Extract from the "Westmoreland Gazette" 23rd December 1911

A Nonagenarian`s Record


Recollections of Kendal and the Neighbourhood

Amongst the aged inhabitants of Westmoreland, one of the oldest and at the same time one of the briskest and best preserved is Richard Haresnape of Kendal, who today celebrates the completion of his 90th year. There is little in Mr.Haresnape`s appearance or bearing to denote his advanced age. Sight, hearing,speech,memory and the power of locomotion are spared to himeas they are not spared to many men twenty years his junior. A few days ago the old gentleman consented to recall some of his experiences for the benefit of readers of the "Westmoreland Gazette"; he was born at Hugill, near Staveley, on the 23rd December, 1821, and practically all his life has been spent in Westmoreland, or close to its border. His father was a bobbin-maker, and while Richard was still an infant, removed from Hugill to Martindale. Scientific writers upon the economics of industry speak of the mobility of labour as if it were a new thing. Mr. Haresnape shows that nearly a hundred years ago and in our own sparsely-peopled county nothing was more common.


Garnett Bridge

When Richard was four years old the Haresnape household came back from the slopes of Ullswater to Garnett Bridge, and there they abode for five years.
"At that time" said the nonagenarian, " there was, near the bridge, a bobbin mill which is now a joiner`s shop, and a malt kiln and premises which have since been converted into cottages. There was a dame school and a school at Garth Row, kept by Richard James, for older children, I went to both."


Migration to Kendal

Richard Haresnape was nine when his father moved to Kendal, which would fix the date as 1830. The Reform movement was ripening rapidly, and political and social violence was extreme. This however was not the aspect of affairs which most impressed the juvenile newcomer to Kendal. Blindness had overtaken his father; bobbin-making was no longer possible, and he became Tenant of the Friendly Inn in Strickland Place. "I  soon learned the name of every Innkeeper and every Inn in Kendal", said Mr. Haresnape, and added in answer to a question, "I believe there was about 70 or twice as many as there are now". And what was the police force at the time? asked his interviewer. "There were only two" said Mr.Haresnape. "Their names were Thomas Barrow and Dan Ellwood, and they used to keep us alright, now it takes fourteen". And your schooling? "Well there was a school at up Sawyer`s Arms Yard, kept by Thomas Smith, who was deformed in hand and foot. That`s where I went. It was 2d a week for each subject. if you took reading, writing and summing you paid 6d". And what was the principal industry in the town at that time?  " I heard most about weaving" said the old gentleman; " particularly of material for fancy waistcoats. There seemed to be hundred of men in Kendal who did nothing else then. They had looms in their cellars and their families lived over them. I started to learn weaving in a cellar in Blue Buildings, where there were three looms. I was then between 10 and 11. Mr. Philip Bateman`s grandfather was my master. But when one web finished you had to wait for a warp for a few days, and when the warp came sometimes the weft was not ready; so I grew tired, and looked for another job". What other jobs were there in Kendal at the time? "There was card setting, places where boys got sixpence or a shilling a week and some schooling into the bargain. There was carpet weaving. There was ten or a dozen tanneries scattered along the river from Nether Bridge to Aikrigg End. There were shoemakers and tailors, masons and mobile polishers. But my father got me a job as an indoor apprentice with a bobbin-maker in Staveley; and to him I was bound from 12 and 19. I didn`t stay long at Staveley, however; for my master built a bobbin mill in Kendal, and was kept going for six years, but did not prosper. It was converted afterwards first into a coach building place and then into cottages. There was no driving road through Ann Street into Longpool at that day; and of course there was no railway station".


The Pre-Railway Era

You remember the coaching days, of course Mr. Haresnape was asked. "Yes" was the answer; " and especially what was called the opposition coach changing horses at Betty Dixon`s, of the Dog and Duck in Finkle Street. There were about four other coaches so far as I can remember, then, going through Kendal daily North and South. And I remember the stage wagons collecting goods from Leeds, Bradford and Manchester at the depots where they were warehoused in the town. The Leeds depot was a big place in the Woolpack yard. And in the evening it was quite a site to see the Preston boat come in at the canal head. The goods depot for the the canal was where the foundry now stands. But the boat carried passengers too. They were drawn by horses, and when they travelled at nine miles an hour, about the same speed as a coach, we thought it was a grand thing. While I was an apprentice in Ann Street I watched the building of St.Georges Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and St.Thomas`s Church. Before that St.Georges Chapel stood over the leading drapers shop in town - Williamson`s - in the Market Place; and in the cellar below the shop was the " black hole " for the detention of persons under arrest. At that day Kent Terrace was considered A1 as a place of residence in Kendal. People lived in the town then who would now insist on living outside. there were two houses in Stricklandgate occupied by members of the Gandy family. When old Mr. Jacob Wakefield died at Stricklandgate House fifty or sixty years ago I read an obituary notice that he was born there and never slept out of it".

Prentice Fair 


Being asked how he fared for food, as an indoor apprentice, Mr. Haresnape observed: " in the morning a basin of porridge, bread and cheese and milk; dinner was always a solid meal of meat and potatoes, frequently followed by pudding; in the afternoon the younger apprentices had a gill of beer with bread and butter; the elder ones tea instead of beer; at night again a basin of porridge".


Bobbin-Making

Having attained the rank of journeyman bobbin-maker, Mr.Haresnape married and took a situation at Stornethwaite, about 70 years ago. There he remained for seven years. It was a time when the whole country about the Kent and its tributaries seemed to be dotted with bobbin-mills. It was a time too of hard living, whether high thinking accompanied or not. "I paid 4s 6d for a stone of flour while we were at Stornthwaite" said Mr.Haresnape; "sugar, nothing under 6d or 7d per lb; tea 6s per lb; meat you could get for about 4d per lb; rent was only 1s 6d per week; and we never burned coal-wood turnings and saw dust from the mill did for fire. There were slack times to be met also. At one period at Stornthwaite out of 14 men employed 12 had to leave. they got jobs on the railway then building from Kendal to Windermere. I was kept on, but was stinted to earn no more than 10s or 12s a week. It was while I was at Stornthwaite that the railway then was opened. One Sunday I walked with my eldest child (a boy) to Windermere, to see the train come in. When it came he got hold of me and said "Father, where`s t` horse?". I said " My lad it goes without a horse, this carriage ". " My family was getting too big for the Stornethwaite cottage, and there was not another to be had there, so we moved to Staveley; another  bobbin-mill; and there I spent another seven years as a journeyman. It was during this time, that is 55 to 60 years ago, that machinery for bobbin-making was slowly introduced to the district. I never used machinery as a journeyman but always a hard worker. The journeyman had to find all his own tools, and he might earn from 15s to 27s a week."
 

Master Man

The last 22 years of Mr. Haresnape`s working experience was spent as proprietor of the Hebblethwaite Hall Mills, two miles from Sedbergh on the Kirkby Stephen road. to get into the market he found that he must have machinery; so he put it in, and got into connection with Yorkshire and Lancashire firms, who kept up a steady demand for his bobbins. the result was that 34 years ago he was able to retire to Kendal and leave his sons to carry on on the mill. He was 69 years old when he first visited London; and then, having studied a map of the metropolis, he walked from Euston Station to a street in the West End where he had taken lodgings, without once enquiring the way. he made a point of being able to do this before he started; partly because other folks had told him it was impossible. He was 75 years of age when he contested the prize for sight-reading at the Westmoreland Festival, and was placed second. Vocal music was always his favourite recreation. the only illness which ever incapacitated him for a week at a stretch he attributed to a chill caught while Christmas caroling; and he sang no more carols in the open. He never drank; he never smoked; he plays bowls; and the number of his descendants almost entitles him to patriarchal honours. He had eight children, of whom seven lived to have families; 22 grandchildren; 23 great grandchildren; five great great grandchildren-total surviving 55, three of the sons having died.