Sunday, 27 June 2010

Scotland and back to England

After a stopover at a very nice B&B outside Penrith, we continued towards Paisley arriving early on Saturday afternoon. We are now comfortably installed in the Watermill Hotel close to the centre of Paisley and only a 10 minute walk to the Local History Studies Library. I spent only a couple of hours there on Saturday afternoon and found quite a lot of information on John Lang & Sons, a family company founded in 1874 and which had become famous for the manufacture of lathes. (Lang’s for Lathes). Another family company was J & W Weems who were plumbers of note starting up around 1850. John Weems was quite an inventor even demonstrating one of his inventions to Queen Victoria at a London Exhibition and eventually going to Russia to install heating in Royal residences.

On Sunday, we went to Kilbarchan where early members of the Lang family were handloom weavers. There is a National Trust cottage there that has been a weaver’s cottage for several hundred years. The volunteer guides were a mine of information and I was surprised to learn that weavers were considered to be ‘well off’ people and quite clever. To set up a hand loom takes about 20 hours and a good knowledge of mathematics is needed. As a result many weavers believed in getting a good education for their children. It’s not so surprising then that the John Lang who began his engineering works was a son of a Kilbarchan handloom weaver.

Four days in Paisley saw us cemetery searching, entertaining relatives to afternoon tea and extracting copies of old photos from them, and museum visiting (the small Johnstone Local History Museum was incorporated in a recent supermarket (Morrisons) development and very nice it is too). Three separate visits to the Paisley Local History Library resulted in enough research to keep me happy organising it all when we get home.

A long drive south saw us arrive at Appleby-in-Westmorland, a very pretty little village and we found overnight accommodation at The Limes B&B (prop. Mrs Orange!) a short distance out of town. Next morning an hour or so driving saw us arrive in York and a very enjoyable visit to the National Rail Museum (free entry). Again, we had an overnight B&B for Peter to return in the morning for more technical viewing and for me to browse the lovely shops of York.

Must say we have met some lovely people on our travels – all have been interested in our travels and especially about Australia. One nice lady who had been to Australia told us “Well, we enjoyed your country, so please enjoy ours!”

In the afternoon more driving southwards and we are now in the Youth Hostel at Hunstanton on the north coast of Norfolk – and what do you eat at an English seaside? A fish & chips supper, of course! On the subject of Youth Hostels, we have been surprised at how expensive it is to stay in them these days. Our very basic room with bunks and a cracked window at Hunstanton Youth Hostel cost 40 pounds plus 5 pounds each for a rather lacklustre breakfast. Three-star B&Bs average 55-60 pounds and for this you get a very comfortable big bed (which you don’t have to make yourself), your own spotless ensuite, TV, and a deliciously huge and well-cooked breakfast. No contest really!


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  2. Nice to see weavers on both sides of the family!