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  • Bampton and District Local History Society

    Burnbanks project

    Interview with Bobbie Eastham

    17th June 2004

    (Additional material by Bobbie Eastham, 29th March 2005, shown in italics)

    MC:Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, you know where you were born?
    BE:To begin with, I was first christened Robert Eastham, but I never really got Robert or Bob, I was always known as Bobbie Eastham, even as a teenager and even as a full grown-up.

    I was born at a place called Bridgend in Wales on 21st June 1921, and I can only presume that my father worked on a dam there in Wales. I had my first birthday in London, and along with my mother and father and sister we moved to a place called Ewden Valley just outside Sheffield, which was another dam.

    From there, in 1929, when I was 8 years of age, we moved to Burnbanks, and we lived in a house, which was number 30, a big house, known as a big house, number 30. But we didn't always live there. Early in the 30s, for what reason, I wouldn't know, we moved to No. 27, and my mother had a boarding house and she was responsible for thirteen men. There were six bedrooms down one side of the corridor, and seven down the other. And the other one was made seven with a bathroom and they had a communal room at the end of that corridor. They also had a dining room, where they got their meals, to use for playing cards and dominoes and things like that.

    MC:So what did they use the communal room for?
    BE:The communal room was for drying their clothes and just sitting and talking. And if the chap came to cut their hair, one lodger would say 'get the hairdresser to come and cut two or three', they wouldn't come just for one. So they used it for that.

    From that, they got all their meals in that dining room.

    My mother was responsible for washing their clothes, making the meals for them, putting up their baits for work. She always kept a good table, we had roasts, meat pies followed by fruit pies, rice puddings, milk puddings, all kinds.

    Along with my sister, I went to Bampton School, and we used to go on the bus round about 8, but we had to walk back unless it was a Tuesday and you might get a bus on a market day.

    And the headmaster there at that time was a chap called Dougie Thornton, who was assisted by Maggie Winster from Shap, Ethel Noble, Marjory Longstaff who lived at Knipe, and a chap called Billy Preston, who was eventually killed in the RAF.

    From Bampton School, my sister left at 14, but I won a scholarship and went to Briggs' Commercial School, which was in Brunswick Road, Penrith, for two years.

    MC:Did your sister go to school in Penrith?
    BE:No, my sister left to work. She was the first one to open a shop, which belonged to Douglas's. She actually worked in there before she left school, she did work at 14, selling papers and cigarettes for all the men going to work.

    My mother was mainly full-time, that was her occupation, looking after these men and looking after our family. And probably her working day was from about 5 in the morning till about 10 at night.

    My father was employed in the joinery department. The dam was made of concrete obviously, and the shuttering was put up for the concrete, and he was responsible for all the bolts that held that shuttering and he had to make sure all the nuts and bolts were oiled and greased so that they could be taken out and used again. But also, on top of that, he was responsible for recreation, he did look after the recreation room where they played billiards and snooker and cards and dominoes. Again, mainly used a lot more in winter than in the summer, because in the summertime he also looked after the tennis courts and the bowling green.

    But when he was out of work, when the dam was stopped for 2 years and 4 months?

    MC:When was that?
    BE:In the 30s, 1931 or '32 I would think.

    He worked one week in three, then. In the week that they did work, they had to do everything, they couldn't just pick their job, they had to empty dustbins, check fire hydrants, sweep the roads, everything.

    MC:Why did it stop?
    BE:As far as I know, it was lack of money - the country itself was in a bad state.

    My mother, I think she went to what they called the Women's Guild. But what she did do, one job I do know, that the billiard tables in dances?. we'd entertainment, we'd concerts, pictures and dances, big dances, 8 o'clock till 2 o'clock, which were supper dances, and they used to cover the snooker tables with boards. My mother was responsible for the supper. The big hall was also used for whist drives and other entertainment.

    Entertainment - well, I was a boy, I was always interested in cricket, football, tennis and my mother always saw I had a football or a cricket bat. Everybody joined in, I had a lot of good friends. Sullivans and Thompsons, Morgan, most of them lads joined up before I did, in the forces.

    MC:Did you go to school with most of them?
    BE:I went to school with most of them, and to school with the chaps like Ronnie Hindmarch and Colin Bell that used to go to Mardale School, and eventually when they came to Bampton School when everything was closed down, the church and the Dun Bull and everything, I went to school with them.
    MC:Where did they live in Burnbanks when they came?
    BE:They lived in the farms between Burnbanks and Mardale, until they moved out of the place.
    MC:So what was it like being in school, do you remember much about it?
    BE:Oh, he was a good master. I was always ?.it was no trouble for me going to school there. He had two sons, one was John and one was Hugh, and Hugh had some illness, some skin disease, and at times he was off school when I had finished my lessons, he used to send me in to play with him when I should have been at school.

    It was an enjoyable life at Burnbanks. There was always something going on. It was a big thing to go to Penrith on a Saturday, to the pictures.

    MC:Can you tell me a little bit more about your house, was it warm?
    BE:It was warm in summer, and cold in winter. It was made up of concrete slabs, iron slabs covered with concrete and fastened together with a wood brace in between and tentex inside. And there was 13 rooms and a bathroom, that was 14, 15 a communal room, a big dining room which we shared with the lodgers, and a kitchen and a bathroom off that, our own lounge, two bedrooms off that lounge, there were 21 rooms in all.
    MC:That was big, wasn't it? Did you have your own room?
    BE:We had our own room, yes, our sitting room.
    MC:Did you have your own bedroom?
    BE:I had to share a bedroom, but my sister had her own bedroom because I was only young then.

    My mother was never short of lodgers, really. Mind you, the people who came there to work were real tough, rough diamonds, rough navvies. They'd walk the roads looking for work. There were blokes like Marmalade Joe, Stafford Dick and Lincoln Bob. They were all hard, tough and they used to? when they went drinking they went drinking not for an hour or two days, they'd go for a fortnight. And my mother would go and wake them up of a morning and they'd say 'oh I'll go tomorrow, I'll go tomorrow'. But they never caused any trouble. They were never any trouble.

    MC:They didn't get the sack at work because they didn't turn up?
    BE:No, no. They never got sacked, no.
    MC:Was it easy to get men to come and work there, do you remember that when you were little?
    BE:After it started again, when it stopped for 2 years and 4 months, a lot of Workington, Whitehaven people, Cumberland people, almost local people came to work, people that had never had work before. I remember Alfie Bell coming, I think he was 28, and he had never worked in his life until he came there.

    And my father helped - they'd a football team, and he was the secretary for a time. That kept me interested, I was always keen. I always used to go away with them. My mother used to do the washing for them, on top of all the other washing she did.

    MC:What about health care, did you have a doctor?
    BE:You had a doctor, Dr Prentice, used to come from Shap, as far as I know he used to come every Saturday and it was up the back road, there was like a little place where you used to go. And then they had a nurse, there was always a village nurse, like there is today, I think.
    MC:What did you do for medicines and things, did your mum have a lot of home-grown stuff?
    BE:I can't remember. I know if you went to Dr Prentice it was nearly always iodine.
    MC:What about church, did you go to church?
    BE:Yes, there was church. We used to go to church. Mam used to make sure I went to church, and it was Church of England one week as far as I remember, and Methodist the other. And I can remember Mr Dargue from Thornthwaite Hall, and the schoolmaster, Dougie Thornton, and Bailey from Shap, I think he was a butcher, and they used to come and preach. I can remember going at half past six, that's when my mother would be free to go after they'd had their meal at night. It was very good. And my sister, I think she ran Sunday school for a while as she got older.
    MC:Did you have music in church?
    BE:Oh yes, I believe Louie used to play a bit. They had an organ. Yes, that's right.
    MC:What about, just going back to school for a bit, can you remember anything about the games you used to play in the playground?
    BE:Oh, we played tiggy and hopscotch and?One of the things we did play, not in school, we used to have either a car or a lorry tyre, and go with a piece of wood just banging it about, as if you were a bus.

    I got my first bicycle when I was about ten years of age. It was a Hercules make and cost 4, bought from Milburn's of Middlegate, Penrith.

    MC:What about the woods, because there's quite a lot of woods out there?
    BE:Oh yes, we used to play in the woods, that's right. We'd make dens, that's right.
    MC:What about holidays, did you have any holidays?
    BE:No, I can't remember my mother and father ever having a holiday, no, but my sister and I used to go to London and stay with relations because my parents were Londoners in the first place, so I used to go there during the summer, we used to get four weeks then. Most of that time we spent in London. But anything they got was like daytrips, if anybody organised a trip to Morecambe or Lakes in the village, they'd go on them, that's about all.
    MC:Were you unusual, going away like that? Did most of the children have - ?
    BE:No, not a lot of them didn't. Because I took one lad with me one year, I took Billy Thompson with me.
    MC:Was he your best friend?
    BE:That's right, yes. I said 'Will you?' and we took him.
    MC:What did he think of it? It must have been ever so different.
    BE:Excellent, oh excellent, oh yes, we had a good time.
    MC:Did you show him all the sights?
    BE:That's right, it was good. We got about a bit.
    MC:What about special celebrations, do you remember things about Christmas, Whitsun or Easter?
    BE:Oh Christmas, yes. We used to have our Christmas dinner together, and probably at night but Boxing Night and for two or three nights after that we always used to go to Thompson's or Sullivan's, families met up and we'd have a good get-together. Easter, well you were always dressed up in your good clothes, and that.

    And then at the tail end, I was one of the last to be called up, I helped to take some of those houses down, and they were transported all over. People bought them, and we used to take them down for them. And they were taken to Shap and went by rail, or some went by lorry.

    MC:Would they be bought by individuals?
    BE:By individuals, that's right, yes. There are two at Shap village, at Shap Granite, there are two there. They came from Burnbanks, that's right.
    MC:So what sort of year are we talking about there?
    BE:I joined up in '42, '40 to '42.
    MC:So was that after the dam was built?
    BE:It was just about finished then, yes.
    MC:So they dismantled a lot of houses then.
    BE:Oh yes, we did, I helped to take a lot down.

    Then there was the canteen. The dance hall was one of the best in the area. Well known. We used to get busloads from Penrith coming out for them.

    MC:What sort of music did you have?
    BE:There were bands, four-piece bands. There was Kitchen's from Penrith and there was Jackson's from Thirlmere and there was Wishart's from Penrith, I remember them. But I didn't start going until I was a little bit older.
    MC:How old would you be?
    BE:Oh, about 16 or 17. A lot went before me. My mother was upset because I wouldn't go, and when I went, it was wrong, I'd done the wrong thing, I was never in (laughs).
    MC:Did your mum and dad go to the dance?
    BE:Oh, my mother supplied the supper.
    MC:But did she dance as well?
    BE:Oh no, she was too busy. There were 6 penny hops on a Friday. And 5 pence for a pint of beer. There was a class end, one for the workers and then there was one for the super-annuated people, I say.
    MC:In the dance hall?
    BE:No, in the pub, in the canteen. That chap went to live at Bampton Grange, did Colin Cannon. He took the farm, the little farm, as you go round behind the Crown & Mitre. I don't know whether it's still there or not.
    MC:So did you think there was a lot of class distinction, in the village?
    BE:There was a little bit, not much, not a lot I wouldn't think, no. But some did go in there. It was a real good happy life, really good. And then those houses holding 3 families and 4. My sister was in one of 4, I think. Then there were twos?
    MC:What do you mean, they used to have a room?
    BE:No, one block was made up of 2 houses. Ours was made up of 21 rooms.
    MC:So yours would have been the biggest house in the village.
    BE:Yes, ours was one of the biggest ones. As far as I know there was my mother, there was Thompson's, and there was Sullivan's, then there was Rideout, that was about the four. There might have been five - oh Toone's, did I say Toone's? There's five I think, as far as I recollect, big houses.
    MC:Did they take lodgings as well?
    BE:That's right, yes, there were all big houses.
    MC:They were built especially for lodgings?
    BE:Yes. Actually, I think my mother picked up her knowledge from when she was at Ewden Valley, she worked for somebody who had a big house like that, and she then had the confidence to go and work for herself at Burnbanks. And then she'd girls working for her. There was a girl called Gladys Jackson come to work for her.
    MC:Did she make much money?
    BE:No, she didn't. When everything was wound up after she died, I think she left my sister 250 and me 250, that's all she made out of all that hard slog. And she used to look after money for different people. Lincoln Bob, he was a bit of a boozer, I think and she said 'if you give me your money I'll look after it', and she did. He stayed with her for a long time, Lincoln Bob.

    Yes, it was a hard life, but she was happy.

    MC:Yes, I was going to say that. Did she seem happy? And your dad, how did you get on with your dad?
    BE:I'm not saying he was?he was a good dad, but he was not interested in me like my mother was. On a Friday night, that was when she got all the money from the lodgers she had, I would find birds' nests when I was a lad, and I'd take her out for a walk and show her different birds' nests. And I can also remember when I first worked - my first pay was 16 shillings and fourpence.
    MC:So where did you work then?
    BE:I worked at Burnbanks. I worked in the stores department where they distributed materials.
    MC:And how old were you then?
    BE:I would be about 15, I would think. And it was sixteen and fourpence, and the fourpence would just buy a Mars bar. I always bought my mother a Mars bar every week. Yes, it was good. We were happy, happy times, it was a happy village, it was like a little town. You didn't want for anything. There was plenty of entertainment, pictures and concerts and dances. We used to stand out on the bottom road and talk on light nights like this, it was very good.
    MC:Was that with your friends?
    BE:That's right, yes. There were people that were a lot older than me.
    MC:What about your mum, did she have friends in the village?
    BE:Oh yes, she had plenty of company. Mrs Bardsley and Mrs Thompson and Sullivan, oh they were all friends together.
    MC:Did they used to have tea parties, or what did they do? Did they go into each other's houses much?
    BE:Oh yes, they used to go into each other's houses. And there was this Women's Guild, as far as I remember. And of course there was the scouts and cubs and things like that when we were younger.
    MC:In Burnbanks itself?
    BE:Oh yes, I was a sixer in the cubs.
    MC:Who took you?
    BE:A lad called John Texter, he went down in the RAF. He was either an air gunner or a wireless operator I think and he went down in the RAF.
    MC:Do you remember a lot of your friends who were killed in the war?
    BE:Harry Thompson, he went down on the HMS Exeter, he was a full-time navy man. One was invalided out, George Thompson. I went to meet John Texter. I was in the RAF in Norfolk, he wasn't so far away and I went to meet him at a place called Thetford one night. We arranged to meet and I waited and waited, and he never came to see me. He'd been shot down, and killed.
    MC:It was a difficult time wasn't it really.

    And you said you played sports, didn't you. You played football.

    BE:Played cricket. I didn't play football for the team. We played every night during football season. When it was light nights, we kicked a ball about for hours and hours, it just went on for two or three hours. Say if there were 14 of you to start with, and you was seven a side, and then there's one come, one went on that side and the next one went on the other side, so you finished up 12-12.
    MC:Whereabouts did you play?
    BE:Down at the bottom, right opposite the village was a field, next to the bowling green, and we used to kick about in there, and we played cricket on there as well - rough.
    MC:And you said you had tennis courts as well?
    BE:We'd two tennis courts. I played tennis oh, all one year, I played with a lad called Billy Thompson. We played with Mrs Jewell and Ada Preston, who used to live in the mill at Bampton. Every Saturday we used to have a foursome.
    MC:So did they teach you really to play?
    BE:Well, I picked it up, you know, we used to have a good game.
    MC:And what sort of clothes did you wear, to play sports, can you remember? I mean, did you have all the right stuff?
    BE:No, we used to play in ordinary clothes, unless you were in the football team. I played for the cricket team, and then you're in flannels and a white shirt.
    MC:So anyone that was in a team, really?
    BE:Oh, the football team had a full strip, because my mother used to wash them.
    MC:And who did you play against?
    BE:Oh, Shap, football was Shap, Keswick, Ullswater, Ambleside, Pennine Rangers, Lazonby, we played all the local teams.
    MC:So did you go to their grounds?
    BE:Oh yes, it was home and away.
    MC:So how did you get there?
    BE:Oh by bus, private bus.
    MC:So somebody organised all that.
    BE:That's right, my dad did it when he was secretary, he had to arrange for one. And then somebody else took over from him. They weren't such a good side when my dad was secretary, but after he'd started, about 1937, '38, '39, we won the cup, we won the senior cup. We beat Shap in the final - we drew 2-2 at Kendal, at Netherfield Park Side, but we beat them at Appleby 2-0 in the replay.
    MC:And you were in the team?
    BE:I wasn't in the team, no. I was a spectator.
    MC:So, just tell me again, what's the first thing you remember about Burnbanks when you arrived? Because you were only 8, you see.
    BE:I was 8, yes. Just making new friends, I would think, looking for friends I would think. And going to school, I had to go to school. Because when I first started there was only the old school there, then eventually they built that extension, the new one.

    And another thing, we had a dog. We probably didn't have a dog at Sheffield, that's one of the things I do remember. They called her Bess. You've actually got a certificate I think, where my dad had to get a permit to keep one. It was on that exhibition we went to at Bampton the other day. Because I was surprised - 'What's this? - Charles Eastham', and it was?probably you couldn't keep one without a permit.

    MC:I think you all had to have a dog licence in those days.
    BE:It wasn't a dog licence as such, it was a permit just to keep one at Burnbanks. You weren't allowed to keep - yes that's right.
    MC:I suppose they wanted to keep track of who kept dogs.
    BE:And of course they thought that Burnbanks would be a rough place, and they wanted two or three policemen. But there was only one man there, that was PC Ostle, with a big Alsatian, at 66.
    MC:And he had a dog?
    BE:A big Alsatian. And he looked after things. There was never much trouble at Burnbanks.
    MC:I suppose it'd be difficult to get out of the place, really, if you were making trouble, wouldn't it?
    BE:It would, that's right, it's a dead end, no that's right. I can't remember anybody being in trouble with the law, no. Of course, those days there were no cars neither, they were unusual, it was all bikes.
    MC:So did people lock their houses and things?
    BE:No, no. Well we didn't here did we. It was a happy village.
    MC:What about the gardens. Did you grow vegetables and stuff?
    BE:We had an allotment, we did have an allotment for a while. Not so far away from the tennis courts. Easter, Good Friday and that was always putting taties in. But he never was a big gardening man, was my dad. I tell you where we got vegetables from - the school. Dougie Thornton made part of the field into allotments and he put two lads to each one, especially when the dam was closed, it was hard times, he used to let us take vegetables cheap, and potatoes, home and sell them.
    MC:When did you actually leave Burnbanks?
    BE:I left in 1942 and I was away about three and a half years and I came back in '45, and I would more or less leave then to get married, '45, where we lived at Askham, but I was always in touch. I frequently visited my sister and my mother, you know.
    MC:So did your wife come from Burnbanks?
    BE:She came from Askham.
    MC:So where did you meet?
    BE:Oh we met at a dance at Askham.
    MC:And did she used to come to Burnbanks to dance as well?
    BE:Yes she did, that's right. And then she joined up before I did. She went to work on aircraft for a factory at Liverpool, worked at Napier's at Liverpool on aircraft parts.
    MC:Did a lot of the young people from Burnbanks join up either in the forces or against the war?
    BE:Yes, I can remember Billy Thompson and Thomas Morgan and Billy Jackson, all those people joined up before I did - I felt awful because I was left at home. But they must have - the authorities just said well you're doing a good job taking these houses down, I suppose so? and that was it. But then I did go about June 1942. I was twenty one.
    MC:So did you volunteer eventually?
    BE:No no, they called me up.
    MC:So what about your parents? When did they leave Burnbanks? Did they stay there?
    BE:My mother stayed there but my dad died just after we married, sixty two he was, in 1946.
    MC:Still living at Burnbanks?
    BE:He was living at Burnbanks, yes, but he died in Carlisle Infirmary. My mother died in 1962.
    MC:Was he still working when he died?
    BE:Yes he would be.
    MC:In Burnbanks?
    BE:That's right, yes. As far as I know he would be working.
    MC:And what did your mum do because everybody would have left by then?
    BE:Yes that's right. All her men had gone and she was - she lived in a smaller house then, a house for two. She moved - I can't remember what number it was? 55 I think. She lived next door to my sister. That's right, my sister and my mother lived in a block with a house each.
    MC:So what did your sister do - you said she worked in the shop for a bit.
    BE:She worked in the shop for a bit then she didn't do much, she was just a housewife. Because her husband, after the dam finished he went to work for Shap Granite.
    MC:So did they meet in Burnbanks?
    BE:Yes. Well he was a lodger with my mother, came from West Cumberland. The chief engineer, Mr Jameson, was on the Prisoners' Aid Society and you got people from all over - Manchester ?I know two lads that stayed with my mother they came from Ancoats in Manchester.
    MC:Had they been prisoners then?
    BE:No no, but I think some did come out of prison. He helped to get people work. Because Easter time and Christmas those chaps went home - our house was nearly empty bar the hardened navvies that didn't have a place to go to, they stayed and my mother provided food for them. Instead of having about thirteen you could have had about four, that's all, at Christmas.
    MC:Did you used to have a Christmas tree and things, can you remember?
    BE:No, I can't remember a Christmas tree?there were decorations. We might have had a small Christmas tree. And I think those days the superannuated staff were all right but all the other men they worked Monday to Friday and Saturday till dinnertime and every six months on a Saturday you were kept at home. You were asked not to go to work because I suppose it was something to do with pension schemes and that: you know, you weren't on permanent staff, you were only temporary. Every six months you got sacked - then started again.
    MC:What sort of wages did you get, can you remember?
    BE:Sixteen shillings and fourpence I got.
    MC:Oh that's right, when you first started.
    BE:That's right, I remember that.
    MC:You said your house was warm in the summer but not very warm in winter.
    BE:There was a big stove at that chimney breast with rings which you could take off and put your pans on. You fed it from the front with coal and that, you know.
    MC:So you cooked on coal.
    BE:That's right, yes. Taylor's from Penrith used to deliver our coal and all the other food was provided by butchers and bread men used to come round. My mother never went shopping.
    MC:Did she not?
    BE:No no, it all came to you. It all came by vans.
    MC:Would that be every day or once a week or - ?
    BE:Oh, Harrington's (butcher) they used to come I think twice a week, come on a Saturday, and they used to try and avoid different days. Harrington's used to have a shop up Castlegate, Kitching's were in Burrowgate and there was the Co-op, they used to come with meat. Douglas's?Southworth's used to come from Shap, they came with a general store.
    MC:What about if the weather - do you remember any bad winters?
    BE:Ooh winters, phew, ay I walked to Askham for bread. Yes, that would be 1940, would it? I remember Joe walking to Askham. Oh yes, we cut snow out on the concrete road to keep that road open. Everybody went on snow cutting then.
    MC:Really?
    BE:Oh yes, everybody. On the road from Burnbanks to Shap Granite on the concrete road, I remember cutting snow on there. We had a job to get to school.
    MC:Must have taken a long time to cut the snow on there.
    BE:It did.
    MC:How many feet would the snow be sometimes?
    BE:Oh, four or five feet I think. That was about in the forties I think, wasn't it. Was that after the war? I can't remember much before the war - that was just before I joined the RAF.
    MC:So the shopping people would still come, would they?
    BE:Oh yes, they'd try and get up, as far as I remember, yes. And then there was Lesley Leighton and Fred Leighton from Shap, they owned like a store for clothes, a drapery department. It was on the back road near the general store at the top of the hill.
    MC:That was in Burnbanks?
    BE:In Burnbanks, on the back road, yes. Further down was a little battery place where?. your wirelesses was done by battery then and you'd to take your batteries, your accumulators, to get charged up. Lad called Harry Toone looked after that.
    MC:So what sort of clothes could you get there?
    BE:Oh suits and jackets and trousers. But it didn't keep open very long. It tells you in that book about it.
    MC:Did it not do very well really?
    BE:No I don't think it did so well.
    MC:People hadn't got a lot of money had they?
    BE:No, they weren't so bad after it got started up again, but there was a rough spell. We were fortunate during that spell because my mother had about four lodgers. All the other men had gone but at that time they were building the tunnel from Burnbanks - well, the end of Haweswater - to Longsleddale and she'd four men staying, they were very good with us. They used to take us out, the fellows, well paid.
    MC:Where did they take you out to?
    BE:To Penrith. My mother says 'Come on, you've got to get ready', and the men would take my dad to a pub for a drink and they'd give my mother money for my sister and I to go to the pictures with her.
    MC:How did you go - in a car?
    BE:No, on a bus. If you went on the seven o'clock bus you came back on the eleven o'clock, you had the second house pictures. But yes there was eight o'clock bus, quarter to eleven, quarter to - on a Saturday - four, five o'clock, seven o'clock and eleven o'clock.
    MC:And there'd be a lot of people on the bus?
    BE:Oh yes, two or three buses together at nine o'clock on a Saturday.
    MC:Really?
    BE:If you were looking for somebody, somebody might tell you 'Oh they caught the next one'. Used to be Coulston's then, then it got over to Hartness's. Coulston's, they used to leave from Burrowgate opposite the Co-op.
    MC:Do you remember how many people lived in Burnbanks then at the height of it - there must have been a lot.
    BE:Well there was sixty six houses but I can't remember?. it would be two or three hundred if not more. There was a lot of work then anyway for one thing, yes a few workmen. Then there were people at Bampton and these places used to work at Haweswater, you know.
    MC:So what were the roads like then?
    BE:Oh just narrow. Not too bad but they were just narrow, the road from Burnbanks to Bampton. It got better as it got to Askham I think. When we were going to Penrith we always felt happy when we got through Helton - winding road through Butterwick and them places.
    MC:So when you left Burnbanks?you said you left after you got married. Why did you leave?
    BE:I went to work for Bob Reay then in Penrith but didn't work for him very long and then I joined the railway in 1946. I did thirty one years on there, on the railway.
    MC:So there wouldn't have been work for you in Burnbanks anyway after you came back from the war.
    BE:No no, they were more like permanent staff then. No it was finished, that's right.
    MC:What do you think about Burnbanks now?
    BE:Well I still like to go back. I go back when it's down as well, when the water's been down. Yes I still have a soft spot for Burnbanks and Askham. I could live there - only thing is you've got to have a car. There were no cars then. You just relied on buses but now it's all cars. I don't think there is a bus service there now is there.
    MC:Once a week I think.
    BE:Once a week is it. I always fancied living at Clifton because I could see that from the railway where I worked.
    MC:Is there anything else do you think we've missed? Because we've talked about so many interesting things.
    BE:After you've gone I'll think probably I should have said that.
    MC:Can you think about anything else?
    BE:Well if ever my mother went on a holiday or out at all, it would be a day trip to the Lakes. I can remember my dad organising one to Windermere and it was the Sunday before Sir Henry Seagrave went down on a boat on the lake when he was trying to break the world record. Blackpool illuminations and Morecambe illuminations were places that they visited.
    MC:So that would have been a charabanc bus.
    BE:Oh yes, I can remember Harry Holmes running a flat lorry through the week carrying materials and then he'd put a body on it and convert it to a charabanc at weekends. You could only get in on one side and everybody had to file down, move along the seat, it was like a proper charabanc, and then Coulston's. I can remember lorries and that there. I can remember Bob Holmes (Harry's father) going to work with the horse and cart on the dam. I was talking to him one night. I said 'I'll have to leave you Bob, I'm going for a bath'. He said 'Bath? What's a bath?'. He didn't know what a bath was.
    MC:Where did he live then? He didn't live at Burnbanks?
    BE:He lived at Bampton.
    MC:So people coming to Burnbanks to start with must have felt it was real luxury.
    BE:Oh yes, it was, yes.
    MC:And did you have a bath in Sheffield?
    BE:Oh I think we would have - I can't remember. Of course them days it were oil lamps then. There was no electricity at Burnbanks. There was like them lamps, Aladdin lamp things. But eh, my mother had a hard life, I feel sorry for her.
    MC:How did you heat the bath water? Did you have a tub?
    BE:No it was a proper bath. There must have been hot water.
    MC:Was it electric, do you remember, or was it coal? Well you said there wasn't any electric.
    BE:Must have been coal I would think. Because I remember, ooh, getting bags and bags of coal.
    MC:You said you cooked by coal.
    BE:That's right, we did.
    MC:Do you remember when the electricity came?
    BE:I can't remember. No, I wouldn't know. I'm sure it was lamps when we first went up there, oil lamps.
    MC:What about telephones?
    BE:Oh, no telephones. No you had to go to a kiosk.
    MC:Did you have a kiosk?
    BE:Oh yes, we had a kiosk, yes.
    MC:Do you remember using the phone?
    BE:Yes I used to ring Dorothy, because funny part about it when I was going with Dorothy her house was also the police station because they had a lodger, PC Boreland, and so more often than not he answered it.
    MC:This was in Askham.
    BE:That's right, and I'd say 'Is Dorothy there?' and he'd go through and say 'It's yours', and then - oh yes, PC Boreland.
    MC:Have you still kept in touch with anyone that you knew from Burnbanks when you were young?
    BE:Not really, no. I once put that photograph I've give you, that Haweswater photograph, in the Herald and a chap called Jewell who lives at Bolton got in touch with me, didn't he. He was one of the Jewells. Because there was a Jewell that worked in - they'd two big generator machines, or three machines, that used to provide - they must have provided electricity from there you know, I think, or heating, and provide electric for the?I wonder if I'm right about that. Evidently there was the big - it tells you in that book about them, about these machines that provided electricity for the work and there was a Mr Jewell worked in there and there was a Jewell that worked on the cranes, and one of these Jewells got in touch with me when they saw that photograph in the Herald. I wonder if that was electricity. It runs in my mind we did have oil lamps when we first went there then we must have had electricity later on. As I said before when we went to live at Burnbanks we used Aladdin lamps for lighting and coal for heating and cooking. Later on, as things got established, they built a power station which housed two or three large generators, providing all the electricity that was required. Those machines were manned 24 hours a day (three shifts of eight hours) and a chap by the name of Jewell was one of those responsible for their smooth running. It was his son that contacted me.
    MC:Do you remember did people grow flowers and things in the garden or was it just vegetables?
    BE:Oh mainly vegetables I would think. We must have had flower gardens, yes, some of them had flowers round the houses.
    MC:Did you get anybody coming on holiday to Burnbanks?
    BE:Not really, no we'd no room to put anybody up. My mother did later on when I left. People used to go and stay with her but then she'd have plenty of room because the men left, you see. They'd to go and find work somewhere else. They would get paid up I suppose. Of course they had their own railway from the dam to the quarry where they'd fellows in that quarry getting stone out and things like that, you know.
    MC:So you never heard of any of the children that you'd been at school with, how they got on.
    BE:No, never been in touch with any, no. They've all disappeared. There was two chaps that came to live not very far from here, Billy Toone and Harry Toone, and they're both mentioned in there. We used to meet them and then Billy died and about two years ago Harry died, didn't he. That's the only two I know that were at Burnbanks.
    MC:And that book's called 'The Lost Village of Mardale'.
    BE:That's right, yes.
    MC:Who's it by?
    BE:W.Mitchell I think.
    MC:Because you're mentioned in there, aren't you.
    BE:That's right, yes. It mentions the Jewells and big Billy Toone and little Billy Toone. Yes I remember them. They lived not very far away but their house has been sold.
    MC:You've obviously got very happy memories of Burnbanks.
    BE:Yes, one of the best parts of my life, yes. We used to go catching - one of the things we did - catching tadpoles with jam jars and fishing and tickling trout and things like that, yes. We also had seesaws and swings.
    MC:Where did you have all those?
    BE:Oh in the village, in the village field.
    MC:Would they be handmade, made in the village, they'd make them for you?
    BE:That's right, yes. In the school yard I think we used to play tiggy and run around chasing one another. I know I remember playing hopscotch.
    MC:Do you? Because that's usually - did all the boys play?
    BE:Well I remember playing because I used to like throwing stones into different numbers. Oh ay, we played with girls at that as well. Yes we used to have Christmas parties and that at Christmas time. There was nearly always something going on at Burnbanks.
    MC:Did your sister enjoy her time there?
    BE:I think so yes. We used to visit her later on in life but she went blind eventually.
    MC:Did she. Did she stay in Burnbanks?
    BE:Yes she stayed in Burnbanks till she went into?where did she go first? Into Rose Lodge at Croft Avenue, and then they moved her to the hospital and she died there.
    MC:So can you just tell me again your dad you said was sixty two when he died and your mum was - ?
    BE:Seventy six.
    MC:And your sister wouldn't have been so old.
    BE:She was five years older than me and she'd be, what?.
    MC:1988 she died.
    BE:She was born in 1916 - she'd be seventy two. Her husband was working for a lad called Ronnie Murray from Eamont Bridge. I think he had just lost his wife. And they were working in a house on the back road at Burnbanks. It was a Monday morning - besides working together at Haweswater Ronnie did a lot of jobs (what I called 'foreigners') working for himself, see, and he worked on a bungalow just through Butterwick. You go through Butterwick, not very far, and this bungalow stands back in a field, and he did that, and Joe says 'I'm going to start my own house and clean that out' - he was good to my sister. And this Monday they went to work in a house on the back road, coming back from sixty six - it would be in the sixes I would think - and it was a Monday morning and Ronnie was in the living room and Joe was in the kitchen mixing some plaster and there was a bump and Ronnie said 'Oh go on you silly billy, get yourself up', and he was stone dead.
    MC:Good Lord.
    BE:And last year, prior to Jean Holmes' funeral, we were at Bampton - oh no, it was Jean Holmes' funeral day, I think, and I met a woman that was doing the decorating in the church for the harvest festival and I got talking to her and she said 'Your brother-in-law dropped down dead in my house', and she lives at Bampton now I think. And where did we meet up again?
    MC:You don't remember her name?
    BE:No I can't remember her name. Oh, I tell you where we met up with her - when we came in January to that exhibition at Bampton about all this and I'm sure it was her that was helping, a biggish woman, she helped to decorate - she was on the food, that's right.
    MC:Interesting. Such a lot of things went on then.
    BE:Of course the vicar at Bampton then was a chap called Cormack and he used to play tennis and there was a tennis court at Bampton Grange, when you leave the Mitre and go towards Shap and down a little hill - not very far - and then there was a?McCormick's, they had a garage there and a petrol place. The tennis court was just behind there.
    MC:Well that's been really really interesting.
    BE:A bit disjointed.
    MC:Thank you very much - no it wasn't disjointed at all.

    Interviewer: Maureen Cummings


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