The Lamp

In 1911 a Coronation Committee was formed to organise the village celebration of the coronation of King George V. The committee organised parties and other activities and gave seven pounds to the village Lighting Committee to erect a memorial street lamp. The parish council agreed to help and voted to contribute a maximum of eight pounds to the project. The council minutes for the meeting in October 1911 read-

- presented a drawing by Mr Benwell, architect of Carlisle, showing a stone octagonal base, with an oak pillar erected therefrom, from which a lamp was suspended on a bracket, surmounted by a crown and weather vane. It was proposed to erect this structure on the Post Office Hill - the stone forming the base to be inscribed with crown and cypher in commemoration of the coronation of the present king and queen.

The contract for the construction was awarded to local builder Walter Wilson. The total cost of the project was 14-16s-4d.

Workmen arrived and dug a large hole 'about two feet deep '. Two carts arrived with gravel, cement and mixing boards and a large crowd of onlookers gathered to watch. The boards were laid and the workmen began hand mixing of the concrete for the foundation. Young Bill (Bet th'a pint) Walton on his first job for Walter Wilson after leaving school ran to and from the pump in Low Fauld yard carrying water in two large galvanised buckets. Many spectators threw coins into the mix saying 'God save the King' as they did so even though most of them doubted the wisdom of using concrete for a foundation. It was the first time concrete had been used in the village and few believed that the grey slurry they saw before them would harden and set. But young Bill Walton knew better. Still blowing hard from his enthusiastic water carrying he addressed the crowd and assured everyone that it would set 'as hard as Caulda cobbles', 'last for ever' and it was 'bomb-proof'. He then explained how it had been used in the Boer War to build block houses. How the crowd cheered and clapped when he finished. The lad was on his first job but he was the village expert on concrete!

The concrete did set ,the stone work was built and the wooden lamp-post erected on top. Fitting the paraffin lamp with the village emblem and motto painted on the glass completed the job. Dalston had its first street lamp!

The regulars were sitting around the fire in the Swan Inn. A Mr Murray who lived on The Green, a good and regular customer, rose uncertainly to his feet and left closing the door behind him. A few seconds later he burst back in and bolted the door. He was very sober, shaking and so frightened he couldn't tell anyone what was the matter. When he was able to speak he said no-one should open the door as the devil was on the green and the devil had chased him. Someone had lit the lamp!

Many villagers were delighted with the lamp but others were furious. Was it not an insult to place the name and emblem of the village above that of the king on a monument built to honour the king? Surely the king's name should be at the top. Families were split on the issue, there were arguments in the pubs and fights on the Co-op end. Feelings were so intense that in a short time the lamp was not lit and eventually the lamp and the lamp-post were removed. The stone base remained and was popular as a seat until the parish council erected more comfortable seats nearby and on Glave Hill. Villagers continued to call it 'The Lamp' and it became the gathering point for children and the base for games of Jack shine the light, king of the castle, monty-kitty and many others. A large octagonal slab which topped the centre of the base was broken and not replaced. Wooden slats were fastened to the seat a few years ago to make it more comfortable to sit on.

The new lamp and sculpture was designed and built by John Parkinson of Up Front Gallery and paid for with grants and donations from local sponsors.  

Sources:

The late Kate Scott (nee Bell)

 

Parish Council Records

 

 

Author:

Olly Roberts July 2000

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