Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Jan 2009

Fri 16 Jan 2009 from John Harrison
Victoria County History of Lancashire Online

Members may well be interested to learn that the Victoria County History of Lancashire is now online in its splendid entirety.
Just go to:
There is a search facility in which you can sharpen your search down to particular localities and families (providing that they are major property owners!). Although these volumes are a century old they still provide the main framework of what we know about the history of Lancashire. The Society was contacted a year or so ago about a possible project to publish a modern version, but when you look at the original you can see what a massive project an update would be.

Click here to go to the V.C.H. site in a new window.

From a V.C.H., frontespiece, 1911

Constable & Co, publishers

Tue 13 Jan 2009

Donna A Hughes - 'The History of Hand Spinning' - talk and demonstration.
While the Library is being re-furbished we met in St Laurence's Church.

Donna Hughes came from her home in Bolton to speak to us about the history of hand spinning. She came in character, dressed as a 17th century woman and she spoke about the history along with a practical demonstration. She was brought up in a family that were employed in the cotton industry and she was fascinated by the conversations that she heard. Eventually she decided to teach herself all about the industry and its roots. The spinning of yarn can be traced back more that 25,000 years and in recent centuries there was little progress in the methods used. Previous to the mid 17th century most of England’s cloth was woven from yarn that was hand made in the original definition of the ‘cottage industry’ it wasn’t until the men folk began to travel across the county during the English Civil war (1642–51) that they became aware of other systems that could be employed.

Donna with her spinning wheel.

The Spinner by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
A delightful 1873 painting showing a woman
hand-spinning using a drop spindle.

The damp Lancashire climate was suited to the spinning process. In the coastal areas flax was used for yarn, in the central area cotton was used and to the east and Yorkshire it was wool. Donna’s fascinating demonstration took us up the start of the industrial revolution when mechanised methods and mills took over.

An early photograph of Donna.