NORTH SCALE - Walney Island

It is a little difficult to discuss North Scale today unless you grasp the fact that North-Scale is not merely the village which remains standing at the north of the island to this day, but who's actual boundaries once started approximately at Carr Lane (The road that joins Ocean Road to Biggar Village) and along the line of what now is Ocean Road, and which incorporates such estates as north & south Vickerstown, Rainey Park and West Shore etc. up to the most northern point of the island...

North Scale was once refered to as 'sk?li' meaning temporary huts or similar accommodation and is today replaced by its modern equivalent; 'Scale'. The word 'sk?li' is derived from  an old Scandinavian word, with 'North' being added simply to differentiate from other areas of 'Scale', or again simply to refer to the north of the island. 

Although Walney was inhabited and cultivated during the time of the Domesday Book (Named Houganai) North Scale didn't appear by name until 1247 as a grange belonging to Furness Abbey. Toward the end of the 13th century each grange was broken up into units. North Scale contained: Four burgages (farm holdings) each with four tenants, the arable land being divided into 21 common fields with no hedges.

Each of the 21 fields was sub-divided into 48 narrow strips (dales) with each tenant having 3 dales in each field. The meadow area was only small by comparison and is today partly covered by Vickerstown park, the land on the west side of the island was utilised for common pasture land for both cattle and horses, no sheep being on the island at that time. Sheep were only introduced by Furness Abbey Monks late in the 15th century when a couple of the islands tenants surrendered their holdings during a severe depression. Field names on North Scale adopted such names as Low Nether Field, Wheat Riggs, Croft Field etc.

Under instruction from Furness Abbey a cottage for the Sheppard was erected on land that became known as 'Idle Cote' and rent charged at ?1 per annum, quite expensive when you consider that the whole annual rent for North Scale was set at ?11. 3s 8d.

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The management of North Scale was executed in a way that was adopted by other Furness areas of the time. four men were employed as 'pain-lookers', one from each farm holding, of which one of them would be elected as 'Grave' (The head man) annually each in turn. It was the Grave's responsibility to enter the villages recordings in to the Town Book, other task's that he would perform would include the paid servant (Herd) to look after and care for the village bull.

By 1842 only nine farms remained at North Scale, with names such as the 'Nook', the 'Poplars' and 'North Scale Hall', many of them simply converted into dwelling houses. Little had changed until 1899 when the construction of Vickerstown began, in spite of which the original village of North Scale remains much the same today as it did then.

Other 'notable' buildings within the village are / were the Crown Hotel and the Bankfield Hotel, which used to be at the foot of Teasdale Road. At the other (top) end of Teasdale Road was the chapel, a 'House of Prayer' which opened it's doors for the first time in 1881 by the instruction of the 'Methodist new conexion'. The chapel remained on the site until c1980 when it was demolished to make way for a bungalow, incidentally keeping the name of 'Chapel Site'.

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The picture above shows the 'Old North Scale Cobbler Shop' as it was nearing the end of it's life as a building. The picture to the right shows the same site as it appears today with the right wall of the building clearly visible and still standing. If not for the problems incurred by the short-sightedness of companies and individuals who wantonly remove certain aspects in the name of progress, it is nice to see some of the things that still lay around Walney to this day, such as the Lime Kiln below. Fortunately North Scale became a designated conservation area in 1981 preventing the needless removal of the island's history. A view shared by many I suppose?


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The following 'original' pictures were uncovered in an attic of a North Scale dwelling and kindly loaned to this site: Do you think you can name anyone?



(pictures below 2008)


(pictures below 2010)







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