Rare 1950s Lake District film footage found

EMOTIONAL: Historian Judith Keep

EMOTIONAL: Historian Judith Keep

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A LOCAL historian has unearthed rare film footage of three Lake District events taken more than half a century ago.

Judith Keep, a retired teacher who wants to set up a history group in Hawkshead, was given a surprise when she spotted herself on recordings of the 1953 Grasmere Rushbearing and the Hawkshead May Queen Festival the same year.

The archive was contained on DVDs made by 101-year-old Ellaline Jennings, a former teacher who now lives in St Helens.

“I couldn’t believe I was looking at myself and I never knew I had been filmed at the age of nine,” said Mrs Keep.

“My father died when I was 17. There was a shot that clearly identifies our family on this DVD of Grasmere Rushbearing. It was quite an emotional moment to watch it.”

As well as the two 1953 events, the silent films also show the 1952 Langdale May Queen Festival and walking holidays which Miss Jennings went on with her students from Grange Park Secondary Modern School, St Helens.

Miss Jennings sent her DVDs to Hawks-head Women’s Institute in the hope that local residents would get access to the footage.

Mrs Keep, of Kendal, along with Roland Shuttleworth, from Far Sawrey, Elizabeth Mal-lett, Near Sawrey, and Jill Parsons, of Beet-ham, are all keen to set up the Hawkshead and District Memories Pro-ject and believe the film footage will raise awareness of what the area was like in the Fifties.

They visited Miss Jennings at the Fair-field Private Hospital in Crank, St Helens, to thank her for the DVDs.

“She is a truly amazing lady who certainly does not look her age,” said Mrs Keep.

Grasmere Rushbear-ing, a ceremony which still happens every August, celebrates the days when the floors of churches were covered in rushes.

“What we want to do is to set up a group in the Hawkshead area focusing on local history around the 20th century,” said Mrs Keep. “We’ve been looking for memories and now we have these DVDs we can raise awareness of what the area was like.

“Another reason I wanted to set this up is because this year is the 50th anniversary of my father, George Usher’s death.

“He was a prominent figure in Hawkshead and a lot of people knew him because our family built a lot of houses around the village and other parts of the Lake District. I’d particularly like to set this group up this year as a kind of tribute.”

l If you have any memories of Hawkshead or the Lake District from that era, contact Mrs Keep on 01539 724621, or email her at judithkeep@ hotmail.com.

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