A Carmichael crane from the 1930s

Another dream

Lockdown is producing some odd dreams for Alan.
He dreamed he was at an open-cast coal mine and was the only person who could remember how to drive a giant drag-line excavator. There was an old cottage in the way of the ecavations and he was attempting to demolish it with the machine.

I felt quite sad at the idea of the old cottage being swept away. I remembered a walk at Wardle, near Rochdale. There was a village nearby called Watergrove, which was demolished to make way for the reservoir. Datestones from the old houses, the earliest from 1645, have been built into the reservoir walls, and there is a memorial plaque to the last family to be moved out.

Higher Slack Farm
Underground cold store
Cold store interior

There is an excellent history of Wardle and the reservoir here:

I fell to wondering why I felt sad about Alan’s efforts to demolish the cottage. Is it just me, or do people generally nowadays have a reluctance to destroy roots? For this household, even decluttering is hard – everything has a story to tell. With the huge interest in genealogy and adopted children seeking out ther birth parents, it would seem that many are afraid of what the future holds and are looking for a return to the safety of the womb.

Even there, though, we are not safe. As I write, riots are occurring the world over by and on behalf of people disaffected by the treatment they have received on account of the colour. This in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, one wonders all the more what kind of a world we shall emerge into, if ever.

1 thought on “Roots

  1. I don’t quite know what to make of Alan’s dream but I share your sadness at the destruction though it depends on the state of the cottage and the reason for its destruction. We can’t keep everything.

    The Watergrove area looks fascinating. Did you lead a walk here? I’d certainly like to do it some time.

    I don’t think the interest in genealogy is so much a return to the womb because of a fear of the future but a realisation that we need to know something of our history, where we’ve come from. When I was teaching pupils were often not interested in anything to do with the past: ‘What’s that got to do with me?’ The present and their future were all important. Though before that at the height of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear attack I remember a child on the bus screaming at her mother “What does that matter? We’re not going to be here much longer any way.” It shook me rigid.

    Programmes like ‘Who do you think you are?’ have picked up on the ability to research one’s past so much more easily with the advent of the internet and get a feel for our ancestors, how we resemble them or not, how our lives have grown out of theirs and moved on in ways they, and we, could never have imagined. We have a need to understand who we are in relation to our past and our future, both as individuals and as larger groups, be they nations, states, ethnic groups, whatever. And until we’ve come to terms with the past we can’t fully move on. Think of Northern Ireland, Germany and Nazism, the mess we Brits made of Israel/Palestine with not honouring the Balfour Declaration (which Theresa May wanted to celebrate!).

    I think the present protests for Black Lives Matter have come for a variety of reasons, a conjunction of events: ‘Me too’ against male oppression with Harvey Weinstein and others, the lockdown and suppression of individual freedom because of Covid-19 and the emerging realisation that ethnic minorities were suffering more than whites, then the graphic, horrifying and scandalous death of George Floyd, plus the centuries of black and coloured people being considered and treated as inferior and suddenly the lid blows off the pressure cooker and the world erupts.

    I remember doing GCSE history that 1848 was a year of uprisings all over Europe. We didn’t do it in enough detail for me to understand why and it puzzled me. I still don’t know why, but it doesn’t surprise me any more We saw it with the Arab Spring. It didn’t surprise me that Colston’s statue ended up in the floating harbour. Three years ago when we showed the Italians round Bristol, Colston had had white paint thrown over his head and there had been calls to rename the Colston Hall concert venue because of his slave-owning past. Oxford students have been wanting to take down the Rhodes statue for some time too. Ideas about the slave trade and colonial exploitation and oppression have moved on. We can’t tear down vast swathes of Bristol, Liverpool, London and everywhere else built on profits from the slave trade, but we can recognise the hurt these statues cause to descendants of those slaves and others whose forbears were similarly oppressed and put them in museums which will set them in context rather than celebrated in full public view. How much more explosive in America, where the situation is so much worse than here. Despite a black president they’ve still a long, long way to go to get equality and justice. And modern slavery the world over is worse than it was in Colston’s time

    We don’t know what sort of a world we’ll emerge into after Covid, but we know what we don’t want. We’ve seen the greater connectedness and cooperation at grass roots level, even if our government still hasn’t learned any lessons and still isn’t working with established patterns of working and thinking about the most vulnerable in society. It’s up to us to fight (metaphorically) for the sort of country we want and not lie supine and let them walk all over us. Don’t despair!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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