3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Milnthorpe's such a good read

PUBLISHED: 10:30 11 April 2011 | UPDATED: 15:13 31 August 2018

Milnthorpe's such a good read

Milnthorpe's such a good read

It's half way between Land's End and John O'Groats and, as Mike Glover discovers, it's an in-between sort of place Photography by John Cocks

Market Cross in Market SquareMarket Cross in Market Square

Where is Milnthorpe? Between Carnforth and Kendal on the A6.



What is there to do? Blandford Fine Art is worth a visit and the restored Heron Corn Mill is nearby. A little further away is Levens Hall with its stunning topiary. It’s also a starting point for some good walks, especially towards the coast.



Are there refreshments? The village has three pubs with the Cross Keys probably the most prominent plus some cafes and restaurants nearby.

In his definitive history, Chronicles of Milnthorpe, writer, historian, teacher, politician and marmalade-maker extraordinaire, Roger Bingham described it as an in-between place.

The Market Cross.The Market Cross.



It is halfway between Land’s End and John O’Groats, halfway between village and town, half-way between Cumbrian and Lancastrian. If you doubt the last, listen to the local dialect.



But not fitting into an easy pigeon-hole continues to suit Milnthorpe. One word that does describe it is thriving, and, appropriately for the home of Roger, its connection to books is doing particularly well.



The primary school, which puts reading at the core of its curriculum is expanding. The library has recently doubled the hours it is open. And the local book publisher grows year on year.



The fact that Milnthorpe, with a population of about 2,000, depending which surrounding hamlets are included, has a book publishing business in its centre is surprising enough.

Local author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, at The Smithy.Local author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, at The Smithy.



That it has doubled its staff to ten in the last five years with all the challenges facing the publishing â industry, is even more remarkable.

Cicerone Press was set up by Walter Unsworth and his wife Dorothy, along with Brian and Aileen Evans 40 years ago, after moving from Preston where they ran Carmor Press. Walter still lives in Harmony Hall in Milnthorpe.



Cicerone is housed in two converted cottages in Police Square. Walter was a keen climber and walker and wanted to be nearer the Lake District. It started by publishing his accounts of great climbs, including Everest. They also published social histories, including Roger’s Chronicles.



The business was bought by Jonathon and Lesley Williams 11 years ago and under their direction has returned to its roots, focusing on outdoor titles, with guides on UK and worldwide walking, cycling and climbing.

Typically they publish about 30 books a year and have 290 in print.

They are also digital publishers (see www.cicerone.co.uk). You can explore the furthest corners of the world reading a Cicerone guide on your i-Pad.

Local author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, with his prize-winning marmaladeLocal author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, with his prize-winning marmalade

They are part way through a series of a Lakeland Fell range, but other recent titles include Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas and Hitching and Biking Peru’s Inca Trails. All books contain a narrative, maps, photographs and routes.

‘There seems to be an endless appetite for books about the Lakes, but also for treks and climbs off the beaten track throughout Europe and the rest of the World,’ said marketing manager, Sarah Spencer.



Also thriving is Milnthorpe Primary school with a rising roll of 116 three-to-eleven year olds, as well as 60 part-time nursery pupils. Their

success, confirmed by a recent Ofsted report, is based on a strategy to get children interested in books from the age of three.



‘Reading is a priority. If pupils cannot read they cannot access the rest of the curriculum properly. We aim to make sure pupils leave at 11, confident and fluent readers,’ said head teacher Carolyn Singleton, who moved to Milnthorpe from Blackpool four years ago.

Local author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, with his prize-winning marmaladeLocal author and historian, councilor Roger Bingham, with his prize-winning marmalade

The school prides itself on close links with the community, which works both ways, with readers and the local allotment society coming into the school, and pupils joining in concerts in the local church and at old people’s homes.

‘We are certainly fortunate with so many local people expressing good will to the school,’ added Ms Singleton.

Another boost to book fans in Milnthorpe came when opening hours at Milnthorpe library were extended by 85 per cent with the introduction of a new customer contact centre in the village.

The new Local Links centre is a one-stop-shop where residents can get information about council services from advisers, who will also give information on behalf of the district council, Job Centre Plus, Citizens’ Advice and Age Concern.

Milnthorpe's Local Links LibraryMilnthorpe's Local Links Library

Local links library officer Ann Proctor is trained to deal with enquiries ranging from applications for school meals grants to how to report problems with street lighting.

But the extended hours has also brought an increase in use of the library facilities.



Senior assistant in charge, Stephanie Nellist, said: ‘Books are still our main business and the extra hours have gone down well with our customers, with an increase in choice and borrowings.’



Books bring us back to Roger Bingham who as well as being a writer is also a former senior teacher in Westhoughton and Lancaster, among other places, a parish councillor, who has never missed a meeting in 31 years, a district councillor, a county councillor and President of the local Conservative Association.

Milnthorpe's Local Links Library Officer, Ann Procter.Milnthorpe's Local Links Library Officer, Ann Procter.

He was born in Milnthorpe, two months prematurely and delivered by his father the local GP, 68 years ago. He was educated locally, went to Cambridge University and then to Trinidad to study slavery, with an eye on a career in the church. Instead he went into teaching and then writing, both inspired by his love of history.

What he doesn’t know about Milnthorpe isn’t worth knowing.

But of all his achievements the one he feels most excited about this Spring is winning first prize in the military section (as his father was a commando as well as a GP) in the latest Worldwide Marmalade Festival at Dalemain, with a 1970s Women’s Institute recipe using Seville Oranges.

‘Everyone thinks I am so impractical that the first prize was the proudest achievement of my life,’ he said, with the merest hint of a twinkle of self-mockery in his eye.

0 comments

More from Out & About

Friday, September 21, 2018

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more
Clitheroe
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Lytham
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

This varied selection of walks are all within ten miles of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Read more
Arnside Silverdale
Monday, September 10, 2018

Making a television programme about the Lakes has re-affirmed Paul Rose’s deep affection for the area

Read more
Lake District
Friday, September 7, 2018

A succesful application could see the restoration of the Japanese Gardens and the creation of a water sports centre.

Read more

Is it a village? Is it a town? Who cares when the locals take such a pride in making this such a lovely place to visit

Read more
Thursday, August 30, 2018

A new survey method could unlock the secrets of the bog bush cricket in Lancashire following their discovery on Little Woolden Moss, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Ellie Sherlock joins the search.

Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Heritage venues across the region – many of them not normally open to the public – will welcome visitors this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It’s officially England’s favourite flower and if you want to see some beautiful examples, follow Linda Viney to Mawdesley

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A circular walk which skirts the Lune estuary and takes in the Lancaster Canal and the railway line.

Read more

Behind the ancient sandstone facade of Browsholme Hall is a remarkable ethos of 21st century sustainability and care for the environment.

Read more
Bowland
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Keswick really is a gem of a town – just ask anyone from jeweller Brian Fulton to mountaineering legend Sir Chris Bonington

Read more
Keswick

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search