Jan 052018

Vintage Happy New Year postcard

Happy New Year to all our members and one-place studiers out there!

Members, check the latest issue of Destinations for an introduction to Built Heritage, our Shared Endeavour for 2018. Every year we focus on one particular aspect of our one-place studies and provide guidance, suggestions, and inspiration for investigating that particular aspect in your place. This year it is the turn of Built Heritage - the buildings and other physical signs of human occupation in our place. Materials for the first quarter are also now available in the Members section of the website.

If this sounds good to you but you are not currently a member, you can join us to join in the fun. The more the merrier!

Alex Coles and Janet Barrie

Dec 072017

The 'Buildings of England' guides by Nikolaus Pevsner are regarded as one of the ‘go to’ guides for buildings of architectural importance and can be both helpful and interesting. However they are secondary sources compiled with various degrees of local knowledge, and as such should be regarded with caution.

St Anne’s church, Edgeside

St Anne’s church, Edgeside

One example is seen in the 'Lancashire North’ edition. Although no Springhill properties are listed in the guide, St Anne’s church, Edgeside, is included and was endowed by a Springhill resident, Captain Charles Patrick, being consecrated in 1885. Pevsner’s entry for St Anne’s reads:

'ST ANNE Ashworth Lane, Edgeside. By Thomas Bell of Burnely and Nelson, 1885. Low, aisleless and with a canted apse and plate-traceried windows. Base of a SW tower. W front with a big wheel window over a portal which embraces a pair of doors, like a Nonconformist church. Was this a deliberate ploy in an area of Methodist and Baptist supremacy. STAINED GLASS. Nave N. A good window by Shrigley and Hunt c 1895. The Adoration of the Magi and sheep. The church is groped with the substantial, slightly Gothic VICARAGE S. of 1910 and the long, low bare SCHOOL W. 1873 by Harry Thorndyke Perceval.'

Stained Glass Window, St Anne’s church, Edgeside

Stained Glass Window, St Anne’s church, Edgeside

The statement that the window was installed 'about 1895’ is true only in a very general sense. The window commemorates Charles Patrick and his wife, Mary Ann nee Ashworth. Charles Patrick died in 1895 and his date of death is included in the window.

Inscription on stained glass window

Inscription on stained glass window

A little probing reveals more however. Patrick’s will states that a stained glass window be installed in the church in memory of him and his wife as 'soon as conveniently maybe' after Rev Cross Jones ceasing to be vicar there. This suggests that relations between Patrick and Rev Cross Jones may not have been entirely cordial, or perhaps Cross Jones objected to stained glass in principle. This is an avenue for further study, although I’m not sure what documentation survives from St Annes’ from this period. The window was actually installed in 1903.

As members begin to explore our shared endeavour for 2018 of ‘the built environment’ this acts as a timely reminder that not everything written is accurate, and the more remote the source the more true this is. This applies, of course, to all avenues of our research!

Does anyone have any other examples of guides getting it wrong?

Janet Barrie

Nov 122017

Halloween and Bonfire Night have recently passed and these have led me to reflect on the changing traditions around these two celebrations over the years (too many to own up to!) that I have been in and around my place. I am not going to get into the discussion of whether Halloween is a pagan or Christian festival of ancient or medieval origin as that is not relevant to Springhill over recent years. A fascinating topic, but for an other time.

Rather I am remembering Halloweens and Bonfire Nights of my childhood, my children’s childhood and today and the changes have been quite marked.

Taking Halloween first, it was relatively low key when I was growing up. There were parties with parkin and games of bobbin apples and ducking apples, usually held in the church. No fancy dress as I remember. By the time my children were young (thirty years later!) the churches had stopped Halloween parties and the old games had gone. Trick or treat was becoming popular but still no fancy dress or focus on horror. Now the stores are full of zombie or scary clown costumes as soon as the ‘back to school’ promotions are over in August, trick or treating is possibly reducing in popularity and Halloween parties for adults are growing. The churches are now holding ‘lite nite’ parties with different games, a spiritual focus and no fancy dress.

Bonfire night was a bigger event during my pre-teen years with gang-built bonfires being fiercely guarded against raids from other groups. Home made guys were still touted around the village for the ‘penny for the guy’ then burned on the fire. There was, however, a trend away from making our own guy and putting a jacket and cap on a teddy. Financial returns tended to be lower with that approach. We had treacle toffee and black peas and Dad struggled to light the fireworks in the garden. A few years later council-run bonfires on the ‘rec’ replaced home-built ones, still with treacle toffee and black peas but now at a cost. By my children’s pre-teen the council-run bonfire had been replaced with a council-run firework display on the local sports field, more recently these have ended and we are back to smaller fires and displays, not usually organised by local groups of kids but by the scouts, the cricket club and the like. In general though bonfire night has reduced in prominence and Halloween increased, becoming more commercial in the process.

Have there been similar changes in these customs in your places?

Janet Barrie

Oct 152017

In memory of Harry Craven. Photo credit Stephen Craven, CC

'Th' owd dialect in th' modern age
to foster 'n sustain'

From time to time one reads of the death of a significant person in your place. Perhaps they were a local worthy: a businessman, politician, community worker who worked hard to improve the working or living environment of the area. Perhaps they were active in sport or the arts and helped put your place on the map. Perhaps they were men or women of valour in previous conflicts. Perhaps they were just ordinary people, not famous for anything in particular, but who represented a last link with a way of life which has passed into history.

One such gentleman was Jack Crawshaw. Although not a Springhill resident, people in the community were saddened to read of his death recently. He was 96 years old, and his death marked the end of the old way of life in two respects.

Firstly, he was a clogger all his working life, having a shop approx. a mile from Springhill. Clogs are part of the caricature of northern life but were widely worn by many in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Until relatively recently children were often brought a pair of clogs when they started to walk, the feeling being that these were more stable and secure under foot for toddlers than shoes. I clearly remember my sister being bought her first pair of clogs when she was about 14 months, and am reliably informed that I learned to walk in the same way. More recently, clogs were made mainly for clog dancing (a longstanding tradition and growing pastime) and as souvenirs and gifts with recipients of Jack's clogs including HM the Queen and Margaret Thatcher.

Clog wearing was traditionally associated with working people, as reflected in the phrase 'Clogs wouldn't do and shoes wouldn't come', referring to a person who aimed too high in love and was left single.

This leads to the second reason why Jack's death is a break with a former era. The Lancashire dialect (actually a range of dialects with quite subtle local variations) was widely spoken locally in the first half of the 20th century. This staggered on into the 1960s and 70s with the older generation (my grandparents) speaking Lanky which was comprehensible to the younger folk, but we didn't speak it and the works passes from common use. The heading is an epitaph to a dialect poet, Harry Craven, who died in 1971 and who is commemorated in a well on the moors about 3 miles above Springhill. Craven failed in his attempt to sustain dialect usage in the modern age and Jack Crawshaw was felt to be one of the last surviving speakers of the Lancashire dialect.

These two strands, clogs and dialect, come together in Jack's life. They are also recorded in Harvey Kershaw's dialect poem, Clogs.


As soon as Ah were owd enough
To toddle on me own down t’ clough,
They made me wear – ‘cause t’ loan were rough
Some Clogs

When later on Ah went to t’ Skoo
Because mi Mother made me goo,
Wi’ temper – Ah punced through
Mi Clogs.

Skoo Maisther 'at Ah had just then
Oft gan me t’ stick – but more so when
He saw ‘at Ah’d forgot to clen
Mi Clogs.

Like o’ young lads Ah loved a lark,
Ah liked to mek clog-irons spark.
Ah cracked – through doing it in t’ dark
Mi Clogs.

Mi fayther went off at t’ deep end
When he fun’ out – he made me bend –
Then Ah felt what power a foot could lend
To Clogs.

If bigger lads at top o’ t’ brew,
Should try to bash me, coming from t’ Skoo,
One thing 'ud allus pull me through –
Mi Clogs.

From t’ Skoo, Ah went half-time in t’ Mill,
A skip wi’ bobbins Ah’d to fill,
Mi first week’s wage just settled t’ bill –
For new Clogs.

At 18 Ah were courting strong,
Sad to say, it didn’t last long;
For hoo said when Ah axed her what were wrong –
It’s thi Clogs.

That hurt so mich, Ah welly skriked,
An’ after tay, to bed Ah piked.
But Ah fun a lass, who said hoo liked –
Mi Clogs.

We were wed i’ June, at following year,
Th’ owd Church were crammed – you couldna’ stir,
That’s th’ only time Ah didna’ wear –
Mi Clogs.

Ah’m owder now bi 50 year;
But let them as want, have shoes to wear.
Ah’ll be owd fashioned and prefer –
Mi Clogs.

Shoon nip yer feet, just like a vice;
Ah’ve had some and it’s noan so nice.
If you have too – tek my advice –
Try Clogs.

If you’ve getten a job, like shifting sond in,
Or bug-blinding yer upstairs londin’
You’ll need a gradely understondin’ –
Try Clogs.

Two things you’ll find browt Lancashire fame;
An’ one is Cotton and t’ Cotton Frame.
But as for t’ other, well there’s nobbut one name –
And that’s Clogs.

Stereotyped? Of course.

RIP Jack. Are there any individuals who epitomise the history of your place, and whose death weakens the links with the past?

Janet Barrie

Oct 072017

Recently I was contacted by a new DNA match. This is the largest match I (well, technically my mother) has had through GEDMatch, so we were all pretty excited to work out where our trees met up. But we couldn’t.

This match did have a missing quarter of her family tree, as after 25 years of research she had found nothing more on her grandfather except the details on his son's birth certificate and baptism entry. So, as you do, I set to work on the offchance there was something a fresh set of eyes might spot. The key tool of choice for that proved to be the electoral rolls for Acton in London. The indexing looked suspiciously patchy. Some years were missing when I searched the index, so I went old-school, if you can call manually flipping through the pages of the digital scans of the rolls while comfortably seated in my home on the other side of the world from Acton "old-school".

You know what I found by accident while doing that? Rothschild Road.

Turns out I've been to Acton, sort of - on my last visit to the UK I went to the Acton Town tube station, then walked to Gunnersbury Park Museum. This was specifically because the Rothschilds who owned Ascott House in my one-place study of Wing also owned Gunnersbury, which was in the electoral roll district for Acton 110 years ago, along with a Rothschild Road that I imagine was filled with houses that the family built for their employees to tenant, just like the Rothschild Road in Wing.

Could my DNA match's mystery grandfather, or one of his parents, have been from Wing? I don't know yet. But thanks to my one-place study I know there's a reason that Wing folk were materialising in Acton right around the time in question!

Alex Coles