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Ransome and Appleyard

by Pat Barr

The first Ransomes at Emlin Hall were the Misses Ethel and Hannah. who arrived there around the time of the First World War.  Their Father (Thomas) and Grandfather (John Atkinson Ransome)  were both surgeons at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The two locomotives used at the opening ceremony of the Manchester to Liverpool Railway were ‘Northumbrian’ and ‘Rocket’ and the dignitaries rode in a State Carriage accompanied by a band .  When Northumbrian stopped to take on water, among the guests who alighted from the train was The Right Honourable William Huskisson, tipped as a possible future Prime Minister, who, whilst making his way to speak to the Duke of Wellington was hit by the oncoming Rocket.  Northumbrian was immediately uncoupled to carry Huskisson to Eccles before racing to Manchester to collect a team of physicians and surgeons headed by John Atkinson Ransome.  Unfortunately, Huskisson’s injuries were too severe and he could not be saved.  Mrs Huskisson later presented J.A.R. with a gold snuffbox in gratitude for his efforts on behalf of her husband.

The Manchester Royal Infirmary has a stained-glass window dedicated to John Atkinson Ransome and, in the chapel, amongst the brass plaques in honour of past surgeons, the names of John Atkinson and Thomas can be seen.  Authoress Judy Andrews has written and published a book on the Ransome family history.

Thomas had six children by his first wife, Hannah including Cyril, father of the famous writer, Arthur who gave us the wonderful ‘Swallows and Amazons’.  Hannah died quite young leaving the children to the care of their widowed father and the family governess, Annie Shepherd, who became his second wife and presented him with six more children – Thomas, Hannah, Ethel, Phillip, Lancelot and Alfred Oswald.  It was the daughters, Hannah and Ethel who made their family home in Emlin Hall.  The youngest brother, Alfred Oswald, born at Hest Bank (1882), became an analytical chemist and, along with brother Lance, joined Storey’s of Lancaster, linoleum manufacturers, and there developed a process for using whale oil in oil cloth.  Following a dispute with the company over the patent Oswald resigned and joined his sisters at Emlin Hall.

Oswald went into the poultry business with John Appleyard in the 1920’s.  They kept thousands of White Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds in nine large henhouses around Emlin Hall, washing, grading and stacking the eggs into the square trays still used today.  Most were sold to Walter Cooper from Barrow who collected from the Hall and from other local producers.  Sir Malcolm Campbell was also a customer.  Poultry keeping was a major industry in Torver in those days with the hen-feed bought from Woodburn’s Mill (now Millers Restaurant) in Ulverston.  ,Eggs sold at 6/- a dozen (30p), and grain was £4.10s per ton £4.50).  Paraffin oil for the chick-warming lamps was bought from The Petroleum company, Ulverston in 1939 at 7¼d (3p) a gallon.

Miss. Elsie Kingston, an art teacher from Peterborough, met a young gentleman on Ravenglass Railway Station.  His first words to her were, ‘what a lovely place Ravenglass is’.  His name was Oswald Ransome.  They married in 1937 and began their married life at Emlin Hall.

Elsie Kingston, one of seven children, was born in 1900, at Littleton, Surrey.  This branch of the family is still in the South.  Her brother, Charles, was a regular visitor to Torver, and well known around the area in which he loved to cycle, sadly he died 2001.  His funeral service was held in the Historic Parish Church, of Betchworth , Surrey, which was featured in the first wedding at the beginning of the film ‘4 weddings and a Funeral’.  In October 2001 Charles ashes were interred in Torver Churchyard.

Charles’s Grand Daughter, Alex Kingston, is a well-known actress, now living in Los Angeles.  She starred in the television films, ‘Moll Flanders’, ‘Boudica’ and ‘Crocodile Shoes’ and as Dr. Elizabeth Corday in Channel 4’s E.R. 

Elsie loved to paint, and she exhibited her work at the Ulverston and Grange and District Art Societies, where she sold some of her work. Her paintings occasionally come up for sale at James Thompson’s Auction Rooms in Kirkby Lonsdale, and those she painted of her family and the area she lived in still adorn the walls at Emlin Hall.

Oswald and Elsie had one son, Richard, born in 1943 – but that’s a whole other story.