Charcoal burning in the Lake District

Charcoal HayBridgeEarthburn 004
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Brian Crawley sent in these unique photographs of his charcoal burn in Cumbria, telling me:
‘I am a ‘retired’ charcoal burner and we still do an occasional traditional charcoal burn in the same area of south Cumbria.’
He says that this burn was, ‘…done at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve only about a mile from the site where your charcoal burn took place.’ This was when Richard Pilbrow produced the film of Arthur Ransome’s book Swallows & Amazons on location in the Lake District in the summer of 1973. ‘As you can see there is a charcoal burner’s hut on the site like the one used to be on your site.’
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Charcoal HayBridgeEarthburn 007
I was fascinated to see how the turf had been laid.
Charcoal HaybridgeEarthburn 006
Brian also sent photographs of the dip in the woods where I was shown around a similar hut in 1973 . He tells me, ‘I was shown the site by an acquaintance who lives close by and watched the filming as a young boy.’
Brian sent a photo of our old film location in the woods, taken about ten years ago, when you could still see the stones of the fireplace once set inside the hut. I remember the fire well. It was very smoky.
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Brian also sent me a scan of the postcard published by J Salmon showing the burn site, taken in 1972 about a year before Swallows & Amazons was filmed, featuring the same collier who helped us. ‘The postcard photo was probably taken by a local photographer and I also have other copies of charcoaling photos, taken about that time, from a book by the same photographer but they will be covered by copyright.’
Fortunately Simon Hodkin has just sent me this article that he’d kept in a scrapbook with a programme from the cinema:
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Charcoal Burners article probably late 1973
I’ve also found two of my mother’s shots of filming the sequence in 1973 that haven’t been published before. The continuity girl’s typewriter stands on a folding table in the foreground and a section of camera track can be seen to the right.
Charcoal Burners- longshot1
Behind-the-scenes on the film set of Swallows & Amazons (1974)
 
We were busy shooting the scene when the Swallows are being shown the charcoal burner’s adder, kept under the bed for luck.
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Charcoal Burners- with Sophie
Director Claude Whatham, John Franklin-Robbins, Sophie Neville and Jack Woolgar. The 35mm Panavision camera can be seen to the left of shot.
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For earlier posts describing the filming of the charcoal burner scenes please click here
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‘…we still do an occasional traditional charcoal burn in the same area of south Cumbria.’ Brian explained adding, ‘The DVD that I have is also copyrighted but a video of one of my burns is on YouTube and can be viewed via our Coppice Association website.
Stephen Sykes, who lives at Hill Top, where Arthur Ransome once lived, has sent this link to a picture of Charcoal Burning near by at Bouth by Alfred Heaton Cooper. Please click here

You can read about the evidence of charcoal burning that he has found in his own wood here.
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Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

5 thoughts on “Charcoal burning in the Lake District”

    1. This is all thanks to enthusiasts writing in with scans of photos and links. I happened to find two shot Mum took that I hadn’t used before and Stephen Sykes has just come in with another link – all good fun. I’ve just put it together.

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