Allonby - three characters
Solway Plain - past and present by the Holme St Cuthbert History Group



J J Heskett
A photograph by Joseph J. Heskett; it is thought the subject is his father.
Joseph J. Heskett was Allonby's village shoemaker in the early 1900s. He was also a prize-winning bass vocalist, a reciter and writer in Cumberland dialect as well as a poet and a photographer.

He was born in Allonby in 1865. His father was also a shoemaker, his mother was Francis Costin. In 1891, he married Eleanor Litt at the Wesleyan Chapel in Cockermouth and, around 1903, emigrated to Vancouver with his family. After settling in Canada, he continued to write poems about Allonby in the 'West Cumberland Times' for many years.

His masterpiece is 'Allonby - Sixty Years Ago' which he first recited at a Widow's Benefit Concert in 1901. This epic, of some thirty-nine verses mentions many Allonby families and names the boats they owned:-

"You've heard of the 'Favourite Sally',
"And Dan Saul's 'Good Intent',
"Of Beeby's 'Black Duck' and Boustead's 'Aid',
"That to sea for herrings went."

"And also of Lowse's 'Dinah',
"Edgar's 'Mary' and Costin's 'Delight',
"Musgraves 'Laal Ann' and 'Friendship',
"Which sailed from our shores each night"

Click here to download the full poem

Title page of 'Allonby Sixty Years Ago'
From the original 1901 publication.
JJ Heskett with his son

Click on the calendar pages for a full-size image
After settling in Vancouver, JJ Heskett continued his trades as both a shoemaker and a poet. He traded as 'The Shoe Doctor' and is seen above, outside the shop, with his son Thomas William.

He used his poetic talents to advertise the business and published a calendar each year. The 1927 edition can be seen on the right.
Moore Kitchen


Moore was brought up in the Reading Room house at Allonby. He was not always dressed as smartly as he is in this photograph. He was a coal miner and walked from Allonby to work at Birkby Pit every day. Even if he took the footpath over the fields this would have meant an eight-mile (13km) round trip - six days a week.

He was an amateur taxidermist with a particular fascination for seabirds. On his walk to work, he would often find dead specimens along the way. He took them home for mounting and, eventually, his collection was put on display in the Reading Room.
Moore Kitchen
Amos Brookless Amos Hayton Bookless

Amos was born in 1877. His mother was Mary Hayton, a farmer's daughter from Edderside but his father seems to have been an 'off-comer'.
He lost both parents when he was three-years-old and was raised by relatives in Allonby.

He was the leading light in the village's social set and a keen sportsman. He was a member of Allonby's tennis club, played cricket, and was captain of the Golf Club. He also liked fishing and followed the hunt.

He took part in musical concerts in the village hall, often singing humorous songs. His many friends organised a dinner in his honour at the Ship Hotel before he left to serve in France during the First World War.

The 1901 Census records Amos's occupation as a draper but he also chauffeured part-time for Squire Richmond from Clifton Hall, who spent the summer months at Belmont, Bankmill.

He certainly wasn't camera-shy. He seems to pop-up in many of the Allonby photographs, often wearing a striped blazer, straw hat and (slightly short) white trousers.

Photographs

Some shots from Amos's Photograph Album


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Three Allonby Characters