A Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis FrithA Grand Spell of Sunshine - The Life and Legacy of Francis Frith

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Happy Memories Of Slaidburn

A Memory of Slaidburn.

My first introduction to Slaidburn was in the middle of the very cold and snowy winter of 1949-50. I had just driven down from Inverness to this charming Lancashire village with my Dad. It had been a long, cold drive in a 1938 Morris roadster car, loaded with luggage and a big tool box. I was to begin a new job working for Cementation Ltd where my father also worked. The contract was to drill a tunnel from Ellerbeck to supply water to Manchester. I was to continue my apprenticeship as a heavy duty mechanic. We arrived at 23 Church Street Slaidburn late in the day, tired and hungry. Our landlady, Mrs. Waterworth welcomed us with open arms and a nourishing hot meal. After a good sleep we drove up to the Site at Ellerbeck for me to see just where I would be working. Dad showed me around and introduced me to several of the engineers and workers. I would enjoy working here!  Back at our lodgings I was introduced to Jim Waterworth, our landlady's son. Jim was a tall lad a little older than I. His future plan was to join the R.A.F. and in a short time he did. Jim's sister was also in the Armed Forces, Betty was in the WREN's. Cementation was a good company to work for and in time I was assigned to work as a heavy engine mechanic in the Power House. This large building provided electric power and compressed air for the entire project. It was a very noisy building to work in but I enjoyed the hard heavy work a great deal. If a major repair was necessary we'd work as many as three twelve hour shifts back to back to get the engines running again. Pleasure time was usually spent in Clitheroe, at the local Youth Club. Dancing and generally having a great time. Driving back home over the Fells on a frosty evening, after some extra work shifts and few drinks made the trip a little harrowing. Once I made it almost all the way home, but must have dozed off for a second or two. A couple of corners from Slaidburn church I zigged when I should have zagged and hit the wall. My little car was not apparently damaged very badly so I drove on home and covered it with a tarpaulin as usual. Next morning my Dad wanted to use it to get to work, I had the day off. Without thinking I said "Go Ahead". He found it hard to steer and had a mechanic look at it at work. I had broken the chassis when I hit the wall. Naturally I got a tongue lashing from Dad, for drinking and being too tired to drive. Plus I had to pay the mechanic to fix it. After that I behaved and always got enough sleep before going out on the town. At Christmas my Dad insisted he took us all to the Moorcock for a lovely luncheon. He took my Mum in the Jeep and I took Mrs. Waterworth in my little car. There is a steep hill heading to the Fells and Clitheroe from Dunsop Bridge (I Believe) my little car had trouble making the hill with Mrs Waterworth on board,(She was a rather big but lovely lady) so I had to ask her to get out and walk the last thirty yards or so. We met up at the top of the hill where she got back in and we completed the journey, laughing all the way to the Moorecock Inn. Lunch was super!
The "Hark to Bounty" in Slaidburn is a lovely old world pub. It's upstairs was once a Courtroom and has a very interesting history. In June 1951 I left Slaidburn and headed south to get ready to emigrate to Canada. I have been back to Slaidburn a few times over the years to visit.  Slaidburn is a quaint,  historic village, populated by warm and friendly people and well worth a visit anytime. My good friends the "Waterworth Family" still farm nearby. All is peaceful in this quiet and treasured spot of Lancashire.

With thanks to Denman Lalonde for this memory of Slaidburn

Added 12 April 2007


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