Morecambe: Bobby Hill 18 April 1980 – 24 October 2004

On a short walk from home, we sometimes take a wander around Torrisholme Cemetery and read the memorials on the graves.  This small cemetery is a pleasant green space that dates from 1906 and the burial areas are divided into different sections, including a heartbreaking one for children and babies and a woodland burial area.  Some people visit the cemetery to see the grave of Eric Morecambe’s parents, George and Sadie Bartholomew. If you’re ever passing at Christmas the cemetery lodge at the gates usually has elegant decorations and lights on display, with a tree in each of their bay windows.

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The grave to Robert (Bobby) Kennedy Hill, who sadly died on 24 October 2004 at the age of 24 years is a striking one in the cemetery and next to it is an elegant curved wooden memorial bench. Bobby Hill died in a car crash in Rhyl in North Wales in 2004 at just 24 years of age.  He was married to Violet, from the Morecambe area, and they had a son. Bobby Hill’s father described him as, ‘Bubbly, happy and fit’ and, ‘An entrepreneur since his schooldays.’ Companies House lists Bobby Hill as a company director until his death.

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The words on the memorial bench to Bobby Hill show the love that his family felt for him and the heaviness of the grief they are feeling. The sadness for a life that was lost much too young is in every line.

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The gravestone to Bobby Hill

Bobby Hill: Our Son Bobby – To Know Him Was To Love Him.

If tears could build a stairway & memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven & bring you home again.

Pooley Bridge: Dick Little (1915-1991) & Margaret Little (1920 – 2015)

Pooley Bridge is a charming and bustling village at the northern end of Ullswater in the Lake District, where the River Eamont meets the lake. We have occasionally stayed at a campsite here and walked over Askham Fell to find the small stone circle, The Cockpit and continued to Askham village or the higher fells. As you climb up the lane the views over Ullswater open out and on a fine day this is a fabulous place to be and the perfect spot for a memorial bench.

This bench has a glorious view looking over Ullswater

The quote on the bench is from Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798 by William Wordsworth and the full poem can be read here. The poem’s title is often, not surprisingly, abbreviated to Tintern Abbey although that building is not mentioned in the poem. In 1798 Wordsworth visited the Wye Valley and the Welsh borders on a walking tour with his sister Dorothy. His first visit had been five years earlier and this is a poem is, at least in part, about memories and how they sustain us in later life.

May I behold in thee what I was once,

My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,

Knowing that Nature never did betray

The heart that loved her; ’tis her privilege,

I notice the bench appears to be in good condition and assume it was erected after Margaret Little’s death in 2015 to remember the two of them as it is many years since Dick Little died in 1991. I like to think that Dick and Margaret Little were perhaps lovers of Wordsworth’s work and how he used nature as a theme in his consideration of spiritual and emotional development. I also like to think that they got to enjoy the panoramic view Over Ullswater once in a while during their lives.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF DICK LITTLE (1915-1991) AND MARGARET LITTLE (1920-2015)

NATURE NEVER DID BETRAY THE HEART THAT LOVED HER

Cheltenham: Colin Vernon Powell 1931 – 2001

Cheltenham has a rich heritage, with elegant Regency buildings, spas, fascinating public art and notable connections; it is certainly worth a visit.  The Imperial Gardens, behind the Edwardian Town Hall, is one of Cheltenham’s many lovely green spaces and is where the statue to Gustav Holst can be found.  We visited in spring a couple of years ago, during the Light Up Cheltenham festival.  For a few weeks some of the beautiful buildings are bathed in coloured lights giving them a whole new look.  The big wheel in the gardens was, I think, a temporary attraction.  The Imperial Gardens has formal colourful flower beds and trees and is surrounded by some handsome buildings.  

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There are many benches around The Imperial Gardens but this one caught my eye during our trip.  My interest is always stirred by a bench that mentions someone’s former working life and I was always going to include Colin Vernon Powell the jeweller in this blog.

Searching for Colin Vernon Powell on the internet was a mostly frustrating experience.  The searches revealed pages of results for Colin Luther Powell, the United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005 and an American politician, diplomat and retired four-star general.

I have been unable to track down any sign of Powell’s Jewellers in Cheltenham today but my searches do suggest that Colin Powell Ltd was a jewellers on the Promenade in Cheltenham at one time.  I like to imagine this was the right place for Colin Vernon Powell to be based.  The Promenade is certainly a fitting location for a highly respected jeweller, true friend and gentleman.  The Imperial Gardens is just off the Promenade which is in the centre of Cheltenham and is a chic shopping street that was first developed in 1818 when the trees were planted on what was a boggy track.  It eventually became the place to be seen and is now a well preserved and attractive shopping area.  Today there are a number of jewellers that continue to trade from this street and some of them have a long association with this place.    

 

REMEMBERING COLIN VERNON POWELL

1931 – 2001

A TRUE FRIEND & GENTLEMAN. 

***

FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS COLIN WAS A HIGHLY RESPECTED JEWELLER IN THIS TOWN.

Stonehaugh: Sam Harrison 2017

Stonehaugh is a remote Northumberland village in Wark Forest in the southern area of Kielder Forest. It lies between the bustle of Kielder Water and the tourist hotspots of Hadrian’s Wall but is a world away from these popular attractions. If you are looking for somewhere away from the crowds then this is a perfect place to visit.

The village was created for forestry workers in the 1950s and was originally planned to be a larger settlement that would have included a church and a pub. Changes in forestry practices and increased use of machinery meant that a smaller workforce was required and Stonehaugh stayed small. Today the houses cluster around a village green and are painted in colourful shades.

Stonehaugh also has a lovely campsite and during our stay there we took an evening walk around the village and down towards the burn. Here there is The Star Dome, a wooden circular shelter for comfortable star gazing in these dark skies, three tall wooden totem poles and this welcoming memorial bench.

This memorial bench remembers Sam Harrison who lived in Stonehaugh with her partner from 1988 until her death in 2017. This newspaper piece tells how her organs helped to improve the health of others after her sudden death in 2017. This giving nature is reflected in Sam Harrison’s work as she supported the NHS with public engagement projects.

A Just Giving page fundraising in memory of Sam Harrison tells us that, ‘Sam was a beautiful person, with a passion for sailing , and spent all of her spare time with her husband David out on their yacht.’ ‘She will never leave us because a life that touches others goes on forever,’ will give anyone who sits on this bench and enjoys the view pause for thought and also comfort.

In memory of Sam Harrison

Who lived here from 1988 – 2017

A Kind, Crazy and Loving Wife, Sister and Daughter

‘She will never leave us because a life that touches others goes on forever’

Lancaster Railway Station: Sir Toby

A bench remembering a cat at a railway station is a first for this blog and something I just couldn’t resist recording. Although Morecambe is our nearest railway station, we often start journeys from Lancaster Railway Station as this sits on the West Coast Main Line. The station has five platforms and on the one that faces the line that goes to Morecambe is this bench to Sir Toby or Sir Toby Toblerone to give this unique cat his full title.

Checking out Sir Toby Toblerone’s story I found that he was a familiar sight to passengers at Lancaster Railway Station for a number of years. He was such a regular he was made the official mascot of Lancaster Station in 2015 and given his own name badge. This exceptional cat was found as a quadriplegic, with no movement or feeling from the neck down. He was adopted by a remarkable and kindly couple who cared for him. It was by chance that Sir Toby’s owners discovered the cat’s interest in trains as they weren’t train spotters themselves. With no mobility, they carried the cat outdoors for ‘walks’ wrapped up warm and, passing the railway near their house, found that he responded to the noises of the trains. From then on they would carry him to Lancaster Railway Station two or three times a week to watch the trains and told reporters, who picked up on this unusual heartwarming story, that he particularly liked the Pendolino trains.

Despite being unable to walk, videos on Sir Toby Toblerone’s Facebook page show a cat that is content and loved and a video of him at the railway station shows his ears pricking up as a train comes in. His owners began the Facebook page to publicise the joy of owning a disabled cat.

In Loving Memory of

SIR TOBY

Lancaster Station Mascot and Train Enthusiast

This extraordinary cat sadly died on 1 April 2019 at home with his family. The Lancaster Guardian article on 15 August 2019 reports that two Virgin Trains employees paid for a memorial bench to be installed at the station to remember Sir Toby. This special cat clearly became a favourite with both the staff and other travellers and this bench helps ensure that he won’t be forgotten.

Formby: Cerys Loughlin 4th June 1998 to 1st September 2014

The fantastic beach and dunes at Formby is a popular place at any time of the year.  We have visited often over the years and I have featured a bench from this wonderful place before.  Formby has so much, a long sweep of sand that is washed by the sea twice a day, hummocky dunes covered in plants and with low-lying areas between the dunes which form seasonal shallow pools, an important habitat for the endangered natterjack toads.  Backing the dunes and beach is a stretch of coastal pinewood where red squirrels are protected and hang on.

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Cerys Loughlin was only 16 when she died from leukaemia in 2014.  Cerys Loughlin went to school near to the beach at Formby and lived locally with her family.  Placing this lovely bench among the dunes and not far from home, family and friends will be able to visit as often as they wish.  The plaque is a beautiful memorial to Cerys Loughlin that is personalised and full of love for a daughter and sister.  

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Cerys Loughlin 4th June 1998 to 1st September 2014 walked this way with her Wheezy (and Billy & Belle) Our beautiful princess will always be in our broken hearts Mum, Dad and Bethany xxx

The Race for Life her school held in memory of Cerys Loughlin the year following her death raised a lot of money for charity, as did the Just Giving page her family set up. This generosity is love and kindness in action. I hope that these compassionate and big-hearted family, friends and community members helped Cery’s parents and sister face their grief.

Whitley Bay: Ronald Stevenson 12.12.36-26.02.18 & Jean Stevenson 22.04.40 -27.10.16

Whitley Bay is a splendid stretch of sand north of Tynemouth and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  At the northern end is St Mary’s Island, a tidal rocky islet with a lighthouse.  This is a place that has happy memories for many people as overlooking this lovely spot are numerous memorial benches.  On a fine day in August I walked along the path beside these benches, reading the inscription on each one and thinking about the people remembered at this special place.

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This bench remembers a couple, Ronald and Jean Stevenson.  Jean Stevenson died in 2016 and Ronald lived 16 months longer until they were “together again.”  Look out across the North Sea from the bench and you can see where the sky touches the sea.

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The dedications read, “LOVED & SADLY MISSED RONALD STEVENSON 12.12.36-26.02.18 “TOGETHER AGAIN” MEMORIES HERE WILL LINGER ON LONG AFTER OUR FOOTPRINTS HAVE GONE. ”  And, “IN LOVING MEMORY OF JEAN STEVENSON 22.04.40-27.10.16 BELOVED WIFE OF RONNIE “OUR SPECIAL PLACE” MEET ME WHERE THE SKY TOUCHES THE SEA.”

Jean Stevenson’s funeral notice tells a story of a woman with a large and loving family.  The couple had four children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as well as many friends.  Jean Stevenson lived in Edinburgh and later in the lovely town of Prestonpans and Whitley Bay was clearly somewhere they cherished.

I am sure the memory of Ronald and Jean Stevenson lingers on long after my own footprints in the sand at Whitley Bay have faded away.

Isle of Bute: Captain Charles Riley

We had been visiting the area around Loch Lomond for a few days and so reached the Isle of Bute via the short ferry trip from Colintraive to Rhubodach on the northern tip of Bute, rather than the more popular 35-minute crossing to Rothesay.  This crossing is so short it is over almost before you’ve realised the crew have cast off.  Keen to explore the island, we parked by the attractive Rhubodach ferry terminal and watched the boat going back and forth and the black guillemots and eider ducks.

The Isle of Bute has a 30-mile long way-marked footpath around it called The West Island Way and from Rhubodach we followed a section of this trail to Balnakeilly Bay and beyond into pretty woodland.  It was spring and the forest was full of sweet-smelling bluebells, primroses and celandines and pungent wild garlic.  At the ruins of the deserted village of Balnakeilly a path through pine trees took us to a World War Two bunker, used to coordinate decoy lights and fires designed to draw enemy bombers away from Glasgow.  Today this is a great viewpoint over the Kyles of Bute towards the Scottish mainland; below us were the Burnt Islands and the colourfully named Buttock Point.

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At this viewpoint I found a memorial bench to Captain Charles Riley.  I don’t usually include benches on this blog that have no dates on the plaque but there was something about this memorial bench that caught my eye and my heart and I decided to make an exception.  Given the dedication on the bench from Val, his loving wife, ‘May You Sail The Seas And Wait For Me Until We Meet Again,’ I wonder if I can assume that Captain Charles Riley was a sailor or a fisherman.

Searching for more detail to Captain Charles Riley’s story I found that the name isn’t as unusual as you might think.  I don’t think this bench is in memory of the Captain Charles Riley I found information about who was one of the early settlers in Saline County in America.  Born in Ireland, he died in 1900 and went to sea as a young man and was one of the sailors on the ‘Brother Jonathan’, the first steamship to sail around South America.  The newspaper reported he had a life of ‘Shipwrecks, Battles and Rebel Prisons Prior to His Settlement in Saline County 30 Years Ago.’

Another Captain Charles Riley that doesn’t fit the bill is referred to at RAF Changi in 1946 and 1947.  He was a pilot rather than a sailor and a Group Captain and is described thus, ‘The Station was commanded by a Group Captain Charles Riley, by most accounts a rather difficult man, and fortunately I only came across him twice, and never to speak to.  He was short, dapper, and a pilot who doubtless held several decorations. As usual, he had a Spitfire for personal use …’  Was the author really correct in saying that a Group Captain would have personal use of a Spitfire?

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To the Captain Charles Riley, May You Sail The Seas And Wait For Me Until We Meet Again, Your loving wife Val

I have been unable to add to the story of the Isle of Bute’s Captain Charles Riley but I feel sure it is an interesting one and I always hope that someone out there will share more. Once again my interest in a memorial bench sent me on an interesting journey through history as well as giving me a chance to sit and enjoy a wonderful view.

Wick: WILLIAM BAIN THOMSON (TOSHY) 1927-1992

The town of Wick in Caithness in the north of Scotland was once Europe’s busiest herring port. There are still fishing boats in Wick harbour but when we visited the boats going to and fro were installing a large off-shore wind farm. We took an afternoon walk around Pulteneytown, on the south bank of the River Wick whose mouth the town sits on. Thomas Telford designed Pulteneytown for Sir William Pulteney, as well as working on improvements for the harbour and a bridge to improve the connection between the north and south bank of the river. The development includes as its centre piece the charming Argyle Square. From Pulteneytown our walk naturally gravitated to the activity of the harbour and there I found this interesting memorial bench.

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Wick harbour in the sunshine

The memorial bench to William Bain Thomson, known as Toshy, was erected by his family. Anyone who stops to read the plaque will gather that William Thomson worked on a boat called the Good Hope and lived to around 65 years of age, dying in Fort William. The words, ‘My ear will be soothed by the sound of the sea,’ suggest William Thomson lived and died a sailor and fisherman.

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ERECTED BY HIS FAMILY IN LOVING MEMORY OF WILLIAM BAIN THOMSON (TOSHY) FORMER CREW MEMBER OF GOOD HOPE BORN WICK 1927 DIED FORT WILLIAM 1992 MY EAR WILL BE SOOTHED BY THE SOUND OF THE SEA

I wonder if William Thomson’s middle name Bain is after Alexander Bain (1810 – 1877). He was an inventor and engineer who was born in Caithness and began his working life as an apprentice clock maker in Wick. Alexander Bain was the first to patent the electric clock and installed railway telegraph lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I found references to a boat registered in Wick, Good Hope WK209 that moved to Fleetwood in Lancashire and is now lying derelict near there. Today this fishing boat is celebrated in a whisky. The Pulteney Distillery in Wick, founded in 1826 at the height of Wick’s herring boom, celebrates Good Hope WK209 as it was the first boat in Wick to use echo sounder to help find the herring.

Corpach: Iain MacIntyre 1931 – 2018

This is certainly a bench that encourages you to linger and enjoy the view.

The Caledonian Canal runs from Corpach in the west of Scotland near Fort William to Inverness in the east.  This waterway is made up of 22 miles of canals and 29 locks, joining 38 miles of existing lochs that string along the Great Glen.  Built in the early 19th century, the route includes Neptunes Staircase near to Corpach where a ladder of eight locks raises boats 70 feet.

We were cycling back to our campsite near Corpach after an enthralling evening of pine marten watching with Glen Loy Wildlife.   Seeing these elusive mammals has been on my wish list for many years and I was thrilled to have had the chance.  The day before we had climbed Ben Nevis on a perfect and unusually hot day for the month of May.  We were happy and relaxed after touring around the beautiful country of Scotland for around a month and looking forward to more weeks to come.  In the evening light we cycled down to the locks at Corpach, where the Caledonian Canal meets Loch Linnhe and had to stop to take in the magnificent view of Ben Nevis saturated by the warm colours of the sunset.

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Ben Nevis in the evening sunshine

While we watched the vibrant magic of the sun setting, I noticed a memorial bench with an enviable view and turned away to read the plaque.  The bench remembers Iaian MacIntyre and told me that he was born at Corpach Sealock in 1931.  I sat and pondered on what a different place this would have been in 1931.  Today the Caledonian Canal is mostly used by leisure boats but in the 1930s large paddle steamers would have taken passengers through the canal and in the Second World War a naval repair base was here.

Iain MacIntyre’s death at 87 years of age was announced in the Oban Times on 4 October 2018:

MACINTYRE – Very peacefully,  surrounded by his family on Saturday, September 29, 2018, Iain Neil MacIntyre, aged 87 years. Devoted husband, dad and grandad. Funeral service will be held on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 11a.m. in Kilmallie Parish Church, Corpach; thereafter to Beoraid Cemetery, Morar for approx 3p.m. Family flowers only please …

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In memory of Iain MacIntyre Born Corpach SeaLock 1931 – 2018