These are transcriptions and recordings I made with my Great Aunt Janie Robinson in 2004, when she was 92

School Days

Learning to Write

You learned to write on a slate with a slate pencil. And there was a water bottle with water in to put on your slates to wash it. You had a hanky and a duster every morning with you, and you used the duster for cleaning your slate. Two big [inaudible] like that. And the cross on the bottom line. There was the two lines together like that and the capital letter had to touch the bottom line and they had to go in between.

And the two lines away and you just had one line. And it was the same, you had to go up to the top and bottom with the capital letters. And you could tell, oh, for years after anybody that had learnt to write at Ennerdale School. When you got a letter, it'd be, "Oh, this is somebody from Ennerdale." You knew the writing because there was very few bad writers in them days. This was the same with reading.

Knitting and Sewing

We had a knitting lesson every Thursday afternoon. And when we started school, we learned to knit and knit dolls' clothes for the dolls in school. And each lot that started did another lot for them. So they were well-dressed [laughter]. And we had a sewing class two afternoons a week. And we made a pinafore and underclothes and all different things all the way through.


The teachers, there was a Mr. and Mrs. Kerr. They were the headmaster and the headteacher. And then there was another teacher used to come, take you in the little room till you went into standard one. And then you went into the big room. And you were in the class-- in the big room was standard one and two. And sometimes, if you weren't up to the mark with your exams, you stopped down. You didn't go up into the next class. You stopped down there in standard three. And you went up into headmaster's classes at standard four. And you were there four, five, six, and seven. And when I was in standard seven-- and then there was one at standard seven and one [ex-seven?] if you were right through, you see. So I was in the top of standard seven when I left school at 14.

All the new starters and that, and up till they were ready to go into standard one, you were in with head teacher, Mrs. Kerr. But oh, they were very, very strict. And if the boys saw Mr. Kerr or Mrs. Kerr out of school always, at night or a Saturday, a Sunday, and they didn't touch their caps, and if the girls didn't say, "Good afternoon, teacher," or something like that to them, you were brought out in class next day and caned. And it wasn't just a case of one stroke, sometimes. Some of them get four. And in them days, anybody that did anything wrong, if you went to the-- if the parents went to the school and told the headmaster, he used to bring them out and give them a good talking to, and it didn't happen again. But of course, these days, they can't control them in school, never mind out of school. But we were learned discipline and manners and everything in them days.

And as I say, anybody that was all right, if you could do your work and that, you were quite happy.

Oh, there'd be, I should think-- well, one teacher, the headmaster, took standards. Standard four, standard five, standard six, and standard seven. He did them all. And he did all the subjects and everything.

Walking to School

Oh, it was different altogether when we were there. And I mean, there was just the big classroom. And when we started school, we walked from Croasdale, and when you were five year old. It was dark when you left in the morning. It was dark when you got home at night. It'd be about two and a half-- two and a half mile each way. And we daren't stop off. If you stopped off, you were in serious trouble. I can remember when there was up to 100 going to school there from the farms and all round the area.

Wet Days

When we went, if it was a wet day and you were wet when you got there, there was slippers and dry stockings. And they dried your own wet clothes by the fire in the classrooms. And then the boys-- well, your skirt bottoms were wet. And you stood with your back to the fire till you got dried [laughter]. You were steaming up. And the boys used to stand with their pants-- because their pants in them days, they were buttoned below the knee. And all their back of their legs were wet. So they had to stand. And sometimes, some of them were standing till nearly dinner time before they got dry [laughter].


The year that Harry started school, on the day before we went back to school, for the Easter holidays, there was a blizzard. And Monday morning, it was the height of the hedges coming down close to the roads, down them bends and that. It was the height of the dikes [which] were a lot higher than they are now. And it was the height of the hedges. And we set off in the morning. And we walked the top of the drifts all the way down. I've often thought, when we would come around there late, sometimes, I've thought, "My goodness. We could've been drowned." If we'd gone down inside, we would never have got out.

Well, I wouldn't stop off. It was my fault because I wouldn't stop off. I cried to go to school because I knew I would get into trouble. And another boy should've started the same day as Harry did. And he was going to come with us from Hunter How. And he come on to the-- was coming to me on the road. And he didn't start till the Wednesday. And another girl from Howside should've started the same time. And she didn't start till the Wednesday. And when that lad started from Hunter How, his dad carried him on his shoulders the whole way because he was too little to walk through it all. I often think, "Not a bit of wonder your legs give out, dearie [laughter], when you were walking five mile a day when you were five."


The show committee used to provide the Christmas party and so many prizes for your work. And you got attendance prize. That was from the council, I think-- from the education, I think, that was provided. You got one for your work and your attendance. If you'd under 10 absent days, you got a prize. And you got a special prize if you were perfect. And there was one girl used to come to school from Gillerthwaite, was never absent, never late, as well. And there was another girl-- there were many time when you weren't really fit to go because you daren't stop off.

Day Trip to Seascale

Once a year, we had a school trip. And we went to Seascale. And in them days, they were open coaches. I think it would be-- I don't know. It might have been the start of the Cumberland Buses. I don't know. But there was a Lady Betty, a Lady Margaret, a Lady Mary. And I don't know what the other one was. And they were all open coaches. And the seats went-- [five or six?] sat on the seats crossways instead of them being like they are nowadays. They were all just one seat after another.

And we used to pick a bag up-- one of the teachers used to pick this food-- the bags for the dinners. And he's had to pick them up at Miss Ferguson's on [Beecham?] [inaudible]. And it had a fairy cake in, two fairy cakes in, two dry tea cakes. And you had to use one tea cake and one fairy cake for your dinner time, when we got there, because we used to go in mornings, you see. And then you kept the other one for tea time, before we left to come back.

And we had races and things like that on the beach in the afternoon. And we used to sit on-- if it was a fine day, when we got there, we used to sit on the wall at Seascale while we had our lunch. And then we'd all together back there again for our teas. But if it was a wet day, which it often was, we went into the public hall. But it was a red-letter day was the school-trip day. And then after I left school, I think sometimes they went to Silloth. They're maybe wasn't as many going then, you see. But you used to have a whist drive and dance every year in the school. And that was what they called the children's do. That was to provide the trip. And this.

Behaviour and Attendance

Well, you were happy. But it was like this, David. You were happy when you were at school if you were all right. But anything you did wrong, you were in trouble. I know if Derek had gone to school, when they were teaching his school, we would never have got him there because you daren't stop off. If you were off a week ill, you had to have a doctor's note in on the Monday morning to say why you were there-- why you weren't at school, if you were ill. And there was an attendance officer used to come. And every Tuesday, he used to come from Cleator Moor. And anybody that wasn't at school, he used to go to their houses to see why they weren't there. There was no stopping off school for-- if you didn't want to go to school, you're forced to go to school.

And there was one year - I'll have a photograph -- it was before I started. And they got the shield for perfect attendance for the school, every class, and every kiddie for 12 month. And I think there's about 80 odd on it. I can remember there being 90 children in school because the headmaster used to go down every morning. He used to close the register at quarter to 10:00. And there was a slate just in at the bottom door. And he used to put the number on. And if there was a few off ill or anything, he used to be in a bad temper. But if it was perfect attendance, a good lot, not many off, he was quite all right all day. He lived for the attendance.

Social Life


Oh, well, when we went home, you didn't get any homework. Only, with our knitting, we used to have do so much before the next week. And our parents used to, at wintertime, play dominoes or games of cards or anything in the house. And you were always in bed by half past 7:00. There was no sitting up. And Saturdays, well, when you got older, you'd have to go and do maybe some errands for some people and things like that.

No, we didn't have any electricity, just oil lamps and candles. And no televisions or wireless or anything. You had to make your own fun. But you were never allowed out to run wild. Your mother knew where you were. But we were never allowed out after dark to play. And we were always in bed half past 7:00. We were a treat if you stopped up till 8 o'clock because we started at 9:00. And you hadn't to be late. If you were late, you were made to stop in at night however long you were late in the morning.


Our parents used to take us for walks up there every Sunday night. My dad and mam and us children, we always went for a walk after tea on a Sunday. We daren't step off to pick a flower or anything when my dad was there. We had to keep on the road. We used to go round by the lake and back by the [Wynn's?] Farm or round by Rowton and round that way.

And once a month, we went to Rowton Farm on the Sunday afternoon for a Bible class. Mrs. Williamson used to have it always. And after that, we went to-- I think it was 2 o'clock it started. And after we finished with the class, she made tea for us all. And we all got our teas before we set off back home. And we'd to go to Sunday school in the morning at half past 9:00, stop to church. And Mr. and Mrs. Kerr-- Mr. Kerr was the choirmaster and the organist at church. And Mrs. Kerr used to be sitting in the congregation. And it was woe betide anybody that was in church that didn't behave theirselves because what he didn't see from up sitting at the organ, she saw it from the back of the church. And out in the morning-- Monday morning, you're out before them to say why you were misbehaving.

And then we'd come back from church, come back, we'd to stop to church if there was a service. And then, as I say, once a month, we went home and after we'd had our dinners, we set off and walked to Rowton. And we'd come back from Rowton after we'd had our teas, and we'd to go to church at night. You didn't know any different. I mean, you knew you had to do it, and you did it. You enjoyed it.

Pace Eggs

Pace eggs? Oh, yes, we'd pace eggs. We used to go up on to How Hill, [hill on How side?], and roll them down there [laughter]. Well, it's a hard-boiled hen egg. And there's different things to do with it. I mean, the general way is using onion skins. You put your onion skins in a paper and then put your egg on them and then cover it over with onion skins and make a parcel of it, tie it up, and boil them hard. And then, or when they've boiled about quarter of an hour anyway, to make sure they're really hard, 10 minutes, a quarter of an hour, you take them out and while they're warm, rub them with a butter paper with a bit of butter on it. And then when it dries, they're nice and shiny.

And at some pubs and that, they have pace eggs. They take them and they're what they call dumping them and see who wins with them. But that's sort of gone out now. There's not as many follows it. Everybody used to give you a orange and a pace egg. You always got it from your neighbours or relations. You got a pace egg and sometimes an orange, as well, or maybe a bar of chocolate. But you always got summat at Easter. We used to eat them. We always got a pace egg on Easter Sunday morning [laughter] for your breakfast. And they used to have-- some kids used to try to eat a full yolk all at once. But it wasn't everybody that could manage that. Once you got a full yolk in your mouth, you couldn't speak out [laughter]. Oh, when you were rolling them down, we used to follow down and pick them up again. Now, somebody would go up to top of the-- roll a few down. Somebody catching them at the bottom. But we always followed them and got your own back, and then you eat it.

And everybody, in those days, your windows had a ledge across where the bottom went up and the top come down and met in the middle of the window, the window ledge. And you used to always put your eggs along the window at Easter. And then they started having chocolate eggs. And it was which would have the most chocolate eggs in the windows. But Easter time, the windows were all-- everybody's window, where there was children, there was always either pace eggs or chocolate eggs in. And sometimes, they were in on the window bottoms, as well, if they'd been lucky and got a lot. But you weren't allowed to eat your eggs till Easter Sunday. That was your first ‘un on Easter Sunday morning.

Egg and Flower Service

Once a year, some time in July it used to be, they had what they called the egg and flower service in church. And that was on a Sunday afternoon. And we went round the farms collecting for eggs or flowers or money for this service. And then on the day, we took them all to-- we collected them all again and took them to church and carried them up the church to the altar. And there was two people used to-- the vicar and somebody else would take them off us [inaudible]. And the flowers and that all went to-- and the eggs and that all went to Whitehaven Hospital.

Moving House

Oh, well, we had to move because the people that owned the house that we were living in wanted it because they were retiring from farming, and they wanted the house. So we got the house down in Braemar and came down there. It was a lot handier for school and everything.

The Ennerdale Valley

Horses at Braemar Wood

When we first started school, Braemar Wood was being cut down. It had been [inaudible], and that was first time wood was felled down. And the wood wagons used to come and cart it away. But they had horses. And we used to be terrified as we were walking down to school when we ever met them horses because there was one of them used to bite. And the chap used to be with it. And there'd be maybe four, two twos, in the horses, and the fellow would be standing back. When they were coming down, round by [Lilly Hall?] and round there, they were [inaudible] the width of the road with the wagons. We hadn't much room in the hedges. And with us being little, these horses looked that enormous. And we used to be scared stiff. And everything used to go around by the corner of the school. And sometimes, the wagons used to catch on this corner stone, and it used to rattle all a lot. And we used to be terrified because they were big horses.

Well, they started planting them again. Braemar Wood was never planted for a long time. But I think they've started to cut it down now again, haven't they? But we used to go in there for wild raspberries. There used to be a lot growing there. We used to go in there and pick wild raspberries. And we used to see them going down towards the lake, the Beach Green car park. Those two woods on each side as you go down that narrow road, they were private. And you daren't go in there, whatever. And that was a private road down there. There was gates at the top of it where you went on the-- a proper road to the lake in them days, that way, was straight on. It didn't go down to Beach Green houses. It went straight through. Well, I don't know whether it's open now or not. I think they did open it out a bit because at one time, you couldn't have got through. It all grew up. But there was gates on the road. And you.

The Pumping House

Oh, it isn't all that many years since they built a new pumping house at Ennerdale. And it's down between the cottages now, somewhere down there. But from the car park-- they say there wasn't a car park there. It used to be a mill and the Braemar houses and the grey cottage. There was three houses there, as well. They were houses for the people that worked-- some of them that worked in the mill. I don't know. This was before my time. There'd been a school at Braemar at one time. I think it was the top house that had been a school. But that was before my time.

Anglers Hotel

I used to work at the old Anglers Hotel. I went to work there when I left school. Well, it was hard work. It was right on the lake edge. And you went down that bad road and through the gate. And then there was a road used to go round by the lake edge to your right. And you went this way to the Anglers Hotel. And it was just there, just as you went round at the bottom. It was a lovely place inside, beautiful. And we used to get some very high-class visitors, used to come year after year. And there was a Cook and a Boots and a Housemaid, a Waitress, Kitchen Maid. And I was sort of In- Between Maid when I first went. I had to go help where I was wanted. We had to be downstairs in the morning at 6 o'clock, no later than half-past 6:00. And we, many a time, never went to bed same day as we got up. People coming in, walkers and people coming in late on, if there was room, they were let stay. And they maybe wanted a meal. And oh yes, we had to work.

And we never had any day off or time off, really, fixed time off. But Mrs. Clayton was good. And I mean, if there was a slack time, she would let two or three of us, maybe two go together for an hour or two. But there was no so much time off each day. You had to be there. And everything was spick and span. But we got some good-- she got some good visitors. Now, she was related to some people at Grasmere, you see, that had the Prince of Wales and those hotels. Well, the overflow they had, she got, you see, if there was room. And the same way with her; they went that way. But it was hard work, but it was nice. I enjoyed it. I was there 12 month.

We worked all the summer, and then a lot of them went home, you see, because they were packed out-- there was no work for them in the-- and with me being in Ennerdale, she kept me on. And then I stayed on till-- I had to leave because I was poorly. And then I went to Ambleside as a children's maid. And I was there for three year. I enjoyed that. And then all the family went-- the last one went to boarding school, so I wasn't wanted. So I came home. And I went to work at Loweswater. And I was there for four year. I enjoyed that, as well. And I was the only one there-- at Turner How. Oh, I stayed in. I only came home on a Sunday, Sunday afternoon. Back to Ennerdale. No, I were living at Ennerdale then.

Ah, it’s a long way on a bike [laughter]. Especially, after you go washed up and everything before you set off. It used to take me about an hour. It was all right once I got up-- the hardest part was walking up The Banks. Well, they were going to heighten the lake, the water. Anyway, it didn't come off. So the Anglers Hotel was pulled down. And there's never been anything done with it. It's just flat because they found out they couldn't heighten the lake or something. I don't know what happened. Anyhow, they deepened it in the end, I think. But it used to be a nice setting. There was boats out, three, four boats that people could [hire] -- so much an hour. And some of them folks, fellers used to come up [night-time?] to go fishing. But you always saw so many boats out there—always somebody out in a boat.

I got 10 shilling a week at Anglers Hotel. And when I went to Ambleside, I got 12 and 6. And then when I'd been there-- I was there two year and a half. And when I finished there, I was getting 14 shilling. And then I came home from there and I went to Loweswater, and I got 15 and 6 pence a week. And then before I left, I was getting 17 and 6. But you got your keep, as well, you see. I mean, you had your own uniform and everything to find. But you got your food and that. And I was lucky because wherever I was at, I was always got plenty to eat. But some people, some places, [they were so?] hungry places. But I was lucky. I always had plenty to eat.

Black Sail Huts

We went up [Black Sail] huts. Oh, there was about seven of us, I think it was. I would be about 17. I was at home from Ambleside anyhow because I used to come-- when I was at Ambleside, I used to come home about October and go back again in maybe the beginning of March. And they used to go to Switzerland for the snow and that, you see. All the family went. And I used to come on board wages. And this one year, they wanted me to go. But anyway, I didn't want to go. I said, "I would rather not." And when you'd had to walk home so many times in the snow and everything, you didn't like snow. So I thought, "I'm not going where all the snow is."

So there was about seven of us, I think, that year. We'd go for a walk up to the huts because Annie Williamson had used to live at Rowton. Her dad used to have sheep up there. And a cousin of mine, her dad had sheep up there, as well. And they used to go up when they were sheering the sheep. They didn't bring them down the valley. They used to gather them all up off the fellers up there and clip them up at the huts. And they used to stay up for maybe a week at a time when they were doing anything like that. So we would go this day.

And we set off from Ennerdale about half past 7:00. I think it were 8 o'clock or something. And we picked one or two up as we were going up, you see. And we walked to Gillerthwaite. And when we got to Gillerthwaite, we went in there because one of the lasses that was with us, her parents lived at Gillerthwaite. So we went in there, and we got a cup of tea and some cake and that, and then we set off again. And we took sandwiches and everything. And we finally got to the huts. And then we put a fire on up there and put on the kettle and had our sandwiches and had a rest. And then we set out.

I don't know what time we set off back again. But we walked back again till we got to Gillerthwaite. And then we called in again. We got another refreshment. Then we set off again. And next day, I couldn't put my feet to the ground. I never walked as far in my life. Gosh, it was a long way. Every time we come around a corner, they kept saying, "It's just around the next corner." Well, I think we went round a lot of corners before we finally saw the huts. And then another day, I walked round the lake. A few of us did that. But that wasn't as far. You could see, when you got the top, when you started to come back, you knew were coming back home. Oh, that day we went up to [the?] huts, I never forgot it. What a long way. It was on a Saturday. I know I didn't go to church on Sunday. I was too tired [laughter].

Changing Landscape

Oh, all the scenery's all changed. It's nothing like the same place with all the trees and everything. It used to be--well, Crag Fell and that, it to used to all be bare and covered in blueberry [wires?] end of June and July and beginning of August. They used to come from all over picking blueberries up on there. And you can't see it. It's all covered in trees now. And I mean, as I say, all the roads and that and the farms, a lot of them, you can't see them for trees. Everything seems to have gone that high. It's all been covered in forestry

Where Have All the Farms Gone?

Oh, yes. There's hardly any farms left now. I mean, all the places are-- well, there's two farms at [Crow's Hill?] there. There's one man owns them both now. He farms them both. And Oughterside’s still a farm. And Beckfoot isn't. [Wynn's?] is. Well, Rowton, it isn't really the farm that it used to be. It's more just a house and so many acres or something now. Because they had llamas there for a bit. I don't know who's there now. And then, Mireside's still a farm. And How Hall's still a farm.


School Reunion

I went up to the official opening after [Ennerdale] school was done up --after all the alterations had been done. The first one, I think it did take place, but there wasn't much there because it wasn't finished. And then they had an official day and an open day.

And a friend of mine, she [inaudible]. Well, she was 88 then. She went with me. She said, "What about going up to this thing?" So I said, "Oh, well, all right." So we went. And Derek took us up, and then he come back for us and brought us back home. Well, when we got there, there was hardly anybody we knew. There was the vicar. He come and talked to us. There was William Rawlins, Jimmy Rickerby. And then I knew, there was Joy Ireland from Whins Farm, she was there. We were talking to her. But I've never thought - and we both said the same thing - we'd be in Ennerdale School and see as many strangers. There wasn't anybody that had gone to school when we went turned up to come to see it. And we were really disappointed because we thought, "Well, we'll see a few a bit younger maybe than we are." But I mean, after that, we thought that some of them would've been there. But there wasn't anybody. They were all strangers.

A Nice Life

Oh, I've had a nice life. I can't grumble really. I've had some ups and downs. But I'm quite thankful to be as good as I am now, although I would like to walk a bit better.

I think we were happier in them days than what a lot of the children are today because it didn't take a-- you'd a happy home life and everything, and your mother was always there when you went home from school.