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.

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

Sep 222017
 

As you probably know, the Society for One-Place Studies’ annual shared endeavour this year has been about Faith in our Communities. Running along side this is the Family and Community Historical Research Society’s (FACHRS) ‘Communities of Dissent’ two year project and some of our members are participating in both. Earlier this month, FACHRS project participants were required to send in the results of their research that formed Phase 1 of this project. Compiling this report complemented the work that I had done on our own shared endeavour. Concentrating as it does on non-conformity between 1850 and 1939, the FACHRS project is less wide ranging than our shared endeavour. This does mean that there is an opportunity to look in depth at this aspect of faith in our communities and some of us will be developing a study of a particular issue for Phase 2.

So what did Phase 1 involve? After providing background information about our communities, we looked in detail at the 1851 ecclesiastical census. This was a fascinating exercise in itself and we were asked to produce pie charts to show the proportion of attendances that each denomination attracted.

 

The next exercise was to look for evidence of churches and chapels in directories. I was surprised to discover that some of the chapels in my place were not listed, even though I know that they were open and functioning at the time. For example, in 1870, the Wesleyan Methodist and Baptist chapels got a mention but not the three Bible Christian chapels. After that, we compiled a list of the places of worship, the date they were built and any renovations that took place in the period under review. These chapels were then depicted on a map – plenty of opportunity here to use Maps4OPS.

We then listed the sources and resources available to us and finally presented our findings so far. This was also an opportunity to decide where we would like to take this project during Phase 2. I am still keen to study at the links between non-conformity and emigration; something I have been studying for over a decade. I am also intrigued by the role of the landowners. There are several incidences in nearby parishes, of hostility from local landowners towards non-conformists. In Buckland Brewer however, a number of landowners were sympathetic to the non-conformist cause. I would like to look further into the lives of those who donated land for the building of chapels or who were supportive in other ways.

Janet Few

Sep 132017
 

Rossendale Round The Hills footpathsSpringhill is on the edge of the West Pennine Moors and we are lucky to have excellent moorland walking from the door. As well as natural beauty and wildlife, many of the paths pass near to sites of interest for my one-place studies project. These include places where Springhill residents worked, worshipped, took recreation and generally lived. Many walks are self-constructed though there are a couple of formal routes and a couple of organised events.

The most important of these is the Round the Hills walk which goes, er, around the hills. It begins at Marl Pits Sports Complex (100 yards along the road from Springhill and on land historically belonging to Springhill Farm) then vaguely follows 3/4 or so of the old boundary of the former borough of Rawtenstall, which includes Springhill. It is not a traditional ‘beating of the bounds’ type walk, being started in 1966 by Walter Whittaker as a family (and dog!) friendly community event, though the families have to be of a certain age to manage all 18 miles. It is run jointly by Rossendale Rotary Club and Rossendale Harriers, and is still free to enter although donations welcome.

It is almost entirely off road (apart from a couple of short sections) and passes over the major hills surrounding the village. It covers 18 miles and 3080 feet of ascent. The traditional route was modified after the introduction of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to include the summit of a hitherto inaccessible (cough) hill, for those for whom 3080 feet of ascent was not enough. The use of footpaths on that hill is closely monitored by a local farmer who has used voice (regularly) dogs (occasionally) and in more lurid versions shotguns (allegedly) to keep ramblers on the straight and narrow.This year the organisers have introduced a number of variations to shorten or simplify the route in an attempt to make the event more accessible to folk who would be put off the full walk.

It starts on land owned by Springhill residents passes along the tops to Hambledon Hill past the ‘weather station’ to drop down by Clowbridge Reservoir (adjacent to the site of Gambleside Colliery, once owned by John Ashworth of Springhill House). It then passes past Compston’s Cross (commemorating Samuel Compston, father of EL Compston of Springhill House... theme emerging here) to Water. The route then passes up Dean Lane to Jack Lodge and along Edgeside Lane (along land owned by Mary Ann Ashworth, daughter of the aforementioned John), losing some every year in the Jolly Sailor. It then passes up Lench and over Cowpe Lowe to Cloughfold, going through the quarry scrubbing mill at Cloughfold, visible from Springhill House... you are now about half a mile from the end but it is up Peel Street, only 1:10 gradient but a killer after 18 miles. The route then passes past Springhill (where to temptation to just go home and not finish has to be resisted) and back to Marl Pits. Then, to add the final insult, you have to go upstairs to get your certificate.

Rossendale Round The Hills walk 2It is held annually on the first Sunday in September and has been cancelled twice - once for poor weather and once for the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001. This year saw 767 commence the walk, the largest number on record.

The second organised route and event is the Rossendale Way, a 40 mile route roughly round the boundary of the current borough of Rossendale (which was formed in 1974 by the merger of three former boroughs and includes Springhill). This, sadly, isn’t ‘from the door’ in the same manner as the Round the Hills. In the past the local Fell Rescue have organised a ‘Rossendale Way in a Day’ event and ‘Half Way in a Day’ for the less energetic (though still 23 miles) as a fund raising event but this has not been held in recent years. I have done the half way in a day and that was quite enough, thank you.

Are there any community walks or sporting events in your place? Are these historical events, or ones which emerged more recently?

Janet Barrie

Rossendale Round The Hills walk 3