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Post by Stanley » 04 Jun 2017, 02:42


The name Havre Park has always fascinated me, it has no modern meaning. Like all place and field names there is a reason for it. 'Havre' is the Old English name for oats, so the name means field where oats are grown. 'Haversack' and 'Haver cakes' (oatcakes) come from the same root. The valley bottom in which Havre Park sits is fertile river bottom silt, plenty of evidence for this in every building erected on it. They all had problems finding solid foundations in the soft ground. I've found evidence on the Bolton Priory accounts for oats being obtained from Barlick as early as the 14th century. So Havre Park was important to the town's economy over 700 years ago.
In the 19th century it became even more important when William Bracewell of Newfield Edge (Billycock) bought land there and built his second mill at that time called New Mill. Very shortly afterwards the name changed to Wellhouse and this perhaps refers to the thing that puzzled many residents at the time, why build a mill where there was no obvious water resource, essential to its operation. I've told this story many times, how Bracewell confounded his critics by using the Bowker Drain that runs down the valley bottom. By the way, the build was bedevilled by problems with the foundations because of the river bottom silt. Later in 1920 Henry Brown and Son bought land off the then Calf Hall Shed Company who owned the mill to build their new works, Havre Park Foundry and it was looking at an old picture of the new build that triggered this article.
I am always telling you to observe instead of simply 'looking' at elements of our town but when I looked again at that picture I realised that I had been caught out! I had fallen into the trap of looking instead of observing! The original foundry is now the middle building in Gissing and Lonsdale's works at Havre Park and I have always assumed that the frontage was rebuilt when they moved in there. The old picture shows two cast iron strong backs in the top corners of the wall which were the anchor points for heavy tie bars running through the building to reinforce it. When Johnny Pickles built the foundry for his employer Brown he knew about the foundation problems and used old loom cranks in the foundations and tie bars in the main structure. Looking again at the modern building I realised that the two strong backs are still there in the fascia and if you look carefully you can see the remains of the original windows as well. The wall is the original one but cleaned up and a new large door inserted in it.
So the message is, if you give advice be sure to follow it yourself! I have been ignoring the evidence in front of my eyes for forty years. I have feet of clay..... Sorry about that, I shall try to do better!


Henry Brown's new foundry at Havre Park in 1920.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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