On a bright and breezy morning 40+ Mothers’ Union members, husbands, family and friends met in Laurel Street, to await the coach which would take us to Carnforth Railway Station and Heritage centre for the annual trip.
After a pleasant drive through north Lancashire, and having been warned against eating too much in the station buffet, we arrived outside the station in a very heavy downpour. The driver asked us to ‘stay put’ until he had negotiated a very sharp turn and parked the coach in the station yard. By this time the rain had stopped and all were able to get off and go under cover onto the station platform.
On entering the station proper we were taken back some 70 years, (in some cases our childhood), with typical signs, benches, suitcases and laden trolleys, and holiday and safety posters from that time, adorning the walls. One whole room was dedicated to the life of David Lean – the producer of the film “Brief Encounter”, part of which was filmed at Carnforth station. There was a small cinema, with “Brief Encounter” playing non-stop, with typical old-fashioned seating, where you could watch as much, or as little of the film as you wished.
Making your way to the station buffet – part of this was in the former station master’s office – you could partake of refreshments. On leaving to re-join the coach, the party was greeted by David & Sue Nuttall and Cee-Cee.
After another short journey, and along some very narrow lanes, we arrived at Leighton Hall, to be guided straight into the refreshment rooms, where some very heavily laden tables were awaiting our arrival.
Feeling suitably replenished, the party assembled outside the ‘Music Room’, where Mrs. Reynolds – the Lady of the House – gave us an introduction to the building; originally started some 800 years ago, its subsequent demolition, re-building and many additions and alterations. Mrs. Reynolds, a very humorous speaker, then guided the group through the downstairs rooms – the library, dining room and hall – giving more details about the family, which included the famous ‘Gillow’ furniture manufacturers. She spoke about much of the furniture, especially the dining table, which could be extended to seat up to 24 people, or reduced to a much smaller table without anybody getting ‘a leg’! There was also a smaller ‘Daisy’ table which had curved leaves to drop down.
Upstairs we were shown a guest bedroom, with a four poster bed, which had original hangings from a family wedding several generations back. Along the corridor was an ‘Art Deco’ bathroom in green and black. From there we descended to the Music Room, where Dorothy France played the magnificent grand piano by invitation. The tour of the house over – which was very much a family home – we could explore the gardens and maze, or watch a display of raptor birds on the terrace. A Caracara bird, from Southern and Central America, ran in amongst the spectators, whilst a falcon flew overhead and swooped onto the gauntlet, worn by many of the members and young people watching (including Henry!!)
Finally it was time to re-board the coach and return to Tottington, with our thanks to the driver, an Margaret & Committee members who organised the trip.