Happy Jack was a well known character in Wray

On the south side of Wray church is a small memorial that reads: ‘In memory of John William Winn (Happy) died March 3, 1960, aged 75 years.’

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:24 pm
Photo of Happy Jack in the New Inn, Wray.
Photo of Happy Jack in the New Inn, Wray.

Happy Jack came to Wray from Garsdale, near Sedbergh, around 1940.

He came to work for Southerns, who had a sawmill at Claughton.

This firm was later taken over by Lancaster Saw Mills.

As a young man he trained as a preacher but his addiction to alcohol was his downfall.

Happy lodged with Charlie and Annie Preece at Back Farm, Roeburndale West.

After leaving the sawmill, he went to work for Billy Robinson, Terry Robinson’s father.

The Robinsons had a coal and firewood business.

They used to buy the waste timber left over from the large trees felled by the Stephensons.

Happy was an excellent worker highly skilled with axe and saw, Young Terry was warned many times ‘Don’t thee touch ma tools’.

Happy was paid daily but Thursdays and Fridays were given to Mr and Mrs Preece for Happy’s board, in case he spent the money in the New Inn.

Billy Robinson used to collect Happy from Back Farm and bring him down to Wray for work.

One morning young Terry was sent to collect Happy from Back Farm .

Charlie told Terry that Happy had not been home that night and was advised to try the stable or pigsty down in Wray village. Happy often slept there if he was too drunk to walk back up to Back Farm.

Then news came that there was a man asleep in the dyke near the stone hen hut.

It had been a very cold night, everything was white with frost, but they managed to wake Happy and take him down to the yard at Wray.

After a mug of strong tea and a sandwich, he did a hard day’s work in the woods (no counselling in those days). Many a night children would lay in bed listening to him singing and preaching to the stars as he staggered home. When the Preeces left Back Farm and moved to Crummock Farm at Austwick, Happy went with them and made himself useful doing jobs on the farm. When Charlie retired Happy returned to Wray and lodged with Thomas Stephenson.

Happy Jack died in 1960.