Copyright 2014-2019 Hidden Wirral
During its glory days in the eighteenth century, Parkgate was a bustling place with numerous cottages and lodging houses, inns and alehouses, and a quay where boats and ships moored, some transporting coal from the nearby Denhall collieries. The old customs house still stands, although it is now a private dwelling-place with little to suggest its original function, when it oversaw the collection of customs dues and despatched patrols to deter smugglers – though not always with success.
The customs officers were shorthanded, having only a single riding officer, a mounted revenue man stationed at Dawpool, whose duty was to patrol the Dee shore to search for smugglers. It was a simple matter for smugglers to bring in incredible amounts of contraband, avoiding Parkgate to unload cargoes upriver near Gayton and Heswall.
The land on which Heswall was built was mainly heath, of the kind still visible on Poll Hill and Whitfield Common, or woodland, still to be found in the Beacons and the Dales, and the Dungeon. In the days of the smugglers these were wild, out-of-the-way spots, crossed only by a few lanes and paths, shunned by villagers at night due to rumours of ghosts.
Parts of Heswall still retain the atmosphere of bygone days. Old houses and cottages sit swamped by new developments in many places, and the remaining countryside can be eerie at night. By the shore, where the houses give way to fields sloping down to the beach, things seem to have changed very little since the eighteenth century. Walking these shadowy lanes at night you might perhaps see the Devil’s black hearse hurtling down Well Lane, or the strange green figure that haunts the Dales -- if local tradition is to be believed.
One of the earliest references to smuggling in the Dee estuary dates from 1584, when the Controller of Chester complained of “…unlawful conveyances of lether, corne and other merchandyzes and some disorders used in the Creekes of the… porte of Chester…” Little else is recorded of smuggling before the eighteenth century, when an ongoing traffic of contraband existed between Wirral and the Isle of Man. Parkgate was the chief port, along with Dawpool further up the Dee Estuary. Both of these small ports came under the auspices of the Port of Chester.
The government was by no means ignorant of the ongoing “free-trade”, and were determined to root it out in the Isle of Man. In 1765, with putting an end to smuggling in mind, the Crown purchased the island from the Stanleys for £70, 000 – an unpopular move that had to be carried out in secrecy. The effect on the Manx economy was little short of disastrous; Wirral was forced to look elsewhere for its illicit luxuries.
Irish packet ships were the source of most contraband entering Parkgate until the nineteenth century. These were ferry boats that sailed between Parkgate and Dawpool to Dublin, carrying passengers, newspapers, and thousands of pounds worth of cargo. Due to the silting up of the Dee, Parkgate was the furthest upstream ships could go until the creation of a channel called the “New Cut” in 1737, which made it possible for ships to reach Chester once again. Despite this, packet ships continued to sail to Parkgate, which was a better place for favourable winds, since the tide would turn and the river become too shallow. Larger vessels offloaded some of their cargo onto smaller boats at Parkgate, so they could navigate the remaining water. This was the moment for which the smugglers were waiting. Once night fell, the crew members involved would ensure their contraband made it ashore.
The work of smuggling now entered the hands of well-armed men working in gangs, capable of holding their own against the revenue men. While the sea smugglers tended to be sailors or fishermen supplementing their existing incomes, the land smugglers were farm labourers who protected the contraband and sped it on its way in return for some extra cash. Considering the low wages most farm workers earned, smuggling must have been a welcome source of extra income, whatever the potential hazards.
Those in employment worked something like a seventy-two hour week, and although their wages would have paid for food, the cost of cooking was beyond most people’s means. A farm labourer’s earnings would amount to something in the order of seven or eight shillings a week, while a single night’s work in the free-trade might pay as much as five shillings to seven-and-six.
We possess two main sources of information for this period: written accounts from records taken by customs men after the capture of smugglers and seizure of their contraband, and traditions recorded by local historian Greg Dawson in his book Wirral Gleanings. Local families helped each other in smuggling ventures, working on a small scale that benefited the local community.
Occasionally, however, a “big job” would turn up, financed and organised by local dignitaries, quite possibly including the local magistrates who might otherwise prosecute captured smugglers. Dawson has unearthed evidence to suggest that ship’s masters and captains, pilots, members of parliament, and even customs men themselves profited.
Contraband for Parkgate, Neston, or further inland was unloaded at night on Heswall or Gayton Beach. The shore was a wild, desolate place, half a mile from the nearest village; the steep hillsides were swathed in woodland where almost anything could be concealed. For smaller operations, goods would be hidden aboard Irish packet boats, coal sloops heading for Denhall Colliery, cattle boats, or even ships of the Royal Navy. When revenue men were in the vicinity, fishermen would row out to these vessels, and a member of the crew shouted out to the fishermen, asking to buy fish. The fishermen then passed fish up in covered baskets, and a swap would be made, the fish for contraband goods. Then the sailors would lower the baskets back down to the fishermen.
Almost all the people of Heswall, Gayton and Parkgate were connected with smuggling, or at the very least benefited from it, including the clergy, who were happy to receive contraband wine. Customs officers were regarded as tyrants who were to be cheated and gulled with impunity, and they encountered a wall of silence when making enquiries. The smugglers employed an elaborate system of codewords. When there was to be a landing of contraband, it was said that “the ghost walks tonight.”
Ghosts were apparently a common sight in Heswall and Parkgate. These legends were either exploited or concocted by smugglers to cover their unlawful operations. In local dialect, ghosts were referred to as “buggens”, a word of Welsh origin related to bogle and bugbear. The name remains in Buggen Lane, which leads from Moorside in Parkgate towards the centre of Neston.
Other supposedly haunted areas included Whitfield Common, where a headless dog was supposed to roam; the Beacons, haunted by a large black hound; the Dales, home to a green ghost; Cottage Lane and Well Lane, where the Devil drove his black hearse at night; and the Bloody Gutter on Heswall Shore, where the ghosts of two mariners, who had fought each other to the death over smuggled goods, haunted a path leading to the shore where the Dungeon Brook reaches the beach.
Buggen Lane, Cottage Lane/Well Lane, Broad Lane and Manners Lane would all have been ideal ways to transport contraband inland from a landing on Heswall Shore. Whitfield Common, the Beacons and the Dales remain wild, largely unspoilt areas. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century they were only part of the five hundred or more acres of heath that was Heswall Common, perfect country for smugglers to store their goods before transporting them on to the purchaser.
A ship carrying contraband would sail in straight from the open sea and weigh anchor for the night in Gayton Hole, opposite Manners Lane, the best anchorage on the Heswall Shore. Unless they had previously been tipped off, it would take a while before the revenue men were aware of the ship’s presence. The land smugglers notified the crew when the coast was clear by shining a lantern from a field up the bank from the shore; due to slight inward curve of the coastline, anyone standing on here would be hidden from both Dawpool Watch House and Parkgate Customs House.
The sea smugglers landed their contraband on the shore at the bottom of Manners Lane. Here the land smugglers – all Heswall residents – would take over the operation. The smugglers would work through the night to transport the illicit goods to some secluded location where they were stored until they could be moved on the next day. These places included those haunted woods in the Dales or the Beacons. The routes by which they were transported were rumoured to be haunted by ghosts and buggens.
The shore was bleak and desolate, almost uninhabited. Four lanes led up from the shore: Broad Lane, which now runs roughly parallel to the Wirral Way; Banks Road, which comes up from the Heswall Yacht Club and Sheldrake’s Restaurant; Manners Lane, a former cart track which now leads up to Davenport Road; and Cottage Lane, which joins with Well Lane by Gayton Hall and then up to Gayton Roundabout. Sometimes customs men watched these routes, and alternative paths were required. On nights like these, the smugglers would make their way up the banks of the Scarbrook, a stream which rises near the junction between Thurstaston Road and Telegraph Road, passes down the side of the Dales, and enters the Dee in the vicinity of Gayton Hole. The old route of the Scarbrook now passes through the garden of the house known as “The Cave,” named after an artificial cave cut into the rock on the east side of the stream, expressly for the purpose of hiding contraband.
The smugglers rarely took the contraband directly to a cottage or inn in case the revenue men were spying on them. They chose locations in secluded, unfrequented woods and heaths known only to the smugglers, to which they could return the following day.
The next day local farmers drove sheep and cattle down the lanes they had used, in order to cover any tracks the smugglers might have left. When the smugglers were certain the revenue men had no suspicion, they would transport the contraband to their customers, again enlisting the aid of farmers or farm workers, using farm wagons to cart the goods to their destination, concealed under hay or vegetables.
The smugglers’ heyday did not last long into the nineteenth century. After the Napoleonic Wars ended the government stepped up its efforts to combat the “wicked trade”. As the authorities began to increase their preventive efforts and as navigation and marine technology improved, the opportunities for smuggling became less and less.
At the same time, the living conditions of normal people in Wirral improved dramatically. In 1800, the peninsula, particularly the northern coastline, was a wild, remote place cut off by marsh and bog, in which a small population scratched a living as farmers or fishermen. By 1850, the working week had shrunk to about fifty hours, while wages had increased. The construction of new roads and bridges, the draining of marshes, the creation of more productive farmland, not to mention an increase in policing, the influx of wealthy and not-so-wealthy “incomers”, and the onset of urbanisation, all combined to transform Wirral from a hotbed of piracy into a place that the local council once touted as the “leisure peninsula”.
Source: A Perambulation of the Wirral Hundred
First Edition, October 1909
Second Impression, October 1909
Third Impression, November 1909
On the front are some old houses, in some of which once dwelt fishermen who added to their calling the lucrative and dangerous one of smuggling, and in the rooms of some, huge cavities are built in the walls in which the contraband used to be hidden. The house occupied by Mr. W. Mealor has a very interesting smuggler's hole, entered by taking up a piece of boarding in one of the rooms above. It is quite ten feet deep and of capacious storage room, but it was difficult to judge the exact size on account of complete darkness, the only light obtainable being that from a few matches, which flared up for a moment, and then but deepened the gloom. Smuggling in those days was a dangerous game, for the custom-house officers were given to shooting first and asking questions afterwards, and the smugglers were equally severe on the officers. In another county an officer, meeting a smuggler, says, " Knowing he was too good a man for me, for we had tried it out before, I shot Daniel through the head"; and in 1749, at Chichester, Sir Michael Forster tried seven smugglers for the murder of two custom-house officers, which all goes to show that however interesting smuggling was it had its dangerous side. At the side of the house a passage leads to a curious wynd in which are some ancient cottages, a relic of old Parkgate, whilst farther along the front, where the green fields commence, is the curious old half-timbered watch-house, whose inmates used to be the terror of evil-doers.
SHOCKING DEATH OF A PARK GATE FISHERLAD.
Cheshire Observer - Saturday 06 May 1882
Our correspondent writes :— The Parkgate fisherman at the present time are passing through a bad season--, from two to three quarts of shrimps per day being about the average catch. Aa these only bring sigh* pence or tenpenee per quart, times are unusually bad, especially for those with large families, who, when receiving Manchester gold for Parkgate mussels, did not put by for a rainy day ; while others, through losing their boats or other misfortunes, could not reap the golden harvest. The deceased youth, Willis^ Henry Smith, fifteen years of age, the eldest of a large family of children, left home on Saturday morning to go shrimping ; he was the only occupant of his father's fishing boat, " The Ifcusy," which was one of the fleet of the tiny craft that started upon the same errand. AS. went well until the return journey, when the boy found himself deserted and alone in a violent gale, near Salisbury bank, over while the sea was dashing with the greatest fury. Salisbury bank, near Caldy (Cheshire side) in place where the waves for some distance round seem to concentrate all their rage — a most dangerous gale ;„ such weather to a comparatively inexperienced boy • though tbe fishermen who were now nearing Parkgate could brave weathered it with ease. This was the last time tbe boy was seen alive. On the arrival of the boats at Parkgate without the "Daisy " he was at once given up as lost. Hardy fishermen stood in sheltered spots here and there, shaking their heads, and discussing his chance of escape; all agreed that he had struck Salisbury bank and been instantly overwhelmed by tht heavy sea Could nothing be done? The hardy fishermen who had done nothing said " No ; a boat cp-iVJ not live in such an angry sea." Meanwhile William Brierley, a young fisherman, who had returned with the fishing party, determined to search for the boy, and if possible to rescue him. He gallantly not off in his little vessel, braving the storm, until within quarter of a mile from the place where the boy was last seen. The iron fastenings of his out- rigger at last broke with the violence of the storm and he unwillingly turned for home, seeing nothing of the boy in consequence of the thick sleet. Though unsuccessful, the deed was not less noble on that account, was a praiseworthy effort to save human life under circumstances of such danger that no others — not even the fisherman relatives of the boy — attempted it Nothing more was done ; darkness set in, and he was given up as lost. Daybreak showed the boat high and dry on Greenfield Bank, midway between Parkgate and Holywell. As the tide was flowing in, a boat-it soon put off from Parkgate and reached the missing boat as it was being towed off by a Flintshire fisherman, who in answer to a question, said there was no one in it. On looking inside, the boy was discovered sitting in the stern, his eyes open, and his head resting upon his fishing net, bis limbs arranged as though resting; the hard-earned wages of his toil — * few fish and a quart or two of shrimps — lay by his side, near him was the food (bread and butter) he bad taken with him, untasted. The hope that he stilt lived was soon dispelled. One chafed his hands and another his face, but the last spark of life had gone out. The body was then conveyed sadly to his distracted parents at Parkgate. The theory of the fishermen is that he anchored at Salisbury bank, that he afterwards threw off his jacket (found in the bottom of the boat) and exhausted himself in ineffectual efforts to raise the anchor, then, broken-hearted and hopeless, saturated with the driving sleet and numbed by the ioy wind, he sank down in the gathering darkness and died. The rising tide finally snapped the tope attached to the anchor, and the boat, with its unconscious occupant, drifted aimlessly up and down the river till it finally rested on Greenfield bank. The inquest was held before Mr. H. Churton, county coroner, on Monday last. The jury proceeded to view the body, after which, William Smith, father of the deceased, was examined. Ha stated that the deceased, William Henry Smith, was his son, and was 15 years of age, and had worked as a fisherman off and on for about four years. He was a strong, healthy boy, and well able to manage the boat, and had been out several times by himself. He described the boat as a jigger-rigged boat, and was the one he was accustomed to work. The deceased went shrimping alone last Saturday morning, about half-past eight. He went in the direction of Caldy, which is just off the Cheshire shore, and about four miles from Parkgate. He took food with him, consisting of bread and butter. He expected the deceased home again about six or seven o'clock the same night. — ln reply to the Coroner, witness stated that he did not go himself, as several boats started at the same time. The morning was fine when he started, with the exception of a slight rain and light wind from the south-east. He first heard of bis being missing when the other boats came back. Finding that his son was not with them, he made inquiries from ttte fishermen wbo had returned. Nothing was done till the next tide, on Sunday morning, when a search waa made about half-past nine. His son's dead body was brought on shore and landed at the top slip. He identified the body.— James Mealor stated that he waa a fisherman, living at Parkgate. He knew the deceased boy well. He (witness) went shrimping on Saturday morning about 8 a.m., a little before deceased. They went in the direction of Dawpool. He noticed deceased following at 9am.; he was close to him, and at that time he was right. The water was calm, with a slight breeze from the south-east. He parted company with the deceased about 4 p.m., whioh was the last time he saw him alive. He fished in company with the deceased and about 9or 10 others for several hours. He first missed him about 4 p.m., and did not see him alive afterwards. At that time he was four or five hundred yards away, and was coming in tbe direction of borne. The wind was south-east, with a snow storm, which was so blinding that he could not see. He (witness) was stiff with cold. All the boats reached Parkgate safely with the exception of the deceased's. Tbe time they reached Parkgate would be about 6 30 or 7 p.m. They intended to return in search of him, but could not do so iv consequence of the weather, which was then blowing a gale. On Sunday morning witness and four others went in the direction of Dawpool, the time would be about three p.m. (high water). They after- wards saw tbe boat high and dry on Greenfield bank. They proceeded there and found the deceased in it. It did not contain water and had not been capsized. The deceased was stretched out with his head resting against a net. The few shrimps he bad caught were in a basket by his side. There was a large piece ot bread and butter by his side untouched. He appeared to have been dead some time. The body had no mark of injury upon it. The anohor was missing and the rope broken. In answer to the Coroner, witness said tbe boat was nearer Wales than Parkgate. He could give no idea as to the cause of his death. The weather was very cold. Witness felt it very muoh. There were about five or six fathoms of rope hanging over the bow of the boat. The anohor had done its duty, but the rope was broken. Witness took food with him when shrimping, but oould not eat through cold, being saturated with wet. The deceased would be in the same plight. When they went to Dawpool, about three a.m., they sighted the boat aa soon as it was daylight, whioh was ab -ut four am. They crossed to it in a boat, and found that a Welsh fisherman had already got it in tow. Mr. Churton, in summing up, said the case waa very dear. He had never had to consider a more painful oas -.». The boy was far too young for the work, but w_s an exceptionally strong boy and accustomed to the river.— The jury then brought in a verdict of death from exposure to the weather. The funeral of the boy William Henry Smith took place on Tuesday last at 6 p.m. His untimely fate oalled forth wide-spread sympathy, and throngs of people gathered about the Btreets and churchyard awaiting tbe procession whioh consisted of over 120 persons, principally fishermen, though many ranks of sooiety were represented. The bier was borne by four young fishermen companions of the boy. The coffin was almost hidden with flowers, beautiful wreaths having been sent by several families about the neigh- bourhood, silent bnt expressive marks of sympathy. The procession was met at the gate by the Rev. A. Ogle, who, reading the usual sentences, led the way to the church, and after the Psalm and lesson from Romans, to «»e grave The beautiful burial service impressively read by the Rev. A. Ogle oould not fail to impress the throng of fishermen gathered around the grave. Ac the coffin, loaded with beantiful blossoms, sank beneath the green turf, the pent-up sobs of tbe boy's relatives Durst forth, and more than one cheek, bronzed and rugged, was wet as the minister read impressively, "He cometh up and is cut down like a flower," and "In the midst of life we are in death." Tebbiblb Massacbb in Aloebia.- There has been a terrible massacre in Algeria. Two companies of the foreign Legion, while escorting an expedition with a convoy of provisions, were attacked at Tigri by about 8,000 natives, and a desperate fight ensued. The assailants lost several hundred men, and the Europeans, who remained masters of the field, bad 37 killed and 30 wounded. It is stated that a chief of the tribes was killed. ?? ?? INTALUABLB IW FACIAL NIUBALOIA.' Medical Press.— See papers in the Lancet , by Drs. Mnrreil, S.K.^ W' l £_L C - Bader > E8< 1-. °* March Sth and 20th, and May 29th, 1880. " Te_.gk maintains ita reputation m the treatment of Neuralgia. "-Lancet. July 23rd 1881. It may be taken by the moat delicate without the least fear of injury. In bottlea at 4e. cd. and lis. Of Chemists everywhere. Allbn A Hanbttbys' ** pß_w_.cT_rD" Cod L_yk_ On. Is as nearly tasteless aa Cod Liver Oil can be."— d __?T _!r <Haa ?? the delicacy of Salad Oil."— Bnixsh Medical Journal. "No nauseous eructations follow. -Mtdvcal Prsss. Of all Chemists, in aezwuM bottlea only, $ pts. 1/4, _ pts. 2/6, pta. 4/9, qte. _£;
PARKGATE FISHERMEN AND THE NEW BYE-LAWS. -
Cheshire Observer - Saturday 05 May 1894
A meeting of fishermen engaged in the estuary of the Dee was held on. Tuesday at Parkgate, to consider the bye-laws, of which notice has been given by the Board of Con- servators of the River Dee fishery District, under the provisions of the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act, 1888. The bye-laws as a whole met with general approval, but certain of them were strongly objected to as not being adapted to the peculiar conditions under which fishing is carried on in the estuary. These are (1) shallow water, (2) strongly running tide, and (3) narrow and tortuous channels between sandbacks which are dry at low water ; and in consequence of these bye- laws 2, 3, and 4, if enforced, will entirely put a stop to the industry. The first-named, No. 2, prohibits tying round the end of the traw], which has been the custom hitherto. In the Lancashire Fisheries District, whose bye-laws have been adopted en bloc, this is a wise pro- vision, as the hauls there, in consequence of the much deeper water, are of much longer dnration, and "lacing" the end of the net is possible with- out undue loss of time; but in the Dee estuary the hauls are often not over the quarter of an hour, and do not average above half an hour ; and the loss of time involved by lacing and unlacing the net at each haul when passing over the extremely limited extent of good fishing ground would be a most serious hindrance. Tbe fishermen propose, as a com- promise suitable for the district, the practice of drawing the end of the net in a manner which will be demonstrated at their meeting on the 14th inst. The Parkgate fishermen are mostly engaged in shrimping. Inside the estuary no sea fish are taken with nets such as are described in bye-laws two and three ; nor would any attempt to use such nets be successful, as they could not be used in such shallow water and rapid tides, but occasionally fish of marketable size are taken in the shrimp nets, and the fishermen keenly resent the pro- hibition of their being taken in this the only method of trawling practicable in the district. Bye-law 15 prohibits the use of a rake for taking mussels in less than four feet of water. Tho fishermen are quite agreeable to this, so far as the large three-foot rakes are concerned, but they maintain that a small one-foot hand -rake should be permitted £0 be used even when the beds are dry. They are ' extremely anxious that the mussel fisheries should be protected, and it was indeed by their initiative and at their expense that the Board of Conservators were granted the powers they possess under the Act, in order that they might establish a close time for mussels, as enacted under Bye-law 16. They suggest that a fresh bye-law should be added, prohbiting the taking at any time of mussels less than 2£in* or cockles less than gin.
By the Sands of Dee
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 June 1939
GOOD it is after a somewhat tiresome week to be sitting in Parkgate picking at potted shrimps only a couple of yards from the spot where in 1688 King William 111, that sad-eyed slow-speaking Dutchman, sailed to fight and win the Battle of the Boyne, where on an April afternoon forty years later Handel embarked to produce The Messiah in Dublin. There's a nostril-tingling smell that is a mixture of warm tar, of wet mud and all-pervading sea salt. And a curious singing noise, made, I suppose, by the sucking quicksand. to hear the low-pitched factory hum of Flint on the other shore, heard but not seen through the veil of pearl-grey mist. A solitary thigh-booted fisherman staggering up from his boat under the weight of bulging sodden sacks, squelching through the mud, looks for all the world like a story-book pirate bringing his swag ashore. The tide is coming in fast, sliding insidiously, almost imperceptibly from pool to pool. When the rosycheeked Welsh waitress served me with soup it was far out across the Dee, a twinkling fringe of silver. Now, with the cheese, it is almost up to the worn stone where William stepped aboard. Menacing Tide something evil about the noiseless, effortless way this tide creeps up on you. Easy to imagine what happened to Mary when she went out across the sands of Dee to call the cattle home on that fatal evening. And all this, only an hour and a half away from Manchester. The shrimps caught here are tough, rubbery little fellows who need skilful forking. Generations ot relentless shrimping have only made him grow bigger, more wily. 2OO years the Dublin Packet sailed from Parkgate quayside. Until well into the early 19th century. The Comet, fastest coach that ever went bowling along English highways behind four spanking horses, picked up her passengers at the long-sincevanished Pengwern Arms, whose old sandstone stables just across the road now serve as a car-park. Then the Dee contrarily decided to change its deep-water channels over to the Welsh side. So Parkgate died and Holyhead and Liverpool were born. And Parkgate longshoremen had to turn fishermen. LIKE the Higgins family a small pink-brown mountain of fresh-caught shrimps is piled up on a table at the Higgins’ door-step. The Higgins’ have been shrimp fishermen for nearly a century. Fred Higgins, is proud of the simple sign “F. Higgins, Fisherman over his door ; is satisfied with his lot. The whole family takes a hand in the business. Even old Mrs. Higgins, turned 90. can still make a neat pot of shrimps with the best of them. Loved a Mermaid DEESIDE fisherfolk have their own folk-lore. heard the familiar story young fisher lad who fell in love with a mermaid whom he met out lobster fishing one day. He could not get her out of his mind. One night at the full moon he got out his boat and rowed away to try to find her. He was never seen again. But there is an epilogue. Months later early-working fishermen were surprised to see giant lobster drag itself painfully out of the water and crawl to the missing boy’s cottage door. . . . THE BEST-KNOWN man in Parkgate, Mr. A. M. D. Grenfell, head master of the local boys’ school and a relative of ihe celebrated Grenfell of Labrador,” was strolling about in the warm sunshine, stick under arm, taking note, as is his wont, that not a stick or stone is out of place. Mr Grenfell has spent a lifetime looking after the interests of Parkgate, protecting it from urban vandalism. It is largely due to him that Parkgate is what it is to-da3 , an unspoiled little nineteenth-century fishing village. Full of Dachshunds SOMEBODY around here breeds Dachshunds. The village seems to be full of these sad-eyed, flop-eared, bewildered looking little dogs. Maybe, on second thoughts, there weren’t more than half a dozen waddling about. But one dachshund literally goes a long way . . . “life lines” are the small once-an-hour buses that link up the villages in these parts. The conductor of the bus that brought me in from Chester knew just where to stop ; welcomed aboard his fares as old friends. Soon the bus was echoing with brisk, farm-house gossiping. In a few minutes I learnt how much a pound plump Dee salmon was selling for in Chester, that rhubarb jam this year should be particularly good, just what was the matter with Mrs. So-and-So’s youngest . . . v- .v. "Tough, rubbery little fellows"
Accessed 22nd March 2018