Category Archives: Gerald’s Blog

Gerald’s February 2019 Musings

Thank you, everyone, involved in making the Arkholme pensioners lunches so enjoyable, the Christmas one was especially good, the entertainment provided by the school children was first class and their behaviour was a credit to their teachers, we had a very happy two hours, thank you very much.

Whittington is so lucky to have so much recorded history. I have been reading The Parish Church of Whittington Registers Volume 1, 1538 to 1764. It is available from the library on request. Started in the reign of Henry VIII, the records are one of only three complete sets in the whole of Lancashire

One of the entries from 1616 states that from 19 December 1616 to 4 November 1617 – “it pleased God to visit the parish with a dangerous disease or contagious sickness in which time over two hundred people were taken ill and twenty nine of them died”. The Rev. Richard Jackson was Rector from 1641 to 1680. His name is on the sundial in the churchyard. He left quite a lot of details of vestry meetings, written in the back of the records. He organised a number of collections in the church for numerous good causes, some for plague victims at Flookborough and Aughton, another to repair the castle wall at Spennymoor, and another to complete the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral.

One other entry states that the church clock and bells are in bad repair. Just how old was the original clock? It must have been one of the oldest clocks in existence – and how did they know how to set the time?

The next dance in the Village hall is on 2 February when Denis Westmorland returns playing his Lakeland music for our enjoyment.

Gerald Hodgson

Gerald’s November Musings

One hundred years ago this month my father Albert Hodgson was in a military hospital recovering from horrific wounds he had received whilst fighting on the western front in France.

My father was born at Angle House in Gressingham and educated at Gressingham school. After leaving school he worked for the vicar Mr Mercer looking after the garden. In 1914 he volunteered for army service with The Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, and after basic training, in which he qualified for his Marksman badge, he was later trained as a sniper.

He was lucky in some respects as his battalion was posted to Salonika in Greece to guard the Greek-Serbian border. Unfortunately, they set up camp in a river valley not knowing that the river was infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes and almost the whole force was infected with malaria. They then moved camp to higher ground away from the river.

There was no fighting in Greece – all the action was across the Bosphorus in Gallipoli. They eventually left Salonika travelling across the Adriatic Sea and were put on troop trains that carried them the length of Italy through Switzerland to join the army fighting in France.

By this time my father had been promoted to platoon sergeant and it was then his job to blow his whistle and lead his men to attack the enemy trenches. Early one morning he was doing just that when a shell burst right alongside him, blowing him off his feet, tearing large pieces out of his calf and knee, and leaving lots of particles of shell-shrapnel embedded the full length of his body.

Unable to move, and bleeding profusely, he lay in no man’s land for fourteen hours before the stretcher bearers found him and took him back to the first aid post to join the queue of wounded soldiers waiting for treatment. He did not remember much of the next few days as he was barely conscious through loss of blood.

He eventually arrived back in England to be treated and to recover, and he was discharged early in 1919 and awarded a small disability pension.

By the time he arrived home his mother had died in the Spanish flu epidemic, and he moved in with his sister and brother-in-law at Storrs Cottage, and was employed as a gardener at Storrs Hall, where he stayed until he retired in 1955.

In the Second World War, he was asked to form the Arkholme and Whittington Home Guard and promoted to full Lieutenant. They met every Sunday morning to practice marching and rifle drill in the garage yard at Storrs Hall and practised live firing in a field at Locka Farm. His name is on the Roll of Honour in Gressingham Church.

The next dance at Whittington is on 17 November when Denis Westmorland will be providing the music for dancing.

Gerald Hodgson

Gerald’s October Musings

Anne and Rob Pettifor and their daughter Sarah have recently moved to Kirkby Lonsdale. They will be sadly missed as they have contributed so much to village life during their time at Cross House. Anne served as treasurer of the Heritage Society and helped raise the money needed to clean and restore the Royal Coat of Arms now displayed in the Church, and both Rob and Anne were part of the bell ringing team that organised the removal and overhaul and re-hanging of the Church Bells. They have left the village a better place and we hope they enjoy their new home and are as happy there as they were at Whittington.

We knew Vera Hoggarth as a quiet family loving mum and grandmother, but few of us knew that during the war she was a member of the WAAFs, serving most of the war on an airbase in Northern Ireland, from which aircraft constantly patrolled the North Atlantic searching for enemy U boats and shipwrecked sailors. After the war she met and married her husband Gerry, and lived at Brookhouse for a time. In 1958 they moved to Providence House at Arkholme and farmed there until their retirement. Sadly she started suffering from dementia and has spent the last few years in a care home regularly visited by her ever loving family.

If you have a few minutes to spare and enjoy nice scenery take a look at the short video on the Whittington Village Blog called The Bus Trip To Mallham. It highlights all the spectacular views from Morecambe to Mallham. It was made by one of the bus drivers and is very well done, well worth a look  at THIS Link. .

The next dance at Whittington is on 6 October when Denis Westmorland is back providing the music for dancing, it will be another enjoyable night

Gerald Hodgson.

Gerald’s September Musings

I have let everyone down by missing Gerald’s September contribution to Wagtail. I have no excuse and am grateful to Gerald for jogging my memory so that I can include this belated entry (followed Immediately by the October entry). – John Keegan

We think the Arkholme to Kirkby Lonsdale road is busy now but imagine what it was like two hundred years ago when it was the main drovers road from Scotland. It is recorded that in the early 1700s up to 50,000 cows (and as many sheep) were crossing the border from Scotland and travelling south each year, the majority of them using this road [that’s well nearly 140 a day – Ed].

The drovers kept them off the main turnpike roads as that would mean paying tolls at every toll booth. This road came via Orton Tebay, Lowgill, Killington, Old Town, Hop House, Biggins, Whittington, Arkholme, Redwell and Halton. There were hotels every three miles along the route where the drovers could spend the night with a secure enclosure for their cows or sheep. The journey south would be a long tedious one as the animals would constantly stop and graze at the road side and stop for a drink at every beck they crossed. There were more fords than bridges in those days – in fact there was a ford on Hosticle Lane until the 1930s. They tell me that there was a small blacksmiths shop at Mire Side near Old Town that made small leather bootees for lame cows so they did not hold up the drovers progress. I imagine the condition of the roads would be very muddy smelly and dirty, and you can see the erosion all the passing cattle have caused to the road surface at the lower end of Hosticle Lane – it is eight feet below the field level, and it is the same at Storrs Hill, and dropping down into Halton village.

The drovers returning home, carrying the money they had collected from selling the cattle they had taken south, could became victims of highwaymen and robbers. That is one reason cheques and promissory notes became popular.

All this traffic ceased when the railway was extended north to Scotland in the 1840s, and the cattle were then transported by train.

How well the thrushes and blackbirds have sung this year. It was a constant chorus from morning till night. They, like us, must have enjoyed the hot summer.

The next dance at Whittington is on Saturday 8 September when Denis Westmorland is providing the music.

Gerald Hodgson