Each day walking to school in 1940s was a new adventure

The Lune Valley captured by photographer Steve Pendrill
The Lune Valley captured by photographer Steve Pendrill

A reader who used to live at Millhouses, near Wray recounts his walk to school in the 1940s.

John Colin Miller, who now lives in Wetheral, Carlisle, recalls Mill Farm, the bobbin mill and Low Tatham C of E school

“Home was Mill Farm, Millhouses, near Wray in Lancashire, school was Low Tatham C of E in Low Tatham, near Wennington.

The distance from home to school was about one and a half 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 of 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.

Walking along the track, avoiding cow pats left by cows going out after milking, were myself Colin Miller, 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 mil, 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 Rawlinsons Farm.

Along the lane we passed Sam Wynes cottage.

His dog, a Jack Russell terrier, called Spot because of his black and white markings, would be setting off to find Sam.

Sam Wyne 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.

Across the road at the end of the lane was Rawlinsons 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 Rawlinson.

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 there was 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 stream or 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 wild 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.

We 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 has frogs and tadpoles in it.

During frosty weather the pond would freeze over and we would slide about on it.

Next to 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.

Through 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 for.

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.