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GENERAL

 In the first Census in 1801, there were 509 inhabitants in Crosthwaite and Lyth. John Knipe was at Flodder Hall and the Flemings at Cowmire. John Pearson of Yews and Isaac Cartmell of Cartmell Fold were yeomen, holders by tenant right to an estate of inheritance. Other freeholders who lived and owned land in Crosthwaite and Lyth at the beginning of the 19th century are listed in Appendix A, “The Westmorland Poll for Knights of the Shire, 1818”.

In 1829 the residents of Crosthwaite included a wooden hoop maker at Pool Bank, an oculist, a victualler and blacksmith at the Punch Bowl Inn, a stone mason and grocer, a castrator and a surgeon at Town Yeat, a paper manufacturer and a lime burner.

The 1841 Census tells of the following occupations followed by people in the valley, who were not directly involved in farming; grocer, housekeeper, charwoman, bobbin turners, joiners, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, stonemason, builder, miller, woodmonger, shoemakers, tailors, dressmaker, auctioneer, schoolmistress, oculist, clergyman, innkeeper. The six shoemakers and three tailors were probably employed by Kendal tradesmen as out-workers.

From 1841 to 1934, the occupations were more predominantly agricultural.

THE BLACKSMITH

Few trades have been as important to the farming community as that of the blacksmith. Years ago the smithy was the hub of local industry, repairing farm machinery, especially necessary during busy times, such as harvesting. His role, in addition to his traditional job as farrier, included that of assisting the wheelwright; it was he who placed metal rings onto the wooden cartwheels. In Crosthwaite and Lyth there have been several smithies.

The oldest, at Hollow Clough, is mentioned in records as existing in the 14th century. The smithy at Bowland Bridge used locally burnt charcoal, although it ceased operating as a smelting forge soon after 1737. The blacksmith’s shop was situated by the river at Bowland Bridge and one of the earlier smiths was William Danson of Cowmire Hall.

Later in 1829 James Harrison was the smith there. The smithy at Bridge End, which is mentioned in the chapter on houses, closed in 2001. Click here to see the pages by Jean Abbey on the Brockbanks of Crosthwaite that includes her findings on her great grandfather George Brockbank who was blacksmiith at Bridge End for many years.

In 1829 Thomas Richard was described as “a victualler and blacksmith”. He lived at the Punch Bowl Inn in Crosthwaite. He may have worked at Town Yeat Smithy. At the time of the 1881 Census the Stewardsons were at Smithy Cottage, Town Yeat, employing one man and a boy.

The Mitchell family took over Town Yeat Smithy in May, 1952, continuing to carry out all general smith work, including farm machinery repairs and the occasional hooping for the wheelwright.

In the 1960s Crosthwaite Smithy (Town Yeat) sold petrol. Dick and Wilf were always willing to put oil into Pam Bownass’ Ford Popular.

They also put wheel chains on when it snowed. Her usual order was “Two gallons and a pint of oil, please”, such was the state of cars issued to District Nurses. No wonder she was always “well-oiled”! Shoeing of heavy workhorses was the main work but Wilf now travels to the horses, only occasionally shoeing at the workshop. The horses are now for leisure riding. Gordon, his brother-in-law, continues the blacksmithing trade and examples of his fine work can be seen on the roadside. He specialises in garden furniture. Christopher, Gordon’s son, has just started a farrier apprenticeship in Scotland and, it is hoped, will be able to return to carry on the family tradition.

TRAVELLING SALESMEN

Farmers’ wives would go to sell their produce in Kendal, but were well supplied at home with anything they needed, by travelling salesmen offering a wide variety of goods and services.

Pedlars sold bed linen, lace, buttons and hairpins. Travelling trades included knife grinding, umbrella mending and chair-seating.

Dressmakers would visit and stay for a few days, making dresses, underwear and shirts. There was a visiting “Shoey” to mend your shoes, although this was usually a job done by the man of the house.

Shoes were also made and mended at Crosthwaite Green, by Harry “Kippers” Shepherd and John Coward.

John Pearson was an Entire Horse Proprietor. Later Jack Hutton toured the area. His horse served the local farm horses and he would lodge at different farms, each night, until his round was finished.

Thexton Moore, the baker, came from Bowness, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He also sold yeast, for home baking.

Leighton’s, from Kendal, delivered groceries every Tuesday. Kit Simpson brought home-grown and slaughtered meat, once or twice a week.

Wet batteries, for radios, were picked up and delivered back from Arnside. During the Second World War, George Richardson, who lived in the Row, brought rationed coal (a one hundredweight bag), every one or two weeks. It was just as well that there was wood and peat to supplement this! Eric Clark delivered paraffin, mantles for lamps, soap and other goods, from his hardware shop in Windermere every Friday night.

Before he died, recently, he related the following tale to Pam Bownass.

He was making a delivery, in very deep snow. He struggled over several fields, with a five gallon drum of paraffin on his back, only to be told by the farmer’s wife, “We have enough for a few days, so call again next week, please!” His response is not recorded! Jim Bownass was the first in the area to have a mobile mechanic van. He operated this business, servicing cars, from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.