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.

Bamber Bridge near Preston: Jean Freeman

Even after many years of stopping to read the plaques on memorial benches, finding a memorial bench in a supermarket was a first for me.  We lived in Preston in Lancashire for many years and these days the Sainsbury’s store in Bamber Bridge south of Preston is often a convenient place to shop on our way home.  Walking across the car park I noticed a new addition to the supermarket.  There is now a memorial bench at the front of the shop looking over the car park.


This Seat Is In Memory Of Jean Freeman Sadly Missed

The plaque on the bench gives me no clues about when Jean Freeman died and I can only guess that she worked in the Sainsbury’s shop.  I assume this memorial bench is a lovely gesture by her former colleagues and that reflects well on the supermarket but I might be wrong.


Sainsbury’s supermarket at Bamber Bridge near Preston

Rivington Pike: Jim Evans 16.11.1955 – 28.05.2014

It was a glorious clear day last time we climbed up Rivington Pike.  We could see as far as Blackpool Tower and the Bowland Fells in the north.  It was some years since we have walked up to this fantastic view point and the paths have been improved recently.  To reach Rivington Pike you can walk through Rivington Terraced Gardens, 45 acres of hillside garden created for William Hesketh Lever of Lever Brothers, now Unilever, in the early 20th century.  Explore the many paths over the hillside and you will find the Japanese Gardens, the Pigeon Tower and an ornate stone bridge.  After the greenery of the gardens you emerge on to the moorland of Rivington Moor.  The tower on Rivington Pike is a local landmark that we always head for on our walks here and look out for as we drive up the M61.


The two benches looking over the Rivington and Anglezarke Reservoirs

Jim Evans is remembered on two benches overlooking this splendid view.  He was clearly a man who was loved by his family and both they and his colleagues and friends wanted to remember him with a memorial bench.  The benches overlook the gardens and the chain of Rivington Reservoirs built in the 19th century to supply water to Liverpool.


In Memory of my Husband Jim Evans (dearest pa to our girls) Who died age 58yrs on 28th May 2014 Jim loved the outdoors and he enjoyed this view many times!  We miss you more as each day passes. Love Sandra, Lauren, Charlotte xxx

Only 58-years-old when he died, Jim Evans is remembered on one bench from his family and another from his work mates at Flowtechnology UK.  This company distributes hydraulic and pneumatic products from their centre in Skelmersdale.


In Memory of James Edward Evans (Jim) 16.11.1955 – 28.05.2014 Sadly missed by friends and colleagues at Flowtechnology UK Jim loved his walks around “Rivvy” and the local tea shops.

Plans are now afoot to restore Rivington’s Terraced Gardens with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, United Utilities and others.  This will continue to be a much-loved place to visit for Lancashire folk.


Fleetwood: Ian Munro

If you’ve never been to Fleetwood I suggest you take a look at this Lancashire gem.  I have certainly had a soft spot for the coastal town of Fleetwood [north of Blackpool] for many years.  The town was planned and built from scratch in the 19th century and retains a gentile air.  The promenade has wide open views across the Irish Sea, the little ferry still runs across the Wyre to Knott End and you can stroll up to the top of The Mount and think back to the days when this area was just sand dunes.  We had walked along the seafront to the modern observation tower at Rossall Point and chatted to the friendly and knowledgeable bird watching volunteers there, returning through the Marine Hall gardens.  The Marine Hall is on Fleetwood’s waterfront and was built in 1935.  It was February and the gardens were tidy but didn’t look their best but I immediately noticed this memorial bench to Ian Munro.

2018 Feb Fleetwood (22)

Fleetwood Marine Hall gardens

Ian Munro was Head of Culture, Leisure and Tourism at the local council.  He died suddenly in the early days of 2017.  The memorial bench looks over the gardens of Fleetwood’s Marine Hall and tells me that Ian Munro’s hard work and dedication was appreciated by his colleagues and the people of Fleetwood and he is very much missed by them and his family.

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in loving memory of Ian Munro whose legacy lives on at Marine Hall and in the treasured memories of his family, friends and colleagues


Blackpool: Harry Jones 1992 – 2013

Blackpool promenade in the sunshine is a wonderful place for a walk.  We had planned to take a tram but it was so sunny we opted for the fresh air and walked from Squires Gate to Blackpool Tower.  Blackpool has tidied up its seafront in recent years and if you haven’t been for a few years you wouldn’t recognise it today.

Along the way I found this memorial bench to Harry Jones.

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The seafront at Blackpool near the Pleasure Beach

Harry Jones, a 20-year-old student, died tragically on 13 January 2013.  Harry Jones is described with love and warmth by his family and friends.  He was a bright young man who had a promising future and it is clear from the words of those who cared about him that this ‘Engaging, witty, polite and infectious’ young man will be very missed by his family and friends.  At his funeral friends described him as ‘Caring and loving’ and ‘The life and soul of the group. He will always be in our hearts and never forgotten.’  The heartbreak of losing a son and brother in such a sad way is hard to imagine.

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In Loving Memory of Harry Jones “Shine Bright” 1992 – 2013

I sat on the bench to Harry Jones and thought about this young man and about other memorial benches I had picked out that remembered someone who had died far too young.  As I so often do on these occasions, I also thought about my own dear friend who died when we were both at school and she was just 14-years of age.  My own experience has taught me that Harry Jones’ friends will never forget him and some of them may take away the lesson that every day we are alive is precious.

Lytham Hall: Therese Seed 7.12.45 to 17.3.02

It was a splendid sunny day in February when we visited Lytham Hall to see the carpets of snowdrops that have naturalised around the woodland garden of this splendid Georgian country house.  The parkland and hall are being restored by the local community and volunteers greet visitors enthusiastically at the gates.  The parkland can be visited freely on weekdays and during February weekends snowdrop open days are held when the tearoom is open.  Snowdrops are the perfect way to brighten up a winter walk.

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Lytham Hall gardens full of snowdrops

Among the snowdrops I found this perfectly placed memorial bench to Therese Seed who died at the age of 56-years.  Therese Seed’s family and friends must have chosen this spot overlooking the brilliance of the snowdrops as a lovely place to sit and remember her.  I certainly sat awhile here enjoying the view and wondering what Therese Seed’s story is.  Therese Seed appeared to live in Lytham as she continues to be remembered on the anniversary of her death in the church magazines for two local Catholic churches, Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Peter’s Catholic Church.

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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


Haslingden: Dr Eugenie Hilda Dorothy Cheesmond 1919-2007

On our walk to Top O Slate above Haslingden and next to the wonderful Halo sculpture there is also a bright and cheerful bench dedicated to Dr Eugenie Hilda Dorothy Cheesmond.

I don’t usually feature two memorial benches from one location but I couldn’t resist this time, as the story this bench told was so moving and engaging.

As the bench suggests, Dr Eugenie Cheesmond was a colourful and lively person and her obituary tells the story of a wonderful ‘feisty’ woman who was a fighter for justice as an anti-apartheid activist, an ANC member and a labour party activist, as well as being a mountaineer and a Doctor at Burnley Hospital.  The memorial bench was paid for by her family and friends using donations given at her funeral.  A photo blog illustrated with beautiful photographs from her funeral tells us that she loved to dye her hair bright colours and how she welcomed people in to her home.  This blog also shows how well loved she was by many friends and family.

Dr Cheesmond also set up the Lifeline Project in Manchester in 1971 that continues to provide drug and alcohol services.

The view to Haslingden from Top O Slate

The view to Haslingden from Top O Slate

Dr Eugenie Hilda Dorothy Cheesmond 1919 - 2007 She bought colour, love and fire into the world. She stays in our hearts.

Dr Eugenie Hilda Dorothy Cheesmond
1919 – 2007
She bought colour, love and fire into the world.
She stays in our hearts.

Details of the memorial bench to Dr Cheesmond Freedom Peace Joy

Details of the memorial bench to Dr Cheesmond
Freedom Peace Joy

Haslingden: Julie Eardley 13 November 1962 to 19 August 2012

The Halo is a stunning sculpture set on the hillside above Haslingden and we had a lovely walk up to this wonderful view point.  This hillside spot is popular for placing memorial benches.

This bench to Julie Eardley caught my eye.  Julie Eardley died on 19 August 2012 in Perth, Australia at the young age of 48-years.  Her death was reported in the Bury Times by family in the area.

In Loving Memory of Julie Eardley 13th November 1962 to 19th August 2012 'Forever in our hearts'

In Loving Memory of
Julie Eardley
13th November 1962 to 19th August 2012
‘Forever in our hearts’

Looking over Haslingden

Looking over Haslingden

In front of the memorial bench to Julie Eardley is a tree with a memorial plaque to Richard Daniel Eardley, Julie and Paul Eardley’s son, who died in Australia just two years earlier at the age of 21-years in a car crash.  His tragic death was reported at the time.

Memorial to Richard Daniel Eardley who died aged 21-years, 'Forever young, forever loved'

Memorial to Richard Daniel Eardley who died aged 21-years, ‘Forever young, forever loved’

Wycoller: Dave Smalley

I notice different memorial benches for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes the story they tell is very sad, maybe someone has died very young or tragically.  Other benches are in a place that is significant for me.  There are also some memorial benches that bring a smile to my face and I think I would have liked the person that is being remembered.  This memorial to Dave Smalley fits in to this latter category.

We were in the East Lancashire valley for the weekend exploring some of the beautiful places in that area.  Wycoller Country Park is a small village in a wooden valley with a ruined old hall and three ancient bridges.  It is a lovely place for a walk on a fine September day.  There are a number of memorial benches at Wycoller but this one caught my eye, was don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, Dave Smalley’s catch phrase I wonder?

Keep on smiling dave Smalley FROM THE LADS 'Don't knock it 'til you've tried it'

Keep on smiling
dave Smalley
‘Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it’


Wycoller Country Park in Lancashire

Wycoller Country Park in Lancashire