History of Lindal & Marton
|A village community at the heart of Furness|
Articles on this page cover the following topics:
A further series of articles by Roy Mason can be found in Heritage Part 2.
TIP: Please click on each photo to see a larger version.
The articles on this page were written by Roy Mason, a resident of Lindal-in-Furness, for publication in the village newsletter Aspects of Lindal and Marton. Aspects is sponsored by Lindal and Marton Parish Council and St Peter's Church PCC, and is delivered to households in the villages free of charge.
Roy's articles are reproduced here with his permission, to be read by a wider audience.
Aspects May 2003
Earlier this year I was asked to address the Lent Meeting in St. Peter’s Church on the history of the village. That was when I discovered that very little had been recorded about the village and its people. There are some facts to be found in various publications but precious few are devoted solely to the village. Lindal Moor rightfully features in books on the mining of iron ore in Furness, the Cricket Club centenary publication devotes a few pages to non-cricket matters about the village, and various pictorial publications illustrate aspects of village life, but none cover the full story.
How many shops have there been in the village? Where has the post office been located? Some of the farmhouses have date stones above the front doors but not all. What does BQ stand for on some of the date stones? (Certainly not for the DIY store in Barrow!) Once there was a Tythe Barn that served the village, what has happened to it? What about those other buildings that have been converted into houses? Look around and use your eyes. What do we know about the Anchor Inn? The style of the building is contemporary with that of the red sandstone farmhouses; but is that the full story? Where was the Gas Works in Lindal? That, along with many other industries, has long disappeared; so what other buildings have been lost to the landscape? Now the A590 is the dominant road through the village, but was it always so?
Villages are not just about buildings, they merely provided shelter for people. What do we know about the people who lived here? Some of their names are recorded on plaques in St. Peter’s Church; others on the War Memorial on the Green. Still more are to be found in the cemeteries of Ulverston, Pennington and Dalton, miners who have lost their lives in accidents. But there must be more to tell, if only we knew where to look or who to ask? Maybe in a hundred years time or more somebody will be asking this very same question. As a community we need to be recording what we know about Lindal and the various aspects of life in it. Every current resident, and those who have lived here in the past can contribute to this project. So lets start putting it on paper now!
Photo of St Peter's Church provided by D Barlow, Lindal and Marton Primary School.
Aspects June 2003
Have you ever wondered why the country road from the Green round past St. Peter’s Church, Henning Cottage, Primrose Cottage, the Black Dog and on to Ireleth should be so broad? Well it was the original Dalton by-pass. Eighteenth century travellers from Whitehaven to Kendal complained so much about the state of repair of the road through Furness that in 1763 the road was turnpiked by act of Parliament for 21 years, to be renewed every 21 years thereafter and administered by trustees rather than the parishes. That worthy body of trustees, who included local landowners, continued in office till 1872. That meant tolls could be levied on travellers at gates erected at Lowfield House and Holmes Green (Black Dog). You would have to spend a penny to take your horse through the gate, whether the horse be laden or unladen. The original tolls were 2d for a cart, 10d per score of cattle and 5d per score of calves, hogs, sheep or lambs. In 1823 the income for the year from these two tollgates alone amounted to £100 1s 0d. Interestingly iron ore carts were exempt from this toll, presumably because they only used the turnpike road for a short distance before turning down Green Lane, also travellers on foot passed through free.
William Fell in his account of a journey from Ulverstone to Dalton in 1777 notes that there was a stone signpost (if you know where this post is today please advise location) indicating the road to Whitehaven through the town of Lindale. (Note the spelling with the additional ‘e’). From this one may gather that Lindal was by that date a place of some significance.
Aspects July/August 2003
In recent years Marton and more especially Lindal have seen residential developments as a dormitory settlement for Barrow-in-Furness. Few examples of the buildings associated with the extraction of iron ore still stand, the notable exceptions being at the eastern end of the village. We have not only lost industrial buildings but socially important structures have disappeared also, the voracious appetite of the A590 has gobbled up the Liberal Working Men’s Club, the Police Station, Seth Barker’s shop together with the gardens in front of the houses of 23 to 45 Ulverston Road (now 11 dwellings but built as 14), as well as taking a slice of land from Empland Cottages (a Council blunder added the ‘H’ to the sign), 1-5 Ulverston Road, and 4 and 5 Church Close. If subsidence had not rendered Lowfield House uninhabitable the road builders would have devoured that as well. There was a whole terrace of twenty cottages in Marton reduced to rubble at the turn of the twentieth century, the grassed over remains can be still seen today in the field below Wagg Reservoir.
Redevelopment has taken place of all but one of our places of worship, so have the shops disappeared where once the womenfolk of the villages would have been able to meet and exchange news (no doubt I dare not suggest that they gossiped). Only the name of the ‘Reading Room’ on the house at the southern end of The Green reminds us that once we had a library where the daily newspaper could be read and books borrowed. The continuing erosion of these traditional meeting places is slowly but insidiously destroying the community spirit. We now are left with three public houses, one village hall and St. Peter’s Church. Without the church there would be no place in our village for children to be baptised, weddings to be blessed, or deaths to be mourned. There would be no annual gala organised by the Parochial Church Council. Surely we cannot afford to lose our Church as well; not only generous financial support is required but the influx of young people to keep this icon of village life alive.
Photo of Lindal Cross Roads provided by Matthew Bentley of Lindal.
Aspects October 2003
An issue that has preoccupied the minds of the worthies on the Council, both Barrow and South Lakeland, in recent times has been the cost of maintaining public conveniences. Indeed the threatened closure of the facility at Bardsea resulted in a furore of indignation. However no dissent was voiced when Lindal’s one and only WC was auctioned off to a private developer. Perhaps this was because it was a male only urinal, though I am reliably informed that some members of the fairer sex found it convenient to use it as well. The old smelly cast iron structure was attached to the rear of the Reading Room, as our public library was called. Also behind the Reading Room was the store for the road sweeper’s equipment. The last of the road sweepers to keep our village tidy were Walter Marshall, Alec Rigg, George Hall and Fred Watterson (who lived in Swarthmoor); once a week the road sweeper would visit Marton and tidy the verges there. Even though they did their job diligently there was always a problem at autumn time when the road drain by the eastern corner of the church became blocked with falling leaves. A property developer demolished the Reading Room together with its attached facility and extended an existing barn over the site to form the present dwelling house, the red sandstone block engraved with the name was retained and set into the front wall where it may be viewed today.
There were no mourners to be found when the air raid shelters were demolished either. These utilitarian buildings were approximately twelve foot by thirty foot. One was on the Green in front of the cenotaph, another opposite the gap between 13 and 14 London Road and the other on the bank at the Ulverston Road end of Railway Terrace. Another refuge from the bombers used by some of the residents of Lindal was the caves opposite Henning Wood for those who lived at the northern end of the village. Redevelopment of Lindal’s second abattoir has recently taken place, it is now two dwellings and has been renamed Drovers Court. The first abattoir was to the back of the Buccleuch Hall.
Photo of St Peter's Church provided by D Barlow, Lindal and Marton Primary School.
Aspects November 2003
Browsing through the archives in Barrow Library I came across a document circa 1850 dealing with Lindal and Marton School Regulations. Conditions were very much different than they are today. The hours of attendance in winter were 9 to 4 with a 1½ hour lunch break and in summer 9 to 5 with a 2 hour lunch break. No irregularity of attendance was permitted except for:
There was a set scale of fees, which were means tested and also dependent on the level of education to be received. Children of Farmers & Master Tradesmen paid a higher rate than those of Miners, Labourers and Journeyman Tradesman (a tradesman who had completed an apprenticeship but was an employee).
Parents had to give a fortnight's notice before removing children from school. All books, slates, etc. will be provided at cost price and must be paid for when received. Any child or young person who swears or uses corrupt or indelicate language will on a repetition of the offence be immediately dismissed from the school. It is earnestly requested that parents send their children to Sunday School. Hours of attendance:
It is expected that parents will send their children properly washed and clean. The services of a well-qualified master & mistress have been secured for conducting the schools, it is hoped parents will second their efforts by ensuring the punctual and regular attendance of the children.
* * * *
Advice has been received that the Reading Room, the Library, served as an emergency ARP Centre during World War II (Air Raid Protection).
Photo of Lindal School pupils in 1878 provided by D Barlow, Lindal and Marton Primary School.
Aspects December 2003
Some of the alternative spellings of Marton include Martin, or Merton as the village was known in the 13th century. Meretun was mentioned in the Domesday Book and might even go back to Roman times when Agricola made his epic trek around the coast of Cumbria to outflank the Brigante who blocked the way north from Lancaster. A straight line from Conishead to Ireleth/Askham virtually passes through Marton, maybe one day someone will find the evidence that the Roman army had passed that way. The area known as Tarn Flatt suggests at sometime a pond existed, probably drained by mining work, hence Meretun or lakeside settlement.
Its strange how one thing leads onto another, browsing around a book fair I came across a stall selling copies of the 1851 Census that had been transcribed by the Cumbria Family History Society. The residents of Martin in 1851 included 8 tradesmen whose occupation was described as iron puddler, as well as one living at Poakabeck and another at Stewner Park. Where was the puddling furnace? (This was the process invented by Henry Cort in the 1780’s which was used to make wrought iron.) Poakabeck has an unusually straight stretch in the meadow below Poaka Beck House. Looking at a contemporary map an iron works is clearly shown on that site in 1850 though it was not there in 1840. Further research established that James Davis, of Tytup Hall, had owned the Poaka Ironworks. Returning to the 1851 Census James Davis Esq. was described as an Ironmaster employing 96 men, so Poaka Beck was only part of his fiefdom.
There were other ironworkers living in the village, a master iron roller and 3 tradesmen, as well as 4 forgemen. It would have been hot dirty work stirring the molten iron in the puddling furnace with a rabble-bar to first burn off the carbon then gather globular masses of semi-molten iron together into puddle-balls before hooking them out to be hammered in a forge, powered by an undershot waterwheel, before rolling flat into wrought iron bars. It is easy to imagine these iron-workers, in 1851, quenching their thirst in William Brockelbank’s beerhouse, at the junction of Tarn Flatt and Moor Road. (n.b. the 1851 spelling of names was often quaint).
We also learn that Isaac Hazlehurst, of Powkerbeck who describes his occupation as a steel refiner, had been born in 1806 at Wellington, Shropshire; and his wife came from Madeley, which is near Coalbrookdale. No doubt that was where Isaac learned his trade of converting wrought iron into hard tough steel using the process developed by Benjamin Huntsman a century earlier.
So why did this hive of industry disappear leaving very little evidence behind? The puddling process was labour intensive and slow; steel making was even slower until the advent of the Bessemer converters in 1858. That and the damming of Poakabeck to provide a reservoir of clean water for the burgeoning town of Barrow ensured the demise of this industry. In any case James Davis had moved his interests to a site by Ulverston Canal where he had developed a foundry. So the Poaka Ironworks probably had a very short productive life.
Picture of puddling furnace from Cyclopedia website, by kind permission of Matthew Spong.
Aspects February 2004
If you walk up the lane past the cottages at Snipe Ghyll you will come to Wagg Reservoir. Back in the winter of 1927/8 the weather was so cold that the surface of the reservoir froze over. Despite being warned local children were seen playing on the ice-covered surface. On the 3rd January 1928 the inevitable happened, a young girl called Margaret Scott broke through the ice. Gallantly Charles Hornby, who was only 9 years old, went to her aid only to fall through the ice himself. It was a double tragedy since both children drowned that day. A plaque in memory of Charles's gallantry is fixed to the wall of Lindal & Marton Primary School.
Just below the reservoir can be seen a line of stone rubble, this is all that remains of a row of twenty cottages. There is a tale about the residents of Wagg Row that they were so poor they only had one frying pan between the lot of them. (N.B. further research suggests the correct name for these cottages was Ropers Row). Why the cottages were demolished is not clear. It is possible that when the reservoir was built it was considered too dangerous for people to live so close. In the event of the earth dam collapsing the wall of water would wash away all before it, a not uncommon occurrence in the nineteenth century. In the late 1800's disease was rife particularly in crowded sub-standard accommodation like Wagg Row and the only way the worthies on Dalton Town Council could deal with such a problem was to evict the families and demolish the cottages. The records show these draconian measures were adopted elsewhere in Dalton. Marton had seen a population explosion from 50 residents in 1806 to 244 by 1851. Even the adjacent hamlet of Powkerbeck numbered 36 residents according to the 1851 census, the remains of a few of the dwellings are barely visible today.
Marton is said to have had a reputation for violence in the late 1800s, no doubt fuelled by the liquor dispensed from the 3 public houses, the White Horse, the Miner's Arms and the New Inn, as well as the abundance of beerhouses.
The spiritual needs of the community were catered for by a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Tarn Flatt, built in 1856, and a Presbyterian Chapel, the foundation stone being laid in 1892. Both buildings have been converted into dwellings and Marton residents have to make the pilgrimage to Lindal Church or further afield to worship.
Aspects March 2004
At the latter part of the nineteenth century Lindal was important not only to the mining industry but also to the Furness Railway with its extensive marshalling yard. One begot the other but not always did they work together in harmony. Sometimes the miners following the ore body would work under the railway causing minor subsidence. The activities of Lowfield Pit were the most notorious despite some directors being on both mining and railway companies’ boards. The original Lowfield House was a victim to subsidence as was the railway viaduct that serviced the Diamond Pit (by the cricket pitch cross roads) with a standard gauge branch-line. All that remains of either structure are a few dressed limestone blocks in the fields bordering the A590, the viaduct to the north and the House to the south.
Subsidence was very much taken for granted at that time and part of the daily duties of George Ransome Clark, the 46 year old Furness Railway Head Ganger at Lindal, was to walk the line looking for any tell-tale signs of impending trouble. On previous occasions great timber bulks had been used to tie sections of sleepers together when instability had been recognised. The morning of Thursday 22 September 1892 was no different for he had made his way down the steps at the end of Railway Terrace where he lived; dressed in his white coat he walked on to the line for the ritual inspection. Satisfied that nothing was amiss he then joined his five Gangers doing routine maintenance. He was soon to be called to 31 ton locomotive No. 115 that had become derailed in the sidings 440 feet west of Lowfield Bridge. Thomas Postlethwaite, the driver, wanted to try reversing back onto the line but the experience of George Clark was that it would cause further damage to the tracks and advocated waiting for heavy lifting tackle to come from Barrow.
Whilst they were waiting a large hole appeared under the tracks and the engine started to tilt forward dangerously. The driver and the guard, who had only got on the engine for a warm and a brew, hastily jumped clear. Unfortunately 61-year-old Thomas Postlethwaite injured his shoulder and then could only look on in horror as his 30 foot long engine started to sink funnel first into the ground together with his jacket and long service gold watch.
The initial steep sided hole spanned two tracks of the siding, the cavity was 30 feet wide and 30 feet deep. A further collapse took place later that day, about 2.15, extending the hole 75 feet wide that then effectively cut all the other lines. Rail traffic between Dalton and Ulverston remained disrupted until the spring of the following year and even then speed restrictions were imposed for many years afterwards. Barely a year later on the 11th November 1893 another cavity appeared on the eastern edge of the ‘Hole’ cutting across the ‘Up Passenger and the Up Goods’ lines.
The flat field between the present railway line and Bank Terrace on the A590 was the setting for this high drama.
I am indebted to John Sewell, of Barrow, for this information; a more in detailed study by him can be found in specialist Furness Railway publications.
Aspects April 2004
At a recent public meeting in the Buccleuch Hall the charge was levelled that ‘off-comers’ were running village affairs. So I turned to my dictionary for the definition, Off-comer a person living in a rural area, in which he or she was not born, an incomer. On that basis most people living in Lindal and Marton, including myself a resident of only 33 years standing, will qualify for such an accolade; even children born recently will have arrived on this earth in the Maternity Unit of Furness General Hospital rather than at home. We must remember that if it was not for immigrants to the area, Lindal and Marton would still be only a few farms around a muddy duck pond and the Anchor Inn, a haven for travellers on their way to Dalton or Whitehaven.
Only a few people can trace their links to Lindal or Marton back beyond a century and a half. Most of the older migrant families arrived during the period of expansion of the mining industry after 1840. Practically every household had a miner, or someone associated with the industry, living there. When the economic downturn for that industry came there was a migration away from the villages. There are still people living here today who can proudly trace their family trees back to origins in Cornwall or Devon, Cumberland or Westmorland. Not all the migrants came from traditional mining areas, the prospects of work attracted people from Liverpool, Staffordshire, Scotland and Ireland, Walsall and Wolverhampton. However there were no parish councils in those days. It was not the off-comers, the new inhabitants who had set up their humble homes here who oversaw village life, but the worthy ‘Four and Twenty’ on Dalton Town Council who exercised control.
Those town councillors made unpopular decisions in their day too. I mentioned in a previous article that the cottages below Wagg Reservoir were razed to the ground. This was Ropers Row (not Wagg Row as I had been informed), a line of twenty tiny houses in which 105 people lived. (The name Roper was probably in recognition of the General Manager of the mining company Harrison Ainsley, Thomas Roper, who was well known for his local investments).
However to bring this overcrowding (by today’s standards) into even sharper focus the cottages at Melton Terrace were home to no fewer than 15 adults and 22 children in 1861 living in six separate households. The situation was hardly better twenty years later when 16 adults shared 5 cottages with 8 children. By 1891 the number of dwellings had been reduced to 4 with 23 residents including 10 of sixteen years or older. Children in the poorer families were expected to get a job at thirteen.
"LABOURERS Wanted" poster from a collection of work printed by John Soulby, father and son, of Ulverston between 1796 and 1827. Reproduced with permission from The Museum of English Rural Life, The University of Reading.
Aspects May 2004
It was a warm day in August, the year was 1927, and Lindal Cricket Club were hosts to Furness Cricket Club for a key match in the season. However only ten men turned out for the village side so the game could not start. Mr Keen, the headmaster at the primary school, sent a runner round to No.6 The Green where the Postlethwaites lived.
“Send young Ken round to the field with his bat and pads; we’re a man short.”
This was the sort of opportunity that you read about in ‘Boy’s Own’ fiction. Ken was only a fourteen-year-old schoolboy then but he had gained a reputation for his ability as a batsman on the school playing field. He answered the call with alacrity, racing around to the pavilion. Furness was first in to bat and they scored a magnificent 117 runs. Then it was Lindal’s turn at the wicket, Ken was allocated the number ten position in the team, which meant he would probably not be called upon that day to display his skills. However he sat patiently in the pavilion just in case. At 42 for 8 Mr Keen’s partner was dismissed, then it was young Ken’s turn to take the long walk out to the crease.
“Leave the scoring to me, lad,” advised Mr. Keen, “you just stonewall.”
At 110 however Mr. Keen was bowled out. Now it was all up to Ken and the last man in Jim Simpson. Ken showed off his natural talent and sent his first ball over the boundary for four precious runs. Then just to show that was no fluke he hit another one. Lindal had triumphed!
This was the start of Ken Postlethwaite’s career with local cricket, he recalls that it was always better to get the bowling over before breaking for tea than afterwards. The catering was supplied by Hetty Clark, of Ulverston Road, and her portions were always very generous, she was particularly renowned for her baked apple square. Ken continued playing for the village eleven until he was 21 when he was persuaded to join the Vickers Sports Club team.
The first record of a cricket club being formed in the village was 1884 when the Messrs Harrison Ainslie and Company’s Employees Cricket Club played in the Diamond Pit field, opposite the present ground. They changed their name to the Lindal Moor Cricket Club the following year. In 1923 Jack Hutton, the farmer, agreed to lease the present cricket field to the club on condition that the ground was improved and the land turfed. A year later the pavilion was built, it was refurbished and extended in 1971 and eleven years later it was rebuilt. The field has suffered from subsidence over the years and in 1968 an 8ft deep hole appeared.
The club has had its successes, in 1960 it won the Higson Cup and again in 1971. Six years later the final of the Haig Championship saw our village team playing on the hallowed pitch at Lords.
Aspects June 2004
At the end of the nineteenth century the village of Marton was particularly well endowed with refreshment houses, some had a full licence whilst others were restricted to selling beer. A miner could choose to slake his thirst by a visit to the New Inn on Silver Street. If he did not care for the company there it was a short stagger to the White Horse Inn (now the White Horse House) or totter up the hill behind it to the Royal Oak (21 Silver Street). If still not welcome there, just wander around the corner to Tarn Flatt. The first house of the terrace used to be the Miners Arms (the building has been demolished, but it would have been located in the front garden of the bungalow Green View). The 1851 Census reveals that William Brockelbank was selling beer on those premises when it was the only public house in Marton. Beerhouses, as opposed to Inns, were exempted by the 1830 Act from requiring a Magistrate’s Licence. The Act of Parliament of 1869 brought the chaotic system under the magistrate’s control again, thus records before then tend to be rather sketchy.
If none of these hostelries suited you it was but a short walk up Moor Road to the Farmers Arms, just a room in High Farm. The Farmers had gathered a reputation for light measure and the uncompromising attitude of the publican; the locals had a nickname for it Peevish Nook. With so many pubs in such a small community it is hardly surprising that Marton got a reputation for violence, particularly on the day the mine workers were paid.
At the Farmers Arms the barrels of beer were kept in an outhouse. The beer was dispensed from large jugs, covered with towels or cloths to keep the vinegar flies out and stop the beer going sour. There was a cellar in the Royal Oak, like the New Inn, so the beer was probably drawn straight from the barrel by a pump.
It was rare for the licensee to be the owner of the premises, as often as not the owner did not live in Marton. The owner of the Miners Arms, in 1874, was John Benson, a miller of Sun Street, Ulverston. The ownership then passed, in1895, to Thomas Benson, a coal dealer who in turn sold the premises to Robert and Peter Hartley, the Ulverston brewers. The Farmers Arms was owned by John Bell described as a gentleman from Stavely, it then passed to Joseph Bell of Oak Bank, Broughton Beck who leased it in 1915 to Case & Co., the brewers. There were exceptions Thomas Silver at the Black Dog, Holmes Green, was both owner and licensee; when he retired George Thexton became the tenant then eventually the owner. Thomas Lawrence, the owner of the White Horse Inn, was a farmer who lived at Scale Lodge; however when he retired and went to live in Flookburgh his occupation was recorded as Gentleman!
Being a tenant was a precarious occupation, transgress the law and retribution could be swift, the owners taking the view that it was their investment that was in peril. The succession of tenants at the White Horse Inn in the two years from April 1880 demonstrates this point. Charles Wilson was fined ten shillings (50p) and costs for opening during prohibited hours. He was followed by Matthew Askew who was caught adulterating gin and paid up £2 and costs plus his job for two months later Margaret Craghill became the incumbent.