there would be a flagman waving it through, Jack Fountain would be in the control tower, it would come forward then let it down. And it wasn't just done in nice fine weather, it was torrential rain, and we were out there as well. If something had done wrong ? cables were always getting cut and that's why you got a good knowledge. Mind these were only temporary cables laid, they weren't like the main, like the main underground cables.
    MrsC:Remember that day when we went into the dam, that time we were shown round inside. You said you'd put all those wires along the side. You'd had to chip out all the concrete.
    AC:Oh yes, when the dam was first electrified I had the job ? there were no power tools ? every bracket was made carrying, at the start of the entrance of the tunnel, radiating out, probably twenty four conduits. Well, there'd be a dozen conduits going east, a dozen conduits going west along the chambers inside the dam and these conduits, metal pipes, were supported on brackets and you had to fasten those brackets to the concrete wall of the dam and you did that by hammer and chisel, there was no simple thing like a power tool to drill a hole to put a rawl plug in.
    CW:That must have taken a long time.
    AC:And the number of times you missed the tool and hit your hand. It wasn't very nice really. There was one thing about it really ? it was good if it was winter time because it was warm in there but summer time it was absolutely freezing, in summer, but winter time you could feel the heat as you walked in. You could walk right through from one end to the other. Now, that was done with conduits and what they called VIR cables but unfortunately due to the condensation in the dam with this type of wiring the conduits got full of water so there was faults developing greatly so the whole thing had to be redone. It was redone after my time there, it was redone with pyrotechnics cabling which is a solid cable not affected by dampness, but these before were like pipes with cable running through them so naturally there was junction boxes and so forth. You couldn't stop condensation getting in them.
    CW:You would have seen the conditions the navvies worked under, spreading the concrete and so on.
    AC:Oh yes. They were very hard on them, the foremen, you know, he'd be stood there all weather watching them in the thing and he'd have a dewdrop from his nose, he wouldn't wipe it ? but he was more interested in what they were doing. Oh yes, it was hard. Actually, when I look back I sometimes thought?see, I got 8/6 a week when I went into the electricians' shop, that was my pay. Well, you were better paid if you got a job as, I think it was called, a nipper getting tea for, say a few workmen, a few of the navvies, you got sixpence a man off the navvy if you brewed tea for him. So you only needed maybe half a dozen of those and you were better off in pay and as a young lad I used to think I'd be better off than chipping flipping holes in the concrete to put these cables on.
    CW:So the navvies used to have someone brew them tea.
    AC:That's right, yes.
    CW:On the job?
    AC:They must have had, yes.
    CW:So they didn't actually stop.
    AC:They didn't stop. And I think they must have been employed, these boys, they must have been employed by the corporation to do that, or whether you just went on to the site and you were allowed to do that and collect this money. But you certainly did get fallouts between the boys because you'd probably pinched one of his customers. Also, round there while the dam was being constructed there was this miniature railway line. Well, that was quite an attraction. They'd say "Oh hello Arthur" and they were riding round on it and you'd think "I would sooner have that job than the job I've got", little realising that at the end of the day there was nothing for you. See, I was fortunate that my brother Colin was able to get me the job in there.
    CW:Was there any representation, any trades unions?
    AC:Not that I'm aware of.
    CW:Was it actually not allowed?
    AC:I don't think it was allowed, no. I think if anybody had started up to form a union they would have found some way of getting rid of the person. In those days you were given a job to do and if you didn't like the job, well, "Get off, go on". Work was very scarce you see and hard to come by. That's why the normal hours, as I say , were this 49 week but there was quite a lot of looking for overtime, extra work, if they could get it because money meant such a lot. For overtime you more-or-less had to be a favourite of the gang that you were working in. I think probably I know one or two that got overtime that they'd give these people a backhander, that had given them the overtime. I honestly think things like that went on, unofficially of course. See, if you were ill, if a navvy was ill, as I say you only had this little cubicle to live in ? there wasn't room for a chest of drawers, just the bed, that's all he had and such things as sickness?I remember there was a big fight one day with this flagman. He was only a little man, Bill Kirby, and the other chap was quite a strong man ? he was employed in the blacksmith's shop. He was from Carlisle, a big tough man, and he was another that knew what he could do and what he couldn't do. But this little man, Kirby, when the other man had had a few drinks he challenged him to a fight. This was outside the club and I've never seen anything like it, never since or before, he just absolutely hammered this man's face, and that, for, oh, it must have been five minutes. Well that plumber man, he went back to his cubicle and he wasn't seen for about a week or a fortnight, recovering from his injuries.
    CW:And presumably there would be no pay, would there?
    AC:There would be no pay for him. There was no such thing as sick leave, no.
    CW:That's tough.
    AC:It was.
    CW:People just carried on if they were ill.
    AC:That's right. No, he didn't get sick pay. Funnily enough, although the conditions were hard I don't remember really any serious accidents there. Small ones ? I remember I nearly had my finger end chopped off rolling a drum of cable that I forgot when it was going round my flipping hand was still on it and the drum and the finger made contact with the concrete floor and it squashed the finger end. That's only really classed as minor. There was odd pieces I think of eye trouble, probably concrete or something, but I don't know of anyone really who had any loss of limbs or anything like that and you'd have thought there would have been really. Because there wasn't any safety harness and some of the men used to have to go along this cableway greasing the darned thing, you know, suspended. Well it must have been a fair height up. I remember once while I was there in the war years when they must have been carrying out practice dive bombing, the RAF. I remember once planes coming over and diving down ? I don't think they realised that there was this cableway and they must have been for the Dambusters, practice runs. I remember that and I also remember when flares were dropped in the village overnight and there was a bomb ? I think they were trying to bomb the valve shaft at the far end of the lake. They must have seen the glass roof maybe shining in the sunlight and he was offloading his bombs. They were in direct line with the tower but within about one hundred yards on the fellside. Quite eerie that night. Of course it could be a good target. That was the only time we ever experienced any bombing.
    CW:There was a Home Guard, wasn't there. People used to have to go up on the feels.
    AC:Aye, we had a Home Guard and we had a Royal Observer Corps. I was a member of both. The Royal Observer Corps was situated in a wooden hut between Burnbanks and Bampton on the left hand side as you leave Burnbanks. The names just escape me. I also was a member of the Home Guard and our place of residence was the village substation where I used to do the charging of the batteries. Probably I should leave out the name of the corporal that was in charge, but there was three of us and the corporal. He was an ex-World War One serviceman. He would show us how to load and unload a 303 rifle. This is midnight to one o'clock in the morning. The place we're in is the village substation, a concrete/stone-built building. He puts the rounds of ammunition in the 303 and he was giving us a demonstration, ejecting the live bullets and he said to us that "Whatever you do, always point the rifle away from you, before you hand it back and press the trigger, just in case there is a round left in". And he did and there was a round left in. We were all covered in dust, we were absolutely shattered. It was fortunate he'd pointed the rifle away from where all the electrical cables were in the substation but we never found the spent cartridge, but the man shall be nameless because he did replace the bullets. There was only four instead of five at the bottom of the ammunition stock. That could have been very dangerous and it's an absolute true story. The thing I remember most is all of us looking at each other and we were covered in white dust ? quite an explosion. It's true.

    Regarding the Home Guard and the Observer Corps, PC Ostle had a habit of coming round to the living premises of the club while I was in there ? well, I don't suppose he knew I was the only one in there ? he used to come round and knock at the door, then have me outside looking to see that there was a chink of light showing in the window that wasn't right, should be covered up. That was one of his duties. He didn't really care for us a lot, the Cannon family because Colin hadn't been there too long when he got a knock at the door and he introduced himself as the village constable: "Everything all right, Mr Cannon?" and Colin said yes, everything was, and he hung about a lot and anyway he did eventually go. Colin always said he thought he was after a drink so he never gave him one. See, he wasn't allowed to enter those club premises unless he was required, so to get a drink he had to go all the way to the Haweswater Hotel and see Harold Hazelhurst or, after Harold had gone into the air force, Mrs Hazelhurst. They had the tenancy of the Haweswater Hotel. Mrs Hazelhurst was a daughter of the Bellases who had the Crown and Mitre at Bampton Grange which Colin and his daughter, Margaret, eventually took over in about 1967. Colin was the youngest landlord, so be it, in the country when at the age of twenty one he took over the unexpired portion of the tenancy for the Greyhound Hotel after Mr Burns had died. Mr Burns had been the proprietor up to his death but there must have been a period of tenancy up to the expiry that Colin took charge of. Unfortunately when Mardale was submerged, unfortunately for Colin, Bob Daffurn, who had the Old Dun Bull at Mardale, he got the tenancy of the Greyhound and Bob Daffurn wanted Colin to be his undermanager. Colin preferred a tenancy, having had it himself, and that's why he applied for the job at Burnbanks, for this club, and he was most surprised when he was called to Manchester for the interview and, not being married, to get the job because really at that time it was classed as a fairly good job with house free, living accommodation and all that free and it certainly provided us with a good home. There was a lot of people would have liked to have had that position.

    CW:Did you help out in the bar?
    AC:Oh, I did. I helped out sometimes when I shouldn't have done and that's where I gained a lot of experience of the characters of people, people who had a bit of money but they used to be rattling their money around in their pockets. At the best end you were classed as a ? well, it was for the bosses really, the best end of the club.
    CW:Did you say that was a separate room?
    AC:That was a separate room entirely. The separate room was if you were a foreman joiner or decorator, you were in there, you didn't really want to mix with the navvies. Some people that were senior didn't mind but others liked to be aloof, away from the rest.
    CW:Was there that feeling in the rest of the village at all?
    AC:There might have been, I think.
    CW:The wooden buildings at Naddlegate, that's where the bosses lived.
    AC:Naddlegate, it was, that's correct. Actually I think there was about a dozen of them there. As I say, I remember the names of three or four of them that lived in there. PC Ostle lived just at the one as you came into the village, right at the first one, and then the others were round the corner going up to where you go to the hotel. There'd be about four or five down there. In his retirement, Alderman Walker, it was good enough for him to live there. He quite liked it. I know when I had the job when I was in there up in his loft seeing all his gear ? he had his panama hats all put away. He was quite a nice chap, quite a nice man.
    MrsC:Was he the one that rode the penny-farthing?
    AC:Oh, Mr Jamieson. I think he rode a penny-farthing. He lived at Walmgate ? I think it was Walmgate. That was on the road down to Bampton on the right hand side as you leave Burnbanks. He was a very very clever man, Mr Jamieson, very clever man. You saw little of him but you soon got the OK when he left his offices to walk round the site: everyone said "Mr Jamieson's on the site!". Everybody made sure they were doing something. As I say, the only time I was called on was, I think I mentioned, I'd been taken to task after thinking I was going to go into the RAF which now, when I look back, it did me a good turn. I could easily have been shot down.
    CW:Someone else mentioned that they thought there was a gate at the entrance to Burnbanks that at times was kept closed and someone else said no, that's rubbish.
    AC:No, rubbish.
    CW:There wasn't a gate?
    AC:Rubbish, there was no gate, no gate there at all. I won't mention?it shouldn't be recorded, that, should it? Colin, he'd been at the auction mart at Penrith and there's Ostle ? he was jealous of him, of Colin ? and he was waiting for him coming into the village and he accused him of having two five gallon drums of petrol in his car and Colin hadn't got any, but they were in the beer cellar, so I shouldn't, this shouldn't?
    CW:It's a long time ago ? I don't think it will matter.
    AC:Anyway, so he came up. There was a search made of the cellar, the gardens with all the beautiful dahlias that he had, Colin, in the gardens, the rear of the building, searching with his stick to see if there was any more. It became a court case because of storing petrol without a licence and it was in the war years, so he said "Oh well, not to worry, Mr Cannon", he would put in a good case for him when he appeared in court. So Colin appeared at Penrith court ? he was fined the sum of 10. Ostle put up a terrific case for himself, not for Colin, saying that a slight spillage of this petrol with a match the whole place could have gone up in flames and that was the end of the story but it definitely spoiled Colin when he applied for a tenancy of another hotel because he had this conviction of having petrol. And that petrol was only stored there because he'd been talked into having it by two of his so-called friends that were in the club and I think he felt that they then, after he'd got it, went and told PC Ostle that Colin had it. There was a slight bit of jealousy crept in in the village really I think because people used to think probably that they should have had the job, or something. I don't know.
    CW:People are like that sometimes.
    AC:But I know he made a big case of this. But there was certainly no gate ? unless, I can't see it, unless it was there before I went. I don't think there was a gate. See, up to Mardale church, I didn't know much about Mardale really but that's already been recorded, hasn't it, time and time again, about all the bodies being removed from the church and the last christening and Raymond Crabree was one of the last. The Crabtrees were a very large family ? there must have been about thirteen or so Crabtrees in the village, yes very large family. I think Bob Crabtree was the father. I remember these people used to come from Morecambe to give cinema shows every month. Robinson's of Appleby, they were another coaching firm but they were just for the one off trips, I would say to Morecambe or Blackpool once a year, but the contract for the buses was definitely Coulson's of Penrith, they were the people. I know the last bus was 10.30 on a Saturday but I don't think it was as late as that in the weekdays.
    CW:So walking back was something that happened quite a lot.
    AC:Quite, yes.
    CW:I think we've covered just about everything.
    AC:See, Horrocks, he was another. I think he was Mr Jamieson's chauffeur initially but in latter years it was Arthur Robinson that was the chauffeur, I remember. And Madge was his sister that had the newsagency and post office, that's right she had the post office. Then she got married to Tim, Tim Scott. Well, Tim used to assist me when I was on my own doing any electrical repairs and that, Tim would work for me. Yep.
    CW:Do you think we've reached an end?
    AC:I think we have.
    CW:Well, thank you very much.
    AC:All right.

    Interviewer: Caz Walker


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