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SUSAN GRAHAM'S BEACH MEMORIES


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Susan Graham, née Labourne, has connections with the beach going back generations. Here is a random selection of her memories and family photographs, mostly in her own words, except for the last paragraph.


There is something about Braystones and Nethertown that must be in our familyís blood! My Granda, Thomas Herdman (1910-1981) spent part of his early childhood at Braystones when he stayed at 'Walkmill'. He went to Nethertown School and had a paper round in Beckermet. In the late 1920ís he lived at 'Spraygarth'.




Photo [damaged- sorry]: Granda's father Isaac (1884-1953) & mother Harriet (died 1957), with their children Hannah (1909- 19??), Robert (1914-1979) with Muriel (1927-19??), Granda, and Walter (born 1919 and still living in 2006).
Granda Tom Herdman is at middle right. Apologies for the damaged picture.


During the War my grandparents lived in Barrow and they moved back to Whitehaven in 1945 with my mother Betty and Auntie Sheila, where they owned an Ironmongers. They used to camp in a tent in Palling's field, Braystones, all through the summers, and my Mam and Aunt used to travel to Whitehaven Grammar School every day.

Photo: c1957: Interior of Herdmans' shop, Whitehaven Market Place; and their van.
Herdmans' shop in Whitehaven, and their van

Photo: 1949- Mam with friend Brenda Kirk (my godmother, now Corkhill, and lives in Canada),
my Aunt, and their two cousins from Wales.

Susan's mother at Nethertown, 1949, with her sister and friends

Susan's parents before their marriage Photo: My Mam and Dad before they were married in 1953.



Granda rented the first bungalow off the concrete at Nethertown (Coyles' ?), 1949-1953; I remember there was a swing in the garden. Granda bought a caravan in 1959 on the Green at Nethertown, after spending a couple of years camping again at the front of the Green next to the first green bungalow that friends, the Dowies (from Irish St., Whitehaven) were staying at.


Photo: Outside the bungalow, August 1956
The Herdman bungalow at Nethertown, 1956

Tom Herdman's tents on Nethewrtown Green (mid 1950s?)Photo: Granda and his tents! August 1956


The caravan was sited next to a Gypsy caravan owned by the Quayles of Kells. He eventually extended the caravan by adding a kitchen to it.

Photo: Late 1950s: You can see the windmill Granda built [presumably to generate electricity- DJB] The caravan at Nethertown, with kitchen extension and windmill


Four grandchildren slept in a double bed; Mam and Dad slept in the middle by the donkey stove, and Nana and Granda slept at the other end in the dining area. Aunt Sheila and Uncle George had to sleep in the tent in the garden. We had an outdoor toilet and a swing in the garden. Granda went fishing- he had a small fibreglass boat which he launched off the concrete; it was light enough for two to lift it into the sea. One day, after a day's fishing with my uncle, they had a boat full of mackerel and said that the boat nearly sank because of the weight! When they came back from fishing everyone who was staying on the green would crowd round the boat with their newspapers for a free feed!

Hartley's ice-cream van would come onto the Green as well as down on the concrete car park on the beach. We could also spend our pocket money at the shop in Nethertown village, and we enjoyed going for the milk at the farm (next to what was the village inn). We would knock on the farmhouse door and crane our heads to see what was cooking in the kitchen- ho the smells of fresh baked bread! The farmer's wife would come out with the key for the dairy- which was a whitewashed stone building and spotlessly clean but very cold- and get your milk (the old white and green waxed carton with the metal crimped closure). If you were lucky she would let you crimp your own carton! I remember this dairy closing and we had to go across the road to a dark sandstone area for our milk, but it wasnít as much fun and they were in bottles!

Photo: Tom Herdman and an impressive skate
Tom Herdman and a big fish

If you wanted to use the red phone box in the village you hadnít to be frightened of geese as they were often guarding it. Once a week we allowed to go to Bingo with our Nana; everyone from the village, and Braystones, Coulderton and Nethertown Beaches used to go. It was a Chip Shop and the lady calling the numbers would stop if someone came in for some chips during Bingo! We also bought bundles of second hand comics for ½d.

Photo: View north from Nethertown Green towards Nethertown Station, late 1950s
Looking north from Nethertown Green to Nethertown Station, late 1950s

When we moved to Braystones Beach for our summers, to the bungalow 'Mona View' which my Granda bought about 1965, it was not big enough, and so with my Dad and uncle they knocked the veranda off the front, and changed the cattle-shed open style bedrooms to a four bedroomed bungalow with a living room, small kitchen, and a dining room that we could all get in: average 11-14 people at weekends. 'Mona View' is still the same today except for an indoor toilet and a shower cubicle in the fourth bedroom where we had 2 bunk-beds in.

We never had room for any more family staying down, and so Granda's brother who had also lived at Braystones (Robert) would bring his family from Scunthorpe to stay at Janetís ('Seacote'); members of the family still spend time every year on Tarnside Caravan site. When we went into 'Seacote' we were scared, as we thought Janet [Jennett Crouch] was a witch and we were in the witches house!

Before we put a chemical toilet in our outside loo we used to bury bucketsful of waste at the low water mark. One day we missed low tide, and Granda went down on the sand and buried the waste half way along as the tide was coming in, but as he made his way back we could see a family playing follow my leader along the sand, and the leader, the dad, jumped onto the pile of sand. We all dived into the bungalow crying with laughter. My Granda said "Well it serves them right for jumping on the kids' sand castle!!!!"

In the early days of 'Mona View' we all had to cart everything over the fields from the road were we parked the car. There was a right of way which led to the railway arch, Braystones North, onto the beach. We were lucky enough to have daily deliveries of milk and vegetables provided by the tractor and cart from Palling's Farm. We carried water from the well by Mrs Campbellís bungalow 'Lyndhurst' and boiled it to drink. Rainwater was held in big metal tanks that Granda made in his workshop (in Swingpump Lane, next to the Queens Cinema, Whitehaven) and that was hand pumped to the kitchen and boiled in a separate kettle, and used for washing only.

Granda finally bought a Landrover, and it was great because it carried us grandkids, 3 dogs, at least 4 adults, and all the luggage straight to the bungalow. We were privileged to be able to use the lonning belonging to Thompson Sharpe and we had a key for the gate at the top of the lonning. Then we would travel round two fields and down to the railway arch near our bungalow, onto the beach. We never came down the beach via the railway station. Granda always liked new gadgets and bought a generator which he proudly housed in the garage. We must have been one of the first to have electric at Braystones. He used to put on a cine show for us and our friends in the dark corridor leading to the bed-rooms. We watched his cruising holidays and always made the tales exciting! Nana's job was to feed the crew, and at meal times she had a ships bell and everyone knew it was time to eat when we heard it ring (even Granda who would be in his boat out at sea!!).

Next he bought a new boat but it was too heavy to launch, so he erected a pulley system: when he drove along the beach with the Landrover the boat and trailer was pulled up the beach- but he always needed help pushing the trailer down to the tide edge. This is where our seasonal friends came in. One family who spent every year on holiday at Braystones were the Battricks, affectionately known by our family as The Batteries! I first remember them staying at 'Waverley' (which is now ours), owned by Bowes of Egremont. We were amazed at the size of this friendly Blackburn family. They always included us in their beach activities like cricket, and Mr Battrick, who had an amputation from the knee on one leg, was the best player! The Battrick children called my Granda "Granda" also, and were very helpful when he needed a push with the boat; the favour was usually returned with some fish for tea! One day Michael, one of the boys (about 7 years old) came shouting to my Granda who was having a snooze,(heíd been busy filling his boat with rain water to swell it, as it was a wooden one and it needed sealed). Michael shouted "Granda, Granda Iíve done it for you!." "Done what lad?" replied Granda. "Iíve emptied your boat with my bucket for you, it was full of water!" said the proud lad. Well Granda couldnít say anything to him, could he- but it was funny!

The Battricks have stayed in different bungalows over the years; I remember them at 'Sunnyside', and the second one past the Station. They used 'Mona View' one year because they couldnít find anywhere to rent, and then 'Braeside' came up for sale. They still own it to this day, and it is well used by them, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Everyone who has a bungalow on Braystones Beach knows when Mrs Battrick is staying because you see her in the water everyday, in all weathers, at all times of the year, IN THE SEA!

As children we still had our chores to do, and it was our duty to go to the beach shop for Granda's papers, and of course spend the change. We still used to walk to Nethertown to Bingo. The adults sometimes liked to walk to 'The Tourist' at Nethertown; once after a night out my Dad had too much "pop",; and climbing over a 5 bar gate fell and ended up breaking his ankle! The Landrover became the local bus at night to 'The Royal Oak' at Beckermet, picking up friends and neighbours like Mr and Mrs Price from 'Snafell' and Maxi from 'Latona' while I babysat!

It has been mentioned somewhere about Mrs Graham and her seaweed picking; she had 'Copeland' next door, and she and Mrs Campbell regularly took bags of seaweed up to the Station on bicycles and sent them to make Welsh laver bread. Other people I remember who had bungalows at this time were: the Creightons from Wellington Row, who had 'Westward Ho'; the Edgars from Whitehaven, who had 'Belle Mer'; Mr Rumney from Bransty who had 'Westcliffe' (he always sat on a bench at the side of the bungalow and waved to everyone passing, even if he couldnít see them).
'Borneo' on Nethertown Green (c1960?)Photo: 'Borneo' on Nethertown Green, probably about 1960

Reading Connieís memories I noticed my dad's side of the family mentioned- Labourne (my maiden name). It brought some amazing facts that I was unaware of, proving again why I love living on the beach. Connie had said her family rented a beach bungalow 'Sunnymede' from a Mrs Labourne who lived at Frizington; well I knew that there were two different families called Labourne in Frizington and one was my father's family. I asked my Mam and she said that Dad, who was the youngest child, had a vague memory of staying at Braystones but he hardly remembered his grandparents, and nothing was mentioned that they owned a bungalow. Also Connie mentioned Millie Casson, saying she sold teas on Nethertown beach; this was my dad's aunt (maiden name Labourne). She could have sold my Granda Herdmanís family teas!!! I know she did a lot of charity work and moved to London, where she was made a freeman of London for her work with Y.M.C.A.

Granda sold 'Mona View' in the 1970s to Jimmy Ousby, partly because we all wanted to stay at home and go out with friends and no-one helped him with the maintenance. After having my own family and spending an odd holiday in a caravan at the Tarnside caravan site (my Nanaís sister Aunt Annie and Uncle Stan, who lived in Workington, owned a caravan, and so did their friends Nobby and Emmy) Granda rented 'Mona View' from Jimmy in 1978 and Peter got the beach bug too. We have stayed at Aunt Annieís caravan with friends; we have also stayed at Coulderton and rented Mr A. Turner's bungalow ('Archway'?) for two years.

In 1988 (Granda died 1981) Nana told us Jimmyís Ousbyís Mam mentioned that 'Waverley' (once owned by Bowes) was up for sale. Peter and I went down to see it. Jimmy had the key and although it looked derelict it was dry inside. It was then owned by Ralph Ellis from Darwen in Lancashire. We made an offer for it, and it became ours May 1988. Every summer was spent at the beach renovating and loving the life, travelling to school and work. The photo in "Unexpected Visitors" provided by Mrs Copley had my daughter and her best friend standing in front of the plane. We have also watched air and sea rescues- life was never dull!

When our two daughters moved away we decided we would like to live on the beach permanently. We had a fight gaining planning permission but eventually we knocked down the old bungalow at the beginning of August 1999, and after bringing water and electric supplies to the beach, built and moved into our new home before Christmas. Now we have a four bedroom bungalow in which all family far and wide have stayed, bringing their memories with them. We often have friends staying too and it is surprising how many say they have memories of holidays down here but they canít remember exactly where!

Living on the beach, some people think we are weird, especially when the storms hit the Bungalows and we lose the road track. After a really bad storm we actually lost the front of our bungalow but got it replaced and we are still here, hopefully God willing, for a very long time.


PS from Peter Graham, about Tom Herdman and his friendship with Jack Henson:
Susan recalls the tale her Granda told about the first day Jack arrived to go out fishing in Tom's boat. The deal was, Jack was to supply the bait and Tom would give him a trip out in his boat. Jack arrived at the crack of dawn as keen as mustard with two buckets. Tom said "what have you got there Jack?" He replied "a bucket of lugworm and a bucket of fresh shrimp." Tom said "we'll take the lugworm for the fish but the fish aren't getting the shrimps- they are going in the pan for dinner."

There's more from the Grahams here and here.