Barnoldswick Local History Articles

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


We need to do a bit of housekeeping this week. There is one matter that is really bugging me and several small bits of information that don’t really warrant a whole article so if you’ll indulge me we’ll tidy the desk up a bit.

The recent case of the plane-spotters in Greece fascinated me. Quite obviously the Greeks were completely baffled by the fact that anyone should have an interest in aeroplanes. My own view is that people should be allowed to do what they want in their spare time as long as it doesn’t frighten the horses. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there is far more going on here than some sort of collecting mania.

I’m sure that all of you have seen people on TV proudly showing off their collections, everything from cigarette cards to Victorian lavatory chains. I have to admit that this does disturb me, there is a very thin dividing line between hobby and obsession. However, the plane-spotters weren’t actually collecting the planes, just the experience of seeing them and understanding more about them. This seems to me to be a fairly healthy activity.

But of course, I would say that because as a lad I was an avid train spotter and to this day, I get very annoyed when people comment on this and describe it as a mindless activity. I was born in Stockport and on the way home from school I crossed the main Manchester to London railway line. I’ve seen me stand there for hours watching the locos on the busy main line, noting the numbers down and then going home and consulting the bible, The Ian Allan ABC of LMS locomotives. We knew how they worked, what loco shed they were based at and all about their history. Is it any wonder that out of six of my mates at school, five of us finished up in engineering and three on steam engines.

So, all I can say to the critics of train spotting is that whatever they think, it got us out into the fresh air, didn’t do any harm and literally fired us up to go forth and join in the fun! Perhaps the lack of this sort of activity is one of the reasons we are short of skilled people now. It’s as good a theory as any.

Let’s have an update on some of the latest finds that the archaeologists have come up with this summer all of which expand our knowledge of what our ancient forbears were getting up to.

At Poole in Dorset they have uncovered evidence of an Iron Age port that was operating well before 250BC. The 80 metre long jetty needed about 10,000 tons of rock and oak piling and indicates that there was a large and very skilful work force. Exports would be pottery, metals and shale jewellery and imports were amber, ceramics, olive oil and wine.

Up in Whitby it was decided that a dig should be done near the ancient abbey because the land was slipping into the sea. The experts were astounded when they found the remains of an Iron Age industrial site that was founded long before Christianity or the Romans. Iron smelting and working, bronze casting, glass making and weaving, the evidence is that there was a full scale industrial centre that even included a deep ditch to protect the abbey from fire risk.

One thing about Neolithic sites in this country dating back to 10,000BC that has puzzled researchers for years is that almost all have a smooth, level floor which is often paved or plastered. Archaeologists are now beginning to suspect that these were malting floors. They think that our Stone Age forbears had found out that sprouted grain produced sugar and that this could be fermented into an alcoholic drink, Stone Age beer no less. The speculation is that the waste grain after malting attracted animals and this might have been one of the triggers for domesticated animals. This is a long shot at the moment and they are looking for evidence but it all makes sense and supports my theory that the old Barlickers might have been tying one on far earlier than we previously thought.

While we are on the subject of Barlickers and beer, who would ever have thought that the Seven Stars would close its doors when Steve Wright left? I see that the owners are looking for a landlord and it makes one wonder why keeping a historic pub like that is evidently so deeply unattractive. Could Pubmaster have been taking too much profit out?

One last small niggle. When the Council presented us with the ‘traffic calming’ measures on Fernbank Avenue I wrote and asked how much it had cost. The answer was that the whole of the measures cost £20,000. I suppose everyone has noticed that we have now covered the whole lot with tarmac! What intrigues me is that they have either decided that putting bumps in the road was a bad idea or, and this one really does worry me, are they going to come and dig it all up to re-instate them? Either way, it seems to me that there is a lesson to be learned here about prudent spending.

My picture this week is one that was given to me in 1980 of Earby Station. I like the sign, ‘CHANGE HERE FOR BARNOLDSWICK’, those were the days. Dr Beeching did us no favours when he axed our branch line. I know that in these enlightened days I am a bit of a dinosaur but what’s wrong with running public transport at a loss? I suspect that a proper cost/benefit analysis would show that cheap transport pays dividends far beyond the actual cost of the service.

Right, that’s the loose ends cleared up, back to Jim Pollard and Earby in the 30’s. Thanks for all the feedback, you can always get me on 813527 or

SCG/27 November 2002
1003 words


On Thursday the 6th of March, 1885 William (Billycock) Bracewell died suddenly of ‘congestion of the lungs’ a week short of his 72nd birthday. He was the biggest industrialist in Barnoldswick and his sudden decease threw the town into decline. On June 23rd 188 the Craven Herald reported that ‘The town is in a very low state’, this was because the Craven Bank was more interested in realising the assets of William Bracewell and Sons than running the mills. There was an exodus from the town as skilled operatives left their rented houses and flitted to textile towns in Lancashire where there was plenty of work.

It was obvious to many capital holders in the town that something had to be done. The result was the foundation of the Long Ing Shed Company in 1887 which built Long Ing Shed and let it out as Room and Power to local manufacturers. In 1888 there was another crisis meeting on Tuesday October 16th in the Old Baptist Chapel. It was chaired by the Rev. E R Lewis and those present were all local retailers and businessmen who stood to lose most if the town failed to recover.

The result was the formation of the Calf Hall Shed Company which built Calf Hall Shed from scratch and eventually bought and restarted Wellhouse Mill and Butts Mill. Existing and new manufacturers in the town took up this modern weaving capacity and laid the foundations of the later mill-building in the town with the profits they made as room and power tenants of the Calf Hall Company.

So, the first of my pictures this week is of a very important group of men indeed in the modern history of Barlick. It is a photograph of some of directors of the company. It was made in 1895 outside ‘Crowtrees’ in Barrowford, the home of William Henry Atkinson who was an eminent local architect. I have little doubt that some of my readers will find a relation here.

The men in the photograph are: Standing, left to right; Proctor Barrett, Harry Wilson, William Holdsworth, W H Atkinson, Edward Smith, William P Brooks and John Horsfield. Seated; Leonard Holdsworth, Tom Dent, Johnson Edmondson and Greenwood Wilkinson.

Proctor Barrett was a joiner and builder with premises on Station Road, Harry Wilson was an overlooker and lived at 18 Railway Street, William Holdsworth was a joiner with premises on Commercial Street, W H Atkinson was the architect, Edward Smith was a stonemason and contractor of Mosley Street, William Proctor Brooks was an auctioneer and valuer and I think he owned Wellhouse Farm which stood on Church Street. At the moment I have no definite information about John Horsfield, but I’m still looking!

I don’t know what Leonard Holdsworth did but in 1887 he was noted as living at 23 Rainhall Road, Thomas Dent was a baker of 5 Albion Terrace, Johnson Edmondson was an overlooker and his address in 1887 was 9 Albion Terrace, Greenwood Wilkinson was a shopkeeper of 31 Rainhall Road.

The second picture was taken in 1948 outside the main gate at Butts Mill. Left to right they are, Edward Wood, Chairman (Both he and Victor Hedges were connected with Proctor and Proctor of Grimshaw Street Burnley who were accountants and managed the company. Edward Wood was the engineering expert). Moses Horsfield was a Barlick manufacturer, Richard Jacques was the architect, Harold Duxbury was of course a builder and contractor down Butts, John Vernon Patrick was a grocer Norman Barrett was an architect. The end man on the right is Victor Hedges.

Harold Duxbury gave me these pictures, together with a mass of other information, 25 years ago. On one level they are a valuable historical record, on another, they might have woken a few memories among my older readers. Thanks for your continued interest. You can get me on 813527 if you have any comments or questions.

SCG/13 November 2002
660 words