Colin Miller recalls his daily walk from Millhouses to the school
Originally published in the Lancaster Guardian,
Thursday 11 October 2018,
and reproduced here with the kind permission of
Click any image to enlarge
Mill Farm in the 1960s
Home was Mill Farm, Millhouses, near Wray in
Lancashire; school was Low Tatham Church of England School, near Wennington.
The distance from home to school was about 1½ miles and there were so many
distractions along the way that I am amazed that we arrived at school on
time. The period was 1940-1946.
Immediately outside the farm gate
there was a bridge over the mill stream formed from three large stones.
The stream powered the bobbin mill next door. When the mill pond was full,
small brown trout could be seen darting about. Also seen occasionally was
a water hen paddling about on the banks of the stream.
Millhouses bobbin mill, c.1950
Drawing from memory by Colin Miller
the track, avoiding cow pats left by cows going out after milking, were
myself, my sister Kathleen and later my younger sister Lucy.
The track passed through the 'woodyard'; this was where logs were piled up
waiting to be sawn into shorter lengths for the sawmill, part of the
bobbin mill, run by Mr. Dixon and Mr. Walmsley. One hundred yards along the
track was Millhouse Farm owned by Mr. Ireton. We would often catch up with
him carrying a pole on his shoulders with a pail of milk on each end. He
would be taking these further along the lane to Lanehead Farm. Along the
lane we passed Sam Winn's cottage.
in the 1930s.
Photo courtesy the late Arthur Hodgson
His dog, a Jack Russell terrier,
called Spot because of his black and white markings, would be setting off
to find Sam. Sam Winn was a 'roadman' and he could be anywhere along one
of the four roads which formed the junction at the end of the lane. At the
next cottage we might be joined by Roy Huddleston and at the end of the
lane by Norma Bateson. There were two evacuees staying in the village, one
staying with the Iretons called Richard Tongue, one staying with the
Huddlestons called John Williams, and they might join us.
in the 1930s.
Photo courtesy the late Arthur Hodgson
Lanehead farm and Millhouses.
the late Eddie Rawlinson
road at the end of the lane was Lanehead Farm where Eddie and John
Rawlinson lived. Eddie was responsible for carrying a half gallon of milk
to the school. One morning a stallion was in the yard about to do what
stallions do; we stopped to watch but were swiftly moved on by Mrs.
We would set off in groups of two or three, taking the
Wennington road. There was a hilly pasture on the left with sheep and
lambs, also dozens of rabbits. We would clap our hands and they would
scamper to their burrows. In the field on the right there were cattle.
Amongst the hedgerows were a gooseberry bush, a redcurrant bush, hazelnut
trees, hawthorn trees as well as blackberries.
Along the road a beck
came to the side of it. There was no fence and the beck had a gravel
bottom, so it was possible to paddle in it. Further along there was a
bridge from which you could see small trout 'bullheads' darting about.
Along the banks of the beck grew marsh marigolds.
After the bridge the
road started to rise slowly with wide verges on either side, on which grew
all manner of wild flowers. Hogweed grew here whose hollow stems can be
made into peashooters. Past the lane end to Old Bottom Farm, the road
climbed sharply through a wooded area. The wood seemed dark and mysterious
to young eyes. There were crows in the pine tree, noisy and chattering,
and a late brown owl might come flapping through the trees, a horse
chestnut tree providing conkers.
After the wood the road levelled off
with agricultural land on one side and pasture on the other. In the
hedgerows there were rosehips. During the war we were paid to pick
rosehips in order for them to be made into rosehip syrup. Around a bend
past a lane end to Feathermire the road climbed again, with hay fields on
the left and cattle pasture on the right. A grassy bank on the right had
some wild strawberries; sloes grew in the hedges as did hazelnuts.
turned left off the road onto a farm track which led to Parkside Farm,
home of the Garlicks. On the right hand side of the track was a pond,
which had frogs and tadpoles in it. During frosty weather the pond would
freeze over and we would slide about on it. Next to the Garlicks' farm there
was a small bungalow in which my grandparents lived. I had to deliver a
pint of milk to them. If the weather was cold we just had time to warm our
hands. Around the corner the way to school was through the farmyard where
we might by joined by Marion Garlick. Young heifers might be in the yard
let out for a drink of water, as turkeys and hens wandered about.
After the yard we took a path alongside a hedge through a cornfield to a
gate at the end. Through the gate was a pasture with sheep and cows, which
had a white flower growing which I call the 'pignut' plant. This is
because the root forms a nut which is good to eat, and which pigs forage
Approaching the school from
Lower Tatham School
The field goes sharply downhill and the school comes into view.
We hurry down because the bell would be ringing; there Mrs. Steel, the
teacher, would be waiting for us and wearing a blue dress with a string of
beads. Kids came from other directions and once we were all assembled a
roll call would be held and then lessons would begin.
Although Mrs. Steel was a kindly soul she possessed a cane. Anyone caught misbehaving
would be dealt a short sharp blow across the palm of their hand. I
remember it well.