Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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May 2008


Sun 18 May 2008

Local field walk. - The Street to Lead Mines Clough.

We started our second field walk of the season at the Knowsley Embankment (near the Yew Tree Inn) above the Upper Rivington Reservoir. Joan had arranged a conducted tour of Rivington Parish Church so the first part of our walk was along ‘The Street’ to reach the Rivington Embankment. Before we reached it we crossed another embankment, the one above Blindhurst where the reservoir is held back from the Yarrow Valley. It is interesting to note that this is the first point where the name River Yarrow first appears on the Ordnance Survey map. After crossing the Rivington embankment we looked at the site of the Black a’Moors Head Public House. There’s nothing to see there now as it was demolished in 1903 after problems with sewage disposal and pollution of the reservoir. An interesting point is its location. On the 1848 map, prior to the construction of the reservoirs, it is shown at a position which is now on the bed of the reservoir.

Society members outside Rivington Parish Church.

The Pilkington Picture.

detail from The Pilkington Picture.

Pilkington, the family (16th century)

Pilkington, the Glass company

One of the many carved stones in the grave yard.

At the church we met David Owen who took us inside and gave a fascinating talk on the history and position of the church in the local community. It was rebuilt in 1541 and never dedicated to a saint so the ordnance Survey calling it St Catharin’s Church is incorrect. It was extensively rebuilt in 1662. The nearby school was founded in 1556 and still belongs to the Shaw charity. Above the door is a copy of ‘the Pilkington Picture’ a wonderful depiction of the Pilkington family who were very important in the area. The original picture was damaged during a fire started by a John Shaw in 1833 and is now lost. A sign on the painting is used by the Pilkington Glass company but no definite family link has been proven between the Pilkington family and Glass company of the same name. The music in the church was originally played on instruments but in Apr 1820 they got their own organ. Outside we were shown more interesting things in the grave yard. The earliest dated grave is 1616 W.B. probably William Brown. The oldest is Evan Caunce Aug 21 1840 age 104. The youngest is a girl aged 1 minute. After the Church we followed the path by Dean Brook, through the woods and across the fields to Alance Bridge. The path gives fine views of the Yarrow Reservoir and must be one of the most picturesque in the area. Over Alance Bridge we took the track to the right to have a brief look up Lead Mines Valley before returning along the Yarrow Embankment and back to the starting point.


Tue 13 May 2008

Barry Lowe - Remembering the Chorley you thought you knew.

This evening we had the pleasure of Barry Lowe, as our speaker. Barry began by remarking how fortunate we were to be living in this area, as we have had over the centuries access to the countryside for farming, fishing and mining, the cotton industry, with all the mills, the deep coal mines, and the canals, which played a great part in moving goods up and down the country, and so supporting the people and families in the area. Barry then showed an array of slides referring to life and employment around here. He had us quite awestruck with the selection and stories he related. He ended the evening with obscure slides of buildings around Chorley, and had us guessing and debating where they were. And to close: did you know that if you stand in the town centre and progress 20 minutes in any direction you will find yourself out in the countryside.

Fri 09 May 2008

Initial Injection: The Beginnings of the NHS in Chorley

About half a dozen of our members went along to the Library on 9 May to listen to the talk which had been organised for the launch of Local and Community History month. It was a full house, along with the Mayor and Corporation and Radio Lancs, and it proved to be a very interesting afternoon.

The final session of the afternoon concerned Wrightington Hospital and the pioneering hip-replacement surgery which has taken place there. The presentation was given by Professor Wroblewski, who although now retired from active surgery is still very much involved in research about the operations and the patients going back over 40 years.
The talk reminded us of the ground-breaking work which has taken place at Wrightington in our own life-time, work that is associated particularly with the names of John Charnley, Harry Platt and Professor Wroblewski himself. Prof. Wroblewski put this into a wider context, seeing this kind of surgery as originating with Robert Jones of Liverpool who had much work to do dealing with workmen injured during the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.
The first ever hip –replacement operations were performed at Wrightington in the early 1960s and the Professor explained and illustrated how the science and technology has progressed over 4 decades, with Wrightington still today having the status of a Centre of Excellence in the treatment of musculo-skeletal disease.
Professor Wroblewski is polish-born but now very much an adopted Lancastrian, and he made his presentation very understandable to the lay person with a good sense of humour.

Les Chapman

It is with regret that we report the death of Les Chapman.

Les was born in Manchester in December 1907, the younger of two brothers. His Father was a yarn buyer and director of several mills in the Reddish area of Manchester.
After his education Les ran his own buying agency for the confectionery and tea trade, which he did for 5 years before starting work for the Lancashire Electric Power Company. In 1935 they opened a new showroom in Market Street Chorley and he was asked to work there. For several years he stayed in rented accommodation in Chorley until marrying his wife Cathleen in 1941. For a while they lived in Chorcliffe House, Hollinshead Street before moving to Highfield Road South, Chorley where Les still lives today. He developed an interest in photography and these skills would later be of valuable use after his call up to the Army during World War 2. His military training commenced in Ireland and then York. He moved into Holland and Belgium after the D-day landings and then became attached to the 2nd Army Ground Photo Unit. It was here that he was able to use his photographic knowledge by recording many historic events. On 4th May 1945 Germany surrendered to the Allied forces under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery at Luneburg Heath in Germany. Les was there to photograph the event and many others including the destroyed battleship ‘Admiral Scheer’ which was bombed by the RAF in Kiel harbour, Germany in April 1945. Probably his most arduous assignment was to record for history the scenes at Belsen concentration camp including victims and guards. After the war Les achieved the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Home Guard in 1953 and then 2nd Lieutenant in the Territorial Army in 1956. On his return to the Electricity Company he worked on the administrative staff until his retirement in 1973.

Les at home in Dec 2007
just before his 100th birthday.

A delightful picture of Cathleen taken by Les

Les continued his interest in photography by recording many buildings in the area and developing an interest in local history. Subsequently he joined Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society and is still an active member. In 2005 he was elected a Life Member of the Society He has donated many of his photographic records of Chorley to Chorley Library and his work can be now seen and used by others. The photographs are also on-line and can be viewed on the internet via the Lancashire County Council ‘Lancashire Lantern’ website.
In May 2007 he attended a ‘Silver Surfer’ course at Chorley Library to learn about the Internet and was awarded his certificate on 25th May 2007.
“It's a revelation” he said, “I can't believe how easy it is today to find information about the past; I never thought I'd be looking at some of my photographs on a computer!”