Heysham History   Timeline   Images of Heysham     Visiting Heysham
HHA     Heysham Heritage Centre     Notes and Queries     Publications   

Village Characters

Polly Blacow: The last Mussel Gatherer of Heysham

by Katherine Gregson

To describe Polly, I would say she was a very strong character, not like any other person I have ever met, quite unique, hard working, sometimes I have seen quite frequently carbuncles on her fingers with the hard work she did using tools gathering the mussels,.

Her stature was slightly built, not too tall, dressed always in black with a long apron around her waist, made out of hessian sacks. In those days the sugar came in sacks, no doubt she used this which was available at the local Co-Op nearby. She wore long black wool stockings and always wore clogs. Her hair was tied in a bun at the back. Her face was sun tanned, even in winter, and very much lined with the weather beating down on her, gathering mussels at the local skear every day, winter and summer.

To help her on her travels to the skear was her trusty old horse, Joe, who pulled the cart loaded with the mussels in the bags. Sometimes during the outward journey, the weather would be fine and sunny but the dense fog would come down before she could get back to the slipway in the main street. But old Joe knew the way, his instinct told him which way to go and this must have saved Pollys life many times during her working life.

Download the full text of this article about Polly.


Jake Edmondson

A portrait in oils by Beryl McLaren

For many years Jake Edmondson manned the weighing chair scales which stood outside the Heysham Village Jubilee Institute. Only a few of these scales (originally jockey scales used on racecourses) survive in Britain.

Heysham has been home for this beam-scale since 1948; prior to this they belonged to the Rushton family of Morecambe. Jake operated the scales for visitors during each summer as a voluntary service to raise money for the Institute. He always had a smile and a cheerful welcome for all.

The scales are now safely in storage; new volunteers would be welcome to continue the tradition.

(Copyright : Beryl McLaren   07811 036116 - commissions accepted)

The photograph below right is courtesy of Barbara Langridge and taken in his later years of operating the scales.

A correspondent Shirley Crowther from Halifax has sent this photograph below of when she visited Heysham in 1973 and also the ticket she was given by the operator, who is almost certainly not Jake.

Another photo  of the scales in action by John Burke (copyright) appears on several websites.  e.g.  http://bispham2.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/village-life.html

Again in this picture the operator may not be Jake.