History of Lindal & Marton

A village community at the heart of Furness


Parish Council

Extracts from Edward Wadham’s Diary 1850 to 1860

These extracts from Edward Wadham's diary have been in Lindal School archives for many years. It seems that they were compiled for weekly publication in four parts. It is not known who selected the extracts and wrote the commentary (in italics), or when this was done, or for what publication. The extracts and commentary have been reproduced here exactly as found, including inconsistencies and spelling errors.

Thanks to Dave Barlow for providing the text.

Part 1 - First Impressions of Furness

In 1850, the iron ore mines around Lindal and Dalton were booming. Much of the land was owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, but worked by tenant farmers, a farm usually staying in the same family for generations.

Mineral rights were leased to the various mining companies, who paid a royalty to the Duke for each ton of ore extracted. The Duke’s Land Agent, John Cranke, looked after the farms, collected rents, saw to repairs, settled disputes etc., but he was not equipped to deal with the new demands of the mining companies.

In 1851, a brilliant young civil engineer called Edward Wadham was appointed as Minerals Agent under Mr Cranke. Edward had trained under Brunel’s chief engineer, and had worked as a mining engineer in Scotland, where he became expert in underground surveying.

He was still only 22 years old when he undertook the two-day journey from his home in Gloucestershire to Ulverston, arriving at the Sun Hotel by the New Times coach in time for dinner at 6 PM on Saturday Feb. 1st 1851.

His diary tells the story.

Feb 2

Went to Ulverston Church in the afternoon. Walked up to the Barrow Monument…

Feb 3

Called and reported myself to Mr. Cranke… In the afternoon drove over to Dalton and made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain lodgings, very much amused with the quaint language of one Mrs. Dawson of the Cavendish Arms who puzzled me nearly as much as the Scotch did on my first foray into their country, proceeded to Furness Abbey to see what I could get board and lodging for per week, found I could do at 30/- so engaged for rooms on and after Thursday 6th inst, drove back to Ulverston to dinner… Very wet

Postboy and turnpike 3/-
Car hire 7/6

Feb 4

…Walked out to Newlands to call on Mr. Roper i.e. was told that when I came to Newlands I should be sure to know because of the Blast Furnace but the Machine so called was so unlike a Furnace that I walked past it on to the next village about one and a half miles distant & had to come back again, saw Mr. Roper and returned to dinner at 5pm.

Feb 5

Left Ulverstone by the 10.30 am omnibus for Barrow, found that I could only get by train as far as Furness Abbey, so took a gig thence to Barrow. Saw Mr. Ramsden and got from him a pass, with leave to walk along the line when I required, inspected the Weigh and thence by train to Dalton thence by omnibus to Ulverstone – (Very wet)

Omnibus to Dalton and back 4/-
Gig and Post boy to Barrow 5/-

Feb 6

Paid my bill at the Sun Hotel Ulverstone and left by 12.30 pm omnibus for Furness Abbey, where I arrived at 1.45 pm got my traps taken up and unpacked, and amused myself playing billiards with the landlord until dinner at 5 pm. After dinner read the papers and in all probability fell asleep. (Wet)

Omnibus to Dalton 2/-

It is difficult, today, to realise how isolated was the Furness of the 1850’s. The turnpike road from Lancaster was only completed in 1820 and, although not the best of roads, carried most of the traffic. Two coaches, the Royal Mail and the New Times, made a return trip from Ulverston to Milnthorpe six days a week, taking about three and a half hours each way, at a cost of ten shillings single. The Over-Sands coach ran three times a week. The only alternative was to take a boat from Fleetwood to Barrow.

No wonder the local accent was so different from the rest of the country:-

Feb 8

(At Lindal Moor Mines) Mr. Rawlinson could not go with me, so I took a cruise by myself and found out what I could from the men, which owing to their peculiar dialect wasn’t a great deal, home to dinner at 5 pm.

The cost of public transport was very high indeed. The four shilling return fare from Ulverston to Dalton was more than a day’s wages for a casual labourer.

We get the impression from these early entries that Edward was celebrating his new job, with its relatively high salary of £120 per annum. The Furness Abbey Hotel was rather grand, and he made the most of it…

Feb 9 (Sunday)

Got up at 11 am, wrote a letter or two, and took a short walk out into the Abbey grounds, where I had much talk with an individual calling himself the Guide of the place & who goes by the name of Miles King. His volubility cost me 1 bob sterling, I was however much pleased with the individual and didn’t begrudge him his money.

Feb 14

Making tracings all day. After dinner recreated myself by playing billiards with old Parker and one Wilson, an exciseman, great fun with them, treated them to a Supper and afterwards, to a Bottle of whiskey upon which I ‘filled them baith fou’ and was obliged to lead the latter to his house about 50 yds, while the other was steadied upstairs by his faithful spouse…

Feb 15

Found that my last nights spree had not increased my appetite for Breakfast which meal was honoured more in the breach than the observance,…

March 6

…Meant after dinner to have taken possession of my lodgings but it being market day there was no train till 9 pm which I esteemed too late, so determined to stay the night upon which old Parker most magnanimously swore he would stand a pint of Champagne, which we discussed accordingly. I of course ordered a ditto, which went the same way, the Mistress then insisted on having her pint & would have nothing unless it was a ‘Bottle’, so a bottle we had after which I had a strong cup of Coffee & old Parker had a glass of Ale which was unwise as next morning shewed.

March 7

Very happy to find that notwithstanding the bottle of Champagne which I had taken to bed with me, my slumbers had been undisturbed and my head was not like a Hive of Bees. Attributed that same to my respect of the Royal drink by not contaminating it with mixtures, breakfast at 9 am and got on the outside of old Bob and so to Ulverston… Came home to dinner to Furness Abbey, after which I bade adieu to my Monastic life and entered upon my Lodgings –

Horse hire 5/-
Ostler and putting up 2/-
Turnpike 1½d

Part 2 - People and Places

Last week, we saw Edward Wadham’s first impressions of Furness, with its impenetrable dialect and a blast furnace so old-fashioned as to be unrecognisable. He quickly settled in, got to know the people and places, and became well-known for his professional skills. One of the first friendships he made was with the Vicar of Dalton, the Rev. James Morgan. We take up the diary on E.W.’s first Sunday at the Furness Abbey Hotel, after his tour of the Abbey ruins.

Feb 9 (Sunday)

Dined at 5pm and went to church at 6.15 pm not very much enchanted with the style of the parson.

Feb 10

After breakfast received a visit from Mr. Morgan the Vicar. Surprised at his youth being the incumbent of so large a parish. (He had been inducted in 1849)

Feb 15

(Readers may recall that E.W. was suffering from a severe hangover, after billiards and whisky the night before.) … felt much disinclined for hanging my head over Plans, so took a cruise up to Dalton and called upon Mr. Morgan both he and his wife were kind in asking me to call in whenever I felt inclined they gave me a seat in their Pew whereby I was booked as a good Churchgoer…

Feb 16

Got up as I thought in plenty of time and with the full intention of going to Church, but when in the act of brushing my hat up to its best Polish was informed by Mrs Parker that by that time the Clergyman would have commenced operations so abandoned the idea, and on with an old coat, with shame be it spoken and set to work on my Plans dined at 4.30 pm and so to Church in the evening and walked home.

Morning service at 10.30 am

Feb 27

Mr Morgan called and sat in my room some time reading the Papers… went up to Mr Morgan’s for tea, he improves upon acquaintance…

March 2

Went to church twice, missed the train at night so had to blunder home through the Tunnel all in the dark the best way I could, no opinion of long sermons… (E.W. had permission to walk along the railway line. It was much easier than walking over the hill on a muddy road.)

April 2

…Took the Parish Plan back to Morgan and sat with him till 9 pm – he asked me to become a teacher at the Sunday School, but I begged respectfully to decline that offer…

E.W. seems to have dropped in on the Morgans quite frequently when he was in lodgings in Dalton, referring to various ‘tea-fights’, as well as less formal occasions:-

May 26

…played cricket in the evening and retired to the Vicarage when much chat with the inmates thereof. James Kendall beastly drunk and disorderly, kept me up till 1 am.

There were several lodges of the Oddfellows friendly society in the district, four in Ulverston alone. E.W. seems to have been swept in to the organisation the first Whitsuntide he was in Dalton. (When did the ‘Whit walks’ cease in Dalton?)

June 10 (Whit Tuesday)

…Went to Church at Dalton with the Odd Fellows, after which walked at the head of the Clubs with the Vicar with a Flag waved before us all the way. My Eye!! Vot a stunner!!!... (Who says catch-phrases are a modern phenomenon?)

He remained associated with the Oddfellows all his life, referring in the diaries to ‘My Club’ and records a subscription of £1.11s.7d per annum. The following year, on Whit Monday, he dined with the Morecambe Lodge of Oddfellows, then played cricket for the Lightburne Club. The following day…

June 1 1852 (Whit Tuesday)

To Church with the Club – afterwards dined with the Furness Abbey Lodge of Odd Fellows, where I had to take the Chair with the Vicar and Pollard on either side of me. Got through pretty easily with my Chairmanship. Afterwards went down to Cricket.

Throughout him many years of friendship with the Vicar, E.W. seems to have regarded him with a sort of amused tolerance.

Sept 9 1852

Out Boating with Bridson a capital good sail, champagne as usual, the Vicar in a horrible funk as long as we were outside, but very brave when we got into harbour.

Oct 4 1856

…The Vicar in a fluster about the Schools, wrote to try to set him right.

Oct 7 1856

…Found a letter from the Vicar stating that one of the chimneys of Dalton Castle had blown up, went down in an almighty hurry and found twas all gammon –

Edward Wadham’s diaries continue almost uninterrupted until his death in 1913 at his home Millwood, the house he built in 1861.

Part 3 - Social Life

The diaries of Edward Wadham give us a fascinating glimpse of the social life of nineteenth century Furness, a world which has vanished utterly. He played cricket, being a member of Dalton, Ulverston and Kirby cricket clubs (the latter having an annual subscription of 7/6d). Matches were often as far afield as Whitehaven. After one such journey, be complains of a sore throat ‘thanks to Furness Railway Company’s engine smoke.’ Other comments have a familiar ring.

July 26 1851 (Saturday)

Dalton v Ulverston its Cricket-Match wherein Dalton was beaten by 22 runs, owing to carrying too much of the Roast Beef of Old England

Other sporting events are no more:-

June 14 1851 (Saturday)

No work going on all the men being at Ulverstone to see the Racing, so went thither also – accidents without end – five jockeys hurt one nearly killed – races pretty good… Tea at Belle Vue – home in Creasey’s car with the Vicar.

E.W. makes no mention of the great wrestling match of Oct 8th 1851, where several thousand people assembled at the Flan, Ulverston, to see Richard Atkinson of Westmorland defeat William Jackson of Cumberland by three falls to one for the Championship of All England. He was much too busy surveying the proposed route for the mineral railway which was to run from Butts Beck in Dalton, via Crossgates to Lindal Moor. Much of the track is still discernable, although the old tunnel has now been blocked up. Next time you pass by, on the road between Dalton and Ireleth, think of the twenty-three-year-old who laid it out.

As soon as E.W. acquired a horse of his own, he started hunting:-

1855 March 20

Out hunting – Thomas Coward of Colt Park much hurt by his Horse falling among the sand-hills – (Think he survived – E.W. went to enquire after him a couple of times in the next week or so)

1857 Jan 2

Drove Simla down to Ulverston & went to Roose-cote hunting, thus

Doctor on Sultan
Myself on Charlie

The Doctor got one purl, I got two & was run away with into the bargain on that brute of a horse Charlie… (‘The Doctor’ was E.W.’s brother, up on a visit.)

1858 Dec 10

Hunting at Holebeck, very severe day, killed in James Garner’s Kitchen at Dendron… There is no indication of what James Garner thought of this, but we can assume that Mrs. Garner wasn’t too pleased.

1859 Jan 27

Hunting at Roose Cote. Molly fell on to the top of me over a big gate and damaged my upper lip rather considerable

1859 Feb 25

Hunting at Park Mines – very good day and capital dinner and finished the evening ‘merrily’

E.W. stopped hunting after his marriage in 1860, but he continued to shoot for most of his life. In the 1850s, he was, of course using muzzle-loaders. As late as 1861, he records paying £2 for altering a (flintlock) gun to percussion. He first acquired a breech-loading shotgun (a 14 bore pinfire) in 1862, but had already paid the price of carelessness, as the entry for Jan. 1st 1858 records – in someone else’s writing –

‘Shooting at Grizedale and shot off my finger and thumb.

He had, presumably, fired one barrel and was reloading without lowering the hammer on the unfired one. The first entry in his own handwriting is on Feb 22. On March 11 he records Paid Henry Searle (Surgeon) his bill for amputation etc. £2.2.0. For once, this year, he didn’t spend August grouse-shooting, but soon after the opening of the partridge season,…

Sept 14

…went to Lindale in the afternoon with Wm. Ainslie to shoot –

We know that he enjoyed sailing. He usually attended Windermere Regatta and sometimes further afield:-

July 8th 1857

Sailed for the Isle of Man. very rough passage

July 9th

On board the Nimrod all day, viewing the Regatta – held an investiture of the order of Tom Hill at night…

July 10th

Regatta again. supped at the Royal, a very jolly meeting

July 11th

Pic-nic to Peel Castle, a very pleasant affair. went on nine Irish Cars. had a dance in the evening at the Peel Castle Hotel got home at midnight and sailed at 2h.30m for Furness with the Nimrod, Stella and Kelpie in tow.

July 12th

Arrived in Piel at 11.30, came on home, rode up to Thurstonville to see Woodburne & dined at F.Abbey with the Yachtsmen…

July 13th

Piel alias Barrow Regatta lots of wind – sailed in the Stella, the Cyclone beating us by 3 minutes, Kelpie and Matilda (schooner) nowhere, dance at the Abbey in the evening – gave supper to the yachtsmen and so we parted…

Part 4 - Private Balls and Houseparties

Edward Wadham’s talents as a Civil Engineer were soon recognised in the district, and he received commissions, large and small from the mining companies, landowners and the Railway Company. He laid out railway tracks, surveyed mineworkings, supervised the erection of pumping engines, did much to improve the safety of the mines, designed bridges and buildings (including Lindal and Ireleth schools) and laid out the reservoirs at Ormsgill, Poaka Beck and Harlock.

Most of the prosperous businessmen of the day had country houses within a couple of hours drive of Dalton and, as an eligible young bachelor, E.W. was a frequent guest at private balls and houseparties. He visited the Ainslie family at Grizedale Hall, the Archibalds at Rusland Hall, the Rawlinsons at Graythwaite, the Ropers at Gawithfield, the Woodburnes of Penny Bridge and others.

April 8 1852

(At a party at Gawithfield) Felt particularly jolly in the morning, so proposed a Pic-nic to Coniston, which we carried out, Ramsden leaving his horse and dray for me, enjoyed myself most extraordinarily and got home to Gawithfield about 9 pm – Party, two Miss Ropers, Miss James, two Miss Morgans, Morgan of Penny Bridge & myself.

April 9 (Good Friday)

…Home to dinner at Gawithfield saw for the first time some ‘Fig-sow’ a dish peculiar to this part of the country…

July 1

Windermere Regatta and a Ball at Mrs Rawlinson’s ‘Graythwaite’

July 2

Called at Rusland & Graythwaite dined at Rusland Home as far as Ulverstone in the evening. Spilled Pollard out of the gig.

Oct 27

… Came home with bad pain in the testicles, in a funk as to the consequences…

Oct 28

In the house all day not up to the mark – went to a hop at Davis’s in the evening – Davis was the manager for Schneider, Hannay & Co. He lived at Tytup Hall.

Nov 4th

…took my boots for a new pair of ‘Tops’ … went up to Rusland with the Archibalds for a visit. (with Hal Smith)

Very wet morning so amused ourselves in the best way we could in the morning which by the assistance of Miss Archy and Miss Woodburne went off very well, out shooting in the afternoon with old Cookson, much cry but little wool, Tom Roper to dine in the evening, very coarse, much to the disgust of Miss Archy, Hal & myself, hope not to be under the painful necessity of meeting him in polite society in future…

Nov 6

Out shooting all day with Hal, that beast Jas. Nelson and old Cookson, shot 1 Pheasant, dam’d hard lines, Nelson taking all the shooting to himself. Hal got 1 Pheasant & ‘the beast’ 5 Pheasants and 1 Hare, came home to dinner at 6 pm, the Romneys to dinner, old girls but amusing, the Twiceadays in the evening. I was taken suddenly ill from being overfagged and then “over-eating” myself. N.B. Not to work hard all day and eat nothing

Nov 7 (Sunday)

Very seedy, Miss Woodburne & Mr Archy ditto. – so didn’t go to Church in the morning Hal went and read the lesson, had the little Parson to lunch, went to church in the afternoon, still poorly, went to bed early

Nov 8

All right again, though rather white in the gills. Beastly wet day, so obliged to invent all sorts of ways of amusing ourselves in the house till at last we descended to “pitch and toss” joined by the ladies in which they were great dabs, dined at 3 pm and at 4.30 the Car was announced to take us back to Dalton which put an end to our enjoyment and shewed the mutability of human affairs & that the best of friends must part – Arrived at Dalton found a letter from Mr Nicholl announcing the rise of my salary to £150 per annum with an allowance of £20 for expenses which was consoling –

Servants at Rusland 7/6
Turnpikes & driver 4/6

Sept 29

…To Lancaster in the afternoon to the Archery Ball when enjoyed myself very much, famous good Ball but wish they wouldn’t expect me to dance Polkas to Scotch-reel tunes…

Dec 16

Ball ticket 6/-
Gloves 15/-

Dec 17

…dined at the Huddlestone’s, went with Wm. Fell to the Gill Ball & stopped at Huddlestone’s all night…

Dec 28

… to an evening party at Bankfield – Miss Hill made a regular scene, much to my horror as she dragged me into it, these Women!!

Ball ticket 7/6d

Dec 30

…Went to the Cricketers’ Ball and enjoyed it very much, in fact much more than I expected to do – very large attendance. Dined with Ainslie and went with him.

Dec 31

Rode out of Ulverston in the morning, arrived at Dalton at 11 a.m. Sorted my letters… left Dalton at 1 p.m. for Lindal Moor to attend the pay for the Carters of Ore for the year, left the Moor at 5h 15m, arrived at Dalton at 5h 30m – dressed & left for Bankfield at 6.0 p.m. where spent the evening, came home at 12 midnight & eat some oysters with James Kendall –

Paid Lodgings etc. £6 0 0
Horse at Sun Inn 4/-
Cleaning clothes 3/-

In 1860 E.W. married Mary Elizabeth Ainslie, daughter of Montague Ainslie, of Grizedale Hall. They had six children. She survived him by twenty years.

[Go to History]