Some Home thoughts from Afar. By Brian Edge.
In the 1930’s drinking fountains could be found along Biggar Bank and at Sandy Gap. These also catered for dogs in an overflow trough at the base. I think there are still the remains of some of these about.
One indelible feature in my memory of all my journeys on a Corporation Bus to Biggar Bank was the plain wooden cross on a steep grassy bank in the cemetery on which was the name Mona. Does anyone know who Mona was?
The colour of the indicator blinds on the BCT buses in the 1940s and 1950’s were as follows. The Colours were useful in identifying your bus in the distance. There were lots of buses around at that time. A super bus service with lovely clean vehicles inside and out.
Abbey to Biggar Bank and Biggar Bank to Abbey - Green
Hawcoat to West Shore and West Shore to Hawcoat – Red
Buses to and from North Scale - White.
The bank between what were the Walney Baths and Sandy Gap was a Corporation Tip during the Second World War.
The World War Two smoke screen equipment – large metal cylinders - was located at Sandy Gap. Quite near to the Fun Fair.
I remember singing this, to the tune of “Galway Bay,” at a Holker Old Boys Concert, at their club which was at St James School in Bath Street.
If you ever go across the Bridge to Walney,
then maybe at the closing of your day,
You will see the moon shining over Biggar
and see the sun go down on Earnse Bay
Between 1948 and 1951 I used to work at Barrow Central Railway Station and every Friday night a very dark tanned man from North Scale arrived on a rusty old bike loaded with two one hundredweight sacks of seaweed that he had collected on Walney Island during the week. The sacks were wet and the contents smelly. These were consigned to an address in Swansea to a company by the name of Roach where they were to be processed into a variety of bi products including Laver Bread as I was informed. I cannot recall the man by name but he made his living that way. Perhaps I could still find out (Caretakers note: Ambrose Turner maybe?)
When the ferry was working horse drawn coaches stood in a line along the Promenade plying for hire as passengers came off the ferry. They stood on the other side of the road opposite the sandstone ferry ramp. The wall on the other side of the road is in sandstone and if one looks carefully and uses a little imagination one can discern what was a doorway. This was a small urinal for use of the coach drivers. It’s History!!!
My Father worked for a company called Robert Roberts at 80, Duke Street Barrow. They were Grocers and Tea & Coffee Merchants. This was soon after the beginning of World War 1, c. 1915. His job was to deliver groceries to Walney Island including North Scale by means of a handcart. He used to do at least four trips there and back a day. In advertising their wares his firm stated “delivery free – distance no object!” This involved him trundling his barrow across Walney Bridge many times during the day and when he had room it was not unusual for him to earn an extra halfpenny by ferrying a lad over the bridge under the sheet of his barrow and sharing the toll on reaching the other side.
The old fortifications at the top of Ocean Road had a castellated appearance. Soldiers being able to fire their guns through the gaps. It stood about four feet high above the level of the pavement and was behind a post and wire fence. It was made up with shingle mixed with concrete and had a frontage looking out to sea of about 15 to 20 yards. How far back it went I could not say, as I was never allowed to investigate. I should be especially pleased to hear if any of you come up with anything about this.
A bit further down the road in the direction of Biggar, and just behind the Pavilion was a wooden hut (perhaps a WW1 Army Hut). It was a tearoom run by a lady called Mrs. Helling. We often had a cup of tea there.
One thing we often talked about was Barrovian's wrongly referring to Walney as
'WANLEY'. I wonder whether this still goes on? Of course there is the possibility that it was once called that in days gone by. However that does not really follow as nearly all the population descended on the town from all over the place in the mid-19th Century so they would hardly have been able to pick up such a pronunciation. Or could they?
Arthur Bluck was a motor Carman on British Railways in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. His father once drove Coppernob (the Furness Railway Loco No 5). Arthur’s job was to deliver passenger parcels to Old Barrow and Walney Island. Peggy Swarbrick at the lighthouse joined a club – Great Universal Stores or Kays of Worcester I can’t remember which? When a parcel arrived Arthur used to look at it, frown, raise his eyes to the skies, and put it aside saying - I’ll take that tomorrow! He often put the delivery off for a number of days but one could almost guarantee that when he eventually put the parcel on his van for delivery another would arrive by the next train! We used to wait to see his reaction when he discovered another had arrived! His remarks being unprintable!
In the thick of the war c1941 we got an opportunity to go to the gullery. It was normally not possible to go down there at that time but a member of the family who worked for the Admiralty managed to get a special permit. I would only be nine years old the time. I remember boarding a small boat from one of the wooden piers at Walney bridge. Where we landed I cant say but I remembered that I had never seen so many birds in all my life, one had to be careful not to stand on a nest. I remember going up the lighthouse and the mechanism of the light must have been clockwork and lighthouse keeper had everybody giving the handle a number of turns. I imagine that he did this to save himself a tedious job. Everybody in the party thought it was great turning the handle!
Thousands of Barrovian's must have had this experience. It is a scorching hot
day just the day for a swim. Excitedly one collected his or her cossies, rolled
them in a towel, got a few sandwiches and caught the first double decker bus to
Biggar Bank. By golly, it was hot on the top deck, all the windows wide open
and everyone was sweltered with the heat. At the bus arrived at the bank all
the passenger eagerly alighted but the moment one stepped off the bus any
thought of a pleasant swim immediately disappeared as there was a cold wind and
the sea was about half a mile out!
Sitting on Walney one day I laid on the shore within a big semicircle of cobbles as everyone used to do in an effort to get out of the wind. I looked south and to my amazement could see land. I eventually established that this must have been the Lleyn peninsula in North Wales. I imagine that this sighting must be even rarer than seeing the hills of Galloway to the North.
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