Saturday, August 20, 2011

The bobbin makers of Grizedale Forest



Stott Park bobbin mill is most definitely worth a visit for anyone who wants to see a living piece of history. Tucked away in the Grizedale Forest in a most beautiful setting, the bobbin makers carried out their sometimes dangerous craft with diligence. The moment I visited I knew I had to write about it.


The late Bill Hogarth spent hours taking me through Grizedale Forest teaching me the tricks of his trade on coppicing, making hurdles and swill baskets. Stan Crabtree and Bill Grant also enlightened and entertained me on the skills of forestry.
Even the charcoal maker patiently explained his craft to me.

Most of all I loved the evening I spent with the ‘Bobbin Girls’ themselves Eileen Thompson, Joyce Wilson and Pat Hogarth regaled me with their yarns and the wonderful tricks they played on each other in the bobbin mill. How they would put a mouse in a friend’s bait box (lunch) which meant there would be little left of the poor girl’s sandwiches. Mice were a common pest among the wood shavings. They also painstakingly described all that was involved in the making of bobbins, a skill I would not wish to try considering the hidden difficulties and dangers. Bobbin makers are well known for being a digit short. Fortunately, Eileen, Joyce and Pat still have all of theirs.


The Bobbin Girls is one of my favourite historical sagas, now available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle. It was a joy to revisit it for editing purposes, as I’d largely forgotten it.

And is there a romance in this book? Of course.

Alena Townsen, a fiery tomboy from a large, happy family, wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with her childhood friend, Rob, the only son of James Hollinthwaite, a wealthy landowner. Hollinthwaite, however, has other ideas and when he forces the two to part Rob is sent away to school while Alena must start work in the local bobbin mill. Life is hard and her love for Rob severely tested. Torn between two men, her indecision is heightened by the knowledge of a tragic secret. Dolly Sutton has problems of a more intimate nature, while shy and unassuming, Sandra Myers finds herself an unlikely campaigner against Hollinthwaite’s destructive plans for the village when he ruthlessly sacks the man she loves. This is a moving tale of thwarted young love, and trust me, you will like the ending.

The Bobbin Girls. Now available in the Kindle Store:

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