Robert Swain’s bench
A rustic bench, as a memorial to Robert Swain, has recently been installed in Thwaite Brow Woods. Robert was treasurer and enthusiastic member of the Thwaite Brow Woods Conservation Group who look after the woods for the Parish Council who own them. Robert very sadly passed away just over a year ago.
Since then a leaning oak tree in the woods has been felled for safety reasons. The bark of the tree was peeled and sent down to a leather tannery in Devon who use it to tan leather. A useful payment was made for the bark to the Parish Council. Another product of this operation is the peeled oak branches which are used to make rustic furniture. Robert had previously enthusiastically helped with peeling the bark of another oak tree which had been felled for the same reason. As a keen historian he had learned that in the past, when bark peeling for local tanneries was prolific, young children would help their parents in the woods during the short period in the year when this could be done and the local school records listed their absence as ‘barking’. This explains the use of that word as the last word of the plaque on his bench which was made from the branch wood of the oak tree felled earlier in the year.
The bench was installed at a choice location looking out over Morecambe Bay at a new viewpoint which had been made only a couple of years ago. Robert was a prolific writer with many of his writings being about the bay or the canal just below the viewpoint and he wrote regularly for the Messenger.
It was very pleasing to the group of Conservation volunteers who installed the bench that Sarah, who has adopted Robert’s dog Star, brought him along to be with us at the event. Robert had been a keen greyhound rescue person for many years. The wording of the plaque on his bench is as follows :
Robert Swain Died December 2022, he is truly missed.
Local antiquarian and prolific writer, enjoyed walking his dog and barking.
Editor’s note : Robert was a regular contributor to The Messenger for many years. He kept us up to date with the activities of Thwaite Brow Conservation Group and Carnforth Coke Ovens, and compiled the monthly update of news from Christ Church URC. As a keen photographer, he often provided photographs to go with his articles.