Letter to the Editor from Reg Gadney
Dear Pat. I was born prematurely at Malsis in the front top Dorm 10 in those days I think. Mum fell down on the ice in the snow outside the front door. I don’t know how she managed because Dad had set off to fetch Dr Barr and got stuck in the snow in Glusburn. Anyway all went well. Bear in mind we had no central heating. The place must have been perishing.Later Dad employed the services of a uniformed nurse called Nurse Wagner. Quite what my beloved Dad was doing history doesn’t relate because the German Frau Wagner was arrested as an undesirable alien and carted off. Not before she had regularly literally tied me to my cot to stop me sucking my thumb. There were of course no toys but someone made my first toy, a monkey on a swing. Here it is 70 or so years on in about the same shape as I am now!!!
I was named after Reginald Lund who basically built the mansion as it was when Dad took it on from Montagu. I think I was the first child to have been born at Malsis.
Much later there are many other remarkable characters who came and went. My grandmother, Beta, Mrs Gadney Snr. who lived in Bell House, Dad’s Mama. My mother was known as Mrs Gadney Jnr. My mother’s Mama, Mrs Lilley or Sou who came to live in Cross Hills. Harry Cockshott, a good watercolorist. Miss Lee. Harold Phillips, Cricket master. Even Frank Bell, the enormous heavyweight boxer from Barnoldswick who beat Tommy Farr after the war and taught me Boxing. Ian Scott Clark. Frank Macadam. Edward Barbour. Joan Cubitt. Brenda Steadman. (Dad’s secretary) Mr Petty the Cross Hills Martins bank manager. The legendary Matron, West. Marjorie Stephens, another secretary who came from Martins Bank. Rose Foley, doyenne of the Irish maids. And Sarah Butterfield. (My brother John’s nurse.) Famously, Buttie as she was known asked my mother what all the fuss was about Lady Chatterley and the four letter word and wanted to know what the word was. Mum told here it was Damn. And Buttie said ‘But damn is only three letters….’ Ernest and Peter Dearnley, father and son carpenters and maintenance men. PC Shepherd, the local copper, known as Toffee Teeth. Ronnie Stell, the farm hand and champion fell runner, who married Rita Sheldon, a very pretty maid in the late 50s. I too was rather keen on Rita.
After the war Dad decided one Christmas we should have a nameless donkey rented from Morecambe and the creature was collected in a truck by Dennis the farmhand. But it would only walk a few yards, turn round and stop. It sulked in one of the lower fields. And there was a vicious pony later that bolted with me on it.Dad’s idea was that I should learn to ride on it. No use. Horses still terrify me.
Some of the above personalities will doubtless be remembered by Old Malsis Boys.
Warmest good wishes to all from a chilly London.