EARBY AS A MUSICAL NEIGHBOURHOOD
Forty to fifty years ago there was a part of our village, always called "Top o' t' town," which was a notable musical colony. At this farthest end of the village main street there were little more than a dozen houses, half on one side the rest on the other. Almost every evening a wayfarer passing along this street would have arrested by hearing harmonious strains issuing from these cottages. All kinds of instruments were brought into action - pianos, American organs. violins, violoncellos and numerous brass instruments - and these were supplemented by vocalists of a creditable order.
Going up the street, in the second house of a row of four lived Vandeleur Wilkinson with a family of about ten children, mostly sons. As a businessman he was known over a large radius, as he and his brother Henry ran the bobbin mill at Booth Bridge between Earby and Thornton, and his sons were engaged with them in the business. After the death of the senior partners the family removed to Heysham, where a modern sawmill was erected for their business.
The eldest son, Harry, was a pupil teacher in the Wesleyan Day School, and as a young man became H.M.Inspector, and has had a very honourable career. Vandeleur, the father, was an enthusiastic player on the violin, and the father's passion was inherited by Herbert, one of the younger sons. As a youth he was a brilliant player and often appeared at local concerts to the great delight of his admirers. He later went to Germany to improve his musical culture, and he has since been engaged at Morecambe during the summer seasons. Jack, Alfred and Charlie were band musicians in the palmy days of the Earby Brass Band.
Next door to the Wilkinsons there lived William Turner, always known as "Tinker." He was a foreman tackler at Bracewell's new weaving shed, and three of his sons became tacklers too - Joseph, Tommy and James. A grandson, Walter, the son of Tommy, is also a tackler, and the late chairman of the Urban District Council. Tommy was a prominent member of the Earby Band, and played the biggest bass instrument, which corresponded to his size. Two other sons, Levi and James, were players on the organ and tenor singers. Thirty years ago James was in much request, along with his friend, Virgil Crowther, a famous bass singer of those days. Levi has been the choir master at the Baptist Chapel for about twenty years, and his daughter, Millicent, is a brilliant violinist, a pupil of Arthur Catterall, and has appeared at concerts in Lancashire and Yorkshire with the best musical talent in the country. Another member of the family, a grandson, John Smith, is the talented organist at the Baptist Chapel.
"LITTLE BILL HARTLEY"
But the outstanding musical family at the top of the town was undoubtedly that of William Hartley. He lived in the middle of the row of houses on the opposite side of the road. William was rather diminutive in stature, and to distinguish him from another William Hartley, who was also a musician, he was called "Little Bill Hartley." At an early age he was employed in the village cotton mill as doffer, but at the same time he started to learn music, and to play the piano. His teacher was that highly-gifted man, Henry Pickles, who devoted all the time he could spare from serving in the grocer's shop in Aspen Lane to teaching music in the house adjoining. The teacher was so pleased with his promising pupil that he used to take him to surrounding churches where he was much in demand. His first appointment as organist was at Kelbrook Church when he was nineteen years of age. About that time there was a school for gentlemen's sons at Hague House between Kelbrook and Foulridge, conducted by Mr. Tunnicliffe. The master of this academy was much interested in music and always brought the boys down to Kelbrook Church and to concerts at Earby. He afforded the young organist all possible encouragement, which was very acceptable. Having played occasionally at the Baptist Chapel, William Hartley was engaged as choirmaster and organist, and he remained in that capacity over thirty years. A striking evidence of Mr. Hartley’s musical enthusiasm is manifest in the names he gave to his children, such as Handel, Haydn, Novello, Lloyd, Halle. To improve his playing the young organist went to Broughton to take lessons from Mr. Skippings, who was the organist at the Hall Chapel. At that time he was also a member of the Earby Band, and played the second trombone. When the Earby Band appeared at Broughton sports Father Marshall saw the young organist, with whom he was quite friendly, and said : "I am sorry to see you with that instrument ; it will ruin you ; don't let me see you with it again." Mr. Hartley entered upon a new career as a baker of oatcakes, muffins etc., and this gave him more time for music. When he was on his rounds hawking bread and muffins, he was always thinking of music and how to give the best expression of any work he had in hand. When the Earby Brass Band was very busy contesting it was not always possible to obtain professional conductors, and he was engaged from time to time to train the band for these events. He had to follow men like Birkenshaw, Gladney and Owen, but he had the glowing satisfaction of never appearing with the band without securing a prize, and at one memorable contest at Skipton the band under his leadership won four prizes. "But banding" he admitted "was hard work ; it was like leading a cow from Skipton market and trying to get it into a fresh shippon." About forty years ago Mr. Hartley was mainly instrumental in forming the Orpheus Glee Union, which had a successful career for several years and won many prizes.
A grand performance of Haydn's "Creation" is the greatest event in his musical career. This took place in the Earby Baptist Chapel on May 22nd, 1886. A poster which has been preserved, gives the following interesting particulars :- The principals were Miss Tomlinson (soprano), Bradford ; Mr. Paratt, principal tenor, Ripon Cathedral ; and Mr. Varley (bass), choirmaster of St. Peter’s Church, Blackburn. The chorus consisted of the Baptist and Wesleyan choirs, Earby, the Baptist and Wesleyan choirs from Barnoldswick, and members of the Skipton, Colne and Nelson Choral Societies. The orchestra was a very fine one, and included the Earby String Band, members of the Brass Band, assisted by friends from other places, as follows :-
First violins : Mr. Waddington (leader), Burnley ; Mr. Wilson, Birstall ; Messrs. V. Wilkinson, James Brown and W. Nutter, Earby ; second violins : Mr. Titherington, Colne ; Mr. P. Anforth, Burnley ; Messrs. John Brown, W. Windle and Herbert Wilkinson, Earby ; viola, Mr. H. Hargreaves and Mr. N. H. Smith Burnley ; 'cello, Mr. Hargreaves, Burnley ; Mr. Leach, Colne, and Mr. William Hartley, senr., Earby ; contra bass : Mr. J. Calderbank, Higham, and Mr. F. Windle, Earby ; flute, Mr. H. Thornton, Helles Band, and Mrs. Joseph Sephton, Earby ; clarinet, Mr. D. Seaman, Burnley, Mr. Bannister, Colne, and Mr. F. G. Turner, Earby ; cornet, Mr. W. Rushton, Mr John Cowgill, Earby, and Mr. Jas. Wormwell, Kelbrook ; tenor horn, Mr. W. Holmes, Earby ; baritone : Mr. W. Sephton, Earby ; tenor trombone, Mr. Rd. Bailey, Earby ; euphonium : Mr. Fred Wright, Earby ; harmonium, Mr. Peter Pickup, Burnley, and Mr. W. N. Berry, Kelbrook.
The event was a triumph of skill and perseverance, and was a most successful event. The orchestra practices for the occasion were held in the room over Mr. Hartley’s bakehouse, and never was such music heard at the top of the town before or since. The proceeds of the performance were towards a new organ, which was shortly afterwards installed in the Baptist Chapel by Driver and Haigh, of Bradford. Mr. Hartley’s service received a fitting recognition on December 17th, 1892, when he was the recipient of an illuminated address and a purse of gold. Mr. Hartley continued his association with the Baptist Chapel organ for some years, and when the Rev. Walter Wynn was the minister he asked the organist to choose the hymns as well as the tunes.
A GOOD STORY
William was fond at times of using the heavy Bourdon stop on the pedal organ, which used to make the building vibrate. Mr. Wynn said to him one Sunday morning "William! whatever have you been doing this morning. The noise was like the tipping of a big load of potatoes!" William neatly turned the tables on Mr. Wynn a few weeks later after a sermon in which the pastor had been most dramatic in his manner. Going down to the minister's vestry at the close of the service he exclaimed : "Mr. Wynn, what ever made you carry on as you have done this morning? I never saw such antics." And, suiting the actions to the words, he gesticulated wildly with his hands and careered round the vestry in imitation of Mr. Wynn. It was always a dangerous experiment to try to score off William.
HIS MUSICAL SONS
Two of Mr. Hartley’s sons, Handel and James, the eldest and the youngest, are professional musicians, and both are players and teachers of the 'cello : but it is the brilliant son, Lloyd Hartley, who has earned for himself and the family undying glory. As a young boy he gave promise of being an exceptionally talented artist, and before he learned music he could play pieces of music on the piano in different keys. That was how he acquired the art of musical composition in early life. In his youth he was of a religious temperament, and he collaborated with an evangelist (Mr. Henry Powers), who was living in Earby at that time, in the production of an original hymn and tune book. The book contained sixty hymns composed by Mr. Powers, and the tunes were the product of Lloyd Hartley, with the exception of six composed by his father. One of the tunes was named "Kitchener," and a copy was sent to Lord Kitchener, who was so delighted with it he acknowledged it with a gift of a £5 note.
The words of the first verse of the hymn are :-
"Soldiers on the battle field,
With God's armour, sword and shield,
Though the foe be fierce and strong,
Conquer sin, subdue the wrong."
Lloyd went to London to continue his musical training, and after being with a German professor for a few years he studied under Tobias Mattay, under whom he made rapid development. Mattay was far in advance of the Germans in understanding of the technique of the piano, and Lloyd profited immensely from this expert knowledge. While he resided in London he became a member of Dr. Clifford’s Church at Westbourne Park, and was baptised by him.
After the completion of his studies in London he settled in Leeds where he has been eminently successful with his recitals, and has established a good practice as a teacher. In association with Mr. John Dunn, the famous English violinist, he has given recitals in the north of England, and his own recitals at Liverpool and Manchester which received the highest praise from the music critic of the "Manchester Guardian."
It may be noted that the father, in his earlier years, received great inspiration from attending the performance of the world famed band and chorus conducted by Sir Charles Halle, in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester.
Mr. Hartley, now in his 84th year, after a few years residence with his son at Leeds, has returned to Earby where he resides with his son Novello Hartley in School Lane. When he takes a stroll through the village he delights to accost his old friends and recounts the happy experiences of the past years, and he is ever ready with a word of encouragement to young musicians.
Such a personal and family record should be a fine stimulus to all lovers of music in our village.
To complete the present review of the musical development of our village some reference is due to the vocal attainments of the community.
Vocal music in village life has been mainly identified with the places of worship, which have been not only centres for the proclamation of Christian truth, but of social fellowship and musical culture, and in this respect they have made a fine contribution to the progress and refinement of the Commonwealth.
In the earliest days of our local church life the musical portion of the services consisted in the rendering of “Psalm Tunes” which were composed for the hymns in use, chiefly those of Watts, Cowper and the Wesleys. Popular airs were sometimes adapted, as for instance the air for the ballad “Drink to me only with thine eyes,” was set to “ There is a land of pure delight” in “Wesley’s Hymns.” Manuscript tunes were much in use, and the little chapels had there own compilations, which often included productions by local musicians. The choir was a very elastic organisation, and was chiefly in evidence on special occasions, being generally enlarged by the inclusion of friends from other places. Choirmasters seem to be quite a modern innovation, and the chief person in the choir was formerly known as the “leading singer.” Fifty to eighty years ago one of the best known men of this type in the district was JOHN GREEN.
He was born at Giggleswick in the second decade of the last century, and as a boy he was a chorister in the Giggleswick church. He then acquired an elementary knowledge of music which proved very useful in after years. The family removed to Gargrave, and there John Green became the leading singer at the Methodist Chapel. He also officiated in a similar capacity at Broughton Church. He married Ann Burrow, a member of a well known Gargrave family, and in the fifties they came to reside at Earby, bringing with them a family to obtain employment at the new cotton mill.
The family became strongly attached to the old Methodist Chapel and Sunday School, and the father for a considerable period filled his usual role as “leading singer.” Several members of the family were musical and on one occasion, at a “charity” more than sixty years ago (so the writer was informed by an old lady who as a girl walked to the services from White Moor), a very pleasing sensation was caused by the sweet rendering of the solo “There is a stream whose gentle flow” in the popular anthem “God is the refuge of his Saints,” by
ELIZABETH GREEN. In the “Penny Reading” entertainments of that period, she was much in evidence and she was for those days, a young woman of exceptional culture.
A REMARKABLE COUPLE,
JOHN AND MARY WILKINSON,
occupied the seats of the mighty in the new Wesleyan Chapel fifty and sixty years ago. John eventually became the organist and his wife the “leading singer,” and there was no gainsaying her authority. Oratorio singing became popular at that time, and they both could sing solo parts with credit. They were very much devoted to the chapel and the choir, and John must have spent hundreds of hours in copying manuscript tunes and anthems.
These good people had no children, and their musical mantle may be said to have fallen upon their nephew, MR. HUGH CURRER SMITH, who succeeded Mr. Wilkinson as organist and choirmaster, which position he held for over twenty-five years. Forty years ago. The musical competitions local musical circles than “Hugh Currer,” as he was familiarly called, and his interests extended far beyond the denomination with which he was identified. He promoted concert parties which visited the neighbouring towns and villages, which included an annual visit to the Skipton Temperance Hall. Perhaps the most signal service he rendered in this capacity was the assistance he gave to the annual concert for Leeds Infirmary which was held in the Village Institute, West Marton, for a score of years. At the Victoria Institute, Mr. Smith was mainly instrumental in organising the annual concerts which were a special feature of our village life about forty years ago. The musical competitions which were held at the institute, and which attracted the best singers from East Lancashire, were mainly due to his musical enthusiasm and organising ability. Of the
SINGERS WHO BELONGED TO THAT PERIOD.
and who won deserved popularity in the district, one can recall the names of Miss E.A. Wilkinson, Miss Isabella Sephton, Miss Annie Turner, Miss Tomlinson, Mr. Edmondson Watson, Mr. W. Waddington, Mr Harry Kay, Mr. J. R. Hartley and Mr. Joseph Hartley. There were several musical families in the village at that time, and four brothers of the Kay family were all bass singers in the Wesleyan choir. MR.HARRY KAY went to reside at Skipton, and he is especially remembered as the conductor of the singing of the United Sunday Schools at the Whitsuntide demonstrations in Caroline Square, a service which he rendered for many years.
MR. WILLIAM PAWSON was a most useful man in training young children, and he rendered invaluable service to the old Temperance Society and Band of Hope, and the Wesleyan Sunday School. His son Horace has derived the musical instinct from him, and for many years now he has been a popular bass singer in the Wesleyan choir and in local musical circles. Reverting again to the Baptist choir, there are some musical families which are well deserving of honourable mention for their vocal talent. In addition to some, Abe Turner and Hartley Wilkinson, previously referred to,
BETTY GREENWOOD was remarkable. She was known to everybody as “Betty Green,” and for two generations no oratorio choir would be complete without her inclusion. She had a strong contralto voice, and imparted into her singing an enthusiastic vigour which made it a joy to listen and behold. She revelled in the singing of “The Messiah,” and she seemed to know every note in her part. Music apart, she was an original character, very shrewd and witty and used to express herself in the “pure” Earby dialect with a rather drawling intonation. When she was well past the allotted span of life she sallied forth every morning for a walk through the village, and engaged in hearty conversation with anyone so inclined. As long as her husband, Charles Greenwood, lived, they walked out together, but one usually a little in advance of the other. They had two daughters, Alice and Polly, who were much in request thirty years ago or more , for singing, and their duet singing was always a pleasing performance. Another daughter, Maggie, was a noted elocutionist.
THE BAPTIST CHOIR
used to be exceptionally strong in the bass section, and I remember Thomas Smith used to be a fine soloist. In this connection Virgil Crowther is deserving of special mention, and he is undoubtedly the best bass singer Earby has produced. He carried off the premier honours at several musical festivals about a dozen years ago. He was particularly effective in “The Creation” performances and in music requiring a fierce dramatic interpretation. Mr. Crowther removed to Nelson some years ago.
It would be fitting to conclude these musical sketches by a more extended reference to that remarkable musical character who is still with us,
MR. JOSEPH FOULDS. If any man is the embodiment of the musical spirit it is he, for it pulsates through every fibre of his frame. He was born in Burnley Lane, and later lived in Nelson as a boy. While at the latter place he was in the choir at a Wesleyan Mission Chapel and occasionally played the harmonium. He remembers with gratitude the kindly interest of the town missionary, Mr. Quinney. When he was 16 years old the family moved to the Duckpond Farm above Barnoldswick. He attached himself to the Wesleyan School, and before he had been there long he was asked to play the school organ. Mr. William Bracewell was the superintendent of the school and he manifested a real friendly interest towards him.
Having to pass “Newfield Edge” on the way home to the moorland farm, Mr. Bracewell occasionally invited him in to play and sing for the family. Ever since , there has been a musical relationship between Miss Ada (now Mrs. Joseph Slater) and himself, and whenever he wanted any assistance or special effort , Mrs. Slater would always bring a strong contingent from Barnoldswick.
While at Barnoldswick he was strongly attracted to the Wesleyan Temperance Band and the effect of that association with the temperance people has been very special to him.
The “New Ship” people (Independent Methodists) also asked him to help them with their school entertainments, which help he gladly gave.
Before he was 20 years old, the family moved again, this time to Black Lane Ends and Joseph was put in charge of the harmonium. When the new chapel was opened by Mr. Peter Mackenzie he (Mr. Foulds) played the harmonium, and once he was rather late in starting the tune but “Peter” wouldn’t wait, and started the tune himself, “right on pitch.” A few years later Mr. Foulds came to live at Kelbrook, and was a tackler at Smallpage’s Sough Bridge Mill.
He was asked to train the choir at the United Methodist Church, and when he was 23 years old he conducted a performance of “The Messiah” in the old United Methodist Chapel. He got across with some of the old singers at the practices because “they worn’t baan to be talked to wi’ a bit o’a lad,” but he stuck to his guns and they had a fine time when it came off. There was a lack of accommodation in the choir pews, so the choir occupied the seats of the congregation, and they used a harmonium instead of the organ. W.H. Green, of Silsden, was the player on the harmonium, and there was also a good orchestra, including several players from Colne. The principals were : W.H. Green, Silsden, Miss Berry, Colne, Mr Sharp and Mr. Jackson, both of Silsden. They went through the work, every note and the performance lasted for three and a half hours, closing at 11 o’clock. The place was packed out, and it was the only time that such an event had taken place in Kelbrook, before or since.
When Mr. Foulds came to live in Earby and the Baptist choir got hold of him and he was appointed their conductor.
After Mr. William Hartley jun. resigned from the post of organist, he succeeded in getting Mr. Edwin Berry appointed and they had a long and happy tenure of office together. The choir later went in for competition work and they secured first prize in the mixed voice contest at Burnley, and there was a gold medal for the conductor which he prized very highly. At one of the Colne festivals, his elder daughter, Polly, won the first prize, and later his other daughter, Jennie, was in a quartet party at Barrow, and they carried off most of the prizes in their sections. They won the first in the quartet , his daughter got the first prize for contralto, and Virgil Crowther won firsts for both baritone and bass. Some other members of the party, Miss Grace Watson and Mr. Ellis (of Nelson) were also prize winners. It might be mentioned at this point that Miss Clara Watson, the leading member of the Baptist choir, has won an honoured place in local musical circles, and has often taken a prominent part in the performance of oratorio music in recent years.
After an association with the Baptist choir extending over twenty years, Mr Foulds was given a presentation on February 6th, 1907, which took the form of a handsome gold watch, bearing the following inscription :- Presented to Joseph Foulds by the members of the Baptist Church and Congregation, in recognition of his services and devoted labours as choirmaster. With sincere wishes for his future welfare.” Mrs. Foulds was also presented with two fine ornamental figures. Rev. R. Tallontyre made the presentation on behalf of the church.
Mr. Foulds has always been interested in operatic music, and when a younger man, possessed a splendid tenor voice, and took a principal part in “The Bohemian Girl” at the Nelson Theatre, which stands in his memory as his finest vocal achievement. About fifteen years ago he was associated with Mr. Frank Slater in the presentation of his local plays, and this was followed by the formation of the Earby Amateur Operatic Society, which performed several operas including, “The Mikado,” “H. M. S. Pinafore,” and “The Gondoliers.” A new society has recently been formed, and the services of Mr. Foulds have been requisitioned as conductor. Mr. Foulds has always been a willing helper,
of other choirs and on special occasions he has conducted the Earby and Barnoldswick Wesleyan choirs, the Earby United Methodist choir, and Salterforth Baptist choir.
SUNDAY SCHOOL MUSIC
In this sphere Mr. Foulds has devoted his best energies. He has conducted the combined Sunday Schools at their annual demonstrations for more than two decades, and he has also officiated in the same capacity on more than one occasion for the Skipton Sunday School Union. There is nothing that he enjoys so much , and no sphere of public service for which he is prepared to sacrifice so much, as the training of young children in the best methods of voice production. To see him on a wagon conducting hundreds of children at a festival, or conducting a children’s choir giving a cantata, is to see him in a realm of which he is a king. Long may he live to wield the baton which is more productive of human felicity than any regal sceptre.
“There is something very wonderful in music.” Words are wonderful enough but there is something more wonderful in music. It speaks not to our thoughts as words do - it speaks straight to our hearts and spirits, to the very core and root of our souls. Music soothes us, stirs us up, it puts noble feelings into us ; it melts us to tears, we know not how ; it is a language by itself, just as perfect in its way as speech, as words, just as Divine, just as blessed. Music has been called the speech of angels ; I will go further and call it the speech of God Himself.” - Charles Kingsley.
Pioneer 3rd August 1923
Transcribed by Bob Abel, used with his permission.
These articles also appear on the Earby & District Local History Society web site .
April 17, 2005
AN EARBY MUSICAL FAMILY OF SIXTY YEARS AGO
I am largely indebted to Mr. Stephen Pickles, J.P., of Thornton-in-Craven, for interesting information relating to the Pickles families of Earby and Barnoldswick and their musical abilities and associations. Referring to the last article on the Earby Brass Band and the contest at Salterforth in 1868, Mr. Pickles remembered it well, and it was the finest contest held in the district. A hand bill has been preserved by a Salterforth man, Mr. Crabtree, which announced that “A grand brass band contest will take place in the Aqueduct Field, Salterforth, on Saturday, May 9th, 1868. Prizes to be awarded : First prize. £4 4s and one “Star Jupiter” cornet, value £9 9s., of the highest class fabrication of the celebrated manufacturer, F. Besson, London, presented by the committee. Second Prize, £3 3s. : solo prize, £1 1s., for B flat cornets.
The programme gave the names of the bands in the following order ( but the order of playing was to be decided by drawing lots on the field at 3-30, the contest to commence at 4 o’clock punctually) :-
Barnoldswick Ribblesdale Band. Conductor, William Rushforth
Earby Band (17 performers). Conductor, William Rushforth
Barnoldswick Model Band (18 performers) Conductor, John Lord
Kelbrook Band (18 performers). Conductor, W. Jasper.
The test piece selected by the committee was “Zauberflote,” by Mozart : but each band could select another piece, the first two choosing “Torquato Tasso” by Donizetti, and the last two “Semiramide,” by Rossini.
For the solo prize, on B flat cornets, the test piece was “ The Last Rose of Summer” (with variations) and the contestants were :
Joseph Windle, Ribblesdale Band
James Bailey, Earby Band
Thomas Whittaker, Model Band
John Wilkinson, Kelbrook Band.
The handbill contained at the foot the names of John Widdup, Thomas Turner, and Henry Edmondson, on behalf of the promoters of the contest. At the conclusion of the contest, prior to the decision of the judge, the united bands were instructed to play “God Save the Queen,” and “any band refusing to join shall forfeit the prize which otherwise might be due.”
The whole community for miles around was worked up to intense enthusiasm for the famous event, and there was an amazing crowd, considering the size of the population. The Barnoldswick people were divided into two hostile camps ( and in addition to their local favourites, the Ribblesdale followers always “backed” Black Dyke and the Model supporters “backed” Bacup). The Earby Band was undoubtedly the winner of the coveted first prize, the Model came next, followed by Ribblesdale and Kelbrook. The Kelbrook solo cornet player was awarded the prize in that class.
A PRACTICAL JOKE
The band contest was made the occasion of a practical joke, a form of enjoyment which was characteristic of the period, and took the form of impersonating the judge. A plot was hatched at Clough Mill, Barnoldswick by Henry Slater, Sam Slater, Jim Slater, Stephen Edmondson and Stephen Pickles, senr. It was arranged that Stephen Edmondson, who was a handsome young fellow, should be disguised and appear at Salterforth a few hours before the contest and impersonate the judge. He was rigged up with a false moustache and beard, eye-glasses and an imposing attaché case. He was sent off to Foulridge Station on the Saturday morning, and took the train to Earby. When he arrived at Earby he assumed great dignity, and inquire in tones of importance whether any one was there from Salterforth to escort him. Eventually someone was found to accompany him to Higher Green Hill, the residence of the Rev. Richard Bell, a retired Congregationalist minister, who was to entertain the judge. Mr. Bell made profuse apologies for no one being present at Earby Station to meet the train, and gave him a very hearty greeting. He insisted that he should pull off his shoes and make himself comfortable. Then they had lunch, and Mr. Bell was very entertaining, talking all the time about the people of the district, and telling all the stories he could think of to enlighten his visiting guest, who could scarcely restrain himself from bursting into laughter.
But Stephen was getting alarmed, as the time for the contest was drawing near, and he made an excuse to leave the room and go outside. He put on his shoes, seized his hat and case, and ran “for his life” over the fields to Barnoldswick. Mr. Bell went out to look for his guest, but he was not to be seen, and before long, to Mr. Bell’s utter dismay, the proper judge arrived. Salterforth people, too, were highly displeased by the hoax, and for years after they taunted the offenders with eating the judge’s lunch. Some time after the contest Sam Slater and Stephen Edmondson called on Mr. Bell to apologise and explained that Stephen was the first “judge” to appear. “What, you, Stephen ! you Stephen ! Of all the young men in the world I should have thought of anybody but you.”
A LONG WALK
Mr. Stephen Pickles, senr., was born at Well House, in 1823. He removed to Earby in 1838, and stayed there until 1843. He worked as a weaver at Bracewell’s Green End Shed, and he was working there when the Plug Drawing Riots took place. He was pulling a piece off at the time the rioters entered the shed, and they would not allow him to finish pulling it off and take it into the warehouse.
Work was very irregular, and he removed to Burnley, then to Carleton, where he got married. He was a very good musician, both as an instrumentalist and vocalist. On one occasion when they were living at Carleton, he walked over the moors to Earby on the Sunday morning, picked up his cousin, Henry Pickles, with his ‘cello, and walked on to Clitheroe Parish Church, to take part in a musical service (a performance of the “Messiah”) and then walked back through Earby to Carleton on the Sunday night.
Henry Pickles (a cousin of Stephen Pickles), who kept a small grocers shop in Aspen Lane, Earby, was regarded as the most accomplished musician for miles around. His knowledge and love of music amounted almost to genius, and he had the ability in an uncommon measure of being able to impart musical knowledge to others, and train them to play various musical instruments. All the time he could spare was devoted to music, and when playing his favourite instrument, the ‘cello, he timed himself with an old case clock. He had a passion for the best music, and for its performance in the best possible style. An old friend of mine used to relate with great delight how he was taught to put expression into his playing. For his weekly lesson the youth was given “Vita Spark,” and when he came to play it over the following week the old master took his ‘cello and seated himself at the piano and playing with rhapsodic interpretation the Christian’s triumph song. It was a lesson that could not be forgotten. Henry Pickles had pupils who came from all parts of East Lancashire and the West Riding, and after he passed away in 1872 it was felt that some permanent memorial should be erected to his memory. To secure the necessary funds a performance of the “Messiah” was given in 1873 in the Baptist Chapel, and it is no exaggeration to state that it eclipsed all oratorio performances given before or since in this district. Instrumentalists from nearly every town and village from Keighley to Burnley formed the orchestra and a choir of imposing dimensions from the chapels and churches in the district. It was such a spontaneous tribute to a worthy villager that it has never ceased to be talked about by those who were living at the time. The memorial took the form of a beautiful monument which was erected in Thornton churchyard.
John Pickles was a brother of Henry Pickles, and one of the leading men at the old Methodist Chapel. A class leader and superintendent of the Sunday School, he was beloved by all who knew him. He too, was an accomplished musician and not only played the ‘cello, but acted as precentor. It was said of him that he never started a tune that the people couldn’t sing, and they never had to stop for the tune to be pitched afresh. Josiah Pickles, of Barnoldswick, another cousin of Stephen Pickles, gave a memorable instrumental entertainment with Henry Pickles in the old Mechanic’s Institute in 1864. Josiah was a skilled player on the flute and piccolo, and later went to London, where his abilities as a flautist found worthy recognition. He was the first flautist to be engaged to play in the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas at the Savoy Theatre. He gave all his children a musical education, and to-day one of them is in the Glasgow Municipal Orchestra. .
Craven Herald 26th April 1929
Transcribed by Bob Abel, used with his permission.
These articles also appear on the Earby & District Local History Society web site 1533 words
April 17, 2005
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