A storm of unprecedented violence brought terror and desolation to Barnoldswick on Monday, for five hours, 2-30p.m. to 7-30p.m. thunder boomed in terrifying peals and lightning continued in a series of blinding flashes, while a deluge of rain and hail wrought havoc in all parts of the town.
The Ouzledale Foundry was shattered by lightning and later reduced to a heap of bricks and mortar by the torrential floods. Workmen engaged there had a miraculous escape. Houses were struck and many were flooded.
Bursting its dam at Bancroft Shed, one of the principal becks that feed the local mills, did untold damage! After transforming a large wooden garage owned by Messrs. E. Wild, haulage contractors, into matchwood, the water rushed on to Clough Mill, tearing a huge hole in the end wall of the Weaving shed and entering the building. The water quickly rose to five feet, and the workpeople had a terrifying experience. Women and girls were carried to safety on the shoulders of men operatives, and firemen, who dashed to the rescue, assisted some who were marooned in another part of the mill.
At Calf Hall Shed, where Messrs. Matthew Horsfield & Son are in business, the water broke through a dividing wall, carrying looms from a disused shed adjoining. Here great damage was done.
Shops in Walmsgate were ruined and people in them were lucky to escape with their lives.
Persistent rumours that a man had been drowned and three children were missing happily proved false. A number of livestock perished.
Monday last, July 11th, will be remembered in Barnoldswick's history for generations. Although the village of Salterforth was in the track of the storm, Earby, which is little more than two miles from Barnoldswick, escaped with rain that did very little damage. The phenomenon experienced at Barnoldswick may well be described as a "cloud¬burst." The rain fell on the surrounding moors in sheets, and torrential streams descended on the town. Channels from 4ft. to 6ft. deep were made in Occupa¬tion Road and Moor Road as the water rushed into the valley. Scarcely a single portion of the town escaped.
There were dramatic incidents at Clough Mill, where Messrs. John Slater and Son produce varied types of fancy cloth. An overlooker named Benjamin Whitaker, of Cobden Street, who was working at the top end of the shed, managed to jump clear as a large part of the wall crashed in, while the manager, Mr. R. Leeper, escaped by springing on to a loom. So strong was the current that even the most powerful men had difficulty in wading to the warehouse. As the volume of water, in¬creased it became necessary to employ motor vans to get the people away from the mill.
Part of the shafting which operates the looms was broken down, and every warp was covered with thick mud and pieces of grass. One weaver, Mrs. F. M. Hodgson, was trapped by the floods, and a man, who prefers that his name be not made public, dashed through the water to save her. His action was attended by great personal risk, for by that time it was well-nigh impossible to stand up in the weaving shed.
In an interview with a CRAVEN HERALD reporter, the manager said it was a great relief to him that they were able to get the women away. "Some of them were terrified," he said, "but thanks to prompt efforts of the men they were carried clear in an incredibly short space of time."
Operative Carried Away.
Remarkable scenes were witnessed at Calf Hall Shed. Water poured into the weaving shed in a raging torrent, and it was only by forming a human chain that the work¬people could get clear. A rope was fixed from the mill to the end of the road and people were able to steady themselves as they struggled to safety. A man named Ball, who lost his grip on the rope, was carried 20 yards by the water, and only regained his feet by a supreme effort. One of Messrs. Wild's lorries was used to carry operatives from the neighbouring premises, tenanted by Messrs. B. & E. M. Holden and Messrs. S. Pickles & Son, the driver, Mr. Herbert Newbould, playing a big part in the rescue work. A large quantity of water entered Messrs. Holden's and Messrs. Pickles sheds, but the warps were untouched, and the damage was not to be compared with that suffered by Messrs. Horsfield.
Mr. A. Broughton, of Wellhouse Road, a weaver employed by the last-named firm, gave a "Craven Herald" reporter a graphic account of the disaster. "We had no warning whatsoever," he explained. "Had the looms been running at Peterson's, next door, we should have been told of the impending danger, but as it was, we knew nothing until we saw the wall give way. The water had accumulated in Peterson's shed to a tremendous depth and the force with which it rushed into our shed was terrific. Heavy looms were swept through the aperture like matchboxes. Had anyone been working at the top end of the mill at the time they would certainly have been killed, for the looms would have crashed down on top of them. It would have been impossible to have got them out. I don't know how we managed to struggle through the swirling water."
As in the case of Clough Mill, the warps were swamped and cloth stacked in the ware¬house was saturated.
The prompt appearance of the Fire Brigade alleviated the trouble at Fernbank Shed, the premises of Messrs. Hartley Edmondson. Pumping operations were started before many warps could be affected and, although a certain amount of damage was done, the mill was able to run next day. Butts Mill, carried on by the Craven Manufacturing Co. Ltd., was flooded and cloth ruined, while similar misfortunes befell Westfield and Crow Nest sheds. Hailstones, inches in diameter, broke most of the windows at Long Ing shed, and further havoc was created by water. The boiler-house at Moss Shed (Messrs. J. Widdup & Sons) was flooded, and & certain amount of water got into Bankfield Shed.
Barnsey and Bancroft sheds came off best.
Wicker "skips" containing weft were carried by the floods from the precincts of Bancroft Shed to the back of Clough Mill, while cotton yarn floated from Clough Mill to Butts Top.
Son Trapped in Building.
A pathetic story surrounds the destruction of the Ouzledale Foundry, a small building in the rear of Clough Mill. The proprietor, Mr. J. Ashby, has had many misfortunes lately, and it has been a hard struggle to keep the business going. Now his livelihood has gone. His wife had just returned to the family's house near the foundry after having undergone an operation at Burnley Victoria Hospital. Although there was little danger of the water reaching her bedroom on Monday, neighbours came during the storm and took her away to a safer dwelling.
In an interview, Mr. Ashby stated that there were four persons working at the foundry when it was struck. "The roof crashed in and my son Tom (aged 15) was trapped in a part of the building," he said. "Fortunately, we managed to get him out by means of a plank before the walls were demolished by the torrent. A lorry which we had bought only a few days ago was swept into a nearby dam and badly knocked about." According to an eye-witness, the lightning struck the centre of the roof.
More amage was created in the neighbourhood of Westgate and Butts. An irresistible stream burst through the premises of Mr. F. Procter, furniture dealer and cabinet-maker, carrying chairs, tables and cupboards through the shop window. Several suites of furniture were ruined and soon there was a heap of debris in the middle of the road. The shop was completely wrecked.
Two men who were working in the building were hard put to get away. The irony of the occurrence is that only a week before Mr. Procter had declined an offer of flood insurance.
Mr. Isaac Levi, a general dealer, whose shop is on the opposite side of the road, suffered heavy losses. Furniture was damaged beyond repair, while carpets, clothes and household requisites were rendered useless. Water poured into the shop of Mr. Townson Demaine, greengrocer. A large stock of provisions was ruined, while the fabric still bears ample evidence of the storm. Mr. C. R. Waterworth, a confectioner, who is also in business in Walmsgate, had his shop de¬vastated, the loss of commodities being considerable.
Escapes from Drowning.
Houses in this part of the town were flooded to a depth of many feet. Chairs and tables were to be seen floating about in rooms on the ground floors and some thrilling rescues of householders were effected. Two old people refused to leave their cottage at Butts, although the bottom floor was swamped. A local joiner, named Mr. Riley Smith, whose home is at 20, Westgate, was caught by the deluge while working in his little shop near the Butts. He managed to force the door open and waded through the torrent. Had he waited a minute longer his life would have been in danger.
Another man, Mr. Ernest Widdup, was trapped in a low-lying stable, being unable to open the door owing to the pressure of the water. Had it not been for the prompt action of Mr. Sidney Barnes, who struggled through the flood and wrenched the door down, Mr. Widdup must have lost his life. The latter was nearly exhausted when Mr. William Duxbury carried him to safety.
A man who had evidently been sleeping on one of the stalls in the Butts open-air market suddenly found himself cut off by water several feet deep. Realising his plight, Mr. Charles Edmondson plunged in and struck out for the marooned man. P.C. Hudson and P.C. Spencer also went to the rescue and eventually the man was carried clear of the rising water.
Mr. Sam Yates, a well-known Barnoldswick horticulturist and fur fancier, was kept a prisoner for more than an hour in the top storey of a building which houses his rabbit hutches. Both over 70 years of age, Mr. and Mrs. Golding, of 66, Esp Lane, found them¬selves wading in water nearly up to their hips, their furniture and carpets being ruined. People in different parts of Barnoldswick had their front gardens carried completely away by the downpour, and vegetable gardens were turned into swamps. The loss of crops must be considerable.
A vast amount of damage was done in West Close Road, where the Barnoldswick Co-operative Industrial Society have their depot. The buildings were affected in great measure and the contents were greatly depleted. A large quantity of petrol was swallowed up in the floods. Realising that a horse was in danger of being drowned in its stable, a number of employees forced their way to the door and managed to release the frightened animal.
Poultry pens on the borders of Victory Park were soon filled with water with the result that many hens lost their lives. Ducks scored heavily here. Several cows and goats were drowned, and dogs which found them¬selves unable to swim against the strong current also succumbed.
Football Ground Bathing.
The floods resulted in havoc at the Corn-Mill. Sacks of flour were drenched so that the contents could not be used, while machi¬nery was put out of order. The great depth of water in the building confronted the proprietors with a perplexing problem. Similar conditions prevailed in the Gas Works yard adjoining, and at one time it was feared that the gasometers might be seriously damaged.
Bridges over Butts Beck and other local streams were carried away and walls all over the town were torn down. A picturesque waterfall was created by the overflow of water from the railway embankment on to Skipton Road near the Gisburn Road School. The cricket ground became a great sheet of water, while the Park Villa football ground was actually used as a bathing pool later in the week.
Farms in the district bore the full brunt of the storm. Among those who suffered most were the occupants of Smith's Farm, Colne Road, their furniture being badly knocked about and carpets ruined. A row of houses, known as the Gillians, and situate above Bancroft Mill, came in for severe treatment; indeed part of Mr. James Smith's dwelling was carried away. The on-rushing stream made a big hole straight through the house.
A Barnoldswick police constable was caught by the storm on a moorland beat, and was stranded for nearly three hours. Children in most of the schools in the district had to wait for the storm to abate. A number of scholars were conveyed by motor boat from Salterforth School to their homes near the Stew Mill.
Mr. H. Hartley, an ironmonger in New¬town, had his house, "Buena Vista," Tubber Hill, struck by lightning. Alarge portion of the chimney stack was wrenched away and a hole bored through the roof and gable wall. One of the bedrooms was completely upset by a heavy fall of debris. "It was indeed fortunate that no one was in the bedroom at the time," Mr. Hartley told a
CRAVEN HERALD reporter. “At present I am unable to estimate the damage." Mrs, Hartley, who was in the house at the time, was terrified but was thankful that more serious damage was not done, so she stated in an interview.
Another house in Skipton Road was struck, but the only effect was the displace¬ment of telephone insulators. Slates were torn off in other areas.
Cars and motor cycles garaged in the neighbourhood of Butte were swept away by the torrential downpour, and some were not recovered until late the next day. A number of cars and cycles were beyond repair. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cook, the proprietors of Bailey’s Drug Stores at the top of Skipton Road, nearly lost their luxuri¬ous new Hillmann four-seater, purchased only three weeks ago. The wooden garage was smashed to pieces, while the car was completely submerged in Butts Beck. "The car has not done anything like 1,000 miles," Mrs. Cook told a CRAVEN HERALD reporter, "and the makers at Coventry have had to take it to pieces. Luckily we paid the extra money and took out an all-in insurance policy."
Wooden structures used for storage pur¬poses were torn in pieces. The water entered cellars and basements all over Barnoldswick, tradesmen being the worst sufferers.
TRIBUTE TO LOYALTY OF OPERATIVES.
As a result of the terrific storm a large proportion of the town's 4,000 cotton opera¬tives were unemployed on Tuesday. The fire Brigade went to Clough Mill and sprayed the blackened warps with their hoses, while a large staff of male operatives toiled all day with hose pipes, buckets and wheel-barrows in a valiant endeavour to drain away the muddy water, which stood more than six inches deep. As much of the debris was cleared away as possible.
"There is no possibility of insurance pay¬ments to relieve the burden," so the cashier (Mr. A. Berridge) stated this week. "The usual factory policies cover only damage by fire and lightning." This statement was borne out by Mr. M. Horsfield, junior, a partner in Messrs Maurice Horsfield & Son, Calf Hall Shed. "We can only put our trust in the goodwill of the Insurance Company," he declared.
At first it was thought that no work would be possible at Clough Mill for several months, but a reassuring statement was made by the manager yesterday (Thursday). "The work of reconditioning the mill has gone on so well that we have already got some of the warps back in the looms," Mr. Leeper told a CRAVEN HERALD representative over a hurried cup of tea. "Some of the looms could be set running now and there is no doubt that some of the weavers will be able to start work when they return from their holidays, which start this week-end. The reparation will be spread over the next six weeks. It will be some time before the wall at the end of the weaving shed is repaired, but the shafting will be restored immediately.
Rumours have been current that Messrs. Horsfield might not set their mill going again. A CRAVEN HERALD representative, who called yesterday at the premises, was in¬formed, however, that nothing had been decided as regards the firm's future. "We shall start again if at all possible," said Mr. Horsfield, junr., who was working hard in thigh boots. "We are getting the mill ready in order that we can gauge the damage and survey our position." Mr. Horsfield paid a high tribute to the loyalty of his workpeople; "They have been splendid,' he declared. Without being asked, they have taken off their coats and worked like 'niggers’. “No firm in the town has been better served by its employees." Mr. Horsfield added that the work of repairing the ravages of the storm would be continue throughout the holiday week, some of the workpeople having intimated their willing ness to help.
Messrs. J. Widdup & Sons were able to start work at Moss Shed on Wednesday morning, but conditions were very trying. Many of the looms remained inactive and there was a considerable amount of water in the boiler-house. Pumping operations were carried on all day. Water had collected in a meadow behind the mill, and this flowed into the engine-house in a steady stream, a fact which made salvage work very difficult indeed. The New Road Manufacturing Co. set part of their looms in motion on Wednesday morning, the engine being re-started through the perseverance of the boiler-house staff. Yesterday most of the operatives were back at work.
At Butts Mill the water did not interfere with the warps in the looms, and it would have been possible for business to have gone on as usual on Tuesday. So pungent was the smell, however, that fully half the work-people preferred to take the day off, an arrangement with which the employers readily complied. The full staff was engaged at the mill the following day. Weavers at Westfield Shed, which was seriously flooded, had to stand in puddles of water, while the unpleasant odour of sodden weft added to their trials.
In an interview the secretary of the Barnoldswick Weavers' Association (Mr. E. A. Gardner) said he hoped that in all cases employers would see that their premises were thoroughly disinfected. "People might easily get diphtheria through working in saturated weaving sheds that have not been disinfected," he added. "This very neces¬sary precaution will not cost the employers anything, as any quantity of disinfectant can be obtained free of charge at the Town Hall."
Greatly to the credit of Messrs. Briggs and Duxbury, a Barnoldswick firm of joiners, the Butts Open-air Market was ready for busi¬ness yesterday, and most of the stalls were occupied. The floods had carried many of the stalls into the beck, and others had been broken up through being dashed against the stone walls surrounding the market. On Tuesday morning the ground was a foot thick with mud. The staff Messrs. Briggs and, Duxbury toiled unceasingly throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, working until late at night, on the clearance of the market ground and the erection of new stalls.
Water Supply Treatment,
Despairing shopkeepers in Westgate were cheered by the many willing workers wljo volunteered to help them in their trouble. The Council's Surveyor (Mr. W. Ellis), Water Engineer (Mr. J*. P. Thompson), and Sanitary Inspector (Mr. R.- Harrison) took a leading part in salvaging the town. People who did not possess rubber boots or leggings worked in bare feet, and an entire disregard for clothing was exhibited.
The indomitable courage that characterises Mr. F. Procter was indicated by a placard in the window of the devastated shop "Business as usual—upstairs."
The following notice was issued from the Barnoldswick Urban District Council's water department by the Engineer on Wednesday :-
"The water supply at White Moor Pumping Station has been discoloured by the recent storm, and it will be a few days before normal conditions prevail. The area affected is above a line drawn down Park Road, along Chapel Street down to Manchester Road and along Butts Beck to the mill.”
"If the water from White Moor is allowed to settle and clear, water is boiled before use, no trouble need be anticipated." Clean water can, however, be obtained from houses below the line mentioned, which are fed from the Elslack supply."
An analysis of the White Moor water was made in Bradford. The report was to the effect that the water was discoloured but was - fit for drinking, subject to the pre¬cautions recommended by the Council's Engineer being taken.
The Chairman (Mr. H. Wilson, J.P.) and members of the Barnoldswick Urban District Council have opened a distress fund with the object of helping needy cases arising from the floods. Contributions should be sent to the hon. treasurer (Mr. John Peel) at the Town Hall. The Clerk to the Council (Mr. R. W. Fenton) informed the CRAVEN HERALD yesterday afternoon that all the manufacturing firms who were working had been asked to take collections in the mills this afternoon, and an appeal had been made to all places of worship, clubs and other institutions. A sub-committee, consisting of the vice-chairman of the Council. (Mr. J. E. Barrett), Messrs. E. Smith, F. Watson, S. Hacking, G. Davy, H. Whipp and any other Councillor who was not on holiday would be available for dealing with cases of distress next week.
It is a sad coincidence that only last week the Barnoldswick Council was asked to give publicity to the Bentley Flood Distress Fund. At the time, Mr. G. Smith, a member of the Council, declared that if there was to be any Distress Fund, it should be for Barnoldswick. Little did he know that within seven, days similar fund would be opened in the town.
Barnoldswick has been invaded by sight¬seers from all parts, of East Lancashire and the West Riding this week, and yesterday men were posted outside Clough Mill to enforce an order that people would be admitted "on business only."
The Barnoldswick Parochial Church Council have passed a resolution of sympathy with those who have suffered any loss through the floods, adding that they are prepared to lend any assistance in their power to any public relief fund initiated by the Urban District Council.
Transcribed from the Friday JULY 15th 1932 Craven Herald
John Turner August 2019