The following are comments and thoughts about the dig and the Calgarth Estate from visitors who once lived on it – both from local residents who had lived for several years at Calgarth – and from two of the child Holocaust Survivors who stayed here for a while in 1945/6.
“I was really excited to hear about the archaeological dig at Calgarth as for a number of years I have been researching the history of the Calgarth site and area. To be able to visit the exhibition and dig was so interesting. The site is very important as part of the history of Windermere, not just because of the connection with the Short Brothers factory at White Cross Bay , but also that it served as a sanctuary for the Jewish Boys . To see the finds accumulated in the hall brought back memories of happy times at Nursery and Junior School at Calgarth and the stories of the community that I was brought up on at home.
Do you remember the school teachers at Calgarth school? There was Mrs Dixon, Mrs Robinson, Miss Bingham, Miss Leckie, Mrs Hall, Miss Sanderson – she was the nursery teacher – then there was Mrs Tyson, Colin Heighten – and he used to keep us in after school. He would say ‘do this homework’, and I would always be last in the queue.
They thought if you were brainy then they would look after you, but if you weren’t then they wouldn’t bother.
All the nursery kids used to go to bed in the afternoon in little camp beds.
And then we used to have the nit nurse….’get to one side, you’ve got nits, get to the other side, you’re all clear’.
There was a greengrocers’ shop and a grocery shop.
The nursery part of the school was used as the art studio when the Lakes School was built.
I can always remember the polished floors – and the smell of the wooden herring bone floors after the summer holidays. It was all nice and shiny.
We did have a front door but we never used it. We went in the back door to a little kitchen with a black leaded oven with a wash boiler in there. And the. You went into the living room, which was quite a big one really…..and the into the passage where there was a toilet and a bathroom – we were posh, we had a bath. Then there was my brother”s bedroom, then my mother and father’s and then mine and my sister’s.
That was the big hall there and that was where they did all the cooking and there was a pipe leaning out of one of those windows and we used to stand on the pipe and we used to say ‘give us a carrot’ to Mrs Warburton when she was peeling them.
I hated the school dinners.
The time and effort that you have all put into this project will surely create a huge sense of pride amongst local people, as well as a much-increased awareness of local history and the part that Calgarth played in the Boys’ road to recovery after the concentration camps.
The houses were single brick and we used to freeze in winter. There were icicles on the insides of the window.
Mother always used to talk about offering father a job on the engines (Sunderland Flying Boats) ….but he would have had to go out on the wings, so he turned it down.
We used to play in the woods all the time. We used to take our bows and play pretend archery in them.
In 1965 when the school opened, the bricks were still coming up all the time in the playing fields. Detention was to pick up the bricks.
At play time, we used to dig with our hands and sticks to try to find artefacts and mementos. All we found were red bricks which we ground up to make pretend coffee!
The classrooms and the hall, and the corridors and canteen as well as the poppy filled fields are so clear in my memory.
One week there were all bungalows. The next week there was nothing.
This doesn’t look anything like what we saw when we were here. Here there were all chalets. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Each and everyone had a bed with clean sheets, pillowcases, urinals. We couldn’t believe our eyes. We had arrived in paradise. Everything was so green, beautiful.
When they put food on the table, everyone was grabbing them and hiding them in your trousers or whatever you were wearing, because the fear was when are we going to get another piece of bread or a drink.
I used to come back here quite often. In my courting days I used to come here.
It’s for new generations to know what was going on, to let people know about the Holocaust which is the most important thing to me. Because a lot of people do deny it as well, a lot of people don’t know about it and a lot of people don’t want to know about it. And as you know, anti semitism is on the rise. There is no rhyme or reason for it.
The way I came to Windermere to start off with we didn’t know what to expect really. We knew we were coming to England. We knew we were coming to somewhere that could only be nicer than where we were.
And once we got to the Lakes and Windermere, like my friend said, it was like being in paradise. I mean all green round here, the Lakes round the corner. We used to play football, we used to play volleyball and we tried to re-live a little bit of our lives. Of course we had our own problems and we were got on very well with everyone, all of us.
The local people came to do all what was necessary. It was like coming to anew world and ever since we have been so grateful for the fact that these people put themselves out to help us.”