by Tom Dalzell

 To menu page

One of the first respondents to the call for more information about the Lowside Quarter beach bungalows in August 2006, was Tom Dalzell. His fascinating essay about "Latona" a little to the north of Braystones Station, is here presented with only minor changes (mostly to the order of paragraphs), and illustrated with photographs he supplied (including some links to individual photos from the Dalzell Family Album).

Tom Dalzell Gaythwaite; picture supplied by Tom Dalzell
I saw the note in the Whitehaven News about your interest in the bungalows along the beach at Coulderton and Braystones. I attach a photograph of 'Latona' north of Braystones station [below] and also of Tom Dalzell Gaythwaite from Cleator who built it [right]. He was my grandmother's cousin. His wife, who was a widow when I was a small boy, I knew as 'Aunt Sally'. She was well in her nineties when she died, and still made the long trip from Rutherglen in Glasgow to live at 'Latona' most of each summer. Each year from 1936 to 1946 I stayed there for about a month with my parents, my grandmother and various family visitors. My father went to work in Whitehaven on the train.

'Latona' was quite big. It had three bedrooms, sittingroom and kitchen at the back, and a long sunlounge at the front. [Click for picture of a rather elegant front window] The verandah wrapped right round the front. It also had quite a big garden, big enough to play 'boule' with round sea cobbles, and cricket [see pictures below]. There was some fairly serious cricket played by adults on the sand, North versus South, and I remember my father breaking his finger making a catch. Lighting was with bottled gas, if you could get it, but more often with paraffin lamps. The original windmill electrical system was still there but didn't work. Water was carried from the spring, [click for picture] along past three bungalows to the north. It was of good quality; my father was a chemist and had analysed it, but my mother said it made terrible tea. The toilet system was very primitive and took a great step forward in about 1943 when my father brought an 'Elsan'.

Supplies came mainly from the farmer in Braystones village, John Palling, whose young daughter Peggy drove a horse and cart along the shillies daily on her milk round. There was also a shop [click for picture] below the ramps up to the station, run by an old lady. No matter which sweets you wanted you got the old lady's 'mix' so that the levels in all her sweet jars all went down together. The real fun for a small boy was to help my mother collect a little store of food through the year to take with us. At our village shop she took her turn to have the tail end of the ham shank in time to take on the holiday, a major treat.

Two doors away to the north [click for picture] lived Miss Davidson. That was a home from home as she lived there all the year and her son Eckford had set lines on the rocks which kept us in fish. Being wartime crabs, lobsters, mussels and covins were eagerly sought to eke out the food rations. There were also many searches for mushrooms. Most years from Bolton-le-Sands came Girl Guides to stay in the bungalow between us and Miss Davidson's and in the one on the north side of Miss Davidson's. As a eight year old I was recruited to collect food from the little shop for their midnight feast. There must be 'girls' still alive in that part of the world with lots of memories...

Latona in 1945; picture supplied by Tom Dalzell

There was an army establishment at Nethertown, and from there they fired at a target hauled across the sky. One day they shot it down by hitting the drawing wire. We found it on the rocks. It was unmarked and it was huge, but we were allowed to keep it- a wonderful find in the war as the scarlet silk made clothes & cushions, and the netting made onion bags, shopping bags, you name it. But you could spot our family a mile off.

In about 1944 we were awakened very early and cleared out of our beds, across the railway line and over the top of the embankment, as there was a mine drifting in. It was expected to explode, and if it had done so it would have cleared Braystones beach of bungalows end to end. Luckily it didn't but we were sent home for the night. The bonfire of the contents which the bomb disposal team ignited far exceeded the VE night bonfire. Before it was made safe the mine was attached to 'Latona' railings and afterwards I was awarded the spines.

Tom has asked me to find more information about this mine, and I hope that somewhere, perhaps in County Council records at Carlisle, or military records at the National Archives, an official report may still survive. Meanwhile, if you too have memories of that dramatic event, or visits to the beach with the Guides, or (like Aunt Sally's grandson Miles Gaythwaite, who also remembers 'Latona' very well) any other information about the beach bungalows of Braystones, Nethertown and Coulderton, please contact the webmaster, David Bradbury.

At right is 'Latona' on a bleak day in 1937.
Latona in 1937; picture supplied by Tom Dalzell

P.S. In 1944, Tom's uncle (or technically second cousin) Harold Dalzell gave him a camera when he was at 'Latona' for his birthday. Here are some of the first results- Harold by the veranda (the very first frame on the film) and Tom's dad- also Tom- with the cricket equipment.
Harold Dalzell at Latona, 1944; picture supplied by Tom DalzellTom Dalzell snr. at Latona, 1944; picture supplied by Tom Dalzell