The cow’us with three names

We’ve already mentioned Kierton (or is it spelt Kearton?) cowhouse and how it got the nickname ‘Lightning House’ when it was struck by a bolt of lightning in a previous blog post. Researcher Glenda Calvert has been out and about talking to the local farmers and she has discovered that it actually has a third name – ‘Burnt Down Spot’.

Several people still remember the day it happened:

“I can remember, there was thunderstorm, and we were having tea in the kitchen and we see’ed, like a bolt of lightening come down, just up on Kisdon there. Then after, not very long after, see a plume of smoke going up. So we went up to see what had happened. It [the barn] had been struck. Then fire brigade came and knocked windows out, then…it went faster than ever! [laughs]…slates were exploding like…yeah, y’didn’t go so near!”

Tom Metcalfe (74) formerly of Usha Gap Farm

Lightning House or ‘Burnt Down Spot’ (photo: Glenda Calvert)

Lightning House

We’ll be sharing some of the fantastic stories we’ve collected about the cowhouses of Muker parish on this blog and here is one that our researcher Glenda Calvert tracked down – she’d heard rumour of a cowhouse struck by a lightning bolt and eventually found the story behind it. Here it is as told to her by Raymond Parker formerly of Kisdon Farm:The Lightning House aka Kierton cowhouse

“I think it would be ’61…[a summer storm?]..yes, it must have been latter end of August , a really bad storm, and there was this big flash and bang, where we were milking and me mother, she was frightened of thunder and she came out to us and after this bang she said oh you’d better look out, I think that must have done some damage and when we looked out we could just see this building roof and smoke just coming out of it. [And how far from the homestead was this?]…about  a hundred yards. So we went and thunderbolt must have gone in the top and it just like starting to burn, on top of hay mew, so, well, we went and tried to get some water but there wasn’t much about and, it had put telephone off, so mother went down to Usha Gap to ring for fire brigade, which they came, but they couldn’t really do anything. It just had to burn itself out…[this was after haytime?] aye, yes, it was full of hay, was t’hay mew [small bales or loose hay?] oh, all loose. [Just a hay mew on its own or was it a cow’us, and was it empty being summer?] Oh cow’us..actually I think there was a young calf in, put in for some reason, anyway we got it out alright, I don’t know why we put it in there, we got it out and then…it was on evening, 5 or 6 o’clock when it…and it got out a grand night, sunny fine night again. And there was a lot of people came up to look at it…[so was it actually flames?]..oh aye. Walls kept standing, but all roof came in and all woodwork inside was all gutted out, it had to all be redone….[that would be a big loss, all your hay?]…aye, yes, well, I suppose it wasn’t same as if you’d got a big building where you put all your hay you know, it was just off a couple of fields that would be in that one, so it mebbe wasn’t just as bad that way…we’d have to buy some extra hay [next winter], yes and we must have been like 4 or 5 stalls short as well somewhere. We must have worked round it somehow…[So the people from Muker came?] Aye, there was quite a lot came up to see. ..Trouble was, you see,  there was no water up there of any quantity, so fire engine, well, fire brigade didn’t bring a fire engine, just came in the landrover  I think and they couldn’t really do anything about it. [Even if they had been able to hose the hay, it would have been ruined?]…oh aye, it would’ve been all ruined. It really might as well burn I suppose…might’a  just have saved more of the building, but walls stayed up, they probably just pointed ‘em up a bit. All the inside walls, after, few years after, bits of stones kept breaking off with being so hot…so it’s lucky that it still stood. [So, did your family repair it?] … Well actually, it was just rented farm then so just landlords that had to do that. They got it done straight away. You could still smell it though, for years after, oh aye, the smell was there.”

[Did you used to call it Lightning House?]. “No, it was Kierton cowhouse to us”

Raymond Parker formerly of Kisdon Farm