Flamborough Head: Clive John Long 1960 – 2004


Flamborough Head

If the number of memorial benches is any criteria at all for how significant a place is, then Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast is one of the most special places in England.  With a stretch of rugged white cliffs and thousands of birds, it isn’t difficult to see why it is a much loved place for so many people.  The views over the cliffs are stunning, the birds are lively and the pebbly beaches are great for beachcombing.  Flamborough Head is great for walking and is also perfect for sitting and enjoying the scenery.  I always enjoy a visit to Flamborough Head, even on a wet or blustery day and welcomed a rest on the generously-sized bench remembering Clive John Long.



Clive John Long died in his 40s and is still very much missed by his family who have set up an online Much Loved Remembrance Garden page to him; I found reading the thoughts on this page heartbreaking.  I am pleased that I took the time to notice and read the moving and poignant epitaph on this memorial bench to Clive John Long.

Dove Stone Reservoir: Bessie Skye 1920 – 2011

Dovestones March 2017 (2).jpg

It was a very wet day when we set off to walk around Dove Stone Reservoir on the edge of Saddleworth Moor in Oldham, Greater Manchester.  We thought we would have the place to ourselves but the people of Greater Manchester are made of sterner stuff and plenty of them were out for a walk even in such inclement weather.

This bench with its lovely dedication, ‘After clouds sunshine’ caught my eye.  This is a Latin proverb, post nubila phoebus that reminds us that after bad times come the good times.  The phrase is also the motto of the University of Zulia, one of Venezuela’s most important university.  Here the motto represents the re-opening of the university after 42 years of closure for political reasons.

Memories of Betty Skye 1920 – 2011 Who Lived, Laughed & Loved Here.  AFTER CLOUDS, SUNSHINE


I hope that I have found the correct obituary for the Bessie Skye this bench remembers.  The Bessie Skye (and it is a beautiful and unusual name) I tracked down was 90-years old and died in Cardiff in south Wales, a long way from Dove Stone Reservoir in Greater Manchester.  The obituary tells me that Bessie Skye was a much loved mother of seven children and was a great-grandmother.  A Just Giving page reveals that £570 was raised for the Stroke Association in memory of Bessie Skye from the Cardiff half marathon in 2012.  Why Bessie Skye ‘lived, laughed and loved’ at the beautiful Dove Stone Reservoir isn’t clear but someone out there will know more of her story.

Hawarden: Joanna Goodchild 1921 – 2016

In the pretty Welsh border village of Hawarden is The Gladstone Library, a unique and peaceful place that is Britain’s only Prime Ministerial library, founded by William Gladstone.  As well as the library, the stately building has meeting spaces, accommodation and a cafe and runs courses and conferences.


We visited on a sunny day and before walking around the lovely countryside from Hawarden we stopped at the Gladstone Library for drinks.  Beside the front door overlooking the lawns and the statue of William Gladstone is this bench remembering Joanna Goodchild.

Joanna Goodchild died locally on 17 February 2016.  As well as being a long serving supporter of Gladstone’s Library, Joanna Goodchild worked as the secretary of The Queen’s School, an independent girl’s school in Chester, for many years, from 1947 until 1984.  I uncovered some heart-warming stories about Joanna Goodchild’s time at The Queen’s School.  Founded in 1878, this is the only school granted the privilege of being known as The Queen’s School, following a royal decree from Queen Victoria.

When Joanna Goodchild retired as secretary at The Queen’s School in 1984 she was given a glowing tribute in the school magazine.  She was described as having an, ‘unparalleled’ ‘knowledge of the day-to-day working of the school’ and being ‘an integral part of school life for so long.’  She had an ability to ‘react to any situation with wisdom, humour and tact ‘ and was a valued member of staff who would be greatly missed.


In Loving Memory of JOANNA GOODCHILD A Long Serving Supporter And Friend Of Gladstone’s Library 1921 – 2016

Susan Elphick, who received an MBE for her charitable work at a local hospital, attended The Queen’s School in the 1950s.  At the school’s annual Commemoration Service in 2015 she remembered Joanna Goodchild fondly and told the young people that she remained friends with her after leaving the school.


Cotherstone: Betty Hutton 6.7.29 – 11.1.06

Cotherstone is an attractive village just a few miles from Barnard Castle.  Named after Anglo-Saxon settlers the village is on a ford of the river Tees and in the 11th century a castle was built here of which only earthworks remain today.  In 1868 the railway came, three local reservoirs were built and the village of Cotherstone grew.  The railway served the local quarries and the disused route winds up the valley and the Teesdale Railway Path makes a great linear walk or cycle route between Barnard Castle and Middleton-in-Teesdale.


THIS SEAT IS PLACED HERE IN LOVING MEMORY OF BETTY HUTTON 6.7.29 – 11.1.06 please enjoy a rest here as you climb the hill as Betty often did

In this green and pleasant spot near to our campsite this lovely bench invites walkers to sit and rest in memory of Betty Hutton who lived until she was 76-years old.  Her friends and / or relatives chose to remember Betty Hutton with a memorial bench, ensuring her connection with Cotherstone continues and is part of community life beyond the graveyard.  A memorial bench is a great way to recognise a link someone had with a place and preserve that association, as well as to pay tribute to the person.


The bench on the hillside near Cotherstone

Streatley: Malc Grant 24.05.1948 – 04.10.2013

Streatley and Goring straddle opposite banks of the river Thames.  The two villages are joined by a river and are lovely places to visit.  Goring is in the Chilterns and Streatley is in the North Wessex Downs, both Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  In early Anglo Saxon times the river Thames was the border between Mercia and Wessex, with Goring in Mercia and under the rule of King Offa and Streatley in Wessex and ruled by King Ine.  We found this a perfect area for walking and followed ancient trails, including The Ridgeway, and interesting sunken ways to the Holies, a lovely chalk woodland on the slopes above Streatley.  It was a sunny winters day and lots of people were out enjoying the fine weather.

In the lovely woods above Streatley in Berkshire

I found this memorial plaque to Malc Grant while exploring among the trees.  The plaque generously shares the bench with other memorials, making this glade a very special place for remembering loved ones for lots of different people.


Malc Grant 24.05.1948 – 04.10.2013 A True Friend – A Good Heart – A Great Voice

Kinlochleven: Tony Schwalbe 1979-2009

By 1909 Kinlochleven had a hydro-electric scheme and aluminium smelter, following the construction of Blackwater Reservoir and 6 kms of pipeline to the valley by navvies.  Crammed dozens to a hut, the navvies worked in harsh conditions among the Scottish mountains and not all of them survived.  The navvies graveyard by Blackwater Reservoir is a sobering spot.  The aluminium smelter employed up to 800 people and the isolated village of Kinlochleven grew.  During the First World War there were two prisoner of war camps around Kinlochleven and the German prisoners worked to build the road on the south side of Loch Leven to support the busy aluminium works.


Overlooking the hydroelectric and former alumimium smelting works in Kinlochleven

The aluminium works is long gone but hydro-electric generation continues in Kinlochleven.  For one family Kinlochleven has other associations and this memorial bench that remembers Tony Schwalbe who died in 2009 after only 30 years, faces the hydro-electric plant.  This memorial plaque is unusual for being engraved in German.


Wir widmen diese Bank unserem Sohn 1979 – Tony Schwalbe – 2009 als Ort der Errinnerung und der Begegung Your footprints on this path may have faded, but your heart never left.



Glencoe: Miss Barbara Fairweather MBE 1917 – 2001

If you have never been, Glencoe Lochan is a real treat.  Take the steep road from the village, park up and you walk in to a fairy tale.  This is Hansel and Gretel and Snow White on their Scottish holiday, an otherworldly place to lose yourself in.  The woodland and lochan were designed with love to ease the homesickness of Donald Smith’s (Lord Strathcona) Canadian wife, Isabella.  The couple met in Labrador and Isabella came to live on Donald’s Glencoe estate but, despite the planting of numerous red wood trees and a lochan with a view of the Pap of Glencoe reflected in its still waters, Isabella never settled and they spent much of their time in North America.


Overlooking the picturesque Glencoe Lochan

This bench with a view over the lochan has a tree stump next to it with memorial plaques to eight different people.  I read them all but it was the plaque to Miss Barbara Fairweather MBE that caught my eye.  This wasn’t just because she was described as a ‘very special lady’, although I have no doubt that she was, but also because we had also visited the lovely Glencoe Folk Museum on our trip.

Barbara Fairweather MBE co-founded the Glencoe Folk Museum with Mrs Rae Grant in 1966 and for Barbara Fairweather this was a life’s work and she collected many of the items on show.  In 1971 the museum was given the two cottages it is now housed in and the museum opened a year later.  The museum collects, preserves and exhibits items relevant to the history of Glencoe, including photographs and is a perfect example of a community museum that has grown with dedication and love.  This isn’t a dry collection of objects, it is a lively and interesting museum that brings alive the people who have lived in the village of valley of Glencoe over the centuries and I can only urge everyone to visit.

Barbara Fairweather also wrote The Folklore of Glencoe in the 1960s and contributed to other local history books.  She was the first editor of the 1745 Association‘s Quarterly Notes and left £500 to the Association for a seat in Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye in her will.


In Loving Memory of MISS BARBARA FAIRWEATHER M.B.E. 1917 – 2001 Founder Of The Glencoe & N. Lorn Folk Museum A Very Special Lady

I do not always get to see a photograph of the people whose memorial benches I write about but in the case of Barbara Fairweather there is a portrait seated in her home with a cat on her lap.  The portrait can be seen in the Museum and Barbara Fairweather looks very relaxed and content in her lovely home.

Barbara Fairweather was the great grandaunt of a young woman from New Zealand, Rachel, who has written a lovely blog post with stunning photographs of her visit to Glencoe where she explored some of her family history.


The collection of eight memorials on the tree trunk alongside the bench