Barnoldswick Local History Articles

Wednesday, April 03, 2002


I’ve had a visitor for the last ten days, an art teacher from Florida and it has been very interesting to see Barlick through her eyes. Some of you met her when she prowled through the town taking photographs. The group in the picture will probably get a bit of a surprise when they find themselves in the Times! I was fascinated by the fact that she took different photos than I would but even more so by her comments about the town, it was the first time she had been in England and I thought you might be interested as it reminds us how lucky we are.

Dannette’s first comment was how interesting and friendly the people were. She spoke to quite a few people and was impressed by how friendly and well spoken they were. She was fascinated by our use of language and said that the vocabulary we use is far more extensive than the children she teaches or most of the people she meets at home. She is aware of the current controversy about Cravenside and made the comment that the County Councillors who are pushing for closure probably wouldn’t see the old folk taking the sun in Albert Square as an asset to the town but as a liability in terms of their future needs.

The biggest difference she noted about the layout and construction of the town was that everything was so compact and well built. A stone house in Florida is a rarity. She noted that everyone seemed to know each other and that people spent so much time chatting to their friends when they met on the street. Nobody seemed to be rushing about like headless chickens.

She was invited to several homes and had a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner with the Barritts at Kayfield in the week when they had their first calving and started milking again after being wiped out by foot and mouth last June. Having been reared on a farm in Idaho she knew what this meant to them. Her comment as she came away was that they were a wonderful family and that Barlick is so lucky to have working farms in such close proximity with the town as it gives variety to the area.

I could go on at great length about the facets of our life that delighted her, she found it amazing that we had so many paper shops with a great variety of local and national papers; America doesn’t have news like we do. She liked the fact that we are a walking-distance town; you don’t have to climb into a car to go shopping or get to work. The small butcher’s and greengrocer’s shops were new to her and when I explained the situation to her, she was amazed that we had allowed Rainhall Road School to be closed.

Listening to Dannette made me realise that she is right, we are so fortunate in that we have a great town with wonderful people living in it. Perhaps every now and again we need someone from outside to come in and remind us how lucky we are. Perhaps a fresh view like hers might encourage us to be more alert to changes forced on us from outside like the closure of Rainhall Road and Cravenside. It will be too late when we find we have a Do-it-Yourself barn sat on the old railway sidings and another supermarket dominating the end of Rainhall Road and blighting the town centre shops even further.

What can we learn from all this? I think that the bottom line is that if we simply sit back and complain to each other we are lost. We will finish up with a town that is a clone of so many other small towns in England with no character, no local shopping, no essential local services and no relaxed atmosphere. I know it is hard to believe this but we shall finish up as a dormitory town, a suburb where people live but commute to larger towns for work, shopping and leisure. We could even end up like some of the villages in the Yorkshire Dales, full of holiday homes because of the low property prices and deserted in winter. I have great difficulty in imaging this but I fear it is one possibility if we don’t act now.

We are, on the whole, quiet and polite people and this is one of the joys of living in the place. However, we have got to get into the habit of standing up and shouting every now and again. Have you all signed the petition against the care home closure? How many of you have written to your County Councillor and protested about Rainhall Road School and Cravenside? It only takes five minutes and a stamp to do it. Believe me, when someone in that position gets a flood of letters on a subject they take notice. They are thinking about the next elections and make the assumption that people have short memories and will continue to vote for them. Why don’t we give them a shock? Will someone please print a list of the Councillors who supported the closure of Cravenside so we can make sure they lose their seats!

Those of you who know me will probably agree that I’m a fairly quiet, law-abiding bloke but I am getting so angry about the way we are being treated by people in ivory towers who can see no further than a budget and a balance sheet. These people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It is up to us to educate them in any way we can. Forget politics, Pendle Council did last week when they voted unanimously against the care homes report. Support any local councillor who is fighting for your cause, take note of the ones who are staying silent and make your voice heard in the May elections. It is a slow process but I promise you it will work.

Ahhh! I feel better now I’ve got that lot off my chest! Thanks for all the support and feedback. Back numbers are on and you can call me any time on 813527. Go forth and protest!

SCG/01 April 2002
1053 words

Tuesday, April 02, 2002


Writing these articles is a bit like building flat-pack furniture, you always finish up with some pieces left over and you don’t really know where they go so this week I want to get rid of a few odds and sods that have been floating around!

Not long ago I was being taken to task for suggesting that water levels had altered around the British Isles between 10,000 and 5,000 BC. I was reminded of this today when I heard a fascinating news item about a discovery that has been made in the sea off Greece. It’s a very good illustration of what I am always saying to you, the research is never complete, there is always something new to learn.

The Greek government were doing a survey of the sea bottom off the coast in about 100ft of water using the latest side-scan sonar techniques when they started to get signals back which indicated large, symmetrical structures covering the sea bottom. When the data was analysed they saw that what they had found was a large city. How could this be? What had caused something as large as this to sink 100 feet below the surface?

It is of course possible for land to sink slowly over time due to movements in the earth’s crust but in this case there is a much more simple explanation. When the ice caps at the poles melted at the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 BC, scientists estimate that sea levels world wide rose by over 300 feet! If, as has been supposed, this city is over 9,000 years old, it could have been well established on a coastal plain which was over 100 feet above sea level. Between 10,000 and 5,000 BC the water level rose enough to cover it with 100 feet of water.

Think about the number of belief systems that have a ‘Flood Myth’ embedded in them. The Judaic/Christian version is that of Noah and the Ark. Could these all stem from this last catastrophic rise in sea levels? The historians have been discounting these myths for years but suddenly they are having to make a re-assessment.

The scientists went further and calculated how much land would be uncovered if present day sea levels were dropped by the same amount. The answer is that an area of land as big as North and South America put together was inundated by the polar melt. Add to this the fact that coastal sites were very popular for ancient cities because of access to water transport and we begin to realise that it strains credulity too far to believe that this is the only city that was lost. What does this do for the ‘legend’ of Atlantis?

Closer to home, I got out my atlas and looked at sea depths around the British Isles. I took the 100 feet depth contour and sure enough, the land bridge is there between Malin in Northern Ireland and the Scottish mainland. The Isle of Man and Anglesey are connected to England and Wales and there is a massive land bridge between the South of England and the continent. How many villages and settlements were there on this land? It seems to me that underwater archaeology might be a very fertile field from now on especially when we factor in improvements in sonar technology.

On the same subject we have the news hot off the press that the Ross Ice Shelf has dumped five million billion tons of ice into the ocean. (That’s right, five with fifteen noughts behind it!) I wonder how much that has raised sea levels. Could it be a warning that global warming has actually started?

All this is a long way from Barlick but even here, we have some watery matters to consider. Those of you who read the last two chapters of the Early History will have realised that the precise position of St Mary’s Well is crucial to making some better assessments of where the first church in Barlick was sited. I mentioned this to one or two people and I have been told that when the cattle grid was put in on Calf Hall Lane, the road was widened and the well covered over with a large stone flag. If any of you have any further information about this I’d love to hear from you.

Finally, I want to make a request. I’m sure that everyone has some old family photographs in a drawer somewhere. When you have a minute, will you please get them out and write on the back all you know about the people and places in the picture. Future generations will bless you if you do!

I’m asking you to do this because I have been sorting out pictures myself and asking other members of the family to help me identify the people. One picture in particular intrigued me and it was my cousin who told me what it was. The lady on the left is my grandma Margaret Challenger, the lady at the back is my mother Mary Challenger and the older lady on the right is Margaret Challenger’s mother, Grandma Shaw. The baby on Margaret Challenger’s knee is, you’ve guessed it, Stanley! I am very new so this was taken in 1936.

The point I want to make is that this is a wonderful picture to have, four generations on one photo and my grandchildren are looking back six generations when they see it. If I hadn’t taken the trouble to ask I wouldn’t have known this. Of course, I’ve written the information on the back. Please take a bit of time and do the same thing with yours, you will give so much information and pleasure to children not yet born and it is so easy to do.

Thanks for the calls and the feedback. You can always get me on 813527 and if you have access to a computer you can find all the back numbers on

SCG/25 March 2002
1007 words