Wainwright's Kendal 2017

The man himself:- 

Very young Wainwright, Young Wainwright and his old Mum, Emily                                             Alfred Wainwright

The year 1941 saw Hitler making a nuisance of himself in Europe, me making a nuisance of myself by out-scriking all the other brats in the maternity ward at Bury General hospital and Alfred Wainwright moving to Kendal to be nearer to his beloved Lake District. I'm sure other thing happened as well

The book Wainwright's Way has a section in it called Wainwright's Kendal which is a 3 mile walk that explores Kendal, AW's adopted home. The walk itself is a very interesting way of taking in some of the history of Kendal, with a focus on AW's life there.

Shirley and I decided to do this walk towards the end of March 2017 as part of our intended completion of the long distance walk Wainwright's Way.

We started the walk from Kendal Leisure Centre, where we parked our car (naughty, naughty). From here we joined the footpath along the disused Lancaster Canal and soon came to Change Bridge.

                                                                                                                                                         Change Bridge

The Lancaster Canal brought coal up from the South Lancashire coal fields and transported limestone and manufactured goods back again. It was the lifeline to Kendal's prosperous past.

Moving on towards the centre of Kendal we next paused to read about Nether Bridge, before joining the riverside walk alongside the River Kent, known as Colonel's Walk.

 It was along here we joined, partway round, the walk described in the book. Just before Miller Bridge is a stone plaque in the wall which records Kendal's historic flood levels, but still not updated for the December 2015 floods, which so devastated large areas of Kendal.

 The walk then took us over Miller Bridge to the East bank of the River and then along past Aynam Mills and the faded elegance of Thorney Hills, to re-join the River near Stramongate Bridge at St. George's Parish Church. Aynam Mills were first built for the wool industry, but AW would have known them as J.T. Illingworth and sons one of Kendal's tobacco and snuff manufacturers. Thorney Hills was once a very fashionable area of town, the home of gentlemen and wealthy industrialists.

                                                                Miller Bridge

Just along Wildman Street from the church, and currently being renovated, is Castle Dairy, reputed to be Kendal's oldest occupied house. Whilst just round the corner in Station Road is Kendal Museum, where AW worked as curator for many years. We visited the museum the day after our walk as a way of passing time on a wet day. It hosts a Wainwright exhibition and can be recommended.



                                                                                                                                                                                                Stramongate Bridge                                                                                              Castle Dairy  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kendal Museum

Moving on from the Museum we went down Sandes Avenue and crossed the river again at Victoria Bridge, opened in 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. We then crossed Stricklandgate and went along Maude Street to a little park called Noble's Rest donated to the town in 1929 .by Mary Ellen Noble, in memory of her surgeon husband. Beyond this is St. Thomas's Church and home territory for AW.

                                   Noble's Rest                                                                                     St. Thomas's Church

We turned left onto Windermere Road then onto Caroline Street where at No.28 the famous artist Paul Hogarth was born.

                                                      28 Caroline Street

At the top of Caroline Street it swings left and reaches Kendal Green, where at the far end AW, the newly appointed Kendal Borough Treasurer, had his new house built, which he moved into with his family in 1950. By complying to the reqest to respect the privacy of the present owners we only glimpsed this house from the end of the Cul de sac

                                                         Kendal Green                                                                        At the end of the cul de sac is No. 38 Kendal Green 

On our return journey, we completed a loop of Kendal Green by walking down the right-hand side where there is a plaque commemorating the planting an oak in 1864, to celebrate Shakespeare's 300th. birthday, when Kendal green was officially named. Either this oak was of a very slow growing variety or it failed to withstand the ravages of time, because the one there at the moment is little more than a twig.

                                                                                                                                                                       The 'Twig'

 We are now on the route AW would have walked to and from work 4 times a day, as he came home for lunch. He used the corner shop at the junction of Green Street and Windermere Road to stock up with tobacco.

From there we turned down Windermere Road and headed along Stricklandgate (the road to the "pastureland of young cattle") passing Cumbria County Council offices on our left.

Now then it appears that during the 60's our hero had been doing a bit of 'bothering' on the sly, resulting in his wife Ruth leaving the old rascal and eventually divorcing him. It was in the register office in the County Council offices AW married his love Betty in March 1970.

The County Council offices aren't much to look at, but as we moved along Stricklandgate and on towards Market Place and Highgate there was certainly plenty to take in. Although we didn't browse into all the numerous yards and ginnels coming off the Main Street, particularly as it was now raining.

 In the Market Square is an interesting signpost, which showed us as being 4662 miles away from Mount Everest. Maybe an idea for a long distance multi stage walk for us next year!!!???????

Across the way is Wainwright's Yard, a slightly bizarre tribute to the Wainwright name in the form of a shopping development.         Neither a tobacconist nor an old map seller to be seen! Although we didn't go in, it is apparently still worth a visit as it hosts a well designed display of AW's sket



                                              AW's Corner Shop 


                                 Black Hall - Now the Bristly Hog Coffee House

                                                      Stricklandgate House

                                                   The Market Square

                                                Wainwright's Yard                                                                      


Arriving at the Town Hall we are now at the official start/finish of the walk, but having joined the walk part way round we still have more to do.

With there being no public loos in evidence in Kendal it is worth noting the Town Hall loos are open for public use. A facility we gratefully accepted.

The Town Hall was where AW worked from 1941 to his retirement in 1967. Incidentally this is also the year his first wife left him. Maybe him being at home more during the day was the last straw for her!

By the way, the weather hadn't suddenly taken a change for the better at this point in our walk. The adjacent picture was taken the day before under far better conditions.

Engraved over the Town Hall door is the Kendal coat of arms which has a representation of bale hooks (tenter hooks) and a Latin Motto that translates as "Wool is our bread", which highlights the importance of wool in the development of the town from the Middle Ages to the early 19th. century.


Moving on from the Town Hall and the start of the walk proper, we headed down Highgate passing several quaint old yards, the most interesting being the one that housed the Shakespeare Theatre, but now also includes a pub and a cinema.


                                               Kendal Town Hall

The route description makes note of a restored yard called Kendal Colin Croft, which we thought was a bit grotty, but makes no comment of the well restored and interesting Shakespeare Theatre yard and is well worth viewing. Wool money built most of Kendal's oldest buildings like the 1659 Sandes Hospital, a school and almshouses.

                                                               Sandes Hospital                                                                                                                                                                                             


                                                                                                                                                                                                The Bishop Blaize Inn

Now you may ask what's significant about the The Bishop Blaize? To you maybe nothing, but to me it brings back memories of my mis-spent youth, because it was in The Bishop Blaize pub in Rawtenstall I achieved '3 in a bed'. No! nothing kinky, but 3 darts in treble twenty, the maximum score you can get with one throw. I only ever did it twice, the other time was in the Wasdale Head. Somehow I don't think AW would have been too impressed. I often wondered who Bishop Blaize was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Kendal Parish Church

We didn't go into the church on this walk, but to pass a bit of time on, on a rainy day, the day after our walk we gave it a visit. The porch contains a list of the vicars showing an unbroken succession from 1190, whilst inside you can pick up a leaflet taking you to 20 points of great interest. For one did you know it was an influx of Flemish weavers in the 15th. Century that started the town's woollen industry and it's rise to prosperity - no Brexit then! They even built an aisle in the church to accommmodate them. Other emminent names like Strickland, Parr, Saint Thomas-a-Beckett, Bellingham and Romney abound. We must have spent a very interesting hour looking round and can recommend the church as a place to visit. No mention of AW though, hallowed ground to him must have been the Lake District Fells.

We passed one more point of interest before completing the loop of our walk, and that was the old Grammar School. Although as part of doing Wainwright's Way we went up to Kendal Castle, once the home of the Parr family. No traceable connection to the Parrs of West Lancs LDWA, but the family of Lady Katherine Parr, who became Queen Katherine when she married Henry the 8th. Both our visit to Kendal Museum and after reading the guide book more thoroughly we realised we had only touched Kendal's history and AW's life.

One such example is an information plaque in Stramongate/Finkle Street indicates the location of butcher's shops and a slaughter house. It makes you realise what a filthy mess the streets must of been in in by-gone times. It describes how blood and offal would flow down the gutter from these premises to the river and although the businesses paid the Council half a crown each for it to be cleaned up, it was only done once a week and became known as 'stinking lane'.

                                            The old Grammar School                                                                                  Kendal Castle

Hope There's something in the above that interests you and hasn't bored your pants off.