Display of Artifacts - Meeting Report March 2017

by Chris Jenkin

21 members of the Society met in Tebay Methodist Church to hear a talk by Alan Head, who also brought at least four large boxes with an amazing array of old artefacts to show us.

Alan told the meeting that
collecting old things, from a wide variety of sources, had been a hobby of his for the past 45 of his 84 years. A Cumberland man, his stream of stories in his rich dialect entertained his audience, as he unwrapped a fascinating store of objects - what he called "louse (loose) things" - from 50 to well over 100 years old. "I don't like to see things thrown away!" he said.

Some were large and cumbersome, like a 1934 pressure cooker, or the school weighing machine, with the dial in mirror-writing and a mirror for a school nurse to read it - the former property of the Westmorland County Education Committee. Also from a school was a punishment book of 1902, with detailed records of "caned on the hand" and other penalties for various misdemeanours.

There was a wide variety of kitchen equipment of previous ages - a lethal Canadian bread knife, a Dutch oven wind-up revolving spit, a hand-wound food mixer and chopper, apple peelers which clamp to a table, various whisks, a spirtle (for stirring porridge), a sausage maker and a black pudding filler, egg beaters, tin openers, a "tatie ricer" and a Horlicks mixer!

items had a more agricultural or horticultural use: a bull nose-ring inserter, and a "humbug" - for leading a bull by
its nose ring; a mole trap, a hand-operated reciprocating hedge cutter, a horse's nose fly protector (no one could guess what that was!), a 6-fold mouse trap, and a horse-rope "sinker" (to stop a rope jerking if the horse shied).

showed us varied items "for the ladies": silk and lisle stockings, a case of delicate razors and shingle clippers, a hair bun
clip, a glove stretcher.

And some things defy categorization: a Tibetan prayer stone (complete with English translation); packs of cards with a 3d tax for the Ace of Spades, a wall-paper trimmer, a Bakelite tie press, a string-operated drill, various pairs of specs and pince-nez, and numerous locks, including a "spend-a-penny" one from a Penrith public loo door.

Alan's entertaining and humorous presentation spiced with many anecdotes and old memories, coupled with his seemingly endless supply of mysterious and fascinating objects, kept his audience amused and intrigued for
nearly two hours.