Barnoldswick Local History Articles

Thursday, April 18, 2002


Occasionally, when you are wandering through the undergrowth of research, you trip over something completely by chance and realise that you have found a goodie. This happened to me this week while I was searching the Internet and found myself looking at a picture of a magnificent organ. It was built by a man called Aristide Cavalle-Coll who had his works in Paris and was so well-regarded that he either renovated, or built completely new organs, for many of the major cathedrals in France including Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame. One of his main backers was Paul Chandon de Brialles, director of the famous champagne producers, Moet and Chandon at Epernay.

Interesting, but what has this got to do with Barlick? The surprising answer is, very little! However, it has a lot to do with Bracewell.

We’ve got to start in Blackburn with the textile industry called get to the bottom of this connection. A man called Robert Hopwood was one of the founders of a large firm of spinners and manufacturers. They were very successful and on the 7th of March 1850 Hopwood School was opened on land given by Robert Hopwood at the junction of Mosley Street and James Street (now Proctor Street) in Blackburn. As well as giving the land, Robert had donated £150 towards the £800 cost of the building. The foundation stone was laid by John Turner Hopwood, grandson of Robert.

John Turner Hopwood hadn’t gone into the family firm but was a partner in the London music publishing firm of Ascherberg, Hopwood and Crew Ltd. who, amongst many other famous songs, published ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ in 1915.

J T Hopwood was present when the Cavaille-Coll organ at the Carmelite Priory in Kensington was inaugurated in 1866 with a recital by Widor and Guilmant, two world famous players. He was impressed and endeavoured to use his influence with the Prince of Wales to get Cavaille-Coll the contract for building the organ in the Albert Hall, but failed. However, he commissioned an organ for himself and in 1870, while the city of Paris was under siege by the Prussians, Cavaille-Coll’s foreman and chief voicer was hard at work in Bracewell Hall installing the new organ. Hopwood had bought the hall shortly before this, he was the man who rebuilt the old Elizabethan hall in the ‘Scottish Baronial’ style and also built an extension, Hopwood House, on the Home Farm which he renamed Hopwood Farm in the late 1860’s.

The installation of the organ was completed in October 1870 and was officially launched with a recital by the Leeds City Organist, Dr. Spark on the 7th of November the same year. It was rumoured that Queen Victoria herself was at the ceremony but my trawl of the archives has shown that this isn’t true, there is a confusion with the 1872 inauguration of the organ in the Albert Hall in London.

In 1875 Hopwood had the Bracewell organ enlarged by the manufacturer but in 1883 he moved the organ to his new house, Ketton Hall in Rutland. It looks as though this is when he sold Bracewell Hall and severed his connection with the village. The organ itself survives, it was transferred to Parr Hall at Warrington in 1926 when it was purchased by Warrington Corporation. As far as we know, it was in the 1875 condition. In 1969 a movement was started to support the retention of the organ even though £9,000 was needed to restore it. This became the Warrington Cavaille-Coll Organ Supporters Group and if you are interested, they can be contacted on 01925-442345. I am grateful to them and the Parr Hall web site for the original clues which led to me discovering the story of the organ.

The thing that fascinates me about this story is that it is a good example of how textile money was moving out of the industry in the mid to late 19th century. There are many examples of this, one famous one is Bullough of the firm Howard and Bullough in Accrington which employed over 5,000 hands and made many of the tape machines in Barlick. He bought the island of Rum in Scotland, built a castle and he and his wife are buried there in a mock Greek mausoleum on an isolated headland. Hopwood wasn’t working on this scale but he certainly left his mark on Bracewell. I have long been intrigued by the palatial rebuild of Hopwood Farm and the large building behind King Henry’s Parlour which looks like a school house and is dated 1869.

On a smaller scale we see the large houses at the top of Barnoldswick Lane next to Letcliffe Park and on Brogden Lane which were built by the local manufacturers. Many of them later moved out to the Fylde Coast and a lot of the money made in Barnoldswick in the 19th century is still alive and well in St Anne’s. I was once in a casino near Squire’s Gate, at the South end of Blackpool and was amazed by the sight of money vanishing through the slot in the roulette table as though it was going out of fashion. I asked the person I was with who these gamblers were and she said that they were mainly Chinese restaurant owners or old cotton widows. It brought home to me the fact that the money doesn’t go away, it just circulates, and I wondered how much of that gambling money could be traced back to the mills of Barnoldswick and the rest of Lancashire and the workers who gave their lives to make it. A spooky thought.

Thanks for the feedback, particularly to the daughter of Moreland Hoyle who rang me to point out that the Corn Mill chimney was never altered, I had made a mistake. She was quite right, I confused it with the Gas Works chimney and apologise for this. Back numbers on and I’m always here at 813527.

SCG/16 April 2002
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Tuesday, April 16, 2002


I’ve got two pictures for you this week. While I was sorting pictures out I came across an old postcard that I had forgotten about. There was no doubt about where it was; ‘School Lane, Earby’ is written across the bottom of the image so I went down and as near as possible, duplicated the picture.

The image you see is not clear enough to distinguish all the detail so let me tell you what I found when I enlarged both images and compared them.

The building on the left of the picture is the corner of the Conservative Club and is almost unchanged apart from the fact that the chimney has been removed from the extension. The railings are exactly the same and there is even a leak from the gutter in the same place as in the original picture! The cart in the background has ‘John Edmondson and Son. Butchers, Earby’ written across the back of it. In Barrett’s Directory for 1902 he is noted as a butcher at 50 Water Street and his cart could be on the way to the slaughterhouse which used to be situated near the railway level crossing. The building on the right is a corrugated iron church which even has imitation buttresses. I know nothing about this but I’m sure one of my Earby readers will fill me in!

What really fascinates me is the boys in the picture fishing for tiddlers in the beck. They look a cheeky and mischievous lot, one has a net and jam jar and another has a small shovel in his hand, no doubt a bit of damming was going on at the same time. Two girls and a lad are looking over the wall and the whole scene has a very peaceful and innocent quality to it. Who were these children? Assuming it was about 1900, what happened to them, the lads in particular. The odds are that at least one of them was killed in the Great War.

I know we have to endure progress and I realise that the Majestic Cinema and Armorides which were to be built on the open ground to the right made a contribution to the town but the modern scene has none of the wonderful qualities of the same place 100 years earlier. Perhaps I’m just an old romantic.

Dig through your old photographs and see what you can find. Go and compare the modern scene with the one in the picture and you can learn all sorts of interesting things about your town. If you have a camera, take the same picture again and keep the two together, there is nothing more interesting or informative than before and after pictures.

If you know about the ‘tin tabernacle’ let me know. You can reach me on 813527 or and the back numbers are on .

SCG/12 April 2002
487 words.


I’m going to the doctor’s tomorrow. I suppose as you get older these visits get more frequent. I can remember the time when I had to send a recent photograph so that Arthur Morrison could recognise me! Things have changed and so, I think, have my attitudes. I have begun to recognise that I need more help.

One of the things that is worrying me is that I might be getting to be a bit of a hypochondriac. I saw a TV programme on Diabetes last night and remembered that both my Father and brother succumbed to late-onset diabetes so perhaps I ought to have a test. The other problem is that when I had an operation on my undercarriage last year the nurse came to me as I was leaving the ward and whispered in my ear, ‘If you have any problems with your water let us know.’ Great! Then a mate of mine in America, an intelligent man, found that his kidneys had failed on him and he didn’t know it was happening. I think I need a check up……..

All this got me to thinking. My mind went back to Ernie Roberts being taken to the dentist by his mother with raging toothache in the 1930’s and being told to come back when she had the money to pay. I can remember my mother having to pay the doctor when I was young. My recent Floridian visitor was most impressed when she found that I could go to the doctor and get treatment and drugs at no cost. She told me that even though she has a good medical insurance for which she pays every month, it costs her a minimum of £40 if she has to go for treatment. I spoke to her yesterday and she has a severe cold and will not go to the doctor until it gets serious for this reason. I began to realise that although we complain bitterly about the state of the NHS we still have a wonderful service which operates well most of the time.

So, I shall go to the doctor tomorrow without any worries about money no matter what treatment I need. When you think about it, this is a wonderful comfort and we should be very grateful that we live in a country which is enlightened enough to support a National Health Service with no means testing.

Mind you, there has been one retrograde step in the last couple of weeks. The Park Road surgery has installed the dreaded ‘Voice Mail’. I rang the other day to make this appointment and the system ran me round the houses for a while before I actually got a human voice. In future, whenever possible I shall walk up to the surgery and speak to a human being!

If you have had occasion to ring the police helpline lately you will know that they also have an ‘improved’ system. 18 months ago when it was installed I wrote to the Chief Constable and told her that I thought this was a mistake because channelling all the calls through a central unit at Burnley separated the local police from the public and this must be a bad thing. She arranged for me to go to Burnley and speak to the officer in charge of communications but he seemed to be more interested in justifying the new system than listening to my comments. Any of you who have been watching the letters column will realise that Councillor Jackie Taylforth had exactly the same trouble. Her solution was to walk up to the police station. As I have had the same experience recently I have written to Mrs Pat Clare, the Chief Constable again. I shall let you know what comes of it.

Just as a matter of interest, the last Town Constable in Barlick was Thomas Waite. He was a clogger and farmer and lived at Hen House down Gisburn Road. He was superseded by the West Riding Constabulary when they established their first office in the town in 1856. It was perhaps easier to get hold of help then than it is now! Never mind, they tell me that we are to get three ‘Community Policemen’ shortly whose task will be to patrol on foot and interact with the public. The only problem I can see is that we won’t be able to ring them up when we want them. Perhaps they could have a mobile phone?

My mind goes back to the doctors I have known, Arthur Morrison at Earby, John Wilfred Pickard here in Barlick, I still have John’ old stethoscope hung on the wall, he gave it to me after he retired so I could listen to Mary Jane and James at Bancroft! He used to spend a lot of time in the engine house with me and I once asked him if the stories about him were true. He smiled and said that some had more truth in them than others.

When I was watching the TV programme on Diabetes the other night I remembered something that Arthur told me 40 years ago. He used to test everyone who went in the surgery for diabetes and I asked him why. He said that one person in five had some incidence of the condition and knew nothing about it. The only cure was to test every patient. This was exactly the message that the programme was giving, perhaps our old doctors, eccentric as they were at times, knew a thing or two. I quite like the present lot in Barlick but it remains to be seen whether they leave such a rich legacy of funny stories. I hope they do, but I have a feeling that those days might have gone. A pity, it made life a lot richer and more human. One thing is certain, a voice mail system isn’t going to help!

Thanks for the feedback, lots of it on the Cravenside controversy! You can always find me on 813527 or Back numbers on

SCG/07 April 2002
1016 words.

Monday, April 15, 2002


I see the Corn Mill got a mention this week with a report of a collapsed ‘culvert’ and this has triggered me off into a bit of solid history. I suspect that the ‘culvert’ might be the old flue from the Corn Mill boiler house to where the original square, stone-built detached chimney used to stand, this was replaced in 1906 by a new 80 feet high brick chimney erected on the old stone base by Mr Lee of Pocklington. It was a round chimney, 11feet diameter at the base and 6ft 9ins diameter at the top and stood in the open ground behind the mill.

The Corn Mill has always been a bit of a mystery for me because I haven’t been able to find out anything about its early history. There is no mention of a mill in Domesday so it would seem that the good people of Barlick had to take their corn elsewhere to grind it in 1085. The first vague mention I know is that it was possibly under dispute in a court case of 1591 between Tempest of Bracewell and Bannister who owned Coates Hall. This may have been when the mill was built because Tempest owned a corn mill at Bracewell and he would see another mill at Barnoldswick as competition. However, the population was rising rapidly at this time and there is little doubt that the Bracewell Mill couldn’t cope with the demand.

Bannister must have won this case because on 20th of December 1617 the Bagshawe Papers record that Richard Heber of Flasby and Martin Dickonson and Christopher Ellis of Barnoldswick relinquished their rights in the mill and returned them to Richard Bannister of Coates.

By 1640 the owners of the Coates Estate seem to have been Lawrence Halstead of Sonning in Berkshire and John Hartley of Coates. They sold the mill and all rights appertaining to George Halstead of Hague on 20th November 1640. The next time it crops up in my records is on 20th October 1763 when an entry in the Barnoldswick Manorial Court roll records that the owners of the mill were instructed to repair a road 1000 yards long and nine feet wide between Brogden and the mill. This would be the route along which the inhabitants of Brogden brought corn to the mill to be ground.

In the 1851 census, Robert Waite is recorded as the corn miller and he employed two men. This doesn’t necessarily mean he owned the mill but was certainly working it. I think that William Bracewell of Newfield Edge owned the mill by then and it was most likely Billycock who enlarged the dam in 1850. This dam is now filled in and is the garage site that runs alongside the beck from Gisburn Road to the mill. This was four years before he built what is now Wellhouse Mill and I have an idea he was thinking about water for Wellhouse as well as the Corn Mill when he bought the mill and made these improvements.

In 1885 Billycock died and as part of the break up of his estate the Corn Mill was up for sale in 1887 by order of the Chancery Court. At this time it was quite a well equipped mill with five pairs of French Burr stones and roller grinding machinery all driven by steam so it had a boiler and chimney at this time. This also indicates that it was grinding both flour and animal feed.

At the time of his death, Billycock had been in the process of building a gas works to serve the town. This was on land adjacent to the Corn Mill. The eventual buyer of both the gas works and the Corn Mill in 1890 was the newly formed Barnoldswick Gas and Light Company. This private company was founded on July 3rd 1888 with 1200 shares of £10 each. £6 was paid on each share. The miller at this time seems to have been Moreland Hoyle.

In August 1982 the gas works was sold to the Local Board for £13,850 and with the passing of the Barnoldswick Gas Act on 17 July 1893 it became a municipal undertaking. The Corn Mill was part of the sale and the Local Board became the owners. They rented the mill to Moreland Hoyle on a fixed rent and there are numerous letters in the old Urban District records at Preston dealing with matters like forcing Hoyles to do repairs and refusing them permission to have heaters in the pig sties at the mill!

The Hoyle family were to be the millers until the Corn Mill ceased production. They then continued to run the mill as livestock feed distributors. I used to buy animal feeds there in the 1960’s from ‘Cramp’ Hoyle and that’s about the sum of my knowledge about the Mill. If any of you know anything I haven’t mentioned I’d be very pleased to hear from you.

All this is very interesting but I can hear some of you asking ‘What’s the use of all this?’ The Corn Mill is part of Barnoldswick heritage, and if we want to look after our town we should be aware of its historical importance. In ancient times a corn mill was essential. Flour would have been far too expensive if it had been brought into the town ready milled. It wasn’t until the advent of the canal and the railway that it became economical to import heavy goods like these from outside.

Travel was difficult for the inhabitants as well and this is what triggered the amazing number of small shops that provided for all the Barlicker’s needs. We all know what car ownership and out of town shopping have done to our town centre. If we understand the mechanisms we might try to shop more in the town even though there is often a price penalty. Retail trade is the life blood of the town centre, it needs all the support we can give it.

Thanks for the feedback, you can always contact me on 813527 or email me on Back numbers of these articles are on

SCG/05 April 2002
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