Jim Smith, Audio Clip

Jim Smith
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Jim Smith (JS) talks to W.R. Mitchell (WRM) about the winter of 1947 when many sheep were lost due to the extreme weather conditions.


JS: Aye, ’47 was a bad ‘un, I’ll tell ye.

WRM: Do you remember it?

JS: I do that.

WRM: Yeah? What happened that time?

JS: Oh, we lost a lot o’ sheep. Well people did, we weren’t so bad. Gypsies come an awful lot. They buried t’sheep for t’wool.

WRM: Did they?

JS: An’ they used to pull all t’wool of it an’ take it up onto where you ‘ad a bit o’ waste ground over that railway; common ground, is it?

WRM: Yeah?

JS: Clapham Bottoms? I don’t know whether they call it Clapham Bottoms or not. And they used to ‘ave it all spread out to dry, and the smell were terrible.

WRM: What happened? The dead sheep were all dropped into a pot-hole, were they?

JS: Well, I don’t know what they did, they had to bury them like, but for t’wool; they used to pull all t’wool off ‘em an’ then tek it out round t’caravans to dry.

WRM: This was after they’d been buried?

JS: No, they took t’wool of ‘em first. They’d pull all t’wool off.

WRM: Oh, I see, yeah. This was the gypsies?

JS: Aye, an’ the smell, it were terrible.

WRM: This was before the farmers got at ‘em?

JS: No, they made ‘em tek ‘em, t’save ‘em burying ‘em, yer see?

WRM: Oh, I see. What did they do with the bodies?

JS: They’d bury ‘em, I think.

WRM: Yeah, and were there hundreds?

JS: Oh, thousands.

WRM: Of sheep?

JS: Aye, thousands went down.

WRM: What, on Ingleborough?

JS: Aye, well, an’ down in t’land, yer know; it lasted that long, yer know?

WRM: Do you remember it starting?

JS: I do that, aye.

WRM: What happened?

JS: Well, it was just some o’ similar weather as this; wet back end an’ then it come February ‘til about March.

WRM: It was a north-easter, was it?

JS: It was that. It filled all t’roads. We must have dug eight or ten times Cotes’ road out, as fast we dug it out it filled it again. To fetch all the milk and proven we went through t’field like, through our field. We ‘ad to pull t’walls down to get up to village.

WRM: And the point is that you hadn’t much warning to get the sheep down, had you?

JS: Oh, we ‘ad plenty warning. We ‘ad ‘em down, yer see?

WRM: Oh, you’d brought ‘em all down?

JS: They was down, yer see, they were down ‘ere, aye. But the trouble was they ‘adn’t watter, that was t’trouble.

WRM: So the sheep were brought down for lambing were they?

JS: Well, they didn’t lamb while April, like, but they allus come down for winter, yer see? There are not many sheep up in winter, like.

WRM: Oh, so there was nothing much up on Ingleborough?

JS: No. The fella at Dale House, Brown they called him (he’s dead now), he let all ‘orses on an’ ‘e never bothered with ‘is sheep. I went up one day an’ dead sheep were showin’ out o’ t’snow an’ t’horses were eating wool off ‘em. Hungry to death.