Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018  
Jan 2011 Feb 2011 Mar 2011 Apr 2011 May 2011 Jun 2011
Jul 2011 Aug 2011 Sep 2011 Oct 2011 Nov 2011 Dec 2011
Feb 2011

We were very sad to hear of the recent death on 24 Feb 2011 of Dr Ben Edwards. Ben was a great friend of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society and also the first County Archaeologist for Lancashire. He published a huge amount of valuable archaeological and historical information. He will be greatly missed but his work will live on as a wonderful legacy. Our sympathies go to his wife Margaret and all his family.



Dr Ben Edwards visiting Chorley in 2009

Tue 22 Feb 2011
See Sat 5 Feb 2011 below for an update on the Clayton Reservoir exhibition.

Steve Williams – ‘Chorley Pals’ Memorial – more then just a statue’

Tue 8 February 2011

It was a welcome return to the society for Steve Williams, this time in his capacity as Secretary and Co-founder of Chorley Pals’ Memorial. Steve’s illustrated 3 part talk covered the background to the Chorley Pals and his efforts, together with Chorley MP, Lindsay Hoyle, to initiate the Pals’ memorial. He followed that with an explanation of the ongoing Chorley Remembers project and to complete the evening, the showing of film archive of the opening of the Chorley cenotaph in 1924.

A capacity audience for Steve's talk in Chorley Library

Chorley Pal’s Memorial

Steve’s story started with the Pals’ recruitment between September and December 1914. These were men who knew each other, worked together, signed up together and fought and died together. The Chorley recruits formed a company of 222 men within the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) East Lancashire Regiment. Accrington was the smallest town in Britain to form a battalion of around 1,000 men.

They went into action on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This was the blackest day in the history of the British army and the Pals suffered similarly on that day.

Remembrance to the men that fell was centred on the Chorley Pals Roll of Honour in Astley Hall. However, due to the small size of the room it is held in, it cannot cope with all but the smallest groups. This is particularly so with school groups and the important work of education and the understanding of the Pals.

A local historian, John Garwood, has studied and recorded the Chorley Pals since the late 1970’s and continues his research to this day. Chorley owes a debt to John for all his work, which includes a commemorative plaque in Sheffield Memorial Park at Serre.

However, it was felt a memorial was needed that had names on it and it was in February 2007 that the 2 co-founders of this project, Steve and Chorley MP, Lindsay Hoyle, started down the road for such a memorial.

A committee was formed and an appeal that included publicity in the local press. Funds were donated, which included money from successful bids from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This led to a need for a sculpture for the memorial and the one chosen was Peter Hodgkinson, the man responsible for the Tom Finney, ‘Splash’ statue at Deepdale.

The Pals Memorial statue was finally unveiled at 2pm on Sunday, 28 February 2010.

Steve emphasised the point that the project continues to this day, which includes his involvement with talks, articles, interviews, website hits and the sale of the Chorley Pals book.

Chorley Remembers – Will You?

Following the success of the Chorley Pals Memorial it was decided a new ‘Chorley Pals memorial project’ was needed. This is to include the names on the cenotaph of all those from Chorley town parish who have died when serving their country. This would include the 650 from World War 1, 150 from World War 2 and those from the conflicts in Northern Ireland, Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

For this purpose a Trust has been set up and a full time project manager, Nikki Davidson-Kerr, has been employed.

Heritage Lottery Fund money was bid for and obtained to survey and repair the Memorial Arch to Astley Park. These funds will also go to improvements to expand the room in Astley Hall, which houses the Roll of Honour.

To be successful in obtaining funds the Heritage Lottery Fund likes ‘outcomes’ and the Trust can point to many. For example, participation at the Buckshaw Village Event, production of resource packs to all schools in Chorley borough, research and databases containing names of every man and woman who died in service of their country and the production of another ‘Chorley Remembers’ book, amongst many more ‘outcomes’.

Following on from this project other areas of interest are of those from Chorley who served in the Boer War (1899-1902), the Territorial Army, ‘the Terriers’, who served and died in World War 1, World War 2 ‘Pals’, the Home Guard and those who experienced National Service. These and more are integral to ‘Chorley Remembers’.

As in the title of Steve’s talk the Chorley Pals Memorial is very much more than ‘just a statue’.

The evening concluded with a short silent film from the North West Film Archive of the opening in Astley pak of the cenotaph on 31 May 1924. A fitting end to an excellent evening.

P. Robinson.


Sat 05 Feb 2011
Rosemary Boyd, one of our Society members, has compiled a mobile
exhibition to help us save a valuable piece unique Victorian heritage.
Through the following weeks it will be shown in various Chorley District libraries.

The exhibition will continue at Clayton Green Library until Sat 19 Feb 2011
then it moves to Chorley Library, Union St. Mon 21 Feb to Sat 5 Mar 2011
further venues to follow.

The Clayton Reservoir exhibition has now moved to Chorley Library and can be seen in the reference section. The pictures right and below were taken on Tue 22 Feb 2011.

Chorley Library Reference section (Tue 22 Feb 2011)

The old Clayton Water Supply Reservoir on Back Lane, Clayton-le-Woods was built in 1884. It is owned by United Utilities and they have applied for planning permission to demolish it and build houses on the site. Chorley Council Planning are supporting them. Rosemary, with full support of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society, is trying to find an alternative use. In Sydney, Australia they had a similar project, although much larger, and instead of demolishing the reservoir they converted it to gardens and urban art in 2009. It has won national and international awards.

Clayton Green library, the start of the exhibition.

The exhibition in Clayton Green library.

Back Lane Reservoir was first brought to the attention of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society in August 2010 when United Utilities applied for Outline Planning permission to build eight dwellings on the site of the reservoir.
Research showed that the Reservoir was built in 1884 and of historic importance.
We applied to English Heritage to get it listed but we were unsuccessful we then appealed against their decision but unfortunately we lost the appeal. The reservoir may now be demolished to make way for the dwellings.

The reservoir construction is unique as it is vaulted brickwork and is the only one of its kind in the Chorley District area and certainly the oldest remaining service reservoir in Chorley . Across from the brick reservoir, to the west, is the one currently used which is much larger and built about 1940, since then the brick reservoir was kept as an emergency backup and so has been redundant since then.
The way the scheme worked when it was built in 1884, was the pumping station used a steam pump to lift the water from a large diameter well approximately 25 meters deep and pumped it into the reservoir where it then fed via gravity through a cast iron water pipe to feed drinking water to Leyland.
Subsequently a much deeper borehole was sunk below the bottom of the well and a submersible electric pump used to extract the water. The steam pump then became redundant. When the ‘new’ reservoir was built a new pipe line was laid from Wheelton where a connection was taken from the Thirlmere aqueduct. The borehole was still used occasionally as an emergency backup and to prevent the brickwork from drying out.


On the right is an interior photo of the Clayton Reservoir taken in 1980. It shows the unique vaulted brickwork construction which is the only one of its type in the Chorley area. Below are two photos of the Paddington reservoir conversion in Sydney Australia. It shows what can be done when the governing authority has imagination.

Clayton Res. Chorley -  interior in 1980

Paddington Res conversion, Sydney, Australia. 2010

Paddington Res conversion, Sydney, Australia. 2010

Clayton Green library.

The project has been picked up in the 4 Feb 2011 Private Eye issue no 1281 page 14