Here are a few recollections of St Ives
I first went to St Ives in 1935,for the Silver Jubilee of George 5th but during the war (1939-1945), we stayed at Austwick with two sisters. They had both been nursery chamber maids for the Ferrand family. My father was the buyer for materials at 'Brown and Muffs' (the large departmental store in Bradford - now closed Ed). He stored various materials in the courtyard stables block, the one with the large windows. If the shop was bombed, he could start up again very quickly.
Around 1917 I went on a Workers Educational Association summer ramble to St Ives with my parents. We were courteously received by Mr William Ferrand himself who, sitting in his drawing room, told us about the history of St Ives. The high walls made the estate seem to me a kind of Bluebeard's castle but kindly Mr Ferrand did not seem like an ogre at all!
When my mother was about 16, in the early 1920s, she was working long hours every day in the St Ives mansion laundry. Washing was done in cast iron boilers and big items were wrung out in a huge mangle consisting of a trolley fitted with rollers and filled with stones. With the aid of a pulley above, the trolley was hauled over the soaking wet washing by the workers. For ironing she used two flat irons; one heating up on the boiler hearth whilst the other was in use.
On Whit Mondays we had a Sunday School treat at the field behind Coppice Pond. Mr Ferrand's son provided and served tea and currant buns. There was a punt on the pond and we'd kick a ball into the water so the punt would have to be taken out to rescue it. It never rained. Aye, they were happy days then.
My father was the estate manager and he and I used to take buckets of feed to the pheasant chicks before they were big enough to be released on to the moor.
On VE Day we had a holiday from war work at the General Electric Company. I took my bicycle and sat under a tree, a place of complete peace and tranquility.
We had our wedding reception at the mansion in 1969. It was a beutiful day and we walked by the blossoming rhododendrons around the lily pond.
In the 1930s Mrs Chapman, a widowed school teacher who lived in the mansion, tended the water garden and spent a lot of money on it. She used to sit there in summer wearing here straw hat.
People just started refering to it as Baxter's Pond because I worked on it. I was really pleased when they said they were going to name it after me.
My parents, Arthur and Amy Beckie, moved into the St Ives Lodge in 1928/9. It had an earth closet but no running water, gas or electricity. We had a bath put in the kitchen when water was laid on.
In the 1970s, whilst taking my two young children to the play ground, I met an old lady who was blind. She asked me to describe to her what I could see. I said that I was looking at the enterance to the walled garden (now the STRI area). She told me that when she was a little girl it had provided them with all their food and that the estate had been self sufficient. The walls round the garden had supported fruit trees trained against them. She then went on to tell me how she had been brought up in the Keighley road lodge and that her father had been the buttler at the mansion. When balls were held at the mansion, she and the other children would spy through the upstairs ballustrade, watching the guests arrive in their finery. My recolection is that she had said that she had been, in later years, the headmistress at Myrtle Park school.
Back in the fifties, we often came to St Ives for a walk. In those days, before myxomatosis, the estate was populated by a huge army of rabbits. One sunny morning we were walking up the path that passes along the lower side of the mansion when we were seen by a mother rabbit. She started to thump the ground with one of her rear feet. Upon hearing this, small rabbits started to appear and ran into the warren. One small rabbit was not at all phased by the danger and took its time, sauntering up to the warren. As it entered the hole, the mother rabbit gave it a great swipe with here paw before following her family under ground.