2013: Oxenholme’s only shop and post office up for sale

Bill Riddell: “I want to stop here.”

Oxenholme’s only shop and post office is up for sale after its owner decided he could no longer afford to cover its losses.

Bill Riddell, 63, ploughed thousands of pounds of retirement savings into Oxenholme Stores but says not enough customers use it. He has now taken up another job and daughter Dawn is running the Helmside Road business until it sells. Mr Riddell re-opened the shop in March 2010 after it been closed for more than a year and re-introduced a vital Post Office service. As well as pensions, letters and parcel postage, he introduced cash withdrawal and bank deposit facilities to encourage shoppers.

An upset Mr Riddell said: “It’s a venture I tried and it hasn’t worked. I’m not making any money here so I’ve got another job. I want to stop here. I’ve ploughed so much into it – cash wise and time. I’ve been doing 100 hour weeks but I enjoy it. The customers are good and we have a good laugh. The children in the village that come in for sweets are fantastic – well-mannered and well-behaved.”

The time-served joiner said the shop’s stock is reducing as he cannot afford to continue filling shelves as before. During their time, the father and daughter team tried new initiatives like hot pies, the National Lottery and over-the-counter Euros as well as stocking old corner shop necessities like safety pins, cotton reels, pegs and puncture repair kits. During the heavy snows and icy conditions of recent winters, Mr Riddell doorstep delivered to many of Oxenholme’s elderly residents when bus services stopped running and village roads and pavements were covered by drifts or sheet ice.

“Unfortunately, when the Post Office goes they [customers] will be back to where they were three-and-half years ago – having to go into town [Kendal],” explained Mr Riddell. “People do want a local shop and post office but don’t use it enough.”

Oxenholme resident and former councillor, John Bateson, said: “It’s very disappointing and naturally I hope someone’s takes it on. It’s very important to have a post office in the village.”

Commercial sales company, Hilton Smythe, described the shop as “the hub of the community” and said the leasehold business has seven years remaining on the 10-year-lease with rent at £14,500-a-year reviewed annually.

Oxenholme is also served by a Texaco garage.

Reporter: Ellis Butcher

Published by: Westmorland Gazette, 22 August 2013

2013: When steam engines were seen at Oxenholme

From 1846 until 1968, steam locomotives were stationed at the Oxenholme Shed, to assist trains up the bank to Grayrigg. This photograph features the last steam engine to perform this duty on May 4, 1968. The engine was a British Rail Standard Class 5.

2013_oxenholme train.jpg-pwrt3

A heavy-laden train coming down from London often stopped at Oxenholme for a locomotive from the shed to be run to the rear of the train to help it up Grayrigg Bank. A whistle signal was given on the approach to Oxenholme Station to alert the staff for the need for a ‘banking’ engine. Once up Grayrigg Bank the banker would then return to Oxenholme to await its next job. Engines to help the train go over Shap Fell were situated at Tebay Junction. The last steam engine withdrawn from service on British Rail was in August 1968.

Westmorland Gazette, Thursday 3 January 2013

2008: Oxenholme Station car park contract awarded

Network Rail has awarded J Murphy and Son Ltd the contract to build a new car park at Oxenholme station as part of a £90m initiative to provide additional car parking spaces at a number of stations on the west coast main line.

Work is expected to start in the autumn and the project is anticipated to be finished by spring 2009, increasing the total number of spaces from about 80 to approximately 130, although precise numbers have yet to be determined.

David Golding, Network Rail’s Route Enhancements Manager said: “More passengers are travelling by train than ever before and the demand for rail travel is set to continue to rise. We predict that a large proportion of these extra passengers will drive to the station, putting more strain on the car park. Awarding the contract is a positive step towards the work actually starting.”

Further details of the project will be available nearer to the start of work. Network Rail and Virgin Trains will advise local residents and users of the car park about the scheme and measures that will be put in place whilst it is underway.

Westmorland Gazette, Monday 21 July 2008

2001: Committee rejects Oxenholme name change

Plans to change the name of Oxenholme Station to ‘Kendal – The Lake District’, have been rejected by South Lakeland District Council’s economic development committee.

Kendal Tourism Group, a think tank of Kendal hoteliers, traders and South Lakeland District Council officers charged with boosting the town’s tourist traffic, has proposed the change for Oxenholme and asked the committee to give its blessing.

The group believes that changing the station’s name to link Kendal more closely with the Lake District would persuade more tourists to see the town as a holiday destination in its own right.
But Coun. Philip Ball, SLDC member for Oxenholme, appeared before the committee to make an impassioned plea to reject the proposal.

Mr Ball said: “When I first read of this in the Gazette I was most upset, because Oxenholme had had no consultation.

“I have since consulted people in Oxenholme and nobody wants it changing.

Kendal Town Council is upset, the Lakes Line action group is totally opposed and both Conservative and Labour prospective parliamentary candidates are totally opposed to it.

I have yet to come across anybody who is happy with a change of name,” he said, “Oxenholme has its own identity.”

Many councillors voiced their opposition to the move and the committee voted unanimously to reject the name change.

Westmorland Gazette, Tuesday 5 June 2001

1965: Public Tributes after Manhunt

From our Correspondent – Kendal, Feb 11

The inquest on Police-constable George William McKinley Russell, aged 35, of Springfield Road, Carlisle, victim of the shooting at Oxenholme, was formally opened at Kendal police headquarters today.

The proceedings, before Mr. L. G. Powell, Coroner for south Westmorland, lasted one minute. Brief evidence of identification was given by the policeman’s father. The Coroner then said he would adjourn the inquest seven days at a time until the hearing could proceed.

Appreciation of the services of those who had taken part in the manhunt on Wednesday was paid at Kendal today by Mr. F. Williamson, Chief Constable of Cumberland, Westmorland and Carlisle.
Mr. Williamson acknowledged the excellent police work. He said he wished to place on record the fact that the police had received a tremendous number of expressions of sympathy and support from members of the public all over the country “which in some measure minimizes the deep distress which we all feel at this time”.

The condition of Police-constable Archibald, of Carlisle, who was seriously injured in the shooting, showed signs of improvement today.

The man, other than the police officers, who was injured on Wednesday, was named yesterday as John Middleton, aged 24, a native of Kendal, recently of no fixed address, whose wife lives in Morley Road, Warrington, Lancashire. Mr. John Dagg, assistant Chief Constable of Cumberland, Westmorland and Carlisle, said that Middleton, who is seriously ill in hospital with wounds, had relatives in the Sedbergh area near Kendal.

The Times, Friday 12 February, 1965

1954: First aid award for railman

For his prompt action in giving first aid to an injured crane driver at Oxenholme Station on May 17, 1953, Mr John McDermott, 24, Elmsley Street, Preston, Assistant District Signalmen’s Inspector at Lancaster Castle Station, will receive an award in London to-day (Friday) from Mr. J. W. Watkins, Chief Regional Manager of the London Midland Region of British Railways.

GIRDER SLIPPED

Mr. McDermott was in charge of single line working and diversion of traffic at Oxenholme when a new station roof was being erected. The crane driver, Mr. J. Parry, of Bangor, North Wales, was guiding a girder into position when it slipped and fell on him causing him multiple injuries.

Mr. McDermott, who is Captain of the Preston Station Ambulance Corps, treated Mr. Parry before a doctor arrived. The doctor commended Mr. McDermott for his prompt action and Mr. Parry later fully recovered.

Mr. McDermott is a former signalman. He was controller in the District Operating Superintendent’s office at Preston and has been at Lancaster since May 1952.

Lancaster Guardian 24 September 1954

1950: End of a famous pack

The Oxenholme Hunt, which for 80 years has played a colourful part in the country life of South Westmorland, was wound up on Saturday when the last hound left the Gatebeck kennels for a North-country pack. A few days ago nine hounds were sent to join the drag-hound pack of which Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands is Master. Now for the first time for 72 years the Gatebeck kennels are empty of horse and hound. The district is also covered by the Lunesdale pack of fell foxhounds, and lack of funds has compelled the keen band of Oxenholme followers, who have kept the pack going in recent years, to wind it up.

The Oxenholme saw its greatest days under the late Mr. Charles H. Wilson, who was Master from 1878 to 1918. From his time the pack hunted red deer but this quarry largely disappeared from the South Westmorland countryside during the Second World War, and there had to be a change to fox hunting with an occasional “find” of deer in the many noted coverts. The most famous servant of the pack was “Hunty Dick” Jackson who spent half a century as its kennel huntsman.

Yorkshire Post, 26 June 1950

1949: They saved expresses

Two railway linesmen who were called out in the middle of the night to do some electrical repairs, found one of the lines over the 100ft.-high Lambrigg Viaduct, Westmorland, on the main Euston-Carlisle route was broken.

By their action in halting expresses while temporary repairs were carried out, they probably averted a disaster.

This was stated at Oxenholme, near Kendal, yesterday, when cheques were presented to the men – Herbert Stephenson, of Seven Hill Place, Oxenholme, and his assistant, Richard Haythornthwaite – by British Railways.

Yorkshire Post, Friday 16 December 1949