CHURCH STREET AND THE BIG TREE.


Church St. contains some of the oldest cottages in Ambleside, on the Royal Oak side of the road Glen's grocers shop is reputed to be one of the oldest grocers shop in England. It belonged to John Kelsick who left money to be used for the children of Ambleside. The Ambleside boys' school was built with the money and later the Grammar School, now part of the college. In latter years the shop has been Charlie Gibson's, Allonby's, Trevor Woodburn's, Glen's, Edmondson's, and now it is no longer a grocers, but is the Oxfam Charity shop.

Church St seems to be a misnomer as the street does not lead to the Church and before the new church of St Mary's was built in 1854 it was known as Ratten Row. At this time a great deal of building took place, and I suppose that before this it could have been the nearest street to the church, Compston Rd and Vicarage road came later.

Halfway down the street was Mammy Dugdale's sweet shop. Mammy Dugdale always seemed old to us, and we children went to her shop to spend our Saturday pennies. She was kind to us and was famous for her Clagem, a minty confection she made. It was cooked in an old black iron pan over her kitchen fire, then pulled into a long sausage and curled into a spiral. We small ones used to climb onto the pop bottle crates to reach the counter and she used to chop the toffee into small pieces with a little silver hammer.

Why was it called Clagem? Because it clagged up our teeth and was an excellent way of extracting our milk teeth.

After she retired Mammy Dugdale passed the recipe on to another sweet shop proprietress but it never tasted the same. We were sure the secret was in Mammy Dugdale spitting on her hands in order to handle the hot toffee.

Outside the Conservative Club in the middle of the street was the big tree. It was a huge old sycamore tree known affectionally to us all as 't' big tree. As children we played round it and in our imagination it became many things in our games. Life was safe then and even after dark we were allowed to play there under the gas lamp. It has now been sacrificed to the car traffic. Mammy Dugdale died in the 50's,the passing of an era.