My Birthday in 1809 – by Eleanor Sowerby

My Birthday

Breakfast at my house on my eighth birthday in 1809 is something I remember because Mum made porridge for me and my four brothers and sisters, then Dad told me to change Lizzie’s nappy, something I hated.

Charlotte and I normally walked to school. “It’s raining outside girls you need to put on your coat and boots”, said Mum. “They will be soaked before they get to school”, remarked Dad; “How about you ride with me to Dukesfield? I have to take the cart to the cartrite to have a damaged wheel repaired so it might as well be today”. We were excited this was a real treat.

Dad hitched ‘Patience’ to the cart which had a waterproof sheet made from the village, old, show tent. Charlotte and I climbed onto the front of the cart with Dad and we pulled the cover over us as protection from the rain.

Off we went. “Right girls lets hear the times tables” said Dad. Charlotte and I practised our tables, we sang some songs and then suddenly a wheel fell off the cart. Charlotte and I slid off sideways onto the road and right into a puddle. We were soaked. “Well you can’t go to school like that”, said Dad “Let’s get you to Grandma’s she’ll know what to do”. Grandma heated some water from her rain barrel and filled her tin bath in front of her fire, both Charlotte and I stripped off our wet clothes and had a wonderful warm bath. Our clothes dried hanging in front of her fire while Grandma gave us our lessons just as if we had been to school as usual. Dad got his wheel fixed and picked us up on his way home. What a story we had to tell our teacher next day.

Written by Eleanor Sowerby aged 212 years (2013)- born in 1801

The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467