Next month sees the 90th birthday of a Cockermouth lady, Elsie Hayton of Brigham Road. Elsie, like many elderly residents of the town, has witnessed changes to the town since her birth on 11th November, 1927.

became very close friends, keeping in touch for many years after Doreen returned home. Another evacuee from Newcastle was Tom Tait, who lodged next door to Elsie on the Goat. Tom, Elsie and Doreen were all confirmed by the Bishop of Carlisle at Christ Church, followed by a confirmation tea at Dr. Abraham’s house - Kirkby House, now the Terrace Bar part of the Trout Hotel. Joan Harvey (nee Shorthouse) was sent to live as an evacuee with Miss Peel, the headmistress of Fairfield Girls, where she was extremely happy. She remembers one occasion, sitting opposite a handcuffed Italian prisoner of war on a bus to Carlisle, when he was told off by his guard for smiling at Joan – she had maybe reminded him of family back home in Italy.

Elsie - Happy Birthday!

Born Elsie McGuffie at Isel Mill, she still has her First Birthday Card, sent to her by Nurse Hutton, who delivered her. Elsie’s grandfather who came originally from Bewcastle, bought Isel Mill. The family subsequently moved to Ghyll Yeat and then into Cockermouth, living for a time in Allison’s Yard, off the Main Street and then at the Toll Bar house on the Gote for 26 years.

Elsie went to school at Fairfield and well remembers the evacuee children who came to the town during the War Years; Doreen Hardy was one who came from Newcastle to lodge with Dr. Abraham and his wife and she and Elsie

Evacuees and Cockermouth children took it in turns to attend school to accommodate the increased numbers, with children alternating between morning and afternoon sessions. All children had to attend school with their gas masks in case of an attack. Elsie still has a Certificate of Merit awarded to her in October 1940 by the UK Band of Hope Union, for ‘Excellence in Reporting a Lecture on the Hygiene of Food and Drink’, in which the use of the word ‘and’ was strictly prohibited! Elsie’s father was a policeman and she remembers helping him to sell tickets for dances and whist drives then held at the Public Hall which used to stand on the site of the now closed NatWest Bank on Station Street.

After school, Elsie worked for a time at Josiah Hall, the grocers on Main Street (the present

Collecting scrap metal - local girl and Joan

Tarantella restaurant), then moving to be Clerk of Works at Harkness Mill on the Gote. She married Ken Hayton in 1959 and moved into Bridge End Cottage, where they welcomed five children into the world (sadly, losing one). Husband Ken, and his brother Ted, both worked at Miller’s for many years.

Elsie and her family are looking forward to a rather special afternoon tea and blessing at Rose Castle, the former home of the Bishop of Carlisle. We wish her a happy birthday, with many more to come.

Gloria Edwards

If this article has triggered any Cockermouth memories, please get in touch:

Telephone: 01900 823966

Ken and Lynda Dinneen are Lapidary Artists and Rock Hounds Ken is a Lapidary, Lynda has taught Jewellery Design, Silversmithing, and Lapidary Art, as well leading many mining and

Rock Hounding tours in and around the western United States. Ken and Lynda work from their studio on the east flank of the Central Oregon Cascade Mountains in Sisters, Oregon.

As we come sliding into the home stretch for 2017, it is time to finally address the last of our metals... this month, silver. Next month, gold.

Since we common folk are highly unlikely to be digging deep shafts, or even shallow pits for that matter, we need to be able to find our metals close to, or actually on the surface. Surprisingly, that is actually possible. Here in the US, in the desert southwest, Arizona, Nevada, California and New Mexico, the soft grey metal that is silver is found in association with many minerals and one of my favourites is turquoise. Often referred to as ‘free silver’, the metal forms as veins and crystals in the host mineral. Gold and silver miners have been known to simply toss away lovely and often valuable minerals just because they were only interested in the metals.

Turquoise Free Silver

One of those miners, I called him ‘Old Bill’ as a child, lived across the road, (just an unpaved track really) from my aunt and uncle. They lived in the breathtakingly beautiful Owens Valley, at the foot of the Sierra-Nevada Mountain range in Independence California, deep in the Mojave Desert and my dad,


mom, sister and I would travel to their house from the LA area at every holiday dad could get from work. Now, Old Bill had two mules and that alone was enough to make him a legend in my young mind and the mules, ‘Margaret’ and ‘Elizabeth Ann’ went along behind him as he set off for his mine in the White Mountains. Yes, you can Google White Mountains, California and learn all about Inyo County. Anyway, Old Bill would head out and often disappear for weeks on end. Truly one of a dying breed of old time miners he was and I just loved him. One September, Old Bill returned from a trip to his claim and he brought with him antique desert glass bottles now turned deep purple from the desert sun and a bag of silver in chunks, strings

Tonapah Silver Ore

and little bits. It had been a successful trip! While I ogled his haul, he promised me a special ‘something’ later on to remember him by. I did not need anything of course, I would never forget him! Sure enough, when we returned to the Valley for Thanksgiving, Old Bill presented me with a pair of beautiful handmade silver earrings, each with a small dangle made from the purple desert glass! He knew that I would have to wait years to wear them, I was only about 12 at the time but they were immediately one of my most precious treasures. I still had those earrings well into my 50s and sadly lost first one and then the other in a matter of a few years. That was a loss I still feel sad about. Anyway, hunting silver in the White Mountains, outside Tonapah Nevada and also in Arizona and New Mexico, not only gave me opportunity to see more of the wide open desert but many years of happy rock hound memories. I love the wild places!

Until next time, Happy Hounding!

Lynda Dinneen

19 OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE 419 PAGE 7

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