Lawrence Rukin


Laurie Rukin farmed all his life at Park Lodge Farm in Keld, where his grandfather and father had also been farmers. Laurie’s son later went on to farm there, making it four generations - since 1901 - of Rukins at Park Lodge. 

Laurie’s grandfather, James Rukin, whose nickname was Bob-Jim, had started work as a miner at Tan Hill Pit when he was nine years old. He earned a shilling a week and in wintertime Laurie said it was dark when he left home in the morning and dark when he got back. The only time his grandfather saw daylight at that time of year was on a Sunday.

Laurie’s father John was also the local postman in the dale. He did this job, as well as farming, for over 40 years, starting in 1912. John walked his post round every day except in summer when he sometimes took his bicycle. He delivered mail to Susan Peacock, the landlady at the Tan Hill Inn, who sometimes gave him a cup of tea when he got up there.

Laurie was part of a group in the 1930s called The Keld Singers. Along with his three uncles, Dick, Chris and Jim ‘Mosser’ Alderson, they would give performances around the dale and were once on the radio, broadcasting from Newcastle. They also sang together in the chapel at Thwaite. Laurie remembers another member joining them for a while. His name was Cyril Barningham, a farmer worker, who Laurie said had a really nice singing voice.