Dunster: James T Ruston 1940 – 2007

Dunster is an lovely village on the Somerset coast that we visited on a damp day.  The medieval village is overlooked by Dunster Castle and wander the pretty streets and you will find dovecotes, a tithe barn and the Yarn Market on the High Street.  Walk through the woods below the castle and find a pack horse bridge that still crosses the River Avill and an old mill.  I particularly liked the old dovecote with its revolving ladder that allowed the pigeon (not doves it seems) keeper to access even the highest nest holes.  Dunster is clearly a village that people retain their attachment to as there are many memorial benches dotted around and particularly in the village garden.


In Loving Memory James Ruston Loving Husband, Dad, Grandad 1940 – 2007 236583751 LCPL James T Rushton Re UBIQUE 1958 – 1968

In the gardens for the parish church I found this striking and moving memorial bench to Lance Corporal James T Ruston.  The plaque tells visitors lots of information about James Ruston.  What stood out for me initially was his military record.  James Ruston served in the Royal Engineers between 1958 – 1968 and we are given his service number and their motto, ubique, meaning everywhere.  The plaque also gives some personal information; James Ruston was also a much loved dad and a grandad and he lived for around 67 years.


The gardens at St George’s Church Dunster


Dunster: Jim Neville 1907 – 1982

In the lovely village gardens near the wonderful Tithe Barn, Dovecote and the Parish and Priory Church of St George in the village of Dunster in Somerset are a number of memorial benches.  This one caught my eye as I can’t resist a bench that refers to someone’s working life.  Jim Neville was the station master for three consecutive stations now on the West Somerset Railway that opened as a heritage railway in 1976.  The three stations are between Minehead and Watchet.


Jim Neville 1907 – 1982 Station Master At Dunster Blue Anchor & Washford

I couldn’t resist photographing the bench which has the the letters GWR in the legs.  This represents Great Western Railway, formed in 1876.  The West Somerset Railway line was part of the GWR network until nationalisation in 1948 and the line was closed in the 1960s.  Unfortunately, Jim Neville died before obituaries were made available on the internet and I couldn’t find out more about the man that ensured the trains ran on time along the North Somerset coast.


The Village Gardens in Dunster

Cullen: Hendry Runcie 28.4.09

It was a sunny day when we were in the pretty harbour village of Cullen on the coast between Inverness and Aberdeen and I rested awhile on this memorial bench to Hendry Runcie, the former local harbourmaster to take in the view.

Cullen’s historic harbour was designed by Thomas Telford and is a village of low cottages set sideways on to the sea to protect them from the weather. The village has a lovely sandy beach looked over by a 19th century railway viaduct that now gives opportunities for airy walks to Portknockie.


Cullen on the Banffshire coastand the harbour

The newspaper report on the unveiling of the memorial bench tells some of Hendry Runcie’s story.  I read about a man who was previously a fisherman and who dedicated considerable energy to running the lovely harbour in Cullen and keeping it ship-shape.

I also learnt that the name Runcie is an old local name from the 17th century and Hendry Runcie’s ancestors were also fishermen.


In Loving Memory Of HENDRY RUNCIE Who Died 28-4-09 In His Ninetieth Year First Class Harbourmaster Loved By All

Glasson Dock; Tracy-Anne Davies 19.7.71-13.4.2002

It was a breezy day when we rolled in to Glasson Dock in Lancashire.  This small farming village became a port in the 18th century because boats could not navigate the river Lune to Lancaster.  There is still a busy commercial dock here and today there is also a marina which was full of boats bobbing on the chopping waters on the day we visited.

In the centre of the village, near to the swing bridge, is the Lock Keepers Rest, a cafe in a caravan.  Here I found this lovely bench to Tracy-Anne Davies who died very young at the age of 30-years.

Glasson Dock (1)

In Loving Memory of Tracy-Anne Davies 19.7.71 – 13.4.2002 At Peace in Summerland

On a sunny day this is a great place to sit and watch the boats go by with a brew, followed by a visit to the The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse if you are a meat or fish eater.  Here locally caught fish, as well as meat, are prepared and cured.

Glasson Dock (2)

The Lock Keepers Rest in Glasson Dock in Lancashire


Yorkshire Sculpture Park: David Barry Edwards 1952-2014

This handsome bench remembers David Barry Edwards, (or Dave Edwards) who was the Head Gardener at Yorkshire Sculpture Park when he died.  His obituary on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park website tells a story of a man who gave his life to gardening.  He started work on the Bretton Estate in 1971 and worked his way up to be Head Gardener for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it is fitting that he has a memorial bench with an attractive view and set in the gardens he worked on for over 40 years.

As Head Gardener Dave Edwards would have been a familiar sight to the staff at the park and his early death while still working there would have deeply affected many of the staff members.  The Guardian article about an Ai Weiwei exhibition in the newly restored chapel in the park a few weeks after Dave Edward’s sudden death  tells how much he was mourned.

According to Saskia Warren’s 2011 theses at the University of Sheffield, Dave Edwards not only worked on the land but also lived in a house on the Bretton Estate for many years.  She quotes him describing the family’s small farm ‘… with chickens, goats, we even had a bull.’  Saskia Warren explores a different place to the slick visitor’s attraction that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is today, describing a time when the line between work, home, family and social life were less distinct for some of the people who worked there.




The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is well worth a visit and, although it has some indoor exhibits, a trip there is worth saving for a fine day so that you can enjoy the walks through the park and feel as if you are the first person to discover some of the sculptures as you wind through woodland and parkland paths.  When we visit we always walk around the lake to see the geese, as well as the sculptures, and after our exercise we like to make time to enjoy tea and cake in the light and airy café.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park grew out of Bretton Hall College which provided courses in the arts and education until 2007.  In 1977 the college exhibited sculptures in the grounds of the hall and opened this to the public and so the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was born.  David Barry Edwards worked on the site through these changes.

Saltburn by the Sea: John ‘Fred’ Pugmire 1931-2012

Saltburn by the Sea is a lovely seaside town that is meant for strolling around.  It is within the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland and was developed as a resort by the local Pease family.  This same family were behind the Stockton and Darlington railway, which was the line used for the first public passenger train pulled by Locomotion No 1 in 1825.

The Pease family had lots of plans to make the town a success; in 1869 Saltburn Pier was opened and a few years later the water powered Saltburn Cliff Lift began operating taking visitors up and down the cliff; these were both renovated in the early 21st century.  I was disappointed that the cliff lift was closed for the winter when we visited, not because I couldn’t manage the steep slope but just for the sheer enjoyment of travelling on the old and elegant lift.  The pier was open and I was able to join the crowds walking along the wooden boards to the end to watch the surfers out catching the waves.

The memorial bench to John ‘Fred’ Pugmire is above the beach and pier and provides a wonderful viewpoint for anyone who stops to rest on their way up or down.  John Frederick Pugmire’s obituary and the bench inscription both tell me some of the story of the man.  John Fred Pugmire was a fine Saltburn man who had been loved through his 81 years and is missed by his family and friends.

This bench got me thinking about the family name Pugmire; this is an unusual name that I haven’t come across before.  The internet suggests that it originates from the West Midlands and a farm belonging to the Pugg family, mire being middle English for bog.  By the late 19th century family members had moved from the West Midlands to the north of England, including the North Riding of Yorkshire.


Saltburn (1)

John ‘Fred’ Pugmire 1931-2012 No finer man I ever knew So stay a while and enjoy the view

Saltburn (2)

Saltburn-by-the-Sea in Cleveland

Saltholme RSPB Nature Reserve: Robert Douglas Crawford 21.6.1940 to 20.4.2011

Saltholme RSPB reserve is a little gem in Teesmouth between Stockton-on-Tees and  Middlesbrough.  The reserve is a wetland habitat with a modern visitors centre and café and plenty of hides.  With big skies and varied wildlife at any time of year, Saltholme is a great place to visit.

We were here in the winter and received a friendly greeting from a fellow Mancunian before we explored the reserve paths, enjoying the views of Middlesbrough’s splendid Transporter Bridge across the reserve as well as spotting lots of ducks, geese and swans.  We were too late in the year to see the murmuration of starlings as the sun set but there was still plenty for us to enjoy and we finished up with a brew in the splendid café.  Finding wildlife thriving in the heart of industrial Teeside is a special treat and I was impressed by wildlife haven the RSPB have created.

Saltholme receives loyal support from a group of volunteers and Robert Douglas Crawford’s obituary on page 21 of the Teesmouth Bird Club newsletter from August 2011 is a moving tribute by a fellow volunteer warden at Saltholme, Dave Nelson.  The obituary describes a man who had a good eye for spotting birds, gave his time and expertise to the RSPB and who was well loved by his family and friends.  The obituary gives a rounded picture of Robert Douglas Crawford that shows the different interests in his life.  When Robert Douglas Crawford died his family and friends gave generously to a collection for the RSPB reserve at Saltholme, raising £573 so that the work there can carry on.


Saltholme RSPB reserve (2)

Saltholme RSPB reserve near Middlesbrough

Saltholme RSPB reserve (1)

In memory of Bob a loving husband, dad & granddad and a dedicated lover of birds Robert Douglas Crawford 21.6.1940 to 20.4.2011