Former Eden man dies just days short of 105th birthday

Date: Monday 5th June 2017
Herbert Buckle
Herbert Buckle

FORMER Ravenstonedale and Shap resident Herbert Buckle has died just nine days short of his 105th birthday.

Herbert, latterly of St. Dominick, Cornwall, was born in Workington on 16th May, 1912. He told doctors and nurses in hospital that all he wanted was to last a few days until his birthday. However, it was not to be.

He was the older of two brothers and a sister. Sadly, when he was six years old, both his mother and his youngest brother, only six days old, died at Ravenstonedale from Spanish Flu during a deadly outbreak which swept the globe and claimed millions of lives.

His devoted Aunt Alice, his father’s sister, moved in to care for the family who had moved from Cliburn to Ravenstonedale where his father was signalman, porter, ticket collector and booking clerk, in fact everything but the stationmaster at the LNER station — in addition to delivering the newspapers and being the village barber!

It was here that Herbert developed his life-long love of steam railway engines. Times were hard, and being new in the area his father didn’t know anyone who would pass on the odd rabbit or chicken. Herbert claimed that at one time all they had to eat was a blackbird. All in all, however, Herbert had a happy childhood of which he had fond memories.

On leaving school he became a bus conductor for a while, but then moved to London where he went into service. He became a “gentleman’s gentleman” to a Captain Fraser, in Park Lane, a busy job which he enjoyed and did well.

The job involved waiting up to the early hours of the morning when the gentlemen came home from their clubs, and then cooking supper. It was here he met his wife-to-be, Olive, who was a lady’s maid.

Unfortunately, shortly after their first child, Ann, was born in 1937, Herbert developed anaemia and was advised to leave London for the countryside of the Lake District. Herbert and Olive must have been very good at their jobs, as the Fraser family kept in touch with them right up to Captain Fraser’s death.

They moved to Shap where the family was completed by the birth of Dawn. There they ran a fish and chip shop and a fruit van. They were happy times. War came and Herbert wanted to join the Navy but was recruited into the Army. He quickly and wisely volunteered for the RAF which he joined as a mechanic at the end of 1940.

He served with 269 Squadron first in Iceland then in Scotland and Ireland before finishing up in RAF Davidstowe, Cornwall. At the end of the war, a friend suggested that Herbert and his family move down to St. Dominick and Herbert began working as a mechanic/driver.

This they did in early 1946, living first in two rooms at Buraton before moving into a new council house where Herbert lived for the rest of his life.

Retiring at the age of 65 Herbert was able to give more time to his great love of gardening. His garden and his allotment were always immaculate. He was also a keen competitor in the village flower show where he won many cups and prizes.

He his survived by two daughters, three granddaughters, and six great-granddaughters.