Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Oct 2009

Mon 19 Oct 2009
Back to School - St James’s Church of England Primary School, Chorley

Back to School

In early September the Society received an approach from Andrew Clarke. Andrew is Deputy Head Master at St James’s Church of England Primary School, Chorley.

Andrew wanted the pupils to learn and appreciate more of Chorley’s history. In support of his aim he looked to the ‘experts’. Following discussions between Andrew and Joan Dickinson, Monday 19 October was set for some Society member to go ‘back to school’.

Joan was accompanied by husband Kevin, Mike and Sandra Berry, John and Christine Harrison, Peter Robinson and Stuart Whalley. Special thanks to Stuart who brought along part of his archaeological finds, including coins, bottles, flint and stone grinder.

The team

Stuart's table of goodies

The sound of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ dramatically announced the arrival of teachers and pupils into the gym. About 80 pupils aged between 8 and 11 then sat on the floor in rows facing the Society’s panel.

Brief introductions by Andrew and Joan were then followed by Mike. Mike explained of his connections with St James’. An uncle had been the Head Master in 1960’s and a friend, Mr Norcross, had been Head Master for 17 years.

Mike had had chance to see the Head Master’s Log and gave snippets of information from St James’s history. He explained that the neighbouring, soon to be demolished, old school was opened on 11 January 1873. An entertaining and interesting potted history of St James’ intervening 136 years was given. Responses were invited frequently and the pupils eagerly replied.

Andrew then invited pupils to question the panel on their knowledge of Chorley’s history. And there was no shortage of questioners. First one was, ‘when was Chorley found? ‘ John handled this one with confidence. A series of well thought out and objective questions followed, which included, ‘what was Astley Hall like?’ Sandra dealt with this with aplomb. Similarly, the panel dealt well with everything thrown at them.

To conclude, all the pupils had the opportunity to view at close hand Stuart’s archaeological finds, which they took with relish.

Before we knew it school was finished for the day.

By all accounts it was a different outing for the Society but one which was enjoyed by the members, teachers and, of course, pupils.

text by Peter Robinson & thanks to Joan for the images.

Stuart's table of goodies

Fri 16 Oct 2009
John Hallam: Archaeologist

At the October 2009 meeting of our Society, Peter Robinson reported the death of John Hallam, Archaeologist. I was reminded that his book “The Surviving Past” was the best piece of research and writing that has been published on archaeological finds and excavations in our part of Lancashire. I cannot find a precise date for the book but it seems to be late 1970s/early 1980s. (It must be long out of print; I picked up my copy second hand a few years ago).
The cover of “The Surviving Past” gives information on John Hallam’s life up to the point of publishing. He was born in Accrington, went to Manchester University and later held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at Liverpool University, specialising in the pre-history of Lancashire and the North-West. He had directed many excavations in the County the most notable being the hunted, but not captured, prehistoric elk at Poulton-le-Fylde. He became consultant archaeologist to the Central Lancashire New Town in 1975.
The book is the summation of archaeological surveys and excavations carried out over a 10 year period for the Central Lancashire Development Corporation. (A name which has itself been history for many years!) The introduction suggests that the book can be used as a guide book to not just sites, but also to the historical features that surround us.
I leave you to discover the book at the library but just to whet your appetite there are the following sections:

Prehistory (including aboriginals, early settlers, herders and traders and bronze age burial site)

Roman (including sites and finds and Roman Roads)

Anglo-Saxon and Viking (including the Cuerdale Hoard and Settlements and Place Name Evidence)

Norman Conquest to the Industrial Revolution (including Castles, Moated homesteads, Parish Churches and Religious House, Timber Framed and Early Brick Buildings, Crosses and Wells)

The Nineteenth Century and Industrial Archaeology (including the Lancaster Canal Tramway, Linen Weaving, Early Textiles and Birkacre.)

The layout makes all the information easy to access and read, particularly as it is accompanied by some excellent site plans.

John Harrison
October 16th 2009

Tue 13 Oct 2009
Peter Watson – North Country Folklore

A good-sized audience turned up to hear what Peter had in store with his folklore tales.
They were not disappointed as from the start he engaged those present with numerous questions. He opened with ‘what folklore meant’ to them. Responses came thick and fast in the form of witches, fairies, ghosts, boggarts, amongst others.

Peter Watson

A Witch Bottle

Peter stated that Lancashire folklore was the richest in Britain. He went onto explain why this time of year, particularly 1st November, All Saints Day, was so important to the Celts.
Many strongly believed in superstitions to the extent that certain people, such as witches, had the power to control other peoples’ lives. These superstitions survived through time. The village of Newchurch-in-Pendle is said today to have 40 witches covens.
Peter explained that red is regarded as a magic colour and believers feel it has the power to ward off evil. Evidenced throughout history and across cultures.
He produced a ‘witch bottle’. It would contain material cut in the shape of a heart and coloured red, a lock of a witch’s hair and a written charm. Its use was as a counter charm against witches who may have made a spell against you. Peter offered it to anyone who may have the need to use it. Nobody took up his offer.

He produced other items too that were believed to ward off evil. These included rowan tree wood crosses, naturally holed stones, evil eye and honesty seeds. Each item had a story woven around it, which was rooted in northern England.
Peter concluded a fascinating evening by fielding a variety of questions. One such was. ‘how do you sleep at night?’ No problem, he replied. Did we believe him? Like much else said that evening it’ll remain a mystery.

Peter Robinson

Strange signs and names found in
and old house near Pendle.

A good-sized audience turned up

Tue 13 Oct 2009
Press launch for the revamped and upgraded History leaflet for Yarrow Valley Park

This afternoon, 13th October, 2009. was the press launch for the revamped and upgraded History leaflet for Yarrow Valley Park. This has been accomplished over the past 12 months or so, with the help of Sarah at Y.V.P. along with some of our members. The finished article is full of information regarding the history of Birkacre along with a colourful numbered map of the area picked up also with pictures and information relating to the numbers on the map. It has been produced by Chorley Borough Council via a grant. It is a great improvement on the previous black and white leaflet, and I am sure it will be very visitor and child friendly. Some of our members were at the launch, and the leaflets should now be out and about in Chorley.
Joan Dickinson

Tue 13 Oct 2009
Hygienic Laundry (Pennine Cleaners) re-union.

This afternoon I attended a re-union of people who use to work at the Hygienic Laundry (Pennine Cleaners) in Chorley which was closed in 2007. The event was held at the Malthouse, Moss Lane, Whittle-le-Woods. The event was organised by one of he retired managers, Mr Bertrand Potts, and he should be congratulated on the splendid job he did organising the event. Around 25 people turned up and Bertrand had put up several displays of photographs of memorabilia. It was fascinating for me to see some of the earliest photographs from around 1907 when the business commenced.
B Harris

A float in the annual trades procession 1908

The delivery fleet in 1910 by the original building

The enlarged works in 1915. Note the state of the road

The re-union pose for a group photo. Bertrand Potts is seated front centre

12 Oct 2009
A full set of 'The Flat iron' publications are now available on this website.
They were published from issue no.1 in 1987 to issue no.17 in 1999.
There are almost 490 pages of articles so the pdf file is quite large at30Mg.