15 August 2003

Ullswater: The Corlett's.
Our friends, the Corlett's lived at Sharrow Cottages some way towards Howtown, on the hillside, overlooking the lake. The one they lived in was was the middle one of the block of 3.

The Corlett's had 3 daughters Annie, Jean and Elsie. Mrs Corlett was a cheerful person and quite noisy and loving to "pull ones leg", often mine. Mr Corlett was a retired, quiet man and had been a gardener at a large house, close by.

Elsie, the youngest worked in a shoe shop in Penrith, McVities. Jean the middle daughter had joined the WAAFs in the early part of WW2. Annie, the eldest I'm not sure what here work was now. Sometimes if our parents were out late, usually at the weekend or possibly visiting relatives in west Cumberland, brother John and I sometimes stayed at the Corlett's.

The 3 cottages did not have electricity and as the evenings dimmed, Mrs Corlett would bring a large table lamp off the top of the piano and place in the middle of the dining table. The lamp was a pressurized type and was operated by paraffin. The lamp had a glass flue, a piece called a mantle, which glowed whitely when, with the wick lit and the paraffin vapour was pressurized by pumping and  fed to the mantle. The light from the table lamp lit the room brightly.

There was only an outside toilet, set some distance to the rear of the house and needed cleaning out periodically. This was quite common in country areas and not uncommon in towns and sometimes built-up areas. Some houses did have cesspit's or septic tanks fitted, but this was costly. 

After WW2 was over, the following years showed an improvement, especially with electricity supply.

On one of our periodic visits to the Corlett's, Mrs. Corlett was all a-buzz, after a cup of tea we were whisked up stairs. At the top of the stairs was a door to a small bedroom. With an almost theatrical throw, she flung open the door, wide. There standing before us, was a brand new indoor toilet. After our first surprised shock we were all talking together, asking questions. I'm not sure what type the toilet was now, whether it was a wet or dry type.

Other times I remember well was winter. In the decade of the 1940s, this period was particularly cold. Just down from the Corlett's was a fair sized pond close to the road. The pond used to freeze over in winter, thick enough to skate on. The Corlett girls all had skates and used to use them. They had at least one small pair which I used to attempt to skate with but I wasn't very good.

During our visit to the area in the year 2000, I noticed the pond area no longer had water. It was just grass and weeds. As I knew it over 1940s, the pond was full all the year round. The pond was situated where the stream which flows in front Sharrow Cottages, then down the hillside at an angle then crossing the road and into the lake. The stream did not connect to the pond.

Next door, lived Mr and Mrs Platt. I mentioned Mr Platt earlier with us showing of a light during the WW2 blackout. Quite some years later after WW2 was over and we had left Sharrow Bay. The Platt's passed away. The house became vacant, the youngest daughter Elsie, with permission took over the cottage to run as a rental for both summertime visitors. It was also popular with out of season climbers, walkers and fishermen, and not forgetting its spectacular views over Ullswater.

When the cottage was initially taken over and in the process of being refurbished, the attic was inspected. A heavy box was found and removed. When opened it contained a large number crown and halve crown coins. Being honest people, the Corlett's got in touch with the solicitors who  had handled the Platt's affairs. What happened from here on I don't fully know, other than the Platt's did not have any offspring and did not seem to have any near relatives.


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