At Crofton each holding consisted of 6 acres of land, looking up to Skiddaw. There were two other LSA estates in Cumberland, Dalston and Broadwath.
Crofton was the largest estate with 70 smallholdings and the LSA headquarters housed in the old stables of Crofton Hall. There were also lodge houses, a manager’s house and several properties tenanted by estate workers. Over the lifetime of Crofton LSA, 1936 – 1974, around 200 families laboured on the lands, a tough, demanding and rewarding life. The Crofton tenants built a social and community network which helped them to survive. Many people have wonderful memories of their time in Crofton, as do their children and grandchildren. Their experiences and memories are recorded in a book I have just published ‘Skiddaw & Six Acres’ by Eileen Devenney and Tony Britton, who both grew up on Crofton smallholdings. Here are excerpts from two of those many stories.
Title pic: Crofton Old Hall. Above: Bushby Haytime
John Leeson: “We lived at 69 East Park. Dad had 5 large greenhouses, the main crop being tomatoes and other salad vegetables. He also had pigs and chickens. With my two sisters Rebe and Doreen I attended Crofton School, situated in Crofton Hall, sadly now demolished. Crofton lake was near the school and it often froze over in winter. My sister Rebe, who was the oldest, used to pick up a very large stone and throw it on to the ice. She always said that if the ice held the stone it would hold her, so we used to follow her out onto the ice, to the island in the middle of the lake. We never fell in or at least I don’t think we did!”
Crofton Lake from the Hall
Ike Richardson in the battery shed
John Stout in Richardson’s piggery
Emma Osborne (Crofton Farm): “Around 1942 the first prisoners of war to work on Crofton farm were Italians and after that came the Germans, they were being held at Moota. After the war finished some of the German prisoners were moved to the Air Force camps at Wath Head, but they still travelled to Crofton Farm by bike to work. In 1942/43 a British plane crashed near Crofton Lake and on the walk home from school Bob, John & Tommy Osborne tried to have a closer look, but the land army girls stopped them and wouldn’t let them climb over the wall (even though the land army girls had) so the boys made it home to the farm and walked back over the fields to the crash site and spoke with the pilot.”
Irving Bushby, picking tomatoes
Written by David Ramshaw
The book is full of such memories and images from the Crofton community, available from my website, p3publications.com and Bookends in Carlisle.