Transcript of Dalesman Interviews - Part 2

Norman Swindlehurst, Full Transcript Part 2


Norman Swindlehurst (NS) was interviewed many times by W.R. Mitchell (WRM). In this section of the interview Norman describes farming sheep in Keasden in the early part of the 20th century. He mentions the winter of 1917 when sheep were buried in snow for weeks. Norman's sister Marion reared twelve lambs by bottle. Some of the starving lambs were placed in the steaming horse midden to warmed up, and others were given a drop of brandy.


[Start of Side B - 00:00:01]

NS: [We were talking about]…wintering hogs.

WRM: Yes. Was it down near Morecambe Bay?

NS: Yes, a lot went down there. I’ve seen them go down Wennington an’ that way.

WRM: So when did you start mixing your sarve?

NS: A few days before, so that it’d got settled an’ cooled down.

WRM: How many sheep had you got at your farm?

NS: Oh, we’d only about seventy. We’d sixty an’ then we’d hogs.

WRM: So you did your hogs first?

NS: Yes, we did t’hogs first because they allus went away to winter.

WRM: How many hogs would there be then?

NS: I was tellin’ yer wrong there would be twenty hogs, an’ then we started on t’sheep. Because we wanted to get t’sheep done before we loosed the tups.

WRM: Now actually, was there a sarving house?

NS: Well, we always sarved in the stable.

WRM: You did?

NS: Yes. Now Wallbanks at Keasden, they always sarved in the barn.

WRM: Ah. And did you have to bring your sheep in dry?

NS: Yes, oh, you couldn’t work wi’ ‘em wet.

WRM: Couldn’t yer?

NS: That was what ‘elped sarvin’ up sometimes, if you couldn’t get any dry sheep in. Ol’ Willie Wallbank he never did sarve, he was allus mekkin sarve or gettin’ t’sheep in ready for t’sarvin’. Tryin’ to catch ‘em dry.

WRM: Now you actually had it in this building. You’d hire some men, would you?

NS: Yes.

WRM: Where did you get your men from?

NS: Well, there were some old men used to go round. One they called ‘Ditherun’. William Atkinson was his name. And all he got for t’job was a pair o’ fustian trousers an’ a new shirt, an’ that’s what ‘e would get for sarvin’ time. An’ there was another they called ‘Opplefrog’, ‘e was Alf Leek. An’ another called ‘Moley’, ‘cos he went mole-catchin’ in t’summer. An’ there was William Thornborough, an’ then there was a little fella from Low Bentham.

WRM: Where did these others come from?

NS: Well... ooh, an’ there was Jeremiah Wallbank. Well, they didn’t come from anywhere, they just roamed t’country, gettin’ a bit of a job ‘ere an’ there. But they would allus turn up at sarvin’ time.

WRM: And who was this little chap from Low Bentham? [Pause] Oh, it doesn’t matter.

NS: I’ll get it in a bit. An’ ’e used to go to Thomas Airton’s a bit sometimes to ‘elp with farmwork, and Billy Atkinson. And Thomas Airton could work the Lord out of ‘im because he was always praisin’ ‘im. Like when at milkin’ time at night, Airton would walk backwards an’ forwards up an’ down the shippon group, ‘My Billy, my Billy,’ he said, ‘You can milk: you are a good milker.’ ‘e near killed isself to milk. An’ then ‘e went round the three outbarns and ‘e ‘ad news to be out watchin’ for ‘im, ‘Come on inside, come in’t back’. An’ then they used to shout, ‘Well done, Billy; well done, Billy.’ An’ Billy was near killin’ isself, he was a bit simple, runnin’ all t’way t’next barn.

WRM: When it came to sarving time then, it went on more or less round the clock did it?

NS: Sarvin’ time? No, it went on about a month.

WRM: Yeah. But you worked into the night did you?

NS: Oh yes. They would start in good time in t’mornin’ an’ they would work while ten o’clock at night. If they ‘ad a lot in they were tryin’ to get them done. They didn’t stop, an’ they just ‘ad lamps hangin’ up wi’ shades on.

WRM: What time in the morning would they start then?

NS: Oh, they wouldn’t start before about eight or nine o’clock in t’mornin’. Get some breakfast an’ then start.

WRM: Did they use stocks?

NS: Yes, oh yes, you ‘ad ‘em on stocks. An’ then you ‘ad yer sarvin’ dish an’ a leg on an’ it would fit into a hole in t’stock. Then you just... some what they call swiped it, and they’d come right up like that. Another man was a roller. He’d put it on an’ then he’d [demonstrates action]: that was rollin’ it.

WRM: So you either swiped it…

NS: Or rolled it.

WRM: Now if you swiped it you brought your finger right down?

NS: Right down in one go.

WRM: Yeah, and if you rolled it you did it with a bit of a twirl?

NS: Yes, and you did it about four times, the length of a sheep.

WRM: And how did you shed your wool then if you were rolling it?

NS: Well, you shed yer wool first.

WRM: Ah yes, but can you roll it on?

NS: Yer see, you got yer sheddin’, an’ then [demonstrates action].

WRM: Oh, I see.

NS: An’ then yer started nex’ sheddin’.

WRM: What did the sheep do?

NS: Well, they ‘ad to be still.

WRM: Did they tie their legs?

NS: We used to tie their legs, an’ then when we were doin’ right down middle o’ t’back we put their legs through t’burrs o’ t’stock. They were sat in t’stock then.

WRM: Ah. Did they struggle a bit?

NS: Yes, sometimes they did. Bill Wallbank would never do the sarvin’ would he? No, he was about ten years younger than me.

WRM: And how long did it take you to do a sheep?

NS: An hour. You’d to work ‘ard for an hour. Do one in the hour.

WRM: It’d be a smelly business, wouldn’t it, in a confined space?

NS: It was. I’ve seen, when I was workin’ at it all day for days on end, that it used to mek you fair sick at night with the smell o’ grease an’ t’tar. It was t’tar I think that did yer more than grease.

WRM: Did the Wallbanks trade a bit in tar?

NS: No, this Sedgwick from Sedbergh was the man that came round an’ sold grease an’ tar.

WRM: And then you let the sheep go up on the fell?

NS: Yes.

WRM: What was this sarving supposed to do?

NS: Well, it was to shed the water off, yer see. The grease shed the water off, an’ the tar did, an’ the tar was to kill the lice. An’ as soon as you’d finished sarvin’ then you marked ‘em, and then you knew which were sarved and which weren’t.

WRM: Is that why you wash sheep?

NS: Yes, it was one thing, to get a lot of the grease and stuff out before they were clipped. And now they don’t wash ‘em. There isn’t the same need now.

WRM: Was it pretty hard work?

NS: Ee, I don’t know, but you’d to keep at it. You’d to keep at it an’ do a sheep in an hour.

WRM: And your hands got all black, did they?

NS: Yes. That hand especially.

WRM: The right hand?

NS: The right hand. Yer see it was that finger that was scalloping the sarve and fetchin’ it up an’ that was it that was gettin’ all the dye. Then when we went to the dances the women were lookin’ at yer with nasty ‘ands.

WRM: It wouldn’t come off though would it?

NS: It wore off in a few weeks. As soon as sarvin’ time were done it started wearin’ off.

WRM: What kind of sheep were you sarving?

NS: They were ‘orned sheep, Dalesbred mostly.

WRM: Were they all Dalesbred then?

NS: No, they were more country-bred then, and then they got to breeding ‘em rather different an’ they called ‘em Dalesbred. Near up Sedbergh they’re all roughs.

WRM: That’s it.

NS: Up Kirkby Stephen they’re all Swaledales.

WRM: Did you used to have a bit of fun at sarvin’ time?

NS: Oh, yes.

WRM: Or was it a grim sort of job?

NS: No, there was allus plenty o’ fun goin’ on, an’ tellin’ tales. We allus liked to ‘ave somebody who was a good ‘and at tellin’ tales.

WRM: What sort of tales did they tell?

NS: Some good ‘uns, some bad ‘uns, there were all sorts.

WRM: And that finished when, tupping time?

NS: Yes, just into November.

WRM: And where did you get your tups from?

NS: Well, we used to go to Kirkby Stephen sometimes for tups.

WRM: How would you get there?

NS: On the train. You’d be surprised. We went to Clapham station, walked to Clapham station, got on t’train to Gigglewick, walked to Settle and then on t’train from Settle. Wa’n’t it a job gettin’ anywhere in them days?

WRM: Easier to walk to t’other end of Kirkby Stephen, and it’s downhill.

NS: Yes, I say, what a job gettin’ anywhere in them days.

WRM: And how did you get your tup back?

NS: We ‘ad to get ‘em on t’train. We’d ‘ave a halter and lead ‘em back and get ‘em on t’train.

WRM: Had you got to sit with them in a…?

NS: No, you could put them into a guards van, tie ‘em up.

WRM: Were there a lot of people doing it?

NS: Ooh, plenty o’ folks doin’ it.

WRM: And ‘ow would they get the tups in?

NS: Eh, there was ever so many extra vans put on at a time like that; they knew what was comin’.

WRM: And then when you got your tup off at Settle...?

NS: You had it to walk to Giggleswick.

WRM: You’d got to walk your tup?

NS: To Giggleswick, then get on t’train again to Clapham, and then walk it up.

WRM: Were you leading it on a…?

NS: Leading it. They would lead by the time you’d got ‘em that far.

WRM: [Laughs] What sort of tups were they, Swaledale?

NS: A lot were Swaledale.

WRM: Or blacks, were they?

NS: You could lead ‘em best if you ‘ad a rope round their ‘orns, another round t’back of their front legs and then took ‘old o’ that. Just seized up there it was like a handle. They would lead best that way.

WRM: Did people sometimes lose them?

NS: Aye, there’s ones got lost, fellas gone on spree an’ forgot what they’d done.

WRM: [Laughs] What, were they chasin’ round t’Parish after tups?

NS: Lookin’ for ‘em.

WRM: I don’t suppose the neighbours’d be very pleased, would they?

NS: No.

WRM: Having a tup loose at tuppin’ time?

NS: Not at that time o’ year.

WRM: Did it used to make bad neighbours tupping time?

NS: It did if you didn’t look after your tups. If you’d one breed o’ sheep and yer let ‘em get out among somebody else’s sheep an’ they were another breed, well, it wasn’t what they wanted, they weren’t wantin’ to breed them.

WRM: Because there’s also the danger that the lambs would be born a bit early.

NS: Yes. Yer didn’t want the lambs so soon on fell faces.

WRM: What was lambing time like then? It must have been pretty awful because there was no medicine, was there?

NS: No, there wasn’t, only bits o’ remedies that folk made themselves. This ‘moss illness’ was a terrible complaint: calcium deficiency. An’ there was a lot of sheep lost, an’ whereas now if yer can catch ‘em yer can give ‘em an injection in an hour they’re on their feet again.

WRM: What is this moss crop?

NS: It’s calcium deficiency. Oh, moss crop? It’s a little yeller flower about that long, and after the flower dies down it comes wi’ those white things on t’bent.

WRM: Oh, cotton grass?

NS: Cotton grass, yes.

WRM: And they like it at the yellow stage, do they?

NS: Sheep like it when it’s yellow.

WRM: When it’s just a couple of inches high?

NS: Yes, they run from one to another, and they’re snappin’ it off.

WRM: Do they?

NS: They like it.

WRM: Well, why does it give them a calcium deficiency?

NS: No, that doesn’t, it’s movin’ from one pasture to another. Say a pasture ‘as ‘ad nothin’ in for a bit, an’ then yer move sheep into that, that’ll upset their calcium job.

WRM: Ah. And the moss crop used to be a great early crop, didn’t it?

NS: Yes, hogs like it.

WRM: Yes, and it would be good for them because…

NS: Yes, they liked that.

WRM: Did it come up about February?

NS: No, it’d be March before it was comin’.

WRM: Yes, but everything would be a bit short then, wouldn’t it?

NS: There wasn’t much grass of any sort.

WRM: Was it a bit of a struggle at lambing time though?

NS: There wasn’t much milk many-a-time, and yer had to bottle some. And we bottled ‘em wi’ cows’ milk, whereas cows’ milk doesn’t do right well for lambs. Now, yer see, they ‘ave this, er, baby’s milk.

WRM: Oh, yes. Is cows’ milk not nutritious enough?

NS: No, it in’t good enough.

WRM: And did people put stuff in, glucose?

NS: Yes, they put stuff in. What was that...? OSTI milk! Like baby milk. That does well for lambs, but it’s very dear. But you can get some stuff what they call lamb milk now. No, folks used to think that sheep’s milk wasn’t as good as cow’s milk, but it’s far richer. Yes, it’s far richer.

WRM: It would be a heart-breaking job because you’d pick up a lot of dead lambs in those days, wouldn’t you?

NS: Aye, there was plenty o’ lambs lost. The worst there was ever I know, I was in Derby, I was out of it. An’ me father an’ me sister they lambed sixty and they reared nineteen lambs.

WRM: Why was that?

NS: 1917: it was a terrible bad winter. Sheep were poor and snowed over for weeks an’ weeks. Me sister reared twelve on t’bottle and seven on t’sheep and me father said that they were that poor, he said they lambed ‘em and he said they got onto their feet, did sheep, and looked back and said ‘Baa’ twice and then staggered away? an’ that’s all they wanted wi’ ‘em. Not like we’ve a hog this mornin’ lambed, an’ it’s fussin’ it up somethin’ awful. We’ve only five an’ the last lambed this mornin’.

WRM: Did they used to sometimes plunge a lamb into hot water?

NS: Yes, and I’ll tell yer what they did with them sometimes: the horse midden, yer know, you’ve seen ‘em steamin’, an’ me father used to dig a hole in that if a lamb was starved and put it in to’t horse midden, an’ it warmed it up. An’ there’s nowt like a drop o’ brandy for a starved lamb. Well, we’d one this time, a shieling, she lambed three. One was dead and one was in a poor way, an’ so Anthony got some brandy. He put it in t’oven an’ he got some brandy an’ give it an’ it went to sleep; never a movement for an hour or so then it started wakin’ up and kickin’ about an’ it was on its feet, it’s alright now.

WRM: Mrs Casson let me photograph a big earthenware jar and there was a little wooden tap device and what looked like a kind of little cage, and she said it was all to do with home brewing.

NS: Yes?

WRM: Now how did all that work?

NS: I can’t tell you, but Will Wallbank... Well, ‘is sister brewed t’beer, an’ he brewed whisky. An’ ‘e ‘ad a whisky kettle, an’ ‘e used to put it on t’fire an’ he ‘ad wheat an’ water an’ sugar. I don’t know how many things ‘e ‘ad in it. And it steamed out o’ this kep spout an’ then ‘e ‘ad a pot underneath an’ it dropped into it. An’ that was ‘ow ‘e got ‘is whisky. It’s a wonder Bill can’t tell yer something about that.

WRM: He probably can, yeah. You didn’t do any home brewing at your farm?

NS: No, we never did; only a bit of herb beer or something like that. But Thomasina Wallbank, Bill Wallbank’s Aunt, she always brewed for hay time. Her father used to bring ‘er hops from Lancaster, an’ she brewed.

WRM: Was it pretty potent stuff?

NS: No, my father used to say it was dishwashin’ stuff. [Laughs] He didn’t like it.

WRM: Didn’t he? No. The other thing she let me photograph was oatcake stuff. There’s oatcake and riddle bread and various things, but she showed me a kind of little wooden spade, a thin spade, which she said they used to scoop the thing off the back stone with.

NS: An’ there’s one hangin’ in t’back kitchen ‘ere.

WRM: Is there?

NS: Aye. That was to… An’ then I’ve a scraper in a drawer in t’pantry.

WRM: How did it all work?

NS: Well, you used to mix this oatmeal an’ water ‘til it was like a nice rise, an’ they put a bit of barm in it.

WRM: That was yeast?

NS: Yeast. And then they set it by the fire to warm, and the back stone; we had a back stone, a long, stone slab, iron slab, about this length. An’ it ‘ad a hole on where we put the fire under, and we just used to shove a lot o’ little sticks an’ stuff under an’ made a sharp flush. Then we’d a measure full and turned that up the back stone, an’ then we got the scraper and drew it up an’ that evened it out. Same thing [unclear 00:19:17] and then wi’ the other thing what we ‘ad for turnin’ it, we swiped it under an’ then turned it. I’ll fetch it you from that back kitchen. It’s what my wife used to bake bread with.

WRM: Did she?

NS: It’s quite a find, isn’t it?

WRM: No, it’s marvellous. So that was called a spittle?

NS: That’s a spittle.

WRM: Now this old cake was the long stuff like [unclear 00:19:48]?

NS: Yes, we hung it up on the rack to dry, and I used to like it wi’ a pound o’ butter in June on a plate an’ a knife; an’ me cake, spreadin’ it, an’ it was a good supper. An’ then there was a clap bread, they made that in round cakes, an’ that was whiter, they put some bit o’ flour in that.

WRM: And how did they bake that, on a back stone?

NS: They baked it in the oven.

WRM: Did there used to be people coming round selling oatcake?

NS: Yes. Old Mrs Taylor at Moss House, where George Wallbank is now, she went to Bentham every Wednesday, year in, year out, selling clap bread and riddle bread.

WRM: Oh.

NS: An’ there was a man from Newby, ol’ Herb Tennant, he used to sell it; an’ he struck t’spree one day. He had a big iron trap, an’ he’d a lot of it he hadn’t got sold, an’ he’d got his feet into it an’ paddled it about, such a mess, an’ he called at Peter Green’s at Chapel House at Newby and Peter cleared it all out for t’pigs for ‘im. [Laughs] Because that’s what ‘appened when they got on t’spree.

WRM: Did he make it himself?

NS: Yes, he made it himself. Herbert Tennant.

WRM: Oh gosh. What else did they make on the farms in those days?

NS: We ‘ad riddle bread and clap bread. [Pause] I can’t just think. I can think o’ things after.

WRM: I know, you’ve done very, very well. Thanks very much.

[Interruption in tape. The next few recollections are short and prompted by looking at photographs.]

WRM: Was John close?

NS: There was always John and Young John.

WRM: And which farm were they at?

NS: Dovenanter.

WRM: And what happened to their ‘entires’?

NS: Well, it died of belly ache, inflammation, did the big one. The ol’ man travelled that, an’ then they give up travellin’ after.

WRM: And the other one?

NS: He ‘ad it castrated.

WRM: Why was that?

NS: I don’ know, ‘e seemed to ‘ave no interest in t’job after he’d lost one.

WRM: What kind of horses were they?

NS: One was a Shire, the other was what we call a ‘Farmer’s Handy’, a work horse.

WRM: What was the one that got belly ache?

NS: The big Shire.

WRM: Ah yes. And they used to take it round to t’farms, did they?

NS: Yes, they went to Sedbergh on a Tuesday, Bentham on a Wednesday, Kirkby on a Thursday. Off every day from spring o’ t’year.

WRM: And they used to walk it, did they?

NS: Yes, they ‘ad to walk.

WRM: He wouldn’t have much energy when he got there, would he?

NS: [Laughs] There was no other way o’ gettin’ there.

WRM: You couldn’t get it in t’guards van, could you?

NS: No.

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: This is your father rolling a fleece of wool?

NS: Yeah, wrappin’ it up.

WRM: And your youngest sister.

NS: Yes.

WRM: And what was she called?

NS: Marion.

WRM: And the pig.

NS: Yes.

WRM: What was the pig doing?

NS: I don’t know what the pig landed there for.

WRM: Ah.

[Interruption in tape]

NS: Aye, I were wantin’ to look in.

WRM: You were looking into a chicken coop?

NS: To see what I’ve got hatched.

WRM: Yeah. They don’t have coops so much now, do they?

NS: No, no, not nowadays.

WRM: What was the coop for?

NS: For the old hen and the chickens to be in.

WRM: Yeah.

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: So that’s Dick Wallbank and his wife?

NS: Yes.

WRM: What was his wife called?

NS: Barbara.

WRM: And their family.

NS: Yes.

WRM: There were four girls and two sons.

NS: There was Louisa and Florrie, and Lily, and Annabelle, and Bob, Dick and Jimmy. They’re all dead now.

WRM: Where did they farm?

NS: At Wood Gill.

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: You sent heifers to summer at Neals Ing?

NS: Well, they would keep ‘em twenty weeks for twenty five shillings. Now then, you can’t do much now can yer?

WRM: This was just to summer ‘em, was it?

NS: Jus’ to summer ‘em. To let wer own grass get better.

WRM: And what time of year did you send ‘em off?

NS: They went about 12th May.

WRM: And did you drive them there?

NS: Yes, aye, I’ve driven them to Neals Ing from up Keasden.

WRM: Have you? Which way did you go, through Helwith Bridge?

NS: We went through Austwick.

WRM: And Helwith Bridge?

NS: Um-m.

WRM: Did you go up Green Lane from Helwith Bridge?

NS: I don’t just remember now where it was, but I remember I was goin’ with them.

WRM: When did you bring them back?

NS: In October.

WRM: Ah. They would be twice as big then, would they?

NS: Aye, they’d grown, because they’d plenty of room there at Neals Ing.

WRM: Yes. It was a nice change of ground too, wasn’t it?

NS: It was a change for ‘em.

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: Yes. This entire business, when was the big season then? Spring, of course.

NS: From March to July.

WRM: Ah yes. And they’d be out on the road all the time, would they?

NS: No, they didn’t go out at t’weekend.

WRM: That’s when the horse recuperated, was it?

NS: [Laughs] Yes.

WRM: Aye. Did they take them down to the market town and serve horses there?

NS: Yes. They used to go behind the auction at Bentham.

WRM: Aye? What, a farmer would just come up and say, ‘Have you got a horse?’?

NS: Well, they stood at a certain pub every week, an’ then the folks that as knew went to that pub at that time.

WRM: And they had the mare with them?

NS: Yes, they took the mare.

WRM: Then they used to go round the back, did they?

NS: Yes.

WRM: What’s this one here with the haymaking?

NS: We was actin’ daft. That’s me in the shafts.

WRM: Yeah.

NS: That’s me sister loading, and there’s somebody else sittin’ on the cart, somebody else walkin’ it, and somebody sittin’ in the hay there, an’ another lad ‘ere, jus’ foolin’ about.

WRM: And where was that taken?

NS: That’s been taken at Bracken Garth.

WRM: Oh? What do you remember about the start of the First World War, was there a lot of patriotism?

NS: Yes, I remember... [Pause]. Well, I’ll tell you what ol’ Will Wallbank said. When war broke out somebody said to him, ‘What do thee think about this war?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘It’s nowt.’ He said, ‘War’s a bit of rough, it’ll be over in a few days.’ And by gum, he was wrong.

WRM: Aye. Did it take a lot of lads from Keasden?

NS: They did that. Have you ever looked on the stone in Keasden churchyard? Just as you go in at the gate at the right hand side, those are the names of those who were killed an’ the names of those that served.

WRM: So every house at Keasden would lose somebody?

NS: Well, Mrs Casson lost two brothers, and Bill Wallbank’s mother lost two brothers, and there’s Thurston Frankland was another, and Dick Wallbank, Bill Wallbank’s cousin was another. Poor Dick.

WRM: And how did the messages come through, did the postman bring the telegrams?

NS: Well, there were generally a card. Bill Wallbank’s cousin Dick, when war broke out he was nineteen. He said, ‘If there’s gonna be summat doin’, I want to be there.’ An’ he joined up and he was killed at the landin’ at the Dardanelles. [Unclear 00:28:26] Well, it was ridiculous to ever land there because it was a bare beach an’ where men ‘ad to get off they had no cover of any sort, an’ Turks were waitin’ for ‘em. Oh, we done some daft things.

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: These beef lost, were there any up Keasden?

NS: There’d be one at Keasden Head, an’ there was that at Hammonhead. Is that on t’go yet?

WRM: Yes.

NS: Now it in’t done away with.

WRM: Yeah. How did they work?

NS: Well, they went up in’t t’bedroom above, an’ they hung beef up there to dry. Yer see, heat from t’fire dried it. An’ yer weren’t tekin so much room up downstairs, but you were tekin a piece out o’ t’bedroom.

WRM: Do you remember it being used?

NS: Yes, I can remember ‘em bein’ used.

WRM: So you put the beef in from upstairs did you, and dropped it in?

NS: Yes, a door from in at side an’ hung it from the beam. An’ bacon, they did t’same. I can remember when every farm ‘ad a pig hangin’ up. At Keasden Head they butchered a fat heifer every back end, and hung that up, and two or three what we call ‘ol’ wethers’. They didn’t kill them while they were three or four years. An’ then they’d got some size.

WRM: Who did the killing?

NS: Me father used to kill for ‘em since I can remember, and there were allus two pigs, but they didn’t go to t’butchers.

WRM: What size of a family did they have?

NS: Well, it wasn’t just t’size o’ family, there was allus a lot of these hangin’ on fellas called, an’ they allus made ‘em somethin’ to eat. There was ol’ chaps as went round doin’ bits of jobs.

WRM: That was the Wallbank family, was it?

NS: That was the Wallbank family, yes. And Will Wallbank said they’d never locked t’door in his lifetime, and he said he never only once got up and found a chap sittin’ by t’fire. A tramp fella ‘ad come in an’ stoked t’fire up and was sittin’ by fire when they got up in t’mornin’.

WRM: That happened most times, did it?

NS: It’s only once, as ever it ‘appened, ‘e said. Whereas now, yer see, you daren’t leave doors open now.

WRM: It’s a nice farm is Keasden Head. I went up for the first time a little while ago.

NS: Some Masons are there now.

WRM: Yeah.

NS: Everybody was welcome in Wallbank’s days. Whoever called, Will Wallbank allus said, ‘Thomasina will mek yer somethin’ to eat.’ That’s how it was.

WRM: Is where the grouse shooters used to meet?

NS: Yes.

WRM: How did they get up before the First World War?

NS: Charlie Coates used to tek ‘em up with the wagonette.

WRM: And then they’d come down in the evening, would they?

NS: Then they came down. They used to walk out to the road at night, and then they met them and took them.

WRM: Where did they stay?

NS: ‘The Flying Horseshoe’. Ooh, it was a great place was ‘The Flying Horseshoe’ then, for the shooters stoppin’. Some shooters as went over to Bowland, over Bowland Knotts, they always stayed at ‘The Flying Horseshoe’. Now, yer see that shoot over there, well, all shoots are about done, aren’t they? There hardly is any grouse.

WRM: Why is that?

NS: I don’t know. Well, I do know, but yer haven’t to say.

WRM: No.

NS: There’s too many...

[Interruption in tape]

WRM: Jonty Carr?

NS: Jonty Carr, then Tom Pritchard, then Tom Brennan.

WRM: Where did the gamekeeper live?

NS: Near the guidepost at that little cottage. Look.

WRM: Near Keasden Church?

NS: Yes.

WRM: Is that where Len Surr used to live?

NS: Yes, that’s it.

WRM: Ah, that was the keeper’s cottage?

NS: That was the gamekeeper’s cottage. These were dog kennels at this end.

WRM: What did they used to pay him?

NS: The keeper?

WRM: Yes.

NS: He ‘ad about a pound a week.

WRM: Did he?

NS: Yes.

WRM: What perks did he have? A bit of peat?

NS: Aye, ‘e could get a bit o’ peat. But he wouldn’t ‘ave many perks because there wasn’t much they could get. Any milk they wanted... well, Tom Pritchard… well, Tom Brennan did as well, always kept a cow. They had a little field an’ they kept a cow, an’ they ‘ad their own bit o’ butter.

WRM: And then they had to walk from there up onto t’moor had they?

NS: Yes, they ‘ad to walk. Everythin’ in them days you had to walk. There was no gettin’ t’car out, because car didn’t exist.

WRM: Did you ever go over to that big wool clipping day at Lamb Hill?

NS: No, I’ve been over at [unclear 00:33:50 – Cappa?].

WRM: Yeah. Because they were really big ones, weren’t they?

NS: Yes, Mrs Robinson at Cappa, she was a… now what would yer call ‘er? She came from [unclear 00:34:04 – Comminholme?] down by t’beck side. An’ now Comminholme’s done away with, it’s gone under t’water.

WRM: The thing about Bowland was, there were big farms were there?

NS: Yes.

WRM: They weren’t big farms at Keasden, were they, by and large?

NS: Only Keasden Head.

WRM: Did they used to have a big clipping day there?

NS: Yes.

WRM: That was the biggest was it?

NS: That was the biggest there was.

WRM: And how many sheep were they doing a day?

NS: Just over a thousand.

WRM: And these roamed on Burn Moor did they?

NS: Yeah, they were on Burn Moor.

WRM: How many men would there be clipping there?

NS: I‘ve seen up to twenty two clippin’.

WRM: My gosh.

NS: Yes, an’ one man, ‘e was a poor clipper, ‘e was always cuttin’ them, so I remember Will Wallbank gettin’ ‘im to go an’ wrap wool, cos ‘e didn’t want ‘im clippin’. I was over seventy when I clipped all day at Kingsdale Head for Ted Batty.

WRM: All the neighbours used to come in, did they?

NS: Oh yes, the neighbours came in.

WRM: Was there a particular day?

NS: Well, Keasden Head used to like it to be about the 26th June. That was like their clippin’ day. An’ if there were any wouldn’t clip, you’d to turn them off, an’ then they went back and let ‘em stop another week. It’s surprisin’ how they’d rise in a week. [Pause]

WRM: Ee, well, I hope I haven’t worn you out?

NS: No, I wanted Anthony to come an’ mek us some tea.

WRM: Oh, don’t bother about that.

[Interruption in tape]

NS: Well, I remember Jim Batty goin’ to Bentham with a hundred lambs.

WRM: This is the thirties?

NS: Yes. An’ ‘e sold ‘em for ‘alf a crown each. An’ ‘e said, ‘I’d twelve pound ten,’ an’ ‘e said, ‘I’d commission to pay’. But he said, ‘I didn’t want ‘em.’ So he set out to sell ‘em but ‘e said, ‘Our Ted bet that’, that’s ‘im who was at Kingsdale Head, ‘And ‘e took some and they only made a shilling each.’ But Jim said, ‘If I’d gone on another year I’d o’ bin bankrupt.’ But he said things just started to mend a bit.

WRM: What was the condition from the money point of view before the First World War? Was there much spare money?

NS: No, there wasn’t.

WRM: I mean, did you barter a lot and grow your own stuff?

NS: They bartered a lot. No, I remember an’ ol’ man, ‘e used to come round dealin’. He lived at Clapham Woods where that murder was, and ‘e used to ask if we ‘ad anythin’ to sell, an’ if he bought anythin’ then he’d allus dig in t’pocket to dig ‘is purse out an’ unrolled it then counted sovereigns out. No cheque books; no, no cheque books, there were sovereigns. [Pause] Let’s have the light on.

[Interruption in tape]

NS: She’d have to shop at Rantree.

WRM: What, to t’shops?

NS: Yes, they ‘ad a grocery shop and a butcher’s shop. When he’d killed too many sheep, yer know, there was no fridge, so there was no, any means of keepin’ meat. [Pause] He killed far too much mutton one time, an’ ‘e was hookin’ legs of mutton thruppence a pound.

WRM: Good heavens. [Pause] Keasden was quite a separate community, was it?

NS: It was quite a busy, little place. Old Mrs Taylor kept a shop at Moss House, an’ then [unclear 00:38:33] kept a shop at Rantree.

WRM: What was Mrs Taylor like?

NS: She ‘ad a family of twelve, an’ when she got married she was nineteen an’ she said, ‘I was such a poor, delicate lass they ‘ad to dress me for t’weddin’.’ She said, ‘I was that weak an’ that miserable’. An’ she said, ‘I had a family o’ twelve and reared ‘em, every one.’

WRM: What was her husband called?

NS: Thomas Taylor. An’ she said, ‘Ee,’ she said, ‘I’ve seen time when I was that thrang wi’ all them kids I hadn’t time to lash me hair.’ Yer’ll not hear many folks say that now.

WRM: No. She sounds quite a nice little body.

NS: And she came on to me mother’s one day. She’d sent two lads on to play. She said, ‘I sent them lads on yester’ til late.’ She said, ‘Did they do any mischief? Because if they did I’ll straighten ‘em.’ But they didn’t do, they were well behaved lads. They knew they ‘ad to be.

WRM: Where was Moss House?

NS: George Wallbank lives there now.

WRM: Whereabouts is it?

NS: Not far from Bill’s.

WRM: What sort of a farm was that?

NS: Well, it’s about fifty acres. But George has many farms round ‘ere, together. He’s Moss House, there’s Little Rantree, there’s Big Rantree, an’ there’s High Birks.


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