Barnoldswick Local History Articles

Sunday, December 29, 2002


When the 1932 cricket season came round Jim Pollard was signed up at Colne as a player, he was 16 years old. His dad let him stop work in the bakehouse at 2pm and he would either catch the bus or bike over the Colne three days a week. The professional at Colne was an old Derbyshire player called Archie Slater and Jim says that the coaching brought him on wonderfully.

He had a companion pupil at Colne, a girl called Snowball! She was the daughter of a doctor at Burnley and Jim says she was very good. He thought that she eventually played for England.

Playing at Colne was a different experience for Jim. As soon as he got there he was given two bats and allowed to choose his own. He could either have George Gunns or Lamberts. He said he always chose a short handled Lambert. His mother laundered his whites and took a great pride in turning her son out in immaculate condition. As the season went on, the three afternoons a week practising with Archie Slater paid off and Jim did well. I asked him how good he was and he grinned and just said he was “Alreight”, then he added “Even though I say it meself, I was a brilliant slip fielder!”

By 1934 he was making his mark. He was playing against men like Learie Constantine who was professional at Nelson and people were asking for his autograph in the street. In this same year he was noticed by a scout from Old Trafford and they asked him to go down and play in a trial match. Lancashire offered him a job on the ground staff. This was the recognised way you got into a team like Lancashire in those days, you worked on the staff, practiced in the nets with the professionals and eventually played for Manchester Colts which was the nursery team for the County side.

This was a wonderful opportunity but as Jim said, he couldn’t take it on because the price of the lodgings and laundry put it out of his parent’s reach. With a heavy heart, he refused the offer and regretted it for the rest of his life.

In 1935 Jim had another blow. His dad’s war injuries caught up with him and he died. He and his mother had a stark choice, either they struggled on with the bakehouse, a job that Jim detested, or he had to get a job. He went to see the chairman of Colne CC, a man called Pickles who was managing director at Standroyd Mill at Cottontree and told him that unless he got a job the club was going to lose him. Mr Pickles said he’d find him a job and sent him on to Lambert’s the warp sizers at Boundary. Jim wasn’t even considered for a job because he wasn’t in the union and there was a shortage of work. Things were looking black!

Then there was a ray of sunshine. A man called Harry Kay, who had a shop on Rainhall Road sent for him and took him along to Bancroft where he introduced Jim to Wilfred Nutter. Wilfred was very keen on cricket and president of Barnoldswick CC. He offered Jim a job on condition that he played for Barnoldswick. As an added incentive he said he’d pay Jim 7/6 a week out of his own pocket on top of his wage.

This solved all Jim’s problems. He had his cricket and his job in the mill. His mother sold the bakehouse and she and Jim moved into a house at Sough opposite the Cenotaph where they lived until 1937 when his mother married again, to a man who worked in the Co-op. This man was offered a better job in Birmingham in the Co-op and so he and Jim’s mother went down there and never came back. Jim moved into Barlick and by 1939 had got married himself. At 23 years old he was working in the preparation department at Bancroft and playing all the cricket he wanted. Add a new wife and his own home and things were looking rosy!

Right, we’ve got a nice story here and it looks as though everyone is going to live happy ever after but we all know that life isn’t like that. A man called Adolph Hitler was stirring over the channel and this was to be the next upset in Jim’s life. We’ll go into what happened next week

However, I’ve got to do my historian bit here. I asked Jim whether cricket really was that important in the 1930’s in Barlick, Earby and Colne. He said that they were cricketing mad. It was entirely down to the cricket that he got the job at Bancroft and he was to work there until it closed in December 1978. He said that the rivalry between the different teams was ferocious and poaching players was par for the course. Remember that we are talking about an age when there was no TV and very few radios. Weekend sport was big news especially when players like Constantine were drawing the crowds in.

Jim said that it was funny, he didn’t get much flak when he moved from Earby to Colne, this was seen as a step forward and nobody begrudged him the chance. However, when he moved sideways as it were, to Barnoldswick, he was subjected to barracking and some harsh words from his former team mates. At one point, feelings were running high but gradually settled down as time went by. There’s little doubt in my mind that he could have gone far if he’d been able to take up Lancashire’s offer. Who can tell where that would have led to? As we’ll find out later, this wasn’t the last offer he got to play County cricket but that lay in the future, after the war.

SCG/29 November 2002
997 words.


We start the new year with a small quiz. There are two pictures this week and what I’d like you to do is spot the difference (if there is any!) The first picture of the wall with the small section missing out of the top is a bit of pure vandalism on Letcliffe. This is the boundary wall looking out over the valley and Park Hill reservoir which was all repaired last year. Someone evidently thought it was clever to push a section of it over into the field below. (Why don’t they use their heads!)

The second picture is the dividing wall between the top field and the field containing the toilets. It was one of the original dividing walls dating from when the park was a working farm and to my mind was an essential part of the traditional landscape. During the week before Christmas the Council made this adjustment to it. My question is, is there a difference? I’ve written to the Council to ask for an explanation and made my views clear, I’ll let you know what the reply is when I eventually get one.

While we’re up on Letcliffe, I have a small advance for you on the story of the Letcliffe Tank. I’m sure now that it was cut up for scrap in October 1932 and from what I can make out from the very battered picture I found, it was on the plinth which now carries the viewing station that identifies the hills on the horizon. I’ve always thought that was the favourite because if you look at the wall behind the plinth you can see where it has been rebuilt and the gap looks to be just about wide enough for the tank.

Another update on the small building at the bottom of Lamb Hill. John Northage called in to see me just before Christmas and he told me that his father in law, Richard Fellows, told him 40 years ago that it used to be used as a lock-up for offenders before they were removed to Skipton.

From time to time you may have heard me mention that there used to be a small steam winch on the island at the top of Salterforth Lane. It was used to give the horses a hand to get heavily loaded stone wagons up the hill from what, in later years, used to be Gibson’s Quarry on the right looking down the drag. I had mislaid the reference for this but remembered the other day that Jack Platt told me that it was certainly there just after the Great War because he used to watch it working. I think Whitham would be running the quarry then. He was originally a pork butcher in Barlick and had a shop on Church Street. He went into partnership with another man to run the quarry but he let him down so he gave up the shop, went to live on Salterforth Lane, worked the quarry himself and made a success of it.

Before this, William Bracewell got possession of it in 1870. He had been made trustee under a deed of assignment for the benefit of the creditors of a former owner and sold the property at auction in 1867. In 1870 he bought it for himself. It was put up for sale next, together with the brickworks which went with it, in the dispersal sale of the Bracewell Estate in 1887 but I’m not sure who bought it then.

Right, that’s a few interesting bits and pieces out of the way. I’m working hard over Christmas to dig out more of your history and there’s plenty to go at in 2003. Don’t worry, I shall be stopping occasionally to have a large meal or slightly too much whisky. The first part of the agenda is to follow Jim Pollard through his career in the army and at Bancroft. After that, we shall wander where our fancy takes us.

Keep an eye on Rainhall Road School and ask questions. If you feel like getting up to mischief you could always quiz the Parks and Cemeteries about walls in Letcliffe. If enough of us protest, they’ll think it’s a movement! (If that last sentence reminds you of a song, give me a call on 813527 and I’ll put you out of your misery!)

Thanks for all the feedback and support you’ve given me, it’s so nice when people get back to me and let me know that I’ve triggered their memories off. That’s what local history is all about; we keep it alive by talking about it and in the end the people who will benefit will be our children and grandchildren. They will have some sort of an idea where they came from. Wonderful!

SCG/21 December 2002
797 words.


The last time we looked at Jim Pollard’s life in Earby he was going to Riley Street school, he’d started there when he was three years old. His mother and father were running the bakery in Red Lion Street. In 1921, when he was five, Jim transferred from Riley Street to Alder Hill School.

I asked him what sort of school it was and he told me that he thought it was a good school and discipline was very strict. In those days ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ was still the rule and beatings with the cane were quite common. If it was a minor offence, a couple of strokes on the hand in the classroom by the teacher were sufficient but for any serious misdemeanour, he was taken down to the woodwork room, laid across a bench and given what he called ‘a proper walloping’. He also told me about a time when he was hit by the headmaster with his walking stick as he was leaving for home one night. His mother saw the bruise on him and went down to berate the master. Jim didn’t know what the outcome was but it never happened again.

Listening to Jim, I was reminded of my own schooldays when we were under a similar code of discipline. Like him, I can’t see that it did us any harm. What is certain is that there was no cheek, teachers had control of their classrooms and there was very little vandalism. Jim was very scathing about the comparison between this regime and the one his daughter was educated under in the late 70s at New Road School as it was then. Still, what do we know about things like this, we have to bow to the ‘experts’ who tell us this is damaging.

As for academic progress, Jim admitted that while he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the box, he was educated well. He was good at arithmetic, reading and writing and in 1929, at the age of thirteen he passed the entrance examination for Ermysted’s at Skipton, but these weren’t his main interests. If Jim was passionate about anything, it was sport.

Alder Hill was where Jim first came across physical training. An ex-rugby player called Hindley was their master and he was helped occasionally by the PT instructor from Ermysted’s, a man called Taylor. It was at this point that Jim realised that the most important thing in life was sport!

Now I have to admit at this point that when they handed the sports gene out, they missed me completely! I reckon Jim must have got my share as well as his own. He started to spend all his time playing football on a field near the Punchbowl hotel in winter and cricket in summer. It wasn’t long before the school realised they had a prodigy on their hands. Jim rapidly progressed to the first team at school and stayed in there as long as he was at Alder Hill.

There was another interest in Jim’s life, as long as he could remember he had wanted to work in the mill. As his older mates left school and got in the mills he would go and visit them at work when school was finished. He used to reach in for the loomer and help with cloth bundling in the warehouse. He was up at Sough Bridge Mill one day and was surprised when they came out to find a lot of bobbies chasing people up the road. He had unwittingly got himself mixed up in part of the More Looms disputes and workers from Earby were picketing Sough Bridge Mill. Jim says that they all scattered, some running over the railway line and escaping across the fields. He said that the police weren’t local, many of them came from Doncaster and they were hard men obviously picked for their size.

In 1930 he left school at 14 years old and even though he had qualified for grammar school, he decided not to go but to work in the bakehouse with his father until he could find a job in the mill. Remember that these were bad times for labour and unless you had a very good connection, your chances of a job were virtually nil.

Because they started early in the bakehouse, he was free in the afternoons and so divided his time between working with his mates and going up to Earby Cricket Ground two days a week to practice. At that time, Earby was cricketing mad and Jim had hopes of getting on the team but they didn’t think he was big enough so he tried at Thornton in Craven and got in. He hadn’t been there very long before Earby realised what they were missing out on and so in 1931 Jim was in the Earby team and seventh heaven!

Good though this was, Jim found that there was bit of friction in the club. When the long summer holidays came round, the lads from Ermysted’s became available and were given precedence in the team over the local lads. A sort of ‘gentlemen and players’ situation. This wasn’t Jim’s idea of fair play but before he could get really wound up about it, Colne Cricket Club approached him in November 1931 and offered him a team place in the 1932 season, he was 16 years old when he started playing for them.

So, in 1932, it was quite obvious to everyone that there was a budding talent here and everyone expected him to go a long way. Next time I’ll tell you about the invitation from Lancashire County Cricket Club at Old Trafford and what transpired. Speaking as a historian, what I’d like to remind you of is that we are looking at a young lad, in the middle of a depression, being offered a way out because of his natural talent. If this came off, he was assured of a glittering future and who knows how far he could go. A great contrast to life in the mill with all the uncertainty that was going to entail.

SCG/29 November 2002
1032 words