Memories of Allonby

John Pearson, born Allonby 1947, International rugby referee and member of the Rugby Football Union International Panel from 1994 to 1998, has kindly shared his childhood memories of Allonby. John's parents ran the Solway Hotel in the 1940s and owned a number of properties in the village.

Spending lots and lots of time on the beach with the two cats which were inseperable from me (Topsey and Darkey – see photo of me with Darkey) – when I could not be found, which was quite often, my mother would enquire if anyone had seen two cats and a lad – on one occasion taking my shoes off (probably aged 3) on the beach, losing them and ending up getting a deep cut in the foot from glass and a smacked bottom from SHP. A subsequent visit, on the bus, to Silloth to have Dr Hughie Hutton (my Godfather) clean and stitch my foot ---- immediate access to Doctors in those days!

Accumulating, on more than one occasion, real sunburn ---- a complete body coating of calamine lotion was used to cool it down!!! Those summers were good and at times it appeared that the whole village was in for a swim. In one summer the channels changed and there were shallow channels and large sandbanks further out than usual.

The fantastic view of the Scottish side of the Solway although I did not appreciate it at that time. Also having the Isle of Man pointed out to me when the weather was good – looking out from the top floor of the hotel certainly assisted in the view which was available.

Spring high tide in about 1949 flooding across the green and into the beck and coming into the lower kitchen of the hotel; further memories of seeing this in later years.

Just how dark, dismal and foreboding the church was – attended Sunday school but the place scared me witless.

The smell of beer in the Grapes when I was taken into the tap room to collect my first jug of beer to take back home (20 yards away).

Going up to Bullgill with Harry Steele in the coal wagon to load bags of coal from the coal trucks in the sidings and bring back down for delivery – on occasions being allowed to go out on the delivery round.

The intrigue of looking into the ground floor of the reading rooms and seeing the snooker table and wondering when it was used. Going upstairs and feeling the grandeur and size of the place.

Attending the youth club in the church hall when I was about 13 and back living temporarily in the village – the centre and the mecca for the young of the village when it was open twice a week.

The telephone switchboard in the front room of a private house and the telephonist reputedly knowing about everything that happened in the village – on one occasion being allowed to connect up a call.

Going round the corner from the Hotel to the sweet shop with a 3p piece and rationing stamps to buy ‘little men.’ Meant nothing to the two little (old – to me) ladies who owned the place --- my name for Rowntrees Fruit Gums – based on the advertising of the said sweets with a picture of a cherubic boys face. They learnt quickly what I was talking about.

Waiting for a bus to Silloth at 7.00 in the morning so that I could travel onward to Wigton to Grammar school ---- Dad and I soon learnt that whilst it was on the timetable it had not run for some time --- the bus actually started at Mowbray to transport the characters living there to Wigton.

Riding small ponies from the stables on the circuit which was roped off on the green.

Bonfire night on the ‘lower green’ before it was moved out of the village --- no Health and Safety in those days. Huge bonfire – I was a small lad – potatoes charcoaled in their jackets.

Older young people putting a rope across the road when the bride and groom came out of the church after their wedding and scrambling – mainly unsuccessfully - for the halfpennies and pennies thrown out; the odd six pence if they wanted to pretend that they were posh.

And of course finally, but not least, the original one and only Twentyman's ice cream - only one flavour then but there was raspberry flavoured sauce to enhance the excitement.

Going up to Bullgill with Harry Steele in the coal wagon to load bags of coal from the coal trucks in the sidings and bring back down for delivery – on occasions being allowed to go out on the delivery round.

Happy Days!

Photos of Old Allonby>