Excellent news from Atrium Poetry: ‘Return To Mardale’ and ‘On Good Days’ are to be published early next year. The Mardale poem came about as a result of a ‘Drowned Villages’ poetry competition in three regions (Wales, Cumbria and Scotland) where villages in the early part of the twentieth century suffered the same fate, i.e. relocation of families and the destruction of communities in order to build reservoirs to supply water to large urban connurbations. My good friend, Simon Sylvester deservedly won the Cumbrian competition with his excellent ‘Coffin Routes’.
The first version of the poem I wrote is based on a ghost revisiting the valley years after the event. Where today you’d find Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District, there was once the village of Mardale Green. Back in the 1920s, an Act of Parliament was passed allowing Manchester Corporation to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban areas of the north-west of England. Buildings in the Mardale valley were demolished, families were relocated and by 1935 the new reservoir was established. Occasionally, in periods of drought, the old dry stone walls and bridge make a ghostly reappearance, only to be submerged once water levels rise again.
Picture credit: Rawnsley, Hardwicke Drummond, 1851-1920 Wordsworth Collection, from a book Past and Present at the English Lakes published in 1916 by J. MacLehose and sons, Glasgow