Society News and Events

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Request for information about the Grassmere Dialect Plays

Sue Wilkinson, studying with the University of Cumbria, is currently researching the Grasmere Dialect Plays. They were last produced in the 1930s and Sue would love to speak to people who have an interest in, or any information, about these plays. Do you have parents, grandparents or relatives that remember them or perhaps even took part?

If you email - I'll collate the replies and put you in touch with Sue. (If anyone has a copy of the script they could email, as a part time actor I'd be keen in seeing it too!).

A message from Jean, our New President

23rd May 2024

When I attended the AGM of the Lakeland Dialect Society at Lowther Parish Hall on 16th March 1974, I never imagined that day would see me elected to the committee, and never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined that one day I would be President!

My mother had attended the first meeting at Tullie House in 1939 with her friend Mary Clark, she joined a few years later, and became a life member, so dialect journals were available to read as I grew up, and some articles would be read to me. I grew up in a dialect speaking household, and I attended some meetings with her - so long as they were accessible by bus. It was at a meeting in Kendal in 1971, that I met Ted Relph, he was the speaker; later when I wa sinvolved with the committee, Ted became a firm friend. My mother died in 1973, and I joined the society that year, keen to keen my interest in dialect alive.

The Committee and officers in 1974 numbered 26, many of them long standing members. It was very obvious that they were keen to encourage younger members, so when I joined the committee, I met and made friends with Pru Bousfield, who was a similar age, both of us well aware that we were being 'trained for greater things' in the future. We both had young children, whom we took to meetings, where they were fussed over by older members and fed sweeties. We were often referred to as 'the lasses'. Those big committees continued for many years. We now number around a dozen.

The year after I joined the committee I was given the position of press secretary, so I dealt with publicity, designing posters by hand and writing reports of meetings to send to the local press. For a short time in the mid 1990s I assisted Ted with preparing the journal, until the Society was in need of a secretary when Irving Graham, stood down, this was a job I was well qualified to do, so that was my role for the next 27 years. I also took the accounts under my wing to computerise them when John Holmes needed to step back; this was in order to make it easier to hand the Treasurer's job on in the future. So over the past 50 years, I have had a go at most of the jobs.

So now, 50 years almost to the day of that first AGM, I was elected as your new President, and co-incidentally at the same venue too. I made it my mission in the those early days, to promote dialect wherever and whenever I could, and this continues to be my aim.

I have made a great number of good friends through the Society, and dialect has offered me some amazing experiences; radio and television interviews, invitations to write articles for national publications ,recording a talking book, taking to the stage at Theatre by the Lake and being involved with BBC2 Blood of the Vikings series, when Ted and I were filmed with the archaeologist Julian Richards of 'Meet the Ancestors' fame.

Dialect's summat weel worth presarvin', sea use it as oft as ye can, and tell yer fren's aboot t' society!

Jean Scott-Smith

Oor git togidder at Greystoke

Ray Griffiths lairned uz all aboot t'history ovt' Mountain Rescue, wid tyales und auld pictures ov hoo things hev changed ovver t'eers.

Ray also shared hoo the team foond fowk und got thum doon fra t'fyell side.

It wuz oor fust meeting oft'eer, und efterwads we took  chance fur a laal bit ovt'a natter ovver tea und cyake.

Hev a Crack wid uz ont'Fyacebeuk

Nine months ago, our Society started using a Facebook group to help us promote the interest and great enjoyment to be had from Cumbria’s various versions of dialect.  And since this began, things have happened better and faster than we had dared hope.


After just nine months, the group has now exceeded 500 members and it gets new posts (topics and discussions) every day, with plenty of fun, dialect quizzes, too. 


We invite all existing members of the Lakeland Dialect Society, as well as anybody else who is interested, to come and visit this extension of the LDS to have a lot of fun.


If you’ve never used Facebook before, simply click on the following link and follow the cues until it asks you to ‘Sign Up’ for an account (it’s all FREE).  If you have problems and need help, just contact this website’s manager and he will put you in touch with someone who will guide you through it.  It is definitely worth it, and it is also a great way to get new, and younger new people involved.




We've added a Recipes Page

The Featured Page for January had a receipe on how to make the Cumberland National Dish - Tattie Pot.

At the back end of 2023 after we roked our hands in the briers blackiting we also featured the recipe for a Traditional Cumberland Blackite Broonie.

If thats mekking the mooth watter click on our Recipes page (under Dialect) und divvent mislikken ta say Grace afore the gits yer brossenful!


Our Dialect Features in Discover Britain

Our very own Jean Scott-Smith has been writing in the Dec 2023/Jan 2024 - Discover Britain Magazine.

If you want to read about 7 of the most unusal Cumbrian Traditions you can go to their web-site:

The magazine itself also includes the article - In a Word - on our Lakeland twang.

Dialect Competition and Members Day

We met ower ut'Victory Hall in Dalston fur a grand dowin' und crack wid fowk.

Efter we hed oor brossenful we hed yan ur twa wurds ov business afore competion started furt' Len Hayton trowphy.There were tyales, breks und poems. Langest roond of applause won und this 'ear it wuz fur John Hindson, wid his brek aboot a farmer und a poem aboot Eden Beck.

T'phowto shas John gittin t'Len Hayton Trowphy fra last 'ears winner Dickon.

The 2023 National Dialect Festival

Members ov oor Society wer fair capped at' chance tu gah t'seaside at Bridlington und hev a barrie tyam wid fowk fra al ovver England tarking ther ahn twang.

Sum ov us competed int' Bill O'Bowes und Eric Toppin trowphy und alt'oor society's marras wah med it to Bridlington hed a part in a sketch fur t'Fair Weltered Trophy ont'Satduh neet. But it wuz oor friends fra t'Northumberland Language Society thut kept hod ovt' trowphy furt' second year int'row.

Here are oor pictures oft'judges and winners. T'Fair Weltered Trowphy ist'yan ont'reet

Ah'll pass the ovver t'Edward fra the host society who lairn the mowre aboot t'event.

We ‘ad a reight gooid do at t’Expanse ‘otel at Bolliton for yet another National Dialect Festival. Abaht sixty fowk attended all together. There were three trophies on offer. Brendan ‘Awthrone from t’Black Country won t’Bill O’Bowes Trophy for writing ‘is own dialect poem. Anne Lamb of Durham won t’Eric Toppin for a gradely performance of another’s dialect work. Judy Barker from t’Eeast Riding won t’Sam Laycock Trophy for ‘er own poem in Yorkshire Dialect. They call it t’Sam Laycock Trophy ‘cause, mich like Sam Laycock, it moves about from area to area.

Silloth Rotary Club - Dialect Competition

Ast'flyer promised - we al hed a barrie tyam ut this 'eyers Dialect Competition up 'et Silloth. Ta agyean to Silloth Rowtary Club fur being grand hosts tul uz al und Christ Kirk fur t'venue.

Thethra prizes wur up fer grabs fur the nue writing.

Dot Tudhope won best newcomer.

Dick Gargett won most humorous.

Mike Naylor wuz Best Ovveral.

Keep a deek oot' fur a turbo charged grey fergy tractor. It mebbe Mike Naylors shot t'hev a gah driving it!

Back end git tugither - Loweswater

We hed a grand time up ut' Loweswater Village Hall on Satduh 16th September. Chance fer a good bit of scran, tea and a natter.

Judith Benn telt us al' aboot Loweswater und Lorton dales fra back int' dya. If the thowt life on't farm wuz all tups, yows, hosses und coos, then hev a deek at this phowto.

There wuz a tyale aboot a la'al Shetland hoss too. Und whilst I can think on me Mudder and Fadder wid stories oft gas lighting on Cockermuth Myan Street - Ah didn't ken thut mains electric didn't git to Loweswater until t'early 1960s.

Summer outing to Threlkeld Quarry

On Saturday 1st July, twenty members gathered for a summer outing to Threlkeld Mining Museum. This had been arranged by our Chairman Donald Angus, who gave an introductory talk about the quarry before everyone boarded the little train for a trip into the quarry itself, viewing many old examples of equipment on the way. The train was hailed by a diesel engine driven by Dickon Chaplin-Brice one of our members. Back in the engine shed Dickon gave a history of the engines at the quarry including a steam locomotive 'Sir Tom' which was undergoing some maintenance. Everyone then returned to the museum for refreshments and a look around the fascinating displays.

Celebrating the King's Coronation

Our president Tommy Coulthard presented a tree to the Sunbeams Music Trust at Redhills near Penrith. This was to mark the King's Coronation; he officially planted the tree watched by Annie Mawson MBE founder of Sunbeams and users of the facility. The tree chosen was a Cumbrian species of Apple - A Keswick Codling. A few Society members attended and had some fun activating the large sound installations on the lawn; xylophone, trumpets, drums etc.

Dialect lovers gather at Shap Wells - 2022

Lovers of dialect from all over England gathered in the glorious setting of Shap Wells Hotel for the National Dialect Festival weekend. This year's event was hosted by the Lakeland Dialect Society which is now in its 83rd year.

The annual event was started in 2009 by Lancastrian dialect expert Sid Calderbank, with the first two events being held in Lancashire, since then it has been held in Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Devon, Lakeland, Black Country, Yorkshire, Cornwall and Blackpool. Regions represented at Shap included Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland and of course Lakeland. The last event was held in 2019, so this was the first time many friends had met up for a long time.

On the Friday evening a concert of dialects by the Lakeland group and friends. The President, Tommy Coulthard, welcomed everyone before reading one of his own poems. The MC for the event was Donald Angus the Chairman.

Performers mainly came from the society, and opened with Dickon Chaplin-Brice singing the well-loved poem by John Richardson, 'It's Nobbut Me'. There was some stand-up comedy by Dick Gargett before he took part in a sketch with Jean Scott-Smith, 'Husband and Wife' by Tom Twistleton. Kim Bibby-Wilson from the Northumbrian Language Society explained the features of the Northumbrian pipes, and played a traditional piece.

Donald delighted the audience with the Stanley Holloway classic 'Three-Ha'pence a Foot'. Jean then recited a 19th century dialect poem by Anthony Whitehead of Reagill 'An Address to Tourists' which mentioned staying at Shap Wells.

Tim Barker from Silloth gave a recitation from his Shakespeare for Shepherds collection - as he transported everyone to Agincourt with his dialect version of Henry the Fifth.

Alex Fisher from Lancashire gave a background to clog dancing and then performed a dance accompanied by Julie Proctor on fiddle.

Dick returned with a few more hilarious tales, before Donald performed another monologue, 'Albert and the Lion'.
The final act was by Mark Carruthers from Wreay who sang his own song 'Joss Naylor - Iron man'.

The main events took place on Saturday with competitions for four trophies.

The morning began with a keynote speech by Professor Rob Drummond, from Manchester Metropolitan University about his research work with Manchester accents and voices. It was accompanied by maps and recordings, which illustrated the diverse mix of speech to be found in Greater Manchester.

The Eric Topping Trophy for performing any English dialect piece saw seventeen entries, and was won by Sally and Ron Williams from Ramsbottom, with their account of a hazardous trip on a boat.

The Samuel Laycock Trophy for original writing in the dialect of the host area performed by the author, attracted six contestants; Donald Angus, Philip Gate, Jean Scott-Smith, Pauline Mole, Dick Gargett and Mark Carruthers.

The winner was Jean Scott-Smith with her poem 'Shepsters et Darknin' describing the starling murmuration around her house.

The Bill o' Bowes Cup for original writing in any English dialect performed by the author saw entries from Lancashire, Northumberland, and Yorkshire; this was won by Bill Rhodes from Chorley who told a tale about not fitting in.

The judges for these competitions were Professor Rob Drummond, Tim Barker and Louise Green the Society's Editor from Ireby. The trophies were presented by Sid Calderbank, founder of the Dialect Festival.

In the evening there was a concert performed by visiting groups, competing for the Far Weltered Trophy, which was judged on audience reaction.

One brave person represented Lincolnshire, before a small group flew the flag - quite literally - for Yorkshire. A large group showcased Lancashire talent with song, dance, music and recitation. The Northumbrian Language Society, a team of three wearing traditional black and white plaids, entertained with their well known songs that the audience could join in, a talented musician, singer and a great story teller, concluding with a challenge to the audience in a session of 'Whoa's Tellin Hoafies' where they gave three definitions for several Northumbrian words.

The final result saw the Northumbrian Language Society take the trophy which was presented by Mr Angus.

Throughout the weekend delegates had been able to explore the hotel grounds resplendent with autumn hues. On the Sunday morning there was an opportunity to visit Shap Abbey before everyone departed for home. The visit was led by Jean, who is a local historian, who ended the visit with another of Whitehead's dialect poems 'An Address to Shap Abbey'.

Next year the event is to be held in Bridlington, Yorkshire.

Delegates at the National Dialect Festival visited Shap Abbey; warmly dressed group of people standing on a lawn in sunshine

Festival delegates in the sunshine at Shap Abbey.

Winners of the trophies with the founder: Bill Rhodes, Jean Scott-Smith, Sid Calderbank, Sally and Ron Williams. Donald Angus is at the rear.