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 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.
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.