Z is for Zeppelins

Young men and women went from Springhill to war, as they did from every community. Sadly, some did not return, as happened to every community. Once in WW1 however the war came to Springhill, or at least too close for comfort.

On 25 Sept 1916, a Zeppelin followed, it is thought, the wrong train from Todmorden. This train did not go to Manchester but through Cloughfold which is much smaller than Manchester and 25 miles north. The Zeppelin in pursuit dropped one of its bombs on Lea Bank, a mansion house about 200 yds from Springhill. It missed, and there were no injuries, but that’s a bit close really. A second bomb was dropped on the western outskirts of Cloughfold about half a mile away - again no damage or casualties but again a bit close. Further bombs were dropped through Haslingden towards Bury.

It is said however that this errant Zeppelin did claim a life - that of a song thrush in Holcombe, just north of Bury. The hapless bird was stuffed and mounted with a plate proclaiming it ‘the thrush, being the only fatality in the Zeppelin raid of World War 1’. This now has its own entry on the IWM War Memorials Archive:


where it is beautifully catalogued as ‘stuffed thrush in glass case with plate’ and solemnly listed as being an exact count of casualties.

Well, this begs a few questions:
  • did a minimum of three bombs really only kill one thrush?
  • if the thrush was killed by a bomb, how come there was enough of it left to stuff?
  • and, seriously, it seems a tad disrespectful to those who served and died for a thrush to be included as a casualty of war...but perhaps it reflects the humour which often flourishes during tragedy. Perhaps its just me.
(apparently on the same raid a cluster of bombs killed 13 in Bolton. RIP)

Y is for yeomanry

The regular forces were supplemented by volunteers who trained for a certain number of hours a year and were called upon when necessary. For the infantry this was met locally by the 4th Rossendale Volunteer Rifles meeting in Stacksteads and for the cavalry by the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry which dates from 1827 and is still extant.

Charles Patrick (‘F is for...”), a notable horseman and huntsman, was an active member of the Rochdale troop of the DOLY between c 1857 and 1878 when he was 64. At this time drill was once or twice per week, with annual camp in Lancaster and escorting the High Sheriff of Lancashire. Duties were largely ceremonial and they were not involved in active service during Patrick’s time.

The camp provided opportunities for training in and demonstration of horsemanship and musketry skills with competition between the troops being intense. Techniques were said to be ‘archaic’ with focus on swordsmanship and set-piece manoeuvres. Strangely, most of these meetings seemed to include a first class meal for officers in a hostelry of some description - any wonder that the yeomanry was popular in Lancaster as the requirement for the soldier to provide his own horse meant that the members were generally men of some means. You have to feel sorry for the poor horse, who was presumably ridden the 40+ miles from Rossendale to Lancaster, took part in the drills and exhibitions then ridden home again... come to think of it the eight miles to Rochdale for drill twice a week can’t have been much fun either, especially in winter.

These annual camps were described in detail in the local press and the manner of their reporting is illustrative of the time. The cheering crowds, the details of the drill, the supervising officer’s address, the details of the dinner are all enthusiastically and uncritically detailed with the reporter waxing lyrical on the appearance and abilities of the men and the effect they would have on a potential enemy. Perhaps. but I can’t help feeling, maybe unfairly, that it was more Dad’s Army on horseback.

Incidentally, Patrick’s obituary claimed that he had a distinguished army career and saw considerable active service abroad. I have been unable to confirm this, and wonder if he was above embellishing his army record to impress his new neighbours in a part of the country which didn’t know any different. Surely not.

X is for the unknown, a cross and Christ

Beloved of numerous maths questions, X stands for the unknown, for the answer to the problem, for the thing which must be found. The desire to find out about a place drives this hobby, and much remains to be uncovered. Some of the unknowns will probably never be answered, but we still wonder. Some of my great unknowns:
  • Who was the dead women after whom ‘Deadwenclough’ was named and how did she come to be dead in a stream?
  • Was John Ashworth (who built Springhill House) related to Charlotte Ann Hargreaves (from whom he bought the land)?
  • How did Charles Patrick, from a wealthy Middlesex family, end up as a sub-inspector of factories in Rochdale? How did he meet and marry the heiress of the Springhill estate?
  • What happened to the portrait of Patrick and his wife, mentioned in his will?

X is also a cross and the area contains four crosses:
  • two ‘Cross Cottage’ approx 100 yards apart
  • Cross Meadow, next to one of the Cross cottages and labelled as such on the 1844 OS map
  • New Cross Meadow, next to Cross Meadow, which figures I suppose

One of the Cross Cottages is C18 and one of the oldest buildings in the area. Why was it called that? There is no evidence of a religious connection or of its being used as a meeting house. It isn’t on a road junction or the crossing of ancient rights or way. It isn’t at a river confluence. The field isn’t cross-shaped. There is no apparent reason. And why two of them so close together?

X also stands for Christ - think Xmas and Christmas - and the question of how, or whether, he should be worshipped has had a big influence in the area. Meeting places and burial grounds for one of the oldest Baptist and Quaker congregations in the country are here. At least two, probably three and possibly four houses have been used as dissenting meeting places in C17 and C18. More recently Anglican, Baptist and Unitarian ministers have lived in Springhill. Some of the land which became Springhill Farm was held in Trust for the Rector of Newchurch to help provide his stipend. Why was the area such rich pickings for nonconformity and why was it such a big issue for cow-farmers and hand-loom weavers?

Much remains to be found, and its fun looking and questioning.

W is for water

With a name like ‘Springhill’ I suppose water had to feature somewhere in this study. The hills above Springhill are indeed full of springs, underground reservoirs (some explorers allegedly taking a dinghy up to one of them and no it wasn’t me) and random boggy bits. We have already considered that the old name of the area arose from a clough in which the body of a woman was found (“D-day...”). Water influences the use to which land is put, whether arable or industrial, and this has certainly influenced my place’s history.

Studying the history and use of water has helped me understand more about the place and its people. Patrick (“F is for...”) left a codicil to his will in which he willed that the water he had recently found on the hills above Springhill should be available to all his properties equally and not just those owned by the beneficiary who received the land containing the spring in question.

Ooh, interesting. Even more interesting then to find a map amongst a neighbour’s deeds which outlined the pipework from said spring to the houses and farms it supplied...with names of residents in some instances. This map confirmed which of the three possible contenders the ‘cottage opposite the house in which I now reside’ (from the same will) actually was. It even came with instructions on how the water was to be divided in times of drought. A quick stroll in the fields confirmed that the cisterns were still there and it was possible to trace the lie of much of the pipework. My friend thought I was mad, photographing boggy fields in October but hey.

The the converse is also true. The ‘obvious’ thing would be for the utilities to follow the lie of the main road but they don’t, because the road in question had virtually no houses on it when the pipes were laid and the most direct route was not along the road but through the field about 50 yards north. The water board have been known to dig up the road looking for pipes which weren’t there... Knowing the history of the development of the place helps you understand where things are and why they are where they are, and you never know when that might be useful - in another context it finally persuaded the council that the street lamp was their responsibility!

V is for vaccary

I’ll be honest, I haven’t made an exhaustive study of this but do wonder how many places there are where entire areas are named after cow-pastures.

As the Middle Ages progressed the lords realised that they could make more money by oxen-farming than they ever would be deer hunting, so the deer were corralled into a deer park and the rest of the medieval forest divided into 12 vaccaries. These became the basis for the later townships and were administrative as well as geographical areas. Land use reflecting profitability has a long history.

Springhill was in the vaccary of Deadwenclough (“D is for..’) and the farming was centred on Cloughfold. There were two pinfolds in Rossendale for stray animals, with one of these in Deadwenclough and thought to be on Dobbin Lane about 100 yds from Springhill - the 1901 census has a farm there called ‘Pinfold Farm’ whilst tradition places the pinfold across the (old) road by the rectory.

It is said that every vaccary had 50 cows, 50 calves and one bull. At deforestation in 1507 the population of Rossendale was said to be 16 and even taking these as being adult males rather than individuals that leaves just over one family per vaccary which seems a little low. The court records suggest many more people living here than that - I’ve found over 16 just living in Deadwenclough. The ’16’ were probably main tenants and one per vaccary seems more reasonable.

In C15 the trend was towards smallholding and subletting, a trend which intensified after deforestation. Common ground was shared in certain areas with a complex network of rights of way over the moors to reach this shared ground, leading to lots of green dashed lines on modern OS maps and ‘paths’ which will test anyone’s navigation skills on the moors in the mist.

Incidentally ‘Deadwenclough’ is a search engine nightmare. Documents have it as one word or two, ‘dead’ as ‘ded’ or ‘died’, ‘wen’ as ‘win’ or ‘quene’...or any combination of these. It is also a spellchecker nightmare with ‘ded’ being turned to ‘red’ and ‘quene’ to ‘queen’ on a regular basis.

U is for Unitarian

There is a unitarian church half a mile to the west in Rawtenstall and until 2004 another half a mile to the east in Newchurch which was known as Bethlehem .Tthere are two connections between Springhill and the Bethlehem Unitarian congregation.

The first is Rev Thomas Josef Jenkins who was minister at Newchurch 1913-1918 and died in office. Kelly’s directory 1909 has him living at Springhill House and helpfully specified his denomination though not his church. He was in Hinckley, Leicestershire in 1901, where he ministered before 1913 is not known but was possibly local. Kelly’s have been known to have people resident in a place after they left bur not usually before they arrived.

The annual Unitarian Sunday School Union music festival in 1918 was interrupted to offer condolences to his widow and family before continuing with a concert and dance (Burnley Express, 15 May 1918). Given Unitarian theology, it is interesting that the performance included ‘And the Glory’ and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ with its proclamation of Jesus as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’.

Just to confuse things, the Rawtenstall congregation had a minister called the Rev Jenkyn Thomas from 1903-6. Barked up the wrong tree with that one for a while...

60 years later the residents of Springhill Cottage were regular attenders at the same chapel in Newchurch. Their family had a longstanding connection with the church and family members acted in a number of roles there.

T is for turnpikes

One of the interesting thing about the A-Z blogging challenge is how some themes have emerged which hadn’t occurred to me before. None of these are cutting edge or open up exciting areas for research but are a bit quirky and I like the quirky.

One of these is the highways and attempts to improve them. ‘J is for...’ mentioned in passing that numerous people were amerced in C16 for failing to maintain a highway or for obstructing a highway ( or even both at once) and that the same old ‘highways’ are still poor after rain. For ‘poor’ read ‘rivers’...
this is still technically a ‘road’ and is theoretically open to four-wheeled traffic. A nearby sign, ‘Do not follow sat nav’, is sound advice.

hurst road Mar 30 2014 thumbnail

It is perhaps not a great surprise then that a Turnpike Trust was established in an attempt to improve the roads. The first turnpike ran from Haslingden (4 miles west) to Todmorden (about eight miles east) and marks the southern boundary of Springhill. It was built in 1789, said to be by Blind Jack of Knaresboro’ and to have cost £3000. It was subsequently extended in 1815 to run along the various valleys to Rochdale and Burnley.

Ashworth (‘A is for...’) had shares in the Turnpike Trust. One of his collieries (‘C is for..”) had two entrance roads, one each side of the tollbooth to allow customers from either direction to exit without paying. So the colliery he part owned helped customers avoid tolls on the turnpike he part owned ...no wonder the latter is said never to have returned a profit.

Quite why the turnpike went to Todmorden when the main market was Rochdale is interesting but it does at least explain the signpost at a turnoff in Haslingden labelled ‘Todmorden’ when the two towns are separated by rather more than two bits of moor.

S is for Spence and slaughterhouse

If the history of Springhill in C19 was dominated by the Ashworth/Patrick families (‘A is for...’ and ‘F is for...’) then the virtually constant family during C20 was the Spences of Springhill Farm.

William Spence farmed Springhill Farm from at least 1910, buying it in 1923 when the properties came on the market after Mrs Turner’s Trust was dissolved (“H is for...”). He married Annie Pickup and their three children (Billy, Harry and Betty) inherited the farm from them. Betty married and Billy moved out in the 1970s but Harry lived there until 2004.

The 1947 national farm survey describes the farm as being 32 acres of heavy soil used for dairy but also recording 7 pigs and 30 fowl. The location is ‘good’ as is the condition of the farmhouse whilst farm buildings, ditches, drainage etc are fair. As noted under ‘G is for geology’, the use of the land is limited by its underlying clay nature which turns to bog/mud at the slightest rain... arable farming was limited to fodder and it seems a bit harsh for the farm to be given a ‘B’ rating in the national farm survey due to ‘personal failings’ of the farmer, these being his lack of experience in arable farming.

The farm was never mechanised and was regarded locally as old fashioned in the 60s. It was sold to a local developer in 1988 and 6 des. reses. erected on it. Billy had by this time moved out of the farmhouse (causing a bit of a local scandal at the time) and Harry continued to live there. The house is still known as ‘Springhill Farmhouse’ although the farm has now gone.

The cattle didn’t have far to go when the time came as the next farm along had a slaughterhouse which ran until it fell foul of EU regulations in 1985. This farm, Johnny Barn Farm, ran a cattle auction in the 1920s but I’m unsure when slaughtering began there, or auctioning ceased. I well remember the cattle being herded in as I walked to school.

R is for Rossendale and Rochdale

Rossendale has been mentioned a few times in the blogs so far. This study is about the Springhill area of Higher Cloughfold village so where does Rossendale come in?

Originally Rossendale (with numerous infuriating spelling variations) was known (and still is known) as the Forest of Rossendale. It was a forest in the legal sense, being the name of the area of East Lancs subject to forest law although it was more strictly a chase rather than a forest as it was subject to the Lord of the Honor of Clitheroe rather than the King. To what extent is was a ever a forest in the botanical sense is debatable and the frequently repeated statement that a squirrel could jump from tree to tree from Haslingden (at one end of Rossendale) to Sharnyford (at the other, about 4 miles away) without touching the ground is probably mythical.

On deforestation Rossendale became part of the manor of Accrington New Hold, or at least those bits north of the river Irwell did, including Springhill. The land was copyhold to the manor and this system for land transfer continued until 1926. With industrialisation came the formation of the townships and latterly the boroughs of Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Bacup. Rossendale as an administrative entity existed in two main forms: the parliamentary constituency after 1885 and the postal district. Addresses in Springhill are still ‘Springhill, Rossendale, Lancs which confuses delivery men no end as it isn’t marked on maps and satnav will take you to the wrong place...

The borough of Rossendale was formed by merger of the three above boroughs plus Ramsbottom and Whitworth in 1974 and its borders loosely follow those of the ancient forest.

Rochdale is a town about 6 miles (and a big bit of moor) away from Springhill but the Ashworth/Patrick families (see ‘A is for...’ and ‘F is for...’) had strong links with Rochdale:
Mary Ann Patrick nee Ashworth went to school in Rochdale, location unknown. She presumably boarded rather than make that journey daily by carriage
Charles Patrick gave a Rochdale address at marriage in 1855. How he got there from Middlesex (where he was born) via Canada is unknown.
Patrick had various social connections with Rochdale, including the yeomanry and possibly the freemasons.

A one-place study doesn’t just involve study of one place!

Q is for Quaker

George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), received a vision on the top of Pendle Hill (12 miles and two bits of moor away) in 1652. The extract from his autobiography describing this is given below.

In 1663 land was given by one Richard Ratcliffe of Chapel Hill for use as a burial ground for Friends and his house nearby was used as a meeting place. It was in use until 1847 and 135 people are buried there. This is approx 500 yards from Springhill.

The current Meeting House is approx 3 miles away in Crawshawbooth (over the inevitable patch of moor - they used to hold meetings for business on full moon to aid passage over the moorland). An annual meeting for worship is held at the burial ground.

Although I don’t identify myself as a Quaker I am attracted by the values of truth telling and non-violence. So one sunny Sunday afternoon last June I joined a group of about 50 Friends and enquirers, sat in silence under the trees, being still and listening. It was very powerful.

Again (see ‘B is for...’), what was it about C17 Rossendale which made it such a fertile ground for non-conformity?

Incidentally, a quaker marriage certificate is signed by everyone present and not just the formal witnesses. Family history heaven!

George Fox, Autobiography:

A New Era Begins

As we traveled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire.  From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered.  As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before.

At night we came to an inn, and declared truth to the man of the house, and wrote a paper to the priests and professors, declaring the day of the Lord, and that Christ was come to teach people Himself, by His power and Spirit in their hearts, and to bring people off from all the world's ways and teachers, to His own free teaching, who had bought them, and was the Saviour of all them that believed in Him.  The man of the house spread the paper abroad, and was mightily affected with the truth.  Here the Lord opened unto me, and let me see a great people in white raiment by a river side, coming to the Lord; and the place that I saw them in was about Wensleydale and Sedbergh.

P is for parliamentary elections

The issue of parliamentary representation mirrors that of local government, with the Springhill area, and Rossendale of which it is part, often being lumped with other areas with which it has little geographical or cultural connection. The notion of there being ‘two bits of moor’ between parts of the same administrative area holds just as well for national as for local government (see ‘L is for...’).

The 1832 Great Reform Act resulted in the creation of North Lancashire and South Lancashire constituencies. These were formed on the old Hundreds, with Balckburn in North Lancs and Salford in South Lancs. The boundary line was along the River Irwell with Rossendale split between different constituencies. Only one bit of moor lies between Springhill and the main towns of Blackburn (12 miles) and Burnley (8 miles).

Rossendale constituency was formed 1885 containing Rawtenstall, Bacup and Haslindgen with Ramsbottom being added in 1950.

The 1892 by-election was won by the Liberal candidate John Maden (a local mill owner and Methodist) over the Liberal Unionist Candidate Sir Thomas Brooks (a local colliery/quarry owner and C of E). It was strongly contested on the issue of Irish Home Rule. Charles Patrick of Springhill (‘F is for...”) came out in support of Brooks. Maden’s victory by 1225 votes was reported in Australian press as causing a deep gloom on the British Unionists nationally. Maden resigned his seat in 1899.

In 1983 Rossendale was added with Darwen (yes, two bits of moor away with no direct road) to form Rossendale and Darwen.

The constituency has always been marginal and is on most of the ‘must win’ lists of parties aspiring to power.

O is for occupiers and occupations

One of the aims of a one-place study is to research the lives and relationships of the people who lived there. The ideal would be everybody who ever lived in that place...

But that in itself begs other questions. What does it mean to ‘live’ in a place? How long counts as ‘living’ there? As my place includes a house which once acted as a Nursing Home, does that include the residents of the home? A mortgage lender once asked for the names and dob of every adult living in the property and was told curtly that as the house was a Nursing Home that was an inappropriate question. And do temporary residents for respite care count?

For pragmatic reasons I’ve gone with the owners and occupiers but not every resident of the NH. For Springhill House I’ve pretty much managed it but that is only 170 years old. For others which date back to 1642 then its nowhere near complete.

Yet knowing who lived there is only half the story. Why did they choose to live there and what were they doing there? A look at the occupations of the residents over time gives some interesting clues...

(for heads of households only)

Occupations from the 1841 census are inferred as the enumerator didn’t give precise addresses but are probably:

servant, stone mason, weaver, farmer, wool sorter, wool weaver, coal merchant, merchant, manufacturer, wool comber

The servant may have been employed by one of the merchant/manufacturers. The others were engaged in local trades at the time.
The coal merchant is Ashworth of ‘A is for...’

Gardener/domestic servant, farm bailiff, warehouseman, coachman, cotton manufacturer, farm servant, retired civil service, laundress

Newspaper articles and the like suggest that all of these expect the cotton manufacturer were employed by the retired civil servant (Patrick of ‘F is for...’). They all seem to have lived where they worked, quite possibly in tied cottages.

Slipper maker, farmer, gas meter inspector, cotton cloth presser, weaving overlooker, farm labourer, cashier woollen mill, director felt and woollen works, housekeeper

Again the housekeeper worked for the miill director and the farm servant for the farmer, the farm having been sold off by this time. Gas meter inspectors were unknown in 1841!

Mid 1970s (from memory)
?, company secretary, butcher, engineer, nightclub manager, retired, company buyer, ?, farmer, nursing home proprietor, retired teacher

Of these only the butcher, farmer and NH proprietor worked in the area.

Over time it seems to have moved from being a place to live and work to being a place to live but largely working elsewhere. The mix of occupations in such a small area is also interesting.

N is for Nursing Home

Springhill House was ran as a Nursing Home from 1964 to 1991. This was a limited company from 1965 and bought out Portman Registrars and Nominees in 1970. This seems to have been an unhappy time for the business and with 5 proprietors in 12 years it is unlikely to have ever made much money.

The Memorandum of Association of Springhill Nursing Home Ltd is somewhat ambitious, including:
the provision of private nursing or maternity services
the training of medical students
employment of surgical officers
Ambulance or other Motor Vehicle Proprietors
dealers in stretchers
organise garden parties
provide reading rooms and libraries

and so it goes on.

To the best of my knowledge it did none of the above except act as a care home for the elderly.

Two anecdotes:
at one stage the residents were three to a room with no privacy for dressing or toileting
the house doubled as the family home of the proprietors and their dog had been known to pinch the residents’ mince pies

The home closed as a nursing home in 1991 (secondary to new regulations setting minimum standards for care in such homes) and reverted to a private dwelling shortly afterwards.

M is for Mitchell

According to the 1911 census Springhill House was occupied by Robert John Howorth Mitchell, together with his wife and three servants.

Mitchell gave his age as 30 in 1911 and occupation as ‘Director, felt and woollen works’. His firm was originally Mitchell Brothers, felt manufacturers. In 1904 they merged with similar firms owned by Ashworth and Stansfield to form MASCO (Mitchell Ashworth Stansfield Co Ltd), a well known Rossendale felt manufacturers. Initially involved in carpet making, the extended into draught insulation, pads to minimise vibration (apparently used on the Tube) and, latterly, seat belts for motor vehicles.

He also inherited land in the Barley and Wheetley Booth areas north of Burnley and was prosecuted in 1913 for failing to maintain a highway. Given the number of local residents amerced in the C16 for failing to maintain highways (see ‘J is for Jordan’), Mitchell appears to have kept up a fine local tradition...

In 1923 he inherited some GWR shares and in the entry of probates for GWR the address ’Spring Hill, Cloughfold’ is crossed out and replaced by ‘Great Rissington Hill, Bourton on the Water, Glous.’

Mitchell’s father was also Robert J H Mitchell of Springfield House, one of two Springfield Houses less than a mile away from Springhill, in opposite directions. Mitchell senior was a ‘yarn dyer’ in 1881 and ‘felt carpet manufacturer’ in 1901. He was one of the ‘Mitchell Brothers’ whose firm amalgamated as above. Two gentlemen of the same name in houses of very similar names less than a mile apart ... recipe for confusion surely.

L is for Local Government

One of the problems with a one place study is that the administrative bodies weren’t designed with the interests of future historians in mind. I envy anyone who studies an area with identical civll and ecclesiastical parishes which have transmuted smoothly into modern boroughs and have remained stable over time.

Springhill is anything but.

The ancient parish was Whalley, the second largest parish in England (after Halifax - sympathy with anyone who has copped that one). Whalley is 12 miles and two patches of moorland away and there is no natural affinity between the two areas. There was a chapel at ease established four miles away in C13 and another approx 800 yds away in 1511. Data collected on a parish-wide basis has little relevance to the immediate area.

These large northern parishes were divided into townships for administrative purposes and Springhill was in the township of Newchurch. It is on the western aspect of the township, which also contained villages four miles to the east. Again there were large blocks of moorland in the way. Data collected on a township-wide basis includes that related to places which may have been subject to different pressures than those affecting Springhill.

The manor was Accrington New Hold, formed after deforestation in 1507 and part of the Honor of Clitheroe. The Halmote was held at Accrington and land/behaviour matters are recorded there. The manor and parish have different boundaries.

With the Industrial Revolution the main local towns of Rawtenstall and Bacup began to develop. Springhill would relate naturally to Rawtenstall but Rawtenstall was within a different township. Bacup was in the same township but again there are two bits of moor between ‘here’ and ‘there’.

In 1874 Rawtenstall formed a Local Government Board and on 5 Sept 1874 Charles Patrick of Springhill was elected member of this board. Helpfully therefore aggregate census data before 1881 is for Newchurch township (including Waterfoot and Bacup but not Rawtenstall) and from 1881 onwards for Rawtenstall Board (latterly borough) which included Rawtenstall and Newchurch and part of Waterfoot but not the remainder of Waterfoot and Bacup). Well, we don’t want this to be too easy now.

During local government reorganisation in 1974 the borough of Rawtenstall merged with those of Bacup, Haslingden, Ramsbottom and Whitworth to form the borough of Rossendale.

(The parliamentary boundaries don’t match any of these but more of that later. The moorland theme returns there too.)

K is for killed in action

Sadly the effects of war have touched Springhill as they have every community in the UK. Much of this remains to be discovered but today’s entry pays tribute to the following men who died during World War One.

Harry Dawson
Rifleman, R/9916, 8th Btn King's Regiment d 24/08/1916 age 21. Commemorated Pier and Face 13A and 13B, Thiepval.
Address 1911 22 Dobbin Lane, cotton weaver, single, two older sisters at home.
He left 'all I have to my mother'.
CWGC records 'son of Thomas and Mary Jane Dawson of Springhill Lodge'.

Harry was (to the best of my knowledge) the only true resident of Springhill to die in WW1 - remember Springhill only comprised 10 houses at the time. The men below lived in the immediate area around Springhill and would have been known to each other.

James Driver
Private, 28981, 2 Bn East Lancashire Regiment, d 15/03/1917 aged 28 (the local paper has age 37). Commemorated Pier and Face 6C, Thiepval.
Address 1911 Meadow Head Farm, Stone Mason, single, 4 sisters and 3 brothers at home.
He left 'all of my property and effects to my mother'.
CWGC records 'son of James and Margaret Driver of Cross Farm, Cloughfold'.

Thomas Harvey
Private, 44257, 1st Bn Loyal North Lancashires, d 2/10/1918 aged 34 (RFP has 36).
Commemorated A 46 Senquehart 1.
Address 1911 3 Lodge Fold, carter, married, no children.
CWGC 'husband of Mary Harvey, 5 Cherry Tree Cottages, Cloughfold'.

William Place
Private, 325131, 1st Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, d 13/05/1918 age 20. Commemorated I F 14 Robecq.
Address 1911: 5 Nuttall Row Dobbin Lane, cotton weaver, single, 1 younger sister at home.

Joseph Taylor
Private, 35136, 2nd Bn East Lancashire Regiment, d 02/04/1918 age 28. Commemorated Panel 42 and 43 Pozieres Memorial.
Address 1911 Edge Lane Farm, house painter, single, 1 sister at home.
CWGC 'son of Mr and Mrs E Taylor of EdgeLane Farm, Higher Cloughfold, husband of Sarah Ann Caygill of 8 Cunliffe Buildings, Cloughfold, Manchester. A member of Manchester City Police. Chester'.

Rest in Peace, gentlemen.

J is for Jordan

I love the C16 records, their vagueness somehow leaves a better feel for what life must have been like and certainly leaves room for imagination. That’s fine, as long as sources are cited and interpreted accurately and anything inferred beyond that is recognised and identified as such. It gives a great insight into the continuity of human experience. The old highways are still ‘not maintained’ and impassable after rain whilst the modern ones grow potholes. Landowners still obstruct rights of way. Families and neighbours still rub along, sometimes amicably and sometimes less so.

J is for Jordan. Jordan Brigg (or Bridge) to be precise, together with his brothers Adam and Christopher, significant figures in the area in C16.

Amongst the standard court roll entries for the surrender of land and the obstruction of highways we find the following:

23 May 8 Henry VIII (1516) Halmote Accrington
The tenants of Deidwynclough are elected Greave of Rossendale”

How this worked out is unclear (but seems to have gone OK). This would have included the Brigg brothers so could have been interesting as a few years later we read...

“17 May 19 Henry VIII (1527) Halmote Accrington
The jury present by virtue of office from the Forest of Rossendale that Jordan Brigg by his Synister labor, Craft and subtilite fyned and connveyd hym into a fyne at the first tacke of the Commissions of the first forest lands, wiche seyd Jurdan shud have taken to the use of him selfe and Adam Brigg his broder of on parcel of a vacharie to the yerly value of xxs lyyng in Deidwynclogh within the forest of Rossendall; contrary to the trust and confidens whiche he was put into by the seyd Adam his broder, And afterwarde that the false and untrew delyng of the seyd Jurdan was so oppenly Kawne and don unto the seyd Adam his broder busyness and mischevesd was lucky so to after have ensuyd by the Reason thereoff betwyx thym, Wherupon the seyd Jurdan and Adam Brigg, by the medicion of their Frends, did put and compromitt theym selfs and euer a wther of theym to the order and Judgement of Sir John Holden, Prest Robert Waddyngton, gent, Thomas Birtwysill and Henry Haworth, yeomen; wiche openly they in the face of the Cowert haith condessid deposits and seyth that by the seyd Jurdan by their award, Judgement, and dome was solemly sworne apon a bocke and was contentyed and proysyd that he the seyd Jurdan shud permit and suffer the seyd Adam Brigg his broder to fyne for the seyd xxs Rent to hum and his heirs for euer by the Upgyft and surrender of the seyd Jurdan to be maid unto the seyd Adam hhis broder after the Costom and manner of this Cowert. Wiche seyd order Judgement and dome to us the above named the seyd Jurdan as yet refusith and denyth to doo, contrariety to all gud Right and conciens and his faith and fidelity and contrary to his seyd agreement thereof by us forenamed maid Wherupon he then was contented. For so moche as well we the Inquest off office as the Inquest of the forest of Rossendale Sworne for our souerand Lord the Kyng presentith this above written to be of truth by this our wardith and decide to answer unto for the same if neyde therin shall requier. Wherin we pray that for this case Reformacien may be haid herin by the Kyngs concell of his duche and Master Stuard, accordyng to bud conciens, equate and justice.”
(Farrer, Clitheroe Court Rolls Vol III pp 58-9)


After this we return to the standard business of trespass with beasts and digging marl pits. In this, Jordan Brigg appears no worse than anybody else.
Jordan Brigg died in 1546.

(This sent the spellchecker into meltdown)

I is for Inns

A hand drawn map of uncertain date shows three Inns in Higher Cloughfold:
The Weavers, on Newchurch Road just east of Sion Baptist
The Red Lion on the corner of Newchurch Road and Dobbin Lane
The Victoria, on the junction of Dobbin Lane and Peel Street, adjacent to the ‘Old Rectory” (of St John the Divine, Cloughfold).
In addition Kenyon’e Brewery is marked to the west of Dobbin Lane south of Newchurch Road. It was actually just north of Bacup Road in Cloughfold.

We know from newspaper reports that the Red Lion was operating in 1852. The 1841-1871 censuses only show one Innkeeper/victualler/beer seller with the address helpfully given as ‘Cloughfold’ as is typical of these censuses. In 1861 the victualler was also a stone mason and in 1871 the beer seller also a wheelwright, both of which seem odd combinations and must have been hard work. 1881 has one Inn which from the position of the surrounding houses was probably the Weavers’ Arms. Both the Weavers’ Arms and the Red Lion are on the 1891 census. I can’t find the Victoria on the censuses. The brewery was on Bacup Road and the 1911 census has both a brewery cellar man and a brewer’s traveller listed in the Springhill area.

Inns occupied an important civic as well as social function with inquests being held in the Red Lion until the early C20. There were of course occasional scuffles, often related to the non-availability of credit, and letters to the press about the disgraceful state of drunkenness in Cloughfold in 1859.

Today only the Red Lion survives but is a busy community pub.

H is for Hart

Mary Ann Ashworth, Mrs Charles Patrick (of ‘F is for...’ fame) died in 1883 without direct descendants. She left her properties in Springhill and elsewhere between her two nieces, Elizabeth Ann Turner and Mary Alice Royds. It may have been her intention to leave all the Springhill properties to Elizabeth Ann Turner but the terms of her will were unclear and the ownership of Rose Cottage was still in dispute 15 years after Mrs Patrick’s death. As married women the land was held in Trust and the legal owners a succession of trustees.

After Mrs Turner’s death in 1921 she willed that the properties be sold and the monies distributed. This was done, with the purchaser being one John Hart, described in conveyances as ‘Secretary to a Limited Company’. Hart was already the occupier of Polefield Cottage and continued to live there. Soon after 1923 he began to sell the other properties and so break up the estate. Springhill House and its outbuildings were sold to EL Compston (‘C is for...’) at this time and he began converting them into dwellings. Hart retained Polefield Cottage for himself and three cottages near to Polefield. He died in 1947 and willed that his properties be converted to money; his wife (and executor) did not do this.

Hart’s purchase of the estate marks the start of a period of rapid changes in ownership and development which left its marks on the area. At least three small outbuildings (including the former billiard hall) were converted into houses: the Bungalow, the Cot and the Cottage. Springhill House was further subdivided, with bricked-up doorways and the remnants of staircases evident. These give tantalising glimpses into how the houses may have been arranged previously. Its a reminder what you see now isn’t always the way it was, even if the external structure looks unchanged.

old stair 2 thumbnail

G is for geology

I suppose in a way all history can be traced back to geology, or a lot of it at any rate. The nature of the ground and the resources it contains determine the uses to which it is put. This in turn determines who lives here and when, with changing uses at different times resulting in people moving in and out and doing different things whilst they are here.

Springhlll must have been a pretty inhospitable place in early times - remote, wet and windy. Acidic clay soil which does not drain doesn’t lend itself to arable farming and supports a mixture of mosses (especially sphagnum, beloved of bogs everywhere) and poor quality moorland grasses with standing water in the fields over much of winter. No wonder C16 surrenders include such fields as ‘Bad Pasture’. So it is no surprise that even at Domesday it is included in land ‘between the Ribble and the Mersey’ with the nearest town mentioned by name being Blackburn some 12 miles away. In those days it was used initially as a hunting forest for the lord of the manor (known as a forest, Rossendale was more strictly a chase) but by C13 the hunting was confined to a small deer park in Musbury about 3 miles away and the rest of the forest used for oxen farming. Presumably it made more money that way.

Gradually it was discovered that the land lay over outcrops of the lower Pennine coal measures. These thin seams (in places only 18” high but still worked) were close to the surface and so suitable for open cast mining in many cases. Small scale mining was established in the moors above Springhill by the C16, later the main collieries in Rossendale were part owned by a Springhill resident (yes, Ashworth again).

Later still, after the industrial revolution, the availability of glacial valley floors with a steady supply of flowing water located not too far (approx 20 miles) from Manchester meant that the area was ideal for factory development. And develop they did - wool, cotton, felt, slippers even mineral water. This changed the landscape and history of the area with the influx of people to staff the mills, initially from elsewhere in the UK than latterly from the Indian subcontinent. People need houses ... and schools ... and places of worship ... and ... but the rapid development of Rossendale in C19 only occurred because the geology was suitable. This increased the demand for coal so mining developed too.

The stone locally is of high quality ‘Haslingden Flag’, used in the paving of Trafalgar Square and much of St Anne’s on Sea (indeed the entire town was largely founded by Rossendale people). Railways made quarrying a viable option and the hills are littered with the remains of the quarries. Stone was cheap so many houses were stone rather than brick and flag walling is common - there is a flag wall on Springhill lane. Again, only possible because the geology was the way it was.

We often relate events which occurred in our place to the wider social and historical context but it is helpful to relate it to the underlying landscape and geology too. It helps answer the question ‘why did this occur here?’

F is for factories, farming and freemasonry

Factories, farming and freemasonry. An odd combination which comes together in the life of Charles Patrick.

Patrick married Mary Ann Ashworth, daughter of John Ashworth who built Springhill House, and is ‘the Capting’ of ‘the little girl and the Capting’ blog below. He towers over the history of C19 Springhill to the extent that in his will he left ‘land north of Newchurch Road’ to one niece and ‘land south of Newchurch Road’ to another...

But back to F.

F is for factories
East Lancashire was covered in factories; initially woollen, latterly cotton, felt and slipper. With the factories came the rows of back-to-back houses, and the smog, and the noise, and the poor working conditions. Gradually a series of factory acts were passed to regulate the hours and conditions of women and children in particular, and created the role of factory inspectors to ensure that these new conditions were upheld.

Patrick was sub-inspector of factories for the Rochdale district, bringing numerous prosecutions against mill owners for infringement. He did not appear to be shy of bringing charges against his friends, though of course we don’t know how many were dropped after a ‘quiet word’. His expertise in inspection led him to undertake prison inspections as well.

F is for farms
Patrick appears to have fancied himself as a gentleman farmer, with a farm abutting on his house. Over his 40 years in Springhill he extended the farm by buying up adjacent fields as they became available. There was a separate paddock and orchard.

Patrick’s main interest in agriculture was in horses with a considerable stable, sufficient to employ a groom. These were used for carriage, hunting and yeomanry duties and he regularly won prizes at local agricultural fairs. As well as prizes for horses, he won prizes for pigs and poultry.

The farm continued as an active farm until the land was sold for housing in the 1980s. The development was quite tasteful and in keeping with the area.

F is for freemasonry

That Patrick was a freemason is inferred rather than documented. I have not been able to confirm membership of a specific lodge.

In his will he makes a bequest to ‘my valued friend Clement Molyneux Royds the masonic ring bequeathed to me by his esteemed father’. The Royds were prominent in Rochdale freemasonry (and everything else in Rochdale) and Patrick was a close friend of the family.

The foundation stone for Edgeside church, which Patrick largely endowed, was laid with ‘full masonic ceremonial’.

(in addition to freemasonry, Patrick was active in the church, the Conservative Association and the local hunt).

E is for the Edge - and missing the obvious

In the records of the Halmote on 19 Jan 28 Henry VIII we read that eight of the residents of Deadwenclough were in dispute over a parcel of land in The Edge in Deadwenclough. At the same Halmote six other tenants (including the ubiquitous Ascheworth) were in dispute over the maintenance of an ‘insufficient road’ leading to their turbary on The Edge in Deadwenclough. And so it continued, with land at The Edge being surrendered at various times, or disputes over access, turbary or the right to use stones or other resources from The Edge.

I had no idea where The Edge was. I looked as the other land mentioned in the same sittings of the Halmote but no clues. I looked for other land referred to in other Halmote entries relating to the same individuals but no joy. I looked at other sources of information on C16 and C17 Rossendale but no ideas. I was stuck.

So I put the history away and went for a walk up Edge Lane.

Edge Lane.

Less than 100 yards from my house.

You muppet, Janet.

Walk over and out come the maps. I knew about the Edgeside ares on the west slopes of The Hile, a hill about a mile east of here. Indeed Edgeside there are links between Edgeside and Springhill (see A is for Ashworth). But that isn’t in Deadwenclough, its in Wolfenden Booth. I also knew that on the west side of Saunder Height (the hill above Springhill, of which more later) are two farms: Edge Side and Edge End. But they aren’t in Deadwenclough either, they are in Lower Booths.

Two hints:
  • the 1842 Cassini map has a farm marked as Edge Cotes about 1 km north of Springhill. It is in Deadwenclough and although can’t be accessed from Edge Lane without needing strong boots is a few hundred yards away.
  • the 1924 Cassini map has an area to the east of Edge Lane labelled Edgeside Holme. I’ve never heard it called that before, its usually known as far Heightside.

But yes, it appears that The Edge was indeed close to my patch and so worth including in data trawls.

And street names, particularly old ones, are named for a reason.

D-day - what's this about the dead woman?

Dead woman? Well there have doubtless been a few of those over the centuries, but not many have an entire area named after them.

The area around Springhill was known as Deadwenclough from at least the C14 and its use didn’t finally die out until C19. Deadwenclough was one of 16 areas which made up the old Forest of Rossendale and put to oxen farming. Manorial documents suggest that in 1609 Deadwenclough had 8 tenants and even allowing for some sub-tenanting it was scarcely well populated. Two of the eight tenants (William Heaton and John Nuttall) in 1609 are recorded as being ‘of Clough’. Interestingly, of the eight tenants, three are called Nuttall and two called Bridge, neither of which are common surnames in the area today. Interestingly, not an Ashworth...

It is thought that the name arose from ‘the clough of the dead quene’ or woman.

That leads to two obvious questions:

Where is the clough?
Tradition has it that the clough in question arises on Saunder Height (of which more later) and runs down Edge Lane (ditto), through Higher Cloughfold and onto modern Cloughfold were it enters the Irwell. Today it is known as Parrock Brook. That is quite possibly true as it is the main clough which lies entirely within Deadwenclough. It is pictured here, on a grey November day.

Who was the woman and how did she get there?
Domestic tiff? Cattle rustling? Alas, that will forever remain a mystery. But it’s fun to speculate.

(oh and there are numerous spelling variations, making it a nightmare to search for in archive catalogues)

C is for Compston, Cloughfold and Colliery

C is for... well lots of things actually.

C is for Compston, Dr Edmund Leach. Born in Settle, N Yorks, the family eventually settled in Rossendale where his father Samuel was alderman and Mayor of the former borough of Rawtenstall. He is commemorated by a stone cross on the top of the hillside between Dunnockshaw and Water, approx 3 miles from Springhill - directly uphill, beware of bog.

Edmund studied medicine in Manchester graduating in 1893 before settling in general practice. He added work with St John’s Ambulance and further training in homeopathy in 1894. He took further study in the latter in America in 1924 according to his obituary. In 1915 he was appointed Medical Director of the Auxiliary Military Hospital in Newhall Hey, Rawtentsall (another fine building demolished for road widening). It is said that under his leadership the hospital did not lose a single patient.

He bought a number of the Springhill properties in 1923 and shortly after proceeded to subdivide Springhill House further and to develop some of the outbuildings as separate properties. He sold one of these, Sunset View, to Harry Taylor and wrote the receipt for the purchase price on a medical invoice. He also made it out for the wrong house...

C is for Cloughfold, one of the many names by which the area has been known over the years. The land was known originally as Deadwenclough (of which more later) and a parcel of land known as ‘the Fold’ said to have been sold in the mid C16. It is unknown when the ‘Clough’ and the ‘Fold’ bits of the names became merged but it was known as such by c1800.

Originally ‘Cloughfold’ referred to the village on the Newchurch Road, the higher of the two roughly parallel roads along the valley. The settlement at the bottom road didn’t exist at that time and on development over the early C19 was originally known as Waterside. A street sign to that effect still exists on a house side there. Gradually the upper settlement became known as ‘Higher Cloughfold’ and the lower one as ‘Cloughfold’, the names by which they are known today.

C is for Colliery, the means by which the builder of Springhill House made his money. At their peak there were 18 collieries in Rossendale owned by Ashworth Hargreaves Ltd, and a further group in Baxenden, Accrington. In the 1860s a dispute arose between the partners which resulted ultimately in Chancery proceedings.

B is for Baptist

Springhill is home to one of the oldest Baptist congregations in the country, formed in 1672 and still active today. During that time its history has mirrored much of the history of nonconformity in Britain. It emerged as a ‘dissenting’ congregation in the C17, gradually developing a distinctive adult baptist identity over the next 100 years or so. It then developed in parallel with major trends in baptist theology and praxis, being a particular baptist church in the late C18 and early C19 before adopting general baptist principles.

My aunt jokes, not without foundation, that before marriage she was related to half the congregation of Sion Cloughfold and after marriage she married into the other half. The family in question has been baptists for over 200 years and being adult baptist, that makes looking for baptisms somewhat tricky.

But back to Springhill and Sion Cloughfold as the church is known. Even the name is interesting in terms of one-place studies as “Cloughfold’ is an old name for the village with the modern village being known as ‘Higher Cloughfold’.

The church is said to have deeds dating from 1559 describing the transfer of land on which the church now stands. I haven’t been able to find this in the court rolls.

There is a strong tradition that Mr Kippax,the rector of Newchurch St Nicholas, resigned his living in 1662 and founded a dissenting congregation from which the church is said to have emerged. This is probably wishful thinking as St Nicks’ has no record of a rector of that name although it did call a new rector in 1662.

It is known that the congregation received a licence to meet for worship in 1672 in ’the barn of John Picoops’. The documents are still in the church’s possession. Again there is a strong tradition that the barn in question is in Springhill, sadly knocked down for road widening in 1939. It would better if the road were still narrow, maybe the traffic would pass more sedately through the village then. But we digress. There are also suggestions that the upstairs of Polefield Cottage may have been used for meetings at one time.

Later, in 1951, Polefield Cottage was bought by the Trustees of Sion Baptist Church for use as a manse.

Rossendale in general has a strong history of nonconformity and this theme will recur during this blog. I have no idea why a remote rural area should be so nonconformist, particularly when recusant Catholicism was strong in many adjacent areas. The history of early nonconformity in Rossendale remains to be written - now that’s a good idea for a thesis...

A is for Ashworth

Well it had to start here, I suppose. Within a few miles of Springhill lie the Ashworth Moor, Ashworth Valley and Ashworth Reservoir. Ashworth Road is less than a mile from here. Under every stone is an Ashworth and the Rossendale Family History Society say that if someone is researching an Ashworth family they advise them to start with an easier name. The local felt works, MASCO, stands for Mitchell Ashworth Shepherd Co and the main colliery owners was Ashworth Hargreaves Ltd. Which is where Springhill comes in.

The Ashworth of Ashworth Hargreaves Ltd was Richard Ashworth, d 1835. He left his interest in the coal mines to his son, John, who is described as ‘woollen manufacturer and colliery proprietor’ in the obituary of his son-in-law. I haven’t been able to trace the woollen interest any further, but coal mines he owned in abundance.

In 1835 he bought the land on which Springhill now stands from Charlotte Ann Hargreaves and her sister and brother-in-law. Charlotte Ann Hargreaves later married James Yorke Scarlett, hero of the heavy brigade at the battle of Balaclava - how tenuous can a link be? Anyway Ashworth built the ‘handsome and commodious residence”, Springhill House, which became the centre of the Springhill properties. It isn’t the oldest house in the area however, with one adjacent property dating from 1642.

John Ashworth left his interest in the collieries to his daughter Mary Ann Ashworth, later wife of Captain Charles Patrick (‘the Capting’ of an earlier blog). Ashworth Road was named after her donating land and money for the school and church in Edgeside where she also owned land.

(Mitchell, of MASCO fame, is also associated with Springhill but more about him later.)