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ROBINSONS AT STRICKLEY

Strickley in 1914

The Robinson family came to Strickley in 1875.

In 1975 to mark the Centenary William Robinson researched and wrote this history of the family

Compiled and written by William Arthur Robinson in 1975

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Move to Strickley, Golden Wedding, Arthur Robinson, William Robinson, The Farm, Hawkrigg Cottage, Cattle, Sheep, Water, Electricity, Crops, Turnips, Buildings

 

 

Introduction

This record of "Strickley" and the Robinsons is being written to place on record some of the happenings while the Robinson family have occupied the farm. The family tree has been compiled as a tribute to Henry Robinson to commemorate the 100 years that have passed since he took the tenancy of Strickley. This may not be a fully correct record of all the events that have happened but it is what has been handed down to me over the years by my father Arthur Robert, the youngest son of Henry and written by William Arthur, the second youngest grandson and present occupier of the farm. I would like to express my thanks to Henry the oldest grandson for much valuable information on happenings on the farm in the early 1900's. Also much family history has been given to me by the grandchildren Eric and Margaret and James Robinson the youngest son of Henry the first's brother, John Edmund. After inspecting old documents in the Cumbria County Archives (where I have had great help from the staff) I have found that some of the history that has been handed down about the previous generations has not been quite correct.

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It is very difficult to know where to start a history like this because I have never done anything like it before and, as I only started in January 1975, it has been done in rather a hurry to be completed before the family celebrations take place on May 10th 1975. I feel that I must inform readers right at the start how I intend to identify the various grandfathers. Instead of stating grandfather or great-grandfather I will use Christian names; therefore, my grandfather will be Henry (often Henry the first), his wife Abigail, his father John and his mother Ruth. It seems that, in so far as I can go back in history, John's father was Henry and also his eldest son was Henry whose eldest son was also named John, all of which makes it very difficult and confusing if the correct dates are not available.

When going through the old records of baptisms and marriages I found that Robinson was a very common name even around 1800. It was only by checking and then cross-checking that I found the correct one, especially when it came to a John Robinson that I wanted who was born in 1817. During my search I must have found 10 Johns born in the correct year in this immediate area. On one page in the Grayrigg Church register I found four John Robinsons baptised during May 1817 all to different parents, and one was the John I wanted.

In trying to trace the family back I have found (in the time available) that a John Robinson married Isabella Maychell at Grayrigg Church on September 4th 1786 but I am not sure whether he was one of our direct ancestors. I then found Henry and Bella (Isabella - I have not found the marriage entry so the surname is not known) with a family of nine children (five sons and four daughters),  the first son John having been born on January 26th 1817. From the Grayrigg register I found that Henry died in December 1856 and Isabella on July 29th 1860; both are buried at Grayrigg.

 John, the father of Henry the first of Strickley, was the third child and first son of Henry and Isabella. He was born at Borwains (now Borrans) Whinfell on January 26th 1817. The 1841 census records that his father was an agricultural labourer but at the baptism of some of the children he was described as a husbandman (1813) and as a farmer (1815) while in 1829 he was a labourer. The 1841 census also shows that he was living at School House, Whinfell and his wife Isabella was a schoolmistress. This must have been a very important post in those days because the only children to be educated were from parents who could afford to pay. Is this where the Robinson family get their brains from? It is worth recording here that over the years there have been many brilliant scholars in the family. In more recent times when university education has been more readily available the name Robinson has often been on the student list and more than one has been appointed as a professor at home and abroad. Schoolmasters and schoolmistresses have been in the family on every generation.

 John, the father of the first Strickley Robinson, married Ruth Metcalfe who was born at Grassriggs, Killington, the second child and second daughter of James Metcalfe and Jane Warriner who had a family of six daughters and four sons. John married Ruth at  ...........(not completed)

 He took his bride to The Flatt, Whinfell, where Isabella and Jane were born. There followed a move to Cowper House, Selside, where Henry the first was born on September 8th 1843. The family then moved to Greenside, Lupton, where James, Ruth, John (who died very young) and Mary were born. They then lived for a short time at Icronshaw, Lupton, where Elizabeth was born. The family finally arrived at Underley, Kirkby Lonsdale, where the remainder of the family, Thomas, Ann. John Edmund (to distinguish him from the John who had died) and Leonard were born, and where both John and Ruth died. When I have looked through the family tree I have found 14 girls called Ruth, which makes me realise how much she must have been loved and respected. She lived to the great age of 93 years. She is known to have been so active that when she was over 80 she walked seven miles each way to see one of her daughters who was very ill.

John

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 From about 1843, until he died in 1883 aged 66, John was employed as bailiff by Alderman Thompson of Underley and later by Lord Bective. Alderman Thompson bought the Underley estate in the early 1800's and he purchased other farms to enlarge his estate as suitable ones nearby came on to the market, It was to these new farms that John was sent to improve them and also to reclaim the land from the fell. It was on this mission that John arrived at Cowper House, Selside, to improve the fences and high-lying land which had been neglected during the depressed years. After a period of intense improvements the farms were let to selected tenants. Cowper Hose is a farm about five miles north of Kendal and about 400 yards off the A6 road on the east side of the road. The farmhouse was completely demolished in 1941 when a German bomber dropped a landmine on it, killing all the family who were asleep at the time. There were two survivors who were seriously injured and eleven killed, including Mr. Wood and his wife, who was a relation (possibly a cousin) of Henry. In 1845 John moved to Greenside, Lupton, another Underley farm where he had to improve the high-lying land, which is just off the high road from Kendal to Kirkby Lonsdale. It is thought that he also improved other estate farms nearby which were then very much fell farms. A short stay at Icronshaw, Lupton, followed. This is no longer a farm or even a house, but the barn and shippon for 12 cattle are in good repair. The land has been amalgamated with other farms including Carlingwa, whose occupier now has tenancy of the barn. These buildings are still known as Icronshaw barn by the local farmers.

 The move to Underley farm was the final move although he still travelled daily to different farms to improve them. While here John is known to have walked daily to Crosslands, Old Hutton, a distance of about five miles, to reclaim the land from the fell and enclose the fields with stone walls with materials picked off the fields after ploughing. He would the have to walk back at night, quite a day's wok in my opinion. I have not been able to find out any more information about John and Ruth. They are both buried by the North Aisle in Kirkby Lonsdale churchyard and inscribed on the tombstone is the inscription I.H.S. (In His Service).

 Henry the first was born at Cowper House, Selside, on September 8th 1843 and was baptised at Selside church three weeks later. The family moved to Greenside, Lupton, when Henry was under two years old. He would go to school at Lupton and would have to walk quite along way. Henry started work in the stables at Underley but it is not known at what age. At some time, we think possibly in his late teens, he left to go to work in Liverpool. At about that time many farmers' sons from Westmorland and the Sedbergh area left home to work in the milk houses there to earn enough money to enable them to return to their native county to start farming on their own account. These young men rented small farms and later took larger ones and were often the best farmers in the district.

 Henry, who was used to working with horses, went to work as Coachman and gardener at the "Big House" (it is not known what it was called) at the top of Edge Lane, Liverpool. Very little is known about his life or work there, but it is known that one day his employer told his coachman to deliver a parcel to another big house where Henry met a young lady cook called Abigail Wilson, who was the fifth daughter of Timothy Wilson, a joiner and builder of North Clifton, near Newark, Nottingham.

 Henry and Abigail were married on September 1st 1864, seven days before Henry's 21st birthday. His address is given on the marriage certificate as 83 Solway Street, and Abigail, who was 23 years old, was living a 3 Larkfield Terrace, Wavertree, Liverpool. The wedding took place at St. Clement's Church, Windsor, Liverpool, and was solemnised by Rev. John Teague Greenway and witnessed by Robert Williams and Henry's sister Jane Robinson. A copy of the marriage certificate is in my possession, it having been made when they celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1914.

 After they were married they went to live at 83 Solway Street, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, and it was there that their first children were born. At some time, possibly after Henry married, two of his brothers worked in or owned milk houses in Liverpool, James at a dairy in Rathbone Road near where Henry lived, and Leonard at Dingle Hall Dairy. Other members of the family (Henry's and John's) also worked in cowhouses in Liverpool in later years.

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 Henry's father's employer Lord Bective had always said that if ever John wanted to set his son up in farming he would let him a farm if a suitable one was available. In the spring of 1874, presumably at the May rent audit, the tenant of Strickley Farm had asked the land agent for a reduction in the rent. When this was not agreed, the tenant, Mr. Ralph Burton, said he could not carry on farming Strickley so he agreed to quit at the "usual times" in the spring of 1875. The "usual times" for tenants of the Underley estates were February 14th for all the arable and grassland and May 12th for the house and buildings. As Mr. Burton had obtained the tenancy of a farm in the Burton-in-Kendal area he left in the middle of January so Henry and Abigail were able to move in on about the 20th. They would have to move from Liverpool by train to Oxenholme Station and it must have been a great upheaval, because as well as packing all the household goods there were six children to cope with, the eldest being 9½ years old. Abigail was also 7½ months pregnant.

 Included among their possessions were a horse and full set of gear, the gift from his employer when he left to start farming. The horse was called Black Nellie; she died some years later from a burst blood vessel after giving birth to foal called Miss Nellie that had to be reared on the bottle.

 On March 5th 1875 the family increased when a fifth son was born, and two more sons and two daughters were born later at Strickley. The family consisted of, as Leonard said when asked how many children there were: "eight boys with daddy and five girls with mammy". The names of the family, in chronological order, are: John Henry Wilson, George Goland, Isabella Jane, Charlotte Lavinia, William Wilson, Timothy Wilson (and the following born at Strickley), Thomas James, Leonard Edmund, Ruth Marian, Arthur Robert and Abigail Annie. The oldest child was 17 years old when the youngest was born and several of the oldest were working away from home and so the full family would only sit down to meals on special occasions.

 When Henry was given the tenancy of Strickley the farm was 87¾ acres with another field of 6 acres called "The Old Lot" adjoining the Sedbergh road west of the Gynn shop making a total of 93¾ acres. I do not know what the local farmers said in those days when a farm was let to a coachman and gardener but I can imagine what would be said today if a landlord let a farm to a chauffeur from "the city". I have not been able to find what the rent was in 1875 but I have always been told that Strickley was the highest rented farm per acre on the Underley estate. I do know that in 1907 the rent increased from £160 to £165 per year when water was put on tap for the first time.

 A few years after moving in, Henry found that times were bad and he could not afford to keep going at the agreed rent so he asked the landlord for a reduction of his rent. This was not agreed to, but as compensation he asked Henry to take over a cottage (Hawkrigg Cottage) and another 26 acres. This land was adjoining the 6 acre "Old Lot" and made the farm 119¾ acres. These 32 acres of land are in the old parish of "Hutton-i'-th'-Hay" which is now all known as New Hutton. The farm was not enlarged again until 1945.

 The family started to split up before the younger ones were born. The boys went to work on farms locally but the girls had to stay at home to help bring up the younger children. In a few years Isabella Jane was sent to North Clifton, Newark, to help look after a sick aunt and in due course she met and married a local farmer from Clifton where her family still live. After this marriage, Charlotte Lavinia was sent to nurse the sick aunt and she married another farmer there and that family still live at the other side of Newark. The third girl Ruth Marion stayed at home until she married a Kendal farmer in 1914. She was married in October and her mother died while she was away on her honeymoon.

Ruth Marion feeding hens in the Teapot Field in 1910

The youngest daughter Abigail married the brother of Arthur Robert's wife but this marriage unfortunately only lasted six months when Abigail died during a very severe epidemic of influenza on May 12th 1919.

 Arthur and Abigail both married into a family of Robinsons that had moved into the nearby farm "Holmescales" from Easgill Head, Kirkby Stephen in 1904. This family (often referred to as Holmescales Robinsons) married into the Strickley Robinsons with the result that people who do not know each family intimately get very confused when trying to get a Robinson "pedigree". The Holmescales Robinson family consisted of Thomas and Margaret (formerly King), and Frances, William, Elizabeth, Thomas King, John, Margaret and Mary Isabella, and were originally no relation at all to the Strickley Robinsons.

 Henry and Abigail celebrated their Golden Wedding on September 1st 1914 and all their sons and daughters and their wives and husbands were present at the celebration that was held at Strickley. Abigail was in poor health at the time and she died eight weeks later aged 74 years.

Henry and Abigail 1914

 Henry continued to live and farm at Strickley and his youngest daughter was housekeeper. When Abigail married she went to live in one of the farm cottages at Holmescales until she died on May 12th 1919. The youngest son Arthur Robert married the eldest daughter from Holmescales in April 1916 and they lived at Strickley but Henry would not let his son take over the farm until 1918. After Arthur started farming on his own Henry continued to live with then until about 1927 when his son William Wilson retired from farming and he went to live with him at Bank House, Endmoor, after living at Strickley for 52 years.

 Henry died suddenly on October 16th 1928, aged 85 years, after being at Bank House for 12 months. He had been very active and in good health up until his death. He had been noted in Westmorland for the quality of his Shorthorn cattle and Wensleydale sheep. At the Westmorland County Show and all the local agricultural shows his cattle and sheep were always well up in the prize list. The first year he was farming in 1875 he exhibited at the Westmorland and Kendal District Agricultural Show and was a prize winner. I can remember that he was always proudest and happiest when his son won prizes at the Selside and Grayrigg Show with his sheep. Henry was most successful as a grower and exhibitor of swede turnips. He won many silver awards for his complete fields of roots. He also entered individual roots at the shows and was a prominent prize-winner. Many of his roots were selected by the seed merchants to exhibit after the London Dairy Show year after year. These seed merchants (Sutton and Sons of Reading) also selected the best roots each year to replant on their seed farms to keep for their own seed stock.

 Henry kept his connection with the Underley Estates until his death. He aided Alderman George Proctor (Low Bleaze) to make the annual farm valuation at Underley for 30 years. Henry has been very active in undertaking public duties. He had been appointed "Surveyor of Highways" in 1879,1888 and 1889 at a salary of £1 per annum. It is not known how long he held this appointment but it could have been until 1894 when the Rural District Council Act of Parliament was passed and a Roads and Bridges surveyor was appointed full-time. He had been a member of the South Westmorland Rural District Council for many years, representing the New Hutton parish, but he had not sought re-election in the April before his death. His youngest son Arthur Robert was also a member of the District Council at the time of his death and Arthur's elder son Henry Wilson was the member representing Preston Patrick parish until reorganisation took place in 1974. Henry had been very active as a director of the Kendal and District Auction Mart, and for many years until his death he had been chairman of the company. A grandson and great-grandson are on the board of directors today in 1975, carrying on the work Henry pioneered. It will be as a devoted churchman that he will be remember most; he was a local preacher with the Kendal Wesleyan Circuit from 1881 - 1926 taking appointments all over the district. I often remember him telling me about walking to Kirkby Lonsdale from Strickley (a distance of seven miles) to take the morning service at 10:30 am. When he passed Barkin House he found a pocket knife lying in the road so he picked it up and put it in his pocket. After walking about another 1½ miles he found a sheep stuck in the briars by the roadside, and he was able to cut the sheep free with the knife which had been provided in advance. If he had not found the knife he would have had to leave the sheep in distress.

 There was always a pew in New Hutton Church for the family of the occupiers of Strickley but after the church was altered in 1885 and made smaller there was no pew allocated to Strickley. The Robinson family were regular attenders at the Wesleyan Chapel in Bridge End, Old Hutton, and also at the farmhouse services at Low Bendrigg, Old Hutton, for many years until 1901. The landlord of the chapel requested that the Wesleyans renew the roof that was in very bad repair, but as no money was available alternative accommodation had to be found. Henry said that services could be held at Strickley in the farmhouse kitchen until a suitable place could be found.

 It was on January 2nd 1902 that the first service was held at the farm. The first preacher was Mr. Albert Pickles, a young local preacher from Kendal, when there was a "full house". When the "Golden Jubilee" was held in January 1952 Mr. Pickles was gain invited to conduct the service, but the congregation by this time had dwindled to about 30, the majority being Robinsons and relations. Services are still being held on alternate Sundays. On the other Sundays the services are held at the other Methodist stronghold, Holmescales, where the original Robinson was also a well-known local preacher. This farm is two miles away from Strickley. When Henry died he was survived by seven sons, two daughters, 32 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. There were six sons and 17 grandchildren farming in the district in 1928 which must be a record. After his death all the marble clocks, silver teapots and other trophies that he won with his stock and crops were divided up among his family.

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 The second Robinson to farm at Strickley was Henry's youngest son, Arthur Robert, who was married on April 29th 1916 to Frances Robinson of Holmescales (no relation), but it was not until 1918 that he took over the farm because in 1916 there was a very severe outbreak of abortion on the farm and Arthur took over the tenancy when the brucella storm had abated. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters, who attended Old Hutton School until they were 11 years old when they went into Kendal. The two sons went to Kendal Grammar School and the two girls to the "senior girls". The older generation of Robinsons attended school at New Hutton but the younger children of Henry's family went to Old Hutton when the teacher was Mr. Waller and later Mr. Todd.

Frances, Arthur Robert , Henry

William Arthur & Wilson

 Arthur continued the policy of his father on the farm, and his Shorthorn cattle and Wensleydale sheep won many prizes at local shows. Both Henry and Arthur used pedigree Shorthorn bulls from the Underley Herd when the landlord let his tenants use a bull "on hire" to see how the progeny performed and if the bull proved to be a good one the bull returned to Underley. During this period a very good herd had been built up and it was decided to grade the females up to full pedigree. The first "full pedigree" female was born on November 8th 1918 and was called Janie and was bred by Arthur. This animal was a near-perfect heifer and won the newly calved heifer class at the Westmorland Show and when milked out in the show-ring gave 22¾ lbs., which was a very good yield in those days. She later gave over 980 gallons with her first calf. She was kept on the farm until she was an old cow and all the children learnt to milk by hand on this cow. I can remember that I learned to milk her and she only gave milk on one quarter; she had lost the other three quarters over the years with summer mastitis. Janie was such a good cow that she was taken to a very good breeding bull called Seraphina's Terrier and the result was a roan bull calf which was called Janie's Warrior.

Janies Warrior

This bull later proved to be one of the best breeding Shorthorn bulls of his day. He sired some nearly perfect cows that won many championship prizes. One of his daughters was Champion Shorthorn and Supreme Champion All Breeds at the Olympia Dairy Show in 1938. This bull was slaughtered at 14 years old and had been in Robinson herds all his life.

 

Strickley Maggie 11

 Arthur was always a keen stockman. He, like his father, won many prizes at local shows and had won both male and female championships at Westmorland County Show. He was one of the founder members of the Kendal and South Westmorland Milk Recording Society. I have some records of milk weighed daily in 1914 before the society was formed.

 Arthur was the representative for New and Old Hutton in the South Westmorland Rural District Council for some years until his death. When he retired he went to live at Hutton Gate Cottage, Old Hutton, after living at Strickley for 64 years.

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 The third generation of Robinsons to farm Strickley is William Arthur, the younger son of Arthur Robert and the present occupier. He rented the farm from Underley in May 1945. William was married on December 2nd 1944 to Kate Fletcher Robinson, his cousin, who was the daughter of Leonard Edmund. The rent fixed by the estate was £180 per year. The next thirty years were to see many changes on the farm. In 1945 the adjoining farm Over Bleaze of 35 acres was rented to enable the herd to be tested for tuberculosis; the reactors to be sent to the small farm. This was only used for reactors for twelve months, but not for homebred animals. A few pedigree reactors were taken in and sold after calving.

 In 1948 an unexpected letter came by post from the landlord informing tenants that Underley Estates had decided to sell all their "Hill Top" part of the estate. These farms had been purchases from Mr. Fisher of Hill Top, New Hutton, on his death in 1864. The money from this sale was to be used to buy an estate in the Barnard Castle area. The farm was purchased at sitting tenant price, and so ended the family connection with Underley that had lasted over 100 years from about 1842 and over four generations.

 The buildings had been kept in good repair by the estate workmen but very little new building had been carried out. In 1902 a lean-to shippon for 10 stirks was built with stones which had been dug up by the "pipe-track". The next building put up was a midden stead in 1927, later converted in 1950 to a silage barn, then a dutch barn was erected in 1928. Then followed a depression in farming, and nothing more was altered until 1948. The first new building was a granary and four loose boxes put up in 1948, and at the same time the shippons were brought up to "milk and dairy" standards. An Aga cooker was purchased for the house when the kitchen floor was concreted. In 1952 new water toilets were put in to replace the old earth closet. Next a large hen cabin 60ft x 24ft was bought at Preston and erected to house strong calves. The farm at Over Bleaze was offered for sale in 1958 when the landlord Mr. Wilson died. William Arthur was the purchaser.

An earlier Over Bleaze sale - 1938

Outside the kitchen at Over Bleaze

 In 1967 the adjoining farm Bleaze Hall was offered for sale by the executors of Mr. F. Bentham after being in that family for over 134 years. Henry Wilson wanted most of the farm for his son John Arthur but it was too big for a young man so after discussion it was agreed that Henry Wilson and William Arthur buy it together and William Arthur would take the outlying fields and also the land across the Kendal to Kirkby Lonsdale road, together with Whitrigg Moss. With the purchase of this 61 acres the total acreage of Strickley is now 216 acres.

 Another important alteration was made in 1969 when the lane from the road was widened to enable the Milk Marketing Board bulk tanker to collect the milk from the newly installer Desco bulk tank. To enable the lane to be widened the hedge and much banking has to be moved with a bull-dozer. Also two very large ash trees had to be pulled up and moved.

 In 1972 it had been decided that haymaking was too risky with the present climate and silage was to be made in 1973. To enable silage to be fed easily it was necessary to erect a new set of buildings, but where was the money to come from? After a family discussion it was agreed that the barn at Over Bleaze would make two good country houses and so the barn was sold and an Atcost Cattleplan building was bought to house 104 cattle. The building measured 104ft by 77ft, and with the silage pit 120ft by 24ft it was necessary to move over 3000 cubic metres of soil. All the work except the erection of the Atcost building was done by William Arthur, his son William Henry and one other man. The work was able to start after Ministry approval on May 25th 1974 and the pit was completed and full of grass by July 5th.

 The family of William Arthur and Kate Fletcher consists of one daughter and twin sons. The elder twin, William Henry, helps on the farm and he was married in 1970 to Kathleen Shaw. They have a family of one daughter and one son, so the family could carry on at Strickley for another two generations. The younger twin, Leonard Arthur, went to Leeds University and obtained his BSc in Geography and Geology and a PhD in Geography.

 When William Arthur started farming he joined the Shorthorn Society as a life member. In 1971 the Society started a breed improvement scheme using bulls of the following breeds; Red Canadian Holstein, Red and White British Friesian, Red Dane, Swiss Simmental and Meuse Rhine Issel. At Strickley four cows were used for crossing. One was put to the Simmental and produces twins, one of each sex, and they were fattened. As these calves had white heads this cross was not proceeded with. The other three cows were put to the Meuse Rhine Issel (M.R.I.) bull. The result of this was one bull calf and two heifers. These heifers grew and thrived very well. When they calved they produced well and the butterfat and protein consent was very much higher than any of the other Shorthorns or Friesian cows. In spring 1973 the opportunity was taken of purchasing one pure M.R.I. heifer direct from the Holland importation. This heifer was sold soon after. In December another three heifers were imported. These heifers grew very well and one produced a heifer calf in October. This calf was sold to Canada before it was born. Also one of the first cross heifers and her 75% heifer calf were sold to Canada. These M.R.I. animals have not yet departed but it is hoped they will go in May or June 1975 and so far as is known are the first animals born at Strickley to be exported. In the near future it is hoped to obtain an Illawara Shorthorn female from Australia. The M.R.I. cattle were the first of the breed to be imported into Westmorland.

 William Arthur was one of the first to join the Young Farmers' Club movement. In 1931 he joined the Windermere Y.F.C., going to meetings by bicycle, a distance of 11 miles. After two years a club was formed at Staveley, a and after being a member there for 12 months it was decided to form a club known as the Hutton Y.F.C. which is still in being and is the oldest club in Westmorland. At the County Rally at Newton Rigg in 1939 William Arthur won top prize in the Judging competition, winning two cups and a medal. This honour won him the opportunity of representing the County at the Judging competition at the London Dairy Show in 1939, but owing to the outbreak of war the show was cancelled. After the show his interest in judging competitions continued and he has been in demand to officiate at agricultural shows all over the north of England, including two visits to the Isle of Man, once at the Royal Manx judging Shorthorns. In June 1975 he has been invited to judge the Shorthorn classes at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.

 At the Centenary celebration held on May 10th 1975 a marquee 70ft by 30ft was erected and 140 of Henry's grand children and great grand children sat down to an evening meal of beef, ham, turkey and salad, then fruit and cream or ice cream. The evening concluded with an entertainment by Willane of Kirkby Lonsdale. It was a memorable occasion. A very amusing incident happened during the afternoon: a person who did not know all the family well followed a car into the yard. When the first car stopped a Pakistani got out on farm business and the person said to her passenger, "Where does he fit into the Robinson family?”

 On May 11th a service of thanksgiving was held in the marquee when 230 people heard a very inspiring address by Rev. Harry Facer of Bexhill on Sea. The chair was very well taken by Jim Towler of Kendal and Mrs. Shirley Ormrod sang a solo from Handel's Messiah. What a glorious celebration!

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STRICKLEY

When John was living at Cowper House, if he went to see his employer at Kirkby Lonsdale he would have had to pass Strickley, the farm his son was to be tenant of 32 years later. After passing the pub at the "Beehive" he would have had to ford Strickley Beck. I do not know exactly when Strickley Bridge was built but it would be about 1850. When the bridge was constructed there were no foundations dug - the walls were built and then the floor was laid on the ford. There was a sill put at each end and the rest was laid with paving stones. This meant the water had to "jump" over the sill, In early 1974 after heavy rains many of the paving stones were washed out and so the Westmorland County Council renovated underneath the bridge. This lowered the floor of the beck and so improved the flow of the water,

 Before the bridge was built, cattle from Strickley were watered at the "ford". During winter cattle had to be let out of the shippons, driven down the lane and along the road for a drink. This had to be done twice a day, and when the bridge was erected a gate was put in the north wall at the eastern end so that cattle could still be watered there. A gate stoop is still there, although the gateway has been built up for many years. It is of interest that there is a main drain near the bridge taking water out of the Meadow, through the gateway into the Barn field, which is 8ft 6in deep. The hole which takes the water is 15in deep and 9in wide and built of stones at a point when it was opened up in 1965 when levels were being taken to see if the Meadow could be drained. How labourers laid drains like this with pick and shovel and a bottle of water for a level I do not know. This drain empties five fields away to the south and it can be followed the full length after a prolonged period of hot weather.

 Strickley Farm in 1875 was like most other farms at that time, in a very neglected state. I have been told that cattle could roam from one end of the farm to the other. It has been said that all the thorns had been cut out of the hedges and sold to other farmers for stopping gaps. When Henry started farming at Strickley the farm land was in very poor condition. There were no gates and the fences were very bad. One of the first things he had to do was make the fields stockproof and to put gate posts up to hang the gates which the landlord supplied. The 8ft to 10ft limestone gateposts were carted by horse and cart from a limestone quarry at Hutton Roof and were carted two posts per cart load.

 I have in my possession a "handbill" for putting on the parish notice board advertising Strickley to let.

The tenant chosen on that date was Mr. Wm. Edmondson who was in occupation in 1829. At the first Census taken in 1841 the occupier was Wm. Edmondson aged 60, farmer, his wife Elizabeth and family of three sons and two daughters. Also at Strickley in 1841 were two cottages, one occupied by Thomas Bradley, 62, Independent, and Nicholas Bradley, 58, Independent. In the second cottage lived James Stackhouse aged 35 and classed as a Cattle Dealer and farm servant.

 In 1851 the occupier was Ralph Burton, farmer of 85 acres, his wife Betsey and family of Ann, Betsey, Ralph and Thomas as well as James Mason and William Herran, agricultural labourers. In the second house the tenants were still Thomas and Nicholas Bradley. The third house was occupied by twins James and Christopher Holme Stackhouse. These twins were identical and always dressed alike. They both loved the same lady and later quarrelled over her, but neither married her, and both died bachelors. They are remembered in the parish of New Hutton by a Bread Charity that has to be distributed every Sunday among the poor of the parish who attended Sunday service and received the Sacrament of the Church.

 The 1861 census shows that Ralph Burton's wife had died, as the occupants were Ralph Burton, farmer, and sons Ralph and Thomas and daughter Jane, also one Agricultural Labourer and Isabella Gibson, a farm servant. The second house was tenanted by George Bentham, a retired farmer, and his wife Margaret. The other cottage must have been altered to make the farm house bigger as it is not listed as unoccupied. The other alternative is that this cottage could have been what is now called the "old barn" and would be classed as an agricultural building.

 In 1871 the farmer of Strickley was Ralph Burton's son Ralph, and two children, together with three agricultural workers. The farm was then 68 acres. There was then only one cottage that was occupied by George Noble Cannon, an agricultural labourer, and his wife and three children.

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Hawkrigg Cottage

In the history of Strickley mention must be made of Hawkrigg Cottage which was let with Strickley in the 1880's. In the census of 1851 the occupiers were Elizabeth Fisher and her son, daughter and four servants. In 1861 the cottage was occupied by four young people. The 1871 Census shows that the Vicar of New Hutton was living there with his family - the Rev. William Pearson aged 36, his wife Charlotte, also aged 36, and their family John, twins Edward and William, Elizabeth and Ernest, and a servant, with Ann Stackhouse listed as a lodger aged 72. She was an annuitant (one who receives an annual income). The cottage was occupied by a person called either Gott or Goss. This person was an expert at building stone walls, and some of his work can be seen along the New Hutton lane north of Saint Sunday's Bridge. These walls are still in excellent condition in 1975. Mr. Goss (I think his name was) kept goats at the cottage and housed them in what is now the wash house. The present occupiers of Hawkrigg Cottage are Mr. and Mrs. Richard Thexton who have lived there since April 1926.

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Cattle

I have not been able to find out how many cattle and sheep were kept on the farm in 1875 but I have found a record of calvings for the early 1900's which shows that from September 1900 to September 1901 there were 15 calves born on the farm - 11 bulls and four heifers. In 1901-2 six heifers and five bulls were born, and three with no sex shown, presumably because they were abortions. In 1902-3 there were eight heifers and eight bulls, including two sets of twins, and seven of the 17 calves were white. 1904-5 saw seven heifers and 12 bulls, 1906-6 17 calves including nine heifers, and 1906-7 13 calves of which 10 were heifers. Bulls from Underley were used. All the cattle kept in the district at time were Dairy Shorthorn and the Hutton parish were noted for the good quality cattle which were sold at Kendal Auction Mart, many of them being purchased by dealers buying to orders from the dairymen of the Liverpool cowhouses.

 The farm stock were almost totally fed on produce grown on the farm. The calves were fed on milk which had the cream taken off. The milk was taken from the cows by hand and then kept in "milk leads". After two days the milk was let out of the leads and the cream which had set remained and was then put in a cream pot to ripen; it was then churned into butter once a week. The cows were fed with straw and plenty of swede turnips, and at milking time a mixture of oats and linseed cake was fed. When the straw was finished hay was fed with turnips and mangolds.

 The best fed animals on all farms at this time were the horses which had to have the best quality seeds, hay and oats because the work they did was hard and they also worked long hours when the spring work had to be dome. The horseman had to be ready to go into the fields before 9 in the morning so that the ground could be ready for sowing by 20th March.

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Crops

The arable rotation followed locally was one filed ploughed out of grass each year and sown with oats. The variety sown then was, so far as I can find, almost all Victory. There was also a black oat grown but I cannot find its name. The harvest was often in October because the oat variety was late ripening. After harvest the stubble was ploughed as soon as possible and the next year potatoes, mangolds and swedes were sown, and then the third year that field was sown with oats and grass seeds. The first year grass seeds were always grazed so that the grass could be established before the field was mown for hay. During the early years when Henry was farming, the oats would be cut by scythe and the corn bound up by hand, I understand that Henry always used the scythe  (locally called a ley) together with another man hired especially for scything. He was paid at so much a hattock (eight sheaves). These sheaves were tied up by using a band made of straw and all hands helped with the harvest including the girls out of the house. After the oats were carted inside they were threshed either over a ladder or beaten with a flail to separate the oats from the straw. Next the straw was lifted off and the oats and chaff were then put over a winnowing machine to separate the chaff. Everything was used for feed, even the chaff.

 Either when Henry came to Strickley or very soon after he purchased one of the first grass cutting machines in the parish. This was a Woods mowing machine and was used each year until 1902, when a new Bamford mowing machine was purchased. When the new machine was bought an attachment was obtained to fix onto the old machine for use when cutting corm which was worked with the foot, and the rack collected the corn and it was left in heaps to be tied up by hand. It was not until the First World War in 1914 that the first horse-drawn binder was used on the farm. Every field on the farm was ploughed in turn by horses. The only fields not ploughed were the Paddock (where the horses were grazed), Bleaze Meadow and the big Meadow. Two fields on the lots also took their turns to be ploughed and cropped in the usual way.

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Sheep

When Henry and Arthur were farming a very famous flock of Wensleydale sheep was kept. These sheep were registered in the "Flock Book" for many years. As with the cattle, rams were purchased from the world famous Underley flock. These pure bred rams were sold to local farmers even before the Auction Mart was in operation.  I have been told that these rams were sold at the "Sheep Fair" which was held on what is now the New Road, Kendal, and they were known locally as "mugs". These rams were used for crossing on the local Kendal Rough ewes to produce the Masham ewes that were to produce the fat lambs. Before the introduction of the Suffolk ram the Wensleydale ram was much sought after for crossing on the Mashams. Later the Leicester Longwool ram was used on the farm for producing fat lambs. The result of these matings was what was called the twice crossed fat lamb. These lambs grew to become big sheep but were slower getting fat and grew too big for the modern trade. There are very few to be seen today.

 From 1944 a Teeswater ram was used on the Wensleydale ewes and the progeny were later entered in the then newly formed Teeswater Sheep Breeders' Association Flock Book. The flock number is 276 and has been bred pure ever since. It has always been the policy to breed for quality and quantity because Arthur Robert always said that "when you have finished weighing sheep you have finished selling", meaning that you must have size on the ewe to produce size in the fat lamb.

 When the sheep were to be dipped, which was compulsory twice a year, a mobile dipping bath was hired from the firm that sold the dip. The zinc bath had to be dug into the ground and the sheep had to be lifted into the bath and then up into the draining trailer from which they had to jump down. A permanent dipping bath was built in 1927 when it was found that a mobile outfit was very difficult to get. William Arthur has sold teeswater rams and ram lambs to all parts of the British Isles including several to the Isle of Man.

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TURNIPS

For many years when Henry was successfully growing prize fields of Swedes, he grew his own seed from the best specimens he could find in his field. These specimens’ roots were lifted carefully and stored where frost could not damage them. The tops were not cut off and they were then transported into the “back garden”. After doing this for many years he found that the skin of the roots got very rough so an expert was called in for advice from Sutton & Sons of Reading who were the suppliers of the original seed. The opinion of the experts was that the flowering turnips were continually being cross pollinated by bees from the elderberry bushes which were growing in the hedge around the garden and were flowering at the same time. This practice was then discontinued and there was no more trouble.

 

WATER

When Henry took over the tenancy of Strickley, water for all domestic needs came from a well just outside the kitchen door. The water was pumped up by hand. The well was said to be over 60ft deep and when it was necessary to go down to do any maintenance it was so cold that the man put two heavy overcoats on to keep warm.

 This water would be very polluted when the sandstone flags and paving stones were scrubbed with soap and water every day and the soapsuds seeped through between the flags. After Henry had a very sever attack of shingles the doctor blamed the water from the well so no more was drunk from there. For a few years drinking water was carried up from where a drain empties into Strickley Beck, about 100 yards from Strickley Bridge in the Barn Field. This is very pure and is very cold in summer and warm in winter. Even in the very severe winter of 1940 the water below the drain was never frozen, but above was frozen solid for weeks.

 Water for the cattle came from another well in the yard that would be from springs coming from the Well Bank. This well is near the wall of what is now called the “Old Silo”, previously the middenstead. I have been told that nobody has ever been down to the bottom of this well. Whether it is because it is so deep or because it was classed as dangerous I do not know.

 Both these wells were filled up in 1932 because the top was thought to be dangerous. When filling commenced the first cartload of rubbish in both wells got stuck halfway down, so only the top half is filled.

 In 1907 water was “on tap” for the first time at Strickley, when the rent was increased from £160 to £165 per year to cover the cost.  The landlord drained the bottom corner of a field called “The Flatts” on Hay Close Farm, which belonged to the same estate. This was very good spring water and was drained into a large well. The water was piped down the fields nearly to Beehive Bridge across Garths Lane and along the main roadside and through into the field at the north side of Strickley Bridge, across the beck and road, through the Barn Field gate and up the field. The pressure at the tap was not very good because the house is very near the level of the storage well.

 During the great freeze of 1940 the water froze in the pipes even though the tap was turned on in the house all night. After the thaw it was found that the pipe had burst the full width of the road at Strickley Bridge. There was no water through the tap for 8 weeks and all the water had to be carted for the calves and household use.

 This water supply was used until a supply was obtained from the Thirlmere pipe in Low Garths meadow and connected to the existing pipes at the Beehive Beck in 1946. After a mains supply was laid on to Old Hutton in 1949 a connection was made at the Barn Field gateway where the main crossed “Strickley pipe”.

 Water now comes the other way from the Haweswater main. When Manchester Corporation got permission to take water from Thirlmere in 18?? It was necessary to pass through two fields at Strickley. One field to cross was “The Crow” which was very difficult, because there was a hump to dig through and to lay the pipes level a trench 14 foot deep had to be dug through solid rock. When the first pipe was laid explosives were used to free the rock, but when the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pipes were laid the trenches again had to be dug by hand with pick and shovel. It was impossible to use the explosives for fear of dislodging the full pipe. Each time there was going to be a “blast” sheep and cattle had to be moved out of the field. Irish labour was used and men from all over the country came to try and get work. It has been said there was one man, who was known to be a troublemaker, who persistently tried to be taken on and was always refused. One day there was a big blast in the trench when the farmer was not informed and no sheep were moved. Afterwards some rubbish was buried nearby, the troublemaker was never seen again and later it was said (but never confirmed) that he was the rubbish.

 When laying one of the pipes there was a very big flood and floodwater from St Sundays Beck filled the trench and it was level full from Bleaze Hall Wood up to the Beehive. All the water had to be pumped out by hand. It was said that the foreman cried all day while drinking in the pub. Whether it was the pub at the Beehive or the Station Inn I do not know.

 In 1934 one of the pipes burst in the Crow. Billy Ormorod from Underhelm Farm saw the burst happen and he said water spouted into the air to a terrific height. There was considerable flooding in the surrounding fields, but the water soon drained away down Strickley Beck. The size of the pipes varies from 42 to 56 inches.

It was originally intended to put 5 rows of pipes in, but Manchester Corporation found when they came to plan the 4th and 5th pipes that there was not sufficient ground left that they had bought, so the 4th pipe was made 56” in diameter to take double thee quantity of water.

 During construction of the first pipe the stone drain out of the Meadow had to be lowered to go under the pipes. This drain also had to take the flush out of the “Valve House” in Beehive meadow. This drain is now a 24” salt glazed drain, which is excellently constructed and is 7ft 6” deep where it passes the Manchester water pipes.

 In 1967 it was found necessary to speed the flow of water so the pipes were emptied in turn and all the barnacle were chipped off by hand and then cleaned and cemented. A mixture of cement and extra fine silver sand was blasted onto the sides to a thickness of 3/16 of an inch. This operation necessitated the removal of one length of pipe every half mile and when the job was completed many wet places in fields adjoining the pipes which were thought to be faulty drains, suddenly dried up.

 When these pipes were being laid the Irish labourers lived very rough. I have been told they frequently broke the locks on the barn doors to find somewhere to sleep. Several times when farmers were foddering cattle with hay in the early mornings they put their arms around an armful of loose hay and found a man covered up inside. This would be very possible because nobody was allowed to take a paraffin lamp into the barn. It had to be hung on a lamp outside the barn door.

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PRODUCE

In the early days butter and eggs which were produced on the farm were sold in the Market Hall in Kendal. Henry was one of the prime movers in the successful effort to build the Market Hall and was one of the collectors which enabled the hall to be built by public subscription. All the butter which was made on Thursday was sold on the Saturday. Most of the produce was sold to customers who bought each week from the stall. In the early days after the Market Hall was built Henry was a big buyer of eggs to send to his friends in Liverpool for resale on the milk floats. The stall was kept going during the first war and also for some time during the second war 1939 – 45. When butter was rationed Frances had to buy margarine to supply her customers with their butter and margarine ration. When the supply was very difficult the stall on the New Road was discontinued. (The Market Hall had been commandeered by the Ministry of Food for storage). All eggs had to be sent to the packing stations for sale by ration in the shops.

 After the war only eggs and dressed poultry were taken to the market on the Ribble bus. The horse and trap were used to transport the produce until January 26th 1935 when the bus was used for the first time. Potatoes from the farm were sold in Stramongate for many years. The horse was stabled in St Georges mews while the produce was sold and the weekly shopping done.

 About 1900 Arthur was a very keen poultry breeder and was a prominent shower in the utility classes with Plymouth Rocks. When the great potato craze was on Arthur bought a matchbox full of a special variety of potato from Lincolnshire. It was sold at its peak for £1 per potato. After growing this variety for a number of years half the crop was descended from the matchbox full. In time the variety grew itself out and was never heard of again.

 After the war when it was possible to sell eggs and dressed poultry again, after rationing, the stall was again occupied in the Market Hall. Katie was a very keen poultry keeper and she dresses chickens each week, and during the year over 1000 broiler-bred chickens are fattened and sold on the stall. Some of the customers have bought produce from the stall for two generations.

Turkeys ready for the market

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ELECTRICITY

In early 1938 an electricity line was erected from Oxenholme to Old Hutton. The main just crossed one field at Strickley. This field, “Sammy”, is detached from the other fields and the story goes that this field once belonged to a man called Sammy and every year when the grass was cut for hay it rained. I can remember about 1929 or 30 the hay was nearly ready for carting when it started to rain. The rain fell all night and the next morning the river overflowed over the whole field and the hay was all washed behind the hedge.

 The supply was switched on in the mains almost at once and it was expected that it would be available at Strickley as the house and buildings were wired up in September 1938. But it was not until July 7th 1939 when it was switched on. Arthur had to guarantee to use £17 worth of electricity per year. This does not look much at today’s prices. Another main line crosses one field on the lots but it was not erected until after the war. In 195? A 33,000 volt line was laid from Kendal to Kirkby Lonsdale and this line passes the south of the farm house. One post is in the middle of the “Crow” and causes much inconvenience. In the near future a super grid power station is to be built in Old Hutton by the Central Electricity Generating Authority and very large pylons will pass through Strickley fields, but it is not known yet where this line will go.

 

BUILDINGS

Something should be said about the original buildings at Strickley.

 In 1875 when Henry arrived at Strickley, the building which is now called the “Old Barn”, which I am nearly sure must have been one of the cottages, was in ruin and had no roof on, and he persuaded the owner to repair and reroof it. Also, inside 2 loose boxes with a hay loft over were made. The remainder was left to store hay and straw in. It was not until 1929 that another 2 loose boxes with loft over were made. The barn (or cottage) would cease to be occupied by a family between 1851 and 1864. The last family there would be the twins James and Christopher Stackhouse, referred to previously, who and moved to a house at either Millholme or Borrans

 In the distant past, I would say two or three hundred years ago, the main barn must have been built over the shippon. The entry to the barn would be out of the field behind the barn. There is no trace in the building that this is so, but in 1914 when Underley Estate workmen were digging the foundations for the lean-to shippon by the side of the barn, they found a perfect set of paving stones when they had dug down about 3 foot. Also when digging in the buildings a handmade drain top was found, together with a blacksmith made iron top. Unfortunately the top centre was broken. The drain top has chisel marks on it and measures 18” x 18” and is 6” deep.

 The old earth closet and pig hulls which can be seen on the 1914 photograph of the farm collapsed in early 1932. It was redesigned and re-erected in the autumn as a stick house, earth closet and a loose box. In 1934 two loose boxes were made in the old barn. These boxes have a hayloft over.

 In 1914 before the Golden Wedding celebration every window in the house was renewed. The old windows had small panes, about 9” x 12”. There are now 15 sash windows in the house and are still in good condition. At the same time the landlord must have been “well off” because he also laid a parquet floor in the sitting room. In the kitchen there was an old black range with a boiler to heat the water. Ashes from the fire, which was used to burn sticks and logs, fell into a pit below the fire and this had to be emptied daily.

 The improvements to the house in 1948 were the only alterations since 1914. The house always had a bathroom after water was “on tap” in 1907, but the bath was a large tin one and the water had to be carried upstairs in buckets. In 1930 when the bath started leaking a large Victorian iron bath was obtained from a scrap yard. It took 6 men to manoeuvre it upstairs.

 In the dairy, or pantry, there is a very large slate table which measures 8' x 4', and it stands on concrete blocks. This table was used to work the butter on and is now covered with Laconite to make it easier to keep clean. All around the dairy there are similar smaller tables and one contains a hole which was used to let the milk out of the milk leads.

 In November 1934 on a Sunday night the house was broken into. The thief cut a hole out of a corner of a windowpane and loosed the latch. The only thing stolen was Arthur’s wallet which contained £2. The empty wallet was found in the field near Strickley Bridge.

 On December 9th 1972 the top sitting room was badly damaged by fire when a coal rolled out of the fireplace when the room was empty. If the fire had not been spotted early, the whole house could have gone up in smoke. Most damage was caused by smoke and steam; every room upstairs had to be redecorated.

 The telephone was installed at Strickley on December 12th 1930 and the number was unique, being Kendal 3X6. The bell had to ring 6 times before we had to answer it. This number was used until 1968. It was often thought that people looked through the telephone directory to find a Robinson number and saw 3X6 and rang that number to see if it was a number.

 In 1973 planning permission was obtained to alter the granary and potato house, at the south end of the house, into a one up and one down cottage to house Frances, who at 86 was in failing health. But before the self-contained house was completed she had a stroke and died. The cottage is now let fully furnished.Back to top

Update

William Arthur Robinson died in December 1995 and since then Strickley has been farmed by his elder son Henry Robinson and grandson James Robinson. Henry and his wife Kathleen live at Strickley and James and his wife Michelle live in what was once The Old Barn. This has gone full circle and after years of agricultural use is now a family home.

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