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A Torver Childhood

A Torver Childhood
by Dorothy Harrison (nee Brown)

My first memory of Torver is  sliding down the grassy banking of Hoggas Hill.   I was 6 years old and  it was the day we moved to Greystones.  My childhood memories are of sunny days, lots of freedom to explore, make dens, climb trees and  play in  the beck . Fortunately my Mum always expected  me to return with wet feet.  There were  few strangers about and very little traffic on the roads. 

Every summer we all enjoyed  the Children’s Sports Day  and it is  wonderful that it is still one of the main events of Torver’s year.  I can also remember the Shepherd’s Meet and taking Bobby our sheepdog to it.  Torver was a quiet village but there always seemed to be lots going on and for my  Mum also, she joined several classes in the Village Hall and I still have some of her creative work.   One of the best things  for my brother and me was when my Dad built his own television in the early 50’s but not quite in time for the Coronation .  I remember he was always trying to improve the picture, usually in the middle of our favourite programmes.
I was mad on horses so it was on Dolly the carthorse I learnt to ride.  There were lots of problems getting on via a five bar gate but non getting off.  Three of us rode together holding onto each other until one  of us started to fall , whereby we all fell off together landing on top of each other. After lots of falls, many bruised feet , [Dolly was forever standing on them] and with never ending enthusiasm to ride I was sent to Silecroft for “proper lessons” and given a Fell pony on my eleventh birthday.

I travelled to  Silecroft on the train for riding lessons every Saturday and I have very happy memories as we spent the whole day there and learnt so much.  My brother and I also  travelled to school by train.  We took it for granted  in those days with it’s “ push and pull “ steam engine, the noise, smell and beautiful countryside it took us through to Coniston. How we would all appreciate it today and what a tourist attraction it would be. The walk to and from the station usually included a visit to Mrs Prickett’s  shop and it was  years  before I could see over the top of the high counter. Her little room was like an Aladdin’s cave to a small child, especially at Christmas.  The bridge over the railway line with the path and wicket gate to Wilson cottages was also very much part of Torver in those days.

Much of my time was spent at Park Ground,  “helping” at hay time followed by wonderful  homemade teas in the farmhouse kitchen then playing in the barn jumping from the top level to soft new hay below and making tunnels through the hay below the beams.  The geese chased us as we tormented them and I loved all the new born lambs and helped to feed the orphaned ones.   We even tried to ride the cows,  how bony they were.

We learned to swim in the lake and summer holidays were full of picnics and trips to Peel Island . My brother and I and his grandsons relived those memories a couple of years ago and still found it to be a magical place, despite it‘s popularity, 50 years on. We topped  up our pocket money every September by collecting  rosehips.  The teachers would give us sacks to collect them in and then we would “top and tail” them before struggling to school to be given 4d a pound for all our efforts. It would be difficult  now to find many at all in the hedgerows.

At primary school I  took part in the “Bird & Tree Competition”   I found an old newspaper cutting recently and was reminded I had studied a kingfisher and a spruce tree the year I was included in the team..  I must have written a convincing essay as I  confess the only time I have seen a kingfisher was 2 years ago, whilst on holiday in France. 

These are just a few of my childhood memories, now joined by many more as I still enjoy the privilege  of living in Torver.