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Memories of early childhood days in the Valley

Edward Winter spent the first 4 to 5 years of his life living at Whitehall in the College Valley. Below are notes from his reminiscences. If you would like to contact Edward please email me

colin.corlett1 ( at ) gmail.com

and I will pass on your request.

My grandparents Lizzie and Jack Mitchell were tenant farmers in Whitehall from about 1946 until 1954. They moved to a farm in Langholm. Their departure was tinged with more than a little sadness.

The owner of the Valley at that time was Sir Arthur Sutherland, a shipping magnate from the northeast. When he died, land and properties in were put up for sale. My grandparents were given first refusal on Whitehall but I understand that could not afford the asking price. According to what I was told by my late mother, my grandparents had been particularly happy and anticipated working Whitehall for much longer.

I have several memories of times spent on the farm although I was only four, perhaps three when they left. My late auntie and uncle, Florrie and Charlie Antrobus also lived in the valley, just along from Whitehall in what was and I believe is still called, the Bungalow. They too evidently, were particularly happy during their times in the valley.

Sadly my grandparents died in the early 1970s and my beloved uncle and auntie passed away in 1973 and 2005.

I attach a photograph of my uncle and grandfather taken in 1947 during the great storm.

 

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 A few years ago, I established contact with the current occupier of Whitehall and he told me that only a short while before I wrote to him, he had found a decaying horse-drawn sled in one of the outbuildings and broken it up. It was likely that it was the same sled that is the photo.

My mother lived on the farm until she left to work in Carlisle and, in 1948, marry my late father. Part of their honeymoon was at Whitehall. In 1972 I married and similarly, on our honeymoon, my wife Anne and I went to Whitehall. It was the first time for 18 years that I had done so. I have never been back, but intend one day, to do so.

I remember fishing with my grandfather in not the College Burn but one of its tributaries. The memory of fish wriggling in the bag I carried is vivid.

Another photo I attach shows my late father (in the foreground) and mother, Uncle Charlie and me in the garden at Whitehall; the southern aspect.

e m winter

 

  At the end of the drive leading into the farm is a bridge that crosses the burn in which granda fished. That was known to my family as the Fairy Dell.

I also attach a photograph taken, I believe in 1953, of my granda on one of his fishing expeditions.

 

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My auntie and uncle were active in Valley life and enjoyed dancing in the old Village Hall. I think that the current hall is a new or at least, comparatively new build. Uncle Charlie played the drums and did so in the old hall. He came originally from Wallasey. During the war he fought in the Battle of Arnhem and suffered from what we now called PTSD. He was hospitalised in a convent in Belgium for several months.

He never returned to Wallasey; he wanted solitude that working as a forester gave. He returned from the war to my grandparents previous farm at Broadhaugh just outside Hawick. My auntie and he we married in 1942 or thereabouts. Shortly after, my grandparents moved to Whitehall and Aunty Florrie and Uncle Charlie followed shortly after.

When Anne and I were in the Valley in 1972, we went to Whitehall and I found the old sheep dip. The attached photograph shows my grandfather in that very dip.

 

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 Remarkably, in a niche in the adjacent dry-stone wall (top left of the picture) there was a tin that contained rusted needles and an old glass syringe. It looked as though they could have been what my grandfather used some twenty or so years earlier.

I was tempted to keep the tin and its contents but instead, I returned it to its place. in the wall.

 In the second world war, my late father was a wireless operator on Lancasters in Bomber Command, squadron 106. Only one of the seven-man crew is thought to be alive and he has advanced dementia. However, four sons have established connections and sometime this summer, we intend to get together and pour over memorabilia that our fathers bequeathed to us. It will probably be an emotional occasion.

Edward has kindly sent through additional notes and pictures and they can be read here 

Stuart's story ...here

Mrs Ryan's story...here

Then and now...photos taken 50 years apart...here