Wigton Salvation army band.

Young people & schools

Go to Wigton book for more information about how and why the book was made. You can 
listen to some of the sound clips and read some stories there.


March 2021

Hello! We’ve had a long quiet time these past months. Covid 19 has changed everything, hasn’t it? Many children have been back and forward to school and that’s not always easy. At Cumbria Speaks, it’s been quiet, too. But spring is coming and we hope to get some new activity under way. We want to add interviews done by children and some more talks about Cumbria.

Our books are about to have a second wave as we send them out to Cumbrian bookshops. Tell everyone about it!

Have you thought about interviewing your grandparents or even your great-parents or people that seem really much older than you? It can be fun and we can tell you how to do it. You can have a go at recording on a mobile phone. (But always tell the person you interview that you’re doing it, and talk about it with your parents or an adult first.)

Here are some of the things you could ask them about.

What games did they play when they were little?
What was school like when they were small (schools were really strict!)
Did they have hot water and baths and even toilets? (you might be surprised by the answer)
This is the link to tip about doing good interviews


Feb 2020

Here’s a photo reminder of the final  exhibition where we celebrated our book. and where the artists and interviewees met. This one is of Jack Thomlinson and Joe Misselbrook. The story, ‘Threshing Day’ was based on Jack’s memories. Stinging Nettle’s Skating in Clogs and other Wigton Stories is still available in Wigton, via Free For All on Water Street and at Easton’s Newsagent. You can order a copy via our contact page too..

26th November 2019

Are you in hibernation yet? Don’t go to sleep just yet, we need your help.

Here at the Cumbria Speaks office, we’re looking at how we can help you to do some interviews of your own. Young people all over Cumbria and beyond have begun projects where they interview family members and members of their community. We’re now thinking of ways in which you might like to interview each other. We’d also like those interviews to be available for you to listen to online.

For now, what we’d like is for you, your school, or club, or group, or parents, guardians, adults, (does this include almost everyone?) to get in touch if you’re interested in running an oral history project. Perhaps you’re already running a project? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

Contact us via the contacts page

A quick final word. The Oral History Society have a new Guide to Oral History for Schools and Youth Groups  which gives help and advice on how to do oral history with young people.  What Cumbria Speaks would like to know is how the project is going and to explore what you would like to do with the gathered material.

1st August 2019

Summertime is here and we hope you’re enjoying your holidays (and freedom!) We’re now going to take a holiday too. But in September we’re going to be asking a lot more young people to be involved in the next project. We will be putting together a new book for the wider area around Wigton. There’ll be illustrations to do and research to carry out. This time we’ll be looking for young interviewers, so if you think you’d like to have a go, or get involved with doing pictures, or even inventing quizzes, then get in touch via the contact page. We’ll show you how to work the microphone and what sort of questions to ask.

The Cumbria Speaks book, ‘Stinging Nettles, Skating in Clogs and other Wigton Stories, sold over 400 copies – and that’s without taking them into shops outside Wigton. Many schools and libraries now have their copies.

It’s been great fun working with all the children and all the volunteers. This time we’ll be going to other places outside schools, so if you’re in a club, or even if you’re at home and interested, talk to your adults and get in touch.

In the meantime, have a great summer and see you in September!

10th July 2019

In the last few weeks we have been thinking about the different ways you could use our book (and we don’t mean as a door stop, or a boomerang). Some of you were interested in how Mr J flew Mustang planes during the second World War. In school you will learn about WW2, but might not get round to learning about the cameras that were attached to the planes. We would like to get you some extra information about that. For example how big were they? (Pretty big) and where were the films developed and how were the pictures used? Was the information they gathered useful to spies?

If there are things you would like to know about that you read in the book, write to us by going to the contact page.

17th June 2019

If you keep a look-out, next week you might find some sound points in Wigton that have headphones attached. They’ll be in places like the library or dentist and doctor’s surgeries. Have a listen to some of the oldest people in Wigton talk about what life was like before you were born. Did you know there was a cinema in Wigton, a lemonade factory and a building that made gas for the town? All the clips you’ll hear were used to make the book called ‘Stinging Nettles, Skating in Clogs and other Wigton stories’. If you live in Wigton, you will have seen the book. (If not, then hunt one out!)

We hope to add an extra bit to the website about the history of Wigton and the rest of the country. This will mean that if you love the story about shared outdoor toilets, (and many of you do) then you can learn more about how we went from those types of toilets, to now, when every house has one, or sometimes two, toilets in homes all over the country. There’ll be new pictures by children, quizzes and more clips from the people we interviewed.

We’ll keep you up to date about how it’s going. Learning is fun!

You can get in touch via the contact page if you’d like a book.

22nd of May 2019

Hello again. If you want to see some more pictures of the children who did the pictures for the book you can look in the new photo section on the home page. Soon we’ll put a gallery of new photos of the illustrations for you to look at.

We want to be able to give you more information about some of the stories in the book. You now know there was a gasworks in Wigton, but we would like to give you more information about that, or about where clogs were made (there was a clog maker in Caldbeck). The book has now sold over 500 copies so many people have one. Some have even gone to Belgium and Australia.

9th April 2019 – If you’re still looking for some of your families or friends’ interviews they’re coming! We’re still working on getting the last few back. Meanwhile you could look at the In the Press page and see if you recognise anyone from the television piece Border TV did. If you came, you might be on there.

All the artists who did the pictures for the book now have their own copy. The next thing is to put all the interviews into the Carlisle Archives. Transcriptions are the typed version of the interview; like a long script, and these go alongside the recordings. When historians and researchers want to know about Wigton life, they can use the transcription. It has a sort of contents page at the top. This will show the researcher which part of the transcription they want to find. It saves them having to listen to the sound recording. Soon everyone will be able to find out about Wigton life in the past.

The next thing volunteers will do is to deliver a free copy of the book to local libraries and schools in the area so the heritage of Wigton will spread further out into Cumbria.


Apologies. Some of our interviews are not here at the moment. We’re working hard to get them back as soon as possible.

27th March 2019

The calm after the excitement and success of the weekend launch and exhibition. A smaller exhibition is currently in the MASONIC HALL, Water Street (through the archway) until Thursday 28th March at noon.

In the following weeks, keep a look out for the sound posts in and around Wigton. We’ll announce locations here, on facebook and Old Wigton facebook page.

The exhibition and grand get together was a great success with the interviewees and young artists meeting and sharing lunch and life experiences together. A great day. Click on the image to see the launch event

See other coverage In the Press

Below is one of the sound posts.. Comfy seating to listen to clips via headphones.

12 January 2019

Thank you for making the book; Stinging Nettles, Skating in Clogs and other Wigton stories -so successful. The book, out since before Christmas, has sold out twice and we’re waiting for a third run in early Feb. The feedback from the interviewees is that they like the book and that the young illustrators are pleased with their work.

Our next big event will be an exhibition at Market Hall from Friday 22nd to Sun 24th March 2019. Following that is a 2 week placement in the Mason’s hall. Put the dates in your diaries! Young people’s original artwork will be shown, there will be interview extracts to listen to and recordings of the stories read by the children who illustrated the book. Plus much more. We’ll keep you posted…

19th December

The young artists from Thomlinson Junior School and St Cuthbert’s Primary School are famous. It’s official. We’ve sold all the copies we printed and now have another 90 books to sell before Christmas. By the New Year there will 390 books around the town and beyond. We knew it was going to be good, but this goes to show the talent of all the artists who took part.

10th December.

These are the days to look out for your books all over town! The young people who did the illustrations should be very proud of the beautiful hard work they’ve done.

‘Stinging Nettles, Skating in Clogs and other Wigton Stories’, is now published and out in the world!  So much effort  from so many people has gone into the book which went on sale today in Wigton and has already been selling like hot cakes, well, mince pies. Over the next couple of weeks Wigtonian’s will be seeing the book everywhere and the children from St.Cuthbert’s and Thomlinson Junior, – who did all the beautiful illustrations should be ready with their autograph pens. Below is a story based on the clip of Sarah Thompson’s interview and the illustration that goes with it

Picture by Diego Arzate-Lightfoot for story One Spoon  

One Spoon

Father died when I was small. There’s nine of us living in three rooms in Proctor’s Square. We’ve not got a lot of money. For our tea we gather round the stove fire and eat standing up. Mam has a pot of bread and milk simmering and when it’s ready she takes her spoon, dips it into the pot and feeds us each a mouthful in turn. One by one she goes around until the pot is empty. Sometimes by the end I’m still hungry but there’s nothing left and we go to bed. The only time Mam puts the spoon to her lips is to check it isn’t over hot.

Now you can listen to the clip which inspired the story.

Some of the early pictures done by the both schools.

Our first visit to St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in April. The children are listening to the sound extracts and stories and looking at old photographs bought in by Trevor Grahamslaw.

Here is the recording of one clip about skating in clogs in the 1940’s  When you’ve heard it, read the story underneath and see how they go together. Soon there will be a drawing to go with it. Watch this space…

Skating in clogs

A gang of us race home from school, puffing out gusts of mist in the icy evening. All along the kerb the grass is crisp and frosty. Red berries glisten like drops of blood in the holly tree.

‘It’s freezing!’

‘My fingers are blue.’

‘Your nose is blue.’

‘I can’t feel my toes.’

‘Can’t feel mine either.’

As some of us break off towards our homes we shout that we’ll meet at the cemetery pond later. Luckily, I live there, well not among the gravestones or anything like that, but in Cemetery House.

By the time the 4 of us reach home the weak yellow sun is already going down over our red brick house and the graveyard is looking spooky. We kick off our good shoes. Mam says tea is ready so we wash our hands and sit down. Dad is busy reading his post. One envelope is typed and says: Mr Williamson, The Curator, Cemetery house, Wigton. As soon as I’ve finished, I stand up. ‘Mam, mam can we go out?’

‘It’s almost dark.’

But we know she’ll let us go because she’s smiling. ‘Don’t go in your school shoes’, she says, ‘take your clogs.’

Dad puts down his letter and I see it’s got the Royal Observer Corps stamp at the top. He has the important job looking out for enemy German war planes going over. ‘Has anyone checked the ice?’ he asks. I tell him fat Joe stood on it yesterday. ‘Well, that’s alright, then.’

Outside is silent and cold. The sky is now a deep navy blue and the trees look like spiny dark fingers stretching up for the moon. My sister’s clogs have new corkers on them and the metal winks in the moonlight. We walk through the cemetery trying to scare each other by jumping and yelling, ‘Look out, what was that?’

By the time we get to the pond, Doris and her 2 brothers are waiting. They daren’t get onto the ice. I look at the smooth silvery surface and hear an owl hoot close by. My sister throws a stone and it thuds then skids all the way over the ice to the other side.

‘Go on!’, she shouts.

I carefully put one foot onto the edge of the pond and tap hard. There’s only the solid clunk of unbroken ice.

‘It’s hard as rock,‘ I say and step forward, stretching my arms out for balance. The moon is shining straight down over us so we can see the black banks of the pond  shining brightly. With a great whoop we all slide on and begin to whirl around, skidding and chasing each other.

Skating in the dark is the best fun and we’re laughing and shouting so loudly that if any of the ghosts in the cemetery were sleeping, they’re not anymore!