Bampton and District Local History Society
Severe weather forced us to postpone another meeting at the beginning of February but a brief lull enabled us to go ahead at a later date. On Tuesday February 20th, more than 20 members and several visitors enjoyed a fascinating evening exploring new ways of identifying archaeological features that might otherwise not be revealed. Our speaker Joe Ridley demonstrated how he has been collaborating with local historians to exploit the new technique – LIDAR – which uses laser light to detect variable distances to the ground. Joe has devised his own computer package to interpret the aerial images provided by LIDAR and he showed a number of archaeological sites in Bampton, Knipe, Helton and Setterah Park. These revealed several examples of medieval field systems, access roads and settlements and opened up rich possibilities for anyone willing to do further work with the data. Joe has very generously offered to supply his software and technical support to enable a LIDAR analysis of the Parish of Bampton to be carried out. Bampton Local History NEEDS YOU!
More traditional but equally inspiring was the meeting which followed after LIDAR – this was the session on ‘Dry Stone Walls and Landscape History’ given by Professor Angus Winchester. Angus described the form, function and types of stone walls in upland Britain and showed that although some are medieval in origin, many are only a couple of hundred years old. Medieval farm systems with their large open fields had less need of walls than the smaller, individual enclosed fields of the ‘agricultural revolution’. Intakes from the unenclosed fell also demanded walls – low if cattle were being contained but higher to contain the more agile sheep. ‘Reading’ the walled landscape took on a new fascination and copies of Angus latest book Dry Stone Walls History and Landscape’ were an instant sellout.
Please note for your diary, the final meeting this session will be on Tuesday May 1 when Patrick Neaves will lead a walk around Shap Prehistoric Sites, starting at 7.00pm from the Old Courthouse, Shap
Pat Garside, chair, BDLHS
We held our revived Christmas Quiz on Tuesday December 5th at the Haweswater Hotel. A tasty supper was provided, the bar was open and a very warm, convivial evening was enjoyed. The exhibition prepared by the society showing the history of the Haweswater Hotel and its links to the reservoir scheme and to Bampton was on display around the bar.
The January 2018 meeting that we planned to hold was to have been a ‘drop in’ session to continue discussion of people’s ‘Bampton Memories’. We are grateful to those Bampton residents who collected their photos, scrap books and memories and offered to share their experience of Bampton. Sadly, weather conditions were such that we were forced to postpone the meeting which we hope to rearrange at a later date.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday February 6th when we hope to demonstrate new ways of identifying archaeological features that might previously have remained undiscovered. We have a number of archaeological sites in Bampton, Knipe, Helton and Setterah Park. Joe Ridley has been using the new technique – LIDAR – and he will discuss this and some of his local findings on February 6th. Everyone welcome at what promises to be a valuable talk about aspects of history which are new to us.
And please note in your diary, our meeting on Tuesday 6 March when Angus Winchester will be talking about the visible and not so visible features of ‘Dry Stone Walls and Landscape History’.
Pat Garside, chair, BDLHS
On Tuesday December 5th, we will hold our revived Christmas Quiz. This is now a biannual event and the questions focus on Cumbria in general as well as local history. It’s a great way to find out what you know and what you don’t in convivial company. We are going to the Haweswater Hotel where a light supper will be provided and the bar will be open. We look forward to seeing members old and new as well as welcoming interested visitors.
The cost of the Christmas Quiz evening will be £5 which includes supper. To ease transport and parking, we invite you to gather on the night at the Memorial Hall at 7.00pm where car share will be organised. The Quiz will start at 7.30 in the Haweswater Hotel Walkers’ Bar and we look forward to seeing you there
At the AGM held on Tuesday October 3rd, we welcomed Dr Chris Donaldson, from University of Lancaster. The title of his talk was ‘Undefiled by the Intrusion of Bad Taste’ Early Impressions of Haweswater’ This was a very entertaining and engaging talk exploring reactions of visitors in the nineteenth century to this wild valley. Members added their knowledge of early tourism to the account and both speaker and audience learned something new.
The November meeting (November 7th) was on The Carlisle Ship Canal. The speaker, David Ramshaw, a transport expert of longstanding, showed how the route and purpose of the Ship Canal between Carlisle and the Solway coast, can be traced on the ground and through reports in newspapers. The Canal opened in 1817 and press reports show ships still being built in Carlisle in 1853, and trade from the city reached Liverpool, Glasgow and Leeds as well as across the Atlantic and into the Baltic. The railway, however, literally over took this trade and the Ship Canal was provided the route for the tracks.
In January 2018 we plan to hold an afternoon ‘drop in’ session to continue discussion of people’s ‘Bampton Memories’. After the June walk last year, people were very keen to hear more about the history of Bampton from those who lived it. The ‘drop in’ will be an informal session and everyone is invited to bring photos and other items showing life here in living memory. We’ll meet in the Small Hall at 2.00pm on Tuesday 16 January 2018.
Pat Garside, chair, BDLHS
At our April meeting, members learned to see familiar aspects of Bampton through the eyes of an expert geologist Joe Cann. At the ‘Bampton Walk’ on June 18th, we tried to get to grips more directly with the impact of geology on Bampton’s landscape and resources. It was interesting to look across the almost level surface of a once ‘glacial lake’ that is the Lowther flood plain linking Bampton hamlets from Bomby to Butterwick. We noted also quarries on the Howes and a lime kiln of 1824 behind the ‘Mardale Inn’. But above all, we listened to local memories, that made the very stones and walls speak. We all learned a great deal – more than we could take in at one session. We hope to follow up the walk and have some round table sessions over the winter to share the fascinating accounts that people have about what Bampton means to them.
Members of the Lowther and Askham Local History Society joined the walk, which was followed by a picnic lunch at the Memorial Hall. They enjoyed the additional refreshments provided and the sociability that is such a feature of Bampton history society. Some members went on to the Tinclar Library which was opened for the event.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday October 3rd and this will be our AGM. We look forward to the completion of the research into the activities of the Haweswater Action Committee. The results will be presented at the AGM.
Pat Garside, chair, BDLHS
Your new Committee has been promising that in 2017, there will be familiar items but also some new ideas. I am glad to announce that the society has a new treasurer – Roger Storey – and we appreciate his willingness to take on this vital role.
It was certainly new research into Bampton’s past that provided the basis for our meetings in February and March though the topics drew on very different historical sources. It was the ‘pain books’ ie the rule books of the Thornthwaite Manorial Court that provided much of the evidence for the discussion of how Bamptonians maintained good order in their village during the medieval period. The mystery of the ‘iron crowns’ on some local signposts, however, had to be pursued by searching the accounts and day books of certain Penrith iron founders and in the correspondence of Bampton Parish Council. I am pleased that Mike Lea, the speaker on ‘iron crowns’, has agreed that we can put his presentation on the BDLHS website. I’m sure it will find a ready audience!
Our next meeting is on Tuesday April 4th and is about ‘The Ice Age in the Lowther Valley’. The speaker Joe Cann will be discussing the effects of glaciation on our landscape – no doubt his sources of evidence will be of different kind altogether!
We take a break in May, but make a note in your diary of the ‘Bampton Walk’ on June 18th from 11.00am. Together with the Lowther and Askham Local History Society we are planning an historical walk around the ways and byways of Bampton. The walk will be followed by lunch in the Memorial Hall and will be our main social event of the summer. More details about the cost and numbers will follow shortly.
Pat Garside, chair, BDLHS
Since the end of May, members of the BDLHS have explored many aspects of Bampton history in locations across the parish. Vaugh Steil was the focus of the ‘summer walk’ courtesy of Catherine Lacey and members were intrigued to see how a relatively modest farmhouse and outbuildings had been transformed into a modern eco-friendly home with global impact. A great contrast with this was the final talk of this session. Barry McKay described the role of ‘The Cumbrian Chapman’ who in the 18th century brought news of the wider world to places like Bampton by distributing news on foot or by word of mouth. They were the internet of their day through which information, political manifestos and gossip passed in ballads and broadsheets, many printed in Penrith.
This year’s BBQ and summer party was held in blustery conditions on Tuesday, July 5th at Nick and Lizzie Lindwall’s in Rosgill. In the last parish newsletter I flagged up that we were planning some innovations this year. As it happened, by supreme effort, the committee produced an event very much up to the standard of previous years. Nick Lindwall provided an excellent and very entertaining history of ‘The Thorn’ and its place in Rosgill. However, for a number of reasons, numbers attending were rather down and perhaps it is time for new ideas about where the BDLHS goes in future.
Enjoy the summer and give some thought to coming to the BDLHS AGM on Tuesday October 4th. We will hear our sponsored MA student, David Morgan, making a presentation on his latest research into the Haweswater Action Committee and the proposals in the 1970s to raise the level of the reservoir and dam.
History usually gets more serious as we move into Spring and we have held three meetings since the beginning of February. In different ways, these showed how Cumbria has reacted to unfamiliar and potentially disruptive events.
The first meeting on February 2nd saw Rob David giving a fresh and unfamiliar twist to our series marking World War One. Rob spoke on the ‘waiters, miners, butchers and “spies”’ whose ordinary lives after 1914 were transformed by suspicions that they were, in fact, ‘enemy aliens’. There were about 150 Germans and Austrians who found themselves in Cumbria during the Great War. The largest group were employed as miners in Alston and they, with others, were interned in camps at Lancaster and the Isle of Man.
We held two meetings in March – on March 1st Andy Connell discussed the many false histories of the Appleby Horse Fair – he showed there was no Royal Charter, that the fair took place on a hill outside Appleby and that horses had by no means been the major element in the event. Divided political and social loyalties were also highlighted, including the ‘gypsy strand’ in Lowther heritage. Finally on March 15th there was a drop in session for viewing and discussing a substantial collection of historic photos relating chiefly to Haweswater. This was an enjoyable and relaxed afternoon and much local knowledge was shared.
Our next meeting, April 5th, is on Quakerism in Cumbria given by Alan Clowes, a Quaker and proprietor of the temperance hotel the Cross Keys in Cautley, near Sedbergh.
We look forward to seeing old friends and new members!
The Society held its annual Christmas Quiz at the beginning of December with more teams entering than ever. The festive cheer did not diminish the concentration and ingenuity of those who participated and the winners of a keenly fought contest were in doubt to the very last round. History is alive and well in these parts!
Our next meeting is more serious but none the less enjoyable. On Tuesday February 2nd Rob David returns to give another contribution to mark World War One. Rob will talk on the fate of Germans and Austrians who found themselves in Cumbria during the Great War.
In March, there will be two meetings – on Tuesday March 1st Andy Connell will talk about the history of the Appleby Horse Fair and secondly on Tuesday March 15th there will be an afternoon session where we will show some recently acquired photos of Bampton and Burnbanks dating from the 1920s. We hope that people can help us identify the photos which show new aspects of life in our village.
We look forward to seeing old friends and new members!
Peter Roebuck - Cattle Droving Through Cumbria 1600 – 1850
The Society enjoyed a very interesting talk on 'Cattle Droving Through Cumbria 1600 – 1850' by Peter Roebuck on 7th April. Peter Roebuck is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Ulster and now lives at High Hesket in a former droving venue that housed many cattle in its hay day. This sparked Peter's interest in the history of cattle droving on which there was very little information available despite it having a long association with Cumbria.
Although cattle droving had been in existence since Neolithic times it was a major part of the economy in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries after King James I/VI banished the Border Reivers in 1610. Politics continued to influence droving when Ireland was banned from droving cattle – mostly because Irish cattle were thought to be superior to British cattle!
From April to October cattle were driven through Cumbria from Scotland and Ireland enroute to markets in Lancashire and beyond. Cattle were traded for beef and leather; their hooves were used to make glue and even their hair was used in plaster for roofs. The cattle had to be shod to enable them to cover the huge distances they were driven – particularly on the old A6 from Carlisle to Lancaster. Other routes used included Hardknott Pass!
Cattle droving was not a lucrative business, with the 'top man' being paid a commission of 1 shilling a day. It was then up to him if the rest of the men in the droving team were paid anything at all. Being a cattle drover required the men to be vets, accountants and route finders. The droving trade was serviced with accommodation and food provided at stations for the drovers and their cattle as they moved south.
Very few records concerning droving remain in existence but Peter has discovered records relating to a cattle station at Musgrave Hall Estates in Edenhall where transactions with drovers took place. In 1650 18,364 cattle were registered; 1662-63 - 26,440 cattle were registered and in 1675 20-30,000 were registered. By 1712 11,267 cattle were registered in one month. Big business indeed!
The next meeting of the Society is Tuesday 2nd June in Bampton Memorial Hall and the topic is Revisiting the History of Bampton by the Societies' previous Chair - (Prof) Patricia Garside. The annual BBQ will take place Tuesday 7th July – more details to follow!
Jean Scott-Smith - The History of Shap Granite Works
The reopening of the Shap Granite Quarry is now under active investigation and members of the BDLHS were pleased to welcome Jean Scott-Smith – a redoubtable local historian with strong personal connections to Shap. Shap has been inhabited since prehistoric times as its stone circles show, while the remains of settlements may be seen close to Shap Blue Quarry and an ancient wooden boat was uncovered nearby on what was a lake.
Jean pointed out the geological distinction between Shap Granite – pink stone from the early Devonian period and Shap Blue – ‘dustless’ from Borrowdale Volcanic. Extraction began in 1864 at Wasdale Fell and both Shap pink and Shap blue stone were widely used. Shap granite in both its light and dark form graced public monuments locally in Shap, Eamont Bridge and Penrith but also in London – outside St Paul’s, along the Thames Embankment and in the London Docks. Shap blue, a bulk commodity, used the railway network, starting from the sidings and station at Shap, to distribute hard core and aggregate across the country.
Shap sidings and works were the core of the operation, expanding in the 20th century, to handle the increasingly important (white) limestone processing industry that produced a huge range of goods from sections of Mulberry Harbours to manholes and non-slip paving. Though much of the work was for men, the cement works also provided some work for women who did jobs such as dressing the inside of pipes. Jean showed photographs of groups of workmen whose only safety protection seemed to be the steel tipped clogs they wore and who frequently displayed the symbol of their trade – an eye-patch covering damage from flying stone. Around the works were groups of small houses for the workers – often Scots – brought in to meet demand for labour. Wickersgill School (now a house) was provided by the side of the A6 and the workers ran their own sick society where benefits were dependent on good behaviour – no-one to be out after 10 pm and no-one to frequent any public house.
Jean conjured up a world hard to imagine now though its history can be traced on the ground. Today, there are no cement works but Shap blue quarry remains in full operation. Shap pink granite quarry seems about to reopen so new challenges and opportunities will arise.
Pat Garside, BDLHS
After two wash-out years, BDLHS at last enjoyed a BBQ summer! At the beginning of June, members spent a balmy evening at Newby Hall, courtesy of John and Margaret Weaver. We spent a good deal of the evening outside, studying the stonework of the Hall which was marked by the many changes occurring over the centuries from Newby’s original form as a timber hall with a fortified tower. The Nevinson family acquired the Hall in 1637and their much weathered coat of arms is set in sandstone above their new front door. Fashion decreed further changes to give the Hall a more symmetrical look and at the same time the impressive gate pillars with their pomegranate tops were installed. We were able to explore the garden and its terrace overlooking raised walks and possible fishponds below. Once inside, the remarkable task of restoration undertaken by the Weavers was very impressive – no traces here of the Hall’s recent lives as a hotel and several flats. It was a rich and fascinating visit which ended as all good visits do in the family kitchen.
The BDLHS BBQ was held at Bryham House, Low Knipe, attracting a good crowd including speakers who had given talks during the year. The opportunity was taken of looking at Knipe and its relation with Bampton from what is for many a novel perspective. In the past, it was suggested, links between the two were closer than they are now. Recent research in the archives has shown that some of Bampton’s common fields were located at Knipe and that the lane that ends now at Bryham House once carried on to give villagers access to the strips of land that they farmed in these fields. As the sun set, we could almost imagine the sound of the farmers’ tread on the cobbled track.
BDLHS next meeting is the AGM on Tuesday 7 October at 7.30pm. We hope new Committee members will be elected so hurry if you would like to join! The meeting will start with an audio presentation by Maurice Steele on Hadrian’s Wall, ‘Walking Through History’. The talk will be followed by the AGM.
Pat Garside, BDLHS
At our March meeting, members welcomed back Andy Lowe who demonstrated how the power of water from the Fells was tamed by the human ingenuity of those who used it. Our next meeting on Tuesday April 1st continued the theme. Presented by two of the enthusiastic workers on the project, we heard how water power was restored to the flour mill at Acorn Bank so that it is now operational once more. It was a fascinating story crowned by the production of a newly baked loaf using some of the first flour produced at the restored Acorn Bank. The mill stopped working in 1950, having previously operated as both a saw mill and a corn mill. Almost every element of the mill – the water supply, the water wheel, the shaft, and the mill stones – needed replacing and many parts had to be improvised and renewed by hand before the mill could operate again. It was an inspiring tale and if you have not visited Acorn Bank for a while, you will be impressed by the transformation of the woodland part of the site and the restored mill.
Our next event is a visit to Newby Hall, courtesy of Mr and Mrs O. Weaver. This will take place on Tuesday 3 June. Because Newby Hall is a private house, we have to restrict numbers and at the moment, we are fully subscribed. If you have signed up, but find you cannot go, please let Christine Evans know so that we can reallocate your place. Where possible, will those who are going please meet at 6.30pm at the Memorial Hall so that we can arrange car share. There will be a charge of £2 per person.
And finally, a date for your diary! Our annual BBQ will be on Tuesday 1 July at Bryham House, Low Knipe. We are due a fine evening this year, but if not, we will be able to retreat indoors. We look forward to seeing you.
Pat Garside, BDLHS
As we wait for the ‘lamb-line’ to reach Bampton, the local history society is also at its busiest time of year. At its March meeting, members welcomed back Andy Lowe who demonstrated how the power of water from the Fells was tamed by the human ingenuity of those who used it. Whether processing flax, wool, paper, wood, gunpowder, metal ore, paper or grain, the mills of Cumbria crushed, turned ,felted and smelted using the renewable source of energy from water. It was food for thought not only for our history but also for our future.
Our next meeting on Tuesday April 1st continues the theme. We will hear Bob Price’s account of restoring the water power for the flour mill at Acorn Bank so that it is now operational once more. It is a fascinating story and we look forward to seeing you in the Memorial Hall.
Pat Garside, BDLHS
As we emerge from the storms of December and January, the BDLHS is looking forward to understanding more about the impact of previous climatic upheavals on our village. How the ground we walk on was formed is the subject of our next meeting when Joe Cann explores the rocks and soils of Bampton and its geology. He will explain why we find seashell fossils and limestone pavements on the top of Knipe Scar and why some places are rich in minerals and some are not. This is a new subject for BDLHS and should be most interesting. Our meeting will be Tuesday February 4th.
Our meeting on March 4th will welcome back Andy Lowe whose subject will be the topical ‘Power from the Fells’ albeit this time in an historical context.
Several people have contacted us with items for the meeting we are planning on ‘Memories and Mementoes: Bampton 1914-1919’. This will take place on November 4th and we hope to have a display based on the items people bring. The Great War still brings vivid episodes to mind and people have already offered a range of material, including photographs, a diary and memories of relatives involved in the conflict. Please think about your own family and how the war affected them – of course they may well not have been connected with Bampton at that point. But if they are part of your story we would like to include them. Please contact me if you would like to offer or discuss any material. We have invited David Boulton to this meeting to talk about recruitment, conscription and conscientious objection in World War 1.
Pat Garside, BDLHS
If it is December already, it must be time for the Bampton History Society’s famous, perhaps notorious?, Christmas Quiz. Come and enjoy an irreverent evening and join us at the Crown and Mitre on Tuesday 3rd December at 7.30pm (entry at the door £3). Try your skill or hazard a guess at a broad range of questions about Cumbria, and local features of Bampton. We defy you not to be amused and we hope that you will learn something also. Refreshments will be served and the bar will be open.
At our meeting on October 29th Harry Hawkins spoke about ‘Canons and Abbots of Shap Abbey’. One of the themes was the close link between Bampton and Shap in terms of land ownership and the life of Bampton parish church during the Middle Ages. A William de Cundale granted Bampton church together with eight acres of land in Bampton to the Abbey. Shap canons acted as vicars in Bampton, and Shap Abbey stored their tithes in a Tithe Barn at Knipe.
BDLHS Committee has been considering how to mark the 100th anniversary of World War 1. Under the general title ‘Memories and Momentos: Bampton 1914-1919’ we are planning an evening when people are invited to bring items that illustrate the experience of those years, as well as presentations from people who will discuss the impact of the War more generally. If you have any items from this time that you would be willing to bring, we would be very pleased to hear from you – they could be photos, letters, diaries, press-cuttings and not confined only to things with a direct Bampton connection. If it’s important to you, and you are willing to share it, please let us know about it. This meeting is planned for November 2014.
The next meeting, after the Christmas and New Year break, will be Tuesday February 4th when Joe Cann will dig deep to examine ‘The History of Geology in the Bampton and Askham Area’. This is an important topic where detailed information is hard to find. What and where, for instance, is the Bampton inlier? Come and find out!
BDLHS is always looking for new members and new ideas. We currently have 49 members and look forward to scoring our half century before too long. Do let us have your suggestions for topics and activities and should you feel like joining the Committee we would be even more pleased.
This summer and autumn have reminded us how important weather is to the Bampton landscape and how much more impact good and bad seasons had in times past. A series of poor harvests could have a catastrophic effect and in the early 17th century insufficient food and disease halved the population in Bampton and surrounding areas. This year, thankfully, we have abundance.
BDLHS takes a break over the summer but the programme for 2013-14 is complete and copies will be available at our AGM on Tuesday October 1st at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall. The AGM will be followed by an illustrated talk – Ron Scholes will be talking about ‘Man’s Impact on the Local Landscape’. Ron is a geographer and photographer with a wealth of local knowledge acquired in the best possible way – walking.
Sales of signed copies of Ian Gregg’s book ‘Bread The Story of Greggs’ have gone well – a few copies priced £5 will also be available at the AGM. Those who heard Ian’s talk to BDLHS will remember that the Gregg’s story begins with Ian's grandfather who rode a push bike selling yeast to bakers up and down Newcastle's steep streets, continues with the travelling shop of the 1930s and ends with the expansion of the business after the last war. All proceeds go to the Gregg’s Trust especially for projects aimed at schoolchildren. ‘Bread’ could solve some of your Christmas presents!
We look forward to seeing old and new members at the AGM on October 1st and at our meeting on October 29th when Harry Hawkins will speak about ‘Cannons and Abbots of Shap Abbey’. BDLHS is always looking for new members and new ideas. Do let us have your suggestions for topics and activities and should you feel like joining the Committee we would be even more pleased.
Enjoy the weather while it lasts!
As I write this it is almost too hot to think, so how could it be that the BDLHS BBQ was rained off and was again held indoors? The Memorial Hall stood substitute for Latrigg, Rosgill and for the second year Heather and David Pitt groomed their house and garden in preparation only to watch the clouds gather and the rain fall. The relocated BBQ was a most enjoyable event thanks to the willing help of an enthusiastic team – better luck next year.
Our regular meeting on June 4th had Stephen Miller from the Wordsworth Trust speaking on Wordsworth's relations with his family, friends and their links with Penrith and its surrounding area. On June 18th there was a special meeting to share the findings of our research into the history of common land in Bampton. Thanks to the people who lent photos, memories, and documents we were able to show some surprising results which were of great interest to Prof Angus Winchester, leader of the national project, who is based at Lancaster University. You can read our findings on the project website. We plan to expand the report and post a fuller version on our own website
Finally we were delighted to welcome back Ian Gregg who spent a most convivial morning signing personal copies of his book ‘Bread The Story of Greggs’ at Bampton Post Office. So pleased was Ian with the response and level of sales that he suggested that the organisers had missed their vocation and would be better occupied boosting sales at his family firm. Those who heard Ian’s talk to BDLHS will remember that the Gregg’s story begins with Ian's grandfather who rode a push bike selling yeast to bakers up and down Newcastle's steep streets, continues with the travelling shop of the 1930s and ends with the expansion of the business after the last war.
Signed copies of Ian’s book can be bought at Bampton Post office price £5 with proceeds going to the Greggs Trust. A great summer read!
Enjoy the weather while it lasts! Our next meeting is our AGM on Tuesday October 1st in the Memorial Hall. The business meeting will be followed by an illustrated talk – Ron Scholes will be talking about ‘Man’s Impact on the Local Landscape’.
We have had two very different but successful meetings this month. First we heard Ian Gregg who told the story of his family firm - Greggs the Bakers. Beginning with Ian's grandfather who rode a push bike selling yeast to bakers up and down Newcastle's steep streets, through the travelling shop days of the 1930s and the expansion of the business after the last war, this was a very personal story told with charm and conviction. Ian's book about Greggs will be published shortly. It will be on sale in all their shops with proceeds going to the Greggs Trust. It will be a grand read, Pet!
In contrast, our second May meeting took us to Widewath Farm where courtesy of the owners George and Alice. Robinson a large group of us explored various buildings, some now ruinous, on either side of Helton Beck. It was a lovely evening and the spring foliage was emerging at last. We crossed and recrossed Helton beck by two beautiful packhorse bridges, emerging briefly onto Bampton Common to enjoy a grand view of Knipe and the Lowther Valley, and then descending to examine two buildings on the Bampton side of Helton Beck. Using a number of sources including the Bampton Tithe Map (1836) and the Royal Commission on. Historic Monuments (1936), we concluded that these two buildings were a dwelling and barn called 'Old Widewath'. The parish boundary follows Helton Beck at this point and Crossing it once again, we turned our attention to an almost completely demolished structure on the opposite side of the beck, lately a barn, which was originally Widewath House. Clearly Widewath, with its mill, bridges, dwellings and barns was a significant settlement at the beginning of the 17th century. Earlier there might also have been a leper hospital in the vicinity but that's another story.........
We will be having two meetings in June. Our regular meeting on June 4th will have Stephen Miller from the Words worth Trust who will speak on Wordsworth's links with Penrith and its surrounding area. On June 18th there will be a special meeting about our research into the history of common land in Bampton. Some of the results are very surprising and Prof Angus Winchester, who is leading the national project at Lancaster University is coming to discuss our findings.
2013 has already been busy for the BDLHS. As well as the programme of meetings, members have been involved in researching the history of the parish for the Cumbria County History and also in assessing the history of different types of common land in Bampton for a national project.
The common land project has been particularly interesting. A workshop on common land was organised on February 5th and attracted members of BDLHS, landowners, farmers, owners of common rights and the current and immediate past chairmen of the Askham and Bampton Commoners’ Association.
We displayed maps of the parish showing the location and boundaries of Bampton’s 7 areas of common land, a list of heafs and associated property compiled by Manchester City Council in 1936, and some 50 photographs showing views of common land dating back to the early twentieth century. Photos showed the substantial impact of Manchester Corporation with the Haweswater Dam, Burnbanks village, aqueducts and siphons as well as other smaller structures such as telephone and post boxes, water hydrants, footbridges, telegraph poles and signposts. Earlier structures such as clapper bridges, sheepfolds and bields were traced as well as standing stones and circles from earlier centuries.
These displays provoked a great deal of comment. Additional photos produced at the meeting showed significant changes in prevailing vegetation as well as uses of common land that no longer occur, such as large numbers of geese on Butterwick Green beside the River Lowther, working horses, goats and cattle. Resurfacing adjacent roads with river gravel was also indicated. Grazing now is mostly of sheep with a few horses. Cattle have not been grazed on common land since the Foot and Mouth outbreak of the 1990s. Open discussion identified regular recreational use – fox hunting, horse racing, fairs, sports, bonfires and beacons, swimming and hiking. Recent commercial exploitation of some of the resources of Common Land, especially bracken, was highlighted.
After the demise of manorial courts and prior to statutory Commons Registration and regulation, there appears to have been a period when disputes and negotiations were handled locally between commoners themselves. Boundaries between heafs, for example, were recognised and enforced by individual action – sheep might be ‘relocated’ if they strayed onto another heaf. At registration, the prevailing informal system led to under and/or over statement of stock levels which caused subsequent problems and tensions. It seems that the largest landowners – Lowther and Manchester Corporation – encouraged their tenants to register high stock numbers.
It was suggested that in general, the involvement of national and European bodies in the management of the Commons has led to problems and a loss of local ‘ownership’. Precise mapping of heafs is not compatible with their fluid, overlapping character dependent on sheep movements, weather conditions and mutual understanding between shepherds. There was recognition, though, that reduction in stocking levels has had some beneficial effects. It was said that more change had occurred in common land and its use in the last 20 years than in the previous 200. Farmers and Commoners who attended were primarily focussed on more recent events especially the episodes around the registration of commons, ESA’s,SSSI’s, Entry Level and Higher Level Stewardship Schemes.
Issues raised that could not be resolved included the origins of different types of common land, especially very small parcels whose use and importance was unclear; the involvement and decline of manorial courts; and how intensity of use and conflict over rights was dealt with prior to the creation of the Commoners’ Association. The project leaders at Lancaster University have agreed to come to Bampton on June 18th to discuss our findings.
In addition, our next meeting is on Tuesday April 2 at 7.30pm when Ian Gregg is returning to Bampton to talk about his recently completed book on the history of Greggs the Bakers. Our May walk is at Widewath Farm and will be held on May 7.
Members of the BDLHS have been contributing to two major research projects ensuring that Bampton’s history is recorded for national as well as local publications. Our contribution to the ‘Jubilee Digests’ of the Cumbria County History is about to go online and is freely available on the website. Click on the map here for an overview of Bampton history.
Further work will continue on Bampton history to provide a fuller account and you can read separately about another project that aims to collect information about the use and management of common land in the parish especially within living memory. This is an important and fascinating topic and we look forward to sharing the findings.
Our winter programme of meetings continued in October with a noisy and compelling account of the history of bells and bell-ringing given by Ronald East, Bell Advisor to the Carlisle diocese. An undoubted enthusiast, Ronald Bell spoke of the importance of church bells to England’s culture, whether the 13 bells of Carlisle Cathedral or the more modest 5 at Bampton. Showing an intimate knowledge of all aspects, Ronald discussed the founding of bells, their tuning, hanging and ringing. A surprising fact was that bells were originally made on site because of the difficulties of transport with bell-founders travelling the country to set up where they were needed. Bampton bells were likely made this way and Ronald’s photos of the inside of Bampton church tower showed that while bells are pretty indestructible, the structures that house them are not!
We learned to distinguish peals, chimes and carillons and marvelled at the intricate ringing patterns for, and between bells, based on the simple rule that each bell can only play in its own place (number1, 2, 3, 4) or by moving one place to the side. It was a fine introduction to an unknown world.
Next meeting is the local history Christmas Quiz and we are hoping to repeat the fun time we had last year. Please join us at the Crown and Mitre on Tuesday 4 December to start at 7.30pm. Entry fee, including seasonal refreshments, will be £2.50. You don’t need to know everything – we give points for the best wrong answer also!
Bampton and District Local History Society
Our meeting on December 6th was a first for BDLHS – our local history quiz night. Gathered in the Crown and Mitre the teams were faced with rounds of brain teasers thought up by society members. An encyclopaedic knowledge of Ploughing in Latin and Cast Iron Community was certainly called for although an interesting round of photographs and another of old farming implements tapped a different kind of knowledge. If you’ve ever tried to give a horse medicine, Ron Bainbridge has the device you need! The evening was very enjoyable and we all learned a lot – thanks also to Jane and the C & W team for keeping us supplied with seasonal refreshments.
We are currently preparing to reprint Ploughing in Latin because all existing copies have been sold. We want to take the opportunity to update the text where necessary and to correct any errors that have become apparent. We would be most grateful if anyone who has spotted errors in the text would let us have a note of them. We aim to have the new issue ready for the BDLHS 10th anniversary meeting in July. So please get out your copies and have a look - suggestions by the end of February please.
Bampton and District Local History Society
We are looking forward to a full programme of events over the coming year. We now organise 9 meetings a year, almost twice as many as when we began. As well as the now traditional exploratory walk next May and the summer BBQ, there are 7 meetings planned on a variety of local topics. Cumbria’s connection with the slave trade will figure at our November meeting and we hope you will enjoy our local history Christmas quiz to be held in December at the Crown and Mitre for added cheer.
Our next meeting will be the AGM to be held on Tuesday October 4th at 7.30 pm and this year at Beckfoot Hotel. During the evening there will be a presentation on the history of the house and its occupants including the Nobles. There will also be an opportunity to see some of the hotel’s historic features.
Because of our policy of trying to rotate membership of the committee to reflect the widest possible range of views, we welcome all suggestions for new committee members. Please contact any member of the committee if you yourself or someone you know would like to join.
Interest in Bampton history continues to grow and there are a number of projects underway including research for the Cumbria County History. We also aim to reprint ‘Ploughing in Latin’ in time for the BDLHS 10th anniversary in March next year.
Bampton and District Local History Society
May and June were busy months for the BDLHS. With bated breath, we invited Professor Ian Whyte of Lancaster University to talk on historic floods in Cumbria. All was well though on the night. Still, hearing of dam bursts, bog bursts and debris shoots was a little unsettling. Talking of 'flood rich' and 'flood poor' periods, we learned that the worst years for floods in Eden were 1822 and 2005. Ian showed how the Lake District is marked by floods - from the flood levels recorded on walls to the creation of the landscape itself. Recently however flooding has caused more damage partly because of building on flood plains but also because people have more possessions to destroy. Cottages in the 17th and 18th centuries were sparsely furnished so that the advantages of living near water clearly outweighed the disadvantages - anyone who has ever wondered about the wisdom of building Laundry Cottage at Eamont Bridge, for example, now understands the situation better.
Our second event was an evening visit to Greenside Mines above Glenridding. It was a dam holding back the reservoir supplying the mines that failed causing damage in Glenridding itself. Our guide was Warren Atkinson, a mining historian, whose association with Greenside goes back to childhood. Both his mother and his grandfather worked at the mine and Warren has led many underground investigations of the workings which closed in the 1960s. The ingenuity and effort applied to extracting the 6 to 30 feet wide vertical seam of lead was very impressive. We explored the spoil heaps, water channels, crushing floors and mine entrances until the light failed. Everyone felt it was a most interesting visit, made all the more compelling by the charts, diagrams and photographs that Warren used in his commentary.
Bampton and District Local History Society
'Friends of the Lake District' were the focus of the BDLHS March meeting. A show of hands revealed that very few of those present were actually members of this organisation which was founded in the 1930s by many of the area's great and the good - gentry, clergy, residents and second homers of the day.
BDLHS members had previously encountered the 'Friends' in their research into the Haweswater Hotel. The 'Friends' strongly opposed this development as likely to bring 'casino-style' entertainment and charabanc parties to Mardale. The speaker, John Cousins, showed how from the earliest days there was conflict about the type of activity that should take place in the Lake District and how competing interests at local, regional and local level could be resolved.
Something you should also enjoy is a visit to the website www.cumbriaimagebank.org.uk. If you search there using Bampton Local History Society you will find more than 100 historic images of the village which were given to us by Liz Bowman of Penrith who is related to the Day family. There are photos of the rooms inside the Crown and Mitre in the 1920s, local views, and a series showing the killing of the vicarage pig. Do go and look and if you can add anything to the information on the website please let us know so that it can be included.
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