Bat­ting for Con­is­ton

Lancashire Life - - Society - WORDS: Mike Glover PHO­TO­GRAPHS: Mil­ton Ha­worth

The fight­ing spririt is alive and well and get­ting things done in this pretty Lake­land vil­lage

There’s no doubt­ing the com­mu­nity spirit in Con­is­ton. With barely 1,000 res­i­dents it man­ages to pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties for lo­cals other com­mu­ni­ties have long since lost, and to draw vis­i­tors from all over the world.

They are at­tracted by the links to Victorian thinker John Ruskin, au­thor Arthur Ran­some and fa­ther and son speed kings Sir Mal­colm and Don­ald Camp­bell. There’s Con­is­ton Wa­ter for sailors, swim­mers and those who want to cruise in a steam-driven gon­dola. There are end­less walks, round the lake, up Con­is­ton Old Man or to beauty spots like Tarn Hows. There is a brew­ery, cafes, post of­fice, thriv­ing shops and in­creas­ing in­ter­est in the cop­per mines which once un­der­pinned the lo­cal econ­omy. But it is a com­mit­ment to self-reliance and de­fy­ing the march of mod­ern times which give the key to Con­is­ton’s suc­cess.

Typ­i­cal is the re­vival of the lo­cal cricket club. With its stun­ning ground in the shad­ows of Yew­dale Craggs, it has beauty on its side. More than 100 years since it was founded, how­ever, the pav­il­ion had be­come an em­bar­rass­ment, fall­ing down and with a leak­ing roof.

Grizedale Arts, a con­tem­po­rary arts res­i­dency and com­mis­sion­ing agency, now based in Con­is­ton In­sti­tute, at­tracted world­wide at­ten­tion with a com­pe­ti­tion to design a new pav­il­ion. Af­ter sev­eral years of plan­ning bat­tles, the club de­cided to go with a con­ven­tional design, rais­ing £40,000 through grants. Elec­tri­cians, plumbers, join­ers and painters on the squad pitched in and it was fin­ished two weeks be­fore this sea­son opened.

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