Batting for Coniston
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.