Burnbanks Project

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  • Bampton and District Local History Society

    Burnbanks project

    Interview with June Nanson

    26 July 2004
    Additional material in italics by June Nanson, 1st February, 2005

    SH:I'd like to start by asking you where you were born, June.
    JN:Well I was actually born at Threlkeld but my parents lived at Burnbanks. My mother went home to have me as women did in those days.
    SH:When was that?
    JN:That was in 1932.
    SH:Would you like to tell me your date of birth?
    JN:Yes, my date of birth is 11th June 1932.
    SH:What was it that brought you and your family to Burnbanks?
    JN:Well for work of course. Times were hard in those days and it was a new job to come to and new prospects, because Dad came from West Cumberland where times were pretty hard in those days. I suppose it was the years prior to the recession.
    SH:How old were you when you came to Burnbanks?
    JN:Well I suppose I was just a few days. We came shortly after I was born I presume.
    SH:What was your father's job?
    JN:My father, he came actually in 1926 as a labourer and then before they started building the dam he worked as a ganger on the road that was being built from Burnbanks to Mardale. My brother actually knows more about this. He did quite a lot of maintenance work - they used to work round the farms, they used to go round the water gauges, they seemed to be jack of all trades and do lots of different jobs.
    SH:What about your Mum? What sort of a job did she have?
    JN:Well, Mum was a housewife of course. Not many women went out to work in those days - except when Dad was called up in the army during the last war Mum had to go out to work because the army pay was so poor. She worked in Penrith for a while. She worked for Mrs Forge at Walm Howe. I remember I used to cycle down with loads of freshly ironed sheets on the bike down to Walm Howe. And then eventually she got a job at the canteen with Ada Preston as cook and worked there for I think 25 years all told.

    Mum became cook-in-charge when Ada Preston retired. She cycled daily to Bampton School from Burnbanks in all kinds of weather - four miles in total. She loved her work there making excellent meals (I still get good reports from ex-pupils!).

    She also cycled to the monthly WI meetings held in the Memorial Hall when it was built. I do not remember where it was held before then.

    SH:Where was the canteen?
    JN:In the school at Bampton, which is still there and still operating I believe.
    SH:What house number did you live at in Burnbanks?
    JN:Well, Mum and Dad first lived in 36 and of course it was just a one bedroomed little house. Then they moved into number 66 after I was born because my brother was born there and then eventually we moved down into the Oaks and lived there till Dad retired.
    SH:How many were there in your family at Burnbanks?
    JN:Well there was Dad (William Holiday), Mum (Annie Holiday), me and Raymond, my brother.
    SH:What was the first thing you can remember about Burnbanks?
    JN:I remember all the families. You see everybody went up there as a new family and there were lots of children, lots of people, it was a very busy place and I remember having lots of other children to play with and fall out with and fight with as you do as youngsters and we had a really happy time there.
    SH:And what sort of a house did you live in?
    JN:Well it was just one of the - I suppose they were like prefab types, that they built to house the workers who were going to work on the dam project.

    The houses were kind of prefab bungalows built to accommodate the workers on the dam project. They consisted of a reasonably sized living room, three bedrooms, kitchen, pantry, bathroom and inside toilet. The ceilings were very high and it was a nightmare when emulsion painting. The walls were very thin and certainly not sound proof. My mum and next door neighbour, Mrs Olive Hindmarch, had many conversations whilst sitting on adjacent loos!

    There was a coal fire range in the living room and we had a paraffin heater in the kitchen during the cold winter months. There was a wash boiler in the kitchen with a fire underneath to heat the water. We had a small front garden at The Oaks and a very large one at the back. Dad kept a few hens and he spent hours feeding the wild birds - pheasants even came up to the back door.

    SH:Did you find it quite comfortable?
    JN:Well yes it was comfortable because for one thing we had electricity and there were so many houses in those days that didn't have electricity. And we also had a bathroom with running hot and cold water which was quite an event in those days and so we considered ourselves very lucky really. And we had a flush toilet - quite a luxury in those days. It was back to oil lamps, cold water and a loo in the garden when we stayed with our grandparents at Threlkeld!
    SH:And what about going to school - where did you go to school and how did you get there?
    JN:Well I went to Bampton school of course, starting at five, and we either walked or there was the Hartness's bus, it went at 8 o'clock in the morning, but usually we would walk there which was a good couple of miles there and 2 miles back. In every sort of weather we ventured out.

    My first teacher at Bampton school was Miss Eva Coward. Then I was taught by Miss Dixon who came with the evacuees from Barrow. She was a very strict but brilliant teacher and I owe the success in my academic life to her tuition. Then I entered Mr Dougie Thornton's class which wasn't a very happy experience. Fortunately at the age of eleven I won a Lowther scholarship and went on to the grammar school in Penrith and was there until I left at the age of eighteen. I travelled on Hartness's bus from Penrith.

    We had an evacuee from Barrow who came to live with our family. I resented her because she had to share my bedroom!

    SH:What games did you play in the playground and were your friends mostly from Burnbanks?
    JN:No we were mixed with the Bampton children as well; there were some very good friends that lived in Bampton and we all mixed in together. We had the usual games - I remember playing hopscotch and I remember we used to juggle with two and three balls - we were pretty good at that, and we skipped. And then of course we had games in school which was rounders for the girls and football for the boys.
    SH:What happened after school and during holidays - what did you do?
    JN:Well usually after school we trailed home, it took us quite a long time. We went by various routes and then, mainly in the village, we ran wild in the woods and down by the river and had a really carefree childhood.
    SH:You entertained yourselves.
    JN:Yes more or less.
    SH:Did you go to church?
    JN:Yes I went to the Methodist church at Bampton and we went to Sunday school there too and I actually taught there when I was older, in the Sunday school.

    When I was very young I attended the Sunday school in the mission hall at Burnbanks (now the village hall at Thirlmere). My recollections of that are very vague and I cannot remember who was the vicar then. Mrs Olive Hindmarch was involved and I believe played the organ.

    SH:Do you remember the special celebrations or festivals?
    JN:I can't remember much about Easter and the other events. We had an anniversary at the chapel and I think that was for Whitsuntide, but Christmas we always went to our grandparents at Threlkeld every year without fail.
    SH:What sort of social activities were there at Burnbanks?
    JN:Well we had a cinema - my mother used to take me to see some of the films there and of course there were dances and then there was the canteen where the adults could go and have a drink. There seemed to be plenty going on all the time. We were never bored anyway.
    SH:When did you leave Burnbanks?
    JN:I left in 1950. I went to teacher training college near Ormskirk, Lancashire, and just came home for holidays.
    SH:And what do you think of Burnbanks now?
    JN:I feel sad that the old village is finally come to an end and I'm sad that my house, The Oaks, is now razed to the ground but I'm very pleased that the properties are being restored and going to be rebuilt - I'm quite happy about that. It's such a lovely little village.
    SH:Is there anything else you can think of about what you used to do or where you used to go?
    JN:No not really. I just remember the really happy times we had and all the people we had to play with and the fact that we could play without restrictions. You feel sorry for the youngsters nowadays who can't run and roam about as we did in the wood and on the fell and by the river. The world was our oyster. We just had a superb childhood.

    I do remember the shop which was located up the back road. It was run by Mr and Mrs Wilkinson and they had a daughter, Marjorie, and a son, Ronald. They became good friends of my family and later they moved to Kendal where we visited them for years. I know that Ronnie died but I'm not sure about Marjorie. My brother and I were each given a penny every Saturday morning and hastened to the shop where we spent ages choosing our sweets. It was surprising how much a penny bought (16 aniseed balls I am told!).

    SH:Well thank you. We've talked about so many interesting things. I don't think there's anything else you'd like to tell me about? You've covered quite a lot of things haven't you?
    JN:There's one thing that's quite interesting. My dad used to go round the farms doing maintenance work for various reasons and he got interested in clocks and watches. He became quite an accomplished clock repairer and we got to know loads of people on the farms roundabout after he'd been visiting them, in his own time of course, and he used to come home with things like farm butter and fresh eggs and if they'd had a pig killing day he'd come home with sausages and bacon and all sorts of things and that was absolutely super. I remember that specially. He always had an interest in watch and clock repairing even after he retired.
    SH:Thank you very much June. And your parents, they did move away from Burnbanks finally didn't they.
    JN:Yes, Dad retired in 1969 and they came to live near me at Penruddock and had about twenty years retirement, didn't they. Yes they were very lucky.
    SH:Right well thank you very much.

    Interviewer: Sylvia Hindmarch

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