A NEW SEAT AT OAKBANK

There is a long-standing tradition at Oakbank that the seat next to the notice-board was originally erected to commemorate the men from the cottages and the mill who were lost in the First World War: Thomas Bailey, John and James Blezard, Thomas Reuben Ellwood and Ernest Henshaw.

Following a series of unfortunate collisions from motor vehicles in recent years and in conjunction with last year’s Men on the Monument exhibition the Parish Council agreed to a request from Oakbank residents to put money into repairing the old seat. Events, however, overtook the seat and finally it had to be written-off. Happily though, the budget was just sufficient for a new metal frame to be commissioned and, with the benefit of a donation by Joe Stables of three elm planks which had been sawn at Oakbank Mill from trees felled nearby due to Dutch Elm disease, it has been possible to reinstate this local landmark.

A memorial plaque with the following inscription shown on the right has been attached. Although we are not aware of any surviving relatives locally it seemed fitting that proper recognition should be given to these men to perpetuate their memory beyond the current generation of residents. We are hoping to organise an informal dedication at some point in the near future. When the mill was active the seat used to accommodate spectators at the sand pit where quoits were played as an evening recreation but it is unlikely that this will ever be reinstated as the lane is now a great deal busier with traffic. Casual passers-by will still be able to take their ease before ascending the steep hill to Garth Row Lane.

Another seat which suffered an untimely demise last year was the Millenium bench at the Gurnal Bridge access land, partly crushed by a falling tree. On examination it turned out to have rotted somewhat prematurely and could not be repaired but thanks to a donation of an oak plank by Bill Lloyd of Slough Farm, Docker, and the remains of an electricity pole from the woodland we have been able to restore this as well - and at nil cost! This bench overlooks the River Sprint and supplies a resting point recommended on the Skelsmergh West walk leaflet (also available via the website.)

John Chapman