RED LEY HOUSE - Walney Island

 

Red Ley House was built in 1914 by a man of German extraction, and believed locally to be a spy, possibly because Red Ley house was so isolated and he had an interest in early radio and telegraphy. The house itself was constructed of red-blue fire bricks and sported a red tiled roof. All the doors and window frames, stairs and most floors were oak. There was a very handsome large knocker on the front door in the shape of a dragonís head which I am informed, the last occupant bitterly regretted not taking with her when she was forced out.

There was a large bedroom  on the left as you went in the north facing front door . The stairs ahead and another smaller bedroom at the end of the passage, which had previously been an engine house that had been altered by having a door  knocked through from the hall and the original door bricked up, it also had a concrete floor and was described as being very cold.  When entering and turning to the right of the front door you were led to a large living room which had a cooking range and an enormous bath, the length of the room. This was constructed of brick and could have held six to eight sitting, it was tiled in turquoise blue tiles and  was three-feet (one-meter approx) high and had two large oak lids on it, which when lifted were left to lean against the wall. The bath was eventually removed and replaced with a modern bathroom, which incorporated a shower system. 

The kitchen went off the living room and was fully fitted, even today it would possibly be considered very modern, apart from the sink, which was  long, wide and shallow with the taps high above it. The plumbing was fully equipped with a hot water system,  mains water and heated by the range which was never allowed to go out. Next to the sink there was a long  worktop made of black slate with shelves below, a dropdown table in the window, and  a floor to ceiling cupboard on the other wall, with more cupboards with drawers beneath next to it, then a broom cupboard and hanging space. All the wood in the kitchen was pine and the floor tessellated  red tiles.   

There was no electricity within the house, only oil lamps and oil cookers. A fairly big and sunny sitting room led from the living room which had three windows, two facing west and one facing south , but it did lack the northern views of Black  Combe and the surrounding Lakeland hills, which the living room had. Upstairs there was one very large room and an attic which had a door of about four-feet (1.2 meter approx) high. From the upstairs bedroom window were views of the hills and Walney channel.

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When going to town occupants of the house would run upstairs to check the state of the channel, then decide whether to go over the footbridge or get the bus from the bottom of North Scale, which only traveled to the end of the promenade then. Another option would be to go down to the channel and get the boatman to row them across. The ferry master Mr. Jackson would row across halfway to the bridge. then back down again to the jetty at the other side at high tide after making only a 1d per adult and 1/2d per child charge. There would be a down side though, because if the ferry master wasn't available it would necessitate a walk across the channel, through Cocken tunnel and into town, and get a bus back. A long way home with heavy shopping to carry.  

With Red Ley House there were over two acres of land, half of which was garden and the other which would be let to 'would be' campers in the summer. The last occupants of the house would be fairly self sufficient by keeping chickens, a few ducks and geese for the eggs and almost all of their vegtables would be home grown.  There were two greenhouses for growing tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, radishes and even a grapevine. 

After a brief period of the house being leased it was requisitioned and subsequently demolished to make way for the 'new' airfield, together with both the farm and the windmill.  The Air Ministry continued to pay the owners a rent 'as set in 1938' until  the summer of 1953, when they then offered to pay the price that had paid during 1926/7,  or alternatively keep the land, but without access to it. Although the last occupants of the farm did not own it they were still going to lose their livelihood, so were offered another farm at Lowick. 

See also: Red Ley Lane

To read the last owners unedited version click here

 

 

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