early 2018, Natland News received a message from Reg
James responding to the item on the Natland Website
What life as a Waif and Stray in St Mark's Home was
read with some interest, the story you printed
about George Wenman's time spent in the
care of St Mark's Home for Boys.
should add that he had a very easy time
from my reading of it although my time came
after his, from 1950 - 1955, and my story
would not make good reading for such a really
did have some good times though.
sang in the choir as head boy and acted
in a play in the church, I think it was
I helped dig the hole to plant the tree
on the green.
city boy out of Liverpool that learned to
love the country.
receiving Reg's email, we asked if he would like to
tell us more about life at St Mark's.
is what he told us:
Life in Liverpool
I can say for sure is that the time I did spend in Natland
will remain forever as a major part of my life story.
A story I am compiling along with Ancestry for
my sons and grandchildren.
I will never know or appreciate how lucky I was, along
with my older brother (18 months), how we survived the
war living so close to the docks in Liverpool. Moments
impressed on my mind such as, upon the sound of the
sirens, quickly being dressed in a siren suit then being
carried at a run to the air-raid shelters, close to
our front door in our street, during bombing raids.
The musty smell of the shelter and hessian bunk
beds, being handed a mug of tea, in a mug as big as
my face, and at one time we didn't have time to make
it to the shelter so we hid under the stairs. All
great fun, or so I thought. It was only when I
became a little older did I begin to understand. Houses
and factory buildings no more than two hundred yards
away bombed to rubble.
remained in Liverpool then until I was nine spending
my time playing in the bombed out buildings; so stupid
I now of course know, but then what else did we have
to do? I must have missed more school time than
I care to mention.
never really knew my father, I last saw him when I was
two years old, before he went out on the North Africa
campaign; I never ever saw him again.
first time away, from home - the back streets, we were
sent to Frome in Somerset where we remained for no more
than 10 months, then up to Natland. Two young boys from
Liverpool were not easily accepted amongst other boys
or older people for that matter. It took quite
some time to adjust. My brother looked after himself,
as did I.
started my life as an individual.
at St Mark's Home
remember well my time at the school in the village,
the effort put in by the school head master who first
put me on the road to learning and a great deal of that
I certainly had to do. I don't think I could have
passed a 6 plus at eleven let alone 11 plus. I
have a great deal to thank that head master.
the Home I learnt a great deal of discipline, a number
of occasions for the wrong reason mind, but who was
I to argue, I was more too often than not in the wrong
place at the wrong time.
was responsible for the boiler cleaning and lighting,
I think I must have scrubbed every floor in the building
ten times over. Pealed thousands of potatoes and
washed hundreds of the pots pans and dishes.
looked after the chickens, cleaned out the run and coop
on many occasions. On one occasion I dug and weeded
a whole field with a spade, or at least I thought it
was as big as a field. It was the house veg garden.
I knew then what blisters upon blister were. What
did I do to deserve that, I will never know. I was not
to reason why.
number of us were selected to carry out various responsibilities
at flower shows and farm shows, they were the few good
enjoyable times though.
a week we would walk down to the village shop in Sedgwick
to use our sweet coupons. Even that walk became
very enjoyable and not just for the sweets.
think it must have been 1952 when the whole choir
went up to St John's in the Vale church to attend the
opening of the youth centre. I remember well that
the service had to finish quickly due to one of the
worst thunderstorms I had ever witnessed. Myself
and my wife have walked up that way on many occasion
attended church up to seven times in the week, choir
practice plus all services and later became confirmed
into the church.
mentioned previously, I was asked take a major part
in a church play, to a full congregation, a part thrust
on me at very short notice.
the outset the part had been allocated to the school
head master's son, can't recall a name, who had to drop
out at the last minute due to a bad cold. From
brief memory I think I had no more than two or maybe
three days to learn my part, which just had to be the
major part of the whole play. There had been a
Nun recently appointed as an assistant in St Mark's
home and she was given the task to ensure I knew all
of the lines, including those lines of all others in
the play. I must add that the lady was a very
good teacher and very strong on discipline, I don't
believe I fluffed my part once.
was after that, that I could not do a thing wrong in
the village, when passing early mornings to collect
the milk from the farm, the first farm on the road up
to Oxenholme, the villagers opened their doors to me
to say hello or offer me homemade cakes etc. Another
major change to my self and respect in village people.
think that the village people, at the time must have
thought my future would be in theatre so they gave me
a walk-on part in a local village play, a serious murder
play I think. It was only a quick walk-on part
though, no lines to learn. I was given a coat
and a trilby hat to wear then to walk on to check in
my hat and coat to the artificial sound of heavy rain,
lightning and thunder. Unfortunately the hat I
was given was far too big for my head and kept slipping
down to much laughter from the audience. That
killed the seriousness of the play and briefly changed
it to a comedy. Perhaps I could have ventured
more into theatre but for the problem of having too
also recall the time when I assisted in the planting
of the tree that is now on the village green.
firmly believe that the 5 years I spent living in Natland
gave me my love of the country and village life, born
a city boy but always a farm boy.
After St Mark's Home
I had been issued with tickets to sail to Australia
to work on a sheep farm. I was all ready to go
when at the last minute I backed out to live with my
brother, who had left the home a number of years earlier.
believe many a young person did take up that offer,
I know now that I am glad that I didn't
eventually served my time as a marine engineer but could
not find a job at sea in order to miss my call up to
national service, so I eventually joined the Army. I
spent six years in various locations, mainly Germany,
but after I married it wasn't the life for me so I left
and went back into engineering and eventually finished
work altogether when I was 74.
time's now spent, if not in the garden, visiting National
Trust properties and locations. We are also English
Heritage members with our next run out to visit as many
Historical and Archaeological sites through England
Scotland with two weeks spent in Orkney Islands amongst
the various Neolithic sites and digs.