Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021        
Jan 2018 Feb 2018 Mar 2018 Apr 2018 May 2018 Jun 2018
Jul 2018 Aug 2018 Sep 2018 Oct 2018 Nov 2018 Dec 2018
Sep 2018

Tue 11 Sep 2018
AGM and Members' Reports.

Notes of the history of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society by Doreen Jolly

In early 1918 two men decided to see if anyone would be interested in forming an historical society in Chorley.
These men were Ernest ash ton & rev. Thomas Crudas Porteus.
Ernest Ashton was born at White Coppice in 1862 and later moved to 167 Eaves Lane. He had various jobs – worked in the Bleachworks, a Commission’s agent, Temperance Society agent and a Commercial Traveller, selling sweets. He was also he was a councillor and in 1927 to 1930 was the mayor of Chorley, Mr Ashton was very proud of his native town of Chorley. When he attended public functions he always recalled some interesting events of the past so that he might awaken in others a desire to know more about the history of their town.

Rev Porteus had lived in Lancashire for many years, but was born in Netherton, Worcestershire in 1866. He studied at Manchester and was ordained as a minister in 1909 at Manchester Cathedral, he was minister at St Wilfrids, Standish, St Johns, Coppull & St Georges, Chorley, becoming a cannon in1942. As well as being a church minister he had a notable research, recording, cataloguing and writing career, he gave lectures & wrote much on local history including a history of Standish, a biography on Captain Myles Standish and much more. He also won prizes for English verse.
So -

A meeting was held on 14th April 1918 at 3pm to decide if a society was wanted - We don’t know who attended this meeting - but the answer was yes.
Rev Porteus was elected Chairman & Ernest Ashton, Secretary.
It was said at the meeting –
The intention of the society was to collect purely local information, folklore, tradition, deeds, and documents etc.
It was stated that in many houses interesting documents are lying useless to their present owners but would be valuable if they could be handed into the society’.
It was decided only two or three meetings a year would be held.

The first official meeting was held on Saturday 27th April 1918 at the workers educational association college in Hollinshead St.
Mr Henry Brierley president of the Lancashire parish registers society gave a talk. Lots of people attended.

At the next meeting on Saturday 18th may 1918 many members handed in information, they had been out & about getting dates off old buildings - these included eagle tower, Heapey, White Coppice Farm, Heskin Hall, Canal Farm, Heath Charnock, Gorse Hall, Whittle and many more.

Due to the First World War it wasn’t until 1921 that the society really got going.

Over the years many meetings were held, more than the 2 or 3 per year suggested originally. They were always advertised in the Chorley Guardian & then a full report of the lecture appeared the following week.
From a sheet of headed notepaper found at find at Lancashire record office the following information that gives an insight into the society in 1926.

At the top of the sheet it said -
‘Chorley and District Historical Society’ –
‘The society is instituted to examine, preserve and illustrate ancient monuments and records and to promote the study of history, literature, arts, customs and traditions, with particular reference to the antiquities of Chorley and neighbourhood’.


The headquarters was Chorley library – Avondale Road.
President Sir Henry Hibbert
Chairman Rev T.C. Porteus
Secretary Ernest Ashton
Treasurer F.H. Taylor

It listed 16 paid members – (7 men – 9 women).
Subscription paid was for men 5/- (25p)
And for women 2/6(12.5p)
(equivalent to £6 / £3 today)
Sadly it also records the names of 9 members that have died - i think the women listed were the widows of these men)
And it also mentions 6 people who were no longer members – one of these was Rev Walter Bushrod who was minister at Chorley Unitarian chapel, he was no longer a member as he had gone to another church ( he did give lectures to society)


Sir Henry Hibbert

The society can be traced as holding meetings up to
8th April 1933 then nothing else could be found reported in the Chorley Guardian.

There could be two reasons.

Firstly - in 1934 Rev Porteus was appointed Vicar at St Georges, so he would be very busy in his new parish.
On reading the obituary of the Ernest Ashton in 1937 it says that ‘Mr Ashton had been responsible for starting the society, but for the greater part he had to bear the burden of running it single handed, unfortunately he had to give it up due to his multifarious duties’.
So it would appear the two men who started the society didn’t have the time to devote to it. So these could be the reasons why we could find no further reports in the Chorley Guardian.
There is now a gap until 1946 – (but obviously world war 2 was being fought from 1939 to 1945)
On 14th October 1946 Rev Cannon Porteus gave a lecture on old Chorley - held in the St Georges Street Institute.

Then nine days later on 23rd October 1946 a meeting was held to reconstitute the Historical Society.
Rev Porteus is involved -
And also Mr R.H. Blackburn (Head Librarian of Chorley Library.
They both spoke on the purpose of such a society and its usefulness to the town and district.
The Mayor gave his personal support and expressed the opinion that later meetings would certainly attract good audiences.
Rev Porteus is President and Mr Blackburn is Secretary.

The next meeting was held on Wednesday 13th November 1946 in the Town Hall and Mr R. Sharp-France from the County Record Office gave the lecture – he brought documents along about Chorley.

The meetings again were advertised in the Chorley Guardian & a report appeared afterwards.

November 1946 – (only 2 months after society started) was last report that could be found in the Chorley Guardian of the History Society meetings.
But meetings must have continued because details exist of the AGM held on 22nd October 1948.
Subs still 5/-(25p), think everyone paid this amount men & women
23 paid members
Some financial information-
Income of £5/15/-
Expenditure £5/5/4 (– 18/2 advertising in Chorley Guardian / 2/6 for caretaker).
Now as in 1933 things go quiet and as yet we do not know why
In Feb 1947 Rev Porteus was seriously ill and he died in 1948 -- maybe he was the driving force of the society and without him things didn’t happen.
In Rev Porteus obituary it said ‘with the help of some friends Rev Porteus founded the Chorley and District Historical Society in 1918 and to that he contributed a good many lectures’.
Mr Blackburn was at the Library until Jan 1969 and died in 1975.

So after the late 1940s we have another gap until 3rd July 1953 when Chorley Archaeological Society was founded - this society was for archaeology only, but by 1968 membership numbers and attendance at meetings had fallen so it was decided historical activities should be included,
So in early 1970 the first meeting of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society was held.

From this date onwards we know the society has continued to meet with no gaps a period of 48years.
There are hardly any records of meetings held – other than about the lectures but we do know something about the annual general meeting of 1919 –

14 people attended – Ernest Ashton (Town Cllr) / Rev Porteus / Robert Smith (Cllr) / John Baxendale (Cllr) / E.V. Fairweather (editor of Chorley Guardian) / Herbert Rwcliffe / H.A. Howarth / Arthur Leach / A.E. Gregory (Cllr) / Miss M.E. Leigh / John Sharples (Mayor) / Sir Henry Hibbert / Eli Bibby (Head of the Workers Educational College) / James Hargreaves
From the *notes & queries* mentioned in that report –

*people sent questions about local history to Chorley Guardian or the Chorley Advertiser then the following week an answer was published.

At the first AGM of the Chorley Historical Society in 1919
The secretary Mr Ernest Ashton said –

We have now completed the first year of the society.
We have been enabled to see the need for our existence.
We have had many letters of appreciation from persons interested in Chorley but now live away.
The *notes & queries* we inspired in the local newspapers have been interesting and the committee realise that the society owes a debt of gratitude to the Chorley newspapers for their full and interesting reports of our proceedings.
We have had (information) notes from several of our members who have conducted (investigations) notably about the (worked) stones on Anglezarke Moor.
As time goes by and we become stronger we shall be able to do more to collect pieces of valuable local history.

Places meetings held
Workers Educational College, Hollinshead St
Chorley Town Hall
Oddfellows Room, 9 Cunlife St, Chorley
St Georges street Institute, Chorley

An interesting addition was found in the Chorley Guardian from 18th July 1947.
It was reported that Malcolm Campbell's boat Bluebird was travelling from New Malden Surrey on an articulated lorry. Last night Thursday 17th the lorry broke its journey whilst travelling through Euxton and the lorry was parked behind the Anderton Arms Euxton before continuing its journey to Coniston.
Bluebird weighed 2 tons.


Malcolm Campbell