Northumberland Tales header 800 px

 

Whitehall memories - page 2.

More memories from Edward.

Of course, my memories of the College Valley are from early childhood when I was at most four years old and my grandparents spent a comparatively short time at Whitehall i.e. 1946-1954 or thereabouts.  Hence, my recollections might not be accurate but having said that,  some are vivid and were reinforced by the DVDs.

My excursions were in the summer so I remember bright sunlight and warmth.  Adders were a danger and my grandfather Jack (Mitchell), Uncle Charlie (Antrobus) and others used to go on adder hunts by the College Burn with me on the shoulders of one of the hunters.

Auntie Florrie (Antrobus nee Mitchell) took me to throw stones in the Burn to make splashes.

Granda took me at least once to Kirk Yetholm on the back of one his horses.  I don't think it was Snowy (depicted in the attached picture) but I do remember a distinctly uncomfortable ride behind Granda on an unforgving  saddle.

whitehall memories


Auntie Florrie and Uncle Charlie took me to the old village hall and I can picture the wooden floor and corrugated iron roof.  The tranquility of the valley was a marked contrast to Charlie's Wallasey background and his experiences during the war in north east Europe that led to his PTSD, called then of course "shell shock".

My grandfather was a tenant shephard in the Scottish Border  region and he had several tenancies.  He came to Whitehall from Broadhaugh (just south of Hawick) and the last farm he went to after Whitehall was Cronksbank to the east of Langholm.  He died there some 40 years ago.  Florrie and Charlie followed my grandparents to Langholm before going to Capheaton in the mid 1960s and finally Kelso where Charlie died in 1973.

Curiously, Jack seems not to be in the DVD photograph of the Valley's shephards that was taken in 1953.  He was at Whitehall at that time but perhaps he was either otherwise occupied or his shyness prevented him from appearing.

Jack and Lizzie had four children: Cissie, Florrie, Eric and my mother Nancy.  94-year-old Cissie has survived all of them.  She is a dearly-loved Great Great Aunt to my grandchildren Coral aged two and Aaron aged four weeks tomorrow.  She still lives on Hurtleton Farm, Irthington  just north of Carlisle where she has done so since 1936.

Other memories of Whitehall I have are geese and in particular, terrifying ganders, but kinder cows, hens, goats and of course sheep.  Granda favoured Cheviots that contrasted with the more common Black-faced varieties.

Childhood memories hide the stark reality that hill-farming presented: it was a harsh life.  Work was unrelenting and severe, especially in the winter.  The great winter of 1947 saw much hardship and it nearly cost my Grandfather his life.  My late mother told me that evidently, while out tending his sheep he fell into a snow drift and became trapped.  His dog ran back to the farm and sounded an alert that resulted in a rescue party successfully searching and finding him.

My plans to return to the Valley are tinged with the saying "Never-go-back".  I did enjoy my return in 1972 but it was still a sad visit.  If I do go back, I anticipate it will be even sadder because only one of my immediate family from those times, Auntie Cissie, survives.

The Kelly and other lamps that adorn the mantlepiece in my living room were used to illuminate rooms and stairwells at Whitehall.  I often look at them and imagine my grandparents filling them with oil, lighting them and carrying them to their set places.  I distinctly remember the stairwell being lit by a Kelly lamp.

You might appreciate the attached photographs of Whitehall.  The black-and-white one I have and the colour one that was taken some 50 years later by Colin from almost the same position make a remarkable pair.  The forrestation of the background slopes are but one major change.


I was interested to find that the Bungalow where Florrie and Charlie lived was originally occupied by Miss Emma Pease.  Auntie Florrie used to lay me face down across her knee in that Bungalow and give me "Plumb Puddings".  This was aform of tickling and I did the same with my children Holly and Michael and now some 60 years later, with Granddaughter Coral.

The wedding photograph is of Eric Mitchell and Joan Wilson whose wedding was in 1947.  My mother Nancy was bridesmaid and n the mid ground are Florrie Charlie.  This how all might be remembered from Whitehall days.


Happy memories.