Beckfoot Found?

by Iain Hobbs

Studying the map

If you follow the hints laid out by Arthur Ransome in Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale, and study a map of Windermere, you arrive at a place on the North-West shore that matches the description of Beckfoot in all except the layout of the house. The geography of the area is detailed later in The Picts and Martyrs. In SA, the people who live in the house are called Blackett and they own a houseboat. They also have a boathouse just to the left of the main house as you look at it from the lake. On the river, just to the east of the house, in the mouth of a beck, they have a 1motor launch. (In SA the two boathouses are combined, but AR establishes them as separate ones by the time SD is written.)

In real life, from 1911 to 1935, Pull Wood House was owned by Sir Kenneth Irwin Crossley. He did not live there, but used it as a summer residence for himself and his family. Also, from 1922 to 1928, Sir Kenneth 2owned the houseboat Esperance upon which AR based the one used by Captain Flint. The houseboat in the book had an upper railed decking on the cabin roof and steps from the for’ard deck to reach it. The photograph in Roger Wardale’s book taken by the Scott family of Esperance shows this very decking. The picture has to be examined in magnification to see it, but it is there. There is also a good photograph of Esperance taken by AR in the Brotherton Collection, Leeds University Library. The similarity is unmistakeable to the WH illustration ‘The Houseboat is frozen in’. Their actual ownership of 3Pull Wood House (later to become a boarding school and renamed Huyton Hill), is supported by information from the present and previous owners, details of which are now in the TARS archive. The existence of a motor launch was confirmed by the staff of Huyton Hill. They pointed out the location of a former ‘Steamer House’ on the shore of the Pull Beck, exactly where AR illustrates it in SD. This remained up to the Second World War when it was demolished to make space for a bungalow called ‘The Noggins’ and a Nissen hut.

The house and grounds can be seen from Waterhead Pier at Ambleside. It is directly across the lake. Just by the landing stage is the Waterhead Hotel. This was a favourite dining place of Arthur Ransome and he would have been very familiar with the view. Until a few years ago, when trees and bushes were allowed to grow at the edge of the lake, it was even possible to see the lawn from the steamer pier. The staff of Huyton Hill confirmed that the grounds of the house contained a pigeon loft and also stables. The stables were on the far side of the grounds and were linked to the house by an electric bell to summon the Groom or Chauffeur.

The surrounding geography of Beckfoot/Pull Wood House/Huyton Hill is given in surprising and accurate detail within the pages of PM. You can follow the 4route taken by the Amazons from the back gate of Beckfoot over to the Dogs Home. The Beckfoot back gate is the exact location of the rear entrance to Huyton Hill. North of the grounds of Huyton Hill is the valley of the Pull Beck, a large former stream valley populated by reeds and sheep. The map shows the remains of a long lake (now a swamp) and the meanders of a large stream, highlighted by reed beds on the bends. This area is known as Pull Beck Swamp and the Beck is the Pull Beck. Most of the time there is hardly a foot of water in the lake and the beck is un-navigable. In times of heavy flood, just as happened in August 2005, the lake returns to its former glory, and AR’s Octopus Lagoon lives again. The lake has the same relationship to Huyton Hill as Octopus Lagoon has to Beckfoot; in fact they are identical even to the shape of the lake and that of the estate layout. The drawing in PM of Nancy clearing the weeds to make a birth for Scarab were based on this lake and surrounding area. The picture of the D’s looking down on the Beckfoot lawn from ‘The Lookout Post’ shows the Steamer House in the distance exactly where the real one was. The time when SD was being written is practically the same period as when Pull Wood House was being sold to the building firm of Pattinsons. AR has the builders in at Beckfoot redecorating. Something similar would have been happening at Pull Wood House.

Pamela and Ruth

Sir Kenneth’s two daughters were born in 1913 and 1909. The younger sister, Pamela Catherine Field Crossley, was born on 30th December, 1913 at the Crossleys’ new family seat of Combermere Abbey. The elder sister by three years was Ruth Irwin Crossley. She was born on 17th September, 1909. Remember how Peggy Blackett introduces her sister at the parley in SA? “Her real name isn’t Nancy… her name is Ruth.” Each summer Sir Kenneth brought his two daughters from Altrincham to Pull Wood House so that they could use his sailing dinghy during the school holidays. At the same time their father could check up on the state of the house.

The sailing dinghy was kept in the boathouse to the left of the main house, as seen from the lake. The sides of the boathouse were decorated to match the decoration of the main house. It was built on the far left side of the house alongside the wooded boundary. The entrance is at the back in full view of the house as per PM. The front of the Boathouse used to be decorated with large skull and crossbones. Evgenia Ransome suggested that the skull and crossbones was put up by the Huyton Hill School pupils. However, the son of the Huyton Hill Headmaster, a former pupil, disputes this and claims it was already there. George Pattinson also denies any involvement. With those two owners excluded, that only leaves the Crossley girls. There is no record of where or when the girls were educated although it is thought that they attended boarding school. Ruth and Catherine are reported to have sunk their father’s Houseboat, much to his annoyance. (Captain Flint wasn’t very pleased when the Amazons exploded a firework on the roof of the houseboat.) The location of the sinking is in dispute. According to one source, the houseboat was moored next to Silverholme and the girls were using it as a floating tent. According to another source, the houseboat was moored fairly close to the house. The next time the houseboat would be sunk was by the Sea Scouts when the Scott family owned it. If the official ownership dates are correct then the Crossleys still owned the houseboat when SA was written. AR has the Great Aunt making the Amazons practice the piano. One of the Crossleys’ pastimes was to give musical recitals. They continued this practice when in residence at Pull Wood House, installing an organ for this purpose.

Ruth and Catherine both fell in love with RAF Pilots at the start of WW2 and both married. However, both husbands were later killed in action. The girls remarried and Ruth emigrated to North West Ireland and then to South Africa. Catherine moved to London where she remained until her death. By a twist of fate, while in South Africa, Ruth gave birth to a son and named him TIMOTHY (echoes of Pigeon Post!).

Captain Flint and Sir Kenneth

AR based the appearance of Captain Flint on himself. The character background of Captain Flint, however, is Sir Kenneth Irwin Crossley. Sir Kenneth in his spare time was a big game hunter and travelled the world on hunting expeditions. He listed the places he had been in his entry in Burke’s peerage. He competed in the University boat races when at Magdalen College Oxford, where he rowed as bow and may have won silver cups from university rowing competitions. He was an author of a book of poetry entitled Mere Verses. Captain Flint flies “The White Elephant” flag on the houseboat. A pun on the expense of purchasing it? In the books Captain Flint explored the world and brought back souvenirs from his travels. In PD it is suggested that he is a big game hunter; he even has firearms. He writes about his travels, but the money earned is just a bonus. He kept his souvenirs in the study at Beckfoot and in the cabin of the houseboat. In PM it is mentioned that he has silver cups from rowing competitions. The one book written by Captain Flint and mentioned by name is Mixed Moss. As well as Pull Wood House, the Crossleys had a well appointed town house in Altrincham, Manchester. Their doctor was a cousin of AR upon whom AR would often visit. However, according to the visitors book there is no record of AR coming up to his cousin and meeting with the Crossleys. Sir Kenneth and his father, Sir William, were partners in two companies, Crossley Motors, a car manufacturing company and Crossley Brothers an engineering Company. Sir William had provided one of the cars for his wife to use as he left her to look after the estate. She would drive around to see the estate employees. Was this the original Rattletrap? Sir Kenneth sold his late father’s Pull Wood House and grounds to local builder, and steam boat collector, George Pattinson.

The final chapter

George Pattinson in turn sold the house and rented a large section of the grounds to Huyton Hill School which on the outbreak of WW II was being evacuated from Liverpool because of the bombing. The house was renamed Huyton Hill. The school would later purchase the land that they were renting and the Pattinsons would manage the estate for them. George Pattinson wanted to start up a museum to display his collection of steamboats. The original location for the museum was going to be on the shore of Huyton Hill House but he was persuaded to relocate it close to Bowness on Windermere as it would be easier to get visitors there. The Windermere Steamboat Museum is still there. In the 1960’s the BBC filmed Swallows and Amazons in the real locations mentioned in the book and Huyton Hill was used as Beckfoot. AR objected and tried to get the filming stopped. The reason he gave was on the grounds that the actors were wearing lifejackets (a Health and Safety condition) and the children in his book did not. The late Brigit and Taqui Altounyan were questioned over whether they had ever met the real The Crossley Girls or had been to Huyton Hill. The answer from both was “No.”

1According to the Windermere Steamboat Museum (WSM) and the daughter of the gardener at Huyton Hill, the motor launch was called Daffodil and it started out as a steam launch. It was used to pick up the laundry from town, Shopping trips, and family picnics. It was berthed in the Steamer House exactly as depicted in SD.

2The ownership of Esperance by the Crossleys is supported by the Windermere Steamboat Museum who provided details of her previous owners.

3In a letter to Betty Reid in 1972, Evgenia Ransome mentioned Pull Beck and Huyton Hill in relation to Beckfoot. The letter is reproduced In the Footsteps of the Swallows and Amazons.

4This is not the location of the woodsman’s hut known to TARS members as the DH.

Information Sources: Barrow in Furness Library, Lancaster Library, Windermere Steamboat Museum, George Pattinson Ltd, Huyton Hill House, Members of the Arthur Ransome Society past and present, Former staff members of Pull Woods House, Taqui and Brigit Altounyan, Coniston Museum, Lloyds Register of Shipping.

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25 Responses to Beckfoot Found?

  1. john west says:

    I was a pupil at Huyton Hill from 1955 to 1961. Thanks for your blog it was wonderful to revisit it through AR’s eyes, I didn’t know or had forgotten much of the detail. Mr Butler was the headmaster, but Major Butler, his brother ran the school. A lovely man, unless, as I did once, you called him by his nickname, Maggie B, within his hearing! We called the ‘Amazon’ the Nile. There was a houseboat called ‘The Whistle’ moored in that bay for a couple of years. I think it had sunk and sat on the bottom. Braver boys swam out to it, but I was too scared. Major Butler and Mr Pattinson were friends. One evening he brought Esperance to the pier and took some of the older boys for a trip on the lake. He told me (because I’m from Barrow) that Esperance had once belonged to Henry Schneider who made his fortune in Barrow from Iron and Steel. Schneider would walk down the lawn from his house Belsfield, preceded by his butler, with his breakfast on a silver tray, to what is now the steamer pier at Bowness. from there he would steam in Esperance to Lakeside eating his breakfast. From there, his private train would take him to his steelworks in Barrow. I don’t think the BBC programme was made at Huyton Hill.

    After I left, they were going to make a film of Swallows and Amazons at HH and each of the boys received a signed copy of the book, but the film wasn’t made. If you’re interested, a boy (Peter Royds, he’ll be 57 by now!) has written a self published book about the school in our era. Mr Butler’s son died about five years ago and the house was sold for timeshare flats. It must be one of the most beautiful places on earth, especially when the Rhododendrons and azaleias are out.

    John West.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I too was at Huyton Hill from 1961 to 1966. My recollection is that the BBC did indeed film using the HH boathouse for the series, and that they were responsible for painting the skull and crossbones over the entrance to it.Both with the benefit of hindsight, and even at the time I remember my days at Huyton as idyllic, though the individual idiosyncracies of the Butler brothers came through clearly.Thanks for reminding me of those days!Andrew Dickson

  3. Nick Aked says:

    I came across this blog by chance and was very surprised as I was also at HH from 1958 – 63 and still have a copy of the signed S & A book. My recollection is that, as a rare TV treat at HH, we were allowed to watch the BBC screening of their film.I would be interested to buy a copy of Peter Royds book mentioned in John West’s comment. Could you include a link on the blog or add some details of how to contact Peter?

  4. Hagrid says:

    Sadly John West has not left any contact details either for himself or Peter Royd. If you this John please get in touch again.

  5. I was at Huyton Hill at the same time as Andrew and remember the programme being made. We had our classrooms in the boathouse and were able to look out over the lake.I learned a lot about history there – copying it out as lines!Fond memories and a unique experience at that age.

  6. Contact for Peter Royds”I would be very happy to send anyone a copy. Please write to me at 12 Drumcarrow Crescent, Strathkinness, By St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9XT. A contribution of £10 towards production cost postage would be most welcome”.Peter Royds

  7. I was also a pupil at Highton Hill with my cousin Charles Stephen. We were there around 1944 / 46. My family lived in Huyton, near Liverpool so was v. Interested to read that this was where the school originated.I do not remember much as senile dementia has begun to set in at age 69. What I do recall is that the school was run along military lines and that one of the two brothers who were head masters was a major might explain this. We were paraded early in the morning and forced to swim in the lake in mid winter. Can I ever forget. I seem to remember the regime was similar to what I hve read about Gordonstoun and other such “tough” schools. We were so miserable that my cousin and I were ‘removed’ after only six months.I do remember the boathouse. I also recall that Mrs Butler was the matron who kept us all in order. I have been back to visit about three or four years ago when the place was converted into flats and was even given the chance to go inside. An eerie experience! Now I learn from this blog that it is associated with such a well known author. Well I never knew that. It’s a wonderful world isn’t it?Mike

  8. My trail to this site was via a Radio 4 piece about Barbara Pym who went to Huyton College, in Liverpool (no connection, as far as I can gather, with Huyton Hill School, also originally based in Liverpool). I was a contemporary of Nick Aked at the school, and knew John West and Peter Royds, whose account of his experiences there I have read and enjoyed — despite his fond memories being quite different to my own. I can confirm that the BBC film of SA was shot in part in the boathouse, where we studied while in Class 3 and Class 4. Class 5 studied in 'The Crossley Room'. If any former pupils wish to get in touch, my email address is john.woodnote@btinternet.comJohn Hargreaves

  9. John Mott says:

    I was at Huyton Hill School from 1948 to 1953 and read all the Swallows and Amazons books. I trespassed my way back into the school grounds in 1999 down the back drive and climbed over the gate into the woods. The experience was the closest I have ever come to experiencing ghosts. I could almost hear the voices of boys playing in the woods.I walked down the back drive to the dam stream near the junction with the main drive, from where I could see the school (now holiday flats or something).It is only now that I realise what a profound effect Huyton had on me!I still know where I am in Changing Houses in the Terrace each time I hear Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.Do any of the other old boys from my time have memories to share?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe I've stumbled across this, after all these years – searching for any reference to Huyton Hill School!Set in the most beautiful grounds imaginable and with such spectacular views, it was a very special place indeed. I was at the school from 1962 – 1968. In the winter of 1963 we had the very hard winter. An old petrol powered water pump (fire pump) was cranked up and put into action every evening by 'Bill and Ackie', and using some lengths of fire hose, pumped water out of the lake to flood the 'cricket pitch' next to the boat house, to form our very own ice rink!Remember Bill Black and Wilf Atkinson? They were the two maintenance guys who lived in the basement, drinking strong tea?!Headmasters Hubert and Gerald Butler were very special people and my time at Huyton Hill brings back very special memories. It would be lovely to be in contact with others who spent time at this wonderful school.I would also love to obtain a copy of the book by Peter Royd. I will attempt to make contact.Edward Gorton

  11. koonjewarre says:

    I feel very moved by seeing these references to my old school. So long has it seemed to disappear into the mist of times. Edward, I remember you, and I believe we are standing next to each other in a photo that Richard Rudkin has posted on 'FriendsReunited'. you would like to reminisce and converse, please contact me on love to talk old times, and of a very special place…run by two remarkable brothers.'I will with a good will'

  12. koonjewarre says:

    Isn't it strange? Despite being horribly home-sick, such a young boy to be so many thousands of miles from home and from his parents, it is with utter joy that I remember Huyton Hill. I don't think that I have ever since been afforded a richer experience of nature, a more rewarding time of character-building, and better men who sought to guide me to manhood. Brig. Osmaston even came to Australia and took me out for the day. I can still feel the care those men gave us, even after all these years. Gerald Butler was my inspiration, my mentor, and the first teacher who made me thrill to the magic of learning.When I re-visited the place in 1999, I got all teary just looking at the monkey-puzzle tree. That was nothing compared to wandering around the 'Congo', and trying to re-imagine the great dams beyond the cricket field. I then thrilled to seeing my old chestnut tree. Source of all great conkers!!We were blessed to be in that enclave of contented souls. Though, I always fell foul of 'Maggie B' when he smelt wild herbs on my breath. I couldn't help myself. I've been a chef now for a few decades, and always remember my first inspiration. Those wild herbs, and copying Fannie Craddock recipes into my excercise book in the Crossley Room……From little things, big things grow!And yes, as another correspondent noted, I still get transported everytime I hear 'Pomp & Circumstance'. Remembering once when it was so icy we all slipped and slid as we attempted to do the circuit, rendering it all quite farcical.But in true Huyton Hill fashion we soldiered on, Major Butler all red and apoplexic, urging us on.And fellow old boys….have you ever had to explain those strange tie-up swimming togs? Best left alone, methinks.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What an extraordinary thing time is – do we really have increasingly selective memories as we age that somehow leave us with an entirely rose-coloured view of the past? I was at HH 1964-69 – and indeed it is in a spectacular setting and in retrospect the Butler brothers were remarkable. I had good friends there (my earliest "best friends" – Richard Rudkin and Chris Whitehead) and if I do not have fond memories of the place I do at least have some good ones. But the place was also one of bullying at levels that could reasonably be described as criminal if the perpetrators were not below the age of legal responsibility for one's actions, a place of sexual deviance at the pupil level that in some instances approached torture and a general level of pupil hierarchy and terrorism that demonstrated (as I found out in later years) that Lord of the Flies is a whole lot closer to reality than any work of fiction has the right to be. Add to that a level of academic standing by the time it closed that made a mockery of the idea of learning and it was a sad end to what at one time might have been a fine institution and which certainly had laudable goals. I personally did not suffer unduly from some of the thugs whose parents paid good money for them to go there. But the sight of Paul Leeming whipping one of the juniors with long brambles until the fellow was beyond crying and barely concious – and all the while being held down by Leeming's henchboys – will go to my grave. This only one vignette of very very many of a reality that I have known – and that demonstrated to me at a very early age what depravity can mean. That, I suppose, is one form of education.Doug Hickman, 1964-69.

    • Chris Whitehead says:

      Hello Doug, Suppose you are in Canada these days, Never knew you had such memories of bullying and abuse, my elder brother 1962-7 also has the same. Never mentioned them. Hope your later schooling was better. I was teased and bullied in my first year at Canford, which stopped when my mother died, to which your mother sent me a lovely letter. Academically I did OK getting scholarships to Canford And Oxford. I realise this is five years old, but if you get it I would love to hear from you.
      Chris Whitehead

  14. Anonymous says:

    Douglas, of course you may have a point. What I prefer to think is that rather than a 'rose-coloured glasses' remembrance we can choose to remember the good and put the bad experiences in the same place as our reaction to war, terrorism and other ugly manifestations of humanity.Who could forget Paul's cruelty, and I remember with shame going along with it for a while, in an attempt to avoid being one of his victims. But, by the same token I am proud of the day I decided that I would resist his bullying ways and have no more truck with his 'gang'.As in adult life, we are faced with decisions. To be brave or to be a coward….to take a moral and ethical stand or to go along with the line of least resistance.The lives of children in their social milieu is so often a microcosm of society's dog eat dog world.And children do have a great capacity for cruelty. That is why our main job as parents is to 'civilise' our kids, and to teach them the way to being good citizens.If I do have a criticism of the Butlers, it was their ability to ignore some of the cruel practices carried out under their noses. The morning battle on the stairs after breakfast was one of those. I can still remember the fear of potentially being captured and taken to 'The Cupboard' on the senior landing.The gang warfare is another.Nevertheless, I can't say I was scarred by my experiences. I was more traumatised by the very fact of being 13,000 miles from my Mum and Dad. That hurt!I'm certainly sorry Doug if you still feel the hurt of those times. I can still picture you in my mind as a 12 year old, and certainly am saddened that your memories are so negative. But, as I said….I focus on the good. And there was a lot of good for me, all intermingled with the bad and traumatic.As for sexual deviency….all I remember is serial masturbation, the earnest and befuddled madness that come with the onset of adolescence in boys. The shooting of naked boys (who the hell was that?) with an air pistol in Catbells was more of the cruel stuff than sexual.And I'm not ashamed to say that for my last term there, every night I slept in the same bed as my best friend in a completerly non-sexual way. We were best friends and still innocent enough to have no hang-ups about it.Anyway Douglas, thank you for your reality check…and now my memory has been jogged, I realise it is you I am standing next to in that school photo.I hope your life after HH has been a good one, and that you have the joy of a wonderful family and are slipping into middle-age with peace and contentment.The past is another country, the future does not exist, so the only thing that matters is …Now.

  15. Anonymous says:

    David, it is really very good to have some contact after so many years. And while I do agree with you that dwelling on past negatives is not healthy it is somehow cathartic to know that some of your fears and mine were the same. I have certainly moved on, and consider myself to be a reasonably well-adjusted person, married with children and I have much joy in my life. So for me, no concerns in that regard.The negatives that I raised are – for me as well – of a different century in a different country. But they are also part of my history. As you and Edward and others have expressed, there were indeed positives and they are equally a part of that same history. But for me, it is difficult to read and remember one side of the coin without recalling the other side. Reading these posts and the "friends reunited" site that Richard created has been very moving for me – far more so than I would have imagined. While it is so very much in the past it is amazing to me how the memories (good as well as bad!) have flooded back, many of the similar to yours. And yes, we are standing beside each other in the photo! Doug HickmanCanningNova Scotia, Canada

  16. John Mott says:

    From what I can work out, I was at HH before Doug and Edward and I can only assume that my group were more moderate and milder. True, there was bullying – but that was endemic in all these schools in those days, but nothing sinister. I still would really like to catch up with anybody who was there between 1948 and 1953. Meanwhile, I really appreciate the corresponsence. Long may it continue. I know I have photos somewhere. Can one post them on this site?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well, I think it has been a couple of months since I last looked at this page! As I mentioned earlier, I had stumbled across it quite by chance, in a ‘long shot’ of an attempt to find some reference to Huyton Hill School. For a few weeks after making my first contribution, I kept looking to see if there had been any further response – but no! I then really forgot about it until today, 28th July 2010, when I suddenly had the thought to look again!There is quite a lot I’d like to add here, and to share. As I’m not sure how much you can add in one go, I’ll call this 28/7/2010 Part 1, and see how it goes! I am amazed and excited to see that more contributions have been posted. Doug (Douglas in HH days!) Hickman – yes, I do remember you! I think Arthur House(?) and I think both from my school memory, and also from your writing, that I must be two years older than you. In school terms that is a LOT older! It would be so lovely to be in touch though!David (? dporter@.. ?) Although you remember me, I’m so sorry but I do not remember you, neither Richard Rudkin. It also seems now that it is not me that you are standing next to in that photo! None the less, I’d be so pleased to be in contact with you!Doug, I have read your contributions with great interest and mixed emotions…I can indeed relate to many of the wide ranging memories that you have of life at HH. For my own part though, I always like to think that life is made up of a series of experiences. Some are happy and rewarding experiences, whilst others can be challenging and sometimes unhappy ones. No matter what, the experiences that we each gain are ours to keep forever, and no one can ever take them away. In some way or other, I feel we are made all the richer for the many different experiences that have come our way. We are all different people, but I do accept that for some former pupils, the negative aspects of school life all those years ago can still be very real.Although I did have some difficult and upsetting times myself during my stay, I am able to put those aside and to remember with great happiness and pride the very many happy times spent in such an amazing place: The school building, the gardens and grounds and the dam streams (junior and senior!) The woods and the trees: the Beech tree near the school and the ‘Giant Redwood’ with it’s soft bark, located quite close to the staff car park. Yes, and the monkey puzzle tree! There was also a tree known as ‘Red India’, but I cannot recall where! Was it perhaps where the path to the senior dam stream crossed the back drive? I also recall ‘The four sisters’, ‘out of bounds’ on the lakeside of the front drive quite close to the junction with the back drive.28/7/2010 Part 2 to followEdward Gorton

  18. Jock says:

    I'm the moderator of the "If Not Duffers" blog and I'm really pleased that the "Beckfoot Found" article has provided a place for former Huyton Hill pupils to post reminiscences of their time there.Its probably time to create a separate blog devoted to the school. I would be very happy to set this up if people think this might be a good idea. (It would be easy to copy over the old posts to the new blog.)Would this be a good idea? Would any former pupils like to help run the site?Has anyone any decent photographs of the school that I could use for the heading?Pics can be sent by e-mail to: railfan[at]go2[dot]pl

  19. John Mott says:

    Pleased and surprised to receive more comments on "If not duffers" and I have to agree with Jock that a separate blog dedicated to Huyton Hill School would be a good idea. I was so naive as a boy that I never connected the Arthur Ransom stories I read with the school itself! I am interested in tracking down people who remember my era and so am willing to help with a blog, bearing in mind that I have no qualifications for doing so and was once described as a PC neanderthal. I can be reached through

  20. Anonymous says:

    28/7/2010 Part 2I remember playing ‘Commandoes’ in Wray field. I remember ‘Estate work’, and weekly summer bike rides and ‘expeditions’… Can you imagine it: scaling Dollywagon, Helvellyn, many of the Langdale pikes and eventually Scafell Pike itself – at the age of 12 and 13, and wearing only shorts, tee shirt, ‘Lumber jacket’ and plimsolls!!In contrast, an incredible sadness for me was in my final term, Autumn 1967. At that time I was ‘Number 1’ on the ‘age order’ list, and it was during this term that following a period of illness and absence from all school life, Major Gerald Villers Butler passed away. It was for me, and for us all, an unimaginable shock. The Rev. Lindsay (of Hawkshead and Wray church, and also Common Entrance Exam Invigilator) broke the news to us all – when hurriedly and unexpectedly called to an assembly in the Crossley. It was some days before a very emotional Hubert was able to face addressing the boys.Looking back, the void left after Gerald’s death was I feel to signal the beginning of the end for HH. I have visited Major B’s grave on a number of occasions, high up on the hill in the grave yard at the church of St Michael and All Angels, Hawkshead. Quite emotional even now, I have stood there in silence to ponder, reflect and to think of people and places of another time. In true character from one Butler brother to another, part of the inscription on Gerald’s grave is in Latin: Timor Domini Fons Vitae – The fear of The Lord is the fountain of life. Even after years of Latin at school, I confess to have had to 'Google' this to find the meaning, and to learn that it is from Proverbs 14:27!I have visited HH a number of times in recent years. Although ‘our school’ is now Pull Woods Luxury holiday apartments, and in my view totally out of character, to me it will always be Huyton Hill Preparatory School, Near Ambleside, Westmorland… (and No post code!)Edward Gorton

  21. John Mott says:

    Edward, Thank you so much for your memories. You are that bit younger than me. "GVB" was a fixture in my life and certainly a great influence for good. Looking back, he was possibly the nearest to a role model I had at that time, my own father being posted overseas seemingly endlessly. I must have gone back to the school at the end of the sixties because I came away with a couple of show-cases they let me have. Was the school closing then or something? John

  22. Edward Gorton says:

    Anyone up for a challenge? It would be truly amazing if anyone could track down a copy of this film made by Gratton Darbishire, a great friend of Hubert Butler. I had a quick search, but without success thus far!

    A record of the weekly ceremony of changing duty houses at the Huyton Hill School, Ambleside, Westmoreland (now Cumbria).

    Amazing to have a dedicated site for Huyton Hill old boys – thanks so much for setting this up!

  23. Gordon Dyer says:

    I remember watching Gratton Darbishire editing a film in the Crossley room in 1967 or 1968, so there must have been another one.

  24. Bernard Smith says:

    I was born at Pullwoods cottage on the 14th February, 1953 and I don’t remember anything, hahaha. However, it is very interesting to learn of those days by people who experienced the times of Huyton Hill. Perhaps, some social scientist would say ‘ the majority of people end up going back from whence they came no matter where in the world they have lived for most of their lives’.

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