AN interesting headline in the 1929 Craven Herald caught my eye ‘Bracewell Vicar’s Pet Robin’, although it was equally the photograph that stood out.

With the strapline ‘ Bird that prefers pastry’ the story described how the Rev H West had a pet robin, and Mr West was as friendly with ‘Rob’ the robin as he was with his rough-haired terrier.

The very tame Rob however, dared not accompany the vicar to church or to school, because that was the territory of another, wilder, robin which became fierce every time it saw its gentler cousin.

Mr West explained to a reporter - sent out to investigate further - that he had first noticed the robin in bad weather when it had come close to the vicarage.

He decided to try and tame it, and starting with crumbs, eventually managed to get it eating out of his hand.

At one time, he spent quarter of an hour trying to get the bird to come to his hand.

Eventually, the bird got used to the vicar, and flew into his house, perching on the furniture. It waited for him in the morning, and fluttered about his head, all over the vicarage grounds. Its favourite food was pastry.

And, it was not the first robin the vicar had tamed, another, a few years earlier, had flown off one day, never to be seen again. Rob, being a female, would hopefully hang around, said the vicar.

Sadly, and it just goes to show, mistakes crept into the Craven Herald even in the ‘good old days’ of the 1920s; there was a mistake in the typesetting, and instead of the caption reading ‘a photograph of the Rev H West MA, Vicar of Bracewell, with a robin he has befriended’ , it read ‘defriended’. Which, of course in these days of social media, means something quite different.

THE recent heavy snow has not caused as many issues as it might have done in normal times, what with most of us working from home and not having to do the school run.

Not to downplay the problems for those who did have to travel anywhere - it seems the lack of traffic on the road meant that the grit laid down by the highways authorities was less effective. Indeed, parts of the A59 resembled a lorry park at times.

Back in February, 1929, years ago, the Craven Herald reported of heavy snow and ‘motorists’ alarming experiences.

Much of Craven was covered by heavy snow over the last weekend of January, disrupting public transport and inconveniencing farmers, reported the paper.

There were snow ploughs even 93 years ago, and they busily set about clearing the main routes and motorists resorted to ‘skid chains’.

It was however Sawley Brow, a steep descent on the Skipton to Clitheroe Road - before the A59 was built - that caused all the problems.

A large omnibus, owned by the West Yorkshire Road Car Company, attempted to mount the hill, and failed, reported the paper.

Having successfully got up the steepest part of the hill, just before the top, the driver encountered six other cars that completely blocked the road.

One of the cars slipped backwards, hit the motorbus which skidded off the road, and ended up half in and half out of a ditch. Fortunately, the four bus passengers were not hurt.

From somewhere - the paper does not explain where - ashes were procured, laid on the road and the cars were pushed to the top of the hill. Not so the bus, which was firmly wedged in the ditch so the passengers had to complete their journey to Bradford by motor car.

I WONDER how many people just like me found themselves cursing at the lack of birds that visited their garden during the RSPB’s big garden bird watch.

I don’t normally bother, usually too busy, but just who didn’t have time on their hands this year?

I prepared well for it, birdseed and fat balls, but oddly, as the weekend grew nearer, the birds were just not there.

Last year, at this time we had all sorts. Long tailed tits, gangs of them, nuthatches, green finches, and most excitingly, a pair of bull finches.

But, come the allotted day, at the allotted hour, what did I get? Blackbirds, nine; chaffinch, 13; blue tits, four; coat tit, one; robin, one; wren, one, and just three, three, sparrows.

There were a couple of fat wood pigeons and weirdly, no starlings at all, when last year the garden was positively brimming with them.

Disgusted by being let down badly by my garden birds, I set off on a walk and in the space of three hours, saw a flock of lapwings, two buzzards, three kestrels and most wonderfully of all, two barn owls. The first of which was sweeping over Stock Beck, near Bracewell, where the Ribble Rivers Trust has been carrying out work to the beck. It was great to see it appears to be working and is attracting wildlife.

BEREAVED dad, Dan Wheeldon, is calling on people to join Club Candlelighters.

The new initiative launched by children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, aims to ensure it can continue to support families and also develop new ways to help other families affected by childhood cancer.

Dan’s daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with Haemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis - a condition in which the body’s immune cells begins to damage its own tissues and organs - in 2014 and sadly passed away following complications.

Dan and his family were supported by Candlelighters and will continue to be, for as long as support is needed.

He said: “Candlelighters were there for us. They held our hand and picked us up, they brought some joy to our daughter’s life when she needed it most and when our world was crumbling around us, Candlelighters was the scaffolding that held us up.”

Candlelighters provides financial, emotional and practical support to children and families affected by childhood cancer across Yorkshire. It also funds research to improve the lives and outcomes of children with cancer.

Like other charities, Candlelighters has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and is seeing a huge drop in funding due to the cancellation of mass participation events.

In the first half of its financial year, the charity saw a 41 per cent drop in fundraising income and expects it to be years before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Club Candlelighters gives supporters the opportunity to donate at three different levels.To find out more, visit:, call 0113 322 9283 or email

THE Royal Veterinary College is inviting students in Craven in years 10, 11 and 12 to apply for a place at its online summer schools this year.

The outreach team is calling for those who meet the Widening Participation eligibility criteria to apply for the opportunity of gaining experience of what it is like to study animal science careers including veterinary medicine, biosciences and veterinary nursing.

The three summer schools are due to take place between July and August and will offer first-hand insight into what it is like to study at the internationally renowned RVC through online lectures, virtual practical demonstrations, and question and answer sessions.

Applications close on March 2. Visit: or contact the Outreach Team on