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" Derwent Fells ~ History in 20 Objects ~ "

Date & start time: Saturday / Sunday 19/20th October 2013.

Places visited : The Yew Tree Hall, Lorton, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 161 255 )

Walk details :   Anti-clockwise round the hall ... twice !

Highlight : The depth of knowledge and enterprise found in the people of the valley.

With : Ann plus approx 350 others (in total over the weekend).

Weather : Not relevant ... they have a good roof over the hall.

" Derwent Fells ~ History in 20 Objects ~ " at EveryTrail

Last weekend there was a local exhibition

in the Yew Tree Hall in Lorton Village, here in the valley.


It was organised by the Derwent Fells Local History Society

to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The members of the group selected 20 objects of local origin

that depicted life in this part of Cumbria over the last millennia or more.


All exhibits were on loan for the weekend

from members and friends of the society.

The Yew Tree Hall in Lorton.

Originally the building was part of the original Jennings brewery, it is now used as the Lorton Village Hall.

Parking where you can in the village . . . the cottage on the Boon Beck turn is looking very smart after its recent re-paint.

Over the back of the village hall is the ancient Lorton Yew  made famous by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) in one of his poems.

The past brought to life is the theme of this weekend's exhibition . . . " The History of the Valley in 20 Objects".

The exhibition has been put on by the Local History Society

with whom permission was given for these photos to grace the web site today.

This is our area . . . the parishes and fells of the Cocker and Derwent Valleys in the north-west of the English Lake District.

[ Red hue courtesy of the overhead infra-red room heaters . . . cosy on this damp day.]

1. Starting at the beginning . . . Neolithic stone axes found in the Buttermere Valley.

There's a site not far away in the Langdale Valley, on the side of Pike O'Stickle, famous for production of similar stone axes. 

These were traded over large areas of Britain, Ireland and parts of Europe.    

Axes were used by neolithic man to cut trees, for their hunting ... and presumably fighting.

2.  also on the table above . . . Stones from Bronze Age burnt mounds at Buttermere.

Burnt Mounds show the existence of long-term habitation of an area.  Fire was an important tool of early man

and the evidence of burnt mounds in the Loweswater area has therefore proved habitation continued on during bronze age times.

The stone axes which were found locally prove that human habitation in our area stretches back probably at least 1000 yrs before the bronze age.

3. Bloomery Slag, bi-product of early medieval iron production.

There are several sites where iron was smelted in open fires . . . an example of one such site being Cinderdale on the side of Crummock Water.

This type of early iron production was only superseded in Britain by the blast furnace technology of the industrial revolution of the 18th Century.

4.  Fragments of equipment from the Loweswater Mine

There was a mine in the village which was dug for lead and other minerals.  It was centred on the Nether Close close to Scale Hill.

A water leat round the fellside from Crabtree Beck provided power to the mine through a waterwheel system.

The photos showed the society's investigation of the course of the leat and the cog wheels come from the old mine site.

The exhibits were accompanied by useful notes . . . hope you can read them.

5.  Cavalry Sword of a Cumberland Yeoman Farmer .

Jaquie Bower provided this sword, a family heirloom . . . it dates back to about 1795.

The politics of land ownership and the "home guard" over two hundred years ago !

6.  Thomas West's "Guide to the Lakes" 3rd Edn., circa 1784.

The start of tourism in the Lake district started with early guide books like this.

Before this time the Lake District was regarded as a hostile region of high mountains and out of the reach of normal people.

The writings of Thomas West and the Lakeland Poets like Southey and Wordsworth open the world's eyes to the beauty of the Lakes.

1784 makes this book nearly two hundred and thirty years old.

Just ten years later this Peter Crosthwaite map shows the detail of the area, now open to tourism.

Viewing Stations were places that the Victorian travellers were recommended to visit in order to view the beauty of the area.

7.  A 1820's porcelain sweatmeat dish by Davenport.

Davenport Porcelain, though produced in Staffordshire in the middle of England, reflected the beauty of this part of the Lakes in their designs.

The artist has probably depicted the Hause at the corner below Rannerdale Knotts, a familiar motor road in present times.

[ Lakeland views on pottery were often stylised and the background not always accurate to the specific location.]

At the top, a map of the grand tour of Buttermere
Boots kindly loaned by the Fell & Rock Climbing Club.

8.  Souvenir cedar Wood drawer unit (Mauchline Ware)

Photo of the old hotels in the centre of Buttermere, The Fish Hotel in the background, The Victoria (now The Bridge Hotel) in the foreground.

The tourists of the time wanted to buy mementos of their visit. This small wooden item was made from the off-cuts of the Lakeland Pencil Factory.

It was suitably decorated with miniature scenes from the areas that the tourists would have visited on their journey through the Lakes.

9. Climbing Boots - The History of Rock Climbing

The Lakes are regarded as the "Home of Rock Climbing" with Wasdale Head Inn being the spiritual home of the Fell and Rock Club.

There is a famous stone cairn on the side of Pillar Fell in Ennerdale, the second picture shows the day it was erected by

the Fell and Rock Climbing Club as a memorial to John Wilson Robinson of Lorton, 1853-1907, who climbed Pillar Rock over a hundred times.

A map from the memory of a rock climber.
A book entitled "The art of Mountain Tramping" by R.V. Hall.

10.  A Memory map - a personal record from the memory of an early rock climber.

This map was the hand written record of early climbs in the Buttermere Valley, the book, an introduction to the "art" of walking the hills.

[ Locally we now call it 'mountain walking' but the New Zealanders still refer to their walking in New Zealand as 'tramping'.]

11.  Burnt Lime from Pardshaw Crags.

The volcanic and slate geology of the central Lakes is surrounded by limestone.

Burnt Lime was an important product, spread over the soil to neutralise the acidity which help improve the fertility for agriculture.

Lime was also used in lime-wash to paint on the outside of buildings.

12.  Pieces of Millstone and a corn drying tile from Brackenthwaite Corn mill.

Almost lost in the overgrowth and woodland, the site was investigated by the society and old millstones discovered.

13.  Horse Shoe from a Cart Horse.

Looking back at a way of life still within the memory of the older generation, horses were an important part of the Lorton / Loweswater scene.

Our home used to be called Smithy Cottage and these old shoes came from an old farm stable building locally.

14.  Butter making equipment.

The cream was separated from the farm milk, then rotated in an enclosed churn till it turned to butter. 

The bi-product (butter-milk) remaining in the churn was  not wasted but fed to the farm animals.

The resultant rich yellow butter was worked with the butter pads into blocks on the 'butter slate' to the left,

then marked with the roller producing a decorative trade mark identifiable to the farm.  Finished butter was often sold at the market in Cockermouth.

15. Book of " Maps of A Portion of Cumberland " ... 25 inches to the mile scale, circa 1863.

Britain led the world in production of quality mapping (and still does).    This large book of maps was owned by the local parliamentarian

and land agent.  It was used to organise payments of rents and settle disputes over ownership.

Hold your cursor over the map to see the current Ordnance Survey equivalent map.

The properties known as The Grange and Waterend were all part of the same property in 1863, called The Grange.

Note that the farm and the main house at Waterend seem to have swapped names over the years.

A view of the same north-western end of Loweswater Lake.

16.  Lorton main drainage scheme Indenture, 1881.

A major Victorian undertaking was to drain the fields around Lorton in order to improve agriculture.

An underground culvert was built for 2550 yards (yes ... about a mile and a half) down the valley, a major project with the culvert often

quite deep underground and crossing several river channels in order to drain the excess water away to a lower part of the valley.

18.  Scrapbook: Embleton and Wythop School, circa 1967.

A scrapbook from the old school at Wythop (sited on the top road under Ling Fell) made interesting reading.

17.  " History of the Quakers "   by William Sewell, 1722.

A whole exhibition could be given over to the Quaker Organisation which was founded by George Fox in the 1650's and had great following

in this area.  The photos were of the Quaker Meeting House at Pardshaw and the book, a rare copy dating back to the 18th century.

" The History of the People called Quakers "

19.  Oil can from the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway.

The advent of the railways brought tourism to the Southern Lakes and later provided industrial and tourism access to our area. 

This oil can exemplifies the history of the railway that was built from Penrith thorough Keswick and Embleton to Cockermouth.

The Workington to Cockermouth bit was built as a separate venture and opened 18 years before the Penrith to Cockermouth line.

For a short period after the opening of the Penrith line there were two stations in Cockermouth.

A timetable from the mid 1950's.

Much of the old track bed was utilised in the building of the modern A66 roadway.

20.  Farm Sale and Printing Equipment.

Printing equipment meant the ability to spread news and advertise business. 

Many local papers had their origins in the old printers works of Cockermouth.

This way to our famous Loweswater Show . . . hold your cursor over the picture to read the words.

21. Tracheotomy Set - Tom and the Strangling Angel.

The local doctor was an important member of society and this medical set was used to alleviate breathing problems associated with Diphtheria.

"The Strangling Angel" was the name given to the infectious disease that was a killer of children in past centuries. 

The story card about the local boy Tom being saved by a tracheotomy without anesthetics in his local home was particularly moving.

[ Those keen of mind will note we have exceeded the 20 items . . . but we're not counting . . . are you ?]

Wartime - and the death of John Beck who lived in our Smithy Cottage.
Aircraft wreckage from Red Pike.

22. Wartime . . . Nosecone from a training bomb,

from the crash of a Wellington Bomber

on Red Pike, June 1944.


I visited the site in October 2010.

Check out my pictures here.


Wartime also meant the creation of "The Home Guard".

Many faces here are recognisable . . .  either from personal contacts or from family resemblances.

Jennings Brewery . . . an important local industry . . .
. . . was originally started here in the village.

23 Jennings Brewery and the Yew Tree Hall . . .an original key.

An old rusty key holds a wealth of memories.

The Yew Tree Hall was originally the maltings bit of Jennings rather than the actual brewery.

which is believed to be in Tenters, maybe even Brewery House, just round the corner.

The building we are in today is now the Lorton Village Hall

and the brewery has moved into Cockermouth

to take advantage of the water supply and to have

better communications with its raw material suppliers

and ever-thirsty customers.



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24 Lorton Women's Institute Programme Card, 1928/29.


The Women's Institute is still well represented in the village

and holds regular meetings in the hall.


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Over the weekend the exhibition was visited by nearly four hundred people,

which is a great tribute to the members who put in such hard work in collecting it all together and putting on such a excellent display.

If you want to learn more, check out their web site

The exhibition will be featured in full in their next edition of their journal which will be free to members of the society.

No doubt, it will also feature a programme of their meetings for the forthcoming year . . . new members always welcome as they say !

The late Ron George, founding chairman.

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The pictures brought to you with the kind permission of . . .


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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Canon 1100D SLR digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a history of the valley in 20 Objects.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 10th to 15th October 2013 - A Week in the Life ...

A previous time in the area - 19th November 2010 Lorton ~ One Year On

Next walk - 20th October 2013 - Lowther Photo Exhibition and walk