by Joseph Edward Gaythwaite
The Latona story continues to grow, as more relatives of its builder, Tom Dalzell Gaythwaite, get in touch. It started back in 2006 with Tom Dalzell's page, now Beryl Tully (née Gaythwaite), second cousin of contributor Miles Gaythwaite presents the reminiscences of her father.
My father Joseph Edward Gaythwaite has written of his time growing up in Cleator Moor, Cumbria and he describes summer holidays spent at Braystones in his uncle Tom's bungalow.
My father was the third child of Miles Gaythwaite and Rose McKeown. Miles was a younger brother of Thomas Dalzell Gaythwaite, who built the bungalow. Miles and Thomas's parents were Edward Gaythwaite and Sarah Robinson.
Dad's holidays at the bungalow will have taken place between about 1920 and 1926.
During the summer school holidays Mother took the family on vacation to the seaside for a three-week period. A bungalow was rented at Nethertown or Braystones. Uncle Tom owned a super one at Braystones. He built it himself; we stayed there most years. These so-called summerhouses lay on rising ground just beyond the beginning of the pebbly beach. Each one had its own distinct shape with a front verandah and a nice garden with fancy wooden fencing around. The bungalows were all brightly painted; some gardens were full of beautiful flowers. A large barrel was placed in a convenient spot at the rear to catch the rainwater.
About forty of these wooden buildings stretched along the coastline from St. Bees Head to Braystones. Further ahead was Seascale, which was not widely accepted by holidaymakers. The Furness Railway hugged the coastline as far as the eye could see, then disappeared round another headland on to Ravenglass and beyond to Grange-over-Sands.
Our summer abode was spacious, for Uncle Tom had built another bedroom and a small room, apart from the living room. The extension was very adequate for our large family. In those carefree days the weather definitely had a consistent pattern of behaviour with two or three months of good sunny days to enjoy. Explosive thunderstorms broke up the persistent heat waves when they became oppressive, and it rained heavily as though the heavens had opened up. It was frightening while it lasted and sometimes parts of the embankment were washed away. While the damage was being repaired there were delays on the railway. As quickly as the rains came, so they ceased and the sun shone again.
During the storms massive waves lashed the beaches and the sea surged forward almost to the edge of the bungalows. In the darkness of evening the whole sea was lit up with forked lightning. One moment the sea and coastline were blacked out, the next moment they were bathed in a blue-yellow light as the zig- zagging lightning preceded the ear piercing claps of thunder. The outline of The Isle of Man could be seen on the horizon. We were captivated by the thrilling spectacle, yet deep down we were scared.
It was daylight until ten o’clock, so we did not go to bed early. In bed at last, we could not get off to sleep because our minds were so activated. Sleep we did at last, but we were up early the next day. Preparing ourselves for another hectic time we made short work of a good breakfast then raced down to the beach to look for coloured pebbles and seashells. The tide when out receded almost to the horizon; the expanse of sand looked like a desert without the rounded hills and undulating valleys. We raced along this golden carpet each of us trailing a bamboo pole behind us making an intricate pattern on the sand. Flocks of sea birds rose into the air as we sped along through their feeding ground. Sometimes we ran as far as St. Bees Head where we picked large “covens” or periwinkles, to give them their proper name, also mussels from the seaweed covered rocks at the foot of the headland.
We covered miles in our wanderings and sometimes ventured inland along the twisting, narrow, dusty lanes and across fields. The hedgerows were ablaze with dog roses, foxgloves and honeysuckle. Bumble bees hummed their way from flower to flower and large dragonflies hovered about our heads. We could see their large eyes and green coloured bodies with transparent wings, motionless for a few seconds, and then they would dart about at great speed. The fields were clothed with a mantle of daisies, buttercups, celandines and cornflowers. Tall red poppies stood like guards in the corn crop. Wherever one trod or stretched out a hand to pick a small wild strawberry or to brush aside a bramble leaf one detected a scuttling lizard darting for cover, they abounded everywhere.
Joseph Edward Gaythwaite
P.S. from Beryl [not about beach life as such, but very evocative]:
In his reminiscences Miles Gaythwaite [grandson of Thomas Dalzell Gaythwaite] recalls the large batches of apple and rhubarb tarts that his grandmother, Sarah Agnes Gaythwaite (Aunt Sally) used to make. My father often called on his cousin Tom, they were roughly the same age and in the same class at school. Tom was the son of Thomas Dalzell’s youngest brother Wilson. Wilson’s wife, Aunt Alice was a good cook and made pies of whatever fruit was available, gooseberry, blackberry, apple, rhubarb, redcurrant and blackcurrant. If any pastry was left over small tartlets were made. If Joe called on baking day he often got a nice hot piece of flat cake. This was made from any dough left over after bread making; the dough was shaped to a round, flattened and cooked as the oven was cooling down. If it was too hot to eat Aunt Alice placed it against the back door where the draught from under the door cooled it.
Beryl Tully, based on her father's recollections of his childhood in Cleator Moor