Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Jul 2009 Aug 2009 Sep 2009 Oct 2009 Nov 2009 Dec 2009
June 2009
Sat 27 Jun 2009

After Mike’s description of finding the Coopers Lane stone cross base at the last meeting I thought I’d take a photo for this page. The stone is shown on the 1848 Ordnance Survey map and the stone is in the position marked. It appears that it has been rolled over as the mortise hole, which would have been on the top, was no longer visible. Mike and Kevin did some digging at the side of the stone and Mike say’s they found the recess on the underside. Further up Coopers Lane is another cross base, also shown on the map, which is in a much better condition. B.H.

Coopers Lane Heskin,
Cross base (lower)

O.S. map of c1848

Coopers Lane Heskin,
Cross base (higher)

O.S. map of c1848

An interesting extract from the Chorley Guardian 22 Apr 1960

Sun 21 Jun 2009

Tockholes Field walk by John Harrison

Our first field walk of the year coincided with the summer solstice. Unfortunately the weather was mostly overcast so anyone hoping to watch the solstice sunrise from Chorley would be disappointed. The walk around Tockholes was lead by our treasurer John Harrison and John began by explaining the reason for a walk in Tockholes, which is just outside the Chorley boundary. The manor house for Tockholes was at Hollinshead Hall (now a ruin). One of the leading figures in late 18th century Chorley was John Hollinshead. He was responsible for the development of Hollinshead Street, gave Chorley it’s first Town Hall, financed canal development, and was involved in coal mining and stone quarrying. When he died in 1802 he was Lord of the Manor of Tockholes and owner of Hollinshead Hall. Another famous sons of Tockholes was Alfred Ephraim Eccles. He was a White Coppice mill-owner and Lancashire Temperance Reformer. He was born in Tockholes in 1830. His father had built the first cotton mill in Darwen. Nineteen of us started the walk at the car park was the site of Hollinshead Mill, a weaving mill built of stone by Eccles Shorrock, the lord of the manor in 1859. He was the last owner of Hollinshead Hall, the manor house for Tockholes. At its peak the mill had 333 steam-powered looms and employed 150 people. It was demolished in 1903 by Liverpool Corporation. For a time Shorrock used locally mined coal from nearby Cartridge Hill to power his mill.

Hollinshead Cotton Mill c1860

Continuing past the ‘Royal Arms’ we walked along the side lane to Ryal Fold and its 1676 Farmhouse which is a grade 2 listed building. The adjacent barn was build using a particular form of stone bonding called ‘watershot’. The stones being set slightly sloping downwards towards the outside of the building. This encourages any water to run out and down the wall. Across fields we reached Pleasant View cottages which used to be the site of Tockholes Mill, which predated the Hollinshead Mill. It was built around 1838 by the Remaynes who lived at Fine Peters, the adjacent property. It employed about 150 people at its peak but failed around 1860. Fine Peter’s was described by Pevsner as “An odd looking building”. Hundreds of years ago, allegedly, the tenant of Fine Peters was a forger who supposedly kept his machinery in a flagged loft. One day he was arrested in Preston and law officers were sent to Tockholes to obtain evidence. His brother heard in advance and removed the printing press and notes.

Fine Peter's.

Window in the Victoria Hotel.

In doing this he saved his brother’s life as forgery was a capital offence. Following Dean Lane we had good views of the surrounding countryside including Cartridge Hill and Darwen Tower, completed in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and also to celebrate the victory of the local people for the right to access the moor. Following minor lanes we reached Victoria Hotel on the main Tockholes Rd then along the road to Silk Hall with a date stone of 1754.

Then to the Rock Inn were we continued down the steep Rock Ln. An interesting lintel over a door way through a garden wall on the right showed the date stone 1692. In originally came from the demolished Garstang Hall which was near the start of our walk. Continuing down the lane we looked at the graveyard in St Stephen’s Church which reputedly contains 20,000 burials. We looked at the grave of John Osbaldeston (1777-1862) who invented the weft fork which stopped the power loom when the thread broke. He left instructions for this inscription to be placed on his headstone:
“Here lies John Osbaldeston, a humble inventor, who raised many to wealth and fortune, but himself lived in poverty and died in obscurity, the dupe of false friends and the victim of misplaced confidence.”
But all it says is “Inventor of the weft-fork.”

1692 date stone from Garstang Hall

CHAS members on the old road

Higher Hill Farm.

Gabled and jetted porch
Higher Hill Farm.

(privy or primitive toilet)
Higher Hill Farm.

We followed Chapels Lane to the site of the old village Pincroft and a stone water trough. Until the 1960s the water springs around Tockholes were the only water supply for the residents as mains water was not yet available. We then walked to the finest building on the walk, the 17th century Higher Hill Farm built by Ralph Walmsley in 1612. It display as fine gabled and jetted porch. Also clearly visible is complete “garderobe” (privy or primitive toilet) set on corbels. Back at the car park we thanked John for his excellent and extremely informative walk. Only part of the information has been documented here as he told us so much.  BH.  (with some extracts from John's notes)
Fri 19 Jun 2009

The statue of Benjamin Disraeli the Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881) was removed recently from the building at the junction of Cleveland St and Chapel St Chorley. The building is in need of structural repair and the statue had to be removed. It is now in the yard of Rawcliffe’s Monumental Masons on Southport Road adjacent to the Cemetery. It is being restored to its former glory and in fact it has come home to the location of its birth. In the 1880s the statue was carved by Thomas Rawcliffe the great grandfather of the current proprietor Michael Rawcliffe. They are currently chipping through three layers of paint; a first layer of black, a second layer of cream and a top coat of white. The stone underneath is in excellent condition and all that remains is to decide where to put the statue when it is restored. To return it to its former position at roof height would help preserve it but would cost many thousands of pounds. Putting it somewhere at ground level would give people a good chance to see it up close but it would also be more liable to damage. Displayed by the door to Mr Rawcliffe's office is a newspaper clipping from 1888.
Click here for a transcript. BH.

Some additional notes on Disraeli from Joan Dickinson.
Primrose Day, April 19th, was to commemorate the death of Benjamin Disraeli, the first and only Jewish Prime Minister (First Earl of Beaconsfield), who died on April 19th 1881. The Primrose was his favourite flower and Queen Victoria sent a wreath of primroses to his funeral. A bronze statue of him was unveiled in London a couple of years later in 1883. Following his death a group of Conservative M.P.s, led by Randolph Churchill, formed the Primrose League. There is a statue to his memory in Bolton and in Chorley, the Chorley one being erected in 1886 on the building on the corner of Chapel Street/New Market Street. T. Rawcliffe, from Chorley, Stonemasons, (the great grandfather of the present Mr. Rawcliffe) sculpted both of these. Perhaps the Chorley connection was with Douglas Hacking O.B.E.,M.P. who was Chancellor of the Primrose League.
Benjamin Disraeli:
Born 21/12/1804 of Jewish Parents
Baptised 31/7/1817 into the Church of England
In-between 1821 and 1825 He worked for a firm of solicitors, as a journalist, and became an author
1835 Joined the Conservative Party
1839 Married widow Mrs. Lyndham Lewis
1844 Opposes the Poor Law and supports the Factory Reform Act
1846 Attacks the Corn Laws
1847 his mother dies
1848 his father dies
1853 Honorary Degree Oxford
1868 becomes Prime Minister, his wife becomes Viscountess Beaconsfield
1874-1880 Prime Minister
1872 Lady Beaconsfield dies
1881 Benjamin Disraeli dies

Chorley's statue of Benjamin Disraeli before removal.

Another version of Disraeli in Queen's Park, Bolton.
Also carved by Thomas Rawcliffe.

Robert Taylor (l) and Michael Rawcliffe.

Thomas Rawcliffe 1880s

Robert restoring Benjamin to his former glory.

Fri 19 Jun 2009

While returning from my visit to Rawcliffe's I called at Astley Hall to look at the refurbished garden area. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. BH.

Tue 09 Jun 2009
Alan Davies – Women and Children in Mines

Fewer than usual members were present to hear Alan Davies give an illustrated talk on Women and Children in Mines. However, those present were treated to a fascinating evening.
Alan’s talk was inspired by parliament’s Children’s Employment Commission of 1842. He came across the commission’s enquiry into the general working conditions in mines during 15 years working in a mining museum. The commission’s report covered children’s employment in all manufactures. It also gave an insight into technology of the mining industry at that time.
The report was influential in bringing changes to legislation concerning the coal industry in the mid 19th Century. It was a massive work and ran to 11 volumes. It was the first to be illustrated with pictures by artists.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury
(1801 - 1885) English politician and philanthropist.
He was largely responsible for the Coal Mines Act of 1842

Operating the winding gear at the pit head.

Evidence given by those who worked in the mines painted a vivid picture of the terrible conditions they endured. It was printed in the local dialect of those questioned.
The working day often stretched from 12 to 16 hours in what has always been a dangerous industry. Evidence told of children of aged 5 and upwards who were engaged in jobs, such as tending winding gear, where they often held the lives of other workers in their hands.
Alan’s talk was full of the tales of tragic accidents that were so common that only the larger, better managed pits kept a record of them. No compensation was due until after the Workmens’ Compensation Act in the 1880’s.

Pit brow lasses at Atherton 1905

Some evidence of the treatment of children, which included probable abuse, was too shocking for Victorian morality to make it to print. The report led to the Coal Mines Act 1842, which forbade females from working down the mines and boys had to be at least 10 years old. Although, even 20 years later there were instances of women working underground.
Alan’s fascinating talk gave us a stark reminder of the harsh lives mining people would have led in our local area and not that long ago.

P. Robinson

Peter Robinson (l) chats to Alan Davis (r) before the meeting.

Mon 08 Jun 2009

The new owners of Jones Farm, Whittle-le-Woods have kindly shown me a copy of the Archaeological Building Survey carried out on behalf of B.A.E. Systems Ltd. The followings information is borrowed from the report.
The building is a 17th century grade II listed detached two storey stone built Farmhouse. Although there appear to be no records detailing the construction date of Jones’ farmhouse, the architectural style places its origin firmly in the middle years of the 17th century. If indeed the first inhabitants of the farmhouse were the Jones family then the remaining records do reinforce this postulated date of construction, as no Jones’ are recorded in the township book in the entries for 1620, but they first appear in 1675.The building was then modified into a form of laithe-house by the addition of a shippon/stable and hayloft in the 18th/19th centuries.

Jones Farm as viewed from Dawson Lane, Whittle-le-Woods.

A delightful drawing of Jones Farm by John Stanley c1960

Jones Farm north elevation.

Fri 05 Jun 2009

Jones Farm on Dawson Lane Whittle-le-Woods has been empty for many decades. It has now been bought and is in the process of renovation. The new owner is going to try and keep as many of the original features as possible. I called on site on Fri and the digger driver told me he had just found the original well which had 2 large stone slabs over it. I took a quick photo before he made it safe again. The depth is 7m to the water and 11m to the bottom.  BH.

Jones Farm, Whittle-le-Woods.

the well

Wed 03 Jun 2009

At Wigan Archaeological Society their own member Ian Trumble gave a presentation on the work he had done at Star Carr in North Yorkshire as part of his Archaeology degree at Manchester University.
Star Carr is a Mesolithic (middle stone age) archaeological site in North Yorkshire about five miles south of Scarborough. It was discovered by John Moore in 1947 during the clearing of a field drain. The occupation seems to be from 12,000-6,000 BC at a time when the UK was still linked to mainland Europe. The first excavations were carried out during 1949-51,

Ian Trumble

Star Carr location

density of finds



Star Carr’s main feature is a birch brushwood platform which stood on the edge of the former Lake Pickering. The platform would have been laid down to consolidate the boggy water’s edge. A fragment of a wooden oar implies that the people who occupied the site also built boats, probably coracles or simple canoes used to travel or fish but no fish bones were found. Amongst other finds were barbed antler points, probably used as harpoons or spears and many flints and burins (a burin is a special type of lithic flake with a chisel-like edge which prehistoric humans may have used for engraving or for carving wood or bone.)
The most famous find is the top part of a stag skull, complete with antlers. The skull had two holes perforated in it and it has been suggested that it was used as a hunting disguise, or in some form of ritual or story-telling.

Antler mask.

Tue  02 Jun 2009

Thanks to Bill Aldridge of Wigan Archaeological Society I was made aware of the excellent work of Eyre Crowe (1824-1910) an English painter, principally of historical art and genre scenes. One of his paintings is "The Dinner Hour, Wigan" (1874) which is in City Art Gallery in Manchester. BH.

There is good description of the painting which is quite long but worth reproducing in full.

Young women at rest are the focus of this composition. The young women (primarily placed in groups of two) read, chat, drink, walk and rest along a stone wall in the lower third of the composition. They are dressed simply—most with white aprons and in simple solid color garments. The viewer's eye is drawn to the two centrally placed women who wear skirts of red and blue, respectively. Balance is achieved by the inclusion of other red and blue garments placed to the left and right of the central women. Most wear a heavy clog type shoe, although the woman right of center is shoeless. The women's hair is pulled back in a netting and several wear striped shawls over their shoulders. In the lower left-hand corner, an older woman bends down to attend to some drinks pails. Her dark and patterned shawl covers her head as well as shoulders.

The Dinner Hour, Wigan (1874)

Tall brick and large windowed buildings serve as the backdrop for this composition. Two narrow and smoking chimneystacks dominate the top left. The negative space in between the chimneys balance the factory building on the right, as another chimney is obscured by the building. The roofs of the taller building sport what appear to be skylights.
The center of the composition, behind the two centrally placed young women and enclosed in the perspective of the lane between the buildings appears a figure in a dark coat and hat. He walks with a cane, and in the opposite direction of the young women in the foreground.
A later 19th century image, this painting depicts women factory workers at rest rather than at the laborious tasks of the cotton mills. As the conventional trends of the time dictated, pictorial painted images needed to be easy for the eye as well as the conscience.
Although not within their place of work and pictured outside the walls of the cotton mills, the mill girls themselves appears to portray the Victorian sentimentality of the workplace and a middle class sensibility of rest. No evidence of hard work is portrayed, and the reference to the working class is illustrated through the women's poses (classical and relaxed), cleanliness, simple garments, hair netting and bare feet. A sense of camaraderie is portrayed through the placement of the young women in pairs.
The solid, angular and austere factory buildings in the background serve as a backdrop for this image. They appear impenetrable, with their windows darker still. The smoking chimneys give evidence to the technology of the steam engines that power the speedy looms, but no evidence is given to the conditions inside the workplace—save for the netting on the girls' hair (pictured as a reference to the danger of accidents to the hair.)
Perhaps the most obscure image is the most important. The tiny central image of a dark and silhouetted man serves as the center of the young women's universe. The mill owner is the figure around which their life depends and is focused. The action of the painting illustrates this as well.
The clothing of the working-people (of Manchester), in the majority of cases, is in very bad condition. The material used for it is not of the best adapted. Wool and linen have almost vanished from the wardrobe of both sexes, and cotton has taken their place… the dresses of the women are chiefly of cotton print goods, and woolen petticoats are rarely seen on the wash line… the Irish have introduced… the custom, previously unknown in England, of going barefoot. In every manufacturing town there is now to be seen a multitude of people, especially women and children, going about barefoot, and their example is gradually being adopted by the poorer English.