COVERAGE on the Memories Page (September 16) of the key role of Ulverston's Lord Norman Birkett in saving the natural beauty of Ullswater has brought in more details about the legal expert's early life and career.

Lord Birkett became a famous defence barrister and served at the Nuremberg war crime trials at the end of the Second World War.

Days before his death, a powerful plea in the House of Lords helped save Ullswater from a planned Manchester Corporation Waterworks weir on the River Eamont at Pooley Bridge - and 55 years after his important intervention it was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at the lake.

John Coward, of Myrtle Terrace, Dalton, got in touch with details about Lord Birkett's school days in Barrow and a change in career direction from drapery to the law courts.

He said: "Lord Birkett went to the Higher Grade School - co-eductional - which became known as the Alfred Barrow School, Duke Street.

"He was one of approximately 70 'train boys' - and girls - who had to rush down Dalton Road after school to catch the train home to Ulverston.

"He had red curly hair and one of his nicknames at school was 'Copper nob'.

"After his 15th birthday in 1898, he left the Higher Grade School and became a rather reluctant apprentice in his father's drapery business in Ulverston.

"After seven years in the business his father realised that Norman would never make a good draper and he started studying to become a Methodist minister.

"He was ambitious and fancied one day he might become president of the Methodist Conference.

"During his studies he helped Richard Cavendish's election campaign in 1905 by organising meetings in Ulverston.

"Richard Cavendish was impressed by Norman's abilities and attractive public speaking and suggested he should go to the bar. This became a reality.

"After passing his qualifying examination for the ministry he made a successful application to Cambridge University to read history and theology.

"He was successful in his studies, obtaining a B.A. degree after three years and a year later is law tripos.

"At Cambridge he was elected president of the Cambridge Union Society - a debating society founded in 1815.

"While completing his studies for the bar examination he funded himself by working as private secretary to George Cadbur, of Selly Oak, Birmingham.

"The long, straggly street of Selly Oak reminded Norman of Dalton.

"In 1913 he was called to the bar, working as a junior barrister.

"He was very popular - everyone wanted his services.

"In one famous case with a local connection he was unsuccessful.

"He was defending an Indian doctor called Dr Buck Ruxton, of 2 Dalton Square, Lancaster, who was accused of murdering his wife and housemaid.

"His final achievement of saving Ullswater re-united him with his old school.

"He got many letters and messages of congratualtion but the one he appreciated the most was from the fifth year of Alfred Barrow Secondary School for Girls - his oold school.

"He read it from his hospital bed the day he died.

"Do any of these 'girls' still living locally remember composing this letter dated February 9 in 1962?

"Lord Birkett was very proud of his 'Cumbrian' upbringing and the interesting Ulverston chacaters that surrounded his youth.

"At that time there were still people who had memories of the journey to Cartmel and Lancaster across the sands on foot, horseback or cart.

"Perhaps a suitable person to open the new 'health hub' when it is completed is the third Baron Birkett of Ulverston."