Saturday, October 18, 2008

Recycling at Bodkin Hall

Take a good look at the photograph below:


Can you guess where it is?
All right…the fact that Ling Row Pilling is written in the bottom right hand corner might be a give away. Also the mention of Bodkin Hall in the title of this article, not to mention our obsession with the place in recent weeks, might hold a few clues. On the off chance that you haven’t guessed yet, however, this is Ling Row in Pilling with Bodkin Hall just visible in the background. It was taken at some point during the Victorian period.
These cottages were demolished just after the Great War, incidentally. Not because they’d been bombed or anything. Just because their owners didn’t like them much anymore, we assume.
Anyhow, now take a look at this:



This is a scan of a ‘small find’ excavated from Bodkin Hall on the 28th September 2008. It was discovered between the Edwardian layer and the Victorian layer, which effectively dates it to somewhere around the turn of the twentieth century. Any ideas what it…or rather ‘what they’, because there’s two sections to it…might be? Don’t forget, there’s a clue in the title of this post. They’re made of metal, albeit extremely rusted? There’re usually two of them per side? These are a bit on the ‘broken’ side?
Oh, for God’s sakes! It’s a bloody bicycle brake, isn’t it? What’s wrong with you people?

Now, wouldn’t it be great to think that this particular brake lever once belonged to the bicycle in the photograph at the start of this posting? (See how it all comes together so easily?) Don’t ask us what series of events might have led to them being buried outside the old blacksmith’s…we’re not Time Team, you know…we don’t go in for highly inventive stories that suddenly become facts as the programme progresses…we’re only speculating here. It’d just be great if that’s what it turned out to be, that’s all.

Now that’s where this article would have ended (and a very short article it would have been too) if it wasn’t for Michelle’s diligent research. You see, according to Sobee’s ‘History of Pilling’:
‘Pilling has provided some of the early pioneers of cycling. The “bone shaker” type of bicycle was made at the smithy next to the Ship Inn by Joseph Danson, grandfather of Mr. Fred Danson, and Richard Gornall made the type known as “ordinary” or “penny farthing”.’



Yes, we know that ‘boneshakers’ didn’t have brakes. Well, they didn’t have brakes other the heels of your boots being slammed into the ground. They didn’t have pedals either so, unless you were hurtling down a very steep hill, brakes wouldn’t have been much use. Nonetheless, both brakes and pneumatic tyres had been invented by the 1880s, so our own particular ‘small find’ still lands squarely in the Victorian/Edwardian period.
Now, we’ve probably mentioned somewhere in a previous article (long, long ago and far, far away) that Mr. Cross (owner of Bodkin Hall in Edwardian times), married to Mrs. Cross (dressmaker) and unfortunate bloke who tripped on his way out of the pub one night and broke his neck, was also the blacksmith’s at the Ship Inn. (Before he fell over and broke his neck, of course.)
This would have been after Mr. Danson’s stint as the smithy there, so it’s highly possible that the side trade in making bicycles was passed onto Mr. Cross.
It’s also highly likely that Mr. Cross continued to make said bicycles at his blacksmithing shop at Bodkin Hall, which is why the brake lever (and various other Edwardian bicycle bits and pieces) ended up in his yard.
See…it really does all come together in the end doesn’t it?

18 comments:

Andrew said...

Jayne's Name That Thing is easier than yours.

RVB said...

Can you guess where it is?

Venezuela?

They didn’t have pedals either so, unless you were hurtling down a very steep hill, brakes wouldn’t have been much use.

Not unlike Sir Thomas More (the text we're studying at school), these bikes put conscience ahead of practicality...thus beheading their riders.

Brian Hughes said...

Andrew,

That's because her mystery objects aren't covered in centuries of rust and sheep manure.

Reuben,

The difference being that most Pilling cyclists were content simply to burn off through Stakepool, whereas Sir Thomas prefer to burn people at the stake. (If it wasn't so early in the morning I'd probably be able to make that work better as a joke...it's one for the Giles Brandreth Lexicon of Hilarity, at any rate.

RVB said...

Oh I see then.

That bicycle brake could be used for a more crude and sexually-debauched purpose beginning with 'C'.

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

Exactly. Camping.

John said...

Possibly the Blacksmith had a side job of renting bicycles, or possibly the blacksmith was a cycling enthusiast on the weekends, or quite possibly the bike was left there after it was nicked from one of my ancestors from Yorkshire who might have been on Holiday.

in other words, speculation is fun, but where are the facts, man?

Still, the post was informative and entertaining, so I won't complain about all that speculation.

Looking forward to your Haunted Halloween post in the coming weeks!

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

John,

"...possibly the bike was left there after it was nicked from one of my ancestors from Yorkshire..."

More likely it was a failed attempt by one of those damned Yorkies to nick it from our beloved Lancashire...

"...speculation is fun, but where are the facts, man?"

We found a brake lever under the soil and the bloke who used to own the place was also the blacksmith at the Ship Inn where they used to make bikes. Not much of a blog in that unfortunately...I like to pad these things out a bit.

"Looking forward to your Haunted Halloween post..."

You'll be looking forward to for the next twelve and a half months then because I haven't written one.

John said...

Brian,
Can't wait for your next excavations, then. Seems like something's always being uncovered at Bodkin, and who knows what next you shall reveal?

As for Halloween, how can you resist? Or are you just being stubborn this year? Surely there's something Most Haunted in your area that we haven't heard about?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

John,

"...who knows what next you shall reveal?"

Not a lot because we've finished at Bodkin Hall now. However, I haven't finished posting all the stuff about it yet...such as it is...so stay tuned.

"As for Halloween, how can you resist?"

Very easily. I'm trying to clear my hard drive of old pre-written blogs at the moment so I'll save any ghost stories until Christmas probably.

Jayne said...

Brian if you look carefully at the picture on the top of my blog you'll notice it states "bicycles repaired".
This is actually a pic of my great-grandfather's blacksmith and wheelwright shop/business in Beaufort, Victoria.
If he - or your Mr Cross - didn't continue to repair bikes, they'd have been pretty quickly out of customers!

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

Ah...that explains the mysterious slideshow that appeared in my inbox this morning.

The funny thing is, I knew that photograph of yours was a blacksmith's (it was either that or Steve Irwin performing in a pantomime of Dr Crippen) but I'd never noticed the 'Bicycles Repaired' sign before. Shows how observant I am, doesn't it?

John said...

Now I get it.... Re-'cycling' at Bodkin Hall. Haha. Good one, that.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

You see, what's clever about it is that all the jokes are recycled as well.

Jayne said...

Found this Monty Python skit just for this blog entry.
Bicycle Repair Man
And not a Steve Irwin in sight!

Feral Beast said...

HMMMMMM?

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

The sad part about that sketch is, I remember it being first broadcast.

Mr Beast,

AH HAH...

Jayne said...

That would make you a vintage book-end to Bill Oddie and the 3 seater Goodies bike, then.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

Absolutely...back before his ornithalogical days when he was still just the lesser warbling bearded tit. Or was that Professor Yaffel out of Bagpuss? Whatever the case, as much as I hate to admit this, I'm old enough to remember the first runs of Skippy the bush kangaroo too...although I'm trying my best to forget.