Wed 18 Jun 2008
Development Group conference University College, London
The second annual
conference for the Community Archives Development Group was held
at the University College, London. After some recent bad
experiences with trains arriving late or not at all I was glad
that the Preston to Euston left and arrived on time. The college
is a short walk from Euston and I was able to spend a few
minutes reflecting on the history of Euston railway station. It
was the first inter-city railway station to be built in London
in 1837. It is the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway
constructed by Robert Stephenson, son of George Stephenson.
Robert Stephenson (1803 - 1859)
statue outside Euston.
Busy commuters arrive at Euston
Harries Massey lecture theatre
This year the
conference was held in the Harries Massey lecture theatre, which
I didn’t think was as comfortable as last years.
The first speaker was Gerry Slater, former Director of the
Public Records Office in Northern Ireland. His fascinating
presentation explained how early methods of holding information
was more of a comfort zone for archivists who considered the
information was theirs and not to be accessed by the general
public. Also how official archives would hide the truth. But now
with community archives becoming more common people were engaged
with their heritage. An important point that he made is that “memory
is a perishable commodity”.
Of the other
speakers the most interesting was Helen Barker of the Beamish
Museum, Tyne and Wear. Her presentation was called ‘The Heritage
Cubes Project’ which meant nothing to me until she explained it.
The cubes scheme was developed by Beamish, and Tyne and Wear
Museum as a service to local groups with an interest in local
history. The Cubes are aluminium boxes stored within the archive
centre in secure surroundings. The contents remain in the
ownership of the submitting group who are encouraged to display
their materials to the public with the assistance and expertise
of the museum staff. His means that a group that has artefacts
and memorabilia can bring it all together for access and not
have the collection dispersed among members in a variety of
location such as attics and spare rooms. As far as I know this
is the only location where this kind of project us used.
After listening to all the presentations it was a concern that
when grant money, that is needed to run them, runs out there
doesn’t seem to be a system in place to hold the information
University College, London.
Sat 14 Jun 2008
The Royal Geographic
Society - Visions of the World.
At the South Ribble Museum, Leyland.
11am saw the opening of another of
their excellent exhibitions. The Royal Geographic Society’s
‘Visions of the World’ The event was opened by Mr Bryan Gray
MBE, DL in the presence of The Mayor of South Ribble, Barry
The exhibition contained some of the
best images from all over the world almost from the dawn of
photography. Many were from the 19th century and
displayed amazing quality.
Niagara Falls, Canada 1860s
David Hunt, Barry Yates the Mayor of
Bryan Gray MBE, DL
Deflating a balloon on Scott's first
Antarctic expedition in 1904
Fri 13 Jun 2008
Library local author and historian Dave Smith gave his
presentation on Heath Charnock Isolation Hospital. It was part
of the celebration of 60years of the National Health Service.
Dave published a book about the history of the hospital and his
talk was an extension of that. 6acreas of land were purchased
for £600 and the foundation stone was laid in 1898. The hospital
was competed and opened in 1901 and finally closed in 1982. Pre
1948 it dealt with isolation and tuberculosis and then
infectious diseases up to 1958. After that it was long stay
patients. Harry Whittaker was an ambulance driver at the
hospital and provided Dave with many photographs and historical
Dave Smith at Chorley Library.
Tue 10 Jun 2008
Glen Atkinson on
'Digging the Big Ditch' the construction of the Manchester Ship
visited us from Worsley to present his talk ‘Digging the Big
Ditch’ all about the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Glen’s talk was lavishly illustrated with original photographs
taken in the 1880s and 90s in their original format of glass
During the 1800s Manchester was reliant on Liverpool Docks to
receive and send goods from the city.
The opening of the Manchester Ship
Canal took place on New Year's Day, 1894. A procession of
vessels made their way along the Canal, including the 'Norseman'
at its head, carrying the Company Directors. Later on that year
in May the Canal had its formal opening by Queen Victoria.
Admission Ticket For One Person On
Board the Steamer 'Great Britain' at Latchford Locks for the
Manchester Ship Canal Opening, 1st January, 1894
1892. A navvy with barrow on the
construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Despite the use of
machinery thousands of men were still employed to work on the
construction of the canal equipped with spades and other hand
made by the Port of Liverpool, and also the railways, caused
Manchester to consider and alternative route into the city. To
bypass Liverpool and the railways a new navigation would be
needed and so the construction of 36 miles of the Manchester
Ship canal began in 1888 and it was opened on the 1st Jan 1894.
The cost was £15million and at one point here were 16,000 men
employed on the project.
1892. Over 16,000 men and boys
worked on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Known
as navvies, they worked in all weathers, often in difficult
conditions, as shown here. This well known image also shows the
use of a temporary railway network, which was laid along the
Canal route, carrying men and material around the Works.
Sun 08 Jun 2008
Methodist Church (1842 - 2008) - the last service.
was the last service at the Wheelton Methodist
Church in Higher Wheelton. The church was opened in
Aug 1842. A congregation of 32 attended the service
by Rev Andrew Mashiter. The hymns were chosen to
suit the occasion and the final hymn, ‘The day thou
gavest’ written by John Ellerton (1826-93),
contained the suitable line ’The dawn leads on
the last service
the last congregation
Wed 04 Jun 2008
Bill Shannon at Wigan
Bill Shannon from
the Lancashire Archaeological Society spoke about the early maps
and documents with references to Hadrian’s Wall. Some early
references were made by Gildas in AD 540 and Bede, of Jarrow,
in AD730. The first detailed description was by John Leland
The naming of the wall is also interesting. What did the Roman’s
call it? Probably ‘The Aelian Wall’. Early written references
and maps called it ‘The Pict’s Wall’. From the 19th century to
the 1920s it was called ‘The Roman Wall’ and only since the
1920s has it been called ‘Hadrian’s Wall’.
An early map of the 1540s
Bill Shannon at Wigan
Follow-up to Field Walk
- Lost Industries of White Coppice and Heapey - Sun 30 March
Additional notes from John Harrison
The great thing about field walks is
that they stimulate thought, discussion and further research. A
good example of this was Boyd Harris’s walk on 30 March this
year which started at White Coppice and took us around White
Coppice and Heapey. Particularly fascinating were the stories of
a mill under the lodge, and a run away train on the Chorley to
Cherry Tree line.
It was partly as a result of this that I later “surfed” back
copies of “The Times” and came across some fascinating
supplementary information. I found it in the issue for August 15
1891, as part of an article entitled “Serious Floods in
Lancashire.” It seemed to have been a widespread problem, with
Darwen particularly badly affected. However it then describes
the devastation in Heapey and White Coppice, shedding some
further light on the issues of mills, the goyt and railways that
Boyd illuminated a month or so ago.
the hilly district of Heapey the rainstorm raged
with fury, and houses and mills suffered seriously.
Yesterday morning at 3 o’clock it was found that the
embankment about half-a-mile beyond Heapey Station
was giving way, and the engine-drivers were warned.
A couple of hours later the swollen brook, which
runs by the side of the highway from Heapey to
Chorley, overflowed its banks, and forced its way
under the railway bridge, with the result the wall
at length gave way and part of the bridge and tons
of earth were flung across the rails. The water then
rushed across the lines, and a large volume flowed
down the line, and undermined the foundations so
seriously that traffic had to be stopped. The first
to discover the mishap to the bridge was an
engine-driver, a couple of wagons being thrown off
the track. It was some hours before the traffic
could be carried on again. A third slip occurred at
the bridge close to Heapey Station, but this was not
Great damage was done, however, to White Coppice
Mills, about three-quarters of a mile from the
railway station. The mills which belong to Mr. A.
Eccles, are situate at the bottom of the bank of a
large reservoir which feeds the boilers. The top of
the bank is nearly level with the roof of the mill.
About half a mile further back runs the sluice which
carries the surplus water from the Roddlesworth to
the Rivington reservoirs of the Liverpool
Corporation. The sluice also collects the water from
the mountain rivulets along its course. One of these
brooks comes down the centre of a particularly deep
clough at the Chorley end of the sluice, and
yesterday morning several thousand tons of earth
from the hill side fell into the boiling stream and
were carried into the sluice below, completely
blocking it. The result was that the dammed-up
waters rushed over the sluice bank and into the
White Coppice reservoir. The bywash of the lodge
proved insufficient to carry off the water, which
began to roll over the embankment a yard deep. The
flood forced its way into the mills through the
windows of the mechanics’ shop and swept everything
out by the front door. The main body of the stream
was then deflected by a wall into the boiler-house,
which was quickly filled. Eventually the water
burrowed its way under the foundations of the mill,
carrying with it tons of earth. Fortunately a man on
duty in the mill went across the dam, and the
occupants of the houses were aroused from their
sleep and got out of danger, as were a number of
others who resided along the course of the stream.
The water flooded the shed, and has spoiled a lot of
warp, and some cloth was carried into the road. The
stock in was fortunately low, but the damage must be
very great. The mill was stopped, but the looms were
started again at dinner time. Lower down several
bridges which crossed the brook have been carried
away, and the water which supplies the Dacca Twist
Company was so dirty that the place had to be
stopped. Twice before within a month the valley has
been flooded, but not to so serious an extent. On
this occasion there can be little doubt that if the
flood had continued much longer the embankment of
the White Coppice reservoir would have gone, and the
loss of life might have been heavy.”
What a graphic description of a
nightmare scenario for the residents, workers and mill-owner in