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Post by Stanley » 05 Jun 2018, 03:29


One of the great assets shared by Pennine villages and small towns is that there was always access to good stone, we live very close to the rock. In some places like Barlick it is excellent quality, the millstone grit on Tubber Hill can't be bettered in terms of strength and the ability to withstand weather. There is good limestone available as well, look at the large retaining wall in the Pioneer car park for a good example but the Rainhall and Greenberfield quarries never established a market in the private building sector, millstone grit won that contest.
In the great expansion of the town from 1890 to 1914 when the Great War ended development, we built predominately in stone, brick only became available in the inter war years with the advent of motor transport. I know of only two local sources of brick. The first, in Elizabethan times, was at Bracewell. There is a field behind the church called Kiln Field and the reason I believe it was a brick kiln rather than a lime kiln is that I know that brick was used in the old hall and the watermill behind Yarlside. You can still find distinctive 17th and 18th century brick in the walls nearby. The other, later brickworks was associated with Park Close Quarry on Salterforth Lane but Harold Duxbury told me that the bricks made there were useless for exterior work and only fit for lining stone built houses. From what I have seen of them I have to agree. There is a wall made of that brick near the Pigeon Club in Butts and it has not stood up to weathering and frost, most of the bricks have spalled and have broken faces.
Building stone wasn't the only use for the Tubber Hill stone. At the time when the Lancashire towns were developing roads after 1900 there was a great export trade of stone road setts by canal boat from all the quarries on the hill. Tramways were built down to the canal and operated by gravity and the quarries owned their own broad boats which could carry 40 tons at a time into Lancashire.
One of the key features of Tubber Hill stone was the absence of bed, it couldn't be split naturally in layers, it had to be dressed or sawn to shape. The closest quarry I know that could provide bedded stone was Noyna at Foulridge and I suspect that it was a major source of grey roofing slates, slop stones, troughs and millstones. If you go up there you can still find wastrels, the half finished articles that broke while being carved. I have no direct evidence but I suspect that this was where Barlick got the material for roofs until the advent of the railway in the mid 19th century brought in Blue or Welsh slate and in some cases like the new Gledstone Hall and lodges, green Coniston slate. Our built environment tells this story, all we have to do is observe!


The brick wall in Butts, notice the bits that have spalled off.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
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