Kendal – Collin Croft
Between Beast Banks and Highgate
Collin Croft is situated half way up Beast Banks in Kendal. The yard can trace its history back to 1727. Property surrounding the croft, and the yard itself, was renovated between 1975 and 1977.
Collin Croft is an excellent example of one of Kendal’s original yards, and is probably one of the best preserved in existence today. Kendal Civic Society rescued the yard from the same fate that many of its contemporaries suffered during the clearances of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. In its heydays during the mid to late 19th century, Collin Croft would have been home to a number of tradesmen, including printers, tobacconists, a brass foundry, an iron foundry, a whitesmith, joiners, coal merchants, bell hangers, nail makers, cabinet makers, chair men, bobbin makers, armourers and many more.
There was a small inn called the Malt Shovel, and the yard was fed by its own spring, a major attraction for those looking for housing and work premises. The yard\croft also contained stables and a number of cottages. All in all, it seems that Collin Croft was almost a small village in its own right. In 1841, there were 31 residents living and working in the yard, and by 1871, this number had risen to around 70.
As the population of this small corner of Kendal rose, so the sanitary conditions worsened, the open drain that ran down the centre of the croft until 1851, no doubt contributing to health problems.
However, the yard gradually emptied of its tradesmen, and the squalor that the remaining residents found themselves living in only got worse. The croft became almost derelict eventually, and is was this dereliction that almost resulted in its complete removal and redevelopment. The Civic Society however recognised its historical value to the town of Kendal, and embarked on a rescue mission, gradually renovating many of the properties contained in the croft between 1975 and 1977.
It was this action that resulted in the yard gaining the 1982 Civic Trust award, the plaque, along with the green information plaque mounted on the wall at the bottom of the croft.
Words and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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