11 November 2003

Ullswater Sharrow Bay Final Days

All good things have to come to an end and life on Ullswater was no exception. The year was 1948; I was 14 years old and the Nelson's, the owners of Sharrow Bay estate decided reluctantly, to sell Sharrow Bay.

The wartime government of the Conservatives was ousted in 1946 and the people, tired of rationing and austerity elected Labour to govern the country. One of the policies of Labour was to reduce the incomes of the rich and one of the ways by savage taxation. Income tax of all people over a certain level of income was set at 19/6 in the pound. People like the Nelson's were badly hit. Their lifestyle began to suffer and they were forced by these circumstances to consider selling Sharrow Bay and retiring to the warm south coast of England.

By 1948 the wheels were in motion, Sharrow Bay was advertised and the auctioneers moved in to catalogue the contents and prepare the sale. I cannot be certain, but I have a strong feeling that the Nelson's moved away to their new home it Budleigh Salterton, Devon leaving Dad in charge of the day to day running of Sharrow Bay as they did when they went overseas on extended cruises to warmer climes during the British winter. The sale of Sharrow Bay was left to the real estate people and the sale of effects to the auction people. Often in Britain these were from the same firm.

As my mind meanders back to 1948 I think of the wrench it must have been for the Nelson's to leave this beautiful place. It was more beautiful then than it is now as a hotel. I'm not, I hope being critical of the present owners but the condition of the gardens, grounds and woods where much higher on the list of requirements then than now. They were there to give personal pleasure to the Nelson's and we took pleasure of the beauty too.

I remember the day the auction took place; it covered more than a single day to complete. The auctioneers had been busy for days cataloguing everything and then issuing a printed catalogue. As I said everything had to go, from the overseas walking stick collection of Mr Nelson and the valuable worldwide doll collection of Mrs. Nelson, the floor to ceiling book collection from the library, beautiful furniture and silver, down to the large wine cellar contents. There were Persian rugs and Japanese porcelain to go, down to the lowly furnishings of the servants’ quarters and cutlery, estate tools, the 2 luxury cars and the boat sitting in the boathouse.

The only things the Nelson's were able to take were a few smaller items and mementoes. They were going to Budleigh Salterton to live in a suite of rooms at a resident ional hotel, which was furnished.

Now that Sharrow Bay was sold we had to move of course and Dad had to find new employment. At this period of time, 1948 Dad was 41 and Mum was a year younger at 40. I sit here now and contemplate; they were a similar age to Gillian and Ian.

One-day Mum's eldest brother, John Brough wrote to say that a job was on offer near to where he lived. John was the farm manager of Kidside Farm and a man by the name of Kenyon resident at Kidside House was looking for someone. It was a much smaller place than Dad was used to and Dad did not reply immediately. However time was marching on towards sale completion of Sharrow Bay and Dad and Mum with some urging of John and I decided to take the position. So we moved south to Milnthorpe, still in Westmorland, but only just.

I was delighted we were going. John and Jessie Brough's children, Norman, older than I, Vera and I similar in age, we had spent considerable time together in the past. And, Milnthorpe had its own Cinema, just a mile and a half from Kidside and unlike Sharrow and Pooley Bridge; Milnthorpe had lots of young people, too. I was really keen to leave Ullswater, the beauty of Ullswater was not very important to a boy of 14.

So we left Sharrow Bay and so began the start of another phase of my life in the year of 1948.

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