Life in Tatham in 1938
The population of Tatham was fairly constant in the 20s & 30s, at around 4501 (393 in 2011). The number of inhabited houses was also stable, or rising very slightly, with an average occupancy of 4 (c. 2.5 in 2011). The majority would have been engaged in farming - 82 farms were listed in 194113 compared with about 30 today.
Tatham had two pubs (the Tatham Bridge Inn, and the Rose & Crown Hotel in Lowgill), a Post Office, and a newly-installed telephone box in Lowgill (see separate website article for information on postal and telecommunication services in Tatham). The nearest police stations were in High Bentham, Wray and Hornby; Bentham's was manned by a sergeant, and had an office and two cells.2
Dr. Dowell from Bentham attended patients in Tatham, but this was pre-NHS, so families would have been charged for his services. For a small weekly subscription to the Bentham District Nursing Association, families were entitled to the services of a district nurse, who was provided with a car, and worked under the direction of the doctor.2 The Royal Infirmary in Lancaster was appealing for land for vital extensions for new Out-Patient, ENT, and Orthopaedic Departments, and a Pathology Laboratory.
A Local Library Centre opened at Tatham Fells School in 1930, with a stock of one hundred books - supplied by the County Library in Preston, or its branch office in Morecambe - which was changed two or three times a year. The Centre was available to all and had 42 registered readers when it first opened, including 9 juveniles. From 1939 a Library van was commissioned to visit the area approximately every eight weeks.3
Bentham had a comprehensive selection of shops and other businesses
One of the grocers was Foster's, about whom David D.S. Johnson has accumulated a lot of information. Goods arrived in Bentham by train, and were then delivered to the shop on Main Street (where the Co-op now stands) on a horse-drawn dray. It is the shop with the awnings in the image below, dating from c. 1925.
These bulk supplies were then split into small quantities for sale. Huge sacks of sugar were weighed out into 2 lb. blue paper bags; dried fruit was sieved and sorted before it was packaged; tea and flour were weighed out and packaged; and rolls of bacon were sliced by machine. There were small drawers for ginger, tartaric acid, bicarbonate of soda and other baking necessities, and there was also a bakehouse. Two men worked overnight baking bread, and during the day, three girls baked all the fancy confectionery. A good selection of dog foods was amongst the items stored in the "top warehouse" upstairs.
Foster's had three delivery vans, and each driver travelled with an assistant. They went out every day as far afield as Hellifield and Caton, and one of the rounds included Tatham, where they would call on the same customers every week, and no doubt deliver a similar consignment each time.
The photo shows a Ford Goods Van, whose registration number ATC 240 was issued on 1st August 1935 to J. Foster Ltd., Main Street, Bentham. The vehicle was last registered on 7th January 1938, so we can assume that this accident, at Lanshaw, took place some time during 1938, and that the van was a write-off. Lanshaw at that time was owned by the Carr brothers from Ivah, and occupied by their tenant Gordon Morphet.13 The only person on the photograph who has been positively identified is Thomas Wilson of Greenhall, standing next to the van.
Bibby's - fruiterers, greengrocers & fishmongers - also had a delivery van which may have visited parts of Tatham.
Bentham market was held every Wednesday.
As well as the livestock auction, there was a good range of stalls selling fresh produce.
Wray was also able to provide most everyday needs such as food, clothing and fuel. It had a blacksmith, and a newer business engaged in motor vehicle maintenance, reflecting the gradual shift from the use of horses to motorised vehicles.
The state of Lowgill's water supply was the subject of a letter of complaint sent by Tatham Parish Council in March 1937, and in December that year there was a Public Enquiry into the Upper Lunesdale water supply. Lancashire County Council applied to borrow money to supply water from the Thirlmere aqueduct, and by 1938 water mains had been laid along Old Moor Road and Russells Lane, and in Millhouses. The main reached School House in 1939, and in the same year tenders were invited for the work of installing mains water at Hornby Castle.
Elsewhere people depended on wells, pumps, springs, streams and rainwater collection from roofs. The water usually had to be carried indoors, though some owners had laid their own piping systems to their houses; East View in Lowgill had rain-water piped to a tap over the kitchen sink, but its drinking water came from a well behind Well House. Those without mains water had to contend with shortages in dry weather, and frozen hand-pumps in the winter - the occupants at Carrfield had to resort to an old well in a field across the road, or to melting snow.5 Kitchen ranges incorporated water boilers; these were filled by hand, and had a tap for drawing boiling water - often rust-coloured, with some iron sediment.
Electricity reached Wray, and a few Tatham properties near the main road to Wennington, in 1934.
Elsewhere farms generated own their own power, or did without. (Mains electricity finally reached Low Tatham in the 1950s, but parts of Higher Tatham were without it until the 1960s.)
Only two residents in Tatham had private telephones in 1938, Rev. A.S. Roberts of Tatham Rectory, and Ben Cross of Carrfield, Tatham Fells (see separate website article).
By 1938 London had four commercial airports, the Underground, and more motorised traffic than it could cope with. Traffic in the city centre was frequently reduced to the speed of a slow walk, and the road to Birmingham had a bottleneck every mile on average.
Closer to home there were regular traffic jams - record queues were reported into Morecambe and Lancaster over the 1938 Easter weekend. In Lancaster a proposal was outlined in January for a one-way system, as well as a new bus station at the present location (for Ribble & Corporation buses), and a ban on buses in the shopping centre. The first pedestrian crossing in Caton was installed in March 1938 "at a dangerous and busy point between the Post Office and Station Hotel”.
Caravans heading to the Lakes on the A65 through Settle & Ingleton frequently caused traffic jams, and by-passes for Skipton & Settle were discussed; decisions in favour of both were made in June. The Craven Herald reported on the parking problems in Settle: “No less than twenty motor coaches were dumped about the market place, sideways, crossways & lengthways – in fact any way but orderly, and looked as though there might have been a volcanic eruption.” Discussion about the provision of car parks followed.
Bentham traffic was much less busy; the first car park, at Lairgill, was not provided until the 1950s,1 and there were very few cars in the Tatham area in 1938.4 People either went to Bentham by horse and trap (horses could be stabled behind the Brown Cow), or they walked. A taxi service was available in Bentham, and was occasionally used for the return (uphill) journey.5 The first mention of a Lowgill bus from Bentham is in 1930, but there were buses from Bentham to Settle from at least 1924, and to Lancaster possibly earlier.5
The photos above show 1930s buses of the Ribble company (left) which ran services to Lancaster, and the Pennine company (middle and right) which ran services to Settle and Skipton. Services stopped at the Brown Cow in Bentham. There was a news report in August 1938 of a driver, George Henry Smith of Bentham, breaking his wrist when starting his bus engine by its crank handle, which is visible in the images.
Both teachers at Tatham Fells school travelled to work by car, and on 17th August 1938, Mrs. McIntyre took her driving test (a legal requirement since 1935). Her husband G.M. McIntyre operated a taxi service from their home in Wray, and also offered cars for hire.
The Lancaster Observer recorded that Mr. Cecil Roberts of Tatham Rectory was driving over the moor towards Melling when “something went wrong with his lights. He braked, and the car swung round & overturned completely”. He was pinned by his right arm, but managed to attract the attention of a passing cyclist, who summoned assistance; Mr. Roberts was eventually taken home by PC Smith of Wray.
The first Tatham Fells residents to own a car were the Rawlinsons of Lythe Bank, in 1929. It was a two-seater with a dickey seat. The family later moved to Lowgill, where they were still the only car-owners in the village as late as 1938. In 1949, just twenty years after the first car in Tatham Fells, Jack Lee made the last regular horse and trap journey to Bentham.6
Motor-bikes were common, and with a side-car they could be used for carrying stock or milk kits.7 In 1939 Thomas William Halstead of High Thrushgill and Charles Salter Preece of Cowkins (Thimble Hall), both riding motorbikes, collided on Spens Brow and had to be treated for injuries at Lancaster Royal Infirmary.
Walking was an important means of transport, and the Parish Council frequently dealt with complaints about footpaths.
A few people had bicycles, including the Wennington postman, who delivered to Low Tatham. Bicycles were apparently not widely used at the time by children - there is no record of any child cycling to school.
The 1933 Ordnance Survey map (click here to view) shows which roads were still unsurfaced (white with no infill). These included the Ivah to Botton road after Swans farm drive, and the Slaidburn road beyond its junction with Silly Lane.
This description gives some idea of the condition of the Slaidburn road: "Although the way from High Bentham to Slaidburn is classed as 'motorable' for its whole length, that portion across the watershed is sufficiently rough and broken to deter all but the motorist who has no respect for his tyres".15
Tarring the roads made them more durable in wet weather and must have been welcomed by the few residents who owned cars, as well as by visiting professionals and van drivers. However, horseshoes wore out more quickly, and gave poorer grip, so studs had to be fitted on shoes for horses doing a lot of road work.
Some of the roads were too narrow for large vehicles. The road from Wray to Millhouses was only the width of a cart near Bridge End and was not widened until between the wars.7 The narrow and tortuous road between Low and High Bentham had been widened in 1935.1
There were horse drawn snow ploughs, and men cleared snow away in carts & lorries. In January the Parish Council wrote to the Rural Surveyor asking him to “kindly get the snow cut in the outlying districts as early as possible”. Ash was used to treat icy roads.
Various styles of road sign could be found in Tatham in 1938. The oldest were the all-wood finger posts , including a few signs with hands, like the one in Wennington shown below left in a photograph dating from c. 1910. The middle one lasted into the 1970s but the Slaidburn arm with pointed end was a later replacement. The Ivah sign (right), one of the last wooden finger posts in the county, was recently restored by Duncan Armstrong.8
The wooden signs were superseded by cast iron pillars - the photos below show some Lancashire County Council signs in use in 1938. The one on the left has the earlier (1921-1933) colour scheme - the most common to have survived.8
In some cases the old pillars have been retained to carry modern signage, as in the two images below.
The 1938 train timetable summarised in the table below shows a busy mixture of local, medium- and long-distance services over the line. The passenger timetable had to leave space for goods trains, including cattle & mail.14 Click here for a more detailed look at a typical day's activity.
There were additional trains to Morecambe, and numerous day excursions, during the holiday period. The train may have been used by more affluent residents of Tatham to go to Morecambe to see the illuminations, or to visit the new swimming pool, or for such events as an afternoon Ice Festival. The LM&SR ran a special train there from Skipton for the Bentham Agricultural Society annual whist drive and ball at the Winter Gardens, for which 1129 tickets were sold.
The photos below show the stations at Wennington and Bentham as they would have looked at the time.
Tatham Parish Council 1938
John Holmes was the Clerk
Parish Council meetings were held at Oxenforth Green. The January meeting was followed by an AGM, at which one ratepayer was present. In March 1937 there had been discussion about the non-attendance at meetings for six consecutive months of Reginald Leece (Barley Bank) and Richard M. Hodgson (Rantreefold). The Clerk was instructed to interview them to see whether they could give a satisfactory explanation. (At the next meeting they were replaced by John Walter Smith and Ambrose Brennand.)
The threat of war with Germany loomed large in 1938, and the Lancaster Guardian carried several references to preparations which would have had an impact in Tatham.
Useful insights into daily life in Tatham come from the diaries of Christopher Arthur Cheetham, who cycled from Austwick each week to visit his aunt and uncle, Ben and Florence Cross, at Carrfield, Tatham. Chris had retired early from business in Leeds, and lived at Cheetham cottage, The Green, Austwick, with his mother. He was a keen naturalist, and sometimes took visiting botanists to Lowgill to look at mosses. He is also recorded in Tatham Fells School log book as having given a talk to the children on Flies (probably arranged through his uncle, who was a Manager at the school).
Ben & Flo Cross were keen gardeners, and Chris often returned from his visit with home-grown fruit: strawberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, Victoria plums and damsons. Flo's sister made jam from the fruit, and also from cloudberries collected on Pen-y-ghent, and from marrows. Surprisingly there is no mention of picking blackberries or bilberries. Chris sometimes took home some holly from near Carrfield if there was none left around Austwick, and he regularly bought eggs from Carrfield. He occasionally records coming home with a string of onions or a chicken. In exchange, Chris sometimes took mushrooms (horse mushrooms & some brown ones) picked on Norber or in Crummackdale, and elderberries for making syrup.
Ben & Flo went by bus to Lancaster to shop for larger items such as furniture. Their bikes were sent by train for repair. They returned to Liverpool most years for a couple of days to see the Grand National, and went for a week by bus to stay with the family in Austwick at Christmas. They had pheasant for dinner on Christmas day (a present from relations in Leeds). Ben & Flo would donate a goose or a duck, which they ate on Boxing Day. Flo's sister made parkin in November, mincemeat & plum puddings in early December, then spice cake in mid-December, and brawn just a few days before Christmas.
Christmas Eve was spent singing, then opening cards and presents. Christmas Day included a walk for the men before dinner (presumably whilst the women cooked), listening to the King's Speech at 3.00pm on the wireless, singing & playing cards (bridge, 3-handed bridge, whist, solo and bonus) in the evening and listening to the wireless. On Boxing Day 1938, Ben went to Clapham to see clay pigeon shooting. The men also sometimes went skating on frozen ponds or flooded fields.
One event, at East View in Lowgill on 17th August, was recorded by all the local newspapers. This report is from the Craven Herald:
“Mr. & Mrs. Edward Rawlinson, Lowgill, had an alarming experience when their house was struck by a thunderbolt which tore away part of their roof. Narrowly missing their young child, it travelled through the house and passed between Mr. & Mrs. Rawlinson - who were standing at the kitchen sink washing the breakfast crockery - rendering them unconscious It then went through the wall under the sink and went to earth in the garden. They were found by two of their employees; Mr. Rawlinson was the first to regain consciousness and he summoned medical assistance to his wife, who was suffering severely from shock. She was treated by Dr. Dowell of Bentham, and had an X-ray the following day at Lancaster Royal Infirmary. She sustained a broken nose and is still confined to bed.”
In the 1941 farm survey, there were 82 farms of which only 19 were owned by their occupiers.13 (Today there are only about 30, mostly owner-occupied.)
Owner-occupied farms in Tatham, from the 1941 Farm Survey
Ivah was regarded as the best farm in the area,6 and was by far the biggest at 355½ acres; Tatham Hall was next largest with 287 acres. Most were less than 100 acres.13
There were no tractors in Tatham in 1938 (the first, along with a Massey Harris plough, was leased by George Sagar of Higher Stock Bridge from the Lancashire War Agricultural Committee in January 1942, and was shared with Barley Bank).17 Most farm work was done by horse power, and in 1941 there were 133 horses - mostly mares, a few geldings, and no stallions.13 The mares were used for breeding as well as for work; Rawlinson's (East View, Lowgill) bred a foal every other year from their working horse, for sale to Ivah.6 Most farms had at least one horse; Robert Hall had two, and Ivah six.13 William Newby (Leyland Farm 1930-41) records buying horses to break in or re-school and to sell on. Kendal Auction Mart held regular horse sales, and horses were sent by train from there to Hornby or Bentham. Some farms also kept a lighter horse for riding or pulling a trap. Many of the horses were taken to Green Smithy for shoeing – an appointment would be made in advance, as the smithy was always very busy. If several horses at the same location required shoeing, the blacksmith, Bob Taylor, would sometimes visit on his motorcycle.4
The fields were mainly grass for grazing and hay. There were very few other crops, but oats were grown on the majority of farms, and there were small quantities of other crops - wheat, barley, kale, rape, potatoes and root vegetable - grown largely for animal feed; and a few orchards.
Thirty Tatham farms had grazing rights for sheep on the stinted pasture of Lythe Fell and Burn Moor.13 At a meeting of herdmen held in the Rose & Crown Hotel in February, Messrs. T. Wilson (Burnmoor) and J.W. Smith (Bankend) were appointed field reeves.
Hay was cut by scythe, about two acres (a "setting") at a time, so that haytiming lasted six weeks, even if the weather was good, from early July until the end of August. The photo below shows John Lee, Oakhead Bank, in 1940.
In 1938 there was a mild, wet winter, drought in April and then, when it did rain in May, June and July, the weather was cold and sunless; after that it rained every day but two in August. Chris Cheetham's diaries record:
Many farms still used outbarns to store hay, and to overwinter cattle.6 William Hesleton wrote in May: “Brought 2 sledges of Hay from Pinks” (Pinks was a barn above Beck Grains). Horse sledges were dying out by the 1930s, so it is interesting that one was still being used.9
The chart below shows the proportion of land in Tatham in 1941 used for different types of livestock, assuming that one cow is equivalent to ten sheep or pigs, or to 100 fowl etc.13 It shows that cattle were the most numerous stock - mostly for beef. Dairying was probably slightly less in 1938 than shown here, but was becoming increasingly important.
The cattle were mostly shorthorns (right), for both milk and beef,6 but black polled calves were included in a farm sale at Winder (Roeburndale) in 1938. In addition to the hay and oats grown on the farm, cattle fodder included "cotton cake" (based on cottonseed) and linseed cake - both protein supplements - plus maize flakes for supplementary feeding. These could be bought from a warehouse on King Street in Bentham, and either collected or delivered to the end of the farm track.6
In 1933, a National Farmers' Union proposal for a milk marketing scheme led to the establishment by statute of the Milk Marketing Board (MMB), to which all milk producers had to sell. The MMB had a monopoly, but was in turn obliged to buy the milk and to try to find a market for it. Prior to 1933, milk for sale was sent by train to a buyer, who could send it back without payment if it was surplus to requirement. The advantage for the farmer of the new scheme was that he had for the first time a guaranteed income (the price was fixed each year) and the milk was collected by vehicle from near the farm, allowing remoter farms in Tatham Fells to engage in commercial milk production.
In 1941 most farms were milking fewer than fifteen cows, by hand; a farmer or his wife could milk ten cows in an hour or so.6 Those milking more than fifteen generally had an oil or petrol engine to power a milking machine (Barley Bank, Ivah, Overends, Oxenforth Green, Robert Hall and Swans) or had electricity (Tatham Hall, and probably Mealbank, though this is not recorded in the Farm Survey). Milking was done by hand at Craggs. The milk was cooled, then taken in a 12-gallon kit by horse-drawn milk float to a milk stand about ½ mile away.4 Motor-bikes with side-cars were also commonly used for carrying milk kits.
The wooden milk stands would have been similar to those still standing at Lane Head, Bentham, and Summersgill.
The milk stand for Greenhall and Ringstones, at the junction of Ringstones Lane and the Slaidburn road, now has just one wooden post remaining, and the one at the junction of Silly Lane and Cragg Lane, which would have been used by Craggs and Brackenbottom, is also just a remnant. Most have disappeared altogether, such as the one outside East View where the letter box is now, and another, at the junction above Park House in Botton, once used by Leyland, Botton Hall and Over Houses - though the later stone-built milk stand can still be seen there.
Bargh's milk collection by motor lorry commenced in 1935/6. Milk was taken to Leeds/Bradford, or to Libby's processing plant at Milnthorpe.7 There was often a surplus of milk, especially in summer, and the government subsidised commercial manufacture of butter and cheese to try to avoid wastage. They also provided funding to encourage ‘a pure milk supply’ and thus prevent the spread of TB; set up a National Milk Publicity Council (NMPC) which placed advertisements in newspapers encouraging people to drink more milk; and provided school talks on 'Food Facts' by NMPC lecturers. A Milk in Schools scheme was set up in 1934; the milk was not free, but was sold at a subsidised price. The scheme was adopted in 1934 at Wray school, but there is no mention of school milk at Tatham Fells or Tatham schools at this time; most of the pupils were from farms and doubtless had free milk at home. Free school milk became available in the Tatham schools when it was introduced nationally in 1942.
There were advertisements in the Craven Herald for free on-farm demonstrations of Gascoigne milking machines (right). William Hesleton recorded in his diary on 3rd June: “Went Iva at night with Dawson look at Milking machine which new in”. By 1941, Ivah had a 2.5 horsepower oil or petrol engine, and was milking 44 cows.
In 1938, many farms in the area were using some of their milk production to make butter, some of which was bought by Foster's of Bentham for local sale. There is no mention of chese-making. Goats are known to have been milked in one place locally, at Botton Mill.6
Horses and cows were kept in for the winter. East View (Lowgill) still gathered bracken from Helks Bank for bedding in 1938,6 but elsewhere bracken was coming to be recognised as a problem and the Government was funding research into methods of eradication. The Craven Herald advertised a demonstration in Crummackdale of the "Holt Bracken Breaker" - several sizes were available for towing behind draught animals or tractors.
Most farms also kept sheep, which were left out all winter. They were more numerous in the upland farms where the grazing was poorer.6 Whitray, Ivah, Tatham Hall, Higher Croasdale Grains, Swans, The Hill, Lower Croasdale Grains and Robert Hall each had over 200 sheep in 1941.13 The Craven Herald reported in May 1938 that the outlook for sheep farmers was gloomy. There had been a fall in sheep prices over the previous two months because of cheaper imports.
Nearly every farm kept hens and they were an important part of the farm economy. Craggs had 6 - 8 hen cabins, and kept Sussex, Exchequer Leghorn, & White Leghorn poultry.4
The 1941 Farm Survey also records ducks, mainly in Lower Tatham, and geese in Higher Tatham, but only a few turkeys. It was still known for farmers to walk geese to Lancaster market from Helwith Bridge in the 1930s.10
Most farms also kept a few pigs - Large Whites at Leyland.4 When one was killed, the farmer's wife would make black pudding, and would cure hams and hang them, covered in flour sacks to keep the flies off. Parts that wouldn't keep were shared with neighbours and family, and they in turn would share theirs. Everything was eaten except the tail, and the bladder, which was used as a football.6
Farms changed hands fairly frequently, especially those which were tenanted rather than owned.
1938 FARM SALES
William Hesleton recorded:
The Lancaster Guardian announced that the Annual Sale would be held at Lowgill on Thursday 10th March, but there was no subsequent newspaper report of the sale. William Hesleton wrote “Lowgill Fair 5 Cowes their 4 sold”. This was probably the last Lowgill Fair, replaced in 1939 with “A special sale of store cattle for Lowgill district” on Thursday 23rd March at Bentham Auction Mart. This was better-supported, with 24 summer & autumn calving cows, 16 geld cattle and 12 bullocks sold.
Bentham Hiring Fair took place in June, though this too was declining in importance, with the last probably in 1939.
Apart from the terrible summer weather, many other problems in farming were reported in the press, mainly in the Craven Herald.
PROBLEMS IN FARMING
Vale of Lune Harriers were very active, and they entertained landowners over whose land they hunted with an annual Dinner and Whist Drive at Wenning Hall, Bentham, for farmers and their wives from Bentham and Tatham Fells, and the following week at Hornby Institute for Hornby & Low Tatham farmers.
Many large estates throughout the country were facing problems in 1938, and in this area both the Hornby Castle and Whitewell Estates went on the market. Most of Hornby Castle estate (except two hotels in Hornby, tithes, and the fishing rights) was sold in July to Mr. P.L. Lawrence, a member of a London syndicate. It was re-sold in separate lots in November.
HORNBY CASTLE ESTATE, LANCASHIRE
The Whitewell Estate was sold in August after the male line of the Towneleys became extinct, and 6000 acres which formed part of the Towneley Bowland Estate were purchased by the Duchy of Lancaster.
In January, under the heading 'Search for oil in Craven', the Craven Herald reported that oil licences had been granted by the Board of Trade to the Gulf Exploration Company of London, including the area outlined in the map below. The report went on to say, "The Craven area is of considerable geological interest superficially, but its deeper strata are comparatively unknown. At Ingleton, the coal measures are nearly 3000 feet from the surface, and it must be below this level where prospects of oil are most hopeful."
Tatham had two schools, which each had a local management board. Women could serve if proposed and elected, but none were!
The holidays were set each year by the managers, and were similar to today's except that there was only a month in summer, from mid-July to mid-August, with exams at the end of each term. Both were Church of England schools, with an annual inspection of religious education.
The school leaving age had been raised to 15 in 1936 (the managers of Tatham Fells School had written to their MP in 1930 to protest). Local Education Authorities could issue employment certificates to allow 14 year-olds to work rather than attend school in special cases; exemptions would be granted, for example, where a family would suffer "exceptional hardship" if the child did not work, and were usual in Tatham. Pupils started in the Infant class at the age of 5 (or 6 if the walk to school was more than three miles, which was considered too far) and stayed until they were 11. After this, most went to Burton-in-Lonsdale Secondary School, or very occasionally, if they gained a scholarship, to Lancaster Grammar School or Girls' Grammar School.3, 11 No scholarships were gained in 1938, but in 1939, Mary Isobel Frankland of Greenbank went from Tatham Fells. She was granted a Maintenance Allowance of 10/- per week in lieu of travelling expenses, to board in Lancaster because she lived five miles from nearest bus (Lowgill Road End) and seven miles from the nearest train.
The Head Teacher at Tatham Fells was Mrs. Wright (1929-46), with Mrs. McIntyre as Assistant Teacher from 1931. Mrs. McIntyre was given special approval by Lancashire Education Committee for the appointment of a married teacher in view of the difficulty of attracting younger candidates owing to the absence of accommodation. Mrs. Beattie was Head Teacher at Tatham (1932-38), with no Assistant Teacher. Each school had two classrooms, but at Tatham Fells the teaching of Infants was reported by the School Inspector to be hampered by the size of classroom.3
Several other problems concerned with the buildings were reported, particularly their heating. Tatham had a coke stove which heated the room directly and via hot water pipes, but could not be lit if the water tank was empty; it smoked if the wind was in the east, and there were frequent burst pipes in the winter. The main room was draughty because of defective window fastenings, and difficult to heat. The pupils often had to do oral work round the open fire in the smaller room until it warmed up. It also suffered from glare in winter sunshine (no blinds) and in the summer became too hot, so that lessons were taken in the shade in the road.11 Tatham Fells school fared slightly better - there was a coal stove in each classroom, but they were difficult to light in wind.3 Both schools were particularly cold and damp after the Christmas holiday, and it was sometimes too dark to do ordinary work.3,11
For physical education, Tatham had an adjoining uneven field, and Tatham Fells used a small playground in which PE was almost impossible because of the poor surface and lack of drainage. Each school used a tank to collect rainwater for drinking. During droughts, water was carried from a nearby farmhouse in Tatham, whilst at Tatham Fells water was taken from a nearby stream and filtered. Both schools used earth closets. At lunchtime most pupils went home, but at Tatham Fells those living too far away brought sandwiches, and, if the stove had been lit, were given a warm drink.3,11
The school day was 9.00am - 3.30pm, or 3.15pm in winter so that pupils could get home in daylight. The school sometimes closed early on dark afternoons or for snow - afternoon playtime was suspended instead. Attendance was carefully monitored, with regular visits from the Attendance Officer. Monthly lists were published for each county and it was a source of great pride for a school to top the list. School closed about fifteen minutes early on Friday if there had been 100% attendance for the week. The Summer Outing to Morecambe was also dependent on attendance of over 90% for the year. In Tatham, school attendance was often affected by the weather; snowy or icy roads in the fells, and flooded fields and streams could make the routes to school impassable in wet weather in Low Tatham. Attendance at both schools also suffered if haytime went on beyond mid August. A Medical Certificate of Exemption was issued if attendance fell to less than 60% because of an epidemic (measles/mumps/impetigo/flu). Cases were heard at Hornby Court.3,11
Mrs. Wright drove to Tatham Fells School via Burton-in-Lonsdale, Mrs. McIntyre from Wray and Mrs. Beattie to Tatham School from the Gressingham area. Most pupils walked, but four children who lived over 3 miles from Tatham Fells School were brought there by a bus, which then took the older children to Burton (from 1932). A taxi for children from Croasdale Grains and Whitray was proposed in 1941 by the District Clerk. Children from outside Tatham could be admitted - Daniel Denby came by the school taxi from Green Farm, Low Bentham to Tatham Fells, and Mrs. McIntyre brought some pupils from Wray. Occasionally pupils from Low Tatham went to Wray School, but Low Tatham gained pupils from Wennington.3,11
Caning (on the hand) was used very rarely for a serious offence, but this did not happen at either school in 1938.3,11 Mrs Wright lined pupils up outside school in the morning and if they had dirty clogs they got into trouble. Mr. Brennand from Whitray hid behind the wall one morning and watched her, then complained that it was impossible for children to walk from up in the fells and to arrive at school clean.6 The following are extracts for 1938 from the School Log books.
One of the main differences between the two schools was the way in which they were funded. Low Tatham had been given land by Hornby Castle to build the school. Some of this was sold and the proceeds invested, and the rest, a house and farm, were let, providing a regular income of c. £30 in 1938 which was used for repairs to the school, prizes and a Scholarship of £10 p.a. for two years for any scholar qualifying for High School.12 Tatham Fells on the other hand had no regular income. An application for a subscription towards Burton Senior School was turned down each year, and there were no funds to repair the school playground.3
Despite the relatively healthy financial situation of Tatham School, it had experienced a gradual decline in school numbers, as illustrated by the chart below; by early 1938 it was down to five.
Mrs. Beattie left at Easter to take up a new post, and Mrs. Steele was appointed on a temporary basis, as there was a proposal to close the school. Tatham Parish Council wrote to the County Council protesting against the closure, and in May the School Managers, South Lonsdale Education Committee and the County Council Education Committee met to discuss the matter.11
The school continued with five pupils and a temporary teacher whilst a decision was awaited. Mrs. Beattie's departure meant that the School House had become vacant, and this was let to the Towers family (Harry Towers already held the tenancy of the School Farm). The school thereby acquired three new pupils in October – Richard, Betty & Doreen Towers, bringing the total up to eight, which helped to secure its future, and the head teacher's appointment was made permanent.11, 12
The anticipated outbreak of war was also doubtless a contributory factor in keeping the school open. In September 1938 notice was received of possible evacuees coming to Tatham, in particular school groups. By 1940 there were 21 evacuees at Tatham School in addition to the local pupils, and 7 children from Burton Secondary School had been re-admitted.
John Colin Miller, a pupil of Tatham School from 1940 to 1946, has written a wonderfully evocative description of his daily walk to school from his home at Millhouses, published in the Lancaster Guardian in 2018. Click here to read.
Both Tatham churches had strong links to the two schools, and were otherwise very active, as was the Methodist Chapel in Lowgill.
In 1938, Rev. A.S. Roberts was the rector of St. James the Less church in Low Tatham. Tatham Fells church, however, had no designated incumbent priest; Rev. Windsor Garnett had retired in 1936, and had not been replaced. According to the registers, several clergy officiated there during a three-year inter-regnum, including both Rev. Roberts and Rev. Garnett. Tatham Fells School log book mentions a Rev. Tripp in 1938, and it is most likely that he had been asked to "cover"; he may have been attached to a nearby church or else a retired priest.16
The Diocesan authorities were probably working at this time towards merging the two livings – a process that would require an Act of Parliament. In February 1939, Rev. Arthur Roberts was inducted Rector of Tatham and Tatham Fells, thus uniting the parish.3, 16
There was a Tatham Church choir, and much of the social life in the area was also centred on the church, with the proceeds of many of the events going to church funds.
Wirelesses had reached Tatham by the early 1930s, and East View (Lowgill) certainly had one by 1938. In 1934, Chris Cheetham heard the wireless at Carrfield and was so impressed that he had bought his own by November that year. His diary records “Heard the wedding [Duke of Kent to Princess Marina of Greece on 29th November] on the wireless, very wonderful, heard them speak distinctly, & the preachers, & singing, & music. Bells ringing, people cheering, etc. etc.” "Farming Today" topics were listed each week in the Craven Herald. Wirelesses were powered by lead-acid batteries, which could be re-charged in Bentham (though transporting them was difficult, as they had to be kept upright) or swapped for fresh batteries supplied by a travelling service agent.
Pianos were also widely advertised in the newspapers, costing in the order of £27 cash or 17/6d per month, with second-hand items starting at £5; more affluent households in Tatham probably owned one.
There were WIs in Wennington and Wray. Wennington WI held some of its meetings at Tatham Rectory, and Mrs. Beattie from School House was among its members. Usually there was a talk, but one meeting held a debate: “Should the husband take his wife an early cup of tea?”. The voting was 8 for, and 10 against. After the talk, the social half hour included singing and whist, and there was an annual trip by motor coach. Mothers' Union meetings were also sometimes held at Tatham Rectory, presided over by Mrs. Roberts, or by Mrs. Baldwin Bent of Wray. At one, Melling Glee Union delighted the company with songs and sketches plus recitations.
For men there was a Lunesdale Billiard League, which included teams from Wray and Wennington, and evening talks, discussion groups and lantern lectures in Bentham and Hornby. There were occasional adult evening classes at each of the Tatham schools, and regular classes in Bentham such as Keep Fit (separate classes for men and women), Dressmaking, Home Nursing for women and First Aid for Men. Bentham cinema re-opened in 1934, newly-built with sound equipment (for the new talking films).
In late June each year, a circus visited Bentham for one day, and in July 1938 an Air Circus came to a field (now part of Riverside Caravan Park) at Low Bottom farm, with daily aerobatics displays and competitions for flights. The flat land beside the Wenning was used occasionally by light aircraft throughout the 1930s.
In 1938 Tatham Fells annual sports featured the Slaidburn Silver Band and Maypole dancing, and the programme included quoits, clay pigeon shooting, fell races and novelty events such as musical chairs on cycles, Gretna Green, and married women's races. Bentham Agricultural Show was held on the first Saturday in September on its usual fields by the railway station, and was reported as being a success despite pouring rain.
Other entertainment is perhaps summed up by the following newspaper reports:
Other material is from Tatham Parish Council minutes, the Lancaster Guardian, the Lancaster Observer and the Craven Herald.
Acknowledgements and thanks to: