Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Tale of Cockle Hall (Part One)

There’s a good chance you might have heard of Cockle Hall. In fact, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys a quiet stroll along the riverbank from time to time, you might even recognise it as being the small area of ground on the opposite side of Stanah Hill from the Ecology Centre, set aside for picnic tables
You’d be wrong, of course, but you wouldn’t be alone.
The truth is, ‘Cockle Hall Picnic Site’ is actually where the now-redundant path to the old Stanah/Wardleys ferry once ran. There’s actually some debate as to whether the owner of Cockle Hall also owned the ferry itself, Freda Gregg, who remembers the ferry from her childhood, informing us that, should its services be required, you had to shout across the river to where it was birthed outside the pub.

Whatever the case, Cockle Hall itself stood further north than the tumble down ferry jetty as shown in the photograph above, in what is nowadays a short but pleasant wood.
The steps for the ferry are still there, as can be seen in the photograph below, although not as well maintained as they perhaps once were.

Freda informed us that, when she was a kid, she remembers the mediaeval hedge line (that might have come out sounding wrong…obviously Mrs Gregg wasn’t mediaeval, just the hedge line) running all the way down to the river across the path later installed by the Wyre Rangers.
Observant readers, of course, will also know that the Romano/Celtic road running from Bourne to Nateby passes by the picnic area, just a little to the south, indicating that in more ancient times, a ford rather than a ferry spanned the Wyre at this point.
As for the hall’s history, well, surprisingly little is known, but what information we do have we thought we’d share with you just for the sake of it.
Let’s start with a photograph of the building.

It’s not exactly the clearest photograph ever produced it must be said. In fact, to be honest, it’s not much more than a dirty brown smudge, taken from the marsh, presumably with a pinhole camera constructed from old toilet rolls and tracing paper. But if you look closely enough you might be able to make out the entrance gates on either side of the cobbled revetments that held up the embankments on which the hall stood.
Those cobbled revetments are still there to this day, as can be seen in the photograph below.

We took a trip to Stanah a few weekends ago with the previously mentioned Freda and her son, Nathan, both of whom are descended from the hall’s one-time occupants, the Lawrensons. (In the past we’d made arrangements with Councillor Jim Lawrenson, who’d agreed to meet us at the Ecology Centre to fill us in on a few historic details. Unfortunately he failed to turn up and reports of him wandering around Sainsburies without a care in the world at the same time as our meeting reached us later. To this day we’ve never had an explanation and can only assume that he’d forgotten.)
Anyhow, this seems like as good a place as any to splice this article in two. So, if you’re interested (or even if you’re not), more of the same in seven day’s time.


Letty Cruz said...

Thanks for all the Tibet shout-outs on Today in Seven, guys! It's much needed right now!

Brian Hughes said...

No problem, Letty. Can't wait for 2012 when Britain hosts the games and the torch has to pass through Iraq.

Letty Cruz said...

HA HA! From your mouth, to all the Buddhas' ears <3

Ozfemme said...

What was the correct etiquette for calling for a ferry, I wonder?

Oi you - git over here?

Here, ferry, ferry, ferry, ferry....?

That picture is spooky.

Thankfully, no creepy little midgets this time.

What to do for the next seven days? *sighs*

Brian Hughes said...

I believe the correct way to call a ferry over quickly is to stand on the riverbank and shout: "You want me to go to the newspaper about that sheep, do y'?"

chris2553 said...

Just a minute, what are you saying about folks from Over Wyre? Don't forget I could have a gang waiting at the end of Bull Park Lane tomorrow :-)

Brian Hughes said...


I only going off what I've heard...and those sheep mumble in their sleep.

Letty Cruz said...

looked up dissipation at Wikipedia because I'd no idea what it meant. Here's what it said:

"In physics, dissipation embodies the concept of a dynamical system where important mechanical modes, such as waves or oscillations, lose energy over time, typically due to the action of friction or turbulence. The lost energy is converted into heat, raising the temperature of the system. Such systems are called dissipative systems."

Hot, sweaty, energetic and oscillating. Sounds like you had a good date with Bruce Willis after all.


ohmyGOD how weird, been wondering since "Bruce Willis" called this morning asking to join on my evening run if this guy's into sweaty women hahaa! So you might be onto something ;D

OH -- the reason I love that word is because it was used in Victorian and Edwardian lit so much to describe people who partied hard!

Brian Hughes said...


Victorian and Edwardian parties...not as innocent as most people believe. Charles Dickens was once approached by a reporter (and before anyone complains, this is an historical fact and therefore not subject to the usual censorship rules) and asked if he was bothered that his son was regularly visiting prostitutes. Dickens' reply: "I'd be worried if he wasn't."
Insightful but true.

Jayne said...

Great reconstruction so far, though I'm as blind as a bat and the house looked like something my dog rolled in yesterday :P
Looking forward to part deux!

Brian Hughes said...


The photograph was given to us by Mrs Gregg to do with as we considered fit, and, to be honest, I had to hold it in a certain way against the light before I could even tell that there was an image on it at all.

Being the over-confident clever-glogs what-I-am, however, I thought 'I'll just photoshop this into something more legible'.

Hah! Not a chance! Not even Photoshop's that good.

Still, it's an extremely rare brown smudge and not one that'll be appearing in any high-class local history books any time soon, so that's got to be worth something.

Jayne said...

Doesn't matter how bad it is, it's still a record of what once existed ;)
Have a gander here,21985,23546781-2862,00.html
about a treasure trove of historic pics that almost got binned!

Brian Hughes said...


I think you'll have to split that address into two parts because there wasn't enough of it showing to load in a proper page.