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.”

The Cobbler: Tam McAulay 1946 – 2006

It was a fine spring day when we climbed up The Cobbler, the distinctive and popular Arrochar mountain that reaches 884 m high.  The Cobbler is a wonderful hill that is full of character and charm and you can read more here.  Thousands of people must walk by this memorial bench every year and read the fading inscription to Tam McAulay.  The bench is generously placed on the steep zig-zags on the route up the mountain and is the perfect place to stop and sit and admire the fantastic view over Loch Long.


The view from the path up The Cobbler

Tam McAulay gave his time to the Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team and was a member of The Creagh Dhu Mountaineering Club.  A keen mountaineer and climber, the warm obituary on UK Climbing’s website talks about a man who will be missed by family and friends and was not only, ‘Remembered for his wit and humour,’ but was also an agile climber and, ‘Devoted his time to photography, poetry, playing the accordion, literature, and local history. ‘  He had also competed in cycling time trials in his youth.  Tam McAulay worked at the Esso Oil Terminal on the River Clyde and retired to Arrochar.



His obituary says, ‘Tam McAulay died on Wednesday 20 September 2006 whilst on a walking holiday on the Isle of Rhum. During a river crossing with a companion from Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team, Tam was swept over a waterfall.  Members of Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team and Ian Nicolson, a fellow Creagh Dhu Mountaineering Club member, recovered his body on Sunday 01 October 2006.’

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.

Eastbourne: Les Symons 1920 – 2018 & Lilian Symons

There are quite a few memorial benches along the sea front at Eastbourne.  I strolled along above the sea in the sunshine reading each dedication and waiting for one to catch my eye.  We were on our way up to Beachy Head, a wonderful viewpoint that was a landmark for German bombers during the Second World War.  They dropped any leftover bombs onto the town.

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The sea front at Eastbourne

This memorial bench to Lilian Symons and Les Symons, and particularly the inscription on the plaque to Les Symons, suggests two happy dancers.  Les Symons lived a long life and died at the age of 98.  His obituary says he was a teacher at Hooe Primary School and St Mary’s School (later Ocklynge Junior School).  Greatly missed by his family and friends, it was recognised that he would also be missed by those who met him on his regular walks along the prom.

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LES SYMONS 1920 – 2018 “Oh, how we danced”

The loving inscription to Lilian Symons is carved into the bench, whereas there is a plaque to Les Symons.  This suggests to me that Lilian Symons died before Les Symons.  I imagine Les Symons walking along the prom and resting on this memorial bench remembering Lilian Symons and perhaps re-living a dance in his head.

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Ruthven Barracks: Gordon Mackie 1944 – 2003

Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie in Scotland is an atmospheric ruin, the buildings open to the sky.  I always enjoy visiting this spot and thinking about its place in Scottish history.  Built on a prominent mound in the valley of the river Spey in the early 1700s, the barracks were part of the planning to maintain order in Scotland after the uprising of 1715.  Stand on the site of the barracks and you have a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

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Ruthven Barracks

After the Battle of Culloden, Jacobite survivors gathered at Ruthven Barracks and heard that the rising had collapsed and Bonnie Prince Charlie was fleeing Scotland.  The Jacobites set fire to the barracks as they left.

On our last visit to Ruthven Barracks we walked up to the ruins from the car park and I noticed this memorial bench to Gordon Mackie.  The bench is the perfect place to sit and contemplate the layout of the buildings that remain at Ruthven with their mountain backdrop.  The plaque describes this as “Gordon’s View” and invites anyone to enjoy it.  Thank you Gordon Mackie!

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GORDON MACKIE 1944 – 2003 May all who rest here enjoy Gordon’s View

Lochranza: Paul Johnstone 1956 – 2016

The ruined castle on its grassy promontory and the steep slopes of the mountains make Lochranza one of the most spectacularly sited villages on Arran.  The sheltered valley follows the river down to the sea where seals and waders can be spotted.  Walk around the coast and you will find a collection of memorial benches.  The weather was as good as it gets when we were there and we saw Arran at its best.

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Looking across to Lochranza village

This memorial bench is placed perfectly to give anyone who chooses to rest on its slats a wonderful view across the loch to the village of Lochranza.  The bench remembers Paul Johnstone who died at the young age of 63 or 64.  The inscription says that he is, ‘Forever in our hearts’ and ‘Loved and remembered everyday.’

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Treasured memories of Paul Johnstone 1956 – 2016 Forever in our hearts you will stay Loved and remembered everyday



Saltaire: Shelley-Marie Armitage 22.9.78 – 26.4.2010

The West Yorkshire village of Saltaire is a favourite place to visit.  The elegant old mill has been restored and has lovely cafes and interesting shops and the rows of terraced streets are attractive.  On this visit, after the cafe, we crossed the canal and the River Aire into Roberts Park before walking up to Shipley Glen.  In a fantastic position overlooking the river, the weir and Salt’s Mill I found this moving memorial bench to Shelley-Marie Armitage.


Overlooking the River Aire

Shelley-Marie Armitage died tragically at the age of just 31 years.  Along with Susan Rushworth and Suzanne Marguerite Blamires, Shelley-Marie Armitage was murdered in 2010.  The brutal killer who took the life of these three women was arrested and is now in prison.  Shelley-Marie Armitage’s family will, of course, never forget her and this beautifully positioned memorial bench with its simple and poignant quote will touch the hearts of others.  I sat with Shelley-Marie Armitage looking over the River Aire for a while lost in thought.  When you visit Saltaire perhaps you can do the same.

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“Rest With Me a While” In Loving Memory of Shelley-Marie Armitage 22.9.778 – 26.4.2010