Archive Project update

The CLHF has with the help of funding from the The Westmorland Dales and the Heritage Lottery Fund  started to roll out the CLHF Archive Catalogue for use by member societies to store and access digital version of their archive documents and images with the option of making them available to  members and the general public on-line. Any groups interested in adopting this system should contact Nigel Mills by email


CHANGE OF TRUSTEE. At the recent Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 15th October 2022 Jane Platt stepped down as a trustee of the Federation. We would like to thank Jane for all the support that she has provided to the Federation whilst she was a trustee. Richard Brockington, who was a previous Chair of the Federation, was proposed to replace Jane as a trustee. Richard was unanimously elected to the post. He joins Jill Wishart and Graham Brooks as the trustees of the Federation.

Archive Project Report

The Federation’s Archive management project is now complete. We held 2 two-day courses and then the Archive Consultant Kevin Bolton visited those groups who have archive and has done a separate report for each to help them progress their archives. Kevin has also produced an overall report for the Federation and this is available along with the notes handed out on the courses at  CLHF Resources

Retirement of Prof.Peter Roebuck.

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 situation the Federation has cancelled the AGM for 2020. Our chairman, Peter Roebuck has unfortunately had to take the decision to resign from the chair due to ongoing health problems. Graham Brooks has stepped in as acting Chairman and will remain in position until the Federation is able to hold an AGM. We would like to thank Peter for all the hard work he has done on behalf of the Federation and wish him well in the future.

James Theodore “Ted” Relph, 1925 – 2020. Memories.

We are sad to hear of the death of local historian, Ted Relph, earlier this year and thought you may like to read two accounts of his life from two people who knew him well Ted Relph, his life in Crosby Ravensworth and the War years; by Gordon Bowness Ted Relph, Countryman, local historian, and the Lakeland Dialect Society: by Jean Scott-Smith Photograph courtesy of Jean Scott-Smith

Lockdown Quiz – Results and answers!

There were sixteen submissions, most of them from individuals and some from couples.  The spread of representation from our groups was very wide.  To judge from messages received, participants found it challenging, informative and enjoyable…

75th Anniversary of VE Day

We have just heard from Rav Dehele, a researcher with BBC who is currently working on some programming in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.   “As a part of this programming we are currently working on making a short film that involves family members of veterans sending in a short video message to say thank you, and to say how proud they are of their family members’ contribution and sacrifice during the Second World War. I was wondering if you would be able to share the official BBC flyer (see attached) with your members, or on your social media channels? We would love to try and get as many video messages as possible. The flyer directs people to an email address. Once they have sent an email to that address, they will receive instructions on what we would like to them film, how they need to film

Are you up to the challenge of our Lockdown Quiz??

A LOCKDOWN QUIZ During the current period of ‘lockdown’ members of CLHF may wish to ‘have a go’ at the following Quiz about the history of Cumbria. Answers should be sent on-line, no later than Friday 15 May, to  Submissions should include a name, and whether that person is a member of a group (which group) or an indívídual member.  In the (unlikely) event of any dispute, the CLHF’s Committee’s decision will be final.  With thanks to the following for the questions: Adrian Allan, Ruth Lawley, Lorna & Mike Mullett, John Poland & Peter Roebuck. The three most successful submissions, together with the answers, will be included in the next issue of the Bulletin and placed on the website. QUIZ Around 400 years ago, according to legend, Herdwick sheep were brought into Cumbria: from which country? Brougham Castle is partly built on which Roman fort? Identify the following places

Covid-19 and Cumbria Archives and libraries

Coronavirus in Cumbria: documenting the pandemic in our county The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted on all aspects of life and is likely to have far reaching consequences for individuals, communities and the economy. All our archive centres and libraries are closed to the public for the first time ever but Cumbria Archive Service continues its work.  We are seeking your help to assist us in recording the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cumbria. Cumbria Archive Service is asking you to write about your experiences, take a photograph or collect published material which will document the pandemic. We will preserve and make this material available for research for future generations. Further information here.

Now that you’re at home with nothing much to do………….

Now could be the ideal time to catch up with your local history project – or start one! During the extended period of self-isolation and social distancing, members may well wish to explore some of the websites which they will find listed on our website under the heading of ‘County Guide’ and its sub-headings of ‘Organisations’ and ‘CLHF Links’. In addition, members may wish to explore such further sites as the following :- Cumbria Libraries . The online resources which can be accessed from home, free of charge, signing in per your Library card, include ‘British Library Newspapers’ (which include runs of the Carlisle Journal, 1833 – 66, and the Westmorland Gazette, 1818 – 67),and  the thousands of articles on individuals to be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The National Library of Scotland’s website  makes available, free of charge, Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales (as well as Scotland) allowing one

Levens in the Shadow of the Great War

Since its foundation in June 2006, the Levens Local History Group (a member group of the CLHF) has published, as a group or as individuals, a number of books and papers, including, most recently, with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Levens in the Shadow of the Great War. Besides providing brief biographies, accompanied by photographs, of those who were killed and those who survived, the book importantly describes how village life was affected by and adjusted to wartime conditions. Chapters include those on ‘Levens and the Navy’, ‘Levens Women’s Institute’, ‘Votes for Women’, and ‘Levens School’, besides those on the Levens war memorial and roll of honour. A digital copy of the book is freely available for anyone to download for personal use per the Group’s website. As the book acknowledges, a book of this nature is a community enterprise that draws widely on the goodwill and

Holme Cultram Abbey, An Archaeological and Historical Guide

Based on the research undertaken by the West Cumbria Archaeological Society over the past fourteen years, the recent publication of Holme Cultram Abbey, An Archaeological  and Historical Guide (27 pages) is to be welcomed as a  very accessible, well illustrated account of the Abbey’s history and of the excavation and geophysical work undertaken by Society members and members of the community   with Grampus Heritage Training Ltd. The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Solway Sustainable Community Fund provided financial support. Founded as a daughter house of the Cistercian abbey of Melrose, the artefacts found during the excavations provided further evidence to that of surviving archives of the abbey’s trading and other contacts with the outside world ; as a house of the Cistercian Order, its abbots attended Chapter General meetings at the Order’s headquarters at Citeaux in France. Later this year, the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society will publish

Hadrian’s Wall Networking Day

A valuable insight into the work of the networks associated with the study and promotion of Hadrian’s Wall was presented at this year’s Hadrian’s Wall Networking Day, held at Carlisle Racecourse on 22 February. From the University of Newcastle, Dr Rob Collins reported on the work undertaken by the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project, which is designed to address conservation concerns and improve knowledge of the Wall; a current stone sourcing and dispersal project seeks to identify the local quarry sources of the Wall’s stones and their dispersal and repurposing in the construction of later buildings and of the heritage at risk it is hoped to undertake conservation at various sites including those at Port Carlisle and Walltown Crags where the wall is exposed and deteriorating. Promoting a wider knowledge of the Wall and opportunities to visit it was the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, a not-for-profit company involving volunteers,

The history of furniture in Cumbria

Regional Furniture , the Journal of the Regional Furniture Society, includes a number of illustrated articles on aspects of the history of furniture in Cumbria ; volumes 1 (1987) to 30 (2016) are available online, free of charge, with later volumes being made available online free of charge three years after their publication; accordingly, vol. 32 (2018), which includes an article by Peter Brears on the ‘Social History of Oak Furniture in Cumbria’ , will become available online to non-members in 2021. Articles in past journals include those on ‘Furniture for the Settle-Carlisle Railway’ (vol. 14, 2000), William Collingwood’s Lake District interiors (vol.14, 2000), ‘Fitted Press Cupboards and Built-in Wall Cupboards of the Lake District’ (vol.24, 2010), and ‘Saving the Great House Press; Observations made during the dismantling and rebuilding of a Seventeenth Century built-in Lake District press-cupboard’ from Troutbeck which is now in the Armitt Museum (vol. 28, 2014).

A Contribution to Railway History

The November 2019 issue of Pine Cone, The Newsletter of The Friends of St Mary’s Church, Wreay, takes a railway theme with articles on the oak tree which Sarah Losh ensured was protected when the railway line ran through her estate south of Carlisle; on the death of the labourer working on the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle railway through Wreay in 1845;  and on the history of Wreay and the railway, drawing on the text made available in the Sarah Losh Heritage Centre at Wreay.

Archaeology in the Lake District Conference

The CLHF was pleased to have a display at the Archaeology in the Lake District conference held at Rheged on 9 November and to welcome Federation members and potential members. The subjects of the eight illustrated conference talks ranged in date in particular from the Middle Ages to the present day. Members of the Lake District Archaeology Volunteer Network  spoke about recent survey work which has revealed a large number of sites previously unrecorded on the Historic Environment Record. Lydia Loopesko of the Northern Archaeological Associates stressed the importance of historic landscape surveys and revealed how through increasingly sophisticated equipment and techniques, including Lidar and Satellite Imagery, surveys of the Derwentwater and Little Langdale areas had found 600 and 240 new sites respectively.  Dr Rob Philpott reported that the scientific analysis of the slags and charcoal found on an iron industry site at Satterthwaite associated with the Abbey of Furness,

Haile Hall

Over the course of its 122 year history, Country Life has published a number of illustrated articles on historic buildings, also gardens, in Cumbria. The most recent such article ‘ A family affair : Haile Hall, Cumberland, The home of Tristan Ponsonby and Stefano Todde’ appears in the issue published on 30 October 2019. Illustrated by colour photographs, John Martin Robinson provides an account of the history of Haile Hall and its recent, exemplary restoration. Remarkably, Haile Hall has remained in the Ponsonby family since the late 13th century; the present building  dates from the late 16th century with extensions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Whitehaven Archives Centre holds a large quantity of the archives of the Ponsonby family; most recently, with funds made available by the Friends of Cumbria Archives, the Centre was able to acquire some Ponsonby family scrapbooks at an auction in Edinburgh.  Earlier this year,

Looking for a Good Home

Following an approach which Mrs Jill Wesson –  about to move home –  made to the Federation chairman, Professor Peter Roebuck, seeking help, a good home has recently  been found in the Local History section of Kendal Library for fourteen volumes of publications, including local pamphlets, concerning Westmorland, which Mrs Wesson’s  father, Mr W P Dobson, had collected and had devotedly had bound up. Mr William Percival Dobson (1906 – 76), who for many years owned and ran the Bela Comb Mill at Milnthorpe, devoted a lifetime of service to the community, serving as a member of both Westmorland County Council (serving as Vice-Chairman) and South Westmorland Rural District Council (serving three terms as chairman).Throughout his life, Mr Dobson built up a collection of records relating to Milnthorpe and Kendal and to local government in Westmorland which have been deposited with Kendal Archive Centre. The volumes of publications which have

Warwick Bridge Corn Mill – some queries.

The water powered corn mill at Warwick Bridge corn mill has recently been restored to working order by the Cultura Trust. During the restoration work an archaeologist was employed to monitor the work on the site and building. He also did a considerable amount of research into the history of the mill itself. Whilst this history is fairly complete it has thrown up a number of issues at a tangent for which we are seeking any possible further information. 1) The large waterwheel 15ft 10 in diameter 10ft wide was installed by William Bell in 1845 (cast into one of the shroud plates of the wheel). We know William Bell took over from Mr James Milligan a millwright in Lowther St, Carlisle in 1841 (adverts in Carlisle Journal) and continued to practice as a millwright in the Carlisle area until his death in 1898. What we would like to know

Dr Ron Davie

Dr Davie died at the Cumberland Infirmary on 31st December 2019 after a short illness. He had celebrated his 90th birthday only a month earlier. Ron had a distinguished career as a child psychologist before retiring (from full-time work at least) to Caldbeck in 1995. From the start he and his wife Kathleen took on leading roles in the Caldbeck & District Local History Society and were also active in many other local societies and events. As President of the Society, Ron organised and often chaired monthly meetings at which invited speakers gave talks on local history issues. Ron may be best known among local historians for the collection of oral histories which he brought together for the Caldbeck & District Local History Society as ‘Memories of Lakeland – Life and Work in the Caldbeck Area, 1914-2000’. Ron also organised publication of a manuscript written by Richard Greenup, from a

CIHS Spring Conference

Cumbria Industrial History Society’s Spring Conference & AGM will be held this year on Saturday 25th April at the North Lakes Hotel, Penrith.  To book online, see their website or check our General Events page for the programme & a booking form.

More about the Cliffords………..

    Adrian Waite,  a member of the Appleby Archaeology Group, sends a flier for his book ‘The Clifford Household during the Wars of the Roses 1450 – 1487’. See a larger version here. Also see his website for more on medieval history.

Do you live in a Cumbrian house built before 1940?

Freya Wise is a postgraduate researcher with The Open University.  Her research is looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions from residential heritage buildings in Cumbria while retaining their heritage values and unique character. She is currently running an anonymous online survey directed at people who live in older buildings (pre 1940) in Cumbria. This survey is seeking to provide broad context to a small number of case studies that will take place next year. The survey is asking questions about: What people value about their older building, in terms of its age, architecture, materials etc. What sort of energy behaviours they engage in and their level of comfort in the building What changes they would or would not countenance to the building to reduce carbon emissions and save energy. The survey closes at the end of December and she is trying to get as many responses as possible so

Kendal Archives – Update

Kendal Archives have changed their arrangements!   They will now take bookings for a table space by 4pm the day before but you no longer need to pre-order documents (unless they are in storage elsewhere).   They say: We will open for three days a week from Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.. We will remain open over lunchtime subject to staff availability. If we have to close for lunch, closures will be between 12.30-1.30pm and a notice will be posted on our website and in the searchroom before 9.30am on the day of the closure.   Do note however, that car parking is currently limited to a few places only due to resurfacing work which will continue until next April.  Also, the archives will be closed for an hour over lunch on December 11th. See here and here for  more details….

Restoration of a Corn Mill – a celebration and a share offer!

  The corn mill at Warwick Bridge has been restored to working order! To celebrate, there will be an open afternoon on Sunday December 15th, with bakes, mulled wine & clog dancing (see the attached flier). There will also be an opportunity to investigate their offer of shares in this community project – more information here. These photographs of Warwick Bridge Corn Mill and the beautifully refurbished mill stones are by Graham Brooks of Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Ltd who has also provided the following account of this project’s progress. THE STORY OF SAVING WARWICK BRIDGE CORN MILL. Warwick Bridge has had a corn mill, the manorial mill for the manor of Great Corby, from at least the 12th century. The manor during the medieval period was split into two parts and the mill became a double mill with a section for each part of the manor. This continued until