NOSTALGIA: Memories of growing up in Ulverston

The Westmorland Gazette: Joan with her siblings, Kitty, Mary, Ruth, David, Margaret and their mother Doris at the family loom Joan with her siblings, Kitty, Mary, Ruth, David, Margaret and their mother Doris at the family loom

JOAN Ardron Nicholson has spent two years writing her memoirs of growing up in Ulverston in the forties and fifties.

Born in 1943, she was one of six children, five girls and a boy – Kitty, Mary, Ruth, David and Margaret. They lived with their parents, Harry and Doris Ardron, at Colt House, which is an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Ulverston.

The memoirs are set against the ‘religious zeal’ of Joan’s parents. She describes the family’s day-to-day living, including schooldays and holidays, which were usually spent camping in two large ex-army bell tents, visiting Wales, Devon, or Scotland.

And the holidays are what Joan remembers the most. The retired nurse said: “I think as a family back then we were one of very few that went on holiday and we went all over. We were given a lot of freedom in that way. I have some wonderful memories of our holidays.”

Her father, Harry, had a small grinding engineering business at Ulverston, repairing lawnmowers and agricultural machinery. He also did wrought ironwork, making large entrance gates for Major Kennedy, whose home was Hill Foot.

Her mother, Doris Ardron, was the weaver for Hawkshead weavers, which was run by the Rileys, at Outgate. She had a large six-feet wide loom at home, and dyed the yarns first before weaving.

Joan recalls a visit from reporters when she was ten.

“Journalists from the Picture Post came to our home to interview mother, and they wrote an article for the magazine which included a photograph of us all around the loom, each of us girls wearing clothes which had been made from mother’s hand-woven cloth. She was regularly asked to do demonstrations to Women’s Institutes and other women’s groups.”

The memoir starts with her earliest memories, around 1946, and continues until she left Ulverston in 1961 at 18, to train as a nurse in Manchester.

She is busy writing her next memoir detailing her time as a nurse in Zambia.

For a copy of ‘Rabbit Pie at Christmas - An Ulverston Childhood’, contact Joan at joanardron@gmail.com or 01229-462850.

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