The Farmyard Radio

Opening up the possibilities for alternative and productive ways of working, Grizedale Arts Farmyard Radio explores how we use art, what it can do and what it offers us in everyday life. It is a space where we invite guest editors for their radical reflections on the work of cultural organisations today and their opinions about what shape the future could take, ensuring The Farmer's Arms is shaped by a diverse range of voices from the very start.

The White Pube: Institutions - How to Change the Offer and Reset the Delivery System

14th October 2020

Join The White Pube as they consider alternative options for curating, promoting and supporting culture and how we might dismantle the hierarchy to reset and the offer.

The White Pube speak to Liam Naughton from The Kazimier and Invisible Wind Factory and writer, cultural producer and co-founder of the Khidr Collective Zain Dada.

Warning: contains swearing

Ella Deacy: What and Where is it Now?

17th September 2020

Join former Grizedale Arts volunteer, editor and artist Ella Deacy as she discusses content and if anyone really care about it. Are we happier with just being creative and ingenious as an end in itself? Is the delivery mechanism more important than the message?

Ella speaks to fashion designer and Founder of CONGREGATION Design, Marie Maisonneuve; artist and writer, Alex Hackett; and illustrator, Joe Ruddick.

juneau/projects: It’s Been a Privilege - Dismantling the Cultural Hierarchy

10th September 2020

Join veteran Grizedale Arts podcasters juneau/projects (Ben Sadler and Philip Duckworth) as they explore and dismantle the cultural hierarchy.

juneau / projects interview Milton Keynes Arts Centre Director, Fiona Venables, and National Trust Cultural Programmes Consultant and CEO of Kala Phool, Indy Hunjan. Other podcast contributors include Cathy Wade, Amelia Hawk, Sarah Taylor Silverwood, Faye Claridge, Mark Essen, Emma Price, and Cindy Smith read by Leah Borromeo. 

Samra Mayanja: What do we Mean by ‘Communities’ and how do we Engage with them?

3rd September 2020

Join artist Samra Mayanja (former Grizedale Arts volunteer, now board member) as she gets to grips with some of the realities and language around socially engaged practice, the old and new arguments.

The transcript and a list of voices (references) for this podcast are all documented in this G-Drive folder: feel free to have a look.


We'll publish regular Blog entries and project updates here with contributions from the local community, Grizedale Arts staff, Associate Artists and anyone interested in sharing their memories and thoughts about The Farmer’s Arms past and present.

We’ve Come This Far...

4th December 2020

This week, The Farmer’s Arms project passed its first major milestone. Following an overwhelming response to our national fundraising campaign, enough funds were raised to secure the building and cover the purchase price, associated legal fees and commercial property VAT and stamp duty.

A massive achievement, it marks neither the beginning nor end of the project and comes after months of research and planning, community consultation and stake holder relationship development. I won’t bore you with the minor details, but share a summary of the behind-the-scenes work (done predominantly during lockdown) which brought the project to this pivotal point.

I’ve worked for Grizedale Arts in various capacities for nearly 2 years, and it was in November 2019 soon after taking on the role of Valley Project Manager that I was first made aware of the sorry state of The Farmer’s Arms. As I met people across the Crake as part of The Valley Project’s community consultation phase, concerns about the future of this much-loved local landmark were voiced to me on several occasions. Having stood empty for over a year, most felt its future hung in the balance - an opinion I shared having myself watched so many rural pubs decline. In March 2019 when Cllr Wharton hosted a meeting at Spark Bridge Village Hall to discuss a future for this historic institution, I knew GA needed to see how we could support the effort to return this historic institution back to the heart of the community.

Over the coming months, we kept in close contact with Cllr Wharton as he worked on filing an Asset of Community Value (ACV) with Egton cum Newland Parish Council, nominating the building as important for the purpose of furthering the social wellbeing of the local community. In the meantime, I picked up the phone to the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to discuss their Historic Assets Moving into Community Ownership grant strand and submitted an application for Project Viability funding to support the project’s initial development.

The Farmer’s Arms ACV was successfully filed on 5 May and in June the AHF granted Grizedale Arts £8,1000 to undertake a viability study. A few weeks later, news was received that a bid had been placed on the property and the ACV's six-month moratorium period had been triggered. With no time to lose, GA submitted a letter of intent to bid using our charity status and the project ramped up a gear as we worked to find a way to secure the building for, and with, the community within a very tight six-month timeframe.

Aware that we needed to gain a better understanding of how The Farmer's Arms could best serve the community's needs, I designed a survey for Cllr Wharton to distribute to local residents. A very short two page questionnaire posted through people's letter boxes, it asked which community facilities people used and what additional ones they would use if available to them within the Crake Valley and how they envisaged the future of The Farmer's Arms and how it could best serve them moving forward. The results from this survey then formed the bones of the project's viability report.

Pushing forward with the viability work over the next four months, the AHF’s funding covered an independent valuation, structural survey and various other building reports from experts to assess the state of repair and budget for renovations. In addition, we also brought in business and fundraising consultancy support in the form of the VERY thorough Cumbrian Lass and Business Development Specialist, Zindzi Cresswell. Undertaking extensive market research and investigating the viability of three different scenarios for the building using the results of the community survey, we were also able to commission a set of architectural drawings to illustrate the most viable option for the building’s proposed change of use.

All of this work has been brought together in the project's business plan (available on request) which merges GA's existing resources (including a committed and dedicated core staff team and strong track track record for transforming challenging historic spaces) with the multiplicity of rich resources held across the Crake Valley. Very early on in the viability process, it became obvious that by GA fronting the purchase from our own charity reserves and taking on mortgage finance coupled with investment from the community through loan stock, we'd remove the headache of managing the day-to-day running and protocols of the project to create space which enabled its communities to actively shape and creatively contribute, bringing their skills to the forefront (but more on that another time).

There is still a long way to go, not only for the fundraising which will certainly continue over at least the next 18 months, but with so much possibility, and the enthusiasm behind the project, it will undoubtedly evolve and shape with its communities as the decade rolls on.

Emma Sumner (Valley Project Manager)

Guest Blog: Wendy Keegan Remember’s The Farmer’s Arms (Part 2 of 2)

27th November 2020

Picking up where she left off last week, local luminary Wendy Keegan takes us on another walk down The Farmer's Arms memory lane:   

As the 1950s finally gave up the ghost, and the ‘60s came roaring in, there seemed a general acceptance that this was much more than a fresh decade - there was a feeling that things were never going to be the same again.For us youngsters, we could - almost - (and did) drink alcohol legally. Not, I hasten to say, the exotic gin cocktails so popular today, but at least a lager and lime or a few halves of bitter added a bit more class than orange juice or lemonade, and a glass of tonic with a slice of lemon could look reasonably like a G & T, unless you sniffed it!A bit further afield, Dreadnought, Britain’s first nuclear Sub, was being built at Barrow. You might wonder why this is relevant to this piece, but suffice it to say that Peter Sambourne, the Commanding Officer, and most of the Senior Officers were renting cottages in the area, and using the Farmers as their base, forging a link which was to last for the next 20 years or more. 

By the early 60s, Clem and Mrs Sutcliffe had finally retired back to Yorkshire, and the pub was being managed by local lad, Bob Jones who ran a coal business with his dad, and his wife Kath. Being young, they were quite go-ahead, and soon they had a wider age-ranged clientele than previously. More people had transport, and country pubs, especially those with ‘character’ seemed to be the fashionable places to be seen. Bob and Kath had numerous ideas for promoting the pub, but most successful by far were the weekend Supper Dances. This was the first time that the lounge bar was used as well as the public bar, and dancing was in the room off the lounge bar. It was compact, but well used, and the delicious supper spread, in front of the huge black dresser, was both extensive and delicious. Music was trendy, often a real band, dancing was ‘now’ and it was difficult to get a ticket if you didn’t move fast enough. By the mid 60s, Bob and Kath felt they had achieved all they’d set out to do at the Farmers, and were itching to move to bigger challenges. 

Cue the summer of 1966, and fresh from The Gale at Rochdale, arrived Philip and Dorothy, together with the redoubtable Nanna Broadley. From the outset they proved a popular couple, as the customers old and new filled the bars. Shortly after their arrival, the Burns Nights started. (Being a Scottish & Newcastle pub, the Brewery used to send haggis to its pubs, and ours took full advantage). This kind of night proved very popular, and became more frequent. It was as a result of a rather boozy late-evening discussion, that The Crake Valley Benevolent Fund was born, a mad idea which continued for several years, causing endless amounts of fun. 

A dance would be held, with only one proviso - strictly fancy dress only! Everyone said it wouldn’t work, but after one or two people (including the Police Superintendent, whose idea was to wear a policeman’s helmet) were firmly refused entry, everyone entered into the spirit, and many exciting nights resulted. There was always a tombola, and, as several of the organisers were Rotarians, there were some fantastic prizes. For weeks, much planning took place, and much whispering in dark corners, so that the costumes could be kept secret till the last moment. One event in particular is still remembered with a smile. The second ‘do’ with the theme of Horrific Halloween. One guest (who for obvious reasons, must remain anonymous) arrived bandaged from head to foot, with only eye, nose and mouth holes, as The Mummy. The costume was fantastic, and all went well for some time, except it’s owner had drunk several pints. When the inevitable happened, on a visit to the gents, the shortcomings of the costume soon became apparent, and emergency clothes had to be found to spare his blushes! 

The money raised was secondary to the main aim of enjoying ourselves, but during that time, we presented television sets to all the local schools, in addition to a number of other one-off projects. Like all good things, they finally came to an end when fancy dress became optional, so much of the fun was lost. Other ‘dos’ soon replaced them - comedy evenings with Jim Bowen (who was at the height of his popularity at the time), and ‘Blaster’ Bates, a very entertaining speaker, whose career appeared to involve blowing sewers and septic tanks up!! There were others, whose names escape me at present, but I’m confident some of you reading this will be able to fill the blanks. 

Of course, there were the usual pub-type events, particularly around Christmas - the Dominoes, Darts and Don competitions, to mention just a few. I remember my dad signing me up for everything one year. I was soon knocked out of the Dom’s and darts (I struggled to even hit the dart board!), but by some miracle I got to the final of the Don competition, despite dad having to actually teach me how to play, having signed me up). We were, in fact, winning by quite a margin, when someone noticed that the marker had somehow managed to go the wrong way down the scoreboard - so we had to start again. Needless to say, we weren’t quite so lucky second time round, and lost!! 

The pub’s fifteen minutes of fame might come as a bit of a surprise to most people. It was, I think, in 1986, when the pub was taken over for several days by movie-makers, cameramen - and Sir Ben Kingsley, and was immortalised for several seconds in the Sherlock Holmes spoof ‘Without a Clue’. If you watch very carefully, you will see Ben Kingsley, as Dr Watson, use his cane to take his frustration out of the bush down the old front steps. It had been hoped that the stable bar would also be used, but unfortunately filming was behind schedule, so the bar was well photographed and reproduced in the studios. 

Sadly, Philip and Dorothy decided to move on in 1986, and took over the running of the Tower Bank Arms at Sawrey. Since then there have been several changes of landlords, and the pub has seen mixed fortunes. There have been more ‘fun’ times, when the place has bustled with customers, and some quiet times. It’s been my neighbour for the last seventy five years, and it is my hope that it will again welcome thirsty travellers for many more years to come. 

Copyright © Wendy Keegan 2019

Guest Blog: Wendy Keegan Remember’s The Farmer’s Arms (Part 1 of 2)

20th November 2020
As part of our bid to Save The Farmer's Arms and return this much-loved historic institution back to the heart of the Crake Valley's communities, we've begun to uncover a plethora of local heartfelt reminiscings that uncover what is undoubtedly only a small fragment of the memories wrapped up in this special place. 

Wendy Keegan has lived across from the road from The Farmer's Arms all her life. Now in her 70s, she's a bedrock of local knowledge and we asked her permission to publish a two part piece she wrote last year just after the doors were shut by the last tenants:

They’ve shut the pub!

Looking out of the window, the village is in darkness. No brightly-lit signs to welcome thirsty travellers; no car park lights shining through the glass stoppers of the decanters on our windowsill, throwing rainbows round the living room walls. No comings and goings. - Just black, empty silence.

It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling - the pub has been a big part of my life for over seventy years, and I’ve been wandering across the road since I was about three years old. It holds so many happy memories and has shared in the significant milestones of my life: my first ‘proper’ drink at 18, my 21st birthday party, New Year parties, our wedding reception, and numerous other celebrations with family and friends.

This wasn’t the way I intended to introduce this piece, so I’ll try to get back on track!

I don’t know whether the claim written on one of the walls that it’s probably the oldest pub in the lakes is strictly true - but the central core of it certainly dates back some centuries. It was owned by the Wilson family for some generations, and was originally a small farm and inn, which brewed and served beer to passers-by. Various additions were built in the mid 1850s, about the same time as our house and next door, which were then also owned by the family. After the death of Billy, the last of the Wilson clan, the whole lot, including a couple of fields, was put up for auction about 1930. By pure chance, two brothers and a sister - the Carruthers family, happened to be staying in the area, and unexpectedly ended their holiday by buying the whole thing, quite literally, lock, stock and barrel.

Dan and Bert were an enterprising pair. They ran a business at Old Trafford, restoring furniture and pictures, and they soon set to work altering and extending the pub. In a short while it had changed almost beyond recognition. They created the public bar, with its flagged floor and oak bar, and the quirky “horse box”, in the far corner, up a couple of steps. They converted some of the pig and calf hulls into a tastefully furnished lounge area (now the main bar) where morning coffee and afternoon teas were served. This was decked out with wonderful huge pieces of furniture from the Manchester business, and the walls lined with gilt framed pictures with labels (often wrongly) attributed to many famous artists. My favourite one was of a wrinkled old lady drinking her bowl of tea.

Perhaps their most ambitious scheme was the conversion of the big barn above the lounge, which fronted onto the main road, into a dance hall, complete with huge mirrors and even a glitter ball. Bert, who ran a big old Daimler, used to make several trips to Ulverston and the surrounding villages on Friday or Saturday nights to bring a bevy of young ladies in an attempt to entice the young men of the area to these dances.

The 'spinning gallery' was created somewhere round the start of the war. Dad did the building work, and Uncle John helped with the woodwork - although there was a resident live-in joiner for a considerable time in the early days. Initially the pub was only licensed to sell beer, and when the brothers tried to apply for a spirits license, they were turned down, as no new licenses were being granted at the time. Undaunted by this minor setback, they bought a row of derelict cottages at Backbarrow which included the Ainsworth Arms, and simply transferred the license to the Farmers Arms.

Project by project the pub grew, in popularity as well as size, as extensions and new bedrooms emerged. They even managed to add a large extension to the bar, 'the new end' during the war when there was a moratorium on new development. It secretly grew behind the tall hedges with no clue from the inside, until the grand opening, when two wall panels, complete with pictures, magically parted, and the new room was formally displayed for the first time. Eventually, after several further successful years, the whole enterprise was bought by William Youngers, and the formidable Clem Sutcliffe and wife Clara took over the management.

I loved Mrs Sutt, and from about the age of three, spent many hours sitting with her on the long settle by the fire in the bar while she tried to teach me how to sew and embroider, knit and crotchet - no easy task, as I’m left handed. Now, seventy years later, I think of her often, while I spend my days with my sewing, and thank her for her patience and perseverance. Although I grew fond of him as I got older, as a small child I was quite frightened of Clem, who always seemed to be gruff and bad tempered, so I invariably tried to time my visits for when he disappeared with the car, and shot back home as soon as he returned. When the pub was closed I’d go down the back steps and in at the kitchen door, risking the wrath of the huge cockerel who patrolled the back garden, and always attacked my legs, often bringing blood, on the way down!

On my dressing table sits a little cut-glass trinket box. Open the silver lid, and there’s a piece of paper inside. Written on Farmer’s Arms letterhead, is the following note:

“Dear Wendy,

Many happy returns for your Birthday and party.

I think you will use this little powder bowl when you are more than five years old, and when you’ve decided its better to be a girl than a boy.

Love, Mrs Sutcliffe”

Every time I read it, I’m instantly transported back seventy years to the little girl with pigtails, swinging her legs by the bar fire, being taught to sew by one of the sweetest people you could ever wish to meet - lucky me.

Copyright © Wendy Keegan, 2019