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.



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.    



1931 – 2001




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


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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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.

Birmingham: Margaret Alice (Peggy) Beale 1919 – 2006

Winterbourne House in the Edgbaston suburb of Birmingham is a gem of a house to visit.  This family home was built in the early 20th century for John and Margaret Nettlefold in the Arts and Crafts style, bringing together their forward thinking attitudes with quality.  John Nettlefold was a housing-reform pioneer in Birmingham involved in slum clearance and providing decent public housing that combined green spaces and low cost.  The magnificent gardens at Winterbourne House were initially designed by Margaret Nettlefold and continue to display colour and interest all year round, with woodland walks, lawns and a walled garden.


In the gardens of Winterbourne House

The dedication on this memorial bench to Margaret Alice (Peggy) Beale, that sits in the grounds of Winterbourne House, tells us that it was presented by the University House Association.  University House at Birmingham University was a hall of residence until the early 2000s and The University House Association was the alumni group set up to maintain contact between former students and staff and University House.  University House, on Edgbaston Park Road was opened in 1908, built as a home for female students in the School of Art, School of Cookery, as well as for undergraduates and those training to be teachers and for female staff.  As demand for accommodation for women grew, Winterbourne House, left to Birmingham University in 1944, was also used.

Peggy Beale was involved in the University House Association and records show she wrote (along with Isobel Jackson) concerning the plans by Birmingham University to develop University House into the Birmingham Business School.  The association argued that the historic importance of the building and grounds should be acknowledged.  The redevelopment went ahead.

Margaret Alice Beale was born Margaret Crosskey in 1919 to John Henry Crosskey and Evelyn Margaret Crosskey (born Nettlefold and I wonder if there is a ink with John and Margaret Nettlefold of Winterbourne House).  She had three siblings and married Charles Beale, from Edgbaston, Birmingham.  They had four children and she died at the age of 87 years.


Presented by the members of University House Association In memory of Margaret Alice (Peggy) Beale 1919 – 2006

Peggy Beale’s involvement in The University House Association explains why they donated the bench in her memory in 2009.  The newsletter shows Isobel Jackson, the President of The University House Association, with the memorial bench to Peggy Beale in the grounds of Winterbourne House.

I didn’t find any clear connection between Peggy Beale and Birmingham University but wonder if this paragraph is a clue, ‘University House, a residence for women students at the University of Birmingham, was founded in 1904.  It initially opened as a private house in Hagley Road under the wardenship of Margery Fry [prison reformer] and two other houses were subsequently acquired.  However, as demand increased, the Governing Committee decided in 1906 to build a new hall of residence and University House on the University site at Edgbaston opened in 1908.  Many leading industrial families and early academics at the University were involved in the establishment of the hall of residence. Mrs Alice Beale, wife of Charles Gabriel Beale, the University’s first Vice-Chancellor, was President and Chairman of the University House Committee from 1904 and she played a major role and is often referred to as “The Mother of the House”.’  Perhaps this is the family that Peggy Beale married into and she followed in the footsteps of ‘The Mother of the House.’

Isobel Jackson died in 2013 and an obituary tells us, ‘Isobel’s principal contribution was made through University House Association.  Isobel lived in House during the war years and then joined the Association, of which she was Secretary for many years, becoming President in 1985, a position she held until her death.  Isobel was an expert on the history of University House and took meticulous care to ensure that documents relating to the founding of House on Hagley Road in 1904 and the building of the present premises in Edgbaston Park Road in 1908 were carefully preserved and kept in the University archives.  Her efforts culminated in the publication of a book covering the entire history of House until its closure as a hall of residence in 2002.’  The work she did to preserve these records ensures that these stories are not forgotten.



Norland Moor, Sowerby Bridge: Eric Daniels 26.01.1930 – 01.96.2006

On a recent visit to Yorkshire, after a lovely walk along the canal and a pub lunch in Sowerby Bridge, we walked back to Elland over Norland Moor, a popular area for local walkers and an important fragment of upland heath.  Crisscrossed with footpaths, people like Norland Moor for the elevation, open views over to Halifax and the peace and quiet.  The highest point, with a trig point, is at 284 metres and nearby is a large rocky outcrop called The Ladstone, which some think was a place for Druid rituals.

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According to Calderdale Council there are 28 memorial benches on Norland Moor.  I don’t think we saw all of them but of the many we walked by on our walk I noticed this bench to Eric Daniels.  The plaque affectionately describes Eric Daniels as, ‘A man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, who gave so much and inspired so many.’

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Eric’s  Bench A place to sit and remember a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, who gave so much and inspired so many 26.01.1930 Eric Daniels 01.06.2006

Eric’s bench was the perfect place to rest after the steep hill up to the moor.  I sat and enjoyed the view over the golf course, wishing I had met Eric Daniel’s.

Sheffield, Abbeydale: Mr Andrew Illingworth 1941 – 2018

I visited Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet in Sheffield as a child and have fond memories of the museum that were re-kindled when I looked around again this summer.  This rustic collection of workshops arranged around a cobbled courtyard and surrounded by trees takes you back in time to steel making a hundred years ago.  The site is full of atmosphere and littered with rusty tools and broken clay crucibles that the steel was made in, you feel as if the workers left not long before you arrived.  If you are lucky you might come across someone keeping traditional skills alive in one of the workshops.

The Manager’s House has a prominent place within the site and at the back is a well-kept garden, a few metres and yet a whole world away from the industrial site.


The Managers House at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield

The gardening volunteers at Abbeydale meet for two hours once a week to take care of the grounds and gardens.  It seems a fitting tribute to a, ‘Committed Garden Volunteer’ at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet to erect a bench in his memory in the garden of the Manager’s House.  This simple bench is the perfect place for visitors and other volunteer gardeners to sit and rest a while and remember Andrew Illingworth and the time he gave freely.


In Loving memory of Mr Andrew Illingworth 1941 – 2018 Committed Garden Volunteer here at Abbeydale “Sit with me and rest a while.”

Rye: John Ryan, creator of Captain Pugwash 1921 – 2009

Tucked between the green fields of Sussex and the English Channel is the small town of Rye.  With a picturesque and well-preserved medieval centre, this is a popular place to visit.  The crooked half-timbered houses and cobbled streets give visitors a sense that they have travelled back in time.  We visited the Rye Castle Museum and there learnt that John Ryan, the creator of Captain Pugwash, was a Rye resident.

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Facing Rye’s railway station

John Ryan moved to Rye towards the end of his life.  He wrote numerous books but is perhaps best known for the TV cartoon series Captain Pugwash about a group of pirates that was first shown in the 1950s in black and white.  Later series were filmed in colour.  Captain Pugwash is shown as a mostly harmless pirate who gets into various scrapes but always survives to sail again, thanks to the quick wits of cabin-boy Tom.  During each episode Captain Pugwash will exclaim such things as, ‘Coddling catfish! Suffering seagulls!’ or ‘Kipper me capstans!’  As a child I loved these beautifully created cartoon antics.  An urban myth that there were risque names in the cartoons appeared in the 1970s and John Ryan won libel damages from two newspapers who published stories saying these names were why Captain Pugwash was removed from the schedules.

Wandering around the town, I found this memorial bench to John Ryan, near the railway station and opposite the local Jempson’s supermarket.  Placing the bench at the centre of Rye will ensure he is always remembered locally.

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This garden is dedicated to the artist JOHN RYAN (1921-2009) creator of ‘Captain Pugwash’ and many stories that delight children of all ages; much loved resident and benefactor of Rye.