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Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.


Post by Stanley »

BARNOLDSWICK. The story of a Pennine Town

Stanley Challenger Graham
Dedicated to my daughters who made everything worthwhile, Newton Pickles who made me into a half decent steam engineer and turner, John Pudney who convinced me that writing was a bench job and my mentors at Lancaster.


Anyone attempting to write a story like this stands on the shoulders of so many people it would be silly to try to mention them all. I owe everything I know to everyone who has ever taken the trouble to write the history down, taught me my trade or encouraged me to write. You all know who you are. There, I haven’t missed anyone out! Any mistakes, omissions or downright cock-ups are entirely my fault.

Preface 1
1: Where we are. 5
2: Going way back. 7
Interlude: Stone age people in Church Street. 11
3: Hunting and gathering. 15
4: The landscape. 19
Interlude: Barlick goes global? 25
5: De-bunking the Druids. 29
6: The first Millennium. 33
Interlude: Explosive pigeons? 37
7: The Romans. 39
8: The course of the Roman occupation. 43
9: Barlick under Roman military rule. 47
Interlude: They may have been smarter than we think! 53
10: Hard times and Christianity first appears. 55
11: The Romans leave Britain. 59
12: Christianity grows and the Saxons arrive. 63
13: 450AD, Pagans, Christians and home improvements. 67
14: Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Augustine. 71
Interlude: Christmas comes but once a year… 75
15: The Danes, the Vikings and fish hooks. 79
16: Harold and William the Bastard. 85
Interlude: Beating the Bounds. 89
17: The Cistercians come to Barlick. 91
18: Barlick one, Cistercians nil. 95
Interlude: The Bolton Priory Compotus. 1286-1325. 101
19: Famine, plague and foot and mouth disease. 105
20: The consequences of the Black Death. 109
Interlude: Cultural arrogance. 113
21: Villeins and serfs. Wage labour and textiles. 115
22: The grange of Barlick and the seeds of dissent. 117
23: Income, the textile trade and the Peasant’s Revolt. 119
24: The Wars of the Roses and the rise of the Tudors. 123
Interlude: The birth of a dynasty. 125
25: Barlick in 1500. 127
Interlude: Shires, wapentakes and hundreds. 131
26: Barlick versus Foulridge and some old names. 137
27: The 1580 map of Whitemoor. 141
Interlude: The holly and the ivy. 147
28: The Barnoldswick of the 1580 map. 151
29: Badgers, broggers, galls and jaggers. 155
Interlude: with Chris Aspin on packhorses. 159
30: Oxen, horses and wheeled vehicles. 161
31: Roads, bridges and the King’s Highway. 165
32: The coming of the canal, coal and the steam age. 167
33: The Local Board and expansion. 169
Interlude: Matt Hartley and the Majestic Cinema.
The day the Beatles came to Barlick. 173
34: The drovers. 177
35: Henry VIII, the dissolution of the monasteries and Wycliffe’s
part in the Reformation. 181
Interlude: The builders. 185
36: Printing, broadsheets and newspapers. Prince Rupert. 189
Interlude: Glaciers as bulldozers or rivers? 193
37: Energy. 195
38: Water power, peat, wood, steam power, gas, electricity. 197
Interlude: Barlick corn mill. 201
39: How our Barlickers lived in the 17th century. 203
40: Ronge and white iron. 207
41: The arrival of cotton and the pirate mills. 211
42: The early textile inventions and the water-powered mills in Barlick. 215
Interlude: Power looms. 219
43: The 19th century, some geology, coal, quarries and lime-burning. 223
Interlude: What was the condition of society in the 19th century? 227
44: Mitchell, Bracewell and the rise of the factory system. 239
Interlude: Ordure of the day. 245
45: Barlick in 1855. Trade, credit and living conditions. 247
Interlude: Cooperation in Barlick. 251
46: The crash of 1887, the arrival of the shed companies and the
modernisation of Barlick. 257
Interlude: Barlick’s sanitary revolution. 265
47: The Great War. 269
Interlude: Explosive matters. 271
48: Industrial troubles in the 1930s. The More Looms dispute. 275
Interlude: What time is it? 283
49: More Looms. 285
Interlude: The flood of July 11th 1932. 291
50: Another world war and the shadow factories. 295
Interlude: Every cloud has a silver lining. 303
51: After the war was over. Britain’s bread hangs by Lancashire’s thread. 305
Interlude: Blood and steel. 309
52: Barlick in 1950. The Welfare State. 311
Interlude: A tale of a kilt. 313
53: The glory days and the future. 317
Index: 319

In 1940 my system got a bit of a shock. One late summer’s morning my mother dressed me in new clothes and took me along Didsbury Road in Stockport, down Travis Brow and through some iron gates into what looked like a cage. It was Hope Memorial primary school and was a different world. I remember that the first thing Mrs Ackroyd taught her new class that day was how to sweep the floor and to this day I am grateful for this extremely practical lesson. My mind goes back to it many a time when I watch someone using a long brush and I reflect that it’s a pity they didn’t have the benefit of that early lesson.
I soon settled in and I remember that one of the things that intrigued me was that every room had a strange picture hung on the wall, mostly coloured red. I found out eventually that it was a map of the world and the red bits belonged to us. As I went forward through my education I was taught the importance of the Empire and its place in our history. We also learned about Kings, Queens and famous people, particularly soldiers who had fought our wars for us. To be honest, it held no appeal for me at all and I never raised any enthusiasm for ‘history’.
It was years later that I started to take an interest in the history of the world around me. I was a long-distance trucker and spent a lot of time alone in the cab with plenty of time to think… Who built the roads and the bridges? Why were the towns and villages built where they were? Why hadn’t anyone taught me about these things and the people who accomplished them? I had a serious accident and was off work for six weeks so I started reading history books to pass the time and can still remember the one which triggered me off. It was ‘Lives of the Engineers’ a Victorian classic by Samuel Smiles. From then on I was hooked and started a serious search for knowledge. As I progressed I realised that what really interested me was the history of my adopted town, Barnoldswick, and the lives of the people who lived there. Forty years later I am still fascinated by these subjects and write a column in the Barnoldswick and Earby Times every week. The feedback I get from these pieces has convinced me that I am not alone in this curiosity about our town and how it developed.
Every now and again someone will ask me a question that brings me up short. Often it’s about something I have never heard of and the question triggers me off into some digging to find out what I can. I was asked an entirely different sort of a question recently, ‘What good is local history? What can we learn from reminiscence, surely these are modern times and everything is different?’
I think the thing that shocked me most was the idea implied in the question that looking at the past was a waste of time so I had to sit back and have a bit of a think……
The place I start from is that I obviously don’t agree because I spend so much time reading books, walking about with my eyes open and eventually sharing what I have found out with the readers of my articles. I am reinforced by the feedback that I get and the number of people who tell me that they read the pieces every week. So we can be fairly certain that the subject is popular but this doesn’t really answer the question I was asked so forgive me if I get a bit philosophical.
On a personal level and accepting the fact that this is a product of getting older, I enjoy sitting down with friends and remembering the things we did when my beard was black. Many of these memories remind us of silly things we or other people did and yes, it could even be who was bothering with whom! I was reminded of this one day when a man told me about his mother who was the illegitimate daughter of a prominent business man in the town. As a child she would go up to him in the street and say “hello daddy” because she knew he would give her sixpence and then walk swiftly on! I suppose that nowadays a clutch of social workers would start worrying about the little girl and how this ‘trauma’ was going to spoil her life. Of course, not having the benefit of any psychological brainwashing, the child went blithely on, spent the sixpence, and I’m glad to report is still alive and well aged over 90 and totally undamaged by the experience. I’m daft enough to think that we can learn something from this and apply that knowledge to our lives. Kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for.
Looking further afield, we all need to have some sort of direct connection with the world. Nowadays far too many of our younger people get this experience second-hand through a computer screen on a global scale instead of from the hedges and fields all around us and things they can touch, after all, sensory deprivation is used as a form of torture. They may be well versed in celebrity and who did what in some far away country but they are overlooking what lies all around them. I once had a conversation with Asa Briggs the historian and he gave his opinion that one of the greatest educational mistakes we make with children is that we actively damage their capacity to observe and enquire at the local level. The point he was making was that if we really try to understand the local environment where our origins are we can become embedded in our local landscape and get a feeling of continuity and solidity out of it.
I know what he means. Many a time, walking around the district I find I have knowledge I can associate with the objects and landscape around me. Usually these associations are subconscious but yesterday I tried to identify exactly what they were while walking up Cobden Street in Barlick. As I rounded the corner off Chapel Street I noted the old Co-op building on Manchester Road with its history of struggle and independent thought. I thought of the backstone bakery that used to be on the corner which was the genesis of Hackings bakery, one of the biggest bakers and confectioners in the town. Record Street reminded me of Billy and Olive Entwistle and the days at Hey Farm when Billy was helping me to refurbish the interiors and get the place fit to live in. The shop on the left half way up the street, now a private house, used to sell fishing tackle and maggots. My friends Joyce and Ted Lawson and their family lived further up on the left and on the opposite side of the road was Wild’s garage, now demolished, the home of so many good stories and days out, ‘Travel with Wild’s for Miles of Smiles’. All this in 100 yards of back street in Barlick. I’m sure that many of you can do the same thing, try it sometime and see how many things you can recall.
What we are embarking on is local history, it includes everything from small human faults to larger events like the monks from Fountains Abbey coming to the town to found an abbey which was the genesis of Kirkstall Abbey at Leeds. It embeds us in the landscape and gives us a security blanket, an anchor. Many call it a ‘sense of place’. I think that this is important for our present-day well-being. It doesn’t matter if the confidence it gives us is illusory, at least we can have some certainties to balance against the view through that screen in the living room of so much of the world in trouble. It’s not being insular or hiding from the truth, we can still care about the greater ills, but we are more balanced and effective because of our identification with where we live.
This is where I think the study of local history helps us. If we can be aware of and make sense of our local environment we have a solid foundation from which to deal with the world. I can’t quantify the effect, I’d have difficulty proving that fewer telephone boxes are vandalised in Barlick because of the undercurrents of knowledge stirred by my writing, but in my heart I like to believe it is so. Next time you walk down the street try my association test and see how much you can remember about what you see. I promise it will give you a warm glow and who knows, it might be catching, the young ones might start to take an interest and pass the torch on down the ages. It used to be done round the fire, telling stories in the days before television, in future they might trip over the stories whilst trawling the internet and be intrigued. They might even read this book. I hope so.
What follows is a small part of my research, presented not as a history text book but more as a story which may help us understand better this wonderful little town we live in. I’ve tried to make it readable so that it can capture the attention of the young people who still read books. If it helps them to understand their world and perhaps excite their interest enough to make them want to read and understand more about the world all the effort will have been worth while. It’s a pretty good story with a happy ending because we are all still here. I hope you can enjoy the journey with me.
First, a cautionary tale… As I have often said, the research never stands still and every now and again I have to hold up my hand and admit to having changed my mind. It can be slippery stuff especially when you start to delve into things that happened a thousand years ago. I often have to rely on the work of historians in the past and take a lot of trouble to assure myself that I am reasonably sure they did good work and I can trust them. I also have a rubbish detector in the back of my head and when it starts whining I take notice of it. I’m afraid to tell you it went off the scale today, I found that an eminent historian in whom I had always placed complete trust had led me up the garden path.
I’ve always believed that Henry de Lacy was ill in bed in his castle in Clitheroe in 1146 or thereabouts when he promised God that if he would restore him to health he would found a monastery. Most of that is correct but when I discovered by chance that Clitheroe Castle wasn’t built until 1186 I had to take a deep breath and go digging. I realised that I had been in error all these years, the castle Henry was lying in feeling sorry for himself was not Clitheroe, it was Pontefract.
Of course, all this needed checking out so I went for a ramble in the undergrowth of the peerage in general and the de Lacy family in particular and I think I now have the truth. So here’s my latest (and hopefully definitive) version of the truth.
Ilbert de Lacy was one of the noble adventurers who joined William the Bastard of Normandy in his conquest of England in 1066. He was rewarded with the Knight’s Fee of the Honor of Pontefract which controlled an enormous swathe of land right across the country. In essence, William gave him Yorkshire to play with and some adjoining lands as well. Ilbert died in 1089 but not before he had founded a dynasty which passed to his son Robert de Lacy.
There was a bit of a problem between 1121 and 1136 when I think the family backed the wrong faction in a dispute with the king and according to some sources were all banished from the kingdom. There may have been an interval of being in bad favour but it can’t have been permanent because by 1136 Robert’s son, Ilbert de Lacy the second, was once more Lord at Pontefract. He held it until he died in 1141 and then for some reason the Earl of Lincoln took over for five years.
Ilbert II had two sons, Henry and Robert. Henry, the eldest, regained the Lordship of Pontefract in 1146 and held it until his death in 1187 when brother Robert took the reins and lived until 1193. In 1193 Roger (Fitz-Eustace) de Lacy became Lord. The ‘Fitz’ in his name meant he was illegitimate and couldn’t carry the de Lacy line forward. As both Henry and Robert died without legitimate heirs this was the end of the de Lacy blood line.
Robert had evidently been carving out a land-holding for himself because he became Lord of Blackburnshire. As Lord he would be looking for a handy place to establish a castle on the eastern extremity of his holding and a nice steep conical hill at Clitheroe must have looked just the ticket because in 1186 that was where he built Clitheroe Castle.
My major error was in thinking that Barlick came under the Honor of Clitheroe when in fact it was part of the Honor of Pontefract. When Henry made his Perambulation of the boundary of Barlick in 1147 to set out what he was granting to Fountains Abbey and made the mistake of appending Admergill which wasn’t his to give it looks as though he may have been pinching it off his brother Robert!
Anyway, all’s well that ends well and I feel a lot more comfortable with old Henry now that I have got him nailed down in the right place. It just goes to show, the time to get suspicious is when you are convinced you are right. Always a dangerous position for a historian.
I’m recounting this episode to reinforce my original message. Whenever I give you a fact, recognise that it is based on my current knowledge. Research continually modifies my knowledge and so there will be what later turn out to be mistakes. They aren’t really, they are simply my latest version so don’t be too hard on me.

Barnoldswick (Ordnance Survey reference SD 875470), or Barlick as we locals tend to call it, is notable as the largest town in Britain not served by an ‘A’ class road. Not to be confused with another Barnoldswick near Ingleton in North Yorkshire (they shorten their name to ‘Barnewigg’) Historically the town was an outlier of the West Riding of Yorkshire until the boundary changes of 1974 when we were dragged kicking and screaming into Lancashire. Many Barlickers never accepted this and almost thirty years later the powers that be gave in, moved the boundary signs back to their original locations and gave us our own post code. The parliamentary boundary changes were left in place but I think someone had realised that the old shire boundaries couldn’t be moved, they are as rooted in the landscape as the topographical features that form them. In this context it’s interesting to note that when English Heritage decided to digitise the details of all listed buildings and protected sites in the UK they spent six months discussing how they should divide the country. In the end they decided that they couldn’t improve on the parish boundaries as the most logical system of division. The parish boundaries coincide with the shire boundaries and the same criteria applied to them. I find it comforting that even in today’s information driven environment, the oldest boundaries in the country are the most logical.
The town lies in the Northern Pennines on the north-eastern side of a large ridge called Weets Hill which rises to 1300ft and protects us from the worst of the weather coming in on the prevailing wind from the south west. The bulk of the town itself lies at about 600ft above sea level which in global terms is not a high altitude location but in the context of a country which lies on roughly the same latitude as Labrador, altitude has a greater effect on micro-climate than usual. Climb 300 feet to Letcliffe Park and you need an extra layer of clothing. The town is on the watershed between the Aire and Ribble catchments. Most of the water off the Weets moor runs down through the town and eventually flows westwards into the Ribble basin. Some of the water from the southern end of the parish runs down towards Earby and from there into the Aire basin to the east.
The climate, moderated by the effects of the Gulf Stream, is generally temperate with mild winters and variable summers which tend to be wet. Whilst this may be seen to be a disadvantage by sun-worshippers it means that there is ample water in most seasons and no extremes of weather. The town has only had one major adverse weather event in living history, a period of abnormal rain in 1932 which led to a serious flood. We grumble constantly about our weather but truth to tell it could be a lot worse.
Historically the major industry was agriculture based on grazing but during the late 18th century the new industry of cotton textiles supplemented the old domestic woollen industry and this led to a prolonged period of prosperity. The expansion of the town and the advent of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal stimulated the local quarry industry producing high quality gritstone and limestone. Initially the cotton mills were small and water-powered but with the advent of the canal c.1800 and cheap coal supplies steam power was quickly adopted. In the 19th century development of the steam-driven textile industry was held back because of the power of one family who were violently anti-competitive but in 1885/1887 their power was broken by failure and the vacuum was filled by new room and power sheds which were very successful and led to a late boom which lasted until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. The impact of world competition eroded the local industry from 1920 onwards and by the 1930s the town was in trouble, it was a single industry town losing its main source of income. The advent of WW2 led to the introduction of new industry moving into the mills to avoid enemy bombing. This saved the town and today it has a variety of thriving industry and a low unemployment rate.
The population at the end of the 20th century was around 12,000 and seems to be holding steady.
Physically, the town is stone-built, well maintained with a good range of retail shops and services. It is a walking-distance town, you are never more than ten minutes away from open fields and countryside. It would be difficult to find a better place for humans to live and interact. In the mid 19th century local enterprise built a branch line to connect with the Colne Skipton line at Sough but both lines vanished as a consequence of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. The canal declined as a freight carrier and today the town relies on road transport.
Many people would say that there is nothing special about Barlick, it is typical of hundreds of other small towns. In some respects this is true but its history is unique, nobody else has our story and this is what I shall try to reveal. Within that story are all the clues you need to identify why despite the fact we are ‘typical’ we have a fierce regard for Barlick and feel special. I have a tee-shirt, on the front are these words; ‘There are two kinds of people in the world, those who come from Barlick and those who wish they did’. That just about sums it up.

When I first started to take an interest in the history of Barlick my main interest was in the subjects that I knew best, practical things like the buildings, engineering and the textile industry. I soon realised that I had to cast the net wider because the more I knew about general history, the better I would understand the particular fields I wanted to study. I started to look for anything published about Barnoldswick. Over the years I suppose I’ve read everything that has been published on the subject and have always been disappointed by the lack of anything concrete before 1120.
There is a very good reason for this. Virtually everything written about early Barlick has been culled from one 19th century source; The Rev. T D Whitaker’s History of the Deanery of Craven. Whitaker was a gent and a scholar and based his writing about early Barlick on the reports of Serlo a monk who started his career at Fountains Abbey but was then one of the party who came to Barlick to found a monastery here. All we have of Serlo’s evidence about Barlick is second-hand and directly concerned with the problems of the monks and what they did to try to solve them.
All this was going through my mind while I was in America doing some teaching and I discussed it with some of the professors at Carleton College where I was working. They pointed me at some reading in the wonderful library they have there and so for the last four weeks of my stay I did nothing but dig in the library and take notes. It was a wonderful experience because I learned so much and of course, got some clues about Barlick itself. This research, plus the reading I had already done, gave me a bit of a surprise because either I was a bad scholar when they were teaching me early history at school or they were teaching me history that wasn’t strictly accurate! I think a bit of both really.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what I read but if any of you are teachers and are interested in the subject I have done a timeline and index for the period and if you ask me nicely I will be glad to give you a copy. What I want to do in this story is give you my version of the history of our Isles from 500,000BC to 1200AD and draw some conclusions about how this affected Barlick. From then on we can get onto slightly former ground. I promise you that this is as good research as I can make it and you can feel reasonably safe quoting me when your children/grandchildren ask you to help with their history homework. They will be awestruck!
Remember my disclaimer, this is the state of my knowledge at the moment and I have confidence in my sources. Further research will change this and I shall no doubt wish I had waited longer before going into print but life is too short and it’s a wonderful story so here goes.
The first thing I’m going to do is follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Professor Norman Davies. His book, ‘The Isles’ is a wonderful history and I recommend that you seek it out and read it. Norman makes the point that all the history we were taught at school had an agenda. We were being persuaded to be proud of our country and the Empire ( it always had a capital letter in those days) and grow up to be good soldiers and workers who respected authority. They taught us about kings and queens, victories in battle and about an Empire on which the sun never set. (One historian remarked that this was because God didn’t trust us in the dark!) We were told Julius Caesar invaded and conquered us in 54/55BC and the French conquered us again in 1066. Not so, Caesar came and saw but never conquered, the Norman invaders weren’t French, they were Scandinavians. So, we have to look at our country in a totally different light, it is no use talking about England, or Great Britain or the United Kingdom, they didn’t exist, we have to start from basics and call our part of the world something simple, The Isles.
Actually, even this is wrong because from where we are going to start until about 5,500 BC we weren’t an island. What we now call Ireland was connected to the north of the main isle by a land bridge between the north of Ireland and the Galloway peninsula. The main island, what we now call Wales, Scotland and England was connected to the continent by another land bridge where the Straits of Dover are now and the Thames was a tributary of the Rhine. So we were a peninsula of the mainland of Europe.
50 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to start this story half a million years in the past, we simply knew nothing about it. However, science has expanded our knowledge wonderfully and we can now take a shot at describing what was going on. Remember that for the first 500,000 years we have no written evidence, all we have is the geological and archaeological record. In order to make sense of such a long time span, scholars have divided it up into three main periods. These vary with location but the usually accepted dates for The Isles are: Up to 8000BC is called the Palaeolithic. 8000BC to 2700BC the Mesolithic and 2700BC to 1500BC the Neolithic.
We suspect that the human race originated in Africa 200,000 years ago and it’s probable that it had spread into Northern Europe by at least 100,000BC. Periodically the climate changed and sheets of ice spread down from the North and drove most life back south to warmer climes. I say most because there has been a recent discovery in Norway of a skeleton that dates back to 40,000BC. This was during an Ice Age and it means we might have to adjust our thinking about the ability of man to survive in such terrible conditions. We know for certain that there were men in The Isles before the last Ice age because a grave has been found on the Gower Peninsula in Wales in the Goat Cave which dates from about 25,000BC. He was a young man, covered in red ochre and was buried with a Mammoth skull next to him, probably to represent either food for his journey into the after life or as a ritual object. (Be aware that whenever an archaeologist finds something he or she can’t explain, they tend to ascribe it to ‘ritual’!) Burials have been found in other parts of Europe dating from 80,000BC.
So, looking at what we know, what are the chances of there being Stone Age descendants in Barlick? They have got to be good. I have no doubt that buried beneath our feet there are remains that would prove this. What were they like and what sort of countryside did they inhabit? These were very primitive people in our terms, they had only just learned about fire and knew nothing of wheels or even tools as we know them. Their weapons would be stones and wooden clubs. Even wood would be scarce after an Ice Age because all the trees were destroyed by the glaciers and it took time for them re-establish themselves. Beware of the word primitive, we couldn’t do what they did, we haven’t the necessary skills to survive. The landscape would be grass covered rolling hills with mammoth, elk and other large animals roaming the land.
Try to imagine a mammoth with great tusks or an elk with antlers twelve feet across wandering across the valley bottom down to Salterforth. Suppose you are hungry, how do you catch and kill something that big? The answer is that you probably didn’t, you were too puny. The only time you would eat the meat would be if you found one dead through accident or old age. You would live off anything you could find or catch, small animals, insects, grubs, and natural seeds and fruits. I base this on what we know about the Aborigines in Australia and how they survive in the wild.
You had very little language, grunts and snorts and other noises, but nothing we would recognise as words. You were always on the move looking for food and had no concept of ownership of land. If you got old, you were just left to die and wild beasts would clean up, there was no concept of burial or even care of the sick and elderly, and ‘old’ was probably about thirty. If you were a burden, you died. It is quite possible that one of the most common triggers for death would be your teeth wearing out. If you hadn’t got good teeth and a strong bite you couldn’t tear your food and chew it. We know that the introduction of sugar into the Aboriginal diet in Australia ruined their teeth and damaged their ability to live off the land. In short, it must have been a hard existence with a very short life expectancy but they survived as a race, they were our ancestors.
The Last Ice Age started sometime round 23,000BC and once again the glaciers came down and covered the Isles. This lasted for over 10,000 years and by 12,000BC the ice was receding again. We have always thought that as the ice retreated, men spread north out of Europe and re-populated the Isles but recent work suggest that the story might be a bit more complicated than that. As the ice caps melted, the water ran into the seas and lowered the temperature by about eight degrees centigrade. We think that this might have stopped the warming effects of the Gulf Stream and that The Isles might have had a mini Ice Age after the main glaciers retreated. This has been put forward as the reason why the Elk seems to have become extinct in the Isles between 12000 and 10000BC. The Isles were colonised again by migration from Europe over the land bridge sometime after 10,000BC.
We have one piece of hard evidence. In 1903, in Gough’s Cave in the Cheddar Gorge, local archaeologists found the skeleton of a young man surrounded by crude artefacts and flints. Much later, these bones were radio-carbon dated and we now know he lived sometime between 8000 and 7000BC. There is more, in 1996 the bones were tested for mitochondrial DNA and this was compared with the DNA of a score or so of local villagers. A close match was found with Mr Adrian Targett, a teacher at the local school, proving that he was directly related through the maternal line to the stone age man in the cave. Members of his family had been living in the same area for almost 10,000 years. Let’s just think about this for a moment. If this is true for a small sample of locals in Cheddar, the implication is that there must be many more examples. How many people are there in Barlick who carry the DNA of Stone Age people who lived here 10,000 years ago? I’d like to think that the odds are that they exist.
We can be reasonably certain that these ancient people lived in Barlick. We can be almost sure that some of their ancestors still live here. Of course we can’t tell who they are but I have my own pet theory that they are most likely to be the Barlickers we describe as ‘Characters’, the ones who are different, the ones who stand out as individuals. I have no proof of course but rest assured, they are there and we have a direct link established to 8000BC. Not bad for a first chapter! There is much more to come.

I’ve been taking another look at Whitemoor lately. John Clayton of Barrowford has been doing a lot of useful research on the moor and the land sloping down to Roughlee and Barrowford. Using his head, aerial photographs and a lot of shoe leather he has come up with a some fascinating theories, backed up in many cases by evidence on the ground.
Here’s what he has to say on the origin of the name Whitemoor. “It is possible that the ‘white’ etymology has its roots within the Celtic, Pliny used the word 'wight' and in later times Bede used 'wiht.' In these contexts the words describe 'that which has been raised' thus giving us the description of high ground, an apt name for White Moor. We also have Weets Hill overlooking White Moor and the Middop valley, 'Weets' could have the same root where 'white' describes high land”.
He has looked at the Black Dyke in more detail. This massive boundary ditch, also known as ‘Hanson’s Dyke’ can be most easily seen off Gisburn Old Track between Star Hall and Lower Sandiford. It runs from Sandiford back towards the hill on which Blacko Tower stands where it meets another ancient boundary running up from Standing Stone Gate. John has traced it north from Sandiford and it extends towards Gisburn. I’ve always been fascinated by this feature because it is such an ancient component in the landscape. What John has convinced me of is that my earlier suspicions, based on nothing more than guesswork, are most likely true. This boundary, much of which is used as the modern county boundary, is far older than either the Norman invaders or the Romans. It is very likely that it was a Celtic tribal boundary and could date back more than 4,000 years.
I can remember getting quite a few puzzled queries four years ago when I started writing about the history of Barlick in 10,000 BC and suggested that even though we had very little hard evidence, it is almost certain that our locality was inhabited even then. The name ‘Brigante’ was used to describe almost the whole of the North of England and as far as we can tell covered a number of tribes. One of these was the ‘Setantii’ and it would seem that Barlick was in or very close to this tribal area which extended west as far as the coast. It isn’t stretching the imagination too far to see that the Black Dyke and its associated boundaries could have been a tribal boundary. There is another crucial thing about the siting of the Black Dyke where it follows Gisburn Old Track, it is very near the watershed between the Aire and Ribble Basins. Our remote ancestors would have seen this as a very important feature, not simply in terms of geography but as a spiritual or religious divide as well. Add to this the enormous earthworks at Middop and the track through Barlick heading straight for the Aire Gap at Kildwick and you have some pretty impressive evidence for ancient occupation.
This is far too big a subject to go into in detail here but John’s work shows that the side of Weets is criss-crossed with old boundaries, tracks and even metalled roads. Overlying this, and cutting through them in many cases are the Roman road and the more modern boundaries. The clues start to emerge when you look at the evidence that can’t be easily obliterated like a watershed or the course of County Brook, which in the 12th century was Black Brook, and look for intersections along them. This is the value of what John has done, he has looked below the modern landscape and found the old road and boundary system.
So what use is all this in a modern age? None at all in economic terms I suppose but there is more to life than money. I don’t know about you but it fascinates me to think of the glaciers retreating leaving land that could once more be populated. We know the glaciers reached this far because of the evidence in the landscape. The series of rounded hills to the north east of Barlick around Marton are drumlins, a technical term for small rounded hills composed of deposits dropped by the ice sheets as they melted and retreated north around 10,000 BC. This is the reason why we can be pretty certain that the boundaries on Whitemoor are less than 12,000 years old; the one force in nature capable of erasing landscape features like these is a glacier. So, some time after 10,000 BC there was a society up there organised enough to build massive earthworks to signal their ownership of the land. Give them 5,000 years to get organised and we can start talking about Stone Age men in Church Street 7,000 years ago!
This isn’t just a flight of fancy. The really surprising thing would be if someone could prove that a fertile valley with south facing slopes and running water wasn’t populated 7,000 years ago. This is too far-fetched to consider in my opinion. The topography of Barlick hasn’t changed much since then. The Weets, the gulleys running down into the town and the watercourses were all there. Let your imagination fly free and think about the sort of lives those people were living. I don’t suppose they even bothered to give the area a name, it was just ‘here’; the place where they lived. Funnily enough a lot of towns in America and Australia are named after the local dialect term for ‘here’. The early explorers asked the natives where they were and they told them; ‘here’. So all we need to know is what ‘here’ was in the local tongue in those days and we’d have the earliest name for Barlick.
Here’s what my friend and mentor Bob Bliss wrote from St Louis, Missouri when I broached this subject with him. [By the way, always sound the ‘S’ in St Louis, that’s what the locals do]
“As to your piece on stone age man in Barlick, you should perhaps say that in America and elsewhere local aboriginal dialects often give "here" for place names and "us", or in the case of the Cheyenne, "human beings" to identify themselves.   Among the good place names are "Iowa", which has been romantically translated as "this is the place" (better for business than the "here" when Marquette and Joliet asked, stupidly enough, where they were) and "Saganaga," a large island choked lake, Lomond-size plus, lying along the present boundary between the present USA and the present Canada, whose name means, in Cree or Ojibwa, "it's hard to find your way."    You can imagine the conversation between the French coureurs de bois and the local folk:  "where are we?"   To which the politest possible answer is a confirmatory "yes, it is hard to find your way."    But the French, literal-minded to a fault, took it as a place name, and so it stayed.  
Mike Mullet (of Lancaster University) used to do a pretty funny routine about Captain Cook, the aborigines, and the kangaroo.   "What is that? asked the puzzled first about the outlandish third.   "Never mind THAT," said the equally puzzled second, "who are you?"   I don't know if the story is actually true, but it ought to be.   And then there is the redoubtable Mungo Park, coming to the banks of a huge river in sub-Saharan Africa, and asking, "what is that?" The natives took pity on the good man and told him that, after all could be said and done, it was what it was, "a river."   So we have, redundantly, the Niger River, otherwise known as "it's a River, Stupid."   [You can’t beat having literate and intelligent friends]
Mis-naming isn’t just a foreign aberration. We have a lovely example of redundancy in place names right on our doorstep, Pendle Hill. Pen is the Celtic prefix for hill. ‘dle’ is the old English suffix for hill and of course hill is our description. So what we end up with is Hill-hill-hill. Shades of the Niger River!
The etymology of place names is a wonderful area for speculation, any theory you like can be floated but in the end the best evidence for changes over time is documentary. This is the reason why so many names are seen to date from Domesday as this was the first national survey that wrote down many of our place names. The English Place Name Society have published an enormous amount of research in this field and there is a very good book in the library by Eilert Ekwall, ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names’, well worth having a look at it if names interest you.
There is of course a big problem here if we accept as gospel what the research tells us. It omits any reference to what the places were called before they were possibly re-named by the latest incomers to the district. ‘Earby’ is a typical Norse name and as such is very old. The question is, what name did the original Celtic inhabitants use to describe where they lived?
Barnoldswick is generally accepted as being named after a man called Bernulf, it was his ‘wick’ or settlement. What we have to bear in mind is that the survey for Domesday which enshrined this name on the record was completed in two years, 1085 and 1086. This was incredibly fast and I have an idea that the clerks who were given the task wouldn’t be wasting any time. What they wrote down depended on their source, the person, almost certainly a man, to whom they put the question, ‘What is this place?’. Suppose they asked a bloke called Gamel whose grandfather Bernulf had founded the settlement. He was hardly likely to say that the most important name in the area was Bracewell, Elfwynthrop, Brogden or Coates, all of which existed and may have been larger than Bernulf’s farm. He was much more likely to promote his family name and give the others as subsidiary settlements. Problem solved for the clerks, they could rush on to the next village.
I’ve always had a suspicion about ‘Gillians’ because it is a name that is centred on what is the most logical place for a settlement and is almost certainly a corruption of another, older, name. Think of the other names in Barlick like Long Ing, Rainhall, Havre Park, Wapping and Butts. Some of these look like field names but could just as easily be echoes of older settlement names.
On the subject of Butts, I know that the most common explanation of this name is that it was the practice field where local men were expected to hone their skills as archers. However, I’m always slightly suspicious of easy explanations. ‘Butts’ was a common field name in medieval field systems and there were some cottages down Butts that were always described as ‘Herriff Butts’. Herriff is a local name for a weed, also known as ‘cleavers’ or ‘goose-grass’ and on arable land it’s a pain in the neck as it spreads so rapidly and is useless. It could well be that our modern name, Butts, is a shortened form of the medieval fields that were called ‘Herriff Butts’ because they were weed infested. At the very least, it’s a plausible theory.
This illustrates the joy of place names, they are an indistinct record of the distant past and open to interesting speculation and interpretation and this is the attraction of peering into the mists and trying to tease out our history. The only thing that I am certain of, and all the recent archaeological evidence supports this, is that our patterns of occupation and sophistication are always older and more complex than old style history taught us. There is much more to West Craven than meets the eye and the further we dig, the more we shall learn.
So, as you follow the course of your daily routine round the town remember that we are but the latest users of the land. This recognition of continuity and respect for the roots of our community is one of the best ways of making sure that we pass it on better than we found it. And all because of some illiterate savages digging holes on the moor 7,000 years ago.

We’ve reached about 8000BC and decided there is a good chance that there were humans living on the sheltered side of the hill we now call Weets. In view of what is to come later, we need to look more closely at these people and draw some conclusions about them. At this time there was no concept of settlement or agriculture and no domesticated animals. These people were nomadic hunters and gatherers. They lived off what they could find and when an area was getting eaten out they would move on carrying what little possessions they had. I’m hedging my bets a little here because the more we learn from archaeology, the more we suspect that there may have been exceptions to the rule. In a very sparsely populated area it may have been possible for a family to survive in one location year round and we can’t discount some instances of semi-permanent settlement. Forget cave-dwelling, we’re short on caves round Barlick, but think in terms of something like a fallen tree resting against a bank. It wouldn’t take a lot of ingenuity to stop the draughts with turfs and waterproof the roof by adding more branches. If beaver could do it, and they existed in the area in those days, isn’t it possible that our ancestors learned from the animals they hunted?
Further afield in the rich river valleys of the Middle East people had realised the value of growing crops and domesticating wild animals as early as 10,000BC. This changed their culture completely and gave them a much more secure life. The advantages of this spread slowly across Europe but we think it was to be 6,000 years before it reached the Isles.
I think it’s important to remember that the people we are describing were humans. They had the same genes as us and would have had the same emotions; fear, anger, joy and affection for those close to them. We start to see burials in mainland Europe around 80,000BC and we know that they were taking place in The Isles by 25,000BC at the latest and when you think about it this says something about their society. They no longer simply left bodies to be eaten by wild animals, they were showing evidence of affection or respect. Bodies were often covered with a scattering of red ochre but we have no idea why. We start to see what the archaeologists call grave goods. These are artefacts or supplies that they would have used in daily life and it is almost as though they were equipping the deceased for some sort of journey.
How could the dead go on a journey? What need had they of tools, weapons and food? I can’t think of any other explanation than that they believed there was some sort of after-life. I don’t think this is far-fetched. On a daily basis they saw birth, death, the change of the seasons and renewal of life. All this could have been evidence to them of something beyond their knowledge. In their daily lives there would be an hierarchy, mothers and fathers who taught skills and cared for young ones. It wasn’t a great leap to imagine that there was another hierarchy beyond death. I don’t want to go too far with this because it is pure speculation but belief systems have to start somewhere and the evidence we have is that such a system could have been well-established perhaps as early as 20,000BC.
We have to also consider the possibility that they may have used some form of magic. The word magic has been debased over the years. We have been saturated with myths and folk lore and the word magic conjures up a picture of a man or woman in a pointed hat waving a wand. You’ll even find it in the Bible. How did Moses part the Red Sea? He struck it with his staff, or wand. Put this out of your mind and consider what magic really is. The best definition I know is that magic is a tool humans use to try to influence things over which they would otherwise have no control. If someone was ill, you saw it as an attack and tried to influence the aggressor. One thing they would have learned from experience is that a gift of some sort could influence someone. It seems reasonable to suppose they applied the same principle to magic. They gave a gift, or, as we would describe it, made a sacrifice. The size of the gift would be governed by the size of the problem and we know that in many primitive societies the ultimate gift was a human life.
Let’s put another layer on top of this. Eventually there would be more than one family living in Barlick and they had a choice of either fighting each other for resources or cooperating. It wouldn’t take long for them to realise that cooperation was the smart thing and we would start to get groupings which we call community or tribe. At first these would be local and small in size. They wouldn’t grow beyond the number that the area could support and were probably family based. If the population did grow in a succession of good years, like modern sheep on a moor, they would die back to the supportable number. Over-stocking led to starvation and dictated how many members the tribe could carry.
Once you have a tribe you would start to see an hierarchy. The fittest and the strongest, I assume they would be the young men, would do the hunting and the women would care for the young and gather food locally. We see this structure in Aboriginal tribes. The dominant male would be the chief and would probably take advice from the older members of the tribe. We have to be careful about this assumption that the men would be aggressive and most dominant. There were women tribal chiefs and we can’t be certain some didn’t hunt as well. What we are looking at is the beginning of society. I have to confess that I can’t say with certainty how they survived in winter. I can well imagine them making rude shelters out of branches and skins during the summer but winter would be far harder. It may be of course that they moved south in winter to avoid the worst of the weather. We simply don’t know but archaeologists are beginning to suspect that our early ancestors were perhaps better at building shelters than we have heretofore thought. I like the idea, as I said earlier, if the beavers could do it why not the humans?
Meanwhile, further south, the combination of the rising seas caused by melting ice in the north and the whole of the mainland tilting slightly towards the south east as the weight of ice came off the northern parts caused the land bridge to the continent to be overcome by what we now call the North Sea. The rising waters first made it boggy and impassable and then submerged it completely. This happened between 6,000 and 5,500BC. The same fate befell the crossing between the north of Ireland and the Galloway Peninsula. The Isle of Man and Anglesey became islands. The Thames became a river in its own right emptying into the straits connecting the North Sea and the Atlantic.
You might assume that this meant that The Isles were cut off from the continent but this was not necessarily true. We know that in later years, the Celts, who were the dominant race, were quite used to long sea voyages. Not surprising really when you consider that if you lived on the coast it was much easier to travel and transport goods by sea. These first boats would probably be frameworks of branches covered by skins, like a larger version of a Severn coracle. With experience they improved and became wooden hulls made of planks stitched together with rawhide lashings, archaeologists have found such craft preserved in mud on the estuary leading to what is now Kingston upon Hull. We have evidence from 3,000BC onwards of well travelled long distance routes on the mainland Isle. We know this because there are well-dated sites at regular intervals along these routes that were used for refuges, trading points, and perhaps festival sites. There might even have been limited settlement at some of them towards the end of the Neolithic period. It seems inconceivable that these routes didn’t include water crossings over the Irish Sea and the Channel
Elaborate stone tombs have been found in The Isles dating from 4,300BC in England, 4,200 in Ireland and 4,100 in Scotland. This was centuries before temples were built in Mesopotamia. Late Stone Age man was building large stone chamber and passage tombs and erecting megaliths (standing stones) 1,500 years before the Pharaohs were building pyramids in Egypt. There is clear evidence of veneration of the dead, possible sun worship and almost certainly organised ritual connected with the calendar and notable deaths.
Round about 4,000BC there was a revolution in the culture and society of The Isles. The first seed corn and domesticated animals arrived in the south. Agriculture had completed its long, 6,000 year trek westwards from the Middle East. The word agriculture is fairly modern, it derives from the Roman word ‘ager’ or field (acre comes from the same root) and ‘cultura’ or culture. So it’s a very literal meaning, the culture of fields, and therein lie the seeds of great change. By 2,000BC this new way of life had spread right through the Isles and so we can reasonably assume that Barlick started farming somewhere around 3,000BC.
This was more than a transition from the concept of a family group or tribe living in an area and ranging across it as semi-nomadic hunter and gatherers to being farmers. Cultivation meant fields and this introduced the concept of boundaries, occupation of land and settlement. Notice that I am not assuming any concept of ‘ownership’ of land. It was more likely to be a customary right to occupy based on first improvement of the land. People stayed in one place to till their fields and care for their beasts so over time settlement grew and structures for habitation became more permanent and more elaborate. Well travelled routes between holdings and settlements became paths and tracks and respected boundaries, they skirted land holdings. Inside the community society changed as people began to specialise, one group would be hunters and warriors, another would care for the fields and animals. Miners and craftsmen became important. We know that at this time there were centres in Langdale in Cumbria, Craig Llwydd in North Wales, Mounts Bay and in the Cheviot Hills producing stone axes and exporting them all over the country and possibly to mainland Europe. Flint mines in Sussex, Wiltshire and Norfolk were producing unfinished flints for much of the mainland Isle. It’s as well to remember this evidence of organised production and international trade when we start thinking about the concept of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ and the ‘factory system’ later on. Once again, our ancestors may have been smarter and more advanced than we have credited them.
Living became easier because the climate then was roughly equivalent to that of the south of France today. The combination of rich bottom lands, plentiful rainfall and warm weather was ideal for wheat-based agriculture and stock-keeping. Wheat is a high protein cereal and scientists have made interesting comparisons between the rice-based cultures of the east and the wheat-based agriculture of the west in terms of their ability to sustain growth in a society. Wheat is far superior because it gives a higher return on the energy required to cultivate and harvest it. The easier living and better resources meant that there was room for concepts such as care for the elderly and infirm. They were no longer a drag on the tribe, indeed, in terms of child-minding and small tasks about the settlement, one can well see them being an asset as they freed younger workers to go to the fields or to hunt. Story-tellers and keepers of wisdom grew more important. If there ever was a cult of birth, life, death and sustenance from nature this shifted to sun, moon, season, rain and the fertility of the land. We suspect that there was ritual but as there is no written record we know nothing of it. It may be that this was the birth of what was later known as the ‘Druids’ or priestly class. Another consequence of settlement, possessions and a higher standard of living was that there was more to lose. This meant that, unlike the nomadic days, flight wasn’t an option. You had to stand and defend what you owned, your houses, grain pits, crops and animals. Between 3,800 and 3,500BC the tribe at Carn Brea in Cornwall built a defended site, a fort. It had stone faced walls and outer defensive works and is big enough for more than one family. At the same time we start to see evidence in the archaeology of large (seven metres across) houses built of timber with wattle and daub infilling in the walls and stone foundations. By 1,500BC houses were being built in the far north of the Isle of stone with stone furniture and drains.
Round about the time agriculture was being established we see a big change in burial practices. Barrows, passage graves and mounds ceased to be built and their place was taken by rings defined by a ditch or bank with burials nearby. If they had ditches and banks they are called henges. The crucial feature of 90% of them is that the ditch was inside the bank and therefore they were built for ceremony and not defence. There are over 300 of these henges identified all over the Isle except in the Yorkshire Wolds, East Anglia and part of the Midlands. All are dated from 3,000 to 2,200BC. Most are in valleys and associated with water. In the later ones there is evidence of alignment with certain aspects of the sun. At the same time we see evidence which suggests conflict. Tombs were blocked up and fields allowed to go to waste. It seems as though we might be looking at tribal warfare.
Our last gallop through 5,000 years of history has brought us up to 3,000BC. Let’s have a look at how this translates to Barlick. Remember that the climate was much warmer, something like present day South of France but with more rain and better soil. If we go across Weets and look at Middop on Coldweather, the road across to Gisburn, there is a very large earthwork which I have always assumed was constructed around 3,000/2,000BC. Let’s assume it was in use in 3,000BC. While I was working at Pendle Heritage, a man came in and showed us a beautiful ceremonial stone axe head dated at about 3,000BC he had found at Blacko so we have possible evidence of habitation round there at about that time.
Looking at these two pieces of evidence and recognising that there is a track from Middop running eastwards right through the centre of Barlick, I can’t believe we had no habitation here. Add to this the fact that Barlick is more sheltered as it is on the lee side of Weets and I think we can be sure that we had Late Stone Age inhabitants. The trouble is, there is no visible sign of their presence. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any, simply that we haven’t found it because there has been no organised search. There are tantalising clues on the moor where the land has lain undisturbed for thousands of years of minor tracks, boundaries and possible earthworks but nothing conclusive. We shall not have any certainties until there has been some serious digging.
Forget about any buildings in Barlick and concentrate on the shape of the ground. Let me put a word in here for the difference between looking and observing. A good thing to do is imagine that you are a settler in 3000BC and have just crested the rise on Whitemoor and seen the valley before you. Ask yourself what you would be looking for and see if there is anywhere that fits the bill. You need shelter, water, a slope that faces the sunlight and is therefore warmer and dryer, you need to be able to have a good view of the surrounding area to avoid being caught by a surprise attack. Most of all you need good soil if you are thinking of cultivations. The most obvious site which fulfils these requirements is where Townhead is today. It is half way up the hill, has good views all round, lies dry and sheltered and is close to what is now Calf Hall Beck. The track from Middop which was part of a far longer route from Ireland to the Baltic area along which Irish Gold was traded cuts across the top side of it. At Townhead you are low enough down the valley side to get the advantage of good fertile soils and the slope catches the sun from first thing in the morning until late in the afternoon. Not surprisingly, this is near the place where in later days the Cistercian monks decided to build their monastery, perhaps they couldn’t build in the more favoured position because the land was already occupied. I think this was the main early settlement and the foundation of the Barlick we know today. There would be more than one site because later comers would have their own ideas. I have an idea I could pick out a few more but I’ll leave it to you to use your imagination. Remember you are looking for somewhere that is slightly elevated but sheltered, isn’t a frost trap, is well drained but near to running water and with good views to give warning of possible attack.
The later medieval roads followed the course of existing tracks and the road out of Barlick through Townhead towards Foulridge and Colne via Upper Hill is a case in point. Virtually anywhere on the side of that road to Upper Hill would be a good place for a farmstead. Looking again at the old track from Middop, there is one other powerful argument for Barlick as a settlement on an important route. If you lay a ruler on the map, the old track is heading as straight as an arrow for the most northerly low level crossing of the Pennines at Kildwick. This was tremendously important in the days before bridges and roads, it is the obvious route east to west. This is also the reason why there was such an important church and village at Kildwick with the obligation to build and maintain a bridge across the Aire. There is always a reason for settlement, it doesn’t happen by chance and one of the factors is the shape of the ground.
It’s probably time we said something about textiles. The problem with cloth is that it doesn’t survive in the ground. As far as I can discover the Egyptians are thought to have started weaving fibre, probably linen, in about 5,000BC, the evidence for this is a fragment found at Faiyum in Middle Egypt. This only proves that the process of weaving was known then, we don’t know how long for and it could have been earlier in other cultures.
Sometime between 8,000 and 4,000BC sheep were domesticated in the Middle East and it’s possible they could have reached The Isles by about 3,000BC. This is a guess but it won’t be a long way out. Sheep naturally shed their wool every year and I can’t see our late Stone Age women missing the chance to collect this useful stuff and sitting there pondering on what to do with it. I won’t hazard any guesses as to when they started weaving but I’ll lay a small bet it didn’t take long because we know they were resourceful and quick to learn. So, until someone presents better evidence I’m going to assume that woollen cloth was being woven in Barlick sometime between 1,500 and 1,000BC. This doesn’t mean they ditched skins for clothing, after all, we still use them today.
So, let’s recap where we are. Around 2500BC I think that we could see the shape of some parts of the Barlick we know today on the ground. There would be a track coming down from the Weets via Folly Lane and where Forty Steps is now. On the level ground lower down to the North of it would be some fields and a small settlement of round timber-framed huts with wattle and daub infill near where Townhead and the bottom of Esp lane is today. The people would be farmers and hunters, they used flint tools and arrow heads, wore skins and had some domestic animals. They might even have had dogs as these were first domesticated around 10,000BC in the Middle East. They could have had goats, sheep and pigs, these were all domesticated before 7,500BC.
To our eyes, their life would be hard but compared with their ancestors, they were doing well. The climate was good, food reasonably plentiful and they had decent shelter with enough fuel to keep warm in winter. However we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they would be plagued with minor ailments like toothache and any injury, no matter how slight, would be life threatening. Inside the family there would be the same mix of emotions and events that we have today. Joy at birth, sadness at death, anger at times and kids running about and getting under the feet. There was no marriage as we know it but couples would tend to stick together. Every now and again someone would stray and cause a scandal, jealousy would provoke quarrels and there might even have been murder. In short, the glorious human turmoil that we still enjoy today.
Every now and again there would be alarms about bands of marauders. I can’t believe that there weren’t men about who would rather use violence to steal than settle down and work the land. These would most likely come from the north where they lagged behind as regards progress and the living was harder. The most likely crime would be stealing animals, a bit like the Hollywood version of the Wild West when you think about it.
One last thought. Mead, an alcoholic drink made by allowing honey and water to ferment naturally, has been around for thousands of years. It would be so easy to stumble across it accidentally, a pot of honey and water waiting to sweeten food would pick up wild yeast floating in the air and start to ferment. Before you knew it, you had the technology for a hangover. So I reckon that occasionally our old Barlickers might have struck t’rant, just the same as their descendants in the twentieth century. Again, that’s pure speculation but I’ll bet they knew about it. There is another possibility, for a long time archaeologists have been aware of small paved areas in settlements that didn’t seem to have any recognisable use. Some researchers are now suggesting that they could be malting floors and this means that these wily old ancestors were capable of making a primitive type of beer. I have enough respect for their ingenuity to want to believe that this is true.
We’re coming up to another big watershed now in the history of the Isles. 2,200BC is generally reckoned to be the start of the Bronze Age. However, like all these dates, we’ve got to allow a bit of latitude. Everyone didn’t start using bronze instead of flint in 2,200BC, the technologies overlapped. To give you an idea, it’s possible nowadays to identify exactly where a metal originated even if it is alloyed, or mixed, with another one. There is a suggestion that the grave of the Pharaoh Pepi, who died around 2,300BC contained a bronze statue. Bronze is a mixture or alloy of copper and tin and when the metals in the statue were analysed it was found that the tin in the alloy had originated in Cornwall. This seems to suggest Cornwall was producing tin before 2300BC and that there was a trading system at work which could transport it from Cornwall to Egypt, most probably operated by the Phoenicians. There are several things we can deduce from this. Late Stone Age people weren’t ignorant savages. They were capable of mining, travel, communication and trade by barter. If they had any surpluses they could trade them for something they couldn’t produce like pottery or flints. We know that by 3,000BC copper ingots were being used as currency in the Middle East, how long would it have been before the concept of currency reached The Isles?

What we are sure about, because we have the archaeological evidence, is that the use of copper, and later bronze, an alloy of copper and tin which could be hardened, became widespread in The Isles after 2,200BC if you could afford the technology. We start to see bronze axes and daggers but no swords as yet. Remember that flint tools would be better than bronze for a lot of jobs as it was much harder and so took a keener edge and took longer to become blunt. By 1,500BC bronze technology was reaching its peak, weapons and tools made of metal more common.
We have another piece of evidence from this time that gives a clue as to how sophisticated these people were. Around 1,700BC the available technology was good enough to transport 82 fifty-ton blocks of stone from South Wales to Stonehenge and erect them as part of the great stone circle. Think about it, this would be a major civil engineering feat even with today’s technology. In 2000 archaeologists attempted the same feat with a smaller block and failed.
Round about 2000BC another group of people crept into The Isles from Europe. These were the Beaker People, so called because of the distinctive pottery they used which is found in their graves. They didn’t invade and force the older culture out as we were often taught in old-fashioned history but mixed in with the existing society which gradually took up elements of the new culture. We begin to see more personal ornament and even torcs (neck bands) of gold. Such gold torcs have recently been found in Barlick and indicate high status. Our Barlickers were coming up in the world!
In 1,400BC another change hit us. The climate started to get colder and wetter. This didn’t happen suddenly, it gradually deteriorated until 700BC when it started to improve again. Up to this point, the hills round Barlick were covered with trees and brush. The twin factors of worsening climate and increased use of wood for fuel by the inhabitants resulted in deforestation of the hills. This upset the soil structure and the whole of the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors and the Welsh Uplands never recovered. This is the reason why we have barren moor today at levels far lower than the tree line in comparable latitudes. At the same time we see yet another change in the culture creeping in. This was the Urn people. They were called this because of their practice of cremating their dead and burying the ashes in stoneware urns. This same culture brought in barley and flax from the continent and so linen cloth could be produced or the fibres mixed in with wool to make what came to be called Linsey Woolsey. If there were malting floors, our ancestors now had the ingredient for Real Ale!
So let’s drag our thoughts together. We have reached about 1,400BC. Our Bronze Age Barlickers are living in substantial huts, farming the land, keeping animals, even dogs and cats by this time. They are engaging in trade, bartering surplus stocks for things they couldn’t source themselves. They are not totally secure, there are occasional raids by brigands and perhaps hostile neighbours. The population has been slowly increasing as productivity improved and if we want to speculate we could easily be looking at a total population in Barlick of perhaps 50 to 100 souls. Life was improving, footwear and clothing was becoming more serviceable and there would be the occasional meat stew and a pint of mead or ale. We have come a long way in the last 8,000 years but there are more great changes just round the corner.

We hear a lot nowadays about global effects; climate change, credit crisis, food and energy shortages and their effects on us. It’s tempting to think that these are relatively recent phenomena but is it really new? After all, the ‘globe’ has been around for a long time. If you think about it, we have been open to global influences from the creation of the world as we know it. So we’ve had four and a half billion years of ‘global influences’ but of course we’ve only been about for a tiny proportion of this time and perhaps what is really happening is that because of modern communications we are more aware of what is going on these days. This got me to thinking about when was the earliest instance of a global event which produced noticeable effects in West Craven.
The first to strike me was something we will take a long look at later, the Black Death of the mid 14th century which killed at least half the local population. This infection started on the other side of the world, but there are many other examples. In 1815 a volcano in Indonesia called Tambora exploded with incredible violence, probably the world’s largest volcanic event since the Lake Taupo eruption of 181AD. In the immediate locality of Tambora it caused about 70,000 deaths but went un-noticed by the rest of the world at the time. Nobody in Barlick or Earby had any knowledge of it. Anyone who was taking note of contemporary news was more interested in the end of the Napoleonic Wars which had caused an economic crisis. There was widespread unemployment and food shortage as a consequence of years of war and everyone was hoping for an improvement.
Unfortunately, things got worse. 1816 became known as ‘The Year Without a Summer’ because all over Europe the weather was terrible, crops failed and famine stalked the land. We were no better off in West Craven and the best estimates are that mortality doubled. Over 200,000 people died in Europe as a direct consequence of the bad weather. At the time it was seen as some sort of Act of God, like the Black Death 450 years earlier. We know now that it was caused by the immense amount of ash and gases injected into the upper atmosphere by the Tambora eruption and was the 19th century equivalent of the Nuclear Winter that is forecast if ever the world descends into the madness of an atomic war. It had some very strange effects and was so bad that the government abolished the new-fangled income tax that had been introduced to pay for the war against Napoleon. A bit like our present day masters postponing fuel tax increases because of the economic situation.
The artist Turner painted some of his most spectacular skyscapes at this time and it is now thought that the red skies were caused by the gas and ash from the eruption. Byron and Shelley were living on Lake Geneva and the weather was so gloomy that it triggered Mary Shelley into writing one of the greatest Gothic Horror stories, ‘Frankenstein’.
So we can be pretty certain that even though they didn’t know it, the good folk of Barlick were definitely feeling a ‘global influence’. In 1883 they got another dose of the same when Krakatoa, another Indonesian volcano, exploded with a force estimated to be 13,000 times more powerful than the first atomic bomb which devastated Hiroshima. Over 30,000 people died in the immediate vicinity but apart from strange effects in the sky like lurid sunsets and a blue moon, the consequences for the weather weren’t as bad as in 1816. Even so, it is estimated that global temperatures fell by 1.2 degrees centigrade and weather patterns were disrupted, a bit like our present summer.
Now, here’s a more immediate matter for us to consider. I don’t think anyone would dispute that the weather patterns are changing. We can’t blame it on an Indonesian volcano but it may be that we are seeing the effects of a more serious global event. There is still much argument over the effects of global warming even though the cause is generally agreed. One thing that has been noticeable is that the great system of jet stream winds that circles the globe has altered and instead of passing directly over the British Isles it has moved south. The effect of this is that more weather is being dragged down from the north and this may explain why we have had cooler temperatures and more rain than usual. Global Warming might mean global cooling for us.
Even this is nothing new. Our ancestors suffered a ‘Little Ice Age’ in the 17th and 19th centuries. Many of us can recall the severe winter of 1962/63 when we had over two months of continuous hard frost. These were due to normal fluctuations in the earth’s climate. In this respect we might be getting better off because as our summers are deteriorating, our winters seem to be warming up, not much sign of an ice age.
One thing that is noticeable about the current flood of ‘global influences’ that is being thrown at us is that there is no mention of population. In 1750 there were 800 million people on the planet, in 2000 the figure was 6,000 million. Is it any wonder that the world’s resources are getting stretched? Add to this the fact that the really big developing countries like China and India are getting wealthier and can afford to consume more resources per head of population than ever before and you start to get closer to the real problem.
In 1750 the population of Barnoldswick was perhaps 600 souls, today it is somewhere round 12,000. That’s an increase of 20 times. In the same period the world has seen an increase of over 80 times. On the same scale we would now have over 50,000 in Barlick. These are only averages of course but they give us a clue as to the size of the change. It gets worse, the rate of increase is itself increasing and some estimates say world population will be nudging 9,000 million in 2150.
It would seem then that increases in the cost of food and energy due to greater world demand are not going to go away. It may be that the days of plenty are over and we will have to get used to consuming less. The only thing that is certain is that it will be a far happier experience for those whose ability to consume increases than for those of us who have to cut back. We are in for a new experience and it remains to be seen how well we can manage it.
Not a cheerful picture is it. There’s something else that worries me… Modern research into Volcanism, the study of volcanoes, has revealed that when the last Ice Age finished and a 2 kilometre thick sheet of ice melted in Iceland the lifting of this weight didn’t simply allow the land to rise again, it reduced pressure in the earth’s crust. This relief of pressure allowed the magma below to convert from a near solid state to liquid and at the same time released gases trapped inside it. The result was a period of intense volcanic activity and this released tremendous amounts of gas and ash into the atmosphere. We don’t know what the effects were on the Isles, we have no evidence but it may be that we still have a lot to learn about what actually happened when the ice retreated.
I raise this to flag up again that there is so much we don’t know even today. It may be that in future we may have to revise a lot of our ideas about the earlier history. Until that happens we shall just have to bumble on with the evidence we have. Tricky stuff this history!

It’s time we took a look at Druids, Bards and magic with a bit of New Age and some crystals thrown in. My version might upset a few people but I want to make it clear that all I’m trying to dig down to is the truth, what we actually know or can make a good guess at based on logic and common sense. Over the last two months I’ve read a lot of the latest scholarship on these subjects and consulted with good friends that I trust. So however painful this chapter is for those with certain beliefs, it’s my version of the truth and I’m entitled to it.
One of the biggest problems we encounter when trying to understand the history of Barlick before 1,000AD is that nothing was recorded at the time. What evidence we have is heavily polluted by monkish writing trying to make a point or downright forgery. Even the myths have been polluted. The only exception to this is that some of the Irish myth and legend seems to have a firmer base. I’m a great believer in the oral tradition as you know and a good myth passed on by word of mouth is very useful but once they have been edited and used as polemics we have to regard them with great suspicion. Unfortunately this includes most of the mainland Isles material. The only consolation I can offer is my belief that even the wildest myths contain small nuggets of truth, the problem is finding them. I tend to make educated guesses and assess them by how well they fit the later known facts. Uncertain I know, but it’s the only tool I have.
Right, let’s get down to what we can be fairly certain about. I have no doubt that Druids or some equivalent of them such as Elders did exist and were powerful people in the Bronze Age and pre-Christian era. The old Barlickers would have a belief system supported by story, myth and the wisdom of the Elders passed down orally. As far as we can tell this oral tradition was part of the belief system. Secret or sacred material was not be written down even when this became possible. The consequence is that we have no direct evidence for what the Elders believed or what their rituals were.
But I can hear you saying, “hang on, I’ve seen them at Stonehenge and at Welsh Eisteddfods”. Unfortunately not, what you have seen is a complete fabrication. The Reverend William Stukely (1687-1765) was rector of Stamford in Lincolnshire and noted locally as being slightly eccentric. He visited Stonehenge and convinced himself that Druidism was the original religion of the Isles. He had an apple tree in his garden that had mistletoe on it and so he laid out a ‘pagan temple’ round it and invented rituals. He published extensively on the subject and was one of the first advocates of a Celtic revival.
The ‘Ancient Order of Druids’ was ‘revived’ or rather invented in 1781 by a London carpenter named Henry Hurle who simply made up the rituals. From late in the 19th century Hurle’s Order of Druids was allowed to perform rituals at Stonehenge but his branch was always an elite group.

Edward Williams (1747-1826) gave himself the name Lolo Morganwwg. In case you hadn’t realised he was a Welshman. He was a stone mason who had failed in business and was an amateur romantic poet but his poetry wasn’t getting noticed so he invented a 14th century Welsh poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym and forged manuscripts which purported to be his original verse. This succeeded and the poetry sold like hot cakes. Encouraged by this he forged another set of documents which he used to ‘revive’, or more accurately invent, the ‘Order of Bards’. He held his first Gorsedd on Primrose Hill in London in 1792. It is recorded that he took a pocketful of stones with him to lay out a stone circle. William’s Order of Bards was taken up by the Eisteddfod movement and later by Welsh Nationalism. It is now the official version and is supported by the royal family, they used it as the basis for ceremonies used at the installation of Prince Charles at Caernarfon as Prince of Wales on the first of July, 1969. In a ceremony with many historic echoes, directed largely by the Constable of the Castle, Lord Snowdon, the Queen invested The Prince with the Insignia of his Principality and Earldom of Chester: a sword, coronet, mantle, gold ring and gold rod. The implication was that this was ancient ritual reinforcing the concept of monarchy. In fact it owed more to Hollywood than history. The Monarchy never lets historical accuracy come between them and ‘tradition’ if it’s good for public relations! ‘Tradition’ is a suspect word as far as serious research is concerned.
Between 1760 and 1840 other writers set out to reconstruct Druidism. Rowland James, John Clelland, William Cooke, D. James, Edward Davies and William Blake all participated. In 1922 Sir James George Frazer published ‘The Golden Bough’ which was an enormous study of magic, pagan rites and practices and comparative religion. When first published it had enormous credibility but modern scholars regard it as a very poor source. Frazer never left his chambers to research, he culled his material using student researchers and correspondence and the result is an enormous stew of badly corroborated myth and suspect evidence. However, it was eagerly taken up and trawled for anything that might support the Celtic revival movement.
A succession of oddballs and romantics, culminating in Lewis Spence further muddied the waters and eventually ‘Celtic Lore’ was held up to be some sort of parallel with the Teutonic Knights of Germany and the myths that surrounded them. The latter were put to good use by Richard Wagner in his operas and Adolph Hitler in his attempt to build a new German national identity, he even dragged in the myth of the Holy Grail. [At the time I write there is an exhibition in London of Byzantine artefacts and one of the exhibits is a 1st century chalice encased in a 6th century silver case which is thought to be an actual relic of Christ’s life, certainly it is from the right period and area. Perhaps this is the closest we shall ever get to the ‘Grail’.]
In 1944 Robert Graves was writing historical novels and produced a book called ‘The White Goddess’. This was eagerly taken up as literal truth by the Celtic Revivalists and New Age movements even though Graves stated publicly that it was entirely fictional. The position was made even worse when the cult of the Earth Goddess was taken up as an icon by the feminist movement. I found a reference to small stone figures which had been found as grave goods in tombs and had always been assumed to be depictions of female goddesses because there was a hole in the genital area. Irrefutable evidence of the existence of an earth goddess. Admittedly it was curious that none of these figurines had discernable breasts but this was passed over. More detailed research has shown traces of wood in the holes on some of the statues and the archaeologists now believe that most of the figures had male genitalia made of wood which have rotted away.
Another fertile field for the imagination has been Arthurian studies. King Arthur and his Court of the Round Table never existed. Historians agree that while there might have been a warlord called Arthur round about 500AD who fought the Saxons, there is no evidence to say he was ever at Tintagel or Cadbury Hill or even fought at the battle at the unidentified Mount Badon. It seems that he was an amalgam of various myths and these were taken up in France and refined. By the time Sir Thomas Mallory wrote ‘Morte d’Arthur’ in the 14th century all he was doing was re-tell a French fairy tale about French knights.
In 1980, things had got to the state where scholars went back to the original documents and effectively proved that Druidic and Celtic lore was largely fake but it was too late to stop it. Those who wanted to believe ignored the critics and went even further out into fantasy by claiming that ‘lines of power’ existed, joining ancient monuments. If they are right, they must be elusive because nobody has ever been able to measure them or use them. In short, we are safe in assuming that they don’t exist.
Funnily enough, this exercise in wishful thinking is useful to us. It proves that the genuine Celtic material and the contributions by Greek and Roman writers do not contain enough evidence to reconstitute the religion. What evidence there is must have been unpalatable because it has never been used to support the movements.
I might surprise you now. I’m satisfied that we have no evidence for the existence or practices of the Druids. I’m certain that however well it is presented, all the modern writing supporting the Celtic Revival in respect of Druids and Bards is romantic invention. However, here’s a strange thing; suppose that the forces driving people to re-create an ancient pagan religion are the same ones embedded deep in the human psyche that triggered the Stone Age people and the Celts to look for objects of veneration in the first place. The modern seekers could be expressing their need for a new belief system that can give them something that they lack. I don’t subscribe to their beliefs but I think I can understand what drives them and will defend their right to believe in what they want.
If the above offends anyone who has a sincere belief I apologise. All I would say to you is that I respect your quest for your own truth but ask you to recognise that there are better ways to justify your beliefs than reliance on dodgy evidence. Who knows, that might make you more credible.
Come to think, aren’t some of the soap operas almost a belief system? I’ve listened to people talking and I could swear that Coronation Street and Emmerdale are more real to them than their lives. How about the bits of magic and ritual embedded in everyday life that are connected to pagan worship? You can’t think of any? Think about throwing some salt over the left shoulder when you’ve spilt some. Ever looked into a pool or fountain in a public place, people still make votive offerings, they throw coins in. How about well-dressing ceremonies in Derbyshire? Morris dancing is a pagan throwback. The practice of decorating the house with greenery like holly and mistletoe at Christmas is taken directly from pagan ritual, we have written evidence for it. If you go to a cattle market or horse fair you will still see men seal a bargain by spitting on their palm before shaking hands. This is an exchange of bodily fluids and in the old days would be blood. It was a very powerful way of confirming a promise, you shared the same blood and became brothers.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this when we get on to early Christianity. For the time being though, give some thought to those old Barlickers and what we still have in common with them. Think of the things that you have been told are ‘unlucky’. Why shouldn’t you put shoes or your hat on the table? Why take offerings to church for harvest festival? Why is it unlucky to walk under a ladder? Why do we have a tradition that if someone gives you a knife or a cutting edge you have to give them a coin? My mother always told me that you should only cut your nails on a Sunday. She never told me why but pagans were very careful about what happened to hair that was cut off or nail parings. They could be used for sympathetic magic. Archaeologists still find ‘urine bottles’ concealed in old buildings. One theory was that if you got hold of a person’s urine, put a thorn in it and buried it they would die of stabbing pains when they made water. It’s no use, I’ll have to stop. Believe me, there is something deep inside us that still believes in charms and magic, ever crossed your fingers for luck?

Our general subject for this chapter is Barlick during the first millennium BC. During this thousand year period there are some trends we can identify which were happening all over the Isles. We’ll have a look at these and then try to apply them to Barlick.
From 1,000BC onwards the great monuments and ceremonial sites were being abandoned. You might well ask how we can be sure of this when there are no records of ceremony and ritual. Quite easily actually because we see sites where monuments have been literally destroyed, levelled and turned into cultivated land. We can date the start of cultivation from the archaeology and so we know it happened soon after 1,000BC. We see field boundaries being set in place that cut through features on the landscape that we know were once regarded as sacred and these can be accurately dated. The question is, what can we learn from this?
It seems clear that whatever the culture or ritual associated with these sites was, it had been devalued and possibly abandoned altogether. One of the things that we know about the social structure of the Celts was that priests out-ranked kings and so it was common for the king to assume the title of chief priest. This was also true of the Romans and was the reason why all Caesars took the title of Pontifex Maximus, the title of the chief priest of Rome. Incidentally, the Pope is still called this to this day. When Henry VIII took the title of Defender of the Faith and sacked the Pope as head of the English Church he was following a long tradition of taking spiritual authority to himself in order to have complete control. So, if the king or chief of the tribe was the chief priest and it was a fairly large tribe it would make sense if the main rituals and ceremonies were conducted at his headquarters. It may be that it was a good political move to reduce the importance of the local monuments and concentrate the spiritual power in the capital. In the case of Barlick this was possibly Stanwick Hill near Richmond, North Yorkshire. Whether this is true or not, we know that the structure of ritual changed and the monuments became redundant.
One consequence of any degradation of local tribal monuments or centres of power might have been the strengthening of ceremonial at a personal or family level. From what the archaeology tells us we know that individual families had Household idols and worshipped personal deities. The Romans did the same thing. Local landscape features like rivers and wells were a focus of ritual and we even know some of the deities associated with them. The Roman historians record that the deity connected with the Ribble was Belisima and the Wharfe had Verbeia. These are the Romanised names but the originals would be similar in the local language. I found the name Elsehay or Elesagh on an old map and it seemed to refer to Lister Well on Occupation Road. This is a very old name wonder if it is the original name for a sacred spring which we now call Lister Well. I know this is speculation but it is triggered by evidence and personally I think there is a connection here. I’ve talked to old Barlickers who believe it has healing properties and was a cure for Whooping Cough. Never under-estimate the folk memory.

The countrywide archaeology gives us another clue as to what was going on. We see evidence of armoured warriors, swords and long hafted spears. By this date at the latest, the horse had reached the Isles. It was a high status animal and would only have been afforded by the most important people for riding or pulling their chariots. The lower class draught animal was the ox. The advent of the horse and chariot, coupled with armour, swords and spears means that warfare had been modernised. Anyone who had possession of these things had power and could impose their will. We can be pretty sure that the first use of this power would be to subdue smaller, poorer tribal divisions and extend territory and control by a superior.
The archaeology helps us again here. Defended sites become common, often in one corner of what we used to describe as ‘hill forts’. It may be that we were wrong in this original assumption and that these sites were built as gathering places, festival sites and trading points. The layout was more ceremonial and designed to impress, a sort of corporate statement on the landscape and built high on a hill so as to be visible for miles. In chalk country the outer faces were white and very visible. It was only in the later period that modifications were made to aid defence against attack. What the archaeology tells us is that in the early part of the first millennium we can identify over 3,000 defended sites mostly in southern parts and what is now South Wales. Each of these is about 12.5 acres in extent and controls a surrounding area of 100 to 150 square miles. No doubt there are many more we know nothing about. The overall picture is of uneasy times, tribal warfare and consolidation of control over larger territories. By the time the Romans first arrived in The Isles some of these sites have grown large enough to be described as ‘oppida’ or towns by the contemporary writers.
Before the middle of the millennium The Isles had entered the Iron Age. This led to further advances in the means of warfare; iron swords, daggers, arrow and spear heads. The weather had been worsening due to climate change since 1,400BC but by 700BC it was improving again and we suspect that the natives were coping well because there is evidence that the population was rising, particularly in the south of the Isle. We start to see evidence of coastal sites where sea water was evaporated to produce salt, an essential for life as it was used for preserving fish and meat for the winter. Some parts of the country like Nantwich and Droitwich had natural salt springs and these had been sufficient up to now but rising numbers were putting pressure on resources. [The Anglo-Saxons called a salt producing area a ‘wich’ and any placename in England with this suffix was a salt producer.]
There were other ways of ensuring supplies of food in the winter. Fish ponds were stocked with netted fish during the summer as a source of protein and dove cotes, or as the Romans called them, ‘columbariums’, were another. You simply killed the food as and when you needed it. The area in Colne known as Vivary Bridge is named because it was the site of a ‘vivary’ from the Latin ‘vivarium’, a place where life was preserved, in this case fish ponds.

Evidence from the archaeology suggests that life became even more violent and precarious. Around 350BC we see the appearance of ‘cranogs’. These were brilliant structures made by building a large raft of logs, floating it out into the middle of a shallow lake or mere and sinking it by piling stones and earth on it. Once the surface was above high water level you could start a stone foundation and build huts on it. If you needed more room, you simply added another raft. Communication to the shore was by a raised footway that was easily defended. A good example was built at Glastonbury and this one grew to over two and a half acres in size and had a causeway wide enough to drive a cart over. These were used until well into Roman times.
You may have noticed that the word Roman has started to appear in the story. We aren’t going to be able to ignore them for much longer! Actually, Mediterranean influence was felt in The Isles long before any ‘Roman Invasion’. The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BC, called The Isles the ‘Nesoi Kassiterides’ or the ‘Tin Islands’. He was vague about where they were but the point is that he knew of their existence. The most likely source of his knowledge would be Carthaginian or Phoenician traders who had travelled here to trade. We have an account written by a trader called Pytheas of Massilia (present day Marseilles) describing a voyage he made to the south west of the Isle to barter for tin in 325BC. His name for The Isles as a whole was ‘Pretanike’, the main isle was Nesos Albionon and the western isle was Ierne. These are his spellings but we can assume that these were his version of the names the Celts used and are translated by the Romans as Britannica, Albionum and Hibernia. The original roots look close to the Welsh Prydain, the Celtic Albion and Eire or Erin. He described how in the south of the Isle the natives brought the tin down to the sea on carts to the shore of an island called Ictis which we think may have been St Michael’s Mount. Remember here our example of the Cornish tin found in the bronze statue of the pharaoh Pepi which was made before 2,300BC, it had been mined, refined, traded and transported to the Mediterranean well before that date. Pytheas later seems to be describing voyages to what we think were the Orkneys and Iceland. We aren’t certain about this evidence but it is possible. What we can be certain about is that men were travelling far more extensively in the latter part of the first Millennium than we suspected.
We know have this evidence because the Greeks and the Romans were writing things down. We are entering an era where written history exists. Don’t start cheering too soon, a lot of it has been copied, re-copied and altered by early Christian monks. They were quite capable of putting their own spin on history, according to them Pagans were bad, Christians always good. However, with care, we can pick out some sources that seem reasonably safe and Herodotus and Pytheas look reasonably sound.
So, how does all this translate to Barlick? We have to start guessing again. One thing seems clear, Barlick wasn’t exceptionally prosperous or important. The inhabitants were too weak to fight anyone and so I think would escape the worst effects of the tribal wars of consolidation. This would explain why there are no obvious remains of forts or defensive works apart from Middop, and we are not even sure about that. The climate change would have hit them as hard as anyone and Barlick would be a pretty cold and miserable spot before 700BC. The population might even have fallen during the first half of the millennium. Being poor, they wouldn’t have horses and probably not even iron tools, they had no major local resources and couldn’t afford to trade for any. In short, a pretty backward lot.
This sounds a bit grim but it could have its advantages as we shall see in later years. I think they would be left alone to get on with survival as best they could as they weren’t worth the effort of attacking. It would be hard, but compared with more attractive parts of the country, peaceful. The trade routes were still working across the Weets and it’s possible there was another one coming from the East at Salterforth. This name looks like a corruption of Salters Ford and could indicate that the salt trade had reached the town. Of course this could have been much later but if it was you would expect the trade to have followed the later Roman Road to the north of Barlick which was well paved and policed by the Romans. On the whole, I think the odds are that if there was a salt trail it was in use before the Romans came.
The Barlickers hadn’t any great monuments to abandon so whatever their belief system was, it would be left undisturbed. They would perform their rituals and magic in the same places, venerate the same objects and perhaps go up to the well on Weets every now and again for a cooling drink and a ceremony.
We’ll leave our Old Barlickers struggling to survive but on the whole making a decent job of it. After a low point round about 700BC the weather was warming up a bit so prospects would be looking better. It’s time to look at the Romans and you might be in for a few surprises! First, a small diversion for you.

The Romans never found out about gunpowder. They had experienced Greek Fire [More accurately, Byzantine Fire because they were the first to use it in about 513AD.], an early form of semi-explosive weapon, but never realised how close they were getting to discovering it with the products of their pigeon houses. I was wandering through the groves of academe researching columbariums and found that the reason why these dovecotes were so common in gentry houses in the 16th and 17th centuries was because the raw materials for saltpetre (potassium nitrate) could be harvested from them in the guano and scrapings off the walls. Saltpetre, mixed with carbon and sulphur, is one of the constituents needed to manufacture gunpowder. I knew already that saltpetre was made in nitre beds. Nitre-beds were prepared by mixing manure with either mortar or wood ashes, common earth and organic materials such as straw to give porosity to a compost pile typically 1.5 metres high by 2 metres wide by 5 metres long. The heap was usually under a cover from the rain, kept moist with urine, turned often to accelerate the decomposition and leached with water after approximately one year. The resulting liquid containing various nitrates was then converted with wood ashes to potassium nitrate, crystallized and refined for use in gunpowder. What I hadn’t realised was that pigeon guano was a favoured ingredient for this process. So, it would appear that a source of winter protein wasn’t the only thing that a columbarium produced. I shall look on them in an entirely new light from now on.

We’re in the last century before Christ, 100BC, and we’ve decided that Barlick is bumbling along fairly well. Barlickers aren’t important enough to stand up to the Brigantes and are too poor to be bothered much by raiders except an occasional rustling raid from the north. They’ve got almost all the domestic animals we have today, including cats and dogs and they are growing wheat, barley and of course, grass.
By this time they are growing other crops as well, we know that the Neolithic hunter gatherers had discovered the wild carrot and the sea carrot (only found on the south coast) and when agriculture started these were cultivated. By selecting the seed from the best plants, the quality and size was improved and this happened for other plants such as the wild onion, radish and many of the herbs. We talk about genetic modification as if it was something new but in truth we have been doing it for thousands of years, the difference is that today it is done in the laboratory instead of by selective breeding in the field. Our first century Barlickers would have been able to knock out a tasty stew containing vegetables like carrots and turnips and flavoured with onion, mint, fennel and other herbs. They would have had a small cabbage, water cress and of course hedgerow fruits and nuts. We can assume they knew about milk, cream and eggs. They had pigs and wild mushrooms and so the ‘full English breakfast’ would have been quite possible if you could afford it. There were fish in the streams and they could trap wild birds. They had barley and knew how to make ale, when it went sour they had vinegar. On the whole, it was a varied and nutritious diet, the only problem would be to make sure they had enough.
We suspect that they were doing pretty well actually because, country-wide, the population was rising and it couldn’t have done so without adequate food. We have some harder evidence about this from a man called Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar was born in 100BC and by the time he was 40 had established himself as one of the leading men of Rome and the empire founded on conquest. Half way through the century he was a general leading an army fighting its way across Europe and conquering the Celts in Gaul, the Gallic Wars, and by 55BC had reached the western coast. He had a problem, he was running out of resources and food to keep the armies supplied and so in 55BC and 54BC he mounted two expeditions to what he called Britannica, the mainland Isle. These were not invasions or conquests, they were armed trading expeditions, what he was looking for was allies and trading partners not subjects, he had enough fighting on his plate in Europe. It’s probably true that he had a secondary objective, he knew of the close links between the Britannic tribes and their fellow Celts in Europe and his strategy was to make The Isle a trading partner rather than a reserve of reinforcements for Gallic Celts. The Isle at that time was an exporter of tin, copper, iron and wheat, all commodities that Caesar needed to keep his armies going. The large tribes of the southern part of Britannica were on the whole receptive and started trading with the Romans. This partnership lasted for almost ninety years. We know this because the archaeology tells us that a process of ‘Romanisation’ had started in the south of the Isle long before the eventual Roman invasion.
We’ve already noted the evidence that there was tribal unrest in the Isle at this time most likely for control of resources, another indication of population increase and this was eventually to prove disastrous. Bear this in mind while we have a look at the effects of trading with the Romans. We’ve got some reliable evidence about Glastonbury at this time and it is a good example of how the new trade affected the southern parts of the Isle. The close links between the Isle and mainland European Celts, long before the advent of the Romans, included regular trade between Armorica on the continent and the south west of the Isle. This is the reason why what is now a French province got its name, Brittany. The name ‘Great Britain’ was originally coined to distinguish the Isle from the lesser Britain across the sea in Gaul.
As the Romans advanced across Gaul, many Armoricans fled across the sea to Glastonbury. They lived on two crannogs there and soon integrated with the locals who traded with Gaul, sending pottery and other trade goods. As trade increased with both Gallic Celts and the Roman army, Glastonbury grew in size and imported not only new goods introduced by the Romans but new culture as well. Spices, wine and other luxuries came in and eventually a new religion, Judaic Christianity. The cleric, William of Malmsbury, writing in 1126 was convinced that Glastonbury had the first Christian church on the Isle but he didn’t support the legend that Joseph of Aramathea had been sent there in AD63 by St Philip. Whatever the truth, it is almost certain that the new religion came in from the East by the same route as the trade with Gaul and coastal towns further south extending into the Mediterranean.
With Gaul subdued, Julius Caesar had gone back to Rome where he was proclaimed dictator and in 44BC was assassinated. These were troubled times for the Roman empire and after what amounted to civil war Augustus was proclaimed Emperor in 31AD. Two more emperors, Tiberius and Gaius (Caligula) followed in quick succession and in 41AD Claudius became emperor. Claudius wasn’t a well favoured man, he was partially paralysed and had a speech impediment. This meant that he was never going to be a successful military campaigner which was the recognised route to success as an Emperor of Rome. The senate gave him an honorary triumph when he acceded but Claudius knew that this wasn’t enough, he needed a genuine conquest to achieve popular approval.
By 41AD the unrest in Britannica had reached the stage where it was serious enough to interfere with trade. Some of the tribal chiefs went to Rome and appealed to Claudius for help to pacify the country. Claudius’ advisers warned him to leave well alone but he saw a chance to gain a conquest and become entitled to a genuine triumph. In 43AD he sent Aulus Plautius to Britannica with about 50,000 troops. This was no expedition, it was a full-blooded invasion and was to end in the conquest of Britannica.

Once Plautius had established a beachhead he crossed the Medway and fought his way up to Camulodunum (Colchester) where he held his men back and waited for Claudius to come and witness the victory. As soon as the emperor arrived with a contingent of his Praetorian guard and a corps of elephants the town was attacked and taken and Claudius spent sixteen days touring the district. [I wonder if he rode an elephant…] He then went back to Rome and claimed his triumph. The conquest continued and took forty years.
The Romans had perfected conquest during their progress across Europe. Their policy wasn’t to crush the natives but to persuade them to cooperate. If they accepted the Roman yoke they were left alone to carry on normally, if they resisted they were attacked unmercifully. The Romans understood the use of terror as a weapon. A case in point was the rising of the Iceni in 60/61AD, their territory was in what is now East Anglia. Led by a woman as chief, Boudicca (Boadicea), they almost broke the Roman army but in the end were defeated by the governor, Suetonius Paulinus. 70,000 Iceni were killed during the rebellion and a further 80,000 when Suetonius turned the legions loose on the survivors. We don’t know how fast news of this slaughter spread but we can be sure that it had the desired effect. The Brigantes, in whose territory Barlick lay, had cooperated with the Romans from the start. Cartimandua was queen of the tribe and maintained this policy. Venitius, her consort would have nothing to do with this and revolted. He made his last stand at the great fort of Stanwick Hill in about 80AD and was defeated and killed.
In 78AD Julius Agricola was governor of Britannica and he set out to subdue the whole of the Isles. He reduced the Ordovices of central Wales, the last tribe holding out against the Romans in the West. In 79AD he set out from the garrison town of Deva (Chester) to subjugate the Caledonians. He met them in battle somewhere in the Highlands and defeated them but was recalled to Rome before he could start on Ireland. The conquest of southern Britannica could be said to be complete but at a terrible cost.
How about Barlick through all this? I don’t think they would be affected too much. For one thing, the western side of Brigante territory had always been firmly under the control of Cartimandua and she never rebelled. Most of the other troubles were in the south and were about acquisition of resources and territorial gain and Barlick wasn’t all that attractive, it was also off the beaten track. The old track across the Weets would be falling out of use, the gold trade from Ireland to the Baltic had dried up and anyway it was easier and safer to go by sea at the turn of the millennium. Just like today, the only time anyone came to Barlick was if they were lost or had a specific reason, there was no through traffic. The Roman military road from the east across to Ribchester passed north of the settlement.
I was wondering earlier how long it took for the massacre of the Iceni to become common knowledge. I think we might be surprised nowadays just how fast news travelled. Other things travelled as well. The Romans brought wine, olive oil, spices and their favourite cooking ingredient, fish sauce. Here’s the original Roman recipe. Use fatty fish like sardines, and a well-sealed container with a 26-35 quart capacity. Start with dried aromatic herbs possessing a strong flavour such as dill, coriander, fennel, celery, mint, and oregano, making a layer on the bottom of the container. Then put down a layer of fish (if small, leave them whole, if large, use pieces) and over this add a layer of salt two fingers high. Repeat these layers until the container is filled. Let it rest for seven days in the sun. Then stir the sauce daily for 20 days. After this time it becomes a liquid. This was the Roman equivalent of Worcester Sauce. Notice that we have a precise recipe, written evidence is with us now and we can be reasonably sure of our names if not dates when it comes to the Romans. No such luck with our Old Barlickers, it’s doubtful if any of them could read or write.
These new influences would gradually make their way up the country and whilst Barlick might never have see any fish sauce, some herbs, spices and olive oil could have found their way here and they would know about wine. At this point they were still definitely Pagan and all the old beliefs would be intact. People would be recounting the old myths round the fire at night and the same charms would be used for healing wounds and warding of illness. Once a year at Beltane, on the first of May, fires would be lit to celebrate the coming of summer and the cattle would be driven through the smoke to ward off disease. The highest point of the summer sun would be marked with a ceremony on Midsummer’s day and all the other old festivals that marked the seasons would be observed.
Of course I could be completely wrong. Things might have been much worse or much better. On the whole though, Barlick was in a pretty quiet corner of Britannia. The Romans didn’t waste their energies, they headed straight for the centres of power, the great crossroads and other strategic targets. It’s doubtful whether Barlick ever showed on their radar and I’d like to think that our Old Barlickers were left undisturbed to get on with what was still a hard life, but the only one they had ever known. How would they get along as the Roman Military Occupation tightened? We’ll have a look at that next.

We’ve had a look at what was happening in the Isle in the first century AD. We need to make some assessments of how the occupation affected a small village like Barlick.
The most important fact is that this was the first time in the history of the Isles that we had been conquered by an organised invader. The Claudian Invasion of 43/44AD was just that, a full-blooded takeover of the Isle by a foreign power. Up to this point Britannica had no unity. It was a motley collection of fiefdoms overseen by local warlords or chiefs. By the turn of the millennium, after a period of internal strife, the various local tribes had amalgamated into larger units like the Brigantes in the north. They had their own hierarchies and culture and in their own eyes would be a fairly complex and sophisticated society.
They were very successful agriculturalists and had exploited natural resources such as mining metal ores and processing them. They understood foreign trade, transport and travel, indeed many had travelled to Rome and some had permanent homes there from which they acted as merchants. They sold the Romans wheat and metals and bought wines, olive oil, spices and luxury goods which they sent back to Britannia. Some of the Roman culture rubbed off on to them and they imported this to the Isle as well. It was the fact that these traders were doing so well that led them to appeal to Claudius for help to pacify the country around 40AD when they saw that the Catuvellauni in what is now Herefordshire and the Trinovantes in Essex were a threat to their livelihood.
It would be a mistake to imagine that this improvement in the quality of life was restricted to the southern half of the country. The mechanism by which improvement spread would be that it travelled to the seats of wealth and power, the tribal centres such as Colchester, York, Chester and some which, like Stanwick, the headquarters of the Brigantes, have declined in importance. Some of the more affordable luxuries would spread inside the tribal areas and so it isn’t beyond the bounds of probability that Barlick shared in the improvements. The scale of the share would be decided by how much surplus production the area had. I think we have to assume that Barlick wouldn’t be at the head of the league table but nevertheless would see and taste the differences. I often wonder what the attitude of the Barlickers would be to the fact that the country had been taken over by an invading army. I doubt if it would even register with them because they had no concept of nationality, their allegiances were purely tribal and as long as the Romans left Cartimandua alone as head of the Brigantes nothing would change as far as they were concerned.
How did the Romans view Britannica and the inhabitants? As usual we have to remember that all the contemporary written evidence we have about this period comes from the Romans. The victors write the history and give it the gloss that suits them. They regarded the inhabitants of the Isle as barbarians. This is a pejorative word and stems from the Latin barbarus which was an onomatopoeic construction based on ‘ba-ba’ which was intended to represent the babble of a foreign tongue. They weren’t interested in the culture or skills of the Britons beyond exploiting them. They certainly didn’t regard them as ‘civilised’ because in their minds the mark of ‘civilisation’ was how Romans lived, as city dwellers and with a unified political system. Britannica had neither of these. Search the Roman historians as you may, you will only find passing references to the wealth of fine metal goods and sculpture that the Britons were capable of producing. Stanwick produced some notable finds when it was excavated, one of which was a beautiful bronze horse mask which is clear evidence that even the Brigantes of the North had art and a tradition of craftsmanship. This doesn’t preclude relationships between individual Romans and the native Britons. Don’t forget that many of the soldiers weren’t natives of Rome but were recruited from all over Europe. Their attitude wasn’t necessarily the same as the official line voiced by the historians.
Because there are no native written records surviving we don’t know a lot about patterns of trade and transport. However, we suspect that there was a surplus of grain from the area round Barlick and lead and some silver from the Dales. In order to be exported these goods had to be transported to the coast for shipping to Rome and the continent. The most likely way this was accomplished was by pack horse and there must have been a well established system which someone had to service and run. I have often thought that one of the essential elements of trade at this time was what we would now call the haulage contractors, people who bred pack animals and provided the man power to manage them. Satellite villages like Barlick would be the ideal candidates for taking advantage of this demand. I don’t want to push this too far as it is pure speculation but in a dynamic system of trade with a healthy export market there would be opportunities outside actual production and trading of goods and there is no reason to suppose that places like Barlick would be too backward to take advantage of this. Quite the contrary, they had the strongest motive to seek out these opportunities as it was the only way they could get a piece of the action.
When the Romans did invade, Aulus Plautius, Claudius’ commander, knew enough about the native society to realise that if he conquered the tribal centres he would have conquered the country. That is why he struck first at Camulodunum (Colchester), the headquarters of the Iceni led by Cunobelinus. All over the Isle, the news of this catastrophe galvanised the local chieftains, some to opposition but many to collaboration. Let’s have a look at this because it gives us some clues about Barlick might have reacted.
When he heard the news of the destruction of the Iceni, Togidubnus, king of the Regnenses in what is now Kent, immediately signed on as an ally. His trading links with Rome were very profitable and he saw no reason to jeopardise them. He changed his name to Tiberius Claudius Cogidumnus, built himself a palace near Chichester and became more Roman than Briton. This pattern was repeated in other parts of the Isle. When Colchester fell and his brother Togodumnus was killed, Caratucus, the son of Cunobelinus fled to the west and after being defeated by the legate Ostorius Scapula in Wales he took refuge with the Brigantes. Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes did the sensible thing and handed him over in chains to the Romans in 51AD as proof of her loyalty. This guaranteed freedom from attack by the Romans. The fourth century Roman historian Eutropius recorded that the King of Orkney submitted to Claudius at the time of the invasion in 43AD. This was always regarded with suspicion by historians until excavations at Gurness on Orkney revealed the remains of Roman amphorae (pottery containers used to transport liquids like olive oil, wine or fish sauce). What was even more surprising was that they were of a type that was out of use by the end of the first century AD. Hard evidence like this forces us to revise our opinions about the efficiency of travel, patterns of trade and the speed at which news could travel.
How does all this bear on our understanding of Barlick? First of all, the Brigantes threw in their lot with the Romans and avoided attack and this must have had implications for us because we were subservient to Cartimandua. Second, if the news of the fall of Colchester could reach the Orkneys in less than a year, communications must have been far better than we have previously thought. Perhaps Barlick wasn’t such a backwater as we might have supposed. Could it be that one of the topics of conversation around the fire at night was international politics?
What we can be sure of is that Barlickers would be as partial to a good bit of gossip as they are now and one of the subjects was almost certainly to be the goings on at the royal court. Cartimandua’s husband, Venetius, was a bit of a firebrand and wasn’t half as keen on collaboration with the Romans as his wife was. Tacitus, the Roman historian, recognised him as the most able warlord in Britannica and so when Venetius fell out with his wife over the surrender of Caratucus to the Romans in 51AD it was a serious matter. In 53AD he divorced his wife, gathered a band of followers and tried to take over the kingdom. The Romans had been half expecting such a move and came to Cartimandua’s aid. Venetius was banished and we think he went back to his birth-place in Cumbria. Cartimandua’s success seems to have gone to her head and she took her husband’s squire, Vellocatus as a lover. This scandalised the court and enraged Venetius. Aided by allies within the court who disapproved of the queen’s behaviour, he made a second and successful attempt on the throne in 70AD. Cartimandua had to be rescued by the Romans leaving Venetius on the throne. The Romans withdrew client status from the Brigantes and in effect, declared them outlaws. This could have had serious repercussions for Barlick.
In 71AD a new governor was appointed to Britannica, Petillius Cerialis. He brought a new legion with him, the Second Adiutrix and made it one of his first objectives to punish the Brigantes. During the next three years he gradually annexed the territory of the tribe but before he could finish his task was relieved and replaced by Sextus Julius Frontinus who had a different priority, subduing the Silures in Wales who had revolted. This gave the Brigantes a respite but by this time, as one of the southern outposts of the tribe, Barlick had almost certainly been taken into Roman Military Rule.
In 79AD Julius Agricola set out from the garrison town of Deva (Chester) to subjugate the Caledonians. He had a force of at least 10,000 legionaries and they marched north up the west coast. On the way he camped on each estuary he came to and raided inland. From the Ribble estuary he struck into the heart of the Brigantes territory and finally defeated the Brigantes and brought them under direct Roman rule. We think that this was when Venetius was killed. Eventually Agricola met an army of 30,000 Caledonians under a general called Calgacus and their allies at Mount Graupius (we don’t know exactly where this was but almost certainly north of the River Tay) and defeated them. 10,000 Caledonians were killed for a loss of 362 legionaries.
The picture I’m trying to build up for you is one of a small village sheltering under the lee of the Weets which was protected from the worst excesses of the early Roman conquest by their relative unimportance and the astute politicking of their tribal queen, Cartimandua. They weren’t ignorant or ill-informed, indeed, I suspect we would be surprised by how fast news travelled along the trade routes and how much they were aware of current affairs. The scandals at the royal court and the aftermath of invasion by Petillius Cerialis must have affected Barlick but probably not by direct assault. By 100AD things would have settled down, the tribal structure had been badly damaged and Barlick had to accustom itself to life under Roman Military Rule.

It’s 100AD and Barlick has survived the first shock of the Claudian Invasion. If we could stand on the Weets and look east down into the valley the first thing that would surprise us would be how similar the landscape was to what we can see now. The hills all round would be bare of trees, there wouldn’t be any walls or cultivation on the higher valley slope but otherwise things would look just as they do now. The great deforestation of the Early Iron Age never healed itself because the soil structures and microclimates had been destroyed, a lesson we would do well to heed today.
In the valley we would see trees and here and there a glimpse of field systems. Some boundaries would be lined with stock-proof hedges but most would be marked by low walls of layers of turf and stones alternating. We tend to forget that during the day most animals were probably accompanied by someone acting as herdsman and so every field division didn’t need to be stock-proof. This can still be seen in the older parts of modern Barlick where the boundaries are still earth banks surmounted by hedges such as we still find around sites like Hey Farm and alongside our oldest roads. The cultivated land was all on the lower slopes where the soil was naturally well-drained and fertile. These slopes got the most sunlight and were sheltered from the worst of the prevailing weather systems coming in from the south west by the hill we are standing on. If we went down and looked more closely we would find that efforts had been made to improve the drainage of the valley bottoms by cutting drainage channels and even making field drains by digging a trench and laying brushwood in the bottom before covering it over. This was a common type of land drain as late as the 19th century. When I was farming in Warwickshire we occasionally came across such drains in the clay soil and I was always surprised how long-lasting they were. In later years in Barlick the field drains were made of flat stones supported by stone walls, there are drains like this still serving a useful purpose.
The animals in the fields would be recognisable but on the whole they would be smaller. There would be cattle, sheep, pigs and perhaps the occasional horse. The fields would be small and there would be more arable than nowadays. Barlick wasn’t well-favoured for grain growing but they had to try in order to be self sufficient. In a good year there could be a surplus for export. Transporting goods was possible by packhorse but extremely expensive.
The main settlement was where Townhead is today and would be made up of several solidly made round houses, we don’t know the number but it would be small, perhaps ten at the most. They were built with a timber frame, wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs. The well-trodden areas around them would be capped with stones but the rest of the area would be grass. There may have been a rudimentary protective hedge or fence. They clustered together for mutual support in times of stress and would be reasonably comfortable by the standards of the day. Inside the buildings the humans shared their accommodation with the animals. Any stock needing shelter in winter was under the same roof. I think they would have had enough sense to pen them up on one side of the building. Having animals under the same roof had the practical advantage that they produce warmth. Anyone who has ever gone into a byre full of cattle first thing in the morning during winter knows how much heat penned cattle give off. True, it would be humid and to our senses smelly but this was the norm for our old Barlickers and they wouldn’t notice it.
There would be a central fire in the living accommodation which was lit all the year round because it was needed for cooking. This would be a simple hearth in the middle of the beaten earth floor with an opening in the roof to let the smoke out. The cooking pots would be made of earthenware. Any platters, dishes and spoons would be made of crude pottery or wood. Knives and forks for eating weren’t essential as once meat had been butchered it would be cooked in the lump until tender and simply torn off the joint. Then as now, the most important eating tools were the hands and a wooden or horn spoon. We can see a direct parallel here in the way the slaves on American plantations managed their cooking in the absence of knives and forks. They cooked their meat until it dropped off the bone and shredded it with their fingers.
Barlickers didn’t have beds as we know them but it would seem practical to have had wooden frameworks raised slightly off the ground to lie on. These would be made as comfortable as possible with rush or straw bases covered with skins or very rough woollen cloth. These people were still hunters as well as farmers, there was no ownership of the hunting grounds to forbid them, so they had access to furs and their diet would be supplemented by venison, rabbits, hares and fish caught in the local becks.
The water supply was carried by hand from the nearest stream, perhaps a run-off from the hill or the Calf Hall Beck. We know from archaeology that they used rubbish pits but have no idea about their toilet or waste disposal arrangements beyond the fact that they would be very primitive and on the same level as their animals. The concept of the midden into which all organic waste was piled ready for spreading on the land had been well known for thousands of years and we have no reason to suppose they had made any improvements. The first farmers soon saw the effect on growth where an animal had dunged or made water in the field and recognised the benefits of manure on the land. When I first went farming in Warwickshire in the early 1950s the toilet arrangement was simply a board with a hole in it in a small outhouse. All the waste fell into a pit and drained off slowly into the main midden for animal waste. From there it was spread on the land to raise fertility. The beasts inside the house would be bedded on bracken or straw and as this built up and decayed it would give off heat as it composted into well-rotted manure.
By our standards they appear to be a primitive society but we mustn’t allow our modern frame of reference to blind us to the fact that, in their time, they were very sophisticated and had a reasonable standard of living. Ask yourself whether we could survive in the same circumstances. In many ways they were more free than we are today because there was no central authority governing their lives. After the fall of the royal house of the Brigantes we suspect that the tribal structure was fragmented and whilst Stanwick [or Isurium (Aldborough)] was still the tribal headquarters, there would be more power at the local level. There would still be an hierarchy of chiefs and we can only guess at what that meant for Barlick. Experience suggests that with the collapse of central authority local chiefs may have tried to extend their control but we have no evidence. What seems probable is that Barlickers would still owe allegiance to the Brigantes but under less control from the tribal centre.
Remember that these people are Celts. We wouldn’t understand their language which was probably closer to Welsh than anything else. They were all Pagans. Gildas, writing in the 6th century, reckoned that Christianity reached Britannica in 37AD but this seems very early. Even if it was true, it is very doubtful whether it would have made any impact on Barlick as there is no record anywhere of any organised evangelism at this point. As we’ve noted before, they would have had household deities and festivals based on sacred sites. This implies some form of calendar based on the seasons. We have no clear idea where these sites were but there are tantalising clues like the well on Whitemoor and the puzzle of the siting of Gill Church. All we can be sure of is that they would have had a belief system of some sort and that the use of magic would be part of their everyday lives.
Where do the Romans fit into this picture? What impact did they have on Barlick? Once the Brigantes had been subdued, our knowledge of the Romans and their methods suggests that as long as Barlick toed the line and didn’t cause any trouble it would be left well alone. As far as Rome was concerned Britannica had been conquered and they concentrated on the maintenance of law and order and gradual consolidation. One of the curious things about the Romans is that they didn’t try to impose their culture on the natives. Perhaps one of the reasons for this was that the legions themselves had such a varied culture because they were largely composed of mercenaries drawn from parts of the empire that had already been conquered. Tacitus tells us that many of the troops who fought at Mount Graupius in the high lands of Caledonia were Dutch and Belgian. These soldiers were Pagan and worshipped their own gods and there is good evidence that if they found a local god they liked, they would worship that one as well. Safety in numbers and true religious freedom! As far as we can tell the first major religious persecution by the Romans was Christianity and that was still in the future.
Another fact that we have to note is that there were two distinct forms of administration in Britannica, The ‘Civil’ and the ‘Military’ rule. Civil Rule never extended beyond the southern half of the Isle, the rest of the country was under Military Rule. This would include Barlick. What this meant was that beyond trade links, as long as an area remained peaceful it was left alone. The biggest impact the legions would have on the district was by passing through it or exploiting local resources.
The legionaries were not just fighting men, they all had skills and trades and one of the first things they did was to establish transport routes and way stations around the country. We would probably understand the Romans more clearly if we regarded them primarily as a large civil engineering firm who could fight if the occasion demanded rather than the other way round. From the amount of work they did it seems certain that they spent more time building than fighting. They were, after all, empire builders. By the end of the first century a fort or refuge had been established at Elslack. It was 100 metres square and no trace has ever been found of any buildings within the perimeter so they either never existed or were made of timber and have left no trace. This wasn’t a permanently manned fort, more likely a safe refuge for a nights camp. It was enlarged in the second century to almost twice the original size. The road to the east went to Verbeia (Ilkley) and west to Bremetenacum Veteranorum (Ribchester). Does the name Verbeia ring a bell? This was the name of the Celtic deity which was associated with the River Wharfe and the Romans used it for their fort there. An altar stone was found in the town in the 19th century dedicated to the goddess. The Roman name for Ribchester is interesting as it seems to derive from ‘The Hilltop Settlement of the Veterans’. Retired soldiers from the local garrison were allowed to take up land there and settle as farmers.
We can assume that there was fairly regular traffic along the Roman Road to the north of Barlick, the present day Brogden Lane and Greenberfield Lane. If you look at the Ordnance Survey map you will see it marked as a direct route passing north of Barlick, through Chatburn and Clitheroe to Ribchester which had an important crossroads where a north-south route crossed the east-west road. There is also a possible night refuge at Barlick just north of the road on Gilbeber Hill but we are not certain it was Roman. The question that concerns us is how much did all this affect Barlick?
There is no doubt that the Romans did interact with the Britons. There is plenty of evidence of intermarriage and retired legionaries settling in Britannia. The attractions were either favourable farming country or centres of wealth like Eboracum (York). The nearest places to Barlick that we have reliable evidence for are the veterans at Ribchester and possible settlement at Ilkley. I think we are fairly safe in assuming that Barlick wasn’t important or attractive enough for this to happen. On balance I suspect that Barlick was a quiet backwater and relatively free from Roman interference. The inhabitants just got on with surviving and making a bob or two from the invaders whenever they could.
The Isles as a whole settled down into a pattern which was to last for another 300 years. Eire, the home of the Scots remained free. The High Kings ruled at Tara, the priests officiated at their rites and cattle stealing continued unabated. Caledonia north of Hadrian’s new wall remained outside even Military Rule. Populated by the Picts and Celts it traded with the south and occasionally raided it but was never subdued, probably because it wasn’t seen as worth the effort. The Wall was furthest boundary of the Roman Empire. The further west one went in Lower Britannia, the less Roman influence counted. In the south, under Civil Rule, a Romano-British culture was growing. Latin displaced Brythonic Gaelic as the language of the ruling class and trade went on apace. However, forces were building inside the Roman Empire which were to lead to the next big change, the withdrawal of the Legions.
There was another change as well and we shall have to have a look at it shortly. A new religion came into the country which was to change everything, it was called Christianity.

I’d like to draw your attention to two items which came to my attention while I was researching this period. Both illustrate my point that our understanding of history never stands still, research always modifies previous conclusions.
In 2001 I noted an article in the Manchester Guardian about a mosaic floor which had been discovered near the village of Lopen in Somerset. This must have been associated with a very high status house and is one of the best examples of Romano-British mosaic ever found in Britain. Remember what I was saying earlier about Roman veterans settling at Ribchester? There is reason to suspect that this floor was part of such a house or even an important Briton who had adopted the Roman culture. Remember that Somerset was under Civil Rule and so there was a greater chance of this happening. Ribchester, like Barlick, was under military rule but even so, there was Roman settlement. 50 years ago the idea that a Briton could live in a house of this status would have been scorned.
Another item I came across is some research which has been done into finds at a dig near Southampton. These haven’t been accurately dated as yet but the first conclusions are that what has been found is evidence of organised steel-making in blacksmith’s hearths in approximately the second century AD. Steel is a very refined alloy of iron and carbon which is much harder and stronger than pure iron and is ideal for making sharp cutting edges. The significance of this find is that whilst we knew that there was ‘accidental steel’ produced occasionally when making ordinary wrought iron on a hearth we have never found any evidence in this country that suggested that steel could be made deliberately and of a consistent quality until 1500 years later. The finds at Southampton were first thought to be ‘accidental steel’, but when tests were done and the carbon content of all the finds was found to be roughly the same it had to be recognised that this was too big a coincidence and once more we find that our ancestors may have been smarter than we credited them. The Romans knew about steel, they called it ‘Seric Iron’ and supposed it to be Chinese. Actually it was made in Southern India and reached Rome via Abyssinia. This was ‘Wootz’, a high carbon crucible steel made in small cakes a few inches in diameter which could be worked into strips and fire-welded onto the thin edge of an iron sword to make it much tougher and sharper. It looks as though the ‘barbarous Britons’ had seen this material and by the second century had found out how to make it themselves. So, allowing for Barlick’s relative poverty and unimportance, we can probably bring the starting date for steel edged tools in Barlick back from the seventeenth century to about 400AD! Only a small thing but it gives us the possibility of improvement for our Old Barlickers and shows once again that we tend to under-estimate our ancestors.

There is a possibility that Barlick may have had a bad time starting around 115AD when the northern tribes in Caledonia rose and attacked the Romans. For seven years they looted and pillaged and whilst we are not sure how far south they raided, it is possible they reached Barlick. The Emperor Hadrian arrived in Britain in 122AD and ordered a wall to be built from Carlisle in the west to Wallsend on the east coast and this was manned by troops to keep the Northern Tribes out. Hadrian died in 138AD and his adopted son, Antoninus Pius became emperor. He came to Britain and built an earthen wall from the Forth to the Clyde but it was soon realised that this was too far north to be practical. The legions retreated to Hadrian’s Wall, concentrated on reinforcing it and this became the boundary of empire. The Antonine Wall was abandoned. Over the years Hadrian’s Wall became almost a linear town with forts and settlements for the workers who provided all the services the army needed. If ever the legions demonstrated my point that they were primarily building contractors this is it. The Wall is a tremendous structure and we can only wonder at the effort that went into it. It stands to this day as a testament in stone to Roman determination, ingenuity and capacity for hard work.
The lands of the Brigantes lay to the south of the wall and extended down to a line roughly from the Wash to the Wirral. This was often referred to by the Romans as ‘Britannia Secunda’ and was always recognised as a frontier region. It was overseen from the Wall in the north, Chester (Deva) in the west and York (Eboracum) in the east and later became the kingdom of Northumbria. Though no longer a totally independent tribe, the Brigantes were still an administrative unit. The tribal centres were Aldborough (Isurium) or Stanwick near Richmond. Some historians argue for Ingleborough as the site of the capital but the truth is we are not sure. The Romans recorded that at this time some of the Brigante’s constituent tribes were the Setantii (Barlick was probably in this group), Lopocares, Gabrantovices, Tectovari and Carvetii. The latter were the ‘Deer People’ and inhabited what we now call Cumbria. By 200/300AD the Carvetii had established Luguvallium (Carlisle). All these names are the Latinised forms of the tribal names but as these originals were never written down we don’t know what they were.
For fifty years after the completion of the Wall there was an uneasy peace in the Brigante lands with only occasional border raids but in 196AD the Picts overran the Wall and raided deep into Britannia. The Romans were driven back to York and this could have been another bad period for Barlick. We have no reason to suppose that the Northern Tribes did anything but rape, pillage and destroy in these raids. All the Old Barlickers could do in these circumstances would be to either hide or retreat south. Once again we are in the realm of conjecture based on evidence for the whole of the region.
We have come to the point where we have to look at another great change, the arrival of Christianity in Barlick. We haven’t got a definite date, nobody was keeping a diary. We shall have to look at the evidence and do a bit of intelligent guesswork as usual! Gildas Bandonicus, a Celtic monk writing in about 940 on ‘The Ruin of Britain’ tells us that Christianity first entered the Isles during the reign of the emperor Tiberius who died in 37AD. This sounds early but when we consider that the evangelists travelled via the Phoenician trade routes which had reached Britain thousands of years before we can’t totally discount his evidence. There is also a legend that in 63AD Joseph of Aramathea was sent to Britain by Saint Philip and founded a church at Glastonbury. This is almost certainly false but persists in modern thinking. William of Malmsbury, writing in 1126 was sure that Glastonbury had the first church in England but didn’t support the Joseph legend.
We are on firmer ground with the writings of Tertillian who was presbyter of the church in Carthage and lived from 160 to 220AD. In 200AD he wrote that ‘Christianity had spread beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire’. As the Picts had overrun the Wall at this time and we know that evangelists had reached Eire this was almost certainly true. What concerns us here is that if Christianity had reached north to the Wall and had started in the south west of England there is a good chance that word of it had reached Barlick. Think of the number of clues we have had as to how fast news could travel, even in those days.
What we must be clear about is that the Christianity we are talking about here has nothing to do with Rome and the Papacy. The first Christian Emperor was Constantine in 312AD, at the time Tertillian was writing the church in Europe was under persecution by Rome and the new arrival is the Celtic version of the original Judaic (or Nazarene) Christianity. The rule of the Pope wasn’t to reach Britain for another 400 years.
As I have said before, the Roman invaders didn’t impose their religion and culture, they were just as likely to adopt the local gods. What they sought was co-operation with the Britons. In Gaul it was different. Christians were persecuted and we have evidence of Celts from Armorica (Brittany) migrating to Glastonbury at this time and quite possibly bringing the new religion with them.
All the evidence points to Tertillian being correct and I think we can safely assume that by about 200AD word of this new god had reached Barlick. All we know for certain on this subject is what Hugh the Abbot of Kirkstall said almost a thousand years later; that in 1147 when the monks first came to Barlick from Fountains Abbey there was ‘an ancient church founded long before’. However, this was a long way in the future. Judaic or Nazarene Christianity was the earliest evangelisation followed later by the missions of St Paul. It was simply travellers recounting the beliefs they had learned of in the Middle East. These new ideas would spread slowly and gradually be adopted. The old Pagan beliefs were still predominant and it is almost certain that early Christian images and beliefs were incorporated into the Old Religion almost as a sort of complementary deity. What is certain is that conversion was not sudden but a long, slow process. We shall come back to this subject later.
What was the relationship between Barlickers and the Romans? The evidence suggests that the Romans usually treated them with contempt and mistrust. Round about 100AD the North Briton’s reputation for intransigence had certainly reached Rome. The Roman poet Juvenal mentioned that soldiers ‘blooded’ themselves in battle with the Brigantes. This was in a satire intended for audiences in Rome and may indicate that Northerners had a certain reputation even then! We have another written reference in which the Britons are described as ‘Britunculi’,‘nasty little Britons’. We have plenty of evidence to show that the Britons were good farmers, skilled workers in stone and metal and seemingly good fighting men. The Romans took advantage of these virtues, they needed the resources the country could produce. They even took some Britons into their legions but they always regarded the country as barbarous and treated the tribes accordingly, especially those in the north.
I think it’s safe to assume that Barlickers would have contact with the Romans as traders on a small scale. A cohort marching East on the old road at Brogden might fancy a few chickens or a pig as they passed through on their way to the fort at Elslack or even bivouacking on Gilbeber Hill. I’ve tried to imagine what they could use to barter and perhaps they didn’t, it could have been a cash transaction. Enough Roman coins have been found to show that the use of money was widespread. I can’t believe that the Romans didn’t have some sort of intelligence gathering system which would involve occasional visits to settlements simply to keep an eye on what was going on. Could these contacts sometimes become personal and lead to relationships? We have no direct evidence of this in Barlick but from the archaeological evidence we suspect it may have happened at Ilkley and Ribchester. We know the Romans hunted for sport and may have come into Barlick during the chase.
So, Barlick in the third century hadn’t changed much. The centre at Townhead and the surrounding out-settlements carried on much as usual. Apart from the occasional raid from the north they led a peaceful life, farming their fields and raising stock. The living wasn’t easy but the chances are that in good years they produced a surplus and would be able to trade. Young men would go off to travel and look for their fortune, perhaps even joining the Roman army. The old people kept the traditions alive, there would be regular rituals to placate the old gods and perhaps one or two paid homage to a strange new deity, Jesus. Whilst we can’t be sure of when this happened, we can be absolutely certain that it did occur eventually and that it was a very gradual transition.
However, once more there is change on the horizon. Roman rule, which had looked permanent, was about to be affected by events elsewhere in the empire and this was to lead to sudden and far-reaching consequences for Britannica.

Round about 410AD the Romans abandoned Britain. We haven’t got a firm date because though never officially acknowledged as a withdrawal the legions were gradually taken out to fight in Europe and never returned. The strange thing is that some isolated units were left to guard important sites, particularly the Wall. It was almost as though the empire expected to return but never got round to it and as far as we know the remaining troops either defected or melted into the local population.
What was happening to Barlick during the period up to 410 that is called by some the ‘Pax Romana’, the Roman Peace? Until quite recently scholars who had examined the archaeological evidence in the South of England formed the opinion that immigration from the continent had taken place under the Romans. They saw the evidence of quite high status houses and small towns and assumed that these must be the result of incoming culture because the native Britons weren’t sophisticated enough to have reached these standards. We are now almost certain that this is wrong, what we are looking at on these sites are the homes of quite well-to-do Britons who have amassed wealth by trading with the Romans and raised the quality of their life and standard of living. However, we have to bear in mind that these sites are largely under Civil Rule and in the southern lowlands. The highland areas of the north were less stable and dare we say more independent?
This is not to say that there was no wealth in the north. Towns like Chester, York and Carlisle were exceptionally wealthy but so were many smaller centres. The key to how well a town did was how strategically important they were to the Romans. If they were a legionary base or a stopping point on an important route, like Lancaster, they would prosper. Lower down the scale, a place like Ribchester got its share of the economic activity and became an important local centre because of its position on a crossroad. The knowledge we have about these towns gives us some clues as to what was happening to Barlick.
The bottom line I suspect is that nothing much changed. Barlick had no strong trading connection with the Romans because apart from the odd sale of provisions to passing troops there was nothing here that the Romans wanted. We had no great forests, no minerals and because of the upland nature of the land, no big surpluses of grain to sell. This wasn’t all bad because it meant that the Romans wouldn’t annexe any of the land and any taxes levied would be low because it wasn’t worth expending effort to get blood out of a stone. The Romans were, if nothing else, realists.
I think that once again, Barlick was left to get on with it. Then as now it was off the beaten track and would be quite isolated. Looking down on the settlement we would see virtually the same scene we looked at around 100AD. A small cluster of houses at Townhead with field systems around it and tracks leading to neighbouring settlements. There would be another small settlement at Brogden and perhaps some isolated farmsteads at Hey, up Tubber Hill and down towards Coates. The tracks would be rough lanes with no paving apart from some minor repairs in wet places. One thing we would recognise clearly would be boundaries alongside the tracks where they passed a farm or small settlement. If you want to see what they looked like have a look at the boundary hedge along the road just above Hey Farm. If you look carefully you will see a rough wall of large stones and turf holding back a bank with a hedge planted on it. Pieces of boundary like this are some of the oldest surviving man-made features of our modern landscape.
There was another advantage to be gained from living in an insignificant place like Barlick. None of the land was taken into the Imperial Estate. The Romans did this if they wanted something like room for a fort and its associated parade grounds and field systems, land for veterans or land which had some resource like good woodland or easily accessible minerals. This was before the time of the great landowners and the land round Barlick was free. If you wanted to create a new field you simply did it as long as nobody else had got there before you. All the game on the hills and the fish in the streams was yours for the taking. If you wanted to cut turf for fuel, fell timber or gather wild fruit from the hedgerows, you were at liberty to do so. All the resources of the area were yours for the taking. The nearest parallel I can think of to this situation is the early days of settlement in North America. The only rule governing the pioneers was first come first served.
I’m not suggesting that living in Barlick during the Pax Romana was easy, by our standards it would be very hard indeed. However, we suspect that during this period the population was slowly rising and this is a good indication of local plenty. There would still be disease and the occasional raid by rustlers but these were accepted as part of life. The old Pagan beliefs were alive and well, there was nothing to replace them and the Romans had certainly done nothing to stop their practice. The regular festivals and rituals would be performed and it is almost certain that the Barlickers had favourite sites for these but we don’t know where they were for certain. We can be pretty certain that sometime before 200AD word of a new religion would have reached Barlick and perhaps been accepted and incorporated into their existing beliefs as yet another deity. The advent of Christianity was not sudden, there was no mass conversion and no general abandonment of the old beliefs.
The same thing can be said of the Romans. They were great ones for secret cults connected with deities and we know that this is how Christianity first evinced itself in the legions. We have examples of them building Romano-British temples where, in effect, they appropriated a local deity and incorporated it into their beliefs. They did the same thing with Christianity even though, until the fourth century, it was sometimes a prohibited religion in the empire.
There were some surprisingly familiar problems. Around 250AD the Roman coinage was debased by inflation. The emperor was simply minting money to pay debt and fund the army. I doubt if this affected Barlick much, I would have assumed that most trade was by barter and their exposure to the worst effects of inflation would have been confined to any dealings they had directly with the Romans for cash.
Another change in the wider empire which would eventually have far reaching consequences was reform in the Roman army command structure. This introduced the concept of promotion through the ranks and every legionary was theoretically capable of rising to a position of higher command. Once this possibility was raised, in-fighting and anarchy became endemic in the army. In our terms, ‘office politics’ had arrived! Between 259 and 273AD, Gaul, the Germanies and Britain virtually severed their links with the emperor in Rome. This was regarded as rebellion and put down. The emperor Constantinius came in person to Britain in 296 and 305/6AD to restore order.
The situation became increasingly unstable. We have archaeological evidence which suggests that by 350AD parts of some of the towns associated with the larger Roman forts were falling into disuse. What seems to have happened is that the civilians were moving from their houses outside the walls into the fort with the soldiers. The forts became more like fortified villages. Further afield, the emperor Constantine, having been converted to Christianity and therefore making it the official religion of the empire, died in 337 and shared the empire between his three sons. This provoked rebellion in the army in Britain and permanently split the Roman Empire into the Eastern and Western parts. In 355AD emperor Constantius appointed his cousin Julian as Western Caesar. He saw Britannica as a good supply base for the legions in Europe who were fighting to re-establish the German frontier but around 360AD the Picts and Scotti rose and caused further problems.
In 382AD Maximus came to Britannica and did much to bring the country under control and drive the northern tribes back into Caledonia. He united Britannica and Gaul but in 388AD removed many troops to shore up his authority on the continent. We suspect that this made it possible for the northern tribes to again raid south in about 398AD. A Vandal general, Stilicho, was sent over by Honorius in Rome to bring order to the country. He seems to have succeeded but when he went back to Europe he took a legion with him. For the next ten years there was some tenuous contact with Rome but the supply of money to pay the troops dried up and in effect by about 408AD this was the end of the Roman Occupation of Britain.
The strange thing about the Roman Rule and its ending was how little it affected the basic culture of the country. The Romans left nothing behind them but some buildings and roads and some settlers to add to the gene pool. The official language of the country had been Latin but as soon as the Romans left the Britons who had embraced the language reverted to Brythonic.
How about Barlick through all this? Probably the biggest effect was that as Roman power waned raiding from the north would become more common. I suspect that this was a miserable time in the north of what was to become England. Stock and produce would be stolen and it isn’t hard to believe that Barlick went through a very insecure period. If anything, things were to get worse as the removal of Roman authority started a struggle for land and power between rival factions in what was left of the old tribal structures. This was to get worse and eventually precipitated the next great change, the arrival of the Saxons.
One nice little story to leave you with. When the Romans departed they left some small contingents guarding the Wall. The last commander of the Wall was called Coel Hen by the Western Britons. It appears that he stayed, was aided by some loyal comrades and carved out a small kingship for himself. We know him as Old King Cole.

The withdrawal of the Romans from Britain at the beginning of the fifth century set the stage for change which was to have far-reaching effects on Barlick. In the end this was to be greater than any brought about by the Romans. This is a complicated story and before we go on to look at these events we must devote a little time to the advent of Christianity, a far greater but slower engine of change.
The word of Christianity started to spread shortly after 30AD with John the Baptist’s preachings. Remember that Judaism was already an established religion and had taught that there would be a Messiah. The problem with Jesus Christ was that the Jewish hierarchy didn’t believe that he was the one and modern Judaism still holds this to be true. Sometime between 27AD and 34AD Christ started preaching and by 36/37AD had been crucified.
All we can say with any certainty is that at some time shortly after 30AD word of Christ’s teachings started to spread both to the East and West of Palestine. There was to be a crucial difference between the version of Christianity which emerged from these teachings in Rome and the West under persecution and that which grew in the East under different difficulties. This laid the foundations for differences between the Eastern and Western churches which eventually led to the Great Schism in the 15th century when the Eastern church refused to accept the findings of the Council of Florence in 1472 and we inherited the Orthodox Church in the Middle and Far east and some parts of Eastern Europe, and the Roman Catholic church in the west centred in Rome. This state of affairs exists to this day. If ever you meet a Greek Orthodox Christian ask which is the true church, their Orthodox belief or Roman Catholicism and then stand back!
However, there was another version of early Christianity which is easily overlooked. The simplistic version of how the organised Roman church came into being is that the disciple Peter became the first head of the church and Pope. (Pope is actually a slang word meaning Papa or Father) While this is Biblically correct he had no organisation and could exert very little control over what other Christians were doing. Remember that the Christians were being persecuted in Rome.
From about 30AD, long before there was any official structure, the word was spreading organically along the sea routes of the Phoenician traders which were well established and had been in use for thousands of years. There already existed Phoenician/Jewish trading outposts at places like Crete, Sidon, Tyre and Sardinia in the eastern Mediterranean and others in Marseilles, Spain and even Britain. Bear in mind that at this time the Isles were the end of the known world and we were an obvious target for evangelism simply for this reason. The brand of Christianity we received was simply the news of Christ. There was no dogma, it was if you like ‘pure’ Christianity. Anywhere where it took root it flourished but I suspect in very surprising ways. I can’t help thinking that it would be first accepted as yet another deity or cult and absorbed into whatever belief structures already existed. Eventually it gained ascendancy and the old religions faded into the background but before it did it assumed local variations.
We’ve already noted that Gildas states that the word reached Britain in 37AD and that this seems improbable. However, it is not impossible. What we can be fairly certain of is that before 200AD the word had not only reached Britain but was flourishing in some parts. Celtic Christianity had been born and was to be the religion of the majority of the Isles until well into the sixth and seventh centuries.
In 313AD the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Liberation which made Christianity the Imperial Religion. There were interruptions when later Emperors revived Paganism and reverted to persecuting the Christians but by 395AD it was permanent. In 314AD Constantine called a conference of the bishops, the Council of Arles, and three Celtic Christian bishops from the Isles attended and signed the Edict. The archaeological record shows that Christians and Pagans were sharing a church at Lullingstone in Kent in 337/340AD. In 343AD Celtic bishops attended the Council of Sardicia (Now Sophia in Bulgaria). In 359AD Celtic bishops attended the Council of Ariminum (now Rimini).
The very least we can extract from these well-certified references is that there was organised Celtic Christianity flourishing in Britain alongside Paganism long before the Romans withdrew the legions from the Isles and that travel was easier than we may have thought. This phase of Christianity in Britain has been badly served by the early monkish historians because they had an axe to grind, they were mostly Roman Catholics and were more interested in concentrating on the benefits that Rome brought to Britain when Augustine was sent to ‘convert’ the Britons in 597AD by Pope Gregory tan any merit the early church may have had. Much more about this later. The point I am making is that there was a distinctive Celtic Christian church with its own liturgy and rituals and I find it very hard to believe that it wasn’t known about in places as remote as Barlick by the fifth century. Let me remind you again what Hugh of Kirkstall said about Barlick in 1147. He stated that ‘there was a church at Barnoldswick, very ancient and founded long before’. The question that intrigues me is how ancient and how long before?
Back to the beginning of the fifth century and what happened after the Romans left. We have no reliable sources for the fifth century but what seems to have happened is that the withdrawal of the Romans left a power vacuum and this was seen by some as an opportunity for conquest and profit. The first assault came from two directions, the Scots from Ireland (Remember that the Scots homeland at this time was Ireland and not Caledonia. They were the tribe of Dal Riata whose base was on the northern tip of Ireland, the Romans called them ‘Scotti’) and the Picts from north of the Wall. Names like Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelianus and Arthur emerge from mists of Welsh legend and seem to be the names of political and military figures who rallied the tribes against the invaders. These names are not precise. We suspect that ‘Vortigern’ wasn’t a name but a title and some scholars say that his Welsh name was Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu. Ambrosius seems to have been an ex-Roman legionary officer and Arthur, though seemingly well-documented, is in fact a figure surrounded by legend, downright forgery and mystery. We’re fairly sure he existed but can’t assess his importance. Remember also that the Wall was still manned by the remnants of the legions and we are fairly certain that the Picts invaded by sea down the west coast.
The east coast wasn’t safe either. The Romans had long recognised the danger from the warlike tribes of southern Jutland (the Jutes), Denmark (Danes), the Angles from Angeln and the Saxons from Lower Saxony. They built a chain of forts on the coast from Brancaster in Norfolk to Portchester in Hampshire as a defence against this threat. The Anglo Saxons as we now call them saw an opportunity for plunder when the Romans left, they invaded and overran the forts on the East coast, London was sacked and the south east of the Isle fell into chaos.
How did Barlick fare through all this? They were probably better off than the people in the south who had been under Civil Rule. 300 years of stability under the protection of the most powerful army in the world had made the southerners soft, their towns were not built for defence and they were no match for the marauders. There is evidence that many southern Britons left the country and settled in Northern Gaul which was still held by the legions. Some estimates say that 12,000 Britons re-located to an area around the Lower Seine where there are still clusters of villages called Bretteville (Briton Town).
The less Romanised tribes of the north and the far west were still hardy independents and mounted a defence against the invaders. Vortigern, whose kingdom was on the Welsh Borders and in Gwent went one better. He reckoned that the way to safeguard his lands and ensure conditions that would enable profitable trade to continue would be to hire mercenaries to fight for the cause, who better than the war-like Anglo Saxons? Remember that at this point ‘Anglo’ signified that they originated from Angeln in Saxony and not the modern usage signifying ‘English’. In about 428/435AD he brought in a few hundred Anglo Saxons under their generals Hengest and Horsa, gave them some land on the Isle of Thanet (the Celtic name was Ruoihm) and paid them not only to drive the Pictish and Scottish invaders back but to protect him against possible reprisals from Ambrosius and Arthur who both had scores to settle with him if the legends hold any truth. Once this had been done and he felt safe he stopped paying them and got on with his own business. Not a smart move!
This was a crucial turning point in the history of the Isles. The Anglo Saxons had started raiding in the first place because they were seeking not only plunder but land to settle on. Population growth in Europe had put pressure on resources and their thoughts had naturally turned to the rich pickings across the North Sea. Hengest almost certainly took Vortigern’s contract because things were getting too hot for him and his mercenaries on the continent. Round about 440AD he sent word to Angeln that Britain was ripe for the picking and asked for reinforcements. When these arrived, the Anglo Saxon warriors ran amuck and started what was to be a war of conquest. The mercenaries had turned on their masters.
A hundred years later Gildas reported that by 446 things were so bad that the Britons appealed to Rome for help but none was forthcoming. If we are to believe Gildas’ account of what followed, thousands of mercenaries destroyed all before them. In truth it probably wasn’t like this. Hundreds of tough Anglo Saxon warriors did go raiding but they were only a tiny band when compared to the Briton population and they were not invincible. Some sources say that Hengest’s men never managed to break out of their stronghold on the Isle of Thanet and it was sea raiders who overran the country. There are stories of St Germanus defeating the marauders with cries of ‘Hallelujah’ and a famous account of a battle at Mount Badon supposedly fought by Arthur but more likely by Ambrosius Aurelianus (whose Welsh name was Emrys). We don’t know the exact date but it is probably about 500AD and nobody is sure where Mount Badon was.
We mustn’t run away with the idea that this was a complete rout of all that had existed before. Romano Britain didn’t immediately become Anglo Saxon Britain. The Anglo Saxon’s agenda was to take the place of the Romans as overlords of the country so they could tap into its wealth and land. It was in their interest to cause as little disturbance to the people as possible. The Britons weren’t really bothered who their overlords were as long as they had peace and protection. There was no concept of ‘nationality’. A new partnership was born, the Anglo Saxons settled and created their own small manors and bailiwicks. Indeed, this might have been the time when a man called Bernulf came to Barlick, founded a dynasty and eventually gave the town its present name.
I wonder if this is how it happened? All the evidence points to it. I think we can take a chance on this one and put the date of birth of modern Bernulf’s Wick or land holding as sometime late in the fifth century. What was the place called before by the Celts? I wonder if this was when we got a church? I wish we knew what Hugh of Kirkstall was thinking when he used the word ‘ancient’. Did he mean 500 years ancient? Did he know the date of the original foundation? It’s entirely possible but I’m afraid we will never know the answer unless an archaeological dig gave us some hard dating evidence. Perhaps we need to get Time Team in to give us a hand!
[I put in a request to Time Team for a dig but never had any response…]

What about Pagan worship and rituals during the fifth century? For once we can be absolutely certain. Paganism was alive and well, it wasn’t finally subdued by organised Christianity until the 7th century. Even then the new religion came under sporadic attack from the Pagan Danes and it wasn’t until they themselves were finally converted in the 11th century that all danger was removed. The question is, what effect did this have on a small village like Barlick?
We have another certainty, the core beliefs of a group or community can’t be changed overnight. The impression I always got when I was taught history at school was that what happened was that as soon as word of Christianity reached a place, everyone flocked to be baptised and the old religions were cast aside. The reason we were taught this is that the history of these times was written and re-written much later by Roman Catholic monks who had an axe to grind. At the time they were writing Christianity still faced opposition. Paganism and deviation from their beliefs was heresy and seen as a real threat. They were marketing their brand by stressing its power to convert. If truth is to be told the last vestiges of Paganism lasted much longer than the church would admit.
We will look at this in greater depth later on but here are some known facts for you to consider. Oxen were sacrificed as a neo-Pagan ritual in honour of Christian saints until relatively recently. The last sacrifice to Saint Benyo at Clynogg Faur in Wales was in 1589 and in Wester Ross in Scotland an ox was sacrificed annually to Saint Maelrubna until 1678. Both these saints were early Celtic and based on Pagan deities. Both rituals were stopped by reforming churchmen. Leaving aside modern Paganism and the Druid revivals, it would be a brave person who stated that Paganism was dead even in the 21st century.
This is getting in front of our story but the point I want to make is that in terms of Barlick we have to assume that even when Christianity reached us Paganism survived. Indeed, I have a strong conviction that Christ would simply be accepted as yet another cult deity and incorporated into the old belief structures. It would take the discipline of the organised Roman Church to force it underground and this didn’t really happen for another 500 years.
So, sometime between 400AD and 500AD we can safely assume that Barlick was seeing some fundamental changes. We have already remarked on the ‘Great Exodus’ during which many Romano-Celts left Britain for the Lower Seine. At the same time, there was a mass migration from the south west and Wales to Armorica (Brittany). So many Celts went over that they swamped the original population and this explains why, to this day, there is such a strong link, including a common language, between the West Country and Brittany.
Another event far away in Rome was to trigger further migrations. In 455AD Rome was sacked by the Vandals and the Western Empire disintegrated. Europe became unstable and this was one of the factors which triggered the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. I mentioned earlier that the Dal Riata of Ireland (the Scotti) had attempted an invasion of the west coast of Britain but were repulsed by the western Celts and their Saxon mercenaries. In the latter half of the 5th century the Dal Riata tried again, this time they invaded the closest part of the mainland, what we now call Argyll (Ar Gael which means The Land of the Gaels or Irish). They drove out the Picts and founded the kingdom of Dalriada which eventually became what we now know as Scotland when Kenneth Mac Alpin, King of the Dalriada from 840 to 858, Lord of Kintyre, seized Pictland and imposed a hereditary monarchy calling it Scotia. He brought a stone from Ireland and installed it in the church at Scone as a coronation stone, the Stone of Destiny. He established a remarkable dynasty, fourteen male descendants of Kenneth held the throne from 858 to the death of Malcolm II in 1034. Eventually their tribal homeland in Ireland was overrun, the Stone of Destiny became the last vestige of their Irish roots and Caledonia became their permanent home, the land of the Scotti, Scotland. The Picts weren’t suddenly defeated but they lost control and were gradually eroded and assimilated into the new country.
While all these tides of conquest were going on in the north, we mustn’t forget that the Anglo Saxon invasion was spreading across Britain. Many Celts retreated before the oncoming tide and by 600AD Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria and Strathclyde were the final refuges of these displaced Celts. In 603 a praise poem by Cadwallon, a Welsh poet, used a new word to describe the land of the Cumrogi or Cumrogh. This was the word the Western Celts used to describe themselves and meant ‘fellow citizens’ or ‘compatriots’. The word was Cymru and this is now the Welsh name for Wales and also the root of Cumbria. The term ‘Welsh’ was introduced by the Saxons who called the Cumrogi ‘Welsch’ or ‘strangers’.
I have only described the main tides of war and migration. There were many more significant feuds and conflicts but it would take too much time to describe them. The bottom line is that the whole of mainland Britannica and Caledonia was in flux and coming out of this chaos we can see the seeds of the modern divisions of England, Scotland and Wales. What concerns us is how Barlick was getting on through all this turmoil.
This time I’m not too sure that Barlick escaped the disturbances because of it’s remote location. This was a time of armed struggle across the North which eventually resulted in the amalgamation of all the former Brigante tribal lands into the kingdom of Northumbria. The conflict was essentially between the Celts of the West and the Saxon incursion from the East. The battle line gradually moved across the country until by about 630AD the Saxons reached the west coast on the Fylde. There must have been significant troop movements for over 100 years and one of the obvious routes from the west to the east would have been up the Ribble valley and across the hills towards our old friend, the Aire Gap at Kildwick, the most northerly low level crossing of the Pennines. If large forces were using this route this would bring them perilously close to Barlick and on balance it is almost certain that we were affected. At the very least, a bit of plunder and pillage could have been involved, at worst, complete destruction. On the whole I don’t think it got this bad because, going back to Hugh of Kirkstall again, it is difficult to imagine that a village destroyed in the sixth or seventh century could have had ‘an ancient church’ 300 years later. However, even if there was no disturbance at all, these were dangerous times and the normal mechanisms of trade and travel must have been disrupted.
A good measure of how insecure life was during these times is the effect it had on the Christian church. We have already seen that by the fourth century the church was organised enough to have Bishops and send them to conferences abroad. The Celtic church had always been regarded as orthodox even though it had its own liturgy and customs but in 413AD it produced a major heresy which shook the Christian world. We know that a son of a Romano-British family called Pelagius, who may have been Scottish, was well-educated and travelled widely. He resided for a time in Rome, Egypt and Palestine and eventually died in the Orient. He preached against the doctrine of Original Sin and started a controversy that was to rumble on for centuries. One of the hot beds of this heresy was the church in Wales and in 429AD this was seen as serious enough for the orthodox British bishops to appeal to the church in Gaul for help. The bishops of Gaul, encouraged by Pope Celestine sent Bishop Germanus to combat the problem. This created some interesting problems for Vortigern because, at a time when he was having to deal with Scotti invading from Ireland and the wiles of his Saxon mercenaries, he was forced to try to resolve the conflicting demands of the Church of Rome, the Celtic Church and the Pagans. Then as now, religion and politics were uneasy bedfellows.
Right, I can hear you saying what has this got to do with Barlick? At the time, perhaps not a great deal but this dispute was a clear sign of what was to come, conflict between the original Celtic Church and the growing power of Rome and in the end this was to directly affect Barlick. The general insecurity was forcing a change in the way the church organised itself. In real life, the clerics felt under attack from the rump of Paganism, disputes inside the church and the general ebb and flow of war, rape and pillage. Their reaction was to retreat into closed communities and it is around this time we see the first monastic institutions in places like Iona, Jarrow and many other centres scattered through the land. For centuries to come these were to be centres of learning and spirituality in a sea of barbarism and military conquest. We shall look at this later but the way it affected Barlick in the end was that we got our own monastery and it was to cause nothing but trouble. Prior to this, and by the evidence of Serlo, we know that Barlick had an independent church with a clerk unconnected to the monasteries and therefore it was probably a remnant of the Celtic or Saxon branch of Christianity.
What about ordinary life in Barlick? Let’s set a date of 600AD on our snapshot. Leaving aside the effects of the troubles, Barlick was quite capable of supporting itself. The settlement would have grown and assumed an air of being something more like our understanding of a village. The Saxon Bernulf had settled here and so there would have been new building. The new houses would be more substantial, square, timber framed with wattle and daub infill and thatched roofs. There were no chimneys, simply a hole in the thatch above the hearth for smoke to escape with perhaps an internal smoke hood in the better houses. Animals were housed under the same roof as the humans but penned off at one end. The floors were of beaten earth and there may have been some rudimentary partitioning to separate the animals from the living quarters and afford privacy, the beginnings of what we would call rooms. There were no windows, any ventilation holes in the walls were covered with skins or wooden shutters.
The business of the village was agriculture and stock-rearing. By this time they had all the domestic animals we have today. All the land was free apart from the fields which had been enclosed so there was plenty of fish, fowl and small animals to hunt. A word about rabbits, we know that the Romans had discovered the Iberian rabbit in the 2nd century in Spain and perfected the concept of a closed warren. A form of rabbit farming in enclosed spaces. The earliest evidence for rabbits in Britain is in the 13th century but I find it hard to believe that the Romans wouldn’t have brought one of their favourite foods with them and they would soon have tunnelled out of their enclosures and spread. So there is at least a chance that our old Barlickers had a rabbit stew every now and again. Gathering wild fruits was still an important part of the diet but increasingly individual plants were brought back to the farmstead and cultivated to improve quality and save time out in the fields. Blackberries, crab apple trees and perhaps even wild roses (the hips and haws were a valuable source of vitamins) were planted. This was the start of the English Rose Garden!
Many old tools would still be in use but iron was cheap enough now to be affordable in places as poor as Barlick. Axes, billhooks, reaping hooks and knives would be vastly improved with better cutting edges and this meant faster working and higher standards of craftsmanship in building and carpentry. It is easy to imagine a man making his wife a kist or chest to hold household goods, a cradle or even a wooden bed. The fifth century equivalent of the flat pack kitchen or bedroom had arrived! Simple things like doors would cease to be an impossible luxury and who knows, wooden toys for the children and cooking implements for the housewife. There would be some personal ornaments and household valuables. In dangerous times these would be buried for safety, this is why archaeologists and metal detectorists continually come across forgotten hoards of valuables. I’m hesitating to say that life was comfortable, by our standards it certainly wasn’t but given freedom from outside interference, Barlick wouldn’t be the worst place in the world to live at the end of the fifth century.

Our latest snapshot of Barlick is in 600. The Saxons haven’t completed their takeover of Britain, indeed, they never did gain control over the whole of the country. However, by 630 they had enough control and territory to stop actively advancing and accommodations started to be arrived at with the Celtic Kings in the west and the Caledonians in the North. This isn’t to say that strife finished but it was confined to boundary disputes and the main body of Britain could settle down to a reasonably peaceful and progressive life. It is from this time that we start to see evidence of a Manorial system where one person was recognised as Lord of the Manor and administered local law and settled disputes. This structure replaced the tribe but echoes of the old tribalism remained and can still be found 1500 years later in what we now call the North/South divide.
In Barlick the family of Bernulf (Beornwulf or Bjornulfr) was well established as the major figure in the district. They were so important that the village was described as being Bernulf’s Wick, or place. (‘wick’ can also mean a camp. It is the basis for ‘Vik’ in Viking) We can’t say when this became the accepted name and we don’t know what the Celts called the place before Bernulf came. All we know for certain is that by the time the Normans made the Domesday Book in 1086 the village was described as Bernulfesuuic. Perhaps one of the surviving names like Brogden, Gillians, Coates, Elfwynthrop or Esp could be a corruption of the original Celtic name.
We are getting on to firmer ground with the written evidence now. The Church was producing learned monks who were writing the history as they knew it. We are lucky in that we have The Venerable Bede, a monk at Jarrow who was a considerable scholar and wrote his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 720/730. Some of his early history is suspect but by the time he gets to 600 onwards he has some good contemporary sources and original documents so, with a bit of caution, we can get a firm grasp of many of the events around this time. We should never forget that the men who wrote these histories were fervent Christians who were fighting what they saw as Paganism and heresy so there is an inherent bias in their treatment of the facts.
The major event after 600 was once again, a milestone in the history of the church. You might wonder why I keep going back to church history. The reason is that church matters had far more impact on the lives of ordinary people in what we call the Dark Ages than they do now. This was never more true than when Pope Gregory the Great (590/604) turned his attention to the state of Christianity in Britain. Not only was Paganism still the majority belief but those monasteries which had been established were coming under attack mainly by seaborne raiders from Norway who we commonly describe as Vikings. (Viking is an old Norse word that means roughly ‘those who camp on sea inlets or creeks’) We think St Donnan was Celtic evangelist from Ireland, he and his followers were massacred in a cave near their settlement at Kildonnan on the Isle of Eigg on April 17th in 617. Many of the histories say by Norse raiders but a more reliable source disagrees and says that he and his 52 monks were martyred and burnt by the pagan Pictish Queen of Moidart who was furious at news of Donnan’s arrival and the conversions on the Isle of Eigg. She first ordered the islanders to kill the priest and his monks but they refused so she sent her own men to do the deed. Later there were Viking attacks on Iona and other coastal monastic sites. Whatever the particular enemy, the Christians were being attacked by the Pagans.
Pope Gregory decided to send Augustine to Britain in 597. He went first to the court of King Ethelbert on the Isle of Thanet in Kent where he was fairly certain that he would get a welcome because Ethelbert’s wife Bertha was Frankish and even though her husband was Pagan she was Christian and had her own priest. Ethelbert converted to Christianity and instructed his Kentish subjects to do the same. He was the strongest Anglo-Saxon king and used his authority to spread the word. The king of Essex was his nephew and the king of Northumbria his son in law so they followed suit. The future king of East Anglia was his foster-son so they followed eventually. In 683 the Isle of Wight accepted the faith, the last place to do so and in theory the whole of England was converted. There was of course resistance; Penda, the Pagan king of Mercia killed five neighbouring kings who had converted but we suspect this may have been political rather than doctrinal. The fact that there were five kings to kill demonstrates clearly the fragmentation of power even under Saxon lordship. The interesting thing about this litany of conversions is that it proves how extensive Paganism was around 600. We might have to put the date of Barlick’s conversion around 600/620 because as part of the old Brigantine territories they were under the authority of the king of Northumbria. (The root of this name is ‘the lands of the tribes north of the Humber).
Bede quotes from letters written by Pope Gregory, the originals of which still exist in Rome so we can be sure of their authenticity. On 17th June 601 Gregory wrote to the Abbot Mellitus who he was sending to join Augustine at Canterbury. He later became Bishop of London and third archbishop of Canterbury. In the letter Gregory gives clear instructions as to how existing pagan temples should be dealt with. They were not to be destroyed, the idols should be removed, altars erected and the whole edifice sprinkled with Holy Water. The slaughter of animals for sacrifice should be allowed but only as part of celebrations connected with the festivals of the church or saints days. The intention was to make as few changes as possible so that the Pagans would accept the new religion. Gregory specifically mentioned the practice of decorating the church with greenery and said that this should be allowed but again, as part of church festivals. When I first read this I immediately thought of the use of holly and mistletoe as Christmas decorations, both these were closely associated with Pagan rites. Think also of the practice of putting flowers in church and decorating the church with produce at Harvest Festivals. While I was in Germany in 2000 I saw a church being decorated with boughs of greenery on the outside and was told it was part of the festival of Mary Himmelfart, that is Mary’s ascension to heaven. A direct link in the 21st century with the Pagan origins of religion.
So I think it would be a mistake to think that the old Pagan rituals died out immediately. Don’t forget that there was a further complication, the rituals were in a foreign language that none but the priest could understand. Can we be absolutely sure that all the worshippers understood what religion they were practicing? The Roman church made the changes easy for the locals by converting the old festivals and rituals Christian uses. The springtime festival of Beltane had already been appropriated by St Patrick in Ireland and converted into Easter. Later, when the Roman church set a new date for Easter Beltane became May-Day the spring holiday. Christmas (or Christ Mass) seems to have originated in a Pagan festival to celebrate the shortest day of the year. The Romans had a similar feast and celebrated it on December 25th. As nobody had any clear idea when Christ was born, this seemed as good a day as any and the Roman Church appropriated it in the fourth century. Not surprisingly the Eastern Church chose a different date!
It wasn’t only festivals that were absorbed. Pagan deities such as Brigit or Brid (the origin of the word bride) were taken over. St Brigid became the major saint in Irish Christianity. There were many other examples, the well-dressing ceremonies of Derbyshire are pure pagan spring worship. The wells and springs which were worshipped were often given names which suggested a Christian provenance such as a saints name or Holywell. On the 1580 map of Whitemoor, what we now know as Lister Well is marked with a cross as if to claim it for Rome.
We can be certain that Gregory knew quite a bit about Pagan practices in Britain so we can draw some possible conclusions about Barlick. Assume that Barlick had a Pagan temple before the 5th century, we aren’t talking about a stone church, simply a small timber building used for worship. Suppose this was converted as Gregory instructed and became the first Christian Church in Barlick. Think about the Augustinian conversion of Northumbria and it looks as this could be sometime around 620/630. Was this the foundation date of the church Hugh of Kirkstall mentioned? We shall come later to what the monks did when they came to Barlick but one action was to destroy the original church because their worship was disturbed by the locals attending festivals there and the wording suggests a stone structure. We know that the place where the monks built was at Calf Hall and so we can make a fairly well-informed guess that the original church was somewhere near there and the adjoining spring. This fits in with our main group of dwellings being at Townhead as the church would be nearby.
So, if we do one of our snapshots of Barlick in say 700, we have the main group of dwellings at Townhead and a small timber or stone church nearby down the hill towards Calf Hall. This would fit with Hugh of Kirkstall’s later statement about ‘an ancient church’ being on the site in 1147. If we are right, the locals held festivals there, decorated the building with greenery and slaughtered animals for offerings which they then ate as part of the festivals. Wells like Lister Well and St Mary’s Well which is on the north side of Calf Hall Lane opposite the end of Shitten Ginnel would still be revered but under the auspices of Christianity. There could be good reason to think that the name Saint Mary’s Well goes back until the 12th century at least, because when the monks came from Fountains they re-named the site of their new monastery ‘St Mary’s Mount’. Alternatively, they could have renamed the well also. Tricky stuff this history!
Does this mean that Barlickers abandoned their household gods and everyday customs? I think not, the church could do very little about what they called ‘superstition’ but which was in fact the deeply embedded remains of the old religions. These remnants are still with us, everything from avoiding walking under ladders to throwing salt over our shoulders if we spill any. I remember an old farmer I knew who swore that if a cow was facing due north when mounted by the bull it would have a heifer calf. I can’t prove it but I am willing to bet money that this is yet another example of a Pagan belief that survived.
The church consolidated its power. In 680 at the Synod of Heathfield, Theodore of Canterbury styled himself ‘Archbishop of England’. In 757, Offa, the King of Mercia (the builder of Offa’s Dyke on the Welsh border) called himself ‘King of the English’. We are beginning to see the first stirrings of a national identity but there were serious problems ahead and once more Barlick was to have troubled times.
Over in Norway, the population was increasing and was squeezed between the mountains and the sea, the natives were short of land. They were a hardy and able people, very good farmers and excellent carpenters. They evolved a design of fast, versatile boats they called ‘Dragon Ships’ and using these they started to explore by sea west and south. The expansion of the Norsemen had begun and this was to have serious consequences, not only for Britain and Barlick but for the rest of the coast of Western Europe.

When Pope Gregory told his evangelists to appropriate the Pagan festivals for the use of the Christian Church he certainly started something.
And when it does it brings… what? I have to admit I have very mixed feelings about Christmas. Please don’t think this means that I take Scrooge’s part, it’s just that what used to be a very simple exercise in happiness, giving and receiving presents and a rest from the normal round of bed and work seems to have developed into a monster for some people.
Let me concentrate on the good things first because they are the most important. 60 years ago, even the Second World War seemed to stop for Christmas. In the midst of all the shortages my parents always managed one special present each for us kids and I can still remember the agony of lying in bed trying to get to sleep so that Christmas Day and the presents could be upon us. Truth to tell it never took long to nod off but it seemed like an age! We used to creep downstairs and funnily enough the fire would be lit and the house warm because, wonder of wonders, there were two fires, one in the living room and one in the Holy of Holies, the Front Room!
It may seem strange to youngsters nowadays but the front room was only used for very special occasions and the Christmas tree was always in there. A word about the tree; it was an artificial tree with a wooden stem wrapped in green paper and wire branches like extended green bottle brushes but with paper needles. On the end of each wire was a small candle holder and we used to put candles in and light them. I still can’t understand why it lasted so long without catching fire but eventually this is what happened. This was long after the war and when the disaster occurred the tree was pruned back and survived well into the 1960s. There were some baubles hung on the tree, all of pre-war vintage and it was noticeable as time wore on how they thinned out due to breakages. It all sounds incredibly sparse nowadays but it was a wonderful treat having it up. The present would be under the tree so long as it was small enough to fit there. Notice that I say ‘present’. We had one present each and a stocking filled with whatever could be bought or saved up from the sweet rations. I suspect that to modern children it would look like starvation rations but to us, starved of sugar and fruit, it was a cornucopia of goodies and the biggest job was deciding how to ration them out so they would last for two days.
We always had a proper Christmas dinner with a large bird of some sort. I say always but I remember once just after the war when father had arranged for us to get a turkey and it was sent by rail. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time for Christmas and I think mother had to improvise something very quickly, I forget what it was. When we did get the turkey, it was well past its sell-by date and was to say the least, a bit high! Mother wanted to bin it but father said he could rescue it. He went out and came back with half a bucket of vinegar, don’t ask me where it came from. He washed the bird in vinegar and we roasted it overnight. It was a complete success! I have never been one for keeping game until it was high but it certainly worked with that turkey, it was a wonderful feast and funnily enough better because we had to wait for it and in effect got two bites at the Christmas cherry!
The presents were almost always second hand, new ones were virtually unobtainable. I suppose we all have one present we can remember, in my case it was the biggest Meccano set you could possibly imagine. I can still remember immersing myself completely in making a steam roller followed by a Warren Truss bridge and then a whole family of cranes. I can’t possibly exaggerate the joy and happiness that I felt having such a wonderful toy. I know that hindsight is 20/20 vision and we all suffer from rose-tinted memories but it really was as good as that even in the depths of the terrible shortages we had to endure. Indeed, it may have been those very shortages that made Christmas such a wonderful time of plenty and comfort.
I suppose my question is whether we have we lost sight of something along the way? Is ‘pester power’ and the retail assault of marketing diminishing the joy by increasing consumption? I do hope that at least some children will be experiencing the joy I can remember from all those years ago. I wish them much happiness with their new toys and I hope that Father Christmas brought them what they wanted. The bottom line is that if the children aren’t entranced by the season we have failed them.
I was asked the other day whether I had a Christmas Tree and my reply was unprintable. I always liked Christmas Trees until I found out that I had been subjected to manipulation for years. I don’t like manipulation and so I turned against the dreaded Yuletide Tree. You want to know why? We have to start with St Boniface, this wasn’t his given name, he was born in 675 in Wessex, named Wynfrith and was educated by the Benedictines at Exeter and Nursling (between Winchester and Southampton). They must have done a good job because he became a Benedictine monk and was ordained a priest by the time he reached 30. In 716 he attempted to evangelise the Frisian Saxons but was repulsed by their king, Radbod. Frisia was an ancient region of Germany and the Netherlands that lay between the mouths of the Rhine and the Ems. Wynfrith returned to England to find he had been elected abbot in his absence but declined the post as he wanted to pursue a career as a missionary. He travelled to Rome where Pope Gregory (a later one, not Gregory the Great) gave him the task of converting the pagans to the east of the Rhine and changed his name to Boniface. Radbod had died by this time so Boniface went to Frisia to help Bishop Willibrord convert the Frisians and in 722 he went to Hesse and founded a Benedictine monastery as a base camp.
He was called to Rome and the Pope made him a missionary bishop and introduced him to Charles Martel whose protection was essential to his mission. Martel (The Hammer) was Mayor of Austrasia and in effect became the ruler of the Frankish kingdom, roughly equating to modern France. The story goes that when Boniface arrived at Geismar he found the Pagans worshipping Thor under a sacred oak where they made human sacrifices and hung bits of the unfortunate martyrs on the tree. His solution to this was, to say the least, direct. He cut the oak down and replaced it with a fir tree which grew, miraculously at a great pace. He told the pagans that the triangular shape of the tree was to remind them of the three points of the Trinity. This symbol was gradually accepted by the pagans and eventually became a universal symbol of Christmas in what became Germany.
We move on rapidly to George IV in England, leaving Boniface to come to a sticky end at the hands of the Frisians and become a martyr of the church. George IV brought the Germanic symbol of Christmas to England but it never took hold outside the royal family and its sycophants because of the unpopularity of the monarchy. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert re-introduced the custom that it took hold in England. From then on it became the universal symbol of Christmas it is today. Some scholars have suggested that it was Albert who introduced the concept of candles on the tree to represent the light of Christianity, others point out that the baubles are probably a representation of the human sacrifices made under the oak of Thor.
So, what have we got? A heathen symbol stolen by the church to reinforce the brainwashing of the Germanic pagans, used again by a German monarchy to cement its place in a foreign country. If you read the history and believe it, it reminds you of human sacrifice, religious domination and monarchical social engineering. So, sorry, no Christmas tree for me. Mind you, I’m not consistent, I wear the kilt and that’s a Victorian con trick as well. I have feet of clay…
A little story for you… My old mate Ted Lawson used to work for Colonel Clay at Malham on the farm and doing odd jobs round the house. One day he was in the orchard clearing up and he realised there was a dreadful smell coming from the perforated kink sided meat safe in the corner of the orchard. This was where game was kept hanging until it matured. He opened the door and found a brace of pheasant with maggots dropping off them so he got a spade, dug a hole and buried them.
Later in the afternoon Mrs Clay came looking for him and asked if he knew where the pheasant had gone that were in the meat safe. Ted told her and she said that he’d better dig them up again because they were for the colonel’s supper.
I know about the advantages of hanging meat to improve the flavour and make it more tender. This is because the connective tissue in the muscles breaks down first but hanging game to this extent seems to me like evidence of a depraved appetite. Our turkey after the war benefited from this treatment on its long railway journey but it was nowhere near as far gone as the colonel’s pheasant. Chacun a son gout…

We are approaching the year 800 now and once again in order to understand what may have happened at home we have to cast our eyes across the North Sea towards mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Change was in the air and it was to have serious consequences for Britain as a whole and Barlick in particular.
The Norsemen living in what is now Norway were actively seeking new lands and plunder. The rising population was confined to the narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea and was running short of room. They looked out to sea for a solution and the first target was the lush pastures of the east coast of the Isles. They had already made some small raids on coastal monasteries early in the seventh century and had even penetrated the Western Isles but had never settled. The main source of sea-rover activity at this time seems to have been Hordaland, the area around Hardanger Fjord in south West Norway. In 789 they attacked at Portland, on the 8th of June 793 they sacked Holy Island (Lindisfarne in Northumbria), in 794 they attacked Jarrow, the home of the Venerable Bede. In 795 Monkwearmouth and Iona were sacked and in 806 they attacked Iona again. All these were raids for plunder, the Norsemen were Pagan and the fact that all these places were Christian monasteries meant nothing to them. They were rich and undefended, this was sufficient reason to make them attractive.
The closest land to Norway was The Shetlands and Orkneys. By 800 the Norsemen had established a staging post on Hjaltland (Shetland) which was the most northerly part of the territory of the Picts. The Norse influence can be seen there to this day because Orkney and Shetland were ruled by Norway until 1472. As well as settling on Shetland, the Norsemen colonised Caithness and Sutherland on the mainland. We see evidence of them in the place names; Thurso means ‘Thor’s River’, Scrabster was Skaraboldstadr or ‘Homestead on the Edge’ and Wick is ‘Vik’ which means bay or inlet.
These bases were used as jumping off points for further exploration into the Hebrides where they interrupted a long conflict between the Picts and the Dalradians (the struggle which was to eventually result in Scotland). By 850 serious settlement was taking place in the Hebrides and the next takeover was the Isle of Man. The Manx parliament, Tynwald, is a Norse foundation and still survives to this day. Tynwald is often cited as the oldest parliament in the world and an example of early British democracy. It would be more honest to admit that it was the Vikings who brought it to us. There is an ironic twist in here somewhere, how come the most feared raiders of the era were also the most democratic? 100 years later they were still advancing attacking Dublin in 981 and Limerick in 965. We should note that not all the Norse sea-raiders turned south into the Hebrides and the Irish Sea. Some of them sailed out into the Atlantic and from this stemmed the colonisation of Iceland, Greenland and eventually landings in North America long before Columbus.
Further South in Scandinavia the inhabitants of Denmark were under the same pressures as the Norsemen. In 835 the Danes landed on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and established a toehold in the kingdom of Aethelwulf, son of Egbert who is sometimes regarded as the first king of All England. Aethelwulf (Noble Wolf) conquered Kent on behalf of his father in 825. Thereafter he was styled King of Kent until he succeeded his father as King of Wessex in 839, whereupon he became King of Wessex, Kent, Cornwall, the West Saxons and the East Saxons. He was crowned at Kingston on Thames and held the throne until 856 when he was succeeded by Ethelbald. He had four other sons and each succeeded in turn so it becomes complicated, they were Athelstan, Ethelbert, Ethelred and Alfred. During this time the Danish incursions increased in frequency and numbers, Southampton and Dorset in 840, Somerset in 843 and 845, Devon in 850. In 850 the Danish army over-wintered on the Isle of Thanet for the first time and in 851 they attacked Canterbury and London. Lindsey and East Anglia were attacked in 841, the usurper Raedwulf of Northumbria was killed in 844, king Beorthwulf of Mercia was defeated in 851 and the Danes were marauding in Shropshire in 855. In 854 the Danes wintered in Sheppey.
In 871Aethelwulf’s son Alfred (later called The Great) succeeded to the throne of Wessex and Kent. The outlook was bleak and after a couple of defeats by the Danes Alfred followed the example of Mercia and paid the Danes a bribe to leave him alone, this was the infamous ‘Danegeld’. Under this arrangement the Danes took control of the east and north of England and London. If you imagine a line drawn from the confluence of the rivers Thames and Lea (the present site of the Millennium Dome) to the Wirral, everything to the north and east of this as far as the Caledonian border became ‘The Danelaw’. The Danes kept their word and went off to concentrate their attack on Mercia and Northumbria. The Mercian’s Danegeld must have run out! In 876/77 the same thing happened to Alfred, the Danes attacked again. Once more Alfred paid them off but in 878 they were back again and subjected large parts of Wessex to their authority. Alfred had to flee to the west and found refuge in the marshy country of the Parret Valley in Somerset where, if legend is to be believed, he burned the cakes.
Later in 878 Alfred gathered his followers and started a guerrilla war against the Danes. He marched east and eventually defeated the Danish army under Guthrum at Edington Down in Wiltshire. After the defeat Alfred took Guthrum in as a guest and after persuasion he was converted to Christianity, baptised and swore to leave Wessex in peace. This is very well documented in the Wessex Chronicle and I often wonder at the fact that such a savage enemy could be so impeccably well-behaved once the armed dispute was settled. The only conclusion I can come to is that because the basis of the conflict wasn’t political or ethical but a simple matter of profit and loss there was no bar to resuming friendly relations once the fighting was over. It was just business.
In 884, a Danish army that had been campaigning in continental Europe against the Franks decided that there was an easier way to earn a crust and laid siege to Rochester. Alfred defeated them and chased them back to the continent. In 892 the Danes attacked Wessex again but by 896 they had decided that it was too tough a nut to crack and withdrew to concentrate on campaigns in East Anglia and on the continent. In 899 Alfred died at the age of fifty and was buried at Winchester.
One word about our sources on Alfred. Apart from being victorious (always an image advantage) Norman Davies in The Isles tells us that he was also ‘a law-giver, sage administrator, strategic planner, cultural patron and through the support of his biographer Asser, created his own legend.’. This isn’t to say that the legend is false, there is no doubt that he really was a great king and left the south of England in far better condition than he found it with better laws, defences, sea power and a resolution of the Mercian claim to London. What Norman is gently flagging up for us is that while the broad sweep of Alfred’s achievements is accurate, some of the detail might be slightly overblown.
I apologise for this glut of dates but in order to assess what was happening to Barlick it helps to have an understanding of the extent of the Danish conquest. Theoretically Barlick was inside the Danelaw but once again the settlement might have been cushioned against the worst effects of the fighting by its remote location. There’s no doubt that the Norsemen penetrated this area, we have place names that are definitely Scandinavian in origin like Earby, Ellenthorpe at Gisburn and Ingthorpe behind West Marton. Our language carries similar evidence, ‘laik’ is Norwegian for ‘play’, ‘kirk’ as in Gill Kirk is Old Norse for church, ‘laithe’ is the Old Norse ‘hlatha’ or barn. ‘Bairn’ for child and ‘beck’ for brook both come directly from the Old Norse. The question is, what effect did this invasion have on Barlick?
There is no doubt that the Pagan Norsemen were a terrifying lot when they were on the war path. If you doubt this, look up ‘Blood Eagle’ which was a common punishment and about as grisly as you can get. There is abundant archaeological evidence for fierce battles and massacres. Forget about the horns on their helmets, they didn’t have them, this is a nineteenth century invention. However, they were heavily armed and very mobile in their Dragon Ships. The curious thing is that from what we can understand from the written history and the archaeology it seems that once they settled in an area they became industrious and peaceful neighbours and usually converted to Christianity within a generation. So I think we are fairly safe in assuming that by about 880, our old Barlickers had some new neighbours and were learning how to get on with them. This of course was nothing new, first the Saxons came and then the Norsemen from Norway and Denmark. Until recently we had no way of knowing the extent to which the Celts were displaced or swamped by the invaders but recent advances in genetic testing have given us a new tool. In a recent TV programme made by the BBC, ‘Blood of the Vikings’, the University College of London was commissioned to do a genetic survey to try to determine what the ethnic origin of people was in various parts of the Isles. The study is continuing but one clear result is that in our area, the north of England, we have the highest percentage of invader genes in England. York is remarkably high. So I think we can say that the old Barlickers had changed quite a lot between 450 and 900. In 450 they were pure Celts but by 900 they were definitely a mixed bag. The significant thing is that by 900 they were essentially the same genetic mix as we are today, the ‘English Race’ had arrived.
As I keep drumming into you, the research continually modifies and clarifies our knowledge of history. I came across something this week in Bede which reinforces my speculation about when Barlick gained a Christian Church. In 601 Pope Gregory sent Mellitus and Paulinus to help Augustine in his work of conversion. In 627 Paulinus was created bishop and went to Northumbria to convert King Edwin. Remember that Barlick was within his kingdom. Edwin accepted conversion having already agreed to do so on the advice of king Ethelbert whose daughter Ethelburga he had married. This is what I already understood but it was the way that King Edwin went about making his decision that interests me. Before he actually undertook baptism he consulted with his advisers, one of whom was his Pagan High Priest, Coefi (or Cefi). The advisers all agreed to the conversion and surprisingly, after some thought, Coefi also agreed because he said that he had suspected for some time that the gods they were worshipping were useless. Coefi further said that it was his duty as High Priest to desecrate and destroy the temple, idols and altars. He went to the temple at Goodmanham, east of York where he and his followers desecrated the temple and burned the enclosure. Edwin was baptised and instructed all his subjects to do the same. I wonder whether our modern religious leaders would be so open to new ideas and so pragmatic? This was a fairly powerful message and given the speed at which news could travel even in those days, Barlick must have heard about it. In the absence of any other evidence I think we can be fairly certain that Barlick as a settlement converted to Christianity by 630. Further, the first thing Paulinus did after Edwin’s conversion was to build a church at York where he became the first bishop. Did Barlick take their cue from the king? Was this when the Pagan centres of worship in Barlick became, in name anyway, Christian? Given the evidence, this looks like a good bet.
So, it is 900 and we have another snapshot of Barlick. It has converted to Christianity and certainly has a church. The people are a mixture of Celtic and invader blood. The old Pagan beliefs are waning but still a powerful force. Bede tells a lovely little story which gives us a very good indication as to how people viewed life and death in those days. When Edwin, king of Northumbria, asked his nobles for their opinion on conversion one of them said that existence in this world was rather like being a sparrow on a wild and stormy winter’s night. By chance, the sparrow flies in through the window of a lord’s hall where there is a feast in progress. It flies through the warmth of the hall and out through a window at the other end back into the storm. The noble said that the passage through the hall represented a man’s life and that we knew nothing of the storm at either end. If the new religion gave a better idea about what came before and after life it was worth trying it out. This was essentially the world picture in Barlick as well and doubtless one of the attractions of the new religion was the promise of life after death, something that the old gods had only promised to warriors who died in battle.
One last word about Alfred the Great. I think the thing that constantly surprises me as I dig into the sources is the fact that whenever I get a fresh insight, whether through archaeology or the written record, I find that the people were more intelligent and technologically advanced than I was taught at school. I have an example for you if you care to look it up. Seek out a copy of Lord Birkenhead’s The Five Hundred Best English Letters and read the first letter in the book. It is a letter written by Alfred to his bishop Werferth as a prefix to his translation of Gregory the Great’s Cura Pastoralis. Apart from the fact that Alfred was a good enough scholar to translate the Pope’s missive from the Latin the letter is literate and expresses his desire to make the missive more widely available by sending copies to all his bishops. Here’s something he says in the letter after lamenting that there were many books but they could not be read widely because they were in Latin. “When I remembered how Latin learning had decayed in England, and yet many could read English, I began during the various and manifold troubles of this realm to translate into English the book which is called in Latin ‘Cura Pastoralis’ and in English ‘Shepherd’s Book’ Transcriptions of documents like this can contain small errors of interpretation but these do not damage the overall sense. I am left with the impression that Alfred was truly a remarkable king and we may be surprised if we knew how many people could read.
I’ve been working you very hard so it’s time for a little treat. I’ve come across a nice example of the development of language. The word ‘angling’ to describe fishing with a rod and line originates from an Old English word ‘angul’ which in turn has Germanic roots and probably originated in the Indo-European word ‘ank’, to bend. The Latin ‘angulus’ comes from the same root and gives us our word ‘angle’ meaning the space between the junction of two straight lines. There was a tribe in Schleswig in Germany who lived in a district which was angular in shape, some said like a fish hook. Consequently they named it Angul (Angeln) and eventually the tribe became known as the Angles. When they joined the Saxons and Jutes and invaded Britain they inadvertently gave us a new name for Lower Britannia. This was Engla Land, the land of the Angles. So, we live in a country that is named after a fish hook. Clever stuff eh? They never told me that when I was at school. If they had I would have paid more attention to the Anglo-Saxons.

At the end of the tenth century, the Danes had conquered the whole of England north of a line drawn from the Millennium Dome to the Wirral. Barlick came under the Danelaw and there was a lot of Norse settlement in the district. This didn’t mean that things were peaceful. The Saxon kings, led by Edward the Elder, king of Wessex, were campaigning against the invaders and by 924 had re-taken the whole of the Danelaw south of the Humber.
At the same time, Charles the Simple (Charles III of France) had a problem. He had a large body of Norsemen squatting on his land at the mouth of the river Seine who had moved south to find land and a new home. They were led by the wonderfully named Gongu Hrolph. (Gongu Hrolph meant Hrolph the Walker. He was so big no horse could carry him.) They had settled, taken Frankish wives and looked like a threat. A new idea was abroad in Europe called ‘feudalism’. The idea was that political stability could be achieved by people in authority like kings bribing their underlings to swear allegiance to them, this was usually done by giving control over large tracts of land. Charles offered to make Hrolph a Duke of France and overlord of the lands between the rivers Epte and Bresle in the Seine Valley if he would swear fealty. Hrolph agreed and converted to Christianity so that he could take the oath of allegiance. The scribes changed his name to Rollo and called the new dukedom Normandia, the home of the Norsemen, now called Normandy. His neighbours called him Rollo de Pieton, he built a castle at Rouen and founded a dynasty that was to last for 250 years. These ‘Normans’ were to become quite important to Barlick later and it would be as well if we realised what their origin was, they were Norsemen. Looked at from this point of view, the eventual ‘Norman’ invasion of the 11th century wasn’t a French invasion but just another episode in the advance of the Norsemen.
In 937 the Celts allied with the Saxons and fought and defeated the Danes at Brunanburg. We aren’t really sure where this was but Bromborough on the Wirral is currently seen as a favourite and excavations are going on there on the local golf course as I write to try to confirm this. This wasn’t the end of Norse power in England but was a great consolidation of the kingdom of Wessex. The country got a new name, Engla Land, and it stuck.
Meanwhile, the Danes were encountering problems in their campaigns across Europe and after a great defeat by Charlemagne at Hamburg they withdrew to the coast and concentrated their attention on Kent and Southern England because the pickings were easier. By 950, Norwegian raiders were active again. They sailed down the Irish Sea and established a base on the Wirral with the Mersey Estuary for a harbour. From here they raided far inland. In 978 Ethelred (the Unready, or, more correctly, the Badly Advised) became king of Wessex. He couldn’t contain the Danish invaders and had to start paying Danegeld again. In 1002 he tried to organise the massacre of all the Danes in England but failed. The following year, Sveyn Forkbeard, king of Denmark, landed on the Humber and inside ten years had re-taken the whole of the country. Ethelred was in exile and this looked like the dawn of a Danish/English empire.
In 1014 Sveyn died. The kingdom was divided between his two sons. Knutr (Canute) took England and Harald reigned in Denmark. Canute defeated Ethelred’s son, Edmund Ironside in 1016, married his mother Emma and divided England into four earldoms: Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex. He died in 1035 and in the same year, Duke Robert of Normandy died as well and William the Bastard succeeded to the Dukedom. Remember this bloke, he’s going to become a major player.
Right, that’s the wider context dealt with, we’ll come back to it later. What did all this mean for Barlick? We’ve got our little collection of villages and outlying hamlets. There is a church in Barlick and Norse and Saxon settlers dotted about the countryside. One village, Earby, is named after a Dane. The Old Barlickers are probably doing what they know best, keeping their heads down, getting on with the incomers and trying not to get involved in the general unrest all around them.
These must have been dangerous times though, especially when the North Norsemen landed on the Wirral and started raiding inland. It’s difficult to see how Barlick could have escaped altogether but I think on balance, the fact that the village was still there 100 years later means that whatever their problems, they were relatively minor. The reason I say this is that a small community like Barnoldswick was a fragile thing and we have to ask ourselves whether a place that was virtually wiped out by a Viking raid could still be recognised less than 100 years later as a thriving community with an ancient church? We have to assume also that the Scots raiders would take advantage of the general unrest and there may have been trouble from them as well. One thing is certain, Barlickers would know what was going on, news travelled fast and it must have been a very worrying time. Anyone born around 900 was to have a very unsettled and uncertain life.
In 1040, Harald I, Canute’s son died and his brother Harthcanut becomes king. Neither of the brothers had any children so when Harthcanut died in 1042 Edmund Ironside’s son, Edward (the Confessor) became king, his father was half Norman. In 1066 Edward the Confessor dies and Harold Godwinson takes over. This infuriated the Danes in Denmark because they regarded Harold II as a usurper. As far as they were concerned England was rightfully theirs and was up for grabs. Harald Hardrad (the Ruthless) King of Norway was also a claimant and so was Duke William (the Bastard) of Normandy. Harald got his act together first and as soon as he heard that the Confessor was dead he set sail with an invading army and hundreds of ships and landed in Northumbria. He sacked and burned Scarborough, Cleveland and Holderness and then marched south and was met by Harold and the English army at Stamford Bridge near York. Harold defeated them on the 26th September. The carnage was so great that only 24 ships were needed to carry the survivors home.
On the 28th September William the Bastard landed at Pevensey with a large army, 6000 horses and all his trusted knights in 400 ships. Harold’s army marched south, 250 miles in 12 days. On the 14th of October Harold and his men waited for the Norman onslaught on the crest of Senlac Hill near Hastings. They were defeated. William, now no longer the Bastard but the Conqueror, was crowned in Westminster Abbey on December 25th 1066. Yet another conquest of England, but we know now that this was to be permanent.
William had become king but he still had to subdue the country. His method was direct and brutal, in 1067 he harrowed the West Country. What this means is that his troops went in, slaughtered almost all the Anglo/Saxon lords and looted and burned every place they arrived at. In short he terrorised the inhabitants to subdue them. In 1068 he did the same in Wales and the following year turned his attention to the North. Even though the men who held Northumbria were his Norse cousins, William marched against them and sacked Viking York (Jorvick). Northumbria was devastated and on his deathbed William is reported to have confessed that by ‘Harrowing the North’ he had consigned many more to death by starvation because his troops had burned all the crops as well as the buildings. In three years, William wiped out between 4000 and 5000 Anglo Saxon Thegns and their families. Almost the whole of the existing ruling class was destroyed and replaced by Normans. I can’t say how Barlick fared in the Harrowing, it may have been relatively unscathed because of its out of the way position, I hope so. However, the Old Barlickers would certainly know what was going on in the rest of the country and must have been terrified. I can sympathise with them because I found myself in a similar position at the start of the Second World War. As a young lad I was convinced that the Germans were going to invade and kill us all. Strangely enough, these fears subsided once we started to come under bombardment. The immediate danger cancelled out the other threat. I wonder whether this mechanism applied during the Harrowing?
At the same time William purged the church and installed his own clerics who spoke Norman French and Latin. He divided the country up among his trusted nobles and started castle-building. The idea of the castles was simple, they provided a secure base for the local lord and his troops from where they could police and if necessary terrorise the district. In Barlick’s case, this was to be Clitheroe after 1186 and the first lord was a Norman, Roger de Poictou.
Our Old Barlickers now had a new Norman lord who sat in his castle and ruled them with a rod of iron. The way the lords made money out of their lands was by tax and rent, a system first used by the Saxons. The free men of Barlick were told that the land didn’t belong to them, it was their Saxon lord’s and they had to pay rent. In addition, all the land around and the wild game in it was his and if they took any without permission they would be punished severely. They had a new Norman landlord who wasn’t likely to be any easier on them. The Norman Conquest was new but the restrictions on them remained the same and there was nothing they could do about it. Things must have looked bleak and uncertain.
Say what you like about the Normans but they were thorough. In 1085/86 William sent officials out into England to survey and register every land holding. Its size and value was noted. This was the Domesday Book, the most complete historical document we could possibly have for this period.
Some explanation of units of measure is needed here. A carucate is a measure of land used in the Danegeld, also known as a hide in other parts of the country. It is of uncertain size, supposedly the amount of land that could be farmed with eight oxen or the amount needed to support a family and is usually reckoned at about 120 acres but this varied by location and could be changed by assessment. The values in the Domesday Book are usually quoted as being those that were assessed at the end of Edward the Confessor’s time. However, there is a text called the Ely Enquiry which lays out the questions asked of each Hundred Court in assessing the entries to be made in Domesday. These laid out the different criteria which were to be used for the social hierarchy in a place and also what values were to be ascertained. There were three levels: In the time of King Edward. As it was when King William first gave the estate. As it is when the question was asked. The actual entries seem to be an average of all three figures and ‘waste’ is generally mentioned in places that had suffered the Harrowing.
One other matter needs to be recognised. Under Anglo-Saxon control and increasingly under the Normans, a distinction was made between freemen (who were usually those with land-holdings) and villeins or serfs who were essentially slaves to named persons in that they had to provide labour and other service. Whenever we talk about relative freedoms we should remember that there was a class system and not everyone was privileged.
The entries in the Domesday Book for our area were as follows: Manor: In Bernulfesuuic (Barnoldswick) Gamel had twelve carucates to be taxed. Berenger de Todeni held it but now it is in the castellate of Roger de Poictou. Manor: In Braisuelle (Bracewell) Ulchil and Archil had six carucates to be taxed. Manor: In Stoche, (Stock) Archil had four carucates to be taxed. Manor: In Torentune, (Thornton in Craven) Alcolm had three carucates to be taxed. Manor: In Eurebi (Earby) Alcolm had three carucates to be taxed. Manor: Alia Eurebi (another Earby. Could have been Sough or Kelbrook or Salterforth) Alcolm had two carucates and six oxgangs to be taxed.
Oxgang is another uncertain measure, many hold it to be the acreage that a pair of oxen can plough in a year, various measurements of land identified as one oxgang have resulted in acreages varying from 4 to 50 so take your pick!
We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of Barlick. Around 1100 it was the biggest village in the area but the strange thing is that there was no mention of a church which was undoubtedly there because fifty years later it was described by Serlo as ancient. Perhaps this is because it would have no taxable value. Another conclusion we could draw is that if it was ‘harrowed’ sixteen years before it would hardly have been worth the values recorded. The vill of Stock is interesting, it was lost in the mid 19th century but in 1086 it was a third the size of Barlick and two thirds the size of Bracewell. We can’t tell from DB whether there was a church at Bracewell but it’s possible that they had followed the same course as Barlick in about 620 and had a small place of worship.

It’s very easy to buy into current notions that all people do nowadays is watch TV, shop and avoid anything that might exercise their brains. The sultans of spin have definitely swallowed this, they seem sure that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. I have news for them, they couldn’t be further from the truth! As evidence of this I noted that the old issue of the county boundary had raised its head again. My immediate reaction is to reinforce this initiative with a bit of solid fact so bear with me whilst I look at boundaries in terms of history.
The most primitive cultures we know today such as the Australian aborigines recognise tribal boundaries even though they have no concept of ownership of land. These limits are always natural features, a coastline, a watercourse or a clear feature in the landscape. In pre-historic times, this was the situation here, it wasn’t until after the advent of agriculture which led to settlement in about 4000BC that local boundaries became important. Ditches were dug round fields, walls and hedges followed and the concept of occupation and then ownership of a piece of land grew and demanded definition in the form of boundaries. As communities grew and developed into villages, boundaries between adjoining settlements became more important as they lessened the chances of dispute, clearly marked limits led to good neighbours.
In days when there were no written records or maps it was necessary to embed the knowledge of these boundaries in the minds of successive generations. A very simple method was adopted, traces of which can be found in every society worldwide, the elders took young people from the community round the boundary and taught them where the markers were that delineated it. These could be trees, watercourses or other natural features. Where this wasn’t convenient, a stake driven into the ground or better still, a standing stone marked the spot. This necessary ritual became an annual event and an integral part of the fabric of society. As tribal allegiances grew, wider boundaries were set by custom and conquest with the result that before the Romans ever came to these Isles formal boundaries were recorded and observed. You might wonder how efficient this marking was bearing in mind that we are dealing with a largely illiterate population right up to probably 500AD. I have a piece of evidence for you.
In the days when my beard was black I found I had to study linguistics. I can assure you that I found this a deeply boring and depressing experience. However, I learned one incredibly impressive fact. Linguists like to go out and study the way language changes from one place to another. They do this by asking what the local names are for everyday things like animals and objects. Where they find a variation they mark it on the map and then join the marks up to make ‘isoglosses’, rather like isobars on a weather map. The wonderful thing about this is that if you construct such a map based on language change for England the isoglosses mark out the boundaries of the ancient kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex! In other words, despite 4,000 years of change and mobility, the folk memory has preserved the record of these boundaries. Can we doubt that at the local level folk memory was quite capable of marking a community boundary?

It’s time we looked at the coming of the Cistercian monks to Barlick. The Rev. Whitaker set down a simplified version of this story in his great book The History of the Deanery of Craven and as far as I can see, nobody has really looked into this any further and published a more complete account. I have been doing some digging and I think we have some new facts and clues so let me tell you the story as I understand it. As is so often the case, in order to understand what happened we have to go back to the beginnings of the Christian religion in Britain.
From the very earliest days of Christianity there was a tradition of holy men and women setting themselves apart from the community in order to free themselves from the worries and temptations of everyday life so that they could get closer to God. This started with hermits and anchorites who left their villages and lived a solitary life of prayer and meditation, often in very uncomfortable places. They might also have been influenced by persecution in their home villages by Pagans and other unbelievers. These solitary people were venerated and survived because they were supported by local Christians. In seeking solitude they were following the example of Old Testament prophets and Christ going into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. It was seen as an expression of extreme piety and some even had themselves walled up for life. Nowadays we would see such people as fanatics and be very suspicious of them. In the early days of Christianity, the more extreme the sacrifice, the more holy the devotee and pilgrimages were made to see such men and women.
As time went on and Christianity established itself there were other reasons why the church separated itself from the community. Devout Christians who had ambitions to learning, entering the priesthood or simply a wish to escape the poverty and temptations of life tended to gather together into communities which were called monasteries. They built their own accommodation, churches and resources and while interacting with the local people held themselves apart. Early on in the Roman Church’s history it was recognised that such communities needed rules and one of the earliest of these was set out by St Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century and became known as the Benedictine Rule. This imposed strict limits on the monks as regards the sins of the flesh and contact with the world and became one of the standards for monastic establishments in Britain and Europe. Every aspect of the monks life was controlled and strict obedience was expected.
Over the centuries relaxation of these rules crept in to the extent that there were scandals involving debauched monks and nuns all over Europe. This triggered off a movement to return to the strict Benedictine Order and at the end of the 11th century the Cistercian branch of the Benedictines emerged on the 21st of March 1098 when Robert, the Abbot of Molesme in France led twenty one of his monks out into the wild country nearby and founded a new abbey at Citeaux which he intended would follow the original strict Benedictine Rule. The Latin name for Citeaux was Cistercium and the monks of the new sect became known as Cistercians. There was never a Cistercian order as such, the Rule they followed was strict Benedictine so when we say ‘Cistercian Abbey’ what we mean is a strict Benedictine Abbey populated by Cistercian monks. The main difference between the earlier Benedictines and this new version of the rule was that while St Benedict allowed acceptance of support from the outside world and the manorial system, the Cistercians prohibited this. They were to be self-supporting and live by their own efforts. The concept was so successful that by 1200 over 500 daughter houses had been founded, some of them following even stricter rules such as Trappism where they renounced speech as well. In 1132 the great Cistercian abbeys of Rievaulx and Fountains were established in northern England and rapidly became a dominant force in religious life in Yorkshire and far beyond. They spread their influence by establishing daughter houses whenever the opportunity presented itself. This was encouraged by the Normans because much of the north and particularly Yorkshire had been laid waste during the Harrowing of the North and establishing new Cistercian abbeys was a good way to bring the land back into production and therefore profit. We have a report that the dying William said that his greatest regret was the deaths due to starvation after the Harrowing and it seems that he may have encouraged his barons to found new abbeys as a means of re-invigorating local economies.
It’s no accident that this great surge of religious power flourished after the Conquest. The Normans were consolidating their hold on England by subduing the population and building castles to ensure military control. The establishment of monastic houses provided centres of religious practice and learning as they were the source of all priests and were the only centres of education. Done under the patronage of the state this ensured spiritual control. Another factor accepted by the Normans was something that we have difficulty in grasping nowadays, the absolute power of the Church. The Pope was the highest authority, he was the direct representative of God on earth and outranked the king. The sanction that the Roman Catholic Church used to maintain this authority was the power to excommunicate anyone who challenged their authority. To the true believer this was the ultimate punishment as it meant they were condemned to the eternal torments of hell fire after death because the Church taught that the only route to salvation was by confession and absolution and the only place they could get this was via their priest. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Henry the VIII broke this power in England. The abbeys had another advantage in their dealings with ordinary people. Because they were the only source of spiritual comfort and to a large extent, worldly charity, it took exceptional courage to oppose them. Bear this in mind because this is exactly what the Old Barlickers did.
Another factor that we have to understand is the strategy the Cistercians adopted when siting a new house. As they were committed to self-sufficiency and the solitary life avoiding contact with the outside world they sought wild and unpopulated areas. They needed control of all the surrounding land and resources in order to operate this system. This suited the Normans who had created plenty of such places during their Harrowing of the kingdom to control it and if a Cistercian Abbey was founded in the ‘waste’ it brought valuable resources back into production. If the land they were to build on wasn’t desolate, their first move was always to de-populate the area round where they wanted to build. There is plenty of evidence for this happening and this was to be part of the problem they had in Barlick. Reading Whitaker one gets the impression that it was simply a matter of the locals being ‘uncooperative’, I believe there was much more to it than this.
Right, enough clues, let’s get down to the story! Sometime round 1146, Henry de Lacy the Norman Lord who controlled Barnoldswick from his castle at Pontefract was feeling a bit poorly and took to his bed. He sent for his priest and instructed him to pray for his return to health and promised that if God did this for him he would found a monastery. Remember that there were no doctors and this was about all a person could do if they felt their life was threatened by ill-health, keep warm and pray for relief or better still if you had the power and resources, get a priest to do the job for you. Henry recovered his health and I have this mental image of the priest waiting until he was better and then tugging his sleeve to remind him of his promise. Henry was as good as his word and offered the Abbot of Fountains Abbey land at Barnoldswick to found a new Cistercian house. In fact he granted him the whole of the Manor of Barnoldswick and even included some land at Admergill which wasn’t his to give. The offer was accepted and Alexander, the prior of Fountains Abbey, was appointed abbot of the new house and so had complete power over Barlick. There can be little doubt that it was his intention to use it in the name of God.
There is something else we should take into account as it may have influenced the final outcome. In 1207, Hugh of Kirkstall said that the vill of Barnoldswick actually belonged to Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk and that Henry de Lacy held it as a tenant on payment of an annual rent of five marks and a hawk. (a mark was a monetary unit equal to two thirds of a pound sterling, thirteen shillings and fourpence in proper money, sixty six and two thirds pence in modern terms) Henry hadn’t paid the rent for a number of years and so there was some question as to whether the charter transferring the manor was legal.
On May 19th 1147, Alexander, the newly created abbot set out from Fountains Abbey with twelve monks and two lay brothers to go to Barlick. The lay brothers were labourers who helped with the agricultural work of the abbey, in effect they were serfs. Alexander was reinforced in his authority by Henry Murdac, Archbishop of York who with full Papal and Episcopal authority ‘granted and confirmed Barnoldswick and its church as being free and quit and delivered of every claim to the monks there serving God’. In other words, as well as having the blessing of the state and the Pope, their authority came direct from God. When the abbot and his monks arrived in Barlick they found there ‘a church, very ancient and founded long before with four parochial vills, to wit Marton and another Marton, Bracewell and Stock besides the vill of Barnoldswick and two small vills appertaining, Elfwynetrop (possibly Coates Township) and Brogden of which the monks were by this time in possession, after removal of the inhabitants’. In other words having decided on Brogden as the site for the monastery their first act was to evict the inhabitants. This must have seemed very strange to the dispossessed, how could it be reconciled with the doctrine of ‘love thy neighbour’? Where was Christian charity? The Old Barlickers were in deep trouble. This practice wasn’t unusual, there is plenty of evidence for it having been done in other places but usually the evicted peasants were given new land. There is no mention of this happening in Barlick.
The first resource the monks would look for would be running water. The standard design for all Cistercian foundations used a flow of water to service their lavatories (this word comes from the Latin ‘lavatorum’ a washing place) and ‘necessaries’ or latrines. All waste from the abbey was flushed away by the running water. Drinking water was taken from the headwater before it entered the site. Next they would need land suitable for cultivation and stock-rearing. The Cistercians became famous for their skills in farming and were to become the greatest sheep breeders and wool producers in the land.
Let’s stand back for a moment and consider what is going on here. We are getting a very clear picture of the consequences of being conquered by the Normans and having a powerful religious foundation as Lord of the Manor. Our old Barlickers had no rights whatsoever. They could be gifted to the church by the Lord at Pontefract and dispossessed by the Abbot without any remedy in law. They were chattels of the Norman Lord and the abbot who could do whatever they wanted with them. This is the greatest change we have seen in our examination of the early history of Barlick. In the past the Old Barlickers owed allegiance to the tribe but had virtual freedom to do whatever they liked. They could enclose land, build houses and a church, take game, produce and fuel from the surrounding waste and worship whatever deities they liked. Now they are serfs, slaves to the whims of their masters under Feudal Rule. They are in a no-win situation and things are looking very bleak. The wonderful thing is that unlike every other case I have been able to examine the Barlickers eventually won and the monks gave up on the town. We’ll have a look at what actually happened in the next chapter.

The official date for the arrival of Alexander and his monks from Fountains Abbey is May 19th 1147. I wonder what preparatory works were done before they arrived. Somehow I can’t believe that they simply turned up onto a wet and windy hillside in Barlick without any shelter for the night. There is a suggestion in the account of Serlo that the inhabitants of Brogden were evicted before Alexander and his monks arrived. Perhaps they appropriated the peasant’s houses who they had dispossessed. Incidentally, I don’t suppose they did the actual evicting, it was much more likely done by Henry de Lacy’s men at arms. Whatever the sequence of events, by May 1147 they were in possession of a site just north of Calf Hall Lane near where the cattle grid is at the end of what old Barlickers still remember as Shitten Ginnel, the path from Esp Lane hamlet down to Calf Hall.
This can’t have been ideal from the monk’s point of view because within a quarter of a mile there were local inhabitants at Townhead. Notwithstanding, they started to build their permanent quarters. Nothing remains on the site to show exactly where or what they built but we do know that one of the pre-requisites was a running water through the site. We can’t be sure about the watercourses in 1147 because in 1845 when Billycock Bracewell built Butts Mill he cut part of the hillside away in Butts to level the site and carted the spoil along Calf Hall Lane where it was dumped in an old limestone quarry and on the hillside where we think the monastery site was. Never mind, we have an approximate location upon which most people seem to be agreed.
Somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the cattle grid there used to be a well. I have been given two locations for it, one is just over the wall to the north of the cattle grid, the other is just over the wall to the east of the end of Shitten Ginnel. The latter was given to me by Harold Duxbury who said that he used to do a lot of walking round with Stephen Pickles Senior, the man who founded S Pickles and Sons. It was Stephen who showed Harold where what he called ‘Monks Well’ was on one of their walks. Stephen knew that ground and the water resources like the back of his hand and almost certainly knew what he was talking about. As a matter of interest, the back weaving shed at Calf Hall Shed was called Monks Well shed by the workers. Whatever the exact location, it was somewhere in a circle less than 100 yards across at that point.
Why spend so much time trying to establish where the well was? Consider the church at Thornton in Craven. There is a holy well in the churchyard and this was the site of the original Saxon church before the present church was built in 1200. In other words, next to what was almost certainly a Pagan ritual site. Let’s assume that the same thing happened in Barlick. It makes sense because a site for the early church near the well was also near Townhead. It also gives a reason for such an ancient trackway as Shitten Ginnel. There is another piece of evidence that backs up this theory.
The local inhabitants were evidently a God-fearing lot and were in the habit of meeting at their church with their priest and the clerks ‘according to custom’ to celebrate church festivals and Holy Days. I think they must have enjoyed these events and made quite a lot of noise because it was seen as a nuisance by the monks and disturbed the peace of the abbey. There is also the possibility that these celebrations were a Pagan remnant and offended the monks. Alexander saw an easy way to rectify this. It says something about the abbot’s world view that he saw nothing wrong in ordering his monks to pull the existing church down and level it so they could have some peace and quiet. The clerk, who was rector and parson of the Barnoldswick church, not surprisingly, took this very badly. With the support of his parishioners he took the matter to court before the Archbishop of York. From York it was referred to the Pope who found in favour of the abbot and the monks and ‘silence laid upon the opposing party’ on the grounds that ‘it was a pious thing that the church should fall provided the abbey be constructed in its stead so that the less good should yield to the greater’. In other words, the exercise of absolute power. I also find it significant that in Serlo’s account he says ‘pulled the [existing] church down to its foundations’ as this suggests it could have been a stone building. I walked down there and noted something I had missed before, there are a lot of large squared stones laid about on the beck bottom suggesting a substantial building nearby at one time. The only candidate I can think of is the original Saxon church. If the church was near enough to be accessible to the Barlickers, near the well and near enough to the site of the abbey to annoy Alexander it must have been in that bottom land near the beck between Esp Lane and the monastery site.
We are certain that there was a church and it was destroyed by the Cistercians. We know nothing of what happened to the priest who was of a different monastic order, perhaps he simply left the village. There is no mention either of what provision the monks made for Barlickers to continue to worship but it would almost certainly be in the monastery chapel under the supervision and priesthood of the Cistercians. We can imagine that this wouldn’t go down well with the parishioners and this may be where the pejorative name of ‘Shitten Ginnel’ for the lane from Townhead originated. It would be a sad thing to have to walk past the ruin of their old church every time they went to worship.
Things had been bad enough in 1147 when the Cistercians first arrived to upset the even tenor of the Barlicker’s lives. They were far worse by about 1150, they had lost their church and their priest, I don’t think the monks would be flavour of the month. In addition they were having bad harvests and trouble from the marauding Scots who occasionally descended from the North in search of plunder and livestock. There was another problem not mentioned in any of the accounts, King Henry I died in 1135 and Stephen, grandson of William the Conqueror, grabbed the throne from Henry's daughter Matilda leading to an extended period of civil war, chaos and anarchy in England. A period of lawlessness descended upon the countryside, endangering the safety of peasant and noble alike. This lasted almost twenty years ending only with the death of Stephen and the rise of Henry II to the throne. This wasn’t a good time for anyone and was to lead to unexpected consequences. Our Barlickers are feeling a bit bruised and battered. Alexander had destroyed their church and driven the priest out. Anarchy stalked the land because of near civil war caused by Stephen usurping Henry’s throne. The weather was bad and the Scots were marauding from the North. Not a good time on any front.
We tend to give the Cistercians a bad name because of their actions in Barlick but we should remember that they were suffering the same vicissitudes, Serlo mentioned the hard times saying that they “suffered many discomforts of cold and hunger, partly because of the inclemency of the air and the ceaseless trouble of rain, and partly because the kingdom being in turmoil, many a time our possessions were wasted by brigands. The site of our habitation therefore displeased us….” Hugh of Kirkstall reinforced this in 1205 when he said, “So, peace restored and litigation laid to rest, the brethren applied themselves to the profit of the monastery in greater quiet yet even so were they troubled by a double discomfort, for freebooters, it being a time of war, would often carry off their effects, and a plague of rains continuing nigh all the year overwhelmed their crops. For six years and more they remained there in unbroken poverty and lack of food and clothing”.
It looks as though Alexander may have had some disaffected brothers on his hands and this may have been the reason he found himself in a river valley near Leeds at about this time where he chanced upon a group of religious men who followed the rule of The Brethren of Leruth. Their leader, a man called Seleth, spoke to Alexander who was quick to recognise what a good place this was for an abbey. Alexander noted that one aspect of their religious practice was self-flagellation and didn’t approve. He admonished the brethren, in effect he told them that what they needed was a proper rule to follow. He had a word with Henry de Lacy who spoke to William Petvyn, the knight who owned the land and it was arranged that the estate would be made over to Alexander to build yet another monastery. This was Kirkstall Abbey, a far more successful foundation. The Cistercians vacated Barnoldswick on May 19th 1152 and moved to Kirkstall. (I am slightly worried that this day and month is exactly the same as the arrival in Barlick but this may just be the monks tidy minds at work, moving on an anniversary) Barnoldswick was relegated to a grange (outlying property) of the new abbey so the abbot of Kirkstall was still the Lord of the Manor of Barnoldswick.
Nothing more is said in either Serlo’s account or Hugh’s as to what happened to the Barlickers who had lost their church and priest. However, we have some clues…. Bracewell had a place of worship originally built in 1143 to serve as a chantry chapel for the Tempest family who held the lordship. In 1153 St Michael's became parish church for Bracewell and Stock. The Barlickers could use the church but had a longer walk. This inconvenience was obviously recognised by the bishop at York because by 1157 a new church had been built at Gill. The fact that Gill was so far away from the centre of Barlick has always been characterised as an act of spite by the Cistercians but I don’t believe this was so. Remember that at this time Thornton didn’t have a church, only the old Saxon building in what is now the churchyard. With one church already operating in Bracewell and looking at the catchment area beyond Thornton it made sense to build the new church midway between there and Barlick. Thornton didn’t get a new church until 1200, Marton had one before 1286.
So, ten years after the Cistercians first came to Barlick we once more had our own church, inconvenient or not. This situation didn’t change until St James’ on Church Street was consecrated as a ‘chapel of ease’ and Barlickers could once more worship in the middle of the town. Gill church started off as a plain square building and was gradually added to over the years, the massive tower was built in 1524 bringing it very close to what we see today.
What happened to the grange in later years? I can do no better than quote from a man who has written what is probably the best study of the monastic grange, Colin Platt. [The Monastic Grange in Medieval England] Here’s what he says about the grange in Barnoldswick;
‘In 1276 Brother Peter was the granger at Barnoldswick. He is known to have cut off an ear of a serving-boy at the grange who was caught stealing two loaves of bread (Rotuli Hundredorum, I I 12). In the last years of the same century the grange was demised for life to Peter of Chester, a wealthy provost of Beverley connected with the Lacy family. Peter died C. 1298 (Kirkstall Coucher, P. 330). It was at this period that certain valuable pasture rights of the abbey at Barnoldswick were threatened by the claim of Henry de Lacy (d. 1311), earl of Lincoln. The dispute was finally resolved in favour of the abbey by a royal mandate dated 21 August 1335 (ibid. PP. 321-39). In September 1540, following the suppression of the abbey, the manor of Barnoldswick (called 'le halle demeynes') was farmed by Richard Banester, holding this and other Kirkstall properties by an indenture granted by the late abbot and convent (PRO Min. Accts, SC6/Hen.VIII/4590, m. 12)’.
Theoretically the whole of the Manor of Barnoldswick was a grange but it’s doubtful whether the monks or their lay-brothers ever farmed anything other than the stock-rearing operation based on what we now know as the Calf Hall area. The peasants who had survived had customary rights in the manor far older than the rights of Kirkstall as Lord of the Manor and if these had been attacked there would be some record. I have seen no mention anywhere in my research of any such actions and in their absence we have to assume that apart from Calf Hall the customary rights carried on as before. We leave our Barlickers with a new, if inconveniently placed church, a Kirkstall monk as priest and the abbey as their Lord. They had survived the Cistercian invasion and seen them off. I can find no other example of this happening and whilst I don’t put it down entirely to their tenacity and intransigence I have a sneaking suspicion that this may have been a factor. Remember that the only accounts we have are written by the monks and they would put the best gloss on them that they could. History is often like that, the most powerful write it and it is up to us peasants to try to tease the truth out.
The saga of the monastery says quite a lot about the Old Barlickers. It took considerable courage to stand up against the Norman conquerors and the might of the Roman Church which should have been their source for spiritual guidance and worldly charity. The Barlickers did resist and in the end won the day. I have no doubt that there was bad weather, turmoil in the kingdom and raids from brigands from the north but what Serlo and Hugh don’t mention is anything about the attitudes of the villagers. The fact that they ignore them seems to me to be evidence that they had reason to want to forget them. These intransigent villagers proved to be stronger than the monks, they not only survived but they stayed on the land even though it was a grange of Kirkstall. The fact that they built another church four years later is another remarkable fact. The Cistercian strategy of depopulation and total control failed completely in Barlick.
Let’s take a final snapshot of Barlick in 1200. The settlement at Townhead is looking very much as it is today in terms of layout. Stand at the top of Esp Lane and look down towards Pickles Hipping or as old Barlickers call it Shitten Ginnel. The very name seems to imply contempt and I have often wondered how it got it. Perhaps it was an indication of how the townspeople felt about what had happened down there. The houses would be single storey, built of timber with thatched roofs but we could have little doubt that what we see in 1200 is a settled community that is here to stay. It was strong enough to build a stone church after withstanding the worst that authority could throw at it. I have a very warm feeling about these people and their attitudes, they must have been fairly impressive! Out in the fields between Coates and Thornton in Craven is their small, new, stone-built church at Gill with a new lane leading up to it. Bracewell and Stock were solid little communities as well. Bracewell could well have had an older church under the same order as Barlick or even a Pagan meeting place. We have no evidence of these but in view of the age of the settlement it would be strange if it hadn’t followed a similar course to that in Barlick.
The bottom line is that the bones of modern Barlick were set on the ground and well established by 1200. The core of the town didn’t alter very much over the next 350 years but we can’t ignore this period, history never stands still, there are momentous events to record.

In 2007 I found a book which contained the accounts of Bolton Priory and bought it. Unfortunately it was in Latin! However, after a quick crash course and a lot of help I managed to extract the following:
P. 54. In expenses in connection with negotiations or trade with William de Hamelton there is an item of 2d which seems to be for hire of packhorses from Barnoldswick.
P.69. Under Custus domorum. [Expenses connected with the house?] ‘Et sarratoribus in bosco de Bernolwyk. 2s/10d. [‘and for sawyers in Barnoldswick Wood’]
P.80. ‘Et carpentariis laborantibus in Bosco de Bernolwik.” Payment made by Bolton Priory for carpenter’s work which could have been connected with wagon or carriage building in the ‘wood of Barnoldswick’. [‘Bosco de Bernolwik’] 3s/7d. Seems to have been in connection with the expenses incurred by a mill. [Custus molend{inorum}]
P. 339. ‘Empcio bladi’ [Purchases of grain.] ‘Pro XXX. Qr. Avene empties apud Bernelwyck.’ 30 quarters of oats bought at Barnoldswick. 55s/4d.
P. 341. Payment to Johanni le Tournour; 12d, which seems to be for felling trees in the wood of Barnoldswick. [meremio (meremium=timber) prosternendo (prosterno=to fell)] Purchase of 30 quarters of oats [Avena] at Barnoldswick.
1313/14. Payment made for [ventilatione] wheat at Barnoldswick; 8d. This seems to be ‘exposing to the wind, ie. winnowing or drying. Payment made of 2s/8d for feeding of sows at Harden and Barnoldswick and housing pigs at Unckthorp [sic] [Ingthorpe].
I suppose the trick when looking at disconnected entries like these is to seek out any relation to other facts from different sources. The references to purchase of grain seem to include both oats [avena] and wheat [bladi, which means grain, esp. wheat]. I can’t think of any direct reference to wheat in Barlick but the ON word for oats is ‘havre’ and we have the district in Barlick on rich bottom land which is still called Havre Park [oat field]. The suggestion is therefore that Barnoldswick had enough oats to export some in 1313. One more thing to bear in mind is that the sums of money quoted are substantial. We can’t give a relative value in today’s terms with any accuracy but multiplication by a factor of 1000 would be conservative I think.

I’m on slightly firmer ground with the timber. Here’s an entry that Doreen Crowther [how we miss her!] gave me when I was researching water mills:
From CHRC [Court Rolls of the Honour of Clitheroe] Water mill at Colne repaired 1442/1443. Two loads of timber from Barnoldswick Wood carried there to make two ‘balkes’ at 8pence per load. Two loads of timber for ‘ground werke’ at 8pence per load. One load of timber for making a ‘sille’ under the ‘axeltree’; 8 pence. Paid 12 pence for carriage of another ‘sille’ and ‘ground sille’ from Pendle to Clitheroe. Same rolls record carriage of one axletree from Barnoldswick; 12 pence. Three loads of timber for the soles of the shears at the said mill [this is a fulling term and therefore must be referring to the Walk Mill.] at 8 pence per load. Carriage of three beams of ‘le shrendicg’ and other necessaries at 8 pence per load.
This reference has intrigued me for years. It is firm evidence that Barlick was a source of large timbers, almost certainly oak or perhaps elm because of it’s water resisting qualities. One could be forgiven for inferring that it was a better source than Colne or anywhere nearer, otherwise, why go to Barlick? So when I saw the phrase ‘Bosco de Bernelwyk’ [Barnoldswick Wood] in the Compotus my antennae started twitching. The 1297 entry is even more interesting because it too seems to be connected with expenses incurred by the mill. However in this case it is specifically connected with labour connected with wagon-building. The 1312 entry of payments to Johanni le Tournour is a bit murky because of my lack of knowledge of Latin. I can’t find a proper translation of ‘meremio prosternendo’, ‘prosternendo’ is translated as to lay low, knock down, overthrow and I have believe that this refers to felling trees. ‘Johanni le Tournour’ gets me twitching even more, could this be John the turner? The modern equivalent of John Turner?
There is plenty of historical evidence that the Egyptians were using a two man lathe as early as 1300BC. The Romans certainly had lathes and I think we can be certain that the technology was widely used in the 14th century. Given the level of skills needed for wagon-building (including wheelwright’s work) it’s not stretching the interpretation too far to assume that John was indeed a turner and a skilled carpenter as well. Add this to the evident availability of large timbers in ‘Barnoldswick Wood’ and we have what may have been a thriving local industry in the 14th century.
There are later references which give tantalising suggestions of this same industry. Atkinson in Old Barlick says that there was a saw pit outside Monk’s House in Barlick. There was a saw pit at Ouzledale Mill which is noted as a sawmill on the 1853 first edition of the 6” OS map and one in a wood yard where Croft is today. Hey Farm was a wheelwright’s shop until the early 20th century. There are suggestions of some form of mill or early industry on Lamb Hill in Barlick where Wapping meets Church Street.
So, what can we infer from the conjunction of these references? Nothing ground-shaking but enough evidence to be able to say that at the turn of the 13th century at the latest, Barnoldswick was exporting grain and had resources of heavy timbers and skilled labour important enough to be used by the King in his repairs to Colne Mill and by the Augustinian monks at Bolton Priory for specialised carpentry. This makes Barlick the centre of an area about 15 miles across in which it was a recognised focus for these materials and skills.
I was talking about this with Dave O’Connor and Billy Parsons and they both drew my attention to the fact that on Higher Lane near Standing Stone Gate there are two farms; Wood End [SD884442] and Wood End Farm [SD883437] the names of which raise the question, what wood? There is also Booth House Farm [SD886445] in the same area. ‘Booth’ originally meant shelter and seems often to be associated with a clearing in woodland.
The reference to mules in the entry for 1294/95 is vague but it interests me because during my research I have allowed myself a flight of fancy as to what sort of trades would be likely to be pursued in a town like Barlick which was relatively isolated. It seems to me that the provision and operation of pack animals was quite likely. The possible hire of mules in 1294 from Barlick is not definite proof of this, but allow me the luxury of saying that it points in the same direction.
At the very least, this is cautious progress in our understanding of an era which is so badly documented. The most significant thing is that Barlick was mentioned in all these references and this indicates that it was regionally more important than I had realised.

One of the story-teller’s duties is to examine the less attractive episodes of history. One such field is natural disaster and at one point in my research I noted the great famine of 1283 which undoubtedly hit West Craven hard. This triggered me into doing a lot of digging into disaster and death and I want to look at some of the worst things that have happened to Barlick. Lovely stuff to research, you can’t beat some death and disease to spice up history and trigger the scribes into a bit of serious record-keeping. Every now and I’ll get adventurous and look further afield for the evidence. Trust me, I might seem to be starting a long way from home but it’s going to be vitally important to West Craven in general and Barlick in particular.
We need a bit of clarification of terms before we dive into this. We’re going to look at deadly infectious diseases and must understand certain terms. ‘Endemic’ means that an infective agent is embedded in an eco-system and can flare up at any time. ‘Epidemic’ is a local outbreak of the disease caused by the infective agent if such a flare up occurs. ‘Pandemic’ is the situation where a disease rampages over great distances and infects many countries.
Right, let’s have stab at this… Between 1000 and 1250 was a pretty good time to be alive in Europe. The harvests were good, trade was flowing freely and there was relative peace largely because the belligerent tendencies of the ruling classes were focussed on the Crusades. Population grew, large towns and cities developed and surplus wealth financed immense projects such as the Norman castle building in England after the Conquest and the subsequent founding and growth of monasteries like Fountains, Bolton Priory and even the short-lived foundation in Barlick. This period has been described as the ‘High Middle Ages’. By 1300, the amount of land under cultivation in Europe had reached a level that was not to be surpassed for 500 years.
Of course, it couldn’t last. The first problem was climate change, the advent of the Little Ice Age. (You thought this was a new phenomenon?) The harvest failed in 1272, 1277, 1283, 1292 and 1311. 1315 to 1319 was even worse, at least two harvests failed all over Europe. 1332 was another bad year and 1345 to 1348 even worse. To make things even harder in West Craven, the Scots were starving as well, and between 1315 and 1320 made serious raids into the more prosperous North of England to pillage and steal cattle. Much of West Craven was laid waste. We can be certain that this happened because we have the written evidence of the Bolton Priory accounts which relate that by 1320 the situation was so bad that the Priory virtually shut down and was taken under the King’s protection. As far as we can make out it took 50 years to recover. Oh, by the way, it never rains but what it pours, there was a ‘Great Murrain’ of cattle in 1319-1320, the equivalent of our modern Foot and Mouth Disease but more deadly. Not surprisingly, the population of Europe declined under this attack and there is good evidence of this decline starting around 1320. The people who survived the famine years were at a low ebb physically and almost all the poor were under-nourished or actually starving. All these factors affected Barlick.
Recognising that all this was going on, let’s step back and look at disease. The generic disease we are looking at is Plague. There are three forms of the disease: Bubonic, which even in those days was not always fatal. Pneumonic which attacked the lungs and could either be a consequence of Bubonic or an attack without the appearance of buboes, the trade mark swellings associated with the Bubonic plague. Finally there was Septicaemic plague which attacked the bloodstream. Both the latter were usually fatal and killed very quickly. We also need to know something about the flea which is always blamed for the spread of the disease. A flea which has fed on the blood of a human infected with Bubonic Plague can’t absorb enough organisms for it to transmit the disease effectively. However, in the case of the second two forms it can. Generally speaking, bubonic plague is not particularly infective.
I suppose that we were all taught about the Great Plague of London in 1665 which killed almost everyone and then the Great Fire cleaned the city up. This isn’t quite true and is not the whole story. I think you might get a bit of a surprise here, I certainly did when I dug this lot out. How many of you have heard of the ‘Plague of Cadwallader’s Time’ in 542? I certainly hadn’t but it was a virulent outbreak that started in Arabia, ravaged the Justinian Empire and went on to attack Ireland in 664. Notice how long it persisted, this is one of the hallmarks of the Plague. The pandemic we are going to look at comes next in the timeline but we need to note that there was a later outbreak of plague in 1892 which started in Yunnan, China, spread to India and had reached Bombay by 1896 killing some 6,000,000 people. Here’s the surprising bit about this one, it reached Suffolk in 1910 but fizzled out killing very few people.
The main event and the one I want to concentrate on is the Black Death of 1347. We are an insular lot in Britain and this is the date which is always attributed to this pandemic but research by the Russian archaeologist Chwolson near Lake Isyyk-Koul has raised the possibility that it first struck in the district of Semeriechinsk in central Asia in 1338. It is thought that the original trigger for the migrations of small animals that carried the virus was a series of natural disasters in China in 1333. By the way, the original carriers of the fleas were almost certainly Marmots. The bacillus Pasteurella Pestis (now called Yersinia Pestis) which causes plague was probably endemic in a flea called X-Cheopsis which lives in small mammal fur. The outbreak of 1338 was the start of a major pandemic which spread half way across the world and killed ferociously for twenty years before becoming semi-dormant. Some historians say it took Europe 200 years to get back to the population levels before the plague. Here’s another surprise, the Great Plague of 1665 was almost certainly a last kick from the Black Death.
All this seems a long way from Barlick but I can assure you that it was to have a direct effect on us. The first worrying rumours probably arrived in Barlick in 1346 after word reached Britain of catastrophic events far away across the world. In the history that I was taught at school this would have been regarded as a very suspect statement because it was generally assumed that transport and communications were just about non-existent in the Dark Ages. Modern scholarship and archaeological research have completely dispelled this myth. We have seen plenty of good and well documented examples of how good communications were long before the 14th century. Here in Barlick we have one well supported proof of this. Shortly after the monks from Fountains Abbey arrived in Barlick to found their new monastery and pulled down the existing church the local priest appealed for justice to York and Rome. He received an answer from Rome within six months. I doubt if you could get a swifter response today using email. The conclusion is that Barlick was definitely not isolated from the rest of the world so it is reasonable to expect that a rumour rife in the South of England in 1346 would reach Barlick very quickly.
The rumours were that plague was raging in the Middle East and working its way across Europe. It seemed to be following the trade routes across the Mediterranean and there was no reason to suppose it would not reach Britain. We should pause for a moment here and try to get our brains in gear. What was the medieval attitude towards infective diseases? What was their frame of reference?
The short answer is that they regarded disease, especially death dealing plague, as punishment for real or imagined sins and this dogma was preached from the pulpit every Sunday, it was an act of God and couldn’t be resisted. They had many precedents from the Bible to support this view, the Flood, the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the plagues of Egypt. Spiritually, they were defenceless because to deny the Will of God was a sin in itself and would make them even more vulnerable. There was no medical defence against any disease beyond infusions of common plants made by ‘cunning persons’, usually women with a knowledge of the healing properties of herbs. What doctors existed were worse than useless, research suggests that you were less likely to survive under the ministrations of a doctor than if you relied on self-medication. The only medical theory that had any bearing on the course of the plague was that of the ‘miasma’. What medical practitioners there were believed that infections were borne along on the wind in a miasma, an invisible cloud of disease. This basic misunderstanding of the nature of infection was not fully discredited until the mid-19th century when it was finally proved that Cholera was caused by a micro-organism spread by contaminated water. In physical terms, the poorest in the population were at a low ebb after years of famine. We know that this was the case in Barlick and had been exacerbated by the Scottish raids. In short, we were about as vulnerable as we could be to a pandemic.
We have good evidence of the onset and course of the Black Death from ecclesiastical records. The plague first arrived in Melcombe Regis, now part of Weymouth and almost certainly by way of trade with the Channel Islands. We were always taught at school that the carrier was the Black or Ship’s rat. We know now that it was either the infected flea or just as likely infected humans carrying the disease. The most likely date for the arrival is in June 1348 with the first deaths in July. The only defence was flight and this helped to distribute the infection which spread across the South of England and then headed North. By April 1349 the plague had reached York and the church records show that the Deanery of Craven was perhaps slightly less affected than most, only a third of the clergy died. Lancashire was one of the most thinly-populated counties in England but this did not save it from a death toll of between a third and a half. As far as we can calculate, the population of England in 1348 was about 4,200,000. At least a third and possibly more, 1,400,000, died. This scale of mortality was repeated all over Europe and is remarkably consistent.
So, using a conservative estimate, at least a quarter of the inhabitants of Barlick died from the Black Death in the year 1349. I can only guess at what the population was. I know that in 1801 there were 1574 inhabitants according to the census. I also suspect that there was a rapid rise in population during the 16th century so I am going to make a blind guess that in 1348 there was about a quarter of that number, say 400 inhabitants. This will not be accurate but it won’t be a long way out. Taking the conservative estimate of a 25% death toll, at least 100 bodies would be buried in Gill Church yard in 1349.
This raises the question of where are they buried. It is certain that the bodies would be interred near the church in holy ground. We know from the court rolls of the time that Gill Church came directly under the control of the abbot and priests of Kirkstall Abbey and the cleric in charge would be a Cistercian monk. Apart from considerations of cost, gravestones were not used in the 14th century. There may have been temporary markers and perhaps chest tombs for notables who couldn’t find room inside the church but no headstones as we know them as the monastic rule of the Cistercians eschewed any kind of show. If I was asked to make a guess where they were buried I would say in the hollow SSW of the church so that any infection would drain away downhill into the gill.
So, it was the worst of times. We can be sure that after years of famine in 1349 West Craven was struck by the deadliest disease known. At least a quarter of the population of Barlick died and were buried at Gill Church, there would be a similar death toll throughout West Craven. The epidemic would peak early in the year and it isn’t a big stretch of the imagination to see that there could have been ten burials a week in Gill churchyard at times. We can’t imagine how this affected the village, they must have been terrified and totally defenceless. All they could do was wait to be picked off. If better documented accounts of the disease in other townships are to be believed, the infection would rage for about ten months. The winter of 1349 must have been the worst in Barlick’s history.

In 1349 at least a quarter of the inhabitants of West Craven died of plague. I’m going to concentrate on Barlick but the same thing happened throughout West Craven. What interests me is not so much the disease but the effect that this catastrophe had on the social structure of the village. How did the inhabitants cope with the horror and what were the after-effects. You’re quite right, I have been digging…
We need to know what the structure was before the plague in order to assess the effects. There was no organised industry, everyone lived off the land. A few people had skills like wood and metal-working or textiles and they supplemented their income by barter. There was limited wage labour because all the inhabitants were subject to a local lord who controlled all the land and the peasants. Most Barlickers and the land they worked were owned by the Lord of the Manor and he gained his income by tithing (taxing) them either in money, produce or labour. There were two sets of laws; the Manorial Law which was administered by the Lord’s officials in a local Manorial Court and the King’s law which was promulgated throughout the local administrative area which was a Wapentake.
The Lord of the Manor had rights to his domain by reason of favour from greater Lords who got their grants of land from William the Conqueror after the Norman Invasion of 1066 when he rewarded all those who had helped in his campaign by giving them control over enormous areas of England. In return for this gift, these greater lords administered their fiefdoms, kept the peace by armed force based in castles and paid service and taxes to the king. The local lords were the De Lacy family at Pontefract Castle.
Barlick was slightly different from most other manors in that on 18th May 1147 Henry de Lacy gifted the manor of Barnoldswick to the Cistercian monks of Fountains Abbey in order to found a monastery. By 1152 they had given up the struggle to establish themselves in Barlick and moved to what is now Kirkstall Abbey at Leeds. They retained ownership of the manor and with the help of the de Lacy’s fought off rival claims to the manor until in 1156 Kirkstall and all its satellites was taken under the protection of Adrian IV the Pope in Rome. The Crown continued to claim that the transfer of 1147 was illegal and despite the Pope’s protection the dispute rumbled on for 200 years until a final settlement in favour of Kirkstall Abbey in about 1340. We know for certain that the Abbot of Kirkstall was firmly in charge of Barnoldswick in 1344 because there is record of a suit between the Abbot and Simon de Blakay who was accused of taking trees to the value of 100 shillings from the Abbot’s woods at Barnoldswick ‘by force of arms’.
So, in the plague year of 1349 Barlick was under the control of the Abbot of Kirkstall Abbey. The priest at Gill church was one of his monks and the Manorial Court was run by the Abbot’s appointees who collected rents, fines, tithes of produce, taxes and service for the coffers of the Abbey. The church was powerful in every manor, whoever the lord was, but it seems reasonable to suppose that in the case of Barnoldswick, the ecclesiastical writ was even more pervasive.
Let’s step back a bit and consider the world view of a 14th century peasant. He or she believed implicitly in a concept known as the ‘Chain of Being’. This was an hierarchy of everything existing in the world which had God as the head followed by the different orders of Angels. Next in line was the Pope and the Church followed by Kings and descending to stones at the bottom. Peasants came in higher than the animals, but only just. There was opportunity for advancement in the higher orders, a priest could become Pope and a noble a King but lower down in the order everything was set in stone. You were born into your station in life and stayed there. Our Barlick peasants knew their place and who their ‘betters’ were. Because Kirkstall owned the manor their immediate ‘betters’ were the monks. This concept was powerful and remarkably persistent, I can remember singing a hymn written in 1848 by Cecil Frances Alexander known as ‘All things bright and beautiful…’ which included the line ‘The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate’, God made them high or lowly and ordered their estate’.
Right, we’ve got the context in place, let’s have a look at what happened when the plague struck. From time immemorial Barlickers had been brainwashed with the idea that they were menials fit only for service. They were tied by law to the land and couldn’t move out of the manor, in effect they were slaves. The monks preached that they were born sinful and that disease and accidental death were punishments of sins by God and had to be accepted. Any resistance to God’s will was sinful and would attract further retribution. This was their unchangeable lot in life. Then came the plague…
The first thing Barlickers noticed was that the church gave no protection. The plague took lords, clergy and peasants alike. If death from infection was a punishment for sin it followed that everyone who died was equally sinful. This was contrary to everything they had been taught and verged on being unbelievable but the evidence was clear to see. Doubts must have begun to stir in the minds of the peasants. Imagine the conversations round the fireside as Barlickers tried to make sense of what was happening. If the monks were as pure as they said they were, why were they being punished for sins? Conversely if God was all-powerful why was he punishing the innocent? It was a grave spiritual dilemma which shook the foundations of not only their lives but those of the clerics as well.
There was another consequence, there were less hands to labour on the land to produce tithes of produce and give service to the Abbot. This meant a reduction in food for the Abbey and a deterioration in the assets as cultivation and maintenance of much the farmland ceased. The Manorial Law started to break down, you couldn’t get tithes from people who had nothing. From evidence in other parts of the country it appears that deference to the Lords and Clergy also suffered. In December 1349 Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury was attacked by a mob as he preached in Yeovil and there was a riot against the church which lasted for two days. The peasants were getting restive, they had been badly let down and their confidence in the Chain of Being was shaken. Something fundamental was happening as a consequence of the Black Death.
I don’t know whether you have ever come across ‘Chaos Theory’ but what it proposes is that small events can have immensely powerful knock-on effects. A butterfly flapping its wings in China can start a chain of events that leads to a typhoon in the South Seas… On the face of it the death of a hundred peasants in Barlick was a minor event. The death of over a million in Britain was serious but a few years of breeding would put that right. I don’t think it was as simple as that and subsequent events seem to bear this out. I believe that what happened in Barlick in 1349 was a butterfly flapping its wings and it changed our village and the attitudes of its people forever. We need to look at the storm which followed in more detail.

One of the many things that puzzled me when I was a schoolboy was why people who came forward with new ideas got such short shrift from the Church. It seemed so unfair to kill someone just because he said that Earth revolved round the sun and not vice versa. It took me a long time to realise that this was due to cultural arrogance and a fight to preserve the status quo even in the face of overwhelming evidence. In other words, rocking the Church’s boat was not allowed.
Looking back from the 14th century, the Isles and western Europe were an intellectual closed-shop for a thousand years due to lack of communication with other cultures. Indeed, such was our western arrogance that though we knew these cultures existed, we also knew that they were inferior because they did things differently than us and so were obviously foreign and savage. All this started to unravel in a century when Barlick and the rest of Europe were ravaged by war, famine and disease. It was also the start of an intellectual earthquake which shook existing beliefs to their foundations. It was later described as the Renaissance, the rebirth.
It’s natural to look for starting points for major historical shifts like this. One trigger was in 1085 when Alfonso VI re-conquered Toledo and made it a tolerant city where Christians, Muslims and Jews peacefully coexisted and were allowed to worship in their churches, mosques and synagogues without fear. Later, in the 13th century Alfonso X established a school of translators, mainly Jewish scholars, who translated many of the Arabic, Jewish and Greek texts in the great library at Toledo into Latin, the European language of scholarship. It was from this source that Europe got Arabic numerals and many scientific discoveries. Greek philosophers like Aristotle became accessible and the results spread across the western world. The West suddenly discovered that the foreigners weren’t as backward as they thought.
For over a thousand years western scholarship had been founded on Christian teachings and under the all-powerful influence of the Church in Rome had built a world view which was rigidly enforced as a means of preserving order. Any rebellion against this culture was suppressed by the Church police, the dreaded ‘Inquisition’ staffed by monks of the Dominican Order. Incidentally it still exists today under the title ‘The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’. The present pope, Ratzinger was its head and had the nickname ‘The Pope’s Rottweiller’. Its task was and still is the suppression of heresy as defined by the Church.
One of the major problems the church had with the new knowledge was that if it was true that the world could be defined by scientific laws it followed that God was also subject to these laws and therefore couldn’t be omnipotent. This was obviously a heresy and explains why new scientific discoveries were suppressed. We can still see echoes of this debate in the opposing factions of the Creationists who believe in a strict interpretation based on Bible and the Darwinian scientists who base their interpretation on evidence.
There was more to come. From 1206 until 1368 the Mongol Empire grew until it stretched from South China across Europe to Vienna. The stability it gave to this region encouraged travel. A young man called Marco Polo left Italy in 1252 and travelled across the empire for 25 years. He was one of the first westerners to penetrate China and brought back amazing stories of the sophistication of the Chinese and their civilisation which were largely regarded as travellers tales. On his deathbed he was asked by his family and friends to admit he had been exaggerating but he replied that he hadn’t told them half of what he had seen. This incredulity persists today. How many of us realise that in the early 15th century China was building ocean going ships with nine masts, ten times bigger than the western ships. They sent trading and exploratory fleets around the world. Their navigation was excellent and the maps they drew almost certainly form the base for the maps later used by the western explorers. They mapped Antarctica, visited Australia and the Americas and circumnavigated the world. Half way through the 15th century religious strife closed China down to the outside world, the fleet was scrapped and most of the records destroyed. They retreated into obscurity but their influence had reached Europe and was largely suppressed.
We don’t need to go a lot further into this story, all I want to do is alert you to the fact that at the same time that I have been suggesting that the world view of our Barlickers was shaken by famine and the consequences of the Black Death other forces were at work undermining the 1000 year predominance of a culture based solely on the teachings of the Church. Is it any wonder that we see the decline of the monasteries, the rise of independent thought and a movement of change within society that shaped our modern world. Perhaps when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and threw off the yoke of Rome he too was responding to these new discoveries and ‘heresies’.

I believe that all history is work in progress. I can give you my version but then along comes new evidence and we have to re-assess and adapt. Nowhere is this more true than in what I am going to pursue now. However, I am in good company, G M Trevelyan, possibly our greatest twentieth century historian, wrote in 1942 that the Black Death ‘was a fortuitous obstruction fallen across the river of life and temporarily diverting it’. He claimed that it was just as important as the Industrial Revolution and I agree with him, indeed, I would go further and say that it was one of the essential precursors for the massive changes of the succeeding centuries.
Tearing at least a quarter of the population out of a society must have an effect. What we have to do is identify that effect and its consequences. In economical terms it savagely reduced the available labour. While it is true that even before 1348 the peasants had been gaining a little ground in their dealings with the lords in so far as some element of money had entered the structure of rents and remuneration for service, this was only marginal. The villeins were still slaves tied to their lords land. The lords managed the population in such a way as to ensure that they were well enough fed to breed and produce a surplus of labour. The Black Death changed all that in less than a year.
Suddenly, labour was at a premium and the villeins slowly realised that they had the upper hand. The lords had to relax their economic hold to encourage the labourers to work for them. They couldn’t survive without them. If a neighbouring lord offered better terms in order to get more workers the peasants did what would have been unthinkable before 1349, they migrated to where the best conditions were. We hear a lot nowadays about economic migration between countries. This was what happened in England but between lordships and many villages were depopulated to the point of extinction. These abandoned villages seem to more numerous in the more southerly parts of England, I don’t know of a single one in our area that expired due to the plague. There may be a reason for this…
The Court Rolls of the Honour of Clitheroe in 1311 and 1323 mention a fulling mill at Colne and another one at Worston in 1311. We know that there was a one in Burnley before 1342, there is a set of accounts for its repair. Fulling mills were an essential part of the woollen industry and so we can be sure that there was a thriving cottage industry spinning and weaving wool in our area as early as the late 13th century. This means that some of our Barlickers had an independent source of income before the plague struck and it would make sense for them to divert their labour into the cottage textile industry rather than flee to find better conditions. This independence put more pressure on the lords and there is evidence that it became more profitable to rent holdings off for cash than to exact tithes of produce and service. Any labour the lords needed was paid for and wage labour expanded much faster than would otherwise have been the case.
There is documentary evidence. We know that this switch to wage labour happened widely in England because the Lords saw the problem coming and tried to claw back their advantage by Acts of Parliament. The Ordinance of Labourers was passed by Parliament on the 18th of June 1349. This was the first of a series of measures designed to curb wages and restrict the movement of labourers. These Acts would not have been passed if there was no need for them, their existence is proof that the problem existed. The restrictions generated resentment amongst the villeins and this simmered for many years with consequences we shall see later.
The plague year of 1349 had other consequences in Barlick. The plague struck people down regardless of rank or position and this shattered the notion that the lords and clergy were less sinful or more important in the eyes of God. The one good thing about the Black Death is that it was no respecter of persons. This sowed the seed in men’s minds that the Chain of Being wasn’t unbreakable after all. Remember the attack on Bishop Ralph at Yeovil, this was open rebellion against the church and its teachings, evidence of independent thought. I won’t go so far as to say that the Black Death was the birth of dissent and non-conformism but it certainly looks like a nudge along the way. I also believe that the relaxation of the iron grip of the lords in the aftermath of the plague stimulated the domestic textile industry and gave some of the cottagers a glimmer of the hope that they could gain independence.
So what are the certainties about Barlick in 1350? The community had suffered from the plague and assuming a total population of say 400, over 100 had died and been buried in the churchyard at Gill. The hold of the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall over the village had been shaken and a logical response would have been to allow leases for rent and to turn a blind eye towards failure to give service. A cash rent must have been attractive to the Abbey as domestic textiles gave some tenants independent income. Anyone who took advantage of this relaxed burden and became a copyhold tenant would feel that they had advanced up the ladder of life. Once started there was no reason why they shouldn’t climb further. Confidence in church power and authority had been irretrievably damaged. There was suddenly the space for independent thought and a measure of dissent. Things would never be the same again.
The survivors gained an unexpected bonus from the severity of the mortality. The death of a quarter of the population meant that there were less mouths to feed but the size of the resource remained the same. Recovery would be helped by the fact that there was more food per head than before the plague hit. Even the darkest cloud has a silver lining.
I went down into the bottom half of Gill Churchyard one day, next to the Gill running across the back of the site. It was a cold, grey December day and that part of the churchyard is overgrown and covered with dead vegetation. It looks to me like the ideal place for plague burials, within Holy Ground but far enough away from the church to give an illusion of protection. It was very easy to imagine poorly clad villagers hurriedly burying their dead on a cold winter day. There is no visible sign of the graves and it’s a sad place, wherever they are, I hope they rest in peace.

800 years ago the most important factor governing the lives and world view of Barlickers was the supremacy of the church of Rome. Even kings deferred to the edicts of the Pope. This was stronger in Barlick than most other places because the Manor was a satellite of the Cistercian Abbey at Kirkstall, the abbot was Lord and the parish priest was one of his monks. Putting ourselves into the villager’s frame of reference, religion had almost completely replaced the magic associated with the older beliefs of Paganism. Prayer was seen as a kind of magic whereby people could ask God to intercede and protect them from events over which they had no control. In the miracle of the mass wine changed into blood and bread into flesh when the priest cast his spell on it. The traffic between God and Man was two-way, He (no doubt in those days it was a man!) had the power to help but could also punish. The teaching of the church was that the ills that man was heir to were for punishment of sins. Nowhere was this more true than in plague times. There was no medical understanding of the Black Death, it was simply retribution for wrongs committed.
Prior to the plague this all made a lot of sense to the villagers. Obedience and clean-living led to a quiet life and beneficence from the church which was landlord as well as spiritual guide. Then came the Black Death and we know from the ecclesiastical records of the time that 40% of the clergy died, if anything this was a slightly higher proportion than the ordinary people, possibly because in the course of their office they came into contact with more people and were more exposed to infection. This death toll in the clergy was a puzzle for the villagers. They had been led to believe that the clergy were less sinful than them and yet the plague struck them down as well. There was obviously something wrong with the world view that Rome had imposed on them. At the very least, this must have raised doubts in some minds about their personal beliefs. We know from church records that this was a problem the clergy were well aware of, there are records of church services being modified to pray for relief from the plague which was portrayed more as a general affliction than direct punishment. This makes sense and it is more than likely that the priest at Gill took the same line. We don’t know whether he was a victim but from our general understanding there was one chance in three that he perished.
There was another factor at work. When we look at Barlick we should always take note of what was happening in the wider world and recognise that news travelled fast. In 1331 the hostility between France and England exploded into open conflict and the Hundred Years War began. The Catholic church in France suffered a double blow, a failure of the economy due to the war and looting by the marauding English soldiers. Remember that these soldiers were men who had been reared to respect the church as the supreme authority and suddenly they found themselves being encouraged to plunder it. How many men from the West Craven area served in that army? Surely there must have been some and what ideas did they bring back with them? It seems to be a fair assumption that the age-old supremacy of the church was faltering even before the Black Death arrived.
This is where we have to be careful not to reach further than the evidence will support. Nonconformism and opposition to the Roman church didn’t spring up overnight in the 14th century and sweep all the old beliefs away. However, it isn’t stretching things too far to suppose that seeds were being sown in men’s minds which made them more open to new thinking and which eventually became full-blown protest. Protestant ideas were current in society and slowly grew. It is inconceivable that factors like the damage done to the church by war, economic instability and the plague didn’t have some effect.
I think that life went on in Barlick largely as before. Everyone who was able attended church services and paid lip service to the Roman religion but I suspect that talk round the fireside at night might have been on more unconventional lines. Beliefs and old attitudes were being questioned. Once the mainstay of spiritual life was weakened it spread into other areas of day-to-day existence. It’s tempting to think that all the Barlickers in those days were peasants in thrall to the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall who were Lords of the Manor but we have good evidence that this was not so. We have records in the Bolton Priory papers and the Court Rolls of Clitheroe of exports of grain and timber from Barlick. We even have the name of an individual, the 1312 entry in the Priory Compotus of payments to Johanni le Tournour of Barlick for wood products from Barnoldswick Wood. This man was no villein, he was a tradesman dealing directly with the Bolton Priory for substantial amounts of cash. Add to these clues the existence of an independent domestic textile industry and we have families which had taken the first steps down the road to being entrepreneurs. My suggestion is that the weakening of the spiritual hold of the church encouraged men to apply new thinking to everyday life as well. The Chain of Being had been damaged beyond repair, could salvation lie in their own hands rather than a suspect clergy? After all, it was obvious they weren’t perfect, the plague had killed them as well.
We have been concerned here with the Plague of 1349 but should note that there were subsequent outbreaks in 1361, 1369, 1374 -1379 and a fifth one in 1390-1393. If the 1349 outbreak hadn’t happened, that of 1361 would have been seen as a great catastrophe. The subsequent events were on a diminishing scale but still significant.
So, Barlick in 1350… the village is recovering slowly from the catastrophe of 1348 to 1349. The wool trade is buoyant, there is a demand for timber and grain and the supremacy of their landlords has been shaken. Men are daring to consider new ways of running their lives. There was to be no overnight change but I believe that important seeds had been sown. It can be argued that capitalism and enterprise had been nudged forward by the Black Death, the evidence supports this so perhaps our kite has more wind under its wings than we thought. Next we must take a look at the reaction caused by these changes, the medieval equivalent of trouble at t’mill!

There are no specific records of wage levels for Barlick in the 14th century but just as the death toll from the plague was uniform, so were the economic effects. Perhaps better documented areas can give us some clues. In 1350, the Cellarer (responsible for the accounts) of Leicester Abbey recorded with horror the fact that labourer’s wages had doubled. The legislation which started in 1349 and was added to in subsequent years amounted to a statutory labour and wages policy proving that there was a perceived problem. This was exacerbated by a general fall in produce prices due to lack of demand. The measures were underpinned by coercion and the broad tone of them was of indignation that labourers should dare to expect a fair and competitive wage. Labour was made compulsory and relief in the form of alms was denied to anyone seen as shirking. In modern terms this was withdrawal of benefit if work was not sought. (Some things never change.) There were even punishments for employers who paid excessive wages in order to attract labour. The legislation was designed to turn the clock back to pre-Plague conditions.
We have evidence that local Justices of the King’s Peace applied these laws rigorously. In one case that we have records for, illegal fines were imposed by Lionel Bradenham JP. in Langenhoe near Colchester and collected with the assistance of armed gangs. He was petitioned against and dismissed. There is good reason to believe that in some cases the fines were not only unjust but were embezzled by the magistrates taking advantage of cumbersome and inefficient accounting systems. We have no direct evidence of this happening in Barlick but the mechanisms were in place and the possibility can’t be discounted.
In their efforts to recoup some of the income lost by the shortage of labour and falling produce prices landlords became more amenable to allowing copy-hold tenancies. These were written leases to property which were ‘copied’ into the Manorial Court Roll and thus became a legal right rather than a privilege based on ‘custom’ and subject to tithes of produce and labour. Many customary tenancies were made copyhold subject to a money rent instead of labour and tithe. These cash rents raised manorial incomes but gave the tenants legal rights and a measure of independence. There was a thriving domestic textile industry and an established trade in timber and grain in Barlick so it is reasonable to infer that some tenants gained these benefits. This independence and the growth of personal income increased the level of resentment felt by the emerging proprietors at any attempt to tithe them further.
The domestic wool trade had another important effect. In a purely agricultural economy land-holding was essential if independence was to be gained. The only people who escaped this trap were those with a craft or skill like a blacksmith or miller but these opportunities were limited. In Barlick, almost every cottager could have a spinning wheel and a loom and enter the textile trade. Therefore it is reasonable to suppose that in our area the growth of opportunity and independence was greater than in purely agricultural districts.
Outside events were conspiring to increase burdens of general taxation. The resumption of the war with France in 1369 and the death of Edward III in 1377 led to the rise of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster as the power behind the throne at court. A ‘Poll Tax was instituted in 1377 to raise revenue and this proved deeply unpopular not only with the people but with the church as well because the clergy were to be included. The level of tax was not related to ability to pay, it was a fixed rate per head. The importance of this is not so much the tax but the tensions inside government between Gaunt with his protégé Wycliffe, a theologian who had radical views about the need for the clergy to come within lay control, and his opponents. There are numerous well documented examples of this London based controversy spilling over into the shires and causing local protests and riots.
There were three Poll Taxes, 1377, 1379 and 1380 and each added to the flames of resentment in the country at large. These finally culminated in the Peasant’s Revolt, the saga of Wat Tyler and the armed confrontation in London which so nearly brought about full scale revolution. However, these armed uprisings were mainly confined to London and the South East Counties, there is no evidence that there was any unrest in Barlick. This is not to say that news hadn’t reached us, word of mouth was a very efficient news service, the pack horse trains, drovers and other travellers spread the word all over the country.
The Peasant’s revolt was short-lived. It started in May 1381 when a Royal Commission was sent to Kent to recover arrears of tax, peaked in June in London when Tyler and Richard II met at Smithfield and Tyler was assassinated, and rumbled on through the Home Counties until October in the same year when the last of the rebels was executed and John of Gaunt and his rival the Duke of Northumberland were formally reconciled. The revolt had been crushed, the shock of it had forced the establishment to close ranks and as far as Parliament was concerned it was business as usual.
Barlick was lucky because the madness of the Revolt never reached us. The establishment might have been expected to behave better towards the common people after this glimpse of revolt through the furnace door. However, I don’t think we should under-estimate the effects of the news round the firesides of West Craven. We have good reason to believe that by 1350 there were stirrings of independent thought bolstered by changes in society after the Black Death. In 1381 it might have occurred to our ancestors that there was yet another possibility, political power. These were intelligent men and they must have realised that despite the crushing of the revolt, change in the system had been wrought. Barlick would go on quietly gaining hold in the textile industry and building wealth and population. A century later they had succeeded so well that extra land had to be enclosed on the wastes around the town to feed the growing population. The Black Death was a catastrophe but if we look hard enough we can see the roots of our modern economy and social structure in the ‘cloud of miasma’ that swept over us in 1349.
One little fact that I stumbled across during my reading for this period is that the first refusal to pay tax was at a village in Kent called Fobbing. I’ve often wondered what the origin was of the phrase ‘fobbing off’, perhaps this is where it started. The tax collector was told to come back the following day, he had been fobbed off.

I’m going to have to take a great leap forward after this chapter because in the words of one of my old mates, Bob Smith, I’m plaiting sawdust for two centuries. There is virtually no evidence for Barlick in the 14th and 15th centuries beyond what we can infer from national catastrophes like the Black Death and well documented events like the Peasant’s Revolt. Having said that, there are some conclusions to be drawn from general trends which can be seen all over England during these years. Earlier I said that one influence on Henry de Lacy at Gisburn when he gave the Manor of Barnoldswick to the monks of Fountains Abbey was perhaps a bit of rivalry with his Norman mate Sir William de Percy who, on January 6th 1147 founded the more successful abbey at Sawley. William later augmented the Sawley gift with lands at Dudlands and Ellenthorpe, both in what we now know as Gisburn. This has a bearing on our story because at a later date these lands were granted to another noble and at that transfer included lands in Barlick. Some historians have concluded that this means that Sawley Abbey was the owner of Coates Township. This is not correct, it appears that Coates had been taken by the Crown. This is an indication of the fact that the influence of the church was diminishing and as we will see later, they gradually lost their hold on Barlick.
Another local name pops up in the records in the 13th century. William Waddington was the feudal lord of Waddington near Clitheroe and in 1272 his daughter and heir, Alice, married Roger Tempest, Knight of Bracewell. In the 14th century there is mention of two other Tempests in Barlick, one living at Rayne (Rainhall?) and the other at Calf House. We know that the Tempests still held the manor of Bracewell in the 16th century because of their part in a court case which we shall soon be looking at. At that time, Tempest seems to have been the lord of the Manor of Barnoldswick as well.
On the national scene the early part of the 12th century was notable for a feud between Queen Matilda ( daughter of Henry I and designated by him as heir to the throne) and her Cousin Stephen of Blois who held the crown only because he got to it first after the death of Henry in 1135. This dispute was settled by what is known as the Treaty of Wallingford because that’s where the affair came to a head. The result was that Matilda’s son, Henry of Anjou became Stephen’s heir, Henry II, and this was the start of the reign of the Plantagenets. I’m not in the business of recounting the squabbles of the aristocracy, if you want to know more about them, pop into the library and start reading old-fashioned monarchy-based history. What interests me is what the consequences of these disputes was down at the grass roots in a place like Barlick.
The net result of ‘The Anarchy’, as the prolonged royal disputes were later called, was that the hold of the monarchy over the land fell apart in ‘chaos, carnage, famine and extortion. Every jumped-up baron a kingling in his own shire’ (Simon Schama). The Anglo Saxon Chronicle marks the period as a ‘time of war’ when the barons stripped the people of all their wealth by taxation and when there was no more to give, plundered and burned the villages. This is obviously an exaggeration, all the villages weren’t destroyed and indeed it would have been against the magnates interests to do this, the peasants were valuable livestock as their labour was needed to till the land. We have no knowledge of the direct effect of the Anarchy on Barlick. It’s safe to assume that in these dangerous and troubled times our ancestors did what they knew best, kept their heads down and carried on as usual. The fact that they were a chattel of Kirkstall Abbey could have been an advantage because the most rapacious baron would think twice about attacking the property of the Church. This could have been useful insulation against national events. What interests me is the nature of the Monarchy’s hold on the land. How did the Norman invaders rule and what changes were there? Anglo-Saxon England before 1066 had a complex structure of law and administration. The monarch ruled a land divided into shires, wapentakes (or hundreds) and manors. The King’s Law applied down to Wapentake level and was observed by the lords of the manors. Each manor had its own court and customs and any taxes or duties levied by the monarchy were applied to the local lords and not the villeins. This is why the Poll Tax was such a shock to the kingdom, it broke tradition.
The Normans took this structure and used it virtually unchanged apart from replacing most of the Saxon Lords with their own knights. The Saxon lords who kept their manors were the ones who bowed to the inevitable and gave allegiance to their new masters, the even greater Norman lords who had been rewarded by William with control of vast tracts of the land. This is how Henry de Lacy gained his estates. The system of courts and law-giving was largely left intact. Overlying this structure was the totally separate rule of the Church which was used by the invaders as a part of their overall strategy. Control of society through the power of the barons at manorial level, spiritual control by the Church and overall supervision by the monarchy under the supremacy of the Pope. Once the barons started to divide into factions looking to their own interests during the Anarchy this system started to break down and this is the root of the ‘chaos, carnage, famine and extortion’ noted by Schama. This breakdown of order continued in one form or another until the Wars of the Roses, the final struggle between the Lancaster and York branches of the Plantagenets. Richard III was the last of the royal line and died in 1485. He was succeeded by Henry VII who, though having a Lancastrian Mother and a wife from the House of York, is generally recognised as the first of the Tudors.
So, my bottom line for this chapter is that I feel I have failed my readers. I can tell you nothing specific about Barlick, I’m plaiting sawdust. However, we arrive at 1500 with enough evidence to say that our village was, apart from the ravages of the Black Death and other natural disasters, relatively unscathed due to the fact that being in thraldom to the Abbey at Kirkstall gave them some protection against the expansionist policies of the barons.

Henry VII (January 28th 1457 to April 21 1509) was the first Tudor King. Many historians define him as a ‘liminal’ monarch. By this they mean that the period of his reign marked the end of much that had gone before and the beginning of many strands that were to become important for the development of our modern world. Due to the Anarchy in Britain when the country fell into chaos as the various factions fought for the Crown, Henry was raised in exile, mostly in France where he was supported by the monarchy and provided with an army which he eventually used to literally seize the crown on the field of battle at Bosworth Field in 1485 where Richard III was killed. Henry backdated his accession to before the battle so that any of his enemies that survived automatically became traitors, an early sign of the ruthless streak that was to serve him well. One of his contemporaries was Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 to 1527) who wrote ‘The Prince’ and amongst much chilling advice included the maxim that it was better for a Prince to be feared than loved. I wonder if Henry read the book?
Henry laid the foundations for the Tudor dynasty which was to be widely recognised as one of the most settled and law-abiding periods of Britain’s history. He removed his adversaries by any means, stopped foreign war, addressed the Royal finances by improving internal tax-gathering, imposed customs duties on wool policing them vigorously and even introduced the first ‘non-dom’ tax under which foreigners living in Britain were taxed. He built ships and encouraged voyages of exploration. He and his court travelled widely, gathering intelligence and giving himself the information he needed to rule efficiently. He was content to allow the nobles their regional influence if they were loyal to him. For instance, the Stanley family had control of Lancashire and Cheshire, upholding the peace on the condition that they themselves stayed within the law. Henry VII used Justices of the Peace on a large scale. They were appointed for every shire and served for a year at a time. Their chief task was to see that the laws of the country were obeyed in their area. Their powers and numbers steadily increased during the reign of the Tudors, never more so than under Henry. He introduced the Court of the Star Chamber which revived an earlier practice of using a small and trusted group of Privy Council members as a personal or prerogative court, able to cut through the cumbersome legal system and act swiftly. Serious disputes involving the use of personal power, or threats to royal authority, were dealt with in this way. In 1502 he suffered a serious blow when his son and heir Prince Arthur died during an epidemic of disease at Ludlow Castle. He never recovered from this and on his deathbed was observed to be in great anguish, many believed this was because, at the point of meeting his Maker, and as he no doubt believed being judged for his actions during life, he was aware of his sins in particular his execution of anyone who threatened the throne. Because Arthur died young, Henry VIII acceded to the throne and the Tudor dynasty was secure. Much of this was a direct result of Henry VII’s rule, whatever his faults, he left the kingdom in better shape than he found it.

Let’s draw another line in the sand, what did Barlick look like in 1500? I can start with one piece of reliable research. Take a moment to read this:
[Extract from ‘THE MONASTIC GRANGE IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND’ By Colin Platt. (Lecturer in history at the University of Southampton.) Published by Macmillan. 1969. GRANGE AND MANORIAL SITES. Page 189]

‘BARNOLDSWICK, YORKS.: SD872466. Cistercian(Kirkstall). There are minor earthworks visible in the field to the north of the present factory buildings and to the west of the town of Barnoldswick. They include a medieval boundary bank and the faint remains of a few buildings. Ridge and furrow to the cast of the modern hedge line runs over what might prove to be further more extensive remains. For some five or six years Barnoldswick was the site of the first conventual buildings of the community that later settled at Kirkstall. The monks came to Barnoldswick on the invitation of Henry de Lacy, who himself held the land from Hugh Bigod, earl of Norfolk (d. 1177). Hugh Bigod was persuaded to confirm the grant of these lands on the discovery that Henry de Lacy was not entitled to give them away (Kirkstall Coucher, pp. ix-x, 188-9). In 1276 Brother Peter was the granger at Barnoldswick. He is known to have cut off an ear of a serving-boy at the grange who was caught stealing two loaves of bread (Rotuli Hundredorum, II12). In the last years of the same century the grange was demised for life to Peter of Chester, a wealthy provost of Beverley connected with the Lacy family. Peter died C. 1298 (Kirkstall Coucher, P. 330). It was at this period that certain valuable pasture rights of the abbey at Barnoldswick were threatened by the claim of Henry de Lacy (d. 1311), earl of Lincoln. The dispute was finally resolved in favour of the abbey by a royal mandate dated 21 August 1335 (ibid. PP. 321-39). In September 1540, following the suppression of the abbey, the manor of Barnoldswick (called 'le halle demeynes') was farmed by Richard Banester, holding this and other Kirkstall properties by an indenture granted by the late abbot and convent (PRO Min. Accts, SC6/Hen.VIII/4590, m. 12).’
It’s nice to be certain of one fact. After the resolution of 1335 the manor of Barnoldswick was firmly in the hands of the Abbot of Kirkstall. We have the name of Banester (Bannister) associated with the village for the first time and it’s significant that the original lease was granted before the Dissolution of the monasteries. All very clear-cut and positive isn’t it. But hang on a minute, research is a strange country and the landscape can change even as you walk over it. In 1415, at Southampton on July 22nd Henry V made a grant of the Manor of Barnoldswick to one of his nobles excepting the church, the tithes and some land which remained with Kirkstall. Barnoldswick was a Royal Manor, Kirkstall Abbey had lost the battle for ownership. The remainder of their possessions was to be lost when Henry dissolved the monasteries between 1536 and 1540.
We have another reliable source of information; the Reverend John Henry Warner, vicar of Barnoldswick (1930) who published ‘History of Barnoldswick’ in 1934 which was more accurately a history of Gill Church. He was a considerable scholar and with the help of historians at Leeds discovered some valuable early records. Our problem is that they give a more complicated picture than Mr Platt. On page 44 of his book the Reverend Warner takes issue with Whitaker who, in his history of the Deanery of Craven states that:
‘In the time of Queen Elizabeth, Ralph Banester was a principal landowner in Barnoldswick Cotes holding there ‘ten messuages, ten tofts, ten gardens, 200 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow and 200 of pasture of the Queen in capite by the 40th part of a knight’s fee’ which land was supposed to be part of the Sawley Abbey estate and granted to Sir Arthur Darcy by Henry VIII in 1543/45.’
Darcy did receive various lands of Sawley including Gisburn Manor and part of these grants was an estate in Coates which was confiscated land of Kirkstall. This is certain because on January 30th 1553 a licence was given by Edward VI, on payment of 28 shillings, to ‘Arthur Darcy, Knight, to grant his messuages in Cotys (Coates) in Craven in Gilkirke parish, Yorks., late of Kyrkestall, monastery, Yorks, to Richard Bonaster his heirs and assigns.’ Complicated stuff I know but what we learn is that on this evidence, Coates was never in the ownership of Sawley and there is confusion as to when and how the Banisters got control of Barnoldswick. It gets even more complicated because we have evidence that on September 23rd 1536 Richard Banaster Senior and his son Richard Junior were sitting on the jury of the Manorial Court. The evidence suggests that at the Dissolution, Kirkstall didn’t control the whole of the Manor of Barnoldswick. We have another puzzle in 1580 because we are going to look at a court case between Banester of Trawden representing the tenants of Foulridge and Tempest of Bracewell representing the tenants of Barnoldswick. More about this shortly
I’ve gone into these references in depth to show you how complicated the research can get. Only one thing is certain about the period between 1415 and the dissolution of Kirkstall Abbey in 1539, part of the Manor of Barnoldswick was still a grange of Kirkstall.
In 1500 the Manorial boundary is the same as that confirmed by Henry de Lacy in 1147 and corresponds exactly with the present day Parish Boundary, including Bracewell. The population is recovering from the depredations of the Black Death and may have been doing better than much of England and certainly Europe as a whole because we know that a thriving domestic industry has started to emerge and incomes were rising. The spiritual shocks of the 14th century and the changing attitudes of the church in the management of their lands mean that there is a growing ethos of independent thought. Some tenants have taken Copyhold Leases on their properties, shaken off the yoke of the Chain of Being and are emerging as yeomen farmers. These are the families that begin to figure large in the affairs of the manor and many survive in Barlick to this day. We are beginning to see the emergence of a totally different society. The physical layout of the town is the same as it always was from the dawn of settlement. The core of the Village is at Townhead with outlying farms scattered thinly about the manor. The major routes govern the development of the town and are still with us today, Gisburn Road, Colne Road, High Lane and Skipton Road through the township of Coates. The buildings are still mainly built of timber with wattle and daub infilling and thatched roofs. The main difference you would notice over the last 200 years is that new-fangled smoke hoods and some chimneys have been added to channel the fumes from cooking fires out through the roof. Proper wooden doors and wooden mullioned windows are common and there may even have been some panes of glass in the windows of the wealthiest houses.
Horses were more common and were used as riding or pack animals. The standard draught animal was the ox and some farming was done on communal fields in strips, a practice that survived into the 18th century. I have no evidence for the field system in Barlick but there is a map of Bracewell surveyed in 1717 showing the communal fields and the names of the tenants. As the population rose after 1500 the old hand methods for grinding grain couldn’t supply the demand and we see water-powered corn mills springing up under the control of the King, the monasteries or the Lord of the Manor. There are two candidates in Barnoldswick and Bracewell and whilst we can’t put an exact date on the first build of either it would be shortly after 1500.
The village was largely self-sufficient, the only goods imported would be luxuries for the better-off families with perhaps some coal for high status houses. Metals would have to be brought in for use by local smiths for the manufacture of horse shoes and small iron artefacts like hinges, brackets and parts for spinning wheels and looms. Very few nails would be used, they were too expensive, structural timbers and furniture were fastened together using wooden pegs. Wooden platters would still be the norm in the poorer houses with some pewter starting to be used by those who could afford it. Cooking vessels would be stoneware with the occasional copper pan. Thin-walled cast iron vessels couldn’t be manufactured until the 18th century so the common image of the iron pot hung over the fire is a modern invention.
The overall picture in a good harvest year is one of a busy and relatively successful village. The Manorial Court regulated people’s lives and called for labour to mend maintain the roads. We know from the Court records that allowing fences to fall into ruin, failing to clean ditches and maintain the drainage system and obstructing the highway with rubbish or by encroachment were all seen as misdemeanours and were prosecuted, fines and other punishments were imposed.
I suspect I may be viewing Barlick through rose-tinted spectacles but no matter. I have no evidence of it being anything other than a pleasant place to live in by the standards of the time. We have to try to look at these things through the eyes of the contemporary inhabitants of 1500, it’s no use applying our modern frame of reference. I quite like my Barlick of 1500…

The division of England into shires as administrative regions was established by the Anglo Saxons on the basis of Celtic clan lands and refined into the county divisions of the Normans and Plantagenet Angevins. Besides being divided into three Ridings, East, North and West (a Riding being derived from the Norse word “thriding,” meaning a third part) Yorkshire was further divided into administrative areas called Wapentakes, the Danelaw equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon Hundred in most other counties. The word derived from an assembly or meeting place, usually at a cross-roads or near a river, where literally one’s presence or a vote was taken by a show of weapons.
Barnoldswick lies in the wapentake of East Staincliffe. This reference is taken from ‘The Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Part VI’ Published by the English Place Names Society. It’s fairly dense text but this is because it is written by academics who are experts in the field. Their criterion is that the evidence must be found in the documents. This leaves aside any speculation and means that what is written is as near as possible good evidence taken from prime sources. It can be trusted implicitly. I know it’s hard reading but we can learn so much from it.
“Steinclif Uap’ 1166 P, -wap’ 1195, 1196 P, 1231 Ass 14d, Stainclive e. 13 Puds, (wap’ de) Stainclif(f), -y- 13 Font, 1228 Rip, 1230 P, 1276 RH, 13o3 Aid, Pat et freq to 1471 Fount Pres, -cl’ i26o Y1, -Clyf(f)e, -i- 1285 KI, 1303 KF, 1323 Ass 3, -clyve, -i- 1274 Puds, 1105 Y1, 1316 Pat, Staynil 1293 Y1, Stainhill 1295 Ipm’. [These are references to specific documents from which the information has been gleaned.]
The wapentake is named from a lost Staincliffe in Bank Newton 55 infra; in the twelfth century the wapentake met at Flasby (48 infra) which is some distance from Staincliffe (12 Font 376). The eastern division of the wapentake includes the upper parts of the valleys of the R. Aire (Airedale iv, 89 supra) and the R. Wharfe (Wharfedale v, 2 supra); this region is very hilly, largely characterised by the green hills and fells of the mountain limestone. There is extensive moor land on the higher ground of the Millstone Grit area which lies to the south and a certain amount of woodland in the valleys. The chief towns in this division are Keighley, Barnoldswick and Skipton. The wapentakes of East and West Staincliffe, lying in the north-west of the Riding on the Lancashire border, together form the district of Craven (infra), which was the name of a wapentake at the time of the DB survey, and East Staincliffe itself included the Honour of Skipton (Honor de Sciptone 1191 RBE, Honore de Skipton in Craven 1285 KI, etc., cf. Skipton 71 infra).
Cravescire, Crave’ 1086 DB, Crau-, Craven(a) 1134-52 Furn, a. 1152 YCh vii, 1154 Selby, c. 1187 Dugd v, 1198 Fount, 1214 CIR, 1218 Percy et passim to 1590 Camd, Cravana 1154 YCh 480, 1175 ib 359, Crau-, Cravene 1166 P, c. 1175 Font, 1202 FF et freq to c. 1416 Fount, Crafna c. 1160 Richard of Hexham, Crawyn 1421 Y1, Cravyn 1457 FountBurs, Crayffyn 1537 Test vi.
The name was that of a DB wapentake: apart from a group of four or five places in Lonsdale, including Melling, Hornby and Wennington in Lancashire and Thornton in Lonsdale, it corresponded approximately to the later wapentake of Staincliffe, at least to those parts east of the R. Ribble. It was also the name of an archdeaconry and a general regional name which at times formed an affix in many place names like Stainton 55, Bolton 63, Skipton 71, and many other township names in East and West Staincliffe, but none west of the R. Ribble; Sawley 182 is the most westerly township so described. The exact limits of the area are not easy to determine but the eastern boundary between Great Whernside (V, 2 18 supra), Craven Well and Appletreewick Pasture (in Appletreewick vi, 78-9 infra), the R. Washburn (presumably near its source) and Addingham (57 infra) is detailed in 1307 Y1. Several other place names containing the name Craven (Craven Sike v, 219 supra, Craven Wood 8, Craven Cross and Craven Moor 78 infra, Craven Laithe in Middop 172 infra, (Craven Bank & Ridge in Giggleswick 145, Cravenegate in Gisburn Forest 170, Cravens Wath f.n. in Ingleton 248, Craven’s Way in Dent 255 infra, etc. and possibly Cranoe Hill 40 infra) are on or near the boundaries of this district. There is no evidence later than DB to show that it extended westward of the R. Ribble or north into Ewecross Wapentake.
The name is usually assumed to be of Celtic origin; in ‘English Place Names’ p.129 Ekwall suggests that it may be connected with Welsh craf ‘garlic’ and be similar to the Italian place name Cremona, which Holder 1158 associates also with Welsh craf, Irish creamh. [SG note: I’ve looked the reference up in my copy and Ekwall doesn’t mention the Italian or Welsh connections. Wild garlic does grow well in the area.] The theory implies the lenition [These scholars do love confusing the peasants. I looked this word up and eventually found it in Webster’s unabridged dictionary. ‘Lenition’; ‘A phonological process that weakens consonant articulation at the ends of syllables or between vowels causing the consonant to be voiced, spirantised or deleted. In linguistics a type of Celtic mutation that derives historically from phonological lenition. Obsolete sense, 1535/1545 ‘mitigating or messuaging’. There, you know now what it means, I doubt if it will figure in any of my conversations…] of Brit cram- to craf-, but there is no difficulty in this (cf. Jackson 488 ff).”
So, what can we glean from this scholarly evidence? First, that Craven was an earlier Saxon wapentake but by the time of DB [Domesday Book] the present division of East and West Staincliffe was introduced. The most usual reason for a revision like this is that the original area became too unwieldy, perhaps due to population increase, and was split into two to make it more easily administered. As for Staincliffe, I am intrigued by the suggestion that this is named after a lost name in the Bank Newton/Stainton area. There is a group of farm names between Bank Newton and West Marton called Little Stainton, Stainton Cotes, Stainton Hall and Stainton House. The etymology of the name is almost certainly ‘steinn’ or ‘stain’ (stone) and ‘ton’ (farmstead), stony farmstead, (the land is in a valley bottom and on boulder clay and does contain a lot of erratics) and nothing to do with the personal name ‘Stain’ which was the name of a person who is mentioned in DB as holding three carucates near here.
The evidence for Staincliffe near Bank Newton is from Yorkshire charters, 1208, vii, p. 150. According to the same deed it was near Stainton. Etymology of the place name is most likely ‘steinn’ and ‘clif’, ‘Rock cliff’. This explanation makes sense as the location of the lost Staincliffe is almost central to the two later wapentakes. If Flasby was the original meeting point for east Staincliffe it was almost certainly the moot for the earlier Craven. It seems strange to us nowadays to find that such an obscure place was so important but we must remember that the factors that dictated the location; distribution of population, ease of access dictated by topography, existing roads and tracks and defensible considerations, were totally different 1500 years ago when these divisions were put in place. We can therefore place Barnoldswick firmly in the early wapentake of Craven and the later divisions of East and West Staincliffe. Indeed, if the lost Staincliffe at Bank Newton/Stainton was important enough to be used as the administrative name for the areas then Barnoldswick was very close to both the centre and the meeting place at Flasby.
I thought about this and it struck me that one possible reason for holding the moot for a wapentake in a small village with easy access instead of in the main administrative town could be the danger of having a lot of people with weapons gathered together in times of dispute. Less chance of insurrection and take over if they are in a field out in the open rather than milling around in the middle of Skipton. There is no evidence for this but I think it’s a reasonable suggestion. A bit like swords being prohibited in the House of Commons. If I was in charge of such a meeting of armed citizens I would want it to be held in a place capable of being controlled by my militia. Think good over-view, open country, ease of encirclement etc. It seems to me that in times of unrest, holding a meeting where everyone was required to carry a weapon is a high risk strategy. Flasby [SD945564] is overlooked by a fell to the east between the moot and Skipton and therefore giving a good view of any move towards the town. It is bounded to the south by what would then be marshy ground and the River Aire and is within easy reach of militia based at Skipton castle. Although there was an ancient settlement at Flasby I know of no administrative function such as a court being held there. It looks as though the wapentake or hundred moot was a separate function from the Manorial court at Skipton. It may well be, as suggested above, more to do with the military or defensive structure of the region. I suppose that what I’d really like to know is what subjects were actually decided at the moot. 
This is a massive subject.  However, I went to one of my old mentors; John Campbell-Kease, in his wonderfully informative, ‘A Companion to Local History Research’  Here’s one section of his guidance on the subject.  [pp. 74-76]. This is heavy stuff I know but please take thee trouble to read it. You will learn much about the world our old Barlickers lived in.

The later Saxon laws, spread over the years 950 to 1042, regulated a number of issues, and the majority appear in translation in Robertson and Thorpe. ‘A Handbook to the Land Charters and Other Saxonic Documents’ edited by J. Earle (Oxford 1888) is also of value, especially for the reign of Cnut. The secular group of King Edgar’s codes drafted at Andover 959-63 confirm the meeting of the hundred court, and laws 5.1 and 5.2 laid down that the borough court was ‘to be held thrice a year and the shire court twice ... and at the shire meeting the bishop and the ealdorman [were] to be present, there to expound both the ecclesiastical and the secular law. Rules were laid down regarding sureties, and the hunting down of criminals that they be taken ‘dead or alive’. Coinage was standardised, as was the system of measurement ‘observed in Winchester’.
King Ethelred’s code issued at Wantage, probably in 997, is valuable in that it gives important information on the administration of the Danelaw, and in ‘the peace which the ealdorman and the king’s reeve give in the meeting of the five boroughs’ - that is to say Lincoln, Stamford, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. The laws held for hundreds and wapentakes. The code dealt with a variety of matters such as trial by ‘ordeal of fire or of iron’; issuing false coinage; the slaughtering of animals; and much broader matters of civil disturbance and well-being. King Ethelred’s code of 1008 dealt with all manner of moral issues - ‘shameful frauds’, ‘horrible perjuries’, ‘devilish deeds’, ‘deeds of murder and manslaughter’, over-eating, over-drinking, breaches of the marriage law and ‘evil deeds of many kinds’. It dealt too with the defensive works of boroughs, and with military service.
About the year 1020, Cnut, last of the Danish kings of England, developed the code which is much the longest to survive from the Old English era. It was, to a large extent, made up from the appropriate pieces of the laws of earlier monarchs, but there were new elements which this outstanding sovereign wished to be observed ‘all over England’. A few extracts will illustrate a little of the range of the code. ‘And he who wishes to purify the country rightly ... must diligently restrain and shun such things as…. ‘hypocrisy, lies, robbery and plundering’; ‘and let us take thought very earnestly about the improvement of the peace and the improvement of the coinage ... about the improvement of the peace in such a way as may be best for the [law-abiding] subject and most grievous for the thief .. and about the improvement of the coinage [so that there is nothing] false and no man is to refuse it.’ ‘It is a heathen practice [to worship] the sun or the moon, or fire or flood, wells or stones or any kind of forest trees ... or to take part in such delusions.’ The laws dealt with the rights of reeves and freemen, with buying and selling, with observing the hue and cry, the payment of wergild (‘man tribute) -the price set upon a man according to his rank, and paid in compensation (or fine) in cases of homicide and certain other crimes to free the offender from further obligation or punishment. They also covered the treatment of slaves, working on feast days, incest, adultery, arson and much more.
To end this section brief consideration will be given to the ‘law of the Northumberland priests’, committed to writing around the time of Cnut’s laws, that is 1020-23. As Dr Whitelock points out in EHD1 [English Historical Documents] p.471, ‘Evidence relating to the north of England in the later Saxon period is scanty. This code shows us that heathen practices had still to be reckoned with, and it reveals a three-fold division of society for certain purposes, giving a unique term to describe the lowest free class, for it seems to talk indiscriminately of a ceorl, a tunesman [’villager], and a mysterious faerbena [possibly a freeman who was not a landholder]. It reveals also the organisation of the priests of York into a community with common obligations and a common chest, the existence of the office of archdeacon in the northern province, and the toleration of the marriage of the clergy in this area.’”
See what I mean about insights? My reading of this is that the moot associated with a wapentake or hundred was the mechanism used by the Crown to communicate a unified code [the Common Law] to the hundreds and shires, as opposed to local law set and administered by the Manorial Courts. I am surprised to see the frequency of four weeks mentioned. It also seems to have been a mechanism for making general lines of governance plain to the common people as opposed to rigid law. I suppose the nearest we have to this nowadays is devolved assemblies. What is certain is that until better means of communication from the centre became available, the moot of a wapentake was a very important element of the Crown’s control over far-flung and inaccessible areas of the kingdom.

We’ve managed to stick fairly close to the chronology up to now but I want to look at something that I found which prompted me to do a lot of digging and the result spans the period from 1147 to 1580. Bear with me because it is a valuable piece of local evidence and gives us some concrete clues to much that we have already described. There will be some repetition but think of it as reinforcement.
Early on in my researches I found mention of a dispute in Chancery between Barlick and Foulridge in 1580. I later discovered that a map existed surveyed at the time of the court case so I went searching again, found the map and got a copy. As I delved in the old records to find evidence about the dispute I found that there was a much older disagreement over boundaries on the moor which had considerable implications for Barlick. We have to go back another 400 years to the time when land ownership after the Norman Conquest had settled down a bit and Henry de Lacy was in residence at Pontefract Castle holding land across northern England as a reward from the king for his family’s part in the Conquest.
Some time after 1140, Henry was a bit poorly and had only two resources to call on, magic and religion. Being a Christian and of course, at this time, a Catholic, he knew that magic belonged to the devil so he sent for his priest. He told the priest to have a word with God and tell him that if he got better he’d build a monastery for him. The priest went off into the chapel and set about his prayers and shortly afterwards Henry recovered from his illness. It was a combination of this event and probably also the fact that a neighbouring baron was setting up an abbey at Sawley that brought Henry to the point where he had a word with the Cistercian monks at Fountains Abbey and told them that if they built a monastery in Barnoldswick he would give them the manor.
In 1147 Barnoldswick was granted to Abbot Alexander of Fountains by charter and we have a very good record of this land grant. These records include a contemporary account of the ‘perambulation’ that was necessary to prove the boundaries of the land being granted. Part of this perambulation is on the 1580 map and comparison of this account with the map enabled me to recover some lost names on the moor. First, an explanation; perambulation is a word which comes from the Latin and means to walk about. The point being that there were no reliable maps and the legally accepted way to prove a boundary was to walk it and describe the various points passed through. The section that interests us in the 1147 grant is as follows: ‘By the stream called Blackbroc and up the moor to Gailmers and so directly to Ellesagh, across Blacko Hill and up Oxgill to Alainsete and thence to the ancient ditch between Middop and Coverdale’.
When you’re researching something evidence like this is pure gold because it is tied to topographical features that don’t change over time. The first bit is obvious and gives us the best start we could have. Henry, with his scribes and a band of armed men (he wouldn’t be daft enough to go out without them) walked along Black Brook (now called County Brook) from the east and straight up the moor to the west. They came to ‘Gailmers’ which is a lost name but looking at the 1580 map we see that a bog in the corner of what is now Whitemoor reservoir was described as ‘Gail Mose’ or ‘Fail Mire’ depending on whether you listened to the defendant or the plaintiff. This must be Gailmers. (I think Gail was an ancient name for a plant that was common on boggy ground.) The next place mentioned is ‘Ellesagh’, another lost name, but on the 1580 map there is a notation referring to ‘Ellshaye’ near Lister Well, again, can there be much doubt that this is the same name? From here the party struck out across the moor to Blacko Hill but before we follow them let’s look more closely at ‘Elleshagh’.
On the map, there is another notation that is almost completely obscured but it looks as if it is describing the well on the moor which we now know as Lister Well as ‘Ellshaye’. In 1580 it was marked on the map with a crucifix which denotes a site of religious importance. This was an attribute often given to important water sources and dates back far beyond Christianity to pagan times when sources of water were venerated as they were life-giving. The men of the early church weren’t daft and often appropriated important pagan sites into the church mythology. Let’s have a bit of fun with place names.
The nearest name to Elleshagh I can think of is Elslack. If you look in Eilert Ekwall’s Oxford dictionary of Place Names you’ll find that his explanation is that it means ‘Elesa’s stream’. Elesa and Elleshagh are too close to be coincidence. Elesa is an Anglo-Saxon name and the first Elesa I have traced was born in 439 in Saxony, North Germany. His son Cerdic became King of Wessex and his line can be traced directly to Egbert, first King of All England in 827. So we can be fairly certain there was an Anglo-Saxon bloke called Elesa about in the district over 1,300 years ago who may have been related to royalty. Suppose his name had been given to the well and this later became corrupted to Lister Well after the Listers became an important family in the area in the 15th century. It’s quite possible that in 1580 the folk memory still called the spring ‘Elesa’s Well’ or a corruption to Elleshagh. Things like this are the romantic bit about history. I can’t prove any of it but it’s easy to imagine Elleshagh being corrupted to Lister and this is as good an explanation as any. One thing is certain, the well was there and had importance before the Listers ever came into the district and must have had a name. I’ll stick with my theory until there’s a better one! Back to Henry and his perambulation.
From Blacko Hill he walked across to ‘Oxgill’ and up this to ‘Alainesete’. We know that Alan’s Seat was the old name for the summit of Burn Moor, probably because this land had earlier been part of the Percy Fee (land held from the Crown by the Percy family in Yorkshire) and Alain de Percy must have rested here during an earlier perambulation of his boundary with the Forest of Blackburn. Whenever you see a summit marked as somebody’s seat you can be almost certain that this is the derivation of the name, it’s a point on a boundary where you can survey the surrounding land and where the lord sat while his scribes took notes during a perambulation. The only gill running up to Burn Moor that fits our path is what we now know as Claude’s Clough and Jackson Slack so this must have been Oxgill in 1147 and is marked as this on the map in 1580. So taking the direct line from Elleshagh up to the next eminence, Blacko Hill, we go via Wheathead, up the gill to the top of Burn Moor. From there we strike out to the east to ‘the ancient ditch between Middop and Coverdale’. This is the line of what we now know as Coal Pit Lane which is the extension of Gisburn Old Track down the north side of the moor. This is a good clue because the ‘ancient ditch’ referred to is a much older boundary or perhaps a defensive earthwork and is an extension of the Black Dyke. There’s a good opportunity here for a bit of legwork on the moor. I’ve never walked Coal Pit Lane and it could be interesting. Remember Coal Pit Lane, it comes up again later…
The crucial thing about the boundary as perambulated by Henry de Lacy, apart from the fact that it explains three lost names with a degree of certainty is that it includes Admergill within the Lordship of Barnoldswick. On the 1580 map there is a boundary marked ‘Black Dike which divideth Whitemoor and Admergill’ and this is the modern boundary. It would seem that Henry didn’t own Admergill, he was only tenant and as such he had no right to grant it to the Monks. For the next three hundred years the land was in dispute and sometime around 1340, after a court case lasting over 13 years between Queen Isabella and Kirkstall Abbey, it was adjudged to be the property of the Abbot and Convent of Kirkstall who at that time held Barnoldswick as a grange. Despite this decision Isabella retained the land as part of the Forest of Blackburnshire and it was in dispute again in 1374. By 1395 Richard II had enough confidence in his ownership to grant Admergill to William, son of John de Redcliff as a vaccary. (stock-rearing farm) In 1415, at Southampton on July 22nd Henry V made a grant of the Manor of Barnoldswick to one of his nobles excepting the church, the tithes and some land which remained with Kirkstall, probably Calf Hall. Barnoldswick was a Royal Manor, Kirkstall Abbey had lost the battle for ownership. The remainder of their possessions was to be lost when Henry dissolved the monasteries between 1536 and 1540.
This may be a good place to talk about King Henry VI and Bracewell. I knew that there was a building there known locally as ‘King Henry’s Parlour’ but didn’t know how it got its name. Henry was a Lancastrian king and at the battle of Hexham in 1464 he was defeated by the Yorkists, part of the infamous ‘Wars of the Roses’. Henry fled the field and ended up taking refuge with Sir John Tempest, a staunch Lancastrian, who held the Manor of Bracewell. We don’t know how long he hid there but eventually he removed to Waddington where he was betrayed by the Talbots and taken to London to be imprisoned in the Tower to be murdered in 1471.
It begins to look as though I might have been right about Barlick being a safe place under the protection of the Abbey at Kirkstall because once the Manor was reclaimed by the King its security depended on his influence and we see a deterioration. During the Wars of the Roses the reigns of power shifted about so much that it was licence for the local hierarchy to do anything they could to augment their lands and income. In 1501 we have a record of a dispute between Henry Pudsey and one Christopher Banaster who is accused of occupying Brokden (Brogden) by force. Henry Pudsey is described as ‘the fermor to the Sovereign Lord the king of his Lordshippe and Manor of Barnolsweke’ in other words, Henry is the King’s Steward for the manor. He seems to have held his own manor from the King at Rymington (Rimington). The root of the quarrel seems to be that Henry Pudsey had allowed Christopher Banaster to occupy the land for three or four years but then Christopher had deserted him at the Battle of Newark. Christopher responded that the accusation was false because he had found a man to do the ‘kynges grace servyce’ (in other words he had paid someone to go and fight instead of him) and that Henry Pudsey knew this. We know nothing of the outcome of this particular dispute but there follows a litany of Henry’s crimes against the tenants of Barnoldswick.
Richard Boothman, a tenant of the Manor complained to the king that Henry Pudsey had sent his men to beat him and when they couldn’t find him had beaten his pregnant wife instead. She was dragged out of the house by her hair and she ‘lay under a hege all the night and two days the said Henry commanding that that no man should help her or socoure her’. Ten weeks after this beating she died in childbirth and this was blamed on the beating. A ‘crowner’s inquest’ (coroner) found this to be the case but could not decide who had beaten her. Pudsey countered this charge by accusing Boothman of being ‘a man of evil disposition and being responsible for three several affrays to the great disturbance of the King’s Peace’ Warner gives several more instances of the cruelty of Henry Pudsey and his crimes against the tenants but says that eventually his son Ralph Pudsey married a daughter of the Tempest household at Bracewell and hopefully this healed some of the old wounds. In passing we should note that even the clergy had not been innocent of sins. On October 26th 1361 at Westminster, the King’s son, Edmund de Langele accused several of the clergy of poaching and stealing from fish ponds. One of the men named was ‘Robert that was the monkservant of Barneldswyke chaplain’. Hard times after the Black Death had perhaps forced him to it.
Another strand that emerges from the Leases and Manor Court Rolls is the constant occurrence of matters relating to fuel. Everything from disputes as to who is allowed to dig turfs on the moor and gather wood to Sir John Tempest of Bracewell being granted a lease by the king in 1555 to dig for ‘seacoles’ (coal) in the manor of Barnoldswick for a period of thirty years. This search may have been successful because in 1622 there is a record of miners in Barnoldswick paying a considerable rent of sixteen shillings and eight pence for the privilege of mining coal and slate stone. I often wonder whether these workings are the origin of Coal Pit Lane leading down off Weets towards Gisburn. We know that the population was rising in Barlick at this time because enclosures started to be made on the waste, the tenants were land and resource hungry, a sure sign that more people had to be fed. Notice the references to the right to take turfs (peat) from the moor for fuel. We forget these days how important peat was to the economy. If you doubt the scale of use, think about the Broads in Norfolk. Until quite recently it was thought that these were natural bodies of water but then it was discovered that they are the remains of enormous diggings for peat.

In Warner there is an account of a petition made by a William Emetson (Edmondson?) of Moor Close in Barlick against Sir Christopher Parker, William Thomas and John Parker of Barnoldswick who entered his land on the 4th of May 1580 armed ‘with daggers, long pykes and staves’ and, finding Bartholomew Edmundson ‘beat, hurt and wounded him and hadde slayne him if one Thomas Murgatroyde and Robert Bewe, servants of Robert Tempest Gentleman hadde not reskewed him’. Christopher Parker was the successor to Henry Pudsey, Queen’s Steward of the Manor. It would appear that little had changed for ordinary Barlickers even though the country, under Elizabeth, was generally more stable and law-abiding.
In the same year, 1580 ‘Michael Lyster of Brockeden, in the Lordship of Barnoldswick, Gentleman, Allen Edmundson the Younger, yeoman, William Brockeden of Barnoldswick, yeoman and Richard Laycock, yeoman all tenants of the Queen in Barnoldswick sought to confirm their common rights of Blacke Brooke. They claimed the right to haul turfs and pasture their cattle on land called Whyte Moor between Blacke Brooke and Waules Water (Wanless) Between the manors of Colne and Fowlerigge (Foulridge). It was added that the ownership of this waste was in dispute in court between Henry Banestre and the tenants of Foulerigge and Robert Tempest and the tenants of Barnoldswick. (notice how spellings could change within the same document).
This is the case in the Chancery Court of the Duchy of Lancaster to which the 1580 map refers. All I can tell you about the result is that it was resolved in favour of Barnoldswick. The thing that interests me most is what was behind the dispute and the map. What does it tell us about Barnoldswick.
The map is very large and if you want to see a copy go to the library in Barlick (or look for it on the Oneguyfrombarlick website) and ask them for my paper on it and the copy of the map I gave them. I had a photograph of the map for years and one day I got it out and had a good look at it. I had never really managed to decipher the notations on it, they are indistinct and written in a clerkly hand. This is the ornate handwriting used by the professions in the 16th century which is difficult to decipher even when on plain paper. I started work on it but to tell you the truth I wasn’t getting a lot further forward. Then I remembered that a friend of mine, Doreen Crowther at Higherford, had a copy of the map so I arranged to go down and see her about it. I’d been in love with Doreen for years because she was one of the best local history researchers I knew. For many years she had been patiently translating and transcribing old legal documents and her work can be found in the library at Colne. She was getting old when I went to her and was recovering from a serious illness but she still had a brain like a bear-trap and I knew she would be able to help me. I went down with my map, we sat down together and inside two hours we had deciphered almost all the notations on the map. I had something concrete to work on. Doreen died shortly afterwards and I still miss her.
The first thing about the map that struck me all those years ago is the amount of land marked as ‘Improvements of Barnoldswick’. It’s important to recognise that 500 years ago the countryside around Barlick looked different than it does now. There were walled fields in the valley bottoms near the houses, many of them an irregular shape and dating back to very early settlement. As you climbed the side of the valley towards the moor you left the houses and came out of the cultivated land on to what was known as ‘The Waste’. This was land that was used as common grazing but had never been cultivated because there was no demand for more food. Under the Manorial System tenants had rights on the moor to graze stock, collect turf and get building materials such as sand.
We know that the population in North West England was growing during the 16th century even though the rest of the country was static or in decline due to epidemics and hard times. Many reasons have been advanced to explain this but the most likely one seems to be that because of the growth of the domestic textile industry wealth was being generated by trade with other parts of the country. This influx of money was helping young couples to become independent earlier. Instead of waiting for parents to die before they took over the family holding they were able to set up as spinners and weavers without a land holding and so married earlier. They were at the peak of fertility and had longer to raise children and so the population started to grow.
Because food wasn’t imported, the rising population meant that more land was needed and so ‘Improvements’ were made to the waste by enclosing land and cultivating it. You can identify these enclosures by their regular shape and straight walls. They are always at a higher level than the older fields. The significance of the improvements marked on the 1580 map is that they prove that this population growth had started in Barlick before then and from the acreage of the enclosures, that it was a significant increase. I estimate they increased the amount of land under cultivation by about half. Another factor that could have helped was that the climate warmed up slightly at this time and more corn was grown. The evidence for this is that we begin to find reports of pirate water mills being set up to grind corn. More of these later. Some historians believe that the population in our area almost trebled during the 16th century. This sounds excessive but remember it was from a low base.
It’s quite clear from the map what was in dispute, there is a notation that says ‘Whytmore, the land at variance’. The records of the Duchy of Lancaster tell us the dispute was between Tempest et al. Tenants of Barnoldswick and Bannester et al. Tenants of Foulridge. The Tempests were resident in Bracewell and held the Lordships of Bracewell and Barnoldswick. The Bannesters were Lords of Trawden and also held the Lordship of Foulridge. I suspect the dispute was as much about resources as territory. These resources were water, grazing and rights to gather turfs, extract sand for building and perhaps even coal on the north side. All the water that rises on the moor, with the exception of Slipper Hill Clough and Sandiford Clough, runs off the watershed to the East. It is no accident that what we now know as County Brook was a significant boundary from earliest times although on the map it is called Black Brook. Both fuel and water resources were forms of energy and in an area with rising population these were increasingly important. Foulridge also has new enclosures so their population was rising as well.
We’ve already looked at the history of the monks in Barlick. The significant point as far as we are concerned here is that the Dissolution of the Monasteries put all the old ecclesiastical land up for grabs and this dispute arises during the aftermath of this re-distribution. Notice that the dispute wasn’t between the Crown and the local lords but between the lords themselves. The Crown’s grip on land was slipping, control was passing to the local gentry and they were fighting for resources. This was the start of private ownership of land which is the norm today.
Once I’d got my teeth into the map I found it was difficult to let go. Everywhere I looked I was learning new things about the moor and finding evidence on the ground I had overlooked for years. One of the first things I did was to walk across Occupation Road, what we now call Lister Well Lane. A word here about the name commonly used in Barlick; ‘Occy’ or Occupation Road. It has been suggested that this refers to Roman occupation. There is absolutely no truth in this. You will find occupation roads and lanes all over the country and the name derives from the legal use of the word occupation as a modifier for any function or object that is for the use of a property owner. Anything that enables the tenant or owner of a property to occupy it. Lister Well Lane didn’t exist until the last enclosures were made on the moor in the early 19th century. It is an access road provided for the owners of the various enclosures on the moor. If all the land had been in one ownership there would be no need for a road as access could be gained by passing over the fields. As soon as there is multiple ownership as was the case with the new enclosures, a means had to be provided for access without trespass. So, what we now call Lister Well Lane was laid out as an occupation road and eventually received a name. Nothing to do with the Romans.
The first thing you’ll see as you start to climb Lister Well Lane is some ruins behind the house built at the top of the Upper Hill (Tubber Hill now) by the Sagars who were quarry owners. This ruin used to be Upper Hall and in 2002, Shirley Oldfield told me that she lived there with her father Thomas Alderson until 1947. They kept pigs and her father told her that it was originally a squatter’s house, an encroachment onto the waste. When she lived there it was owned by the Sagars who probably bought it to get the land to build their house on. These encroachments were quite common and were usually tolerated by the Manorial Court on payment of an annual fine. We’ll go into more detail about this when we come to Peel’s House.
Incidentally, take a good look at the quality of the lintels and cills used in the house built by the Sagars. They are the best stone available and almost certainly came from what the workers used to call the ‘bottom end’ of the quarry on the Barlick side of Salterforth Lane. Jack Platt, who used to work in the quarry as a lad once told me that the stone from the bottom end was almost twice as hard as that in the top quarries. When put on the saws, which were large steel blades running in a mixture of water and lead shot, you could saw a foot an hour when working the top stone but this dropped to less than six inches on the bottom stone. Incidentally, anyone who knew Jack would have noticed that he had the tops missing off two fingers on his left hand. He told me that when he was at school they used to play in the quarry and one day he found a small piece of copper tube which was just the right size for slipping over a pencil stub so you could use it right down to the bitter end. He was walking down Salterforth Lane and as he went, was poking a piece of wire into the tube when it exploded and blew off part of his fingers! You’ve guessed it, what he had found was a detonator which was used to initiate the black powder charges used in the quarry for blasting. He said that the funny thing was that whenever he went for his Public Service Vehicle test as a driver for Wild Brothers on the buses the examiners never noticed that he had part of his hand missing.
Back to our perambulation. Lister Well Lane runs almost dead straight across the moor heading westwards towards Peel House on Gisburn Old Track. Take notice of the walls, they are well-built and are all freshly quarried stone with sharp edges. I suppose that most of us were taught at school that the walls were built using the stone that was laid about in the fields when they were first cultivated. This may have been true of the earliest enclosures on bottom land laid out by the Celts and the Anglo Saxons but by the time the later enclosures were being made there was no time for this, indeed, the fields were intended for grazing in order to improve them and there was not enough loose stone to do the job. The land on the moor is very close to the rock and you don’t have to dig down far before you get to the fragmented top layer of rock which is ideal for wall-building. In addition, stone was never carried any further than necessary and always down hill. If you look along the course of the walls you’ll find small depressions every now and again. These are delphs or small quarries that have healed over with time. The workers simply dug down far enough to get into stone and used it to build the walls until it became easier to dig another hole nearer to their scene of operations. The lane is at a lower level than the fields in many places and I often wonder whether they took some of the stone for the walls out of the road bed as they levelled it. I haven’t any evidence for this but it would make sense. This downhill route for stone applies to all the houses built on the new enclosures, if you look to the top side of them you will always find a depression where the building stone was won. Stone was heavy stuff and you always made moving it as easy as possible. A sledge loaded with stone can be pulled by a horse downhill but not up.
Every now and again as you pass over the moor you’ll come across small walled plantings of scrubby trees. The only reason I can think of for these is that they were created deliberately to give shelter for wildlife so as to encourage sporting use of the moor. There are small ways in through the walls to let sheep enter in bad weather so they served the same purpose for domestic animals. Cattle didn’t need the shelter as they were only grazed on the waste during summer, they can’t survive up there in winter because of the cold and the driving rain and were brought down into the valley. Occasionally you will find a short isolated length of wall in the middle of a field. This is a ‘beald’ wall which gave shelter in wild weather.
About two thirds of the way across the moor, just before you come to a small planting on the low (south) side of the lane, you reach Lister Well. To be more accurate you reach the course of the feeder from a spring further up the hill which is the source of the water running down Whinberry Clough into Whitemoor reservoir. Before the reservoir was built in 1840 this was the highest feeder for Black or County Brook and is marked on the 1580 map as ‘Ellshaye’. Until about six years ago there was a fine stone trough in the field on the low side of the road and this was what was known in recent memory as Lister Well. A few years ago someone tried to steal the trough and I have been told that the farmer at Lower Sandiford moved it down there for safety. This is a pity but I can see the sense in it. I don’t think we need go into too much of a decline though because if you look at the Six Inch OS map surveyed in 1849 the well is marked as being on the opposite side of the road. There is still an old brick trough in that spot but the water has been diverted through a plastic pipe from the spring higher up the field in a walled planting and flows into an old cast iron bath. Not quite as picturesque as the ‘old’ stone trough but exactly the same water, have a drink it won’t do you any harm. Console yourself with the fact that if the maps are correct, the trough that was moved wasn’t the original well anyway.
When Lister Well Lane gets to the last field before Gisburn Old Track it hits a bog. Just before it gets there a gate on the top side leads onto an old track which goes off diagonally through a couple of old delphs and eventually hits Gisburn Track higher up the hill. I think this must have been the usual route even though the map shows a line straight forward towards Peel’s House. Someone has tipped a lot of ballast on the direct line recently and in time this will settle down into an adequate road and I suppose historians in 100 years will be convinced it is the original road. I should make it clear that the line marked on the 1580 map is probably a boundary of some sort but was evidently used as a route for the occupation road when the 19th century enclosures were surveyed.
Peel’s House on Gisburn Old Track has always interested me. When I first knew it in the 1950s Tommy Carter and his wife Sally lived there with their two daughters. Tommy seemed to make his living as a casual labourer and Sally his wife used to work for Old Mother Hanson when she kept the Moorcock pub on the old Gisburn turnpike road just over the hill to the west. The house was tiny with a small land-holding and I have often thought that it had all the hallmarks of a squatters house, a small dwelling built illegally by someone who had simply appropriated some land on the moor without going through any of the legalities. From the mid 16th century onwards, the King’s Commissioners became quite relaxed about encroachment onto the waste to build dwellings. These were fulfilling a need and as long as the person who dwelt there paid an annual fine to the Manorial Court everyone was happy. As the years went by most of these illegal holdings were converted to a copy-hold lease. This is what happened with Upper Hall at the Barlick end of the lane. If this route to independence was denied to poorer people they would become destitute and a charge on the local Poor Rate. Far better to allow the encroachment and get a source of revenue that augmented the local economy.
If you walk down Gisburn Old Track from Lister Well Lane, just below Peel House you’ll see a short lane setting off westwards into the field to the right. It’s very wet even in a dry time but if you go down to the end you come to the boundary wall between Whitemoor and Admergill. This is the Black Dyke, the ancient boundary I described before which was fought over for 400 years by the Crown and the Church. Look uphill and you will see that it is marked by a deep ditch on the east side of the wall as far as the eye can see. Going downhill the ditch isn’t so obvious but it is still there. Maurice Horsfield whose family have farmed on the moor for over 100 years tells me that from Peel House down the Black Dyke drain takes all the water off that side of the moor. He thinks it is diverted now at Blacko Hill Side and runs down into Beverley Road but I had an idea that at one time all the water went straight down towards what we now know as the Cross Gaits pub. The pub has the date 1717 over the door which looks about right to me from the style of build. However, on the 1580 map it is marked as Black Dyke Mill. I later found I was wrong about this location, that’s how it goes, one minute you have hold of a piece of truth, the next you find that you were wrong. They call it research! More about this later.
Go up to Higher Sandiford and look back along the line of the Black Dyke. Ask yourself how water ever managed to cut out such an even line across the hillside, the answer is that it couldn’t because the levels are wrong. What we are looking at is an ancient and very well constructed boundary marker. It has gradually eroded over the years and become a gentle declivity and originally it wouldn’t have had a wall at the top but a bank of soil from the ditch. This boundary is far older than the Norman Conquest and goes back at least to Saxon times when the first shire boundaries were being laid out but could be older, perhaps a tribal boundary. The Black Dyke was an important marker and was used as part of the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. The ‘ancient dyke between Middop and Coverdale’ on Gisburn Old Track mentioned in Henry de Lacy’s Perambulation is an extension of this. Isn’t it amazing what a piece of moorland can tell you if you let it speak.

What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you read the title? In my case it reminds me of my days as a choirboy, ‘The holly and the Ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the Holly bears the crown’. No, I didn’t have to look the words up, they are indelibly printed in my brain. We always sang this at Christmas so my earliest Holly associations were with decorating the house, this was wartime and a few sprigs stolen from a hedgerow and those interminable home-made paper chains were all we had.
When you think about it, Holly is quite a strange plant. The sharp spines, the leathery green leaves and if you were lucky, the brilliant red berries. It made a good decoration because it was bright and didn’t shrivel up during the requisite twelve nights and then there were the traditions associated with it. The first of these I learned was that Holly was used for the crown of thorns at the Crucifixion and the red berries were drops of Christ’s blood. The Robin’s red breast was due to the fact that it had dashed itself against the crown in it’s despair at the death of Christ. Another ‘tradition’ I was taught was that the Druids used Holly and Mistletoe as part of their rituals. It was many years later while doing research into early religions and beliefs that I realised that there was no firm evidence for this and it is most likely to be a fancy fabricated by the 18th century worthies who re-invented the Druids and founded the modern ‘religion’. However, there is reliable research that suggests that as far back as the Romans, Holly was regarded as a special plant, used for decorations and given as a token of friendship. In many parts of the world it was used as a herbal remedy, usually as a purgative, and was so useful that the plant gained a special place in these societies. The South American tea, yerba mate, is made from holly leaves. One the whole, a useful plant.
From time to time since I have heard other traditions. I remember a farmer once telling me that he would never cut holly for a stick because it was unlucky. Other people have told me that such a stick is lucky because Holly has always had a reputation as a protective plant. I think that much of this may have started from the fact that it makes such a good, stock-proof fence but in later years this was expanded into many more beliefs in folk-lore. Witches were thought to fly along the tops of hedges on their broomsticks and tall holly trees impeded their progress. There is a tradition that a Holly tree near a house gives protection from lightning. Quite recently some research was done on this and it was found that the spines on the leaves could be effective in doing this due to the property of anything with a sharp point attracting electrical charges so there may be a grain of truth in this one.
In practical terms holly wood has always been highly regarded as a timber. It is a strong white hardwood which is very tough and flexible. The Romans used it for the shafts of their chariots because of these properties. It is ideal for making a hammer or axe shaft. In later years it was used extensively to make mock Ebony. Many Georgian silver teapots had wooden handles, the best quality ware used Ebony but cheaper ones made do with holly wood dyed black. Being close-grained it is a very good wood for turning in a lathe. Many an ‘ebony’ chess set, door or drawer knob was made from dyed holly.
On another level, I have been struck by the fact that the best way to plot the most ancient hedgerows in our landscape is to look for the Holly trees. I have never found a hedge that I can securely date as ancient that didn’t contain a considerable proportion of holly. At first I thought they had been deliberately planted because of the regard with which it was held but then I learned an interesting fact about Holly propagation. If you examine a large, self-sown Holly tree carefully you’ll find that it is a very clever plant, it only has spiny leaves up to about eight feet, the limit to which a horse, deer or other animal can reach if it was browsing. Have you ever noticed that some cultivated Holly trees have prickly leaves and some have no spines? This is because if you propagate a Holly from a cutting that was low in the tree it will reproduce the spines but if you select a non-spiny cutting it will grow without them. Remembering this, I looked at the Holly trees in the hedgerows again and sure enough, they have spines to eight feet and non spiny leaves above that level. This suggests that they are self-sown trees, they have become established because a bird ate the berry but either left or couldn’t digest the seed and it ended up in the hedgerow. A seed dropped in the field would be cut or grazed off before it could establish itself.
There is another factor to consider. Holly trees are not a long-lived species, in exceptional circumstances they have been known to live 200 years but the vast majority fail before that, especially in our colder northern climes. It follows then that none of the trees we see now are a result of conscious placement by an ancient people who revered the tree because of traditions associated with it. They all date from the nineteenth century at the earliest.
So, we have a bit of a problem. How come these trees are a component of ancient hedgerows but can’t be ancient themselves? There is the obvious solution, they are all self-seeded from previous inhabitants of the hedge but this leaves me with more questions, why are they so numerous and what was their origin in the first place?
One of the ‘facts’ fed to me in my schooldays was that the name Holly derives from ‘holy’ and is a reference to the religious traditions associated with the plant. Sorry, this is wrong. The Old English prefix denoting ‘holy’ is ‘holi’. The Old English name for holly is ‘holegn’ and seems to have come into the language from the Old High German ‘hulis’. The Celtic word for holly is ‘cuillion’ and derives from the Irish ‘culenn’ and the Welsh ‘celyn’. The medieval Latin ‘hussus’ refers to the tree and ‘holma’ seems to be a holly-wood. None of these precursors has any connection with ‘holi’. Sorry kids but I think we have to ditch the holy theory.
The thing that triggered the latest burst of holly information was a reference in Kershaw’s book on the economy of Bolton Priory to cattle being fed holly leaves in a hard winter. This intrigued me because I had never heard of cattle eating holly but then it struck me, why had the Holly tree developed the defence of putting spines on its lower leaves if not to prevent it being grazed to the point of extinction as a young plant? There was something here that needed investigating.
I didn’t have to dig far before I found two brilliant articles on the subject; ‘Holly as a Winter Feed’ by Jeffrey Radley and ‘Holly as a Fodder in England’ by Martin Spray. I’m grateful to both of them for the work they have done, without them I would never have cracked this enquiry. Just to give you a flavour, Martin starts his paper with a lovely quotation: ‘Lyarde es ane olde horse, and may noght wele drawe, He salle be put into the parke holyne for to gnawe. [1440. Mummer’s song in the Sheffield area] This broken down old horse wasn’t worth feeding on valuable winter feed but was given a chance to survive by being retired to ‘the parke holyne’, the holly wood. Give this a little bit of thought and remember it, we shall come back to it later, have you ever seen a wood composed entirely of Holly Trees?
The next logical place to look was at place names with a ‘holegn’ component. The obvious one in Barlick is Hollins up Esp Lane. Martin Spray did an enormous amount of work on these names and found that there were hundreds of them and they are far more common in northern England than in the warmer south. The implication of this is that the Holly was far more important to the rural economy in areas which had the harshest winters. Jeffrey Radley found much written evidence on holly as fodder in the Sheffield area and Martin Spray enlarged on this work. The bottom line is that there is no doubt at all that until the mid-eighteenth century feeding holly branches and leaves in hard times was an accepted strategy for getting sheep, cattle, deer and pigs through the winter.
One explanation for why the practice died out when it did is that it was the advent of turnips as a crop that could alleviate the winter fodder problem. However, it looks as though this doesn’t fit both because of the dates and also the fact that turnips weren’t a common crop in grassland areas like Barlick. What is far more likely is the use of lime to improve pastures and give enough growth to increase hay crops and ensure a good winter bite on permanent pasture. This fits in for our area with the opening of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal around 1800 and the availability of imported coal to burn the lime. You only have to look at the number of old kilns in the area to realise that this was an important activity.
There is another place name clue. Remember the word ‘holm’ for a wood? It has another meaning associated with islands but how do we explain a name contain ‘holm’ which is nowhere near an island. Could it refer to holly woods? The old horse Lyarde might not have been the only animal that had access to a parke holyne.
I asked my old farming friends if they had ever come across the practice and none of them had ever heard about it. Billy Parsons remembered sheep browsing on ivy in a hard winter and stripping bark off trees [Still a big problem in managed woodland and particularly young seedlings being gnawed by rabbits, the reason for the protective plastic covers] but no deliberate policy of feeding browse wood. I remember my father telling me that in his youth in Australia it was common practice in a drought to cut the tops out of Spinefex trees so that the cattle and horses could get to them. Martin Spray gives many references to pollarding trees for fodder and in the Royal Forests Oak, Ash, Elm and even brambles and roses were cut for the deer. I could give you many more examples but I think we’ve reached the stage where we can accept that browse-wood was an important winter fodder.
One thing has just struck me about the history I was taught at school. We were told that farmers used to slaughter most of their animals each winter and salt them down to preserve the meat. Can you remember that lesson as well? I always wondered how they managed to eat a herd of cows every winter and grow another for the following year but it was more than my life was worth to question what I was taught.
Back to my hedges… The first time I noticed the preponderance of holly was in the hedges on Blacko Hillside and the lanes leading down into the valley. These are south facing slopes and there is abundant evidence of occupation from the earliest times. It’s worth mentioning here that a lot of work has been done on the effects of frost in areas like ours. Cold air flows downhill and the valley bottoms are the coldest places in a frost. The tops of the hills are also cold because of the altitude. The warmest place, and the one that warms up fastest in the sunshine is half-way down the slope, it can be three degrees centigrade warmer. This may have a bearing on work that has been done on the cattle population in medieval times, surprisingly, they were most common in upland areas. It also explains why the most common settlement site was mid-slope.
So, the evidence points to the fact that these slopes would be an ideal location for utilising browse-wood, particularly holly. This is where we have to push the boat out a bit. If holly was so important as a resource it’s doubtful that the farmers would rely solely on the hedgerow trees, it’s far more likely that they would plant stands of trees, the ‘parke holyne’ that Lyarde was put into to ‘gnawe’. Once these holms or haggs were established the birds would spread the seeds and the place they would survive is in the hedgerows where the young seedlings would have protection against grazing. As the holmes became redundant in the mid-eighteenth century they would be rooted out leaving their descendants to flourish in the hedgerows. Could the use of the word ‘holm’ refer to an ‘island’ of trees?
So, the next time you are out for a walk, burning off the Christmas dinner perhaps, spare a thought for the Holly trees in the hedgerow. If they could tell a story it would be far more important and interesting than fairy tales about Druids and Robins, they would tell you about their ancestors and the vital role they had in keeping animals alive through the long northern winters. Mind you, this probably explains why holly was so highly regarded and was a natural choice for decoration. ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’ takes on an entirely different meaning doesn’t it.
I’ve always told you that all the history I feed you is a work in progress. The story of holly as fodder is a nice example of this. I took them for granted but then found that there was much more to them than meets the eye. I see them now in a totally different light and until I have evidence to the contrary I’m convinced that there were stands of holly on our hillsides that were cultivated specifically for feeding stock in winter. Now all I have to do is try to nail down why the practice died out in the mid eighteenth century. At the moment I’m favouring the advent of lime on grazing land as the tipping point but who knows? It’s all work in progress.
Let’s come down off the moor and have a look at the boundary of the earliest enclosures, marked as ‘Improvements’ on the 1580 map, starting at Barlick and working south along what we now know as Higher Lane, the old road from Barlick to Barrowford via Standing Stone Gate. Before the later enclosures in the 19th century, the land on the top side of this road was waste or common ground, the land below was the 16th century enclosures. Any buildings or fields on the waste were encroachments. Starting in Barlick there are three ‘laynes’ marked on the map. As near as Doreen and I could make out the two nearest Barlick are called ‘Barnoldswyke Layne’ and the third is called Salterforth Lane. I think the nearest one to the centre is probably what we now know as Manchester Road. On older maps of the town it is called Barnoldswick Lane and originally it was a branch off the main route into the town which was down what we now call Gillians Lane and Colne Road. Bear in mind that the centre of the town at that time was Town Head.
In passing, think about the name ‘Gillians’. There was an old English name ‘Gylla’ and it occurs to me that Bernulf wasn’t the only early inhabitant of the town, there could have been the family of Gylla and it could be the root of Gillians. All the ancient names became corrupted over time and there was always a good reason for the original form. We don’t question Gillian because it is a familiar modern forename but I have seen it spelt ‘Gillions’ and Gillons so it has been corrupted over time and is an ancient name. Just think, if he had been more notable than Bernulf we could be living in Gillonswick. It may be that when the Royal Commissioners made there enquiry for the Domesday Book they may have asked Bernulf or one of his family what the name of the place was and they would naturally make sure it was named after them.
The next lane to the south looks to me like Hodge Lane which strikes off Higher Lane at Upper Hill towards the valley bottom at Park. If you walk this it seems as though it might originally have gone right through into the valley and connected with Cross lane from Coates to Salterforth which is another medieval road. Salterforth Lane up through the quarries from ‘Salter’s Ford’ to Higher Lane has managed to keep the same name for at least 450 years, this might be some sort of a record.
Higher Lane itself is a very ancient road. It is far older than the 16th century improvements because of the connections it makes and some of the features we can find as we travel along it. I think it could have been one of the most important roads out of Barlick. It is the direct route from the Barrowford area out to the higher Ribble Valley and runs on the sheltered east side of Whitemoor which would have been a considerable obstacle in older times. It picks up connections from Earby, Salterforth and Foulridge and must have carried quite a lot of traffic. In 1580 it was used as the boundary for the early improvements.
This might be a good place to flag up some of the characteristics of these early roads. The ones that are of interest to us at the moment are the medieval roads, those in use from the end of the Roman Occupation up to the present day. There were of course other trade routes from the earliest times. The Bronze Age track across the Weets which was the precursor of Forty Steps, Blue Pot Lane (now Park Avenue) and the far end of Long Ing Lane in Barlick is a good example. Next we have the Romans who built roads like the one from Ilkley, via Elslack through to Ribchester. It cuts straight through the north side of Barlick and is now called Greenberfield Lane and Brogden Lane. It’s important to realise that the Roman roads cut across the existing routes because they were built for troop movements between military forts and not as trade routes, they stick to the Roman agenda and ignore customary routes. Higher Lane has all the hallmarks of a route that has been in constant use for well over 3,000 years. It keeps to the contours, avoids the high moor and bad weather and the low ground and bogs. It has high banks on both sides in places and if you look carefully at the walls you will see that in some parts they are built of large rounded stones sunk into an earth bank. These are the oldest walls you will find in the area and are easily distinguished from walls built with new stone with sharp edges like those around the enclosures on the moor. The rule is that the larger and more rounded the stones are, the older the wall.
Another good marker for the old roads is the number of holly trees on the banks. I have never been able to understand why they are so common but if you were to plot all the holly trees you would find that you had mapped the oldest roads. There is a rule of thumb which states that if you count the number of species of hedgerow plant in a thirty yard length and multiply this by 110 you get the age of the hedge in years. Higher Lane is obviously medieval as far as Wood End bungalow just before Whitemoor Reservoir where it opens out and changes character. This is because in 1840 when the canal company built the reservoir they altered the landscape and re-aligned the road. At Standing Stone gate there is a cross-roads, the road to the left descends to Foulridge, the road in front used to go down to Slipper Hill and on to Colne but now peters out in the fields and the one to the right goes over to Pasture Head and thence to Barrowford. Before we go further, have a look at Standing Stone Gate Farm. We can date this exactly because in the reservoir behind the farm there are some ruins that are only visible when the water is very low. The canal company demolished the original farm and built the new one in 1840 with the reservoir.
When I was looking at the 1914 six inch OS map of the area I saw that all the boundaries coincide along the line marked on the 1580 map as the boundary of Whitemoor so I went poking about in the field behind Stanistone Bungalow. The ‘standing stone’ that the original farm was named after is still there together with a small section of the abandoned medieval road. There are two stones, one is a big square heavily worn stone and the other a lighter upright stone. The square stone looks very old indeed and has faint marks on it. If you’re expecting me to put an exact date on the boundary marker, forget it. All I can say is that it almost certainly dates from the Saxon rule and the division of the land into shires. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I found the stones. How many people have passed these way markers over the years, if stones could talk they could certainly tell a story.
At Pasture Head I thought that the boundary marked on the 1580 map deviated from the line mentioned in the Perambulation of 1147. From the details of the perambulation it would appear that Henry de Lacy went straight across towards Blacko Hill and the end of the Black Dyke where Stansfield Tower now stands. Henry’s line is the same as the modern boundary of Barnoldswick and used to be the county boundary as well. The Black Dyke stops where it meets this line just below Blacko Hill. I thought the line marking the boundary followed the lane from Pasture Head down to the head of Slipper Hill and then across to the Cross Gaits. I know now that I was wrong and a friend showed me a very large glacial erratic in the ditch at Pasture Head which is almost certainly the stone marked on the map which I could never find. I was looking in the wrong place. This colleague and friend is John Clayton from Barrowford who is a considerable historian of this neck of the woods. Seek out his books; ‘Valley of the Drawn Sword’ and ‘The Pendle Witch Conspiracy’, both well worth reading. John hadn’t seen the Whitemoor Map and when he did he took me onto Blacko Hillside and showed me what he knew of the area. The upshot was that we realised that my reading of the map wasn’t accurate, the ‘Thorn at Hayn Slack’ was further north than I had supposed and was at the head of the deep gulley (no doubt Hayn Slack) just below Greenbank Farm. Black Dyke Mill was also further up the hillside than Cross Gaits and at or near the site of Burnt Moor Farm. In the course of these explorations we realised that the hillside was crossed by faint boundaries and tracks that had been cut across by the early medieval boundaries. We had evidence of something which possibly pre-dated the Ice Age… More of this later.
All of us know who use this road to Barrowford that at the head of Slipper Hill it makes a series of bends before straightening out again on the run down to what is now the Cross Gaits pub. The question that comes to my mind is why are these bends there? There is no topographical reason for them and even in those days people tended to take the most direct line between two points, there is nothing on the ground which would have prevented this. There can only be one reason, there must have been an existing boundary here that is at least as old as the road. Since the route is at least three thousand years old, it looks as though there may have been a very ancient settlement here. Hollin Hall occupies the land enclosed by the boundary but it is a relatively recent building. There might be a clue here, just as you go round the third bend towards Barrowford, where the road widens out, there is a mound on the right and a piece of medieval wall just beyond it. There is a watercourse running down from the waste alongside the mound which has a lot of Holly trees along the line. This has all the hallmarks of an ancient boundary, water was an obvious marker to use. Even more interesting, if you stop and look at the medieval wall it has very worn demolition stone in it. This indicates that at the time the wall was built there was a ruined stone building very close to the site. If it was as early as the evidence suggests, it must have been an important house because all common houses at that time were timber construction.
This little puzzle is a good example of how the historian has to work. All you can do is look at the evidence and construct a hypothesis that fits the facts as you see them. It’s almost certain that further evidence will modify your original theory but this should never stop you from having a stab at it. Discovery has to start somewhere and just because the answer changes over time due to more knowledge doesn’t mean that the original answer was wrong. It wasn’t, it was the right question and a good start. Never be frightened of coming to a conclusion based on evidence. You will be right more times than you are wrong.
The last notation on this part of the map is one I have noted earlier. A site is marked as a mill and it is on the end of the line of the Black Dyke. According to Maurice Horsfield a lot of water runs down the drain which follows the wall. It could have all been channelled to a mill and would have been sufficient to drive it. I have done a lot of research into water power in the area and have never come across a reference to Black Dyke but this doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. We have to trust our sources until we find them in error and the map is, as far as I can tell, remarkably accurate so we should accept that in 1580 there was a mill somewhere near Burnt Moor.
Apart from the incidental discoveries we have made in pursuing the evidence of the perambulation of 1147 and the 1580 map supporting the Chancery Court case we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we are getting clear evidence that in the latter part of the 16th century power has shifted from the church and the Monarchy towards the local minor gentry and land-owners. We see yeoman farmers for the first time, tenants who had a substantial standing in the community and weren’t afraid to go to law to use it. We even see the poorer people asserting their rights by encroaching on the waste and carving out holdings for themselves. It’s dangerous to push the evidence too far and assert that what we are looking at is the start of a modern society but one thing is certain, we are no longer looking at villeins in thrall to the Lordship. Independent thought is stirring in the land. Our kite which we flew on looking at the consequences of the Black Death may have had more wind under its wings than we expected.

One of the problems you meet when you try to explain something as complicated as the story of Barlick is that whilst a chronological approach is the most obvious and easiest to follow, every now and again you come across a facet of the story which can best be understood by giving it its own chronological story inside the main narrative. We are about to move into the 17th century and there are certain parts of the infrastructure we need to be clear about before we launch into a very complicated story. One of these is transport, so here goes…
I couldn’t resist the title and I’ll put you out of your misery straight away if I have confused you. A ‘badger’ is an ancient name for a tradesman who was licensed to deal in corn. A ‘brogger’ was similar but dealing in wool, yarn or cloth. A ‘gall’ is short for a Galloway, a small hardy breed of horse much favoured by packhorse proprietors and ‘jagger’ is the same but a small German cavalry horse, the name comes from the German word jaeger or hunter, the same root as the surname.
I was asked a question about packhorses and realised how little I knew about the subject so I thought I’d do a bit of digging. The results have been enlightening so I thought I’d have a look at transport over the last 1000 years. You may have to bear with me for a chapter or three because it’s a big story. Once we’ve absorbed this the history of Barlick will be clearer, trust me, I’m a historian.
There has never been a time in human history when transport wasn’t important. Our nomadic ancestors 10,000 years ago had to carry their possessions when they moved from one hunting ground to another. For thousands of years if you wanted to shift something you put it on your back and walked. We still do it today when we carry the shopping home from the supermarket. As recently as the late 19th century weavers were walking with packs on their backs to where they obtained their yarn and sold their cloth. There is a reference in ‘The Rambler’ of 1906 in which Mr Stephen Clarke tells of a conversation with an old handloom weaver in Blacko who told him that he used to carry his finished pieces of cloth eight miles to Clitheroe and he knew of two weavers in Grindleton who regularly walked 10 miles from there to Barnoldswick for their warp and weft (almost certainly dealing with a branch of the Bracewell family). The packs they carried would be about 40lbs weight (18kg).
What if the weight was more than a man could carry or was further than a day’s march? The modern answer would be some form of wheeled transport and the assumption might be that this would be the case say 500 years ago but if we are thinking about Barlick, or anywhere north of a line from Bristol to the Wash we would almost certainly be wrong. Graham, in his book ‘The Social Life of Scotland in the eighteenth century’ relates how when a load of coals was carried by cart from East Kilbride to Cambuslang in 1723 ‘crowds of people went out to see the wonderful machine. They looked with surprise and returned with astonishment’. The ‘wonderful machine’ was a cart drawn by a horse. Admittedly the further North you went the more backward the technology but as late as 1607 the Parish of Weybridge in Surrey asked to be excused from supplying transport for the Queen’s journey to Oatlands on the grounds that they had ‘but one cart in the Parish’. A traveller in Northumberland in 1749 reported that there wasn’t a cart in the county.
We might be forgiven for wondering why this was so because the technology certainly existed. The answer lies in the absence of suitable roads as we know them in the North of England. There was no road between Liverpool and Manchester until 1760. In 1718, in Derbyshire, the justices decided to build a ‘horse bridge’ at the Alport ford because of the ‘great drifts of London Carrier’s horses, malt horses and other daily traffic and carriers.’ No mention at all of wheeled traffic on one of the busiest routes in the kingdom which is now the A6. The pressure of commerce demanded better transport and in 1663 the first turnpike trust from London to York on the Great North Road was established. There was a great expansion in the 1750s-70s, thousands of trusts and companies were established by Acts of Parliament with rights to collect tolls in return for providing and maintaining roads. A General Turnpike Act was passed in 1773 to speed up the process of setting up these trusts.
This doesn’t mean that there were no wheeled vehicles at all, simply that the crude carts that existed were only used locally. In terms of Barlick we’re fairly safe in assuming that it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that local turnpikes made carriage of goods by wheeled transport between the major towns possible. Before this everything had to be carried by packhorse, passengers were accommodated on ‘pad nags’, a packhorse with a ‘pad’ or crude saddle instead of the usual packs.
Two facts became clear to me when I started to look into this subject. The first is that I had always had this romantic view of man and a lad with a train of a few packhorses plodding along a salter’s way, perhaps even over the Salter’s Ford’ (Salterforth) on a summer’s day. In reality it seems that there was much more traffic than I had imagined, even locally. The tracks which you can still find as public footpaths would have been busy and this raises the question of how many horses were employed in the trade, where were they based and how much traffic there was. The second fact that emerged was the range of goods that needed to be transported. Even in a self-contained economy such as Barlick in the 16th century there were certain goods that had to be brought in. Corn, coal, lime, salt and bar iron spring to mind. What really surprised me was the fact that in many parts of the country there were well established trades in perishable goods. I have no direct evidence for Barlick but I’ve found references to fresh salmon being carried from Carlisle to London and even more surprising, live carp. The latter could be kept alive for many days if packed in a hamper of wet straw and so were perfectly fresh on arrival. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that anyone in Barlick could afford fresh salmon at four shillings a pound in 1724 but it is as well to take note that such things were possible and did happen.
Looking at Barlick, we should perhaps start by looking at the routes. Notice that I haven’t said roads, the concept of a road as we understand it didn’t appear until the 17th century and even then only for major routes between cities. Before this, the only paved ways that existed were the remnants of the roads the Romans made in the 500 years of their occupation. Not surprisingly these had deteriorated to the extent that in many cases it wasn’t possible to see that a metalled road had ever existed. In many cases they had been abandoned as soon as the Romans left because, as we have already noted, their course wasn’t dictated by the needs of trade but followed the Roman agenda for moving troops between garrisons. It wasn’t until the late eighteenth century and the advent of the local turnpike trusts that any serious effort was put into making ways fit to carry wheeled vehicles between towns for the purposes of trade and communications.
Going back even further to say 2000BC, all traffic was carried on human backs because there were no draught animals. Oxen didn’t become common until well into the Dark Ages after the Romans had left and horses were an exclusively noble animal until probably the mid 16th century. This traffic needed nothing more complicated than a passable footway. The first trackways were simply routes between adjoining farmsteads. This explains the seemingly random paths they followed winding about in the most unexpected way as they followed the boundaries of existing holdings or field systems. We can still see examples of this inside the township of Barlick itself. Stand at the top of Esp Lane at Townhead and see how the old medieval road winds its way through the houses and then takes a couple of bends before it straightens out up the hill towards Hill Clough. These deviations are a marker of where the boundaries of landholdings were long before the Norman Conquest. There are exceptions in Barlick, ancient routes that are straight. One is Higher Lane which is relatively straight because it was established at a time when there were no landholdings alongside it and follows a regular contour. Another is Greenberfield Lane and Brogden Lane which follow the line of the old Roman Road from Ilkley to Ribchester. Leaving Roman roads on one side this gives us a good general rule, if an old road is straight it means it was laid out before the landholdings, if it is meanders it came after.
There is of course one other route which is older by far than the Roman Road or any of the medieval routes. This is the track that comes across the top of Weets from Middop, roughly follows Folly Lane down into the town, crossing the field (Causeway Carr) behind Bancroft, going straight across Forty Steps and up what is now Park Avenue but used to be called Blue Pot Lane. There is no firm evidence but I believe this was part of a much longer Bronze Age track running from the coast at Preston straight across England through the Aire Gap at Kildwick. This was a main route for the transport of Irish gold to the Baltic states, the early equivalent of the M62.
Apart from the remains of this trackway and the Roman Road, the town routes sole purpose was for local trade and communication. If you had a surplus of a crop you might swap it for a neighbour’s pig. Perhaps your wife was a good weaver, she could take someone else’s wool and make it into cloth. The only trade from outside the area would be bar iron for tools, perhaps even small tools and needles from Sheffield or central Lancashire, salt from Northwich or salt pans on the coast, some corn in bad times and spices from a major population centre. These were all necessary items that couldn’t be made or grown at home. I wonder what was bartered for these things. There was some coinage but most of the trade would be by barter. Perhaps it would be cloth or skins, whatever, it had to be a local commodity.
We know that by the 15th century there was a fulling mill for processing woollen cloth at Colne and several clothiers, the people who dealt in raw wool and cloth, in Colne and Barrowford. We also know that economic circumstances in Barlick were improving at this time. The population must have started to rise because by the start of the 16th century there was enough pressure on resources to make it necessary for the Royal Commissioners to allow organised encroachment on the waste Barlick, Salterforth and Foulridge. This suggests that there was an increase in traffic locally because there are only two explanations for the better circumstances, a warming of the climate and extra income from a domestic textile industry. Yarn and cloth would be on the move between Colne and Barlick and possibly Halifax. By the late 16th century horses were being used for carrying some of the traffic.
The first firm evidence I have for this is in the Barcroft papers of 1689 to 1732. In these Ambrose Barcroft of Noyna Hall at Foulridge mentions sending up to 50 packs of cloth at a time to Lincolnshire. There are many weights quoted for a ‘pack’ but the most usual, a horse load, was 17 stone and 2lbs; 240lbs or 109 kg. This is where we first meet our ‘broggers’. Wool was one of the most valuable commodities in Tudor England and the trade was controlled by the State. A Brogger was a freelance wool dealer, working without a licence. These men were an essential link between small farmers and the mainstream of the wool trade as they bought wool off the farm and sold it to the clothiers who were all licensed as Members of the Staple. In theory the broggers were breaking the law and this was codified by the so-called 'Halifax Act' of 1552 which restricted the dealing in wool to members of the Staple. This was such a blow to the rural economy that it was changed so that in 1555 exemption was given for the wool driver and brogger, they were then established as an essential part of the industry.

[From ‘SURPRISING ROSSENDALE’ by Chris Aspin. Published by Helmshore Local History Society, 1986. [pp/53/54 Packhorse Days]
‘Near the eastern gate of Haslingden churchyard is the grave of Christopher Duckworth, who must have known the moors and valleys of Rossendale better than anyone in the later seventeen hundreds. As his fading epitaph records, he 'followed a gang of packhorses for upwards of half a century' until his death in 1800 at the age of 66. Duckworth began his travels as a boy of ten, working first for Richard Lonsdale and then, from 1776, for Richard's son, Daniel. Richard was a corn chandler, but other members of the family preferred to be known as merchants. This was a remarkably grand, not to say grandiose, profession in Georgian Haslingden and one so cherished by the Lonsdales that they appear to have imposed it posthumously on one of their number. The occupation of John Lonsdale, who died in 1770, was amended on his tombstone: the original word was chipped away and 'Merchant' carved in the resulting hollow. Though proud and important people, the Lonsdales were gracious enough to allow Duckworth to lie next to them in the churchyard. To modern eyes, his gravestone is much more interesting than theirs, since it includes what is probably the only poetic tribute to a packhorse driver.
‘Fifty six years he unoffensive mov’d
Loving his horses, by his horses lov’d,
In faithful servitude the Roads along,
And seldom said and seldom did he wrong...
A grateful Master, whom he lov’d and fear’d,
With trembling eye this stone memorial rear’d.
Reader, repose in Christ the Lord thy trust,
Like honest Christopher, be true and just.’

The numerous Pack Horse public houses in East Lancashire remind the modern traveller of a method of transport which served some parts of the region until well into the nineteenth century. In Duckworth's day, 'main' roads were few and fearsome. John Wesley, much jolted during a journey from Padiham to Haslingden on April 21, 1788, noted in his diary that the roads 'were sufficient to lame any horse and shake any carriage to pieces' On the following day, Wesley 'hobbled on to Bury through roads equally deplorable,' resolving never to return until they were mended. He did not come back. More than seventy years later, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth found many of Rossendale's upland tracks so bad that no cart could use them. They were suitable only for the teams of 'gals' - a breed of pony from Galloway - which carried lime in wooden pack-saddles from the Clitheroe kilns to farms and building sites. 'Gaunt, lean and ungroomed' teams of 'gals' are a feature of Sir James's novel Scarsdale, which is set in the 1830s.
They were led by one or two 'old stagers', accustomed to the road, and
seldom attended by more than one man to adjust the packs &c. They
browsed, in a long, straggling and broken string, the rough grass on
the fells, moorlands and sides of the lanes. Advancing at a pace of
about two miles in the hour, but continuing during eight or ten hours
in the day, they made a soldier's march and a forager's meal, snatching
what they could on their way. Imagine a life thus spent. Conceive that
it was your fate to brave the storm, the driving rain, the piercing frost,
the benumbing and perplexing mists of wintry solitudes on solitary
moorlands; or, at times, to swelter in a long, sultry march under the
blaze of a hot summer's sun, without a pulse of air. Conceive that you
met in this life-long task scarcely any but the solitary denizens of these
regions ... What would become of your wits in such a life?

One is not surprised to discover that the last of the 'gal' drivers, Mary Alice Hartley, of Shawforth, was a pronounced eccentric, who was said to look more like a man than a woman. In her younger days, she had as many as twenty 'gals', but in later life - she died in 1879 - her only companion was a donkey called Jerry, which carried sacks of coal to some of her old customers. For several years Jerry shared Mary Alice's moorland cottage, being taken indoors each night and fastened to her bedpost.’

Some of the hardest things to discover are the dates when innovations became common place. People chronicle the first steam engine but not the packhorse. The first draught animal used to replace human power was the ox. This is a bull which had been castrated to make it more tractable, a bullock. We don’t know when they were first used but we have the term ‘oxgang’ or ‘bovate’ meaning a measure of land as early as the 9th century. This was a roughly the amount of land that could be ploughed with a team of oxen in a season. Our evidence for this date is because it was used in assessing the Danegeld, the bribe paid to the Danes as protection money The Domesday Book (1085/1086) used the oxgang as a standard measure of land.
The ox was a good haulage animal, I don’t know when they were replaced by the horse in this country but in the colonies, notably South Africa and Australia, bullock teams were used until well into the 20th century and so we have reliable contemporary evidence as to how good they were. Here’s a quotation from an old bullock driver cited in a book written in 1916: 'In a hole gimme the bullocks. A 'orse is good to go when he's at it, but he hasn't got the heart. If 'orses get fixed (stuck) for twenty minutes they're punctured. They won't pull any more, however long you stay there. But bullocks - they'll go back next day and pull the same as ever. (C. E. Bean. On the Wool Track, 1916, Ch. XX.)
Thomas Barcroft of Barrowford wrote in his accounts for 1691: ‘Received of Thomas Driver of Noyno [Noyna, Foulridge] for a pair of oxen of mine sold him by James Tattersall (which were bought at our Michaelmas Fair of John Tillotson of Surgill and cost £9-10-0) about 3 weeks after Michaelmas Sum of £9-18-6.’ There is another entry for January 1690; ‘Jonathan Robinson shod me 4 oxen and 2 of my sons. This equates to about £600 per ox at today’s prices and gives us a good idea of how important they were to the 17th century farmer. There is another entry in the accounts for January 1690; ‘Jonathan Robinson shod me 4 oxen and 2 of my sons. Oxen were still being used even though horses as pack animals or draught animals for light loads were common earlier in that century.
The Manorial Court Rolls can be useful here. The Manorial Court was the forerunner of the Local Board or District Council and was the local authority during medieval times. In the Court Rolls for the Honour of Clitheroe; 1442/1443 there is a record of ‘two loads of timber from Barnoldswick Wood carried to the water mill at Colne to make ‘two balkes’ at 8d. per load’. These were substantial timbers and I can think of no other way they could be moved except by wheeled transport. This may be the earliest record we have for wheeled transport in the area and was presumably an exceptional event. It’s almost certain that the draught animals were oxen.
In the Barnoldswick Manorial Court rolls we find this entry: ‘17th April 1733. Every person using the way from Salterforth Town Stoops to Barnoldswick Coates with cart or carriage or any other loads (not having the right to be there) in the mercy of the Lords [fined] 4/-’. This must be Cross Lane boundary at Salterforth to Coates (or Musgill, a name which appears on an old waymark). This was not a public road as part of it at Rainhall was later designated a private road. From this later judgement we also know that it was not considered of sufficient standard for wheeled vehicles. This is the first direct evidence I know for the existence of wheeled vehicle traffic in Barnoldswick and is proof of the pressure that was growing for adequate roads for such vehicles. The owners of this way were trying to reduce the wear on it by excluding wheeled traffic and hence the expense to them of repairing it. The reason the court made the ruling is to avoid the repair being made a charge on the manor.
So, what can we learn from all this about transport in Barlick? We can be sure that men were carrying small loads on their backs as late as the 20th century. Packhorses became common probably around 1650 and wheeled vehicles for local haulage early in the next century. We get another clue in the Manorial Court Rolls for 18th October 1762. One of the customary rights of people living within the bounds of the Manor of Barnoldswick and Salterforth was that they were allowed to bring turf (for fuel), sand and stone from the moor down into the town for their own use. A bye-law passed on this date restricted the size of the wagons used by limiting the teams to three horses. The same bye-law also curtailed this right to the months of May to September inclusive. This proves that the roads up to the moor weren’t paved because the tenants were only allowed the privilege in the dry season to protect the ways from wear. The fact that there was a restriction on the number of horses suggests that bigger teams were common in the Manor, this means substantial wagons as opposed to simple two-wheeled carts.
The picture of Barlick we are building up around 1700 is of several groups of houses at Townhead, Westgate (Church Street) and Jepp Hill, Coates and Salterforth, joined by narrow lanes that were unpaved as late as 1750 and probably later. These ways were used by foot traffic, packhorses and the occasional wheeled vehicle all year round and in winter they must have been a right muck hole. One of the things we forget nowadays is the fact that everyone who entered a house on a rainy day carried in a pile of mud, not only on their feet but imagine the state that ladies long skirts must have got into. In dry weather the dust would blow everywhere and it’s no wonder that a low level of stomach infections was endemic because the dust would settle on any uncovered food. My grandmother taught me a little poem: ‘The wind, the wind, the naughty wind, it blows our skirts up high. But God is just, he sends the dust to blind the bad man’s eye’.
A word about moving heavy weights. The nearest source I know for millstones is at the top of Noyna above Foulridge. If you take a walk up there you’ll find stones half cut and some that were flawed and broke while they were being worked. I came across an account in the Barcroft Diaries of two stones being brought down from the quarry for the mill in Foulridge. A wooden beam was fixed between the centres of the two stones so that they were like two wheels on an axle. A pair of oxen was yoked up at the front for traction and another at the back to act as a brake and the stones were moved like that.
One final thought for you about horses, I was astonished to find that in March 1948 when the railways were nationalised and became British Railways, the new entity inherited 7,000 and all the equipment and stabling that went with them.

One of the questions I’m often asked is how wide the roads were. In the past many historians have started from the Roman roads and assumed that this was some sort of standard. The latest research on Roman roads suggests that they could be any width from eight feet upwards depending on their importance and the amount of traffic. However, this applies to what we would now call trunk routes and it would be a mistake to apply this directly to local roads such as the ones we are looking at in Barlick.
In the days before draught animals and wheeled vehicles all the ways we are looking at were footpaths. Look at any footpath on a right of way across a modern field and that’s the scale, just wide enough to walk on. If there was a boggy patch the traffic might by-pass this by walking on the firmer ground and over the years such a path would naturally get wider. Eventually as stock-proof boundaries were needed along the route hedges and banks with ditches for drainage would be used and later walls would be built. The path from Esp Lane to Calf Hall Lane over Pickles Hippings is a good example. Where there was an obstacle like the Calf Hall Beck the most regular users would make things easier for themselves by putting in stepping stones or ‘hippings’, a bloke called Pickles evidently did this here at some time. The fact that this was done is an indication of how important the route was. Notice that the path along Shitten Ginnel is wider than a footway. Evidently it became used as a packhorse way before the walls were built. At some later date it has been paved and the hippings replaced by a bridge. I suspect this is a fairly modern bridge but if it had been a packhorse bridge there would have been a dead giveaway, the parapets would either have been missing or low enough not to interfere with the packs on the horses backs. The two bridges in the village of Wycoller are good examples and there is a nice low-walled packhorse bridge over the County Brook at the site of the mill at Wood End on a route heading straight for Barlick.
With the advent of wheeled transport the ways would have to have been widened to about nine feet. We have good evidence for this in the Manorial Court Rolls dated 20th October 1763. ‘We the Jurors above named upon our oaths present that from the time whereof the memory of Man is not to the contrary there hath been and still is a common and ancient road lying and being within the jurisdiction of this Court for all the lay subjects of our Lord the King to pass & repass on foot and on horse back and with loaded horses to and from the township of Brogden within the jurisdiction aforesaid to and from the ancient and accustomed Mill called Barnoldswick Mill within the jurisdiction aforesaid containing one thousand yards in length and three yards in breadth and that Beatrix Lister widow, Nicholas Winckley, Robert Parker Esq., Edmund Grundy, John Smith, David Blegbrough, Thomas Edmondson and Thomas Hoyle, clerk Rahone Tenurae ought and by custom are wont to repair and amend the same when and so often as need shall be as required. And the same road being deep broken and out of repair and for want of the due reparation and amendment thereof that the lay subjects of our said Lord the King cannot on foot, horse back and with loaded horses and other cattle pass go ride and labour at their will and pleasure for the purpose and on the occasion aforesaid without great damage of their loads and the loss of their goods. To the great damage of said common nuisance of our said Lord the King his crown and dignity.’ Notice that the width for this road is specified as ‘three yards’ and the only traffic noted is ‘on foot and on horse back and with loaded horses’. Legal documents are notorious for covering every eventuality and there is no mention of wheeled traffic. This is a good indication of the importance of the corn mill and the customary rights which it enjoyed. The persons named are evidently the landowners along the route of the road and it looks as though this includes at least part of what we now know as Calf Hall Lane. It also tells us how these customary ways were maintained, it was the responsibility of the landowners through whose land the road passed. Even though the main routes out of the town, ‘The King’s Highway’, were repaired by the Manor, the responsibility for the fences and ditches still fell to the landowners. Manorial Court Rolls 18th October 1743: ‘Several owners and occupiers of land adjoining the highway from Four Lane Ends to Gisburn Lane ordered to repair fences and scour and open ditches within the highway before 11th November 1743. 1/- fine for every rod or perch not done.’ [ A rod, pole or perch was a measure of length and equals five and a half yards.] I’m presuming that ‘Gisburn Lane’ was the road through Bracewell and so this refers to the length of road from Syke to Bracewell.
What was the condition of the King’s Highway, the main routes in and out of the town? We’re lucky enough to have a picture of the road on the Skipton side of Coates bridge taken about 1890 and it shows a road that is approximately nine feet wide but certainly no more. It’s easy to see that this would only be suitable for foot and horse traffic and small carts. Despite this, Richard Ryley noted in his diary entry for March 22nd 1862 that he had gone to Gill Brow to watch twenty one horses and sixty or seventy men dragging the new boiler for Butts Mill into the town. Weighing twenty tons gross, the team of horses and the wagon carrying the boiler must have passed down this narrow road and over the canal bridge. One wonders why it wasn’t brought from Keighley to Barlick on the canal which was operating through Barlick by then.
So, right up to the end of the nineteenth century we have a small town served by a medieval road system. The growth of the textile industry was to change all this and we’ll have a look at that next.

As traffic increased across the region in the late 18th century even the improved roads under the Turnpike Trusts couldn’t cope. More bulk materials like limestone and coal needed to be moved. The Duke of Bridgewater hit this problem moving coal from his mines at Worsley into Manchester and in 1761 opened Britain’s first purpose built canal. It didn’t take long for entrepreneurs to realise that canals solved many problems and one of the first great cross-country canals soon followed, the Leeds and Liverpool.
The Leeds and Liverpool canal reached Barnoldswick at the beginning of the 19th century and opened the town up to the coalfields of West Yorkshire and Lancashire. At the same time it enabled traffic out of the town, lime and paving stone were the main exports. The availability of coal coincided with the building of the first practical steam engines for rotative power, the days of the watermill were numbered, steam power and modern machinery were to result in the modern textile factory system. By 1827 Mitchell’s Mill (Clough) had a steam engine, Butts followed in 1846 and Wellhouse in 1854. The modern era had reached Barnoldswick but the road system was still medieval. They were totally inadequate for the demand that was to be placed on them.
For over a century most heavy imports like machinery and cotton came into the town via the canal. On November 26th 1909 John Sagar who was starting a weaving firm in the new shed at Bankfield wrote to Harling and Todd at Burnley asking for their ‘Best price for 41 inch reed space looms, fast reeds, plain underneath motion with two cross rails and one and a quarter inch shedding bars delivered to the canal wharf’. Even at this late date, this was seen as the best way to get looms from Burnley into Bankfield Shed even though the railway connected Burnley and Barnoldswick by then. The key factor was that it was nearer by road from Coates Wharf to the mill than from the Station Yard. The same firm sent 28 bags of waste by canal on May 22nd 1918. This isn’t surprising because from the old roads had been virtually destroyed by the weight of traffic caused by the expansion of the town. Remember that all the stone to build the mills, all the coal and all the raw materials had to be transported by road to the mill from the canal or railway station.
Apart from the increased traffic caused by the mills the town was growing in other ways. In 1850 the population was just under 2,000, by 1900 it was almost 6,500. So in addition to the mill traffic there is the movement of materials to build the new housing required. Matters other than transport such as water supply, sewage and gas also became pressing and a completely new local government structure was needed. At first this was the Skipton Rural Sanitation Authority but the Local Government District of Barnoldswick was sanctioned by the West Riding County Council on May 14th 1890 and the Local Board held its first meeting on November 26th the same year. The Local Board had responsibility for the town’s roads and in 1898 they borrowed £500 to purchase a steam road roller. A new era of local government and road maintenance had begun.
We need to step back here and look at what had been happening to maintain the roads during most of the 19th century. We have seen the role of the Manorial Court as the local body responsible for the roads. During the late 18th century these duties were largely taken over by ‘The Vestry’, a meeting of townspeople, usually in the church vestry. Later this was became the Parish Council. In the case of Barnoldswick the Parish Council was superseded in matters of sanitation by control from Skipton but as we have seen, in 1890 the Local Board was formed and the town became responsible for its own affairs.
The roads at this time were simply the customary ways which over the years had been repaired by knapping stone into the surface and this had gradually built up into a substantial road bed. The small stone for filling holes was produced by men and women at the side of the road breaking large stones down to pigeon egg size. This was done by poor people to qualify for outdoor relief from the Skipton Workhouse. If you look carefully on the right hand side of the road above Letcliffe Park bottom entrance on Manchester Road you’ll see a small overgrown yard. The locals called this ‘Poorbones’ as it was where stone was broken by the paupers. The most that was done to the road was to fill potholes and rake the surface level. Foot traffic and horse’s hooves consolidated the surface.
As wheeled traffic became more common the roads suffered because the cart wheels ran in the same ruts and soon broke through the surface. This was made worse by carters using wheels that were narrow and some had ‘cogs’ or teeth on the tyre as this made the carts easier to extricate from holes. Various local bye-laws were enacted to enforce the use of broader wheels, the idea being that this would have a consolidating effect on the road. It was this principle that the Local Board were using when they bought the road roller. The method was to scarify the road surface, rake it flat and then roll it with the heavy roller to produce a hard, tightly packed surface. If you look at any old postcard from around 1900 showing a local road you will see that it looks white. This is because the usual stone used for capping the road was limestone, hence the colour. Limestone rock when powdered had a tendency to set like weak concrete and so was preferred for capping roads.
Even after the use of the roller the roads still had their drawbacks. In wet weather they were muddy and in dry weather traffic produced clouds of dust. Imagine the mess that clung to skirts and trod into houses in wet weather and the constant wind-borne dust that settled everywhere in the house, including on the food. Bear in mind that this dust also had horse manure and even worse pollution in it and it’s no wonder that pressure started to build to alleviate the nuisance. Billy Brooks told me that the first streets in the town to be paved with stone blocks or setts were Newtown and Station Road in about 1895. They were laid in a fan pattern which paviors later called Durex and I have been told that the foreman on the first paving job was a Frenchman but I have no hard evidence for this. The pattern is certainly common on the Continent. The funny thing was that the local carters protested, they didn’t like them because they didn’t give as good a grip for the horse’s hooves.

In 1890 the new Local Board for Barnoldswick had a big problem. Houses were being built on every piece of spare land in the town. The green fields that stretched from Newtown all the way to the new houses built behind Bracewell’s Wellhouse Square were up for grabs and decisions had to be made about building lines and the width of streets. We can identify exactly where they made these decisions because the streets they laid out are a regular grid pattern and much wider than the medieval ways. Take a square bounded by Rainhall Road, Park road, and Fernbank Avenue and you’ll see what I mean. The block between Park Road and Manchester Road is another example. The streets are straight, wide and the building line on each side is regular.
The Board could do nothing about the medieval streets apart from make slight adjustments if a property fell into disuse. We can still see these old streets in the middle of the town. Newtown, Rainhall Road from Newtown to Park Road, King Street, Jepp Hill, Philip Street, Butts and St James’ Square are all medieval layout. Wapping and Walmsgate have been improved by widening the road when the new Ship was built and demolishing the houses on the left side of the road above Clough Park. Townhead and Esp Lane are medieval. Manchester Road between the Dog and Tubber Hill is unchanged as is Ben Lane, the old road through Greenberfield Locks, Brogden Lane and Greenberfield Lane. These last two roughly follow the line of the Roman Road.
We can still see some remains of the old setts used for road paving. The best example I know is Hill Street from Wellhouse Street to Bank Street. The slope at the bottom end is still setts with the cracks filled with gas tar which was a by-product of the gasworks. Strangely enough, the rest of Hill Street is concrete and must be one of the earliest examples in the town of concrete used for a road surface. Not all the roads in the town were paved with setts, many remained as old stoned roads until later in the 20th century when it became the practice to spray them with hot gas tar, spread clean chippings on the surface and roll them with the steam roller. This sealed the surface and was a great advance as it stopped the formation of dust in dry weather and mud in wet.
Once the streets were properly paved and maintained road traffic increased. At first this was all horse traffic, every trader in the town had a flat wagon or cart for deliveries. Local carriers such as Thomas and Henry Slater ran regular services to Skipton and Colne in 1822. Other names that occur later in the century were Eccleston, Brooks, Berry, Bracewell, Barrett, Wilson, Harris and Edmondson, their number shows how necessary they were. The railway used horses for deliveries from the station (British Railways still had 7,000 in 1948) and coal merchants delivered all the mill coal in two wheeled tipping carts and domestic coal on flat lorries either from the station sidings or the canal wharf. Well-to-do local people had carriages and riding horses and people like Towers Singleton on Commercial Street would hire you a landau for a special occasion. The big change came after the First World War when thousands of ex-army motor lorries were released onto the home market, many being bought by ex-service men who had learned to drive in the army. Petrol was cheap and the government barred the railways from entering the road haulage trade and set standard prices for rail freight. The independent hauliers had lower costs, delivered door to door and were allowed to undercut the railways. The internal combustion engine started its long march towards domination of freight carriage.
In 1978 Harold Duxbury told me about a carter who carried cotton from the railway sidings to the mills. His name was William Roberts but his by-name was ‘Billy Pudding’. He stabled his horse in Butts and was a hard drinker. Harold said that when he had to go up the sharp slope to the old canal bridge at Coates he would hop of the lorry, grab a skip of weft and carry it up on his back to ease the load on the horse. His horse was so used to the roads that Billy would pop into the Railway for a quick point while his horse ambled quietly on down Church Street. Funnily enough the landlady at the Railway eventually persuaded Billy to moderate his drinking. Just a funny little story but it tells us so much about life in the mid-nineteenth century.
Faced with progress like the advent of motor transport it is very tempting to assume that as soon as it was introduced everyone discarded the old technology and went with the new. This would be a mistake, there is plenty of evidence that the packhorse survived long after the advent of the canals because it was quicker. High value, time-dependent goods were carried on individual horseback as late as the early 20th century. The horse carriers were still running to Skipton and Colne until shortly after the First World War. Local traders used horse and carts until the 1950s and the railway kept their horses almost as long. I can remember being taken to the Co-operative stables in Stockport in about 1942 to see the cart horses kept there, I remember particularly a large black stallion called Hitler! Farmers were still carrying milk down the lane to the milk stand in back kits or horse and float until the end of WW2. I think that Robinsons at Standridge on Folly Lane were the last people in Barnoldswick to use one, Old Sid Demaine once told me that Robinson was the first man in Barlick to use half hundredweight (56lbs or 25.4kg) sacks of proven because Mrs Robinson couldn’t manage a full hundredweight when she picked the bag up off the milk stand after taking the milk down in a back kit. Don’t even ask! No, I have no evidence this was true but have an idea that it might be. The advent of tarmac didn’t mean that every road was covered with it. We still see gangs tar-spraying and chipping roads every summer particularly between towns on the old roads. There are still stoned roads in Barlick, Ben Lane, Cross Lane, Folly Lane, Lister Well, and some small unadopted streets in the town like Longfield Lane.
So, the next time you go shopping in the town you will know why the first part of Rainhall Road is so narrow, look above the shop fronts and you’ll see that these were old cottages built long before modern traffic demanded wide roads. Have you ever wondered why the road in Newtown is wider outside The Occasion than it is down to Church Street? In 1906 when Matt Hartley built the block that houses the Occasion on the site of the old Co-op slaughterhouse [They took it over off the Wraw Brothers] he was expecting the rest of the road to be opened up and so allowed room for it. He did the same thing when he built his never-to-be-used swimming baths on the Croft which became a garage. The narrowing of Frank Street where it joins Rainhall Road is because of the old property on either side. King Street is still laid out as it was in the 17th century. The stretch of road from the Dog up to Bancrofts Farm is a pure medieval road and one of the best traffic calming measures we have in the town. One of these days some bright spark will decide it needs tidying up and then we shall have accidents due to speed on the hill.
There are times when the narrow streets are a nuisance but we should never forget that they were built on a human scale and it is this that gives the old parts of the town their character. The day we demolish the old property and widen the roads to make more room for traffic and modern buildings we will have completely lost the plot. They are as important to the town as the Barlickers and if we lose one, we will be in danger of losing both and the town will be poorer for it.

When the Majestic Cinema complex was built by Matthew Hartley in 1914 it must have been one of the first integrated leisure complexes in the country and over the years more and more information has popped up. I think it’s about time we did a proper update and gathered all this material together.
Matthew Hartley is a bit of a mystery. I said this once to one of his surviving family and they agreed that he was a ‘bit of a character’. I think this might have been putting it mildly, I can’t find any concrete records for him and am beginning to suspect that he used another name in his early days. Whatever, I’ll tell you what I think I know about him. As I often say, further research may alter things but this is where I stand at the moment.
Matthew Hartley was born in Colne. His first business venture seems to have been a pie and pea shop at the top of Colne. He became involved in the building trade and in the 1870s I think he was living in Marsden Heights at Nelson, he is reputed to have built several houses there. He seems to have gone walkabout around this time and turns up in Barlick sometime about 1900. I suspect he was in Blackpool in these lost years because I am assured that the family legend about him standing on the foreshore at Blackpool and throwing his last penny in the sea so he could say he started again with nothing is true.
What is certain is that he did attend the sale of effects at Thomas Ward’s breaker’s yard at Morecambe and bought a lot of fittings from the ex White Star liner Majestic which he incorporated into the Majestic Cinema which was completed in 1914. Large amounts of panelling and fittings came into Barlick by rail and went into not only the Majestic but the families various houses in the town. The pay box in the foyer was the old Purser’s office.
The Majestic contained a cinema and a ballroom which doubled as a roller skating rink and a billiard hall with 14 full sized tables on the first floor. The cinema was in the centre and when it first started was gas-lit but with a generator powered by a small gas engine which supplied power for the arc lamp for the projectors. Walt Fisher said this was on rails so it could be moved from one projector to the other when they changed reels. Later a larger engine and generator were added to light the whole of the complex. Both engines were in a room behind the cinema screen, they had their own gas producer in the same room and drove the generators with leather belts. They were looked after by Harold Hartley who lived on Ellis Street. There was also a gentleman’s club, the entrance to this was in Fernlea Avenue next to the library. I’ve been told that it wasn’t unknown for people to play cards for money in there. There were shops on the front of the building on either side of the stairs leading up to the foyer of the cinema and one of these was used as part of the film ‘A Private Function’.
As well as the Majestic Matt built Station Chambers and the shops opposite the Majestic. He built six lock-up shops on the site where the Post Office is now. I also think that he had a hand in building the block on the corner of Albert Road in 1906 that now houses the Occasion and two other small shops with accommodation over the top.
By 1928 Matt had also bought the Gem cinema in Skipton, which he re-named the Plaza. It was in this year that he sent word to his son Harry who had migrated to Niagara Falls that there was a job waiting for him at home managing the new acquisition. Harry came back and became manager, he met his wife Olive there in 1930 and was married in 1935. There was a rival cinema in Skipton owned by a man called Morrison and called the Morriseum. This later became the Odeon.
On the 11th of November 1940 M Hartley and Sons Limited presented a silver gilt chain to the Urban District Council as Chairman’s Regalia in memory of Mr Fred Hartley’s service to the Council. Matt Hartley himself was a councillor from 1920 to 1922. The story in the family is that at some point Matt fell out with the council and asked for the chain back. They believe that the reason for the falling out was that the council wouldn’t allow him to lay a water main from Church Street to a building on the hill up to St James’ Square that Matt had built as a public swimming baths. By at least 1922 this building was Phineas Brown’s electrical works so there is a mis-match between the story of the chain and the dates. Perhaps there was an earlier chain of office and this is why Matt resigned as a councillor in 1922? I know that there is a picture of Matt somewhere with a chain of office. As he resigned in 1922 it could well be that he got it back! However, the building was never used as a swimming bath and Matt dropped his plans for further development up towards the Square. The present owner tells me that at one time it was used for ice-making and of course in my time in the 1960s it was the Croft Garage. In 2004 the sign ‘Croft Garage’ could still be seen on the gable end facing Skipton Road.
Matt Hartley definitely had an interest in the Palace Cinema early on and eventually he owned it. George Formby and Billy Cotton’s Band Show both played at the Palace. Arthur Harper started at the Palace Cinema playing the piano for the silent films, at weekends they had a trio. He eventually became secretary and manager for M Hartley and Sons Ltd. The reason why there was no stage at the Majestic was probably because Matt didn’t need one as there was one at the Palace. He transferred shows from there to the Plaza.
Barmy Mick bought the Palace off M Hartley and Sons in about 1960 and opened it as a cheap shop. Janet Kippax told me that they had a policy that nothing could be changed once you had gone through the checkout. One day she bought ten tins of Heinz baby food but was only charged for one. When she went back in to tell them about the mistake they said that it couldn’t be changed so it worked in her favour.
In the late 50s and early 1960s Boris Hartley, Harry Hartley’s son, ran what they called ‘Barlick Bop’ at the Majestic on Wednesday evening for adults and Saturday afternoon for the teeny-boppers. In 1959 he had a visit one Friday from three men, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein. They were touring round looking for bookings and had been at the Imperial Ballroom at Nelson where the manager there had booked them and suggested that they try the Majestic at Barnoldswick. When Boris asked Brian Epstein how much the group wanted he said £28. Boris said they couldn’t go higher than £15 because they only charged a shilling for entry. They could book The Hollies, Freddy and the Dreamers and Gene Vincent for £5 to £10. They all appeared at the Majestic from time to time. Brian Epstein gave Boris a demo record of ‘Please, please me’ and asked him to play it for the kids and if they liked it he could get in touch about a booking. This record floated round in the record collection for years until one day two lasses who had been helping asked if they could have it. It was given to them and in 2000 it was realised that only 15 of these demo records had been made and one had sold at Christie’s in New York for £85,000. So there is a good chance that someone in Barlick has an old EP record floating round in the attic that is worth somewhere in the region of £100,000! The Beatles never actually played the Majestic but Boris booked them several times in the early days for venues in other towns.
The films of the Gala mentioned by Walt Fisher did exist. They were made by Boris in 1951 and 1952 on 16mm film looking down Skipton Road from where the church is now and were shown at the Majestic. Nobody knows where these have gone to.
One more interesting fact. Boris said that one thing he always remembered was the smell of the venue when he opened it up the morning after and went in to sweep up. There were no pre-packed snack foods in those days and most people brought oranges and peas in pods. He said the place smelled of orange peel.
I have no doubt that more information will turn up about this fascinating piece of Barlick’s history. Next time you walk along Albert Road, pause and look at the Majestic and Station Chambers and reflect how modern they must have seemed when they were built in 1914. Matthew Hartley may well have been ‘a character’, what is certain is that he had imagination and a very good head for business. He was an asset to the town.

There is one more transport issue we should understand before we go back to Barlick in the 17th century. Not all goods that were moved needed carrying, some of them had four wheel drive. Let’s have a look at the large scale movement of animals. To hear modern experts talk you would think that this was a new phenomenon. Whilst I will admit that many more journeys are made nowadays, it is a mistake to think that this is new. There are many reasons for moving animals, the simplest is the need to move fresh meat on the hoof from the area where it was fattened to the place where it is needed for food. This movement of animals from country areas to the place of consumption has been going on ever since men started to live in towns and cities. Getting the animals there under their own steam made perfect common sense, they were slaughtered in the towns and cities and the meat arrived fresh on the table.
This reason for moving cattle has now died out with centralised slaughter houses and refrigerated road transport. Far from increasing, the flow of live cattle and other animals into towns and cities has ceased entirely. This applies to milk as well. Before the advent of rail transport the only way to guarantee fresh milk in a large town or city was to keep the cows in sheds near to the population and milk them there. They never saw the light of day and were kept in terrible conditions. After they finished their lactation they were slaughtered for meat. The demand for freshly calved cows for the ‘cowkeepers’ meant more animals being driven into the towns. Another reason for moving animals is that some areas like Scotland and Wales are ideal for breeding and rearing stock but not the best place to fatten them. To this day, there is a big trade in store animals which are reared in Scotland and Wales and then brought down to the lowland pastures in England to be fattened for market. The ‘Great North Road’ was a favourite route from Scotland and during the year August 1777 to August 1778, 28,551 cattle passed through Wetherby on their way south.
Cattle and sheep weren’t the only stock which were moved. Geese, turkeys and pigs were also moved in droves. Daniel Defoe writing at the beginning of the 18th century tells us that up to 500 flocks of turkeys a year were being brought out of Norfolk into London and there was a similar trade in geese. These birds gave the drovers a bit of a problem, they got footsore when moved for long distances. The cure for this was to drive the flock through a bath of warm pitch followed by another bath of sawdust and sand mixed. If this was done several times it formed a hard wearing skin on their feet which lasted for quite a distance and fell off leaving them clean and undamaged. Geese would quite happily rest on the ground at night but turkeys presented another problem, they needed to roost in trees! Cattle were often shod with iron shoes, being cloven hoofed they needed eight shoes apiece. The blacksmith at Grassington used to make shoes and nails and take them to Threshfield and Skipton where he shod cattle for eight pence (old money) a beast in the mid nineteenth century, one man could shoe about seventy beasts in a day. These shoes were a valuable by-product of the slaughter house trade because when the animals were killed the used shoes and nails were shipped back up the country to where they were needed and re-used.
The men who moved the stock were the drovers, a hardy breed who tended to pass the trade on from father to son. They guarded their craft jealously and there were stringent conditions attached to the trade. Under an Act passed in the reign of Elizabeth the First, a drover had to be a married householder of at least thirty years of age and had to obtain a licence in writing from at least three magistrates which only lasted for one year. There were heavy fines for anyone found contravening this Act of Parliament. There was good reason for this licensing, the drover had plenty of scope for dishonesty. He was entrusted with a large number of valuable animals and if he lost some on the way how was anyone to tell whether this was due to accident, sickness or theft? The drover was also a cattle dealer as he was often responsible for the sale of the animals at their final destination and the return of the proceeds of sale to the original owner. Remember that there wasn’t a banking system as we know it today and the money had to be transported as cash at great risk. I have read somewhere that a drover wasn’t allowed to go bankrupt, he was always liable for his debts. This makes sense as it would give his customers better protection.
In 1634 King Charles the First defied Parliament and raised a tax which was supposedly for the maintenance of the navy. It was called Ship Money and he levied it three years in succession until the Long Parliament rescinded it in 1638. What’s this got to do with droving cattle? Simple, the safest way to transport the Ship Money from the outlying towns to London was to buy cattle with it and drive them to London. When they were sold, the tax was paid by the drover and any profit was a bonus for the town who had sent the cattle.
There is much more to tell about the drovers, for instance, they had wonderful dogs and there are many accounts of the dogs being sent home by themselves sometimes even leading a pack horse and staying at the same inns each night that the drover stopped at on his way down the country. If you want to learn more, ask at the library for a book called ‘The Drovers’ by K J Bonser. It is where I learned much of my knowledge about droving in the old days and I recommend it to you all.
As many of you will remember I was a drover myself for many years when I was a cattle wagon driver for Drinkall’s at West Marton. The same tides of cattle I have been describing in the 17th and 18th centuries were still flowing up and down the country then. Good calves went from Craven up into Scotland and milking heifers and young beef stock came down into Lancashire and further south. One firm of hauliers I knew in Scotland did nothing but carry pigs down to London to Smithfield for slaughter. The capital’s appetite for meat is even greater now than in the 17th and 18th centuries because of the rise in population.
So, when the ‘experts’ talk about the ‘unnecessary’ movement of stock around the country they may have a point in some cases but by far the greater proportion of movements is ancient and necessary. They also talk of the cruelty of moving animals. Undoubtedly this does exist, no trade or profession is entirely free of rogues but this doesn’t mean that all drovers are culpable. When I was moving cattle we took a pride in getting animals to their destination in good condition. We had to be mechanics, vets and midwives all at the same time. I have seen me calve three beasts between Scotland and West Marton. Properly looked after cattle could come out of the box after 300 miles on the road in better condition than when they went in. I remember bringing some cattle into Gisburn Auction Market one day while a sale was on. I backed the wagon and trailer on to the docks, closed the gates at the back of the dock and let the cattle out to stretch their legs while I found Richard. I was accosted by a well-meaning animal rights activist who berated me for cruelty, she had seen me unloading the cattle. I took her back round to the wagon to ask her to show me exactly what my crime was and when we got there, the cattle had loaded themselves back into the boxes of their own accord. Even she had to admit that they didn’t seem to be terrorised!
One more piece of knowledge for you. We need to look at foot and mouth disease now. If you get your Old Testament out and look at Exodus, Chapter 9 verse 3 you will find: ‘Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen and upon the sheep. There shall be a very grievous murrain.’ Nothing new under the sun!
‘Murrain’ is a portmanteau word which was used until the 19th century to describe any cattle disease which killed. It probably derives from the Latin ‘mori’, or ‘death’. Foot and mouth wasn’t identified in Britain until 1839 and the diseases referred to before that were probably mainly ‘cattle plague’, otherwise known as ‘rinderpest’. In the 18th century over 200,000,000 cattle died in Europe from this disease. In 1745 at least 200,000 cattle died in England and the only way to halt the outbreak was to kill the infected animals and bury them. In 1863 and 1865 there were outbreaks of the plague, the last one brought into Hull by live cattle shipped from Russia. These outbreaks killed 400,000 cattle, it was finally brought under control in 1869. In 1878 the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act was passed which imposed strict controls and allowed the payment of compensation to farmers. There were some weird and wonderful cures, one was to dose the animal with a quart of old urine mixed with half a handful of hen’s dung! A favourite preventative measure was to drive the cattle through the smoke from old straw and manure which was burned in heaps. This was a throwback to the old Pagan festival of Beltane. The bottom line is that neither Foot and Mouth disease or the payment of compensation by the government is new. In 1714, George I paid almost £7,000 out of his Privy Purse for cattle killed in an outbreak of rinderpest in Islington.
One last curiosity about the drovers. There used to be a row of cottages on the triangle of land enclosed by the fork where Gillians lane diverges from what used to be called Barnoldswick Lane called ‘Windy Harbour’. This name always puzzled me as there seemed to be no obvious reason for it. It was while I was looking into transport and the drovers that I realised it was a common name found all over the North of England and in some cases was directly linked by the available evidence to droving. The name seems to denote an overnight stop for drovers and their animals and possibly packhorse trains in more remote areas. There is no direct evidence for this in Barlick but it’s an interesting possibility to be borne in mind.

I think we’re ready to get back to some Barlick history around 1600 armed with some clues about the local infrastructure, a hint of changes coming in trade and industry and even some knowledge of the diseases of cattle. Becoming acquainted with these matters is never time wasted, it gives us the background against which we can set the scraps of knowledge that have come down to us.
Looking back from 1600 the biggest single change was Henry VIII’s decision to cast aside the rule of Rome and declare himself head of the church in England. When I was at school over half a century ago we were taught that the reason for this was so that he could divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his brother Arthur who died at Ludlow six months after marrying her. Henry applied for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine on the grounds that Leviticus stated that a man who took his brother’s wife would be childless, this despite the fact that the union had resulted in seven pregnancies and one surviving daughter Mary. Henry pursued the claim and when the Pope confirmed the bishop’s opinion that the marriage should stand Henry took a different tack, he repudiated the authority of the Pope by the Act of Supremacy of 1534 and brought pressure on his bishops to sanction a divorce so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. Like so many ‘historical facts’ drummed into us in the good old days, whilst true, this wasn’t the whole story.
The 1534 Act was followed by the first Suppression Act in 1536 and a second in 1539 which gave him authority to dissolve the monasteries. Between 1436 and 1541 he did just that.
Once again, in order to fully understand what was behind all this we have to go back in history, this time to the 14th century. Can you remember me mentioning John Wycliffe the theological adviser to John of Gaunt during the Wars of the Roses? Wycliffe was a lifelong opponent of the temporal power of the clergy, his view was that the king should hold temporal power and that an impoverished clergy should care for the spiritual realm as in the days of the Apostles. The monastic foundations were the centres of the Pope’s power in England and Wycliffe described them as ‘sects’. He contended that the Bible didn’t support the concept, they should be abolished and their possessions taken by the state. It was this undercurrent of thought in the late 14th century that weakened the power of the monasteries and led to many of their lands and possessions being transferred to the Barons who held much of the temporal power at the time. This is why we have the evidence of Kirkstall’s possessions in Barnoldswick being reduced to Gill Church, the tithes and some land at Coates. We should also note that there were sequestrations of monastic property before Henry finally destroyed the monasteries in the 16th century. From 1295 to 1301 Edward I seized the assets of the ‘Alien Priories’ (institutions owing allegiance to foreign houses) during the wars with France. As late as 1524 Cardinal Wolsey obtained the permission of the Pope to dissolve 20 small institutions to allow him to found Christ Church College at Oxford. They never told me these things at school and once again, knowing that the action wasn’t unprecedented makes it easier to understand what Henry VIII did in 1536. Going back even further he was following the precedent set by the ancient kings when they took the title of chief priest to get spiritual as well as temporal control of their kingdoms.
During Wycliffe’s time in the 14th century the Bible had been translated into French but the Roman Church insisted on the Latin version being used. Wycliffe played a large part in producing an English translation which brought reading the Bible within reach of the better-educated members of the congregation. (I am reminded here of King Alfred’s letter to bishop Werferth in the 9th century which showed he had identified the need for the translation of key religious texts into English because “Latin learning had decayed in England and yet many could read English”) 600 years later the translation of the Bible was anathema to the established church, it was regarded as too dangerous to allow the common people access to what could be seen as revolutionary ideas. For all these reasons Wycliffe is regarded by many theologians as ‘The Father of the Reformation’. He died on the last day of 1384 of an apoplexy which struck him while preaching a fierce sermon on the 28th December. His legacy was greater in Europe than at home, the Protestant Hussite movement was a direct consequence of his teachings. He wasn’t excommunicated in his lifetime but in 1428 his bones were taken from his grave in Lutterworth churchyard by the English bishop at the command of the Pope, burned to ashes, and thrown into the river Swift.
All this happened 150 years before Henry took supremacy of the church but there is a clear link between the theological arguments he used to justify this action and the teachings of Wycliffe. Henry also took on board another of Wycliffe’s arguments about the temporal power of the clergy and dissolved the monasteries. This time there was one difference, he had enough control over his nobility to make sure the proceeds were transferred to the Crown, the nobles never got a look in, they had to buy the remaining land they had always coveted from the King. We are talking about possibly a third of the kingdom here, no wonder it was such a seismic shift.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries had tremendous consequences. Apart from the re-distribution of the proceeds and its effects on land ownership, many thousands of monks, lay brethren and workers were rendered unemployed and in some cases, unemployable. However, one trade, hitherto the exclusive property of the King and the Church soon found work to occupy them, these were the stonemasons.
You may have noticed that whenever I give a snapshot of what Barlick looked like I have until now described the houses as being timber-framed, infilled with wattle and daub (daub was basically sticky mud improved by adding dung and straw) and having thatched roofs. If there’s one thing that’s abundant in Barlick it’s stone, but apart from a bit of boundary walling, none of it was ever used. This is because, until the Dissolution, almost the only building in stone was for royal palaces, fortifications and religious buildings. Once the monastic masons were displaced they sought work and found that the wealthier minor gentry and yeoman farmers were prosperous and happy to employ them. By the end of the 16th century we see quite humble dwellings being rebuilt in stone and sometimes with stone slate roofs. Chimneys became the norm and Barlick changed from a medieval vill into a modern stone-built township.
The more we look at the older buildings in Barlick, the more we realise that what usually happened was that the old timber framed buildings began to be improved as early as the 15th century by inserting a stone chimney pile into the existing buildings. This addition often included improvements like a beehive oven alongside the fire which was heated partly by the fire and further by putting heated stones in to raise the temperature or burning brushwood inside the oven itself. This gave the ability to bake in an oven instead of cooking almost exclusively on a heated stone on the fire. ‘Backstone baking’ survived until the 20th century as a craft and mainly produced oat cakes and crumpets but the enclosed oven became a common domestic asset.
If a family had enough money to improve their house, the obvious way to do it was to retain the central chimney pile and rebuild one end of the house. Later on they would do the same for the other end. I lived at Hey Farm behind the Greyhound hotel for twenty years and this was exactly what had happened there. The east end nearest the road was rebuilt, probably in the early 17th century, incorporating dove holes in the gable end and the 15th century chimney pile with its beehive oven. Later, probably in the mid 18th century, the west end of the house was totally rebuilt. There are many old houses like this embedded in the modern townscape, usually redundant farmhouses and very often evidence of the older build comes to light during renovations. I remember seeing an internal wooden mullioned window on the inside wall of a house on Wapping, this had obviously been an outside wall in the original build but had become embedded in the house and covered up when a new range was added to the back to enlarge what had originally been a small farm house. There must be many examples such as this which are not recognised during alterations. Indeed, it could be to the owner’s advantage to ignore them rather than run into problems under the Ancient Monuments Act or the regulations on listed buildings.
We can be sure that in 1600 there were some visible changes in the appearance of the buildings that made up the town. At least one large new house was constructed in the early 17th century in stone, Coates Hall. We know that the Coates estate passed to the Drake family shortly after 1600. Thomas Drake was appointed rector of Thornton in Craven in 1623 and it may be that this is the time he bought the Coates estate. He or his family built Coates Hall and his son William who was a Justice of the Peace and therefore a prominent man in the community lived there in 1667. His son and grandson, both Williams, inherited in turn. This addition to the gentry of the district is in itself significant and made more so because they built an imposing ‘Hall’ in stone, a sign to the outside world of their importance and evidence that Barlick was thriving and gaining importance in the district.
Beneath the surface of the buildings, Barlick was still a medieval town. There was no water supply, every householder had to dispose of household waste, including sewage, as well as he could. The roads were inadequate. There was no formal education system except for Earby Grammar School which was founded in 1594 by Robert Windle Esquire with £20 per annum for teaching reading to boys born within the parish of Thornton in Craven, this included Earby and Kelbrook but didn’t cover Barlick. This lack of educational facilities was a growing problem because the Dissolution of the monasteries had destroyed the main resource for education. Grammar schools were established all over the country but not in Barlick. Private tuition for wealthy families, sending boys away to school or a degree of self-help was all that existed. I have no direct evidence, but am convinced that there was more self-education than we realise. By its nature it was undocumented but we can have no other explanation for the fact that it is quite clear that many more people were literate than could be accounted for by formal education. We know there was a growing entrepreneurial class in the town and literacy would have been an advantage in running a business. Can we doubt that people intelligent enough to master the intricacies of textile production couldn’t also have taught themselves to read?
There is one more important trend to take note of which reinforces this contention. The woollen textile industry is thriving and there were signs of other staples being spun and woven. On the last day of December 1600, Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to the Honourable East India Company giving them a monopoly of trade with the Indies. One of the goods they traded in was cotton.

We’ve noted the release of the masons into society after the Dissolution of the monasteries and this was the start of the modern building industry. While we were researching Barrowford when I was at Pendle Heritage we found these very early specifications for building two houses. 300 years after the Dissolution the builder’s contract had arrived.
The contractor to find all materials workmanship or labour to pay all carriges to provide sheds for workman to find all tackling ladder ropes tools ... Also all nails spikes screws inges bolts straps and other iron work requisite for the firmly fixing and putting together of every part of the work belonging to this department Also to find and fix all locks Bolts handles latches and fastners together with every other thing that may be required for the full completion of the work in a good substantial an workmanlike manner to the satisfaction of Robert Crook or any person he may appoint to superintend the same The contractor to find and fix all lintails for inner doors cupboards or any other place where req... the lintails to run one foot into the wall at each end and to be of sufficient strength according to the opening Also all wood pluggs for windows and door heads and other places where required walled in the wall the Pantry to have one Rib 9 In BY 3 In and Spar’d as above specified.
The roofe to have two pair of principals over house and Shop, Beams ten Inches by five inches Rafters twelve inches by three inches Queen Posts and Collar Beam nine inches by three inches Discharging Braces five inches by three inches Spurs four Inches by three Inches with three ribs on each side eight inches by four inches with a joint Bolt eight inch long five eights dia. Also a joint Bolt seventeen inch long seven eights dia through beam into each queen post foot. Rooftree eight inches by two inches Sparrs two and half inches by three inches and naild on ribs sixteen inches from centre to centre.
The joists of the chamber floors to be eight inches by two and half Inches Braced with two setts of braces with a three quarters round iron bolt through each floor the joists to be laid on walls sixteen Inches from centre to centre and boarded with good and well seasond one inch boards well dressed jointed & groved and naild down The joists over Kitchen and Warehouse to be well dressed on two sides and one edge. The parlour to have oak joists four inches by three inches laid on sleeper walls fourteen inches from centre to centre and boarded with good and well seasond one and quarter inch boards not more than seven Inch broad well dressed jointed doweld and naild down on the edge only and well dressed off when laid All the other floors to be punchd puttied and well dressed off when the plaister work is finishd.
The parlour to have a six panneld door moulded on both sides framing two inches thick hung to casings breadth of wall and two Inch thick with two iron rising butt inges and mortic lock of ten shillings and sixpence value. The front door of house to be a two inch framed door with panels one inch thick and made to drawing hung to casings four Inches by two and half inches well fixed to stone with three four inch butt inges and iron rim lock of seven and sixpence value with neat fan light over the same The shop door to be made a two inch framd door with one Inch panels and hung in two with two pair of four and half inch butt inges to casings four Inches by two and half well fixed to stone with fan light to drawing with two spring bars one handle and two snecks of five shillings value. The back door to be a good battend door with frame one and half Inch thick and coverd with one inch boards not more than six inch broad and hung with inges of nine pound weight.
The first course of stone for all the out walls to be two feet long and not less than eighteen inch broad and six inch thick and built good random walls up to levil of Ground floor. The front and all the hewing to sampile four houses belonging to Benjamin Moore oposite the house occupied by Robert Crook. The lower gable end to be sett In course and hammer dressed and the remainder of out walls and Inner gable end to be good random walls with two throughs in every sqr yard of walling and to be well flushd with lime morter the strength shawn on plan. The inner walls to be built with six inch parpoints well sett in lime morter. All the walls to be straight & plumb. The front to have a good stone cornice well hewing to drawing. To have tabling fourteen inch broad three Inch thick well set and crampd. The chimney drafts not to be less than fourteen Inches by twelve inches well plaisterd within with haird morter. The chimney tops to be drafted round and neatly pointed off with string course & hewing as shown on plan. All the windows to have bottoms & trough tops the bottoms to project the wall one Inch. The out doors to have bottoms sides and through tops. There must be one flight of stone steps all to be well hewn as before specified. The parlour to have good polishd chimney piece of thirty five shillings value The kichion to have jambe & mantle and OG stone cornice over and all the remainder of the chimney pieces to have jambs and mantles well wrought and neatly toold size shawn on plan and the height to correspond with the width. To have five harths well squard and fit to place in parlour and chamber The passage kitchen pantry warehouse and shops to be flagd with flags well squared and laid in sand. To have square corbels at back to spout troughs not more than three feet apart. The undertaker to beam and butt filld for Slater & Plasterer and complete the whole of the work to the satisfaction of R Crook or any person he may appoint. If the undertaker thinks proper to get stones upon the premises he must make up the hollows at his own expence also to find all materials for completing the work except lime and sand which will be found by the proprietor. The joiner to find all planks intended for spars for scaffolding but to pay for flat cutting. The undertaker to take stones that are upon the premises at a fare valuation. Also to have it finished or ready for rearing by the first of May or otherwise forfeit £2 a week for every week afterward. The undertaker will receive [one third] of the sum contracted for when the first floor is laid on and [one third] when reared. The remainder one month after finishd.
The slate to be good gray slate and to be well slated. Slating lathe one and half Inch by half Inch and naild on with nails one and half inch long with good ridging laid on with hair morter and the whole of the slate to be well pointed. The house shop pantry warehouse and all the chambers to have two coats of haird morter. The studded partision and ceiling of shop and chambers to be lathed and plaisterd with two coats
of haird morter. The passage and parlour to have three coats of haird morter and ceilings over to be lathed and plaisterd with three coats of haird morter and windows well pointed and building skirted round.
To have a meogany handrail and newel neatly turnd round stairs top with one iron baluster in corner and remainder of good deal. There must be panneld pilaster bace and cap to entrance of stair case to a drawing that will be given with an eliptic arch over passage to spring off pilaster.
To have a cupboard on one side of fire place in kitchen seven feet high by three feet wide with three drawers in bottom eight nine & ten inch deep with three shelves sixteen inch broad and one inch thick and two Panneld doors with hung with turns and fastners and single moulds round.
All windows not specified to have casings must have window bottoms one inch thick well naild to pluggs and corner beads to the same and all other corners where required.
To have four chimney cornices In chambers and well fixed.
To have eave spouts on back of buildings six Inches by four inches with cap and mould ... a conductor three and half inches square well fixed to wall with shoe at bottom and painted both inside and outside before put up and one conductor at lower gable end on front side same size and fixed as above specified. The whole of the bearing timber for roofe troughs & conductor to be of the best Baltic timber and the remainder of the best yellow pine.
All the windows to be primed before glazed and to be glazed with the best crown glass with lock and handle of four shilling and sixpence value. The pantry kitchen shop and five chamber doors to be made of three quarters boards dressed groved and naild on four bare four inches by one and quarter and well hung to casing six inch broad with twelve inch Hinges and handle of one shilling and nine pence value to each door with single mould on one side. The inner warehouse door to be made of good one inch boards and naild on four bare four inches by one and half Inches and hung to cheeks four Inches by three inches with bands gudgeon and handle of two shilling sixpence value.
The Shop Staircase Warehouse kitchen and pantry to have good stand sashes size shawn on plan The whole of the other windows to be made sliding sashes. The parlour to be double hung and all other single hung with weights cords and axel pullys and sash fastners. The chamber windows to have plain casings with backs and elbows and moulds round. The parlour window to have pannel shutters backs elbows and suffeat with all back having fastners and shutters bare to the same. The parlour window and door to have single moulds round to have shutts to shop window made from 1 1/4 framing and beed and flush panels 3/4 In thick.
The parlour to have base & plinth ten inch high with grounds two and half broad and half inch thick well nail to plugs. The house kitchen passage staircase and all the chambers to have washboards seven inch deep and stuck with a torus mould on top edge and well fixed to plugs.
The Yellow lines-on chamber plan to have studds four inches by two inches well fixed the height of room sixteen inches from centre to centre and all chambers above to have ceiling joists four Inch by one and half Inches well fixed sixteen inches from centre to centre.
[Transcribed from a document found in Barrowford and Lodged in the archive at Pendle Heritage Centre. Transcribed by SCG. 3 December 2005]
Documents like this can appear boring at first sight but repay careful reading. They give the clearest picture possible of the standard of finish and exactly how an early 19th century building was specified and constructed. What particularly interested me was the fact that the builder of the second house was given permission to quarry stone on the site as long as he made the ground up afterwards.

Here’s an entry from the Barcroft Diaries dated January 21st 1690.Jan 1690.
This day I paid George Taylor 6/5 in full of my halfe for all Gazets owing for (Coz. Blakey being to pay as much) vizt. For 77 beginning with 2549 and for 1626 so we begin with 2627. Note we have paid as if there had not been one Gazet wanting though perhaps some might have been lost or etc at Bradford and so we had them not. We purpose to count carefully the Gazets in our hands and if any be wanting to pay G T for so many fewer hereafter. [Wilfred Spencer note: It is possible that these ‘Gazets’ came through Benjamin Bartlett a Quaker bookseller of Bradford (Quakers in Science and Industry. Dr A Raistrick, page 281)] Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the moveable type printing press in 1439. We know that the technology of printing was already known by the Chinese but had not reached Europe. Whether Gutenberg re-invented the wheel or not, His invention hit the western world like an explosion and we must take note and see how it affected Barlick. The extract above seems to show that ‘gazets’ were in circulation before 1626.
Barlick had had communication with the outside world from pre-historic time by word of mouth from travellers. During the 16th century this began to be augmented by printed broadsheets, single page polemics published by people who had an axe to grind, very often concerned with political or religious matters. In the early 17th century English translations of Italian and German newspapers became available in England and in 1641 the abolition of the Star Chamber Court gave a measure of press freedom. In that same year proceedings in Parliament were published. There was a blossoming of news sheets and by 1643 there were even rival Royalist and Parliamentarian newspapers. In 1655 Cromwell suppressed public news sheets but by the end of the century these and other licensing measures had lapsed and newspapers became an established part of public life.
We can hardly doubt that copies of these licensed papers and of course the illegal ones as well would reach Barlick. Add to this the availability of the Bible in English after the mid 16th century. Whilst none of this resulted in revolutionary change, new ideas were being fed into the collective psyche and absorbed into local thinking. Include the effects of expanding trade and travel and it is no wonder that ideas began to bubble below the surface. Warner, in his History of the Baptists in Barnoldswick gives us a concrete example: ‘The first emphatic reference to the [Baptist] church as a properly organised society is dated 1661. In that year certain property consisting of a messuage, barn, croft and garden, which had been held in trust by three of the members named Christopher Edmondson, Henry Higgins and Mathew Watson, was conveyed to one John Taylor another member. He in 1694 transferred it to David Crossley the minister of the church, who in 1705 transferred it to an elder of the church, named John Barrit, who ultimately bequeathed it to the Society as a meeting house for the perpetual use of the Baptists at Barnoldswick. That identical property still remains in the possession of the church.’ Clear evidence that organised dissent was abroad in the town.
I have to admit to a degree of cowardice here. What I should really do is describe the events that led to the English Civil War but I am going to chicken out and leave you to your own devices. Better men than I have covered this subject sp go forth and seek the books out! There can be little doubt that the conflict between opposing religions and the Civil War itself must have had repercussions on the town and its inhabitants. In Warner there is an interesting diversion: ‘When Mr. Jackson came to Barnoldswick (1717) he found the Sanctuary songless. The harps were hung upon the willows, and no joyous note no hymn of praise was heard to break the dullness of a mute monotony ; for persecution had for many years made it impossible for the Baptists and other Nonconformists to sing at their religious services. Divine worship could only be conducted in concealment, under strict watchfulness and in silence, for oftentimes the resounding echoes of Zion's song of gratitude to God, proved a guide to the enemy who with evil intent sought out God's hidden ones.’ Clear evidence of the difficulties faced by the Dissenters. Meetings were held in remote locations guarded by watchers and keeping as quiet as possible was a sensible precaution.
I can offer no comparable evidence about the effects of the Civil War. I have found none and suspect that the reason for this is that apart from issues of political allegiance and no doubt some destruction of ornament in Gill Church by the Puritans in their attempt to remove all traces of Popish influence, nothing of great note happened. I remember seeing a contemporary cartoon which depicted two travellers on horseback having a conversation with some men hoeing in a field. The caption was one of the labourers saying “Be they two still at it?”. I suspect that this level of lack of consequence from the civil war was common in places untouched by the actual fighting. There could have been repercussions from bodies of armed men passing close to the town who would be scavenging the surrounding country for food and supplies but very little beyond that. If you want to read a very suspect story about Prince Rupert hiding in Gill Church go to the library and ask for Atkinson’s History of Old Barlick. I have no reason to believe that the story is anything other than a romance. Perhaps the best evidence we have is that the names of the important families in the town are almost exactly the same at the end of the 17th century as they were at the beginning. Despite persecution for Dissent and the ravages of the Civil War they all survived.
Looking at the wider picture, the 17th century was a period of scientific enquiry. The men pursuing these objects weren’t called scientists, they were ‘philosophers’ and were the natural heirs to the old alchemists who are chiefly remembered for their search for the Philosopher’s Stone, a way of converting base metals into gold. In 1646 Robert Boyle referred to ‘The Invisible Society’ which was a body of philosophers with enquiring minds who were experimenting and discussing their findings. On the 15th of July 1662 the newly restored Charles II granted a Royal Charter to ‘The Royal Society of London’ and from then on it became a focus for new ideas in the natural sciences. As these ideas permeated society they spawned entirely new industries and we see some of the seeds of modern industrial Britain. Perhaps the line of enquiry that eventually affected Barlick more than anything else was employing the power of steam. In 1698 Captain Savery, only the latest in a long line of experimenters, patented an ‘Engine for Raising Water’, this was the first practical use of steam power in England. We shall come across this strange new force later……

When John Clayton and I were traipsing about on Blacko hillside making sense of the 1580 map he showed me faint marks on the ground which were cut across by what we were fairly sure was Bronze Age activity. At the time I raised the possibility that these earlier traces might be evidence left on the ground of pre-ice age activity. In other words they had survived the onset of the glaciers. This got me into trouble with people who believe that the glaciers destroyed everything and planed the top layers of our world off and re-distributed the debris as drumlins.
I have a lot of sympathy with this point of view because this is what I was taught at school and we have plenty of evidence of the landscaping capabilities of large sheets of moving ice. However, I have seen time-lapse photography of glaciers moving and the thing that strikes me is that they act in exactly the same way as running water but a lot slower. Not surprising really because this is exactly what they are, a flow of water that just happens to be frozen solid.
Lets think about Blacko Hillside. We aren’t talking about sheets of ice many kilometres thick in this area, we are getting close to the southerly limit of the ice. However, it is still serious stuff. Have you ever watched water running in a stony beck? It builds up on the face of a rock obstructing the flow but is actually lower than water level on the downstream side. Blacko Hillside is on the downstream side of the hill, suppose the ice sheet didn’t came across the top of the Weets like an enormous bull dozer but tended to separate into two flows, one down each side of the hill. If this was the case it could be that Blacko Hillside suffered from the cold and the snowfall but never actually got planed off. It seems to me that it would be quite possible for the pre ice age features to survive. Incidentally this would explain the drumlins around Marton. If the ice-flow was slowed by hitting Weets hill it could have triggered off the deposition of debris carried by the flow which is what drumlins are.
If I’m wrong we have a separate problem. What are the marks on the ground which are quite evidently earlier than the Bronze age activity? What else do we know that could have marked the ground so permanently and been totally ignored by post Ice Age occupation? The only think I can think of that would fit the bill would be some sort of ritual marking of the landscape that became redundant when that ritual fell into disuse. Rather like the way we saw the early agricultural boundaries ignoring obsolete ritual features on the ground but these markings look like occupation, not ritual.
Take your choice, I am not totally convinced either way. What I do know is that the early indications are there and they were ignored by the Bronze Age farmers who laid out their tracks and boundaries across them. Freedom from glacial activity seems capable of explaining this and until I see proof to the contrary I think this has a shade of odds over old ritual marks.

It’s about time we looked at the question of energy. We’ve noted disputes over peat from the moor and energy is going to become even more important in our story. I’ve always been interested in energy, indeed in my time I have converted more than my fair share of the world’s reserves of fossil fuel into power during my career as a wagon driver and mill engineer. As a historian I have another interest, looking back and assessing where our ancestors in West Craven got the resources to light, heat and power their world.
Leaving aside man’s use of food as an energy source for human muscle power, the first use of non-food energy we can identify goes back to the dawn of humanity when men saw fire produced by lightning striking dry scrubland and realising that this could be a handy technology for keeping warm at night if it could be tamed. I can’t help imagining the scene in the first family to try to harness this technology by collecting burning embers from a natural fire and keeping the flame alive by feeding it more fuel. Sooner or later some dozy lad left in charge of the gift of the gods would let the fire go out and I can imagine him being in a lot of trouble! We don’t know how long it took for men to realise that fire could be created by rubbing two dead boy scouts together but we can be sure that they got there eventually and fire became part of everyday life. Then someone had an accident with a piece of meat or some roots scorched by being left too close to the fire and cooking was born. The energy source was no problem because the population was sparse and there was plenty of dead wood laid about that simply needed gathering up.
The next stage would be when a fire was lit on peaty ground and someone noticed that the ground under the fire was burning, another, slower burning but efficient fuel was born. In some areas, the planing off of the landscape by glaciers had exposed seams of coal and at some point this was discovered as a fuel in the same way that peat was. Imagine their surprise when they realised that if you could find a source of these black rocks you were guaranteed a good hot fire all winter! Another gift from the gods, no wonder early man worshipped earth, fire and water, Mother Nature was giving them all they needed to survive. This concept was the start of a spiritual bond with the world around and beneath them. Modern archaeologists suspect that it was this reverence for the earth that prompted early man to dig deep holes in the ground and lay offerings in the bottom. They were literally seeking their gods by digging. We do exactly the same thing today but instead of leaving offerings we plunder Mother Nature.
Coal as a source of energy must have been recognised very early but once the outcrops had been worked out and it became too energy-intensive to dig further down to win the fuel it would fall out of the reach of primitive man. Modern studies amongst Aboriginal races all over the world show that they have an instinctive internal accounting system whereby the value of an energy source is balanced against need and the effort that has to be expended to obtain it. Until late in the 18th century, coal could only be afforded by those wealthy enough to finance its extraction and transport. This meant Royalty, the landed magnates and large religious institutions. There were some cases where coal could be used in an industrial process and small scale mining was an economic proposition but these were few and far between. We think that one of these was boiling sea water to obtain salt in the North East of England.
Coal as a domestic fuel became more common in the 16th and 17th centuries in areas near the pits such as Burnley or Colne but the limiting factor for its use was the cost of transport by packhorse. As far as the common people were concerned in places like Barlick and Earby, coal was an expensive luxury until the Leeds and Liverpool Canal reached the area at the end of the 18th century and the cost of transport came down. Up till then they had survived in much the same way as their prehistoric forbears, by using wood for heating and cooking and animal fats made into candles for lighting with some supplementary peat if they had access to the commons. The advent of relatively cheap coal carried by water from the coalfields of Yorkshire and Lancashire changed all this forever.
What about energy for industry up to then? We often forget that the first industries were powered by muscle, both human and animal. There is a record of an early textile mill in Manchester that was powered by an Irishman turning a hand wheel in the cellar. When more power was needed they put a longer handle on and hired another Irishman. Horses and asses were used to turn ‘horse engines’, a large horizontal wheel connected to machinery by a shaft.
Historians often date the Industrial Revolution from the start of the steam age which was powered by plentiful supplies of coal. In fact the use of power to aid industrial processes is a lot older than that. We know of a water-powered corn mill run by the Romans up at Haltwhistle to grind corn for the troops on Hadrian’s Wall in the first century AD. Georg Bauer, known by the Latinised version of his name, Agricola, was a German scholar who wrote extensively about mining and industry in 1530. His works include detailed descriptions of water power used for pumping and metal processing and there is no doubt that these were well-established technologies when he wrote about them. We can be sure that the use of water to drive machinery was well understood many years before the advent of steam.
Barlick had a water powered corn mill. The first mention I know is that it was under dispute in a court case of 1591 between Tempest of Bracewell and Bannister who owned Coates Hall at the time. This may have been when the mill was built because Tempest owned a corn mill at Bracewell and he would see another mill at Barnoldswick as competition. This competition between Tempest and Bannister was nothing new, we have the evidence of the Chancery dispute in 1580. If so, the mill at Bracewell was even older. Earby had a mill near the Waterfalls, hence the name, Mill Bridge. Ownership and control of these water sites and the riparian rights which accompanied them was very important because they were key to the gaining of wealth and power. As the steam age dawned they became even more important because a good supply of cooling water was essential for the efficient running of the new engines. We need to look more closely at this subject.
By the 16th century, towns like Burnley and Colne with local coal reserves had a thriving trade in domestic fuel for house-warming. Every house with any income at all, from Towneley Hall to the meanest cottage had a coal fire on the hearth for heating and cooking. Places like the villages of West Craven weren’t so lucky and were still trapped in the wood and peat burning economy that had been common 500 years earlier. This didn’t mean that they weren’t mining, lead had been mined in the district for hundreds of years and there is evidence that the Romans first started the industry. There is a suggestion that there may have been a source of coal on Whitemoor on the old road leading down from Stopes House to Gisburn but we have no good evidence for this.
The early sources of power and profit in Barlick were the fast-flowing streams running down off the moors and Barlickers soon learned how to harness these for grinding corn, sawing wood and eventually driving the earliest cotton industry. It’s important to realise that water power meant access to wealth and until the 16th century water-power sources were controlled by the King, the Lords of the Manor and religious foundations like the monasteries. The same applied further up the Dale with the mineral resources. This is why all such mines and mills were either directly under the control of the Monarchy or the rights farmed out for rent by them. We have no doubts at all about this because the regulation of these sources of wealth was very well documented as early as the 11th century.
The first crack in this regulatory structure came in the mid-16th century when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and sold off their assets. From then on ownership of mineral and water rights gradually became private assets and by the end of the 18th century were all owned by private capital owners who managed them for personal profit. The family silver had been sold and the resources privatised. These early capitalists sold or rented the water-power sites to other entrepreneurs who wanted to use the mills to process cotton for the early domestic industry. In Barlick there were at least five such sites by 1800 when the canal reached the town and we were able to take advantage of the new steam technology fuelled by unlimited coal. The first steam engine was at Mitchell’s Mill (Clough) before 1827 in an existing water-powered mill. In 1846 Billycock Bracewell erected the first purpose-built steam driven mill in the town at Butts. The steam driven industry had arrived and nothing would be the same again. The crucial advantage of steam power was that once efficient engines had been constructed it was the first time in the history of the human race when unlimited power could be applied to industry at one site. Previously the limiting factor had been the availability of water in sufficient quantity and with an adequate fall. With the advent of steam power the limiting factor was the availability of capital. If one engine wasn’t enough, another could be installed alongside it. The most durable trend through the whole history of steam was that engines became larger and more powerful in order to drive greater enterprises. In this context it is instructive to compare the growth of the size of firms in England with small water power sites and America where the resources were far bigger.
In 1853 Billycock Bracewell of Newfield Edge built his second large mill, New Mill, now called Wellhouse and shortly afterwards completed a gas works to provide lighting for the mill. He started to sell surplus gas to the town and at the time of his death in 1885 had almost completed a new gas works on the Skipton Road site near the Corn Mill which was bought privately and eventually became the Barnoldswick Urban District Council’s municipally owned gasworks. By 1900 most houses in the town had gas light and heating for cooking and boiling water. The general population were quick to appreciate that burning gas was cleaner, more efficient and enhanced their quality of life, they knew a good thing when they saw it and embraced it with enthusiasm. Often forgotten nowadays is that the gasworks produced coke as a by-product, the remains of the coal once the volatiles had been extracted from it. This was a cheap fuel and many old Barlickers will remember going down to the gasworks with a little hand cart to fetch a bag of coke for the house fire.
By the late 1920s a new source of power for industry and domestic premises was rapidly becoming established in Keighley and Nelson where the first electricity generating stations in the district were built. Earby negotiated with Nelson and Barlick with Keighley and in 1929 overhead power lines had been built, ring mains and substations built and electric power was available in both towns. It took a while for power to reach all parts of the towns, for instance in 1937 the council agreed to extend the electric main 117 yards to East Hill Street where I live at a cost of £58-17s. Once again the public realised the potential of this clean convenient source of power and seized it.
It’s important to realise that all this industrial and domestic power was based on coal. The gasworks processed coal to produce gas and the power stations burned coal in their boilers to make steam to drive the engines and turbines which in turn drove the electricity generators. The mills burned coal to make steam for the mill engines which drove their machinery and every house had a coal fire for heating. In the late 1930’s the availability of cheap electric power and efficient electric motors which could be used for individual drives to machinery rang the death knell for the old engine-driven mills with their forest of shafting in the roof and belts to each machine. Domestic electric light became common and slowly replaced gas and we saw the first electrical goods for household use.
This new technology saw us through the Second World War but after the war the infrastructure was tired and largely worn out by years of over-production and minimal maintenance. What was needed was a wholesale rebuilding of the whole system of energy extraction, power production and distribution. The government of the day took the bold step of taking the whole of the energy industry into public ownership and the great nationalised industries were born. Argue as you will against the ethics of state ownership, it worked. The mines, gas and electricity industries were revolutionised and as Aneurin Bevan put it, the government at last controlled the ‘commanding heights of the economy’.
In Holland in 1943, a small oil field was discovered near Schoonebeek and by the 1960s this find had expanded to become what we now know as the North Sea oil and gas field. The UK became energy-independent of the rest of the world and oil and gas soon flowed ashore to power our electricity generation and replace coal gas with natural gas straight from the pipeline. Forty years later, this resource is in decline and we are once more dependent on foreign oil and gas but on a much greater scale because we have got used to being energy rich. It remains to be seen where we will turn for energy security.

The Corn Mill has always been a bit of a mystery for me because I haven’t been able to find out anything definite before the 16th century. There is no mention of a mill in Domesday so it would seem that the good people of Barlick had to take their corn elsewhere to grind it in 1085. The first reference I know is that it was under dispute in a court case of 1591 between Tempest of Bracewell and Bannister who owned Coates Hall. This may have been when the mill was built because Tempest owned a corn mill at Bracewell and he would see another mill at Barnoldswick as competition. However, the population was rising rapidly and there is little doubt that the Bracewell Mill couldn’t cope with the demand.
Bannister must have won this case because on 20th of December 1617 the Bagshawe Papers record that Richard Heber of Flasby and Martin Dickonson and Christopher Ellis of Barnoldswick relinquished their rights in the mill and returned them to Richard Bannister of Coates. It hadn’t been demolished which was often the case when a mill was in dispute.
By 1640 the owners of the Coates Estate seem to have been Lawrence Halstead of Sonning in Berkshire and John Hartley of Coates. They sold the mill and all rights appertaining to George Halstead of Hague on 20th November 1640. The next time it crops up in my records is on 20th October 1763 when an entry in the Barnoldswick Manorial Court roll records that the owners of land adjoining the road were instructed to repair a road 1000 yards long and nine feet wide between Brogden and the mill. This would be the route along which the inhabitants of Brogden brought corn to the mill to be ground and indicates that the mill had established a right to exist.
In the 1851 census, Robert Waite is recorded as the corn miller and he employed two men. This doesn’t necessarily mean he owned the mill but was certainly working it. I think that William (Billycock) Bracewell of Newfield Edge owned the mill by then and it was most likely Billycock who enlarged the dam in 1850. This dam is now filled in and is the garage site that runs alongside the beck from Gisburn Road to the mill. This was four years before he built what is now Wellhouse Mill and I have an idea he was thinking about water for Wellhouse as well as the Corn Mill when he bought the mill and made these improvements.
In 1885 Billycock died and as part of the break up of his estate the Corn Mill was up for sale in 1887 by order of the Chancery Court. At this time it was quite a well equipped mill with five pairs of French Burr stones and roller grinding machinery all driven by steam so it had an engine, boiler and chimney. The type of stones and the modern roller mill suggests that it was grinding both flour and animal feed.
At the time of his death, Billycock had been in the process of building a gas works to serve the town on land adjacent to the Corn Mill. The eventual buyer of both the gas works and the Corn Mill in 1890 was the newly formed Barnoldswick Gas and Light Company. This private company was founded on July 3rd 1888 with 1200 shares of £10 each. £6 was paid on each share. The miller at this time was Moreland Hoyle.
In August 1892 the gas works was sold to the Local Board for £13,850 and with the passing of the Barnoldswick Gas Act on 17 July 1893 it became a municipal undertaking. The Corn Mill was part of the sale and the Local Board became the owners. They rented the mill to Moreland Hoyle on a fixed rent and there are numerous letters in the old Urban District records at Preston dealing with matters like forcing Hoyle to do repairs and refusing him permission to have heaters in the pig sties at the mill!
The Hoyle family were to be the millers until the Corn Mill ceased production. They then continued to run the mill as livestock feed distributors. I used to buy animal feeds there in the 1960’s from ‘Cramp’ Hoyle and that’s about the sum of my knowledge. If any of you know anything I haven’t mentioned I’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Towards the end of the 17th century we can see gradual improvement in Barlick. More buildings have been rebuilt in stone and if we were able to see inside the houses we would begin to see improvements in the woodwork, more divisions of the living space into separate rooms, more two storey buildings and a general improvement in furniture and standards of comfort. There would be some new buildings and these would not only be extensions of the main centre at Townhead but additions to the smaller folds and groups of houses like Gillians, Coates, Wapping and the area at the top of Jepp Hill. I think we might also notice that the centre of gravity of the town was moving downhill from Townhead and buildings were starting to appear round the crossroads at Lamb Hill. The small barn near the beck at Parrock is being used as a Baptist Chapel. One indicator of increasing prosperity is that common household objects like candlesticks and kitchen implements and even elements of the build like fireplaces and doorways begin to show signs of ornamentation. We know this because we see present day antiques from the period which have these characteristics and note small signs like chamfers on the edges of stone and wood in buildings of this age.
While I was at Pendle Heritage Centre in 1980 I had a very able colleague, Dr Ed. Furgol, an American who was vastly over-qualified as a research assistant but took the job purely for experience and out of interest. One of the things Ed looked at was house interiors from this period. Being a good man he dug deep and came up with some surprising and totally believable conclusions. I suppose most of us have visited historic houses and seen rooms panelled and floored in dark oak with dark oak beams in the ceiling and furniture made out of the same wood. To be honest it all looks slightly forbidding and the general impression is one of substantial gloom. Ed’s conclusion was that what we were looking at was wood which had been blackened by candle and fire smoke for years, each layer of dirt sealed in by wax. He pointed out that there was no evidence of the wood ever having any treatment or stain and so it must have been a totally different colour when new, what we would call ‘light oak’ in fact. When first built and furnished these light colours would reflect the light and what we would in fact be looking at is something very similar to modern Scandinavian design. There was more, we know from wills and inventories that woven wall hangings, small rugs and cushions were common items. Add the colour of tapestries and rugs and brightly coloured cushions and coverings on the chairs and tables to the overall effect and we have a totally different picture of late 17th century interior design. The minor gentry and yeomen might have been a lot more comfortable and cheerful than we thought. I love historical concepts like this based on good evidence. It does us good to have our pre-conceptions disturbed. Who could resist a 17th century scatter-cushion theory!
Another improvement that was creeping into the ground floor of houses was the use of stone flags instead of a simple beaten earth floor. The only trouble with these was that they were a bit cold and unforgiving to live with. One solution for this was to cover the floor with reeds or bracken. This was changed once a year in summer and is the origin of the ‘Rush-Bearing’ ceremonies where the church rushes were changed first and the process made into an opportunity to have a celebration. The evidence I have for their use in a domestic setting is very practical and direct. I once had to renovate some Jacobean furniture to use in the kitchen at Hey Farm and noticed that the legs were very worn down, particularly the back ones. The craftsman who advised me told me that he believed this was because of the wood being kept damp by the rushes, particularly at the back near the wall and this softened it and induced wear. He said that was why many chairs and settles seemed to have such short legs and tended to be cocked backwards. I like simple explanations like that and it makes sense to me. Another ploy which carried on into the 20th century was to scatter sand on the stone floors. Constant foot traffic scoured the flags and once a week the old sand was swept up and fresh scattered. This wasn’t sand out of the becks because it had rounded edges due to water action. The sand used was crushed stone which had sharp edges, wasn’t as slippy and scoured the stone flags more efficiently. I have had first hand accounts of this being done and also putting a pattern in the sand round the walls.
One of the biggest daily chores in any household was carrying water. When I was at Pendle Heritage Centre we looked into this and found that the solution at Park Hill in Barrowford had been to pipe water down to a trough in the yard from the hillside at the back. I would be very surprised if a similar improvement hadn’t been arrived at in at least some of the houses in Barlick. I have seen a very old and crude lead pump embedded in the wall of a farmhouse at Calf Hall and suspect that it was delivering water into a stone slopstone inside the house from an outside tank topped up with rainwater from the roof. I dated it to the 17th century. Once you got to the point where you could afford a stone slate roof, this became an obvious possibility. Harold Duxbury once told me that some old houses in the town had a rainwater tank under the kitchen floor and some of these were in use into the late 19th century. There used to be a cast iron frame made by Bracewell’s Burnley foundry on top of an outbuilding at the surgery in Park Road. This was the support for a water tank used to store rainwater from the roof. Before it was altered, the building next to the car park at the bottom of Jepp Hill had two large corbels in the wall at high level which were used for the same purpose. Many houses and areas still relied on wells. If you walk up Folly Lane and look in the bank on the north side just before you reach Folly Bottom Cottages you will see the Folly Well, a stone trough fed by a spring in the field behind Newfield Edge. There were many such wells in the town.
As standards improved there was a demand for tradesmen to supply the demand. We start to see specialist masons and builders, blacksmiths and tanners supplying leather for clogmakers, shoemakers and harness makers. There would be small carriers running regular services to Skipton and Colne by packhorse. Local farmers and gardeners were supplying food and during this century we would see the first retailers starting up working from fixed premises. There was a water mill selling flour and crushed oats and very likely some animal feed as well. Small entrepreneurs would be responding to the general rise in prosperity by supplying services to those who could afford them. There were carpenters and several pit saws producing squared timber for construction and general woodwork. We have seen that the trade of wood-turner and cart-builder was being pursued in the town as early as the 14th century, remember John Turner in the Bolton Priory accounts? It is highly unlikely it died out as there would be a constant demand. Hey Farm was a wheelwright’s shop in the 17th century and Ouzledale Mill was noted for wheelbarrows. In the 20th century some farmers like Henry Bradley at Greenhill Farm, Salterforth still built carts for their neighbours as a sideline. I know this because his cousin Harry Horsfield told me in the 1970s that he was still using a cart Henry made.
Visible change isn’t the only evidence we have for conditions, just as significant are the areas where we know there had been no improvement. There was no sewage system, no public water supply beyond a few customary wells, no metalled roads and no medical or educational provision. The nearest to surgery you might get was a travelling barber/surgeon who would pull teeth and perhaps perform very minor surgical procedures. I used to work with a lad called Paul Greenwood and one day he cut his hand badly. He washed it in cold water, got a needle and some thread out of his bag and stitched the wound up himself, it healed perfectly. This was what was the norm in Barlick in the 17th century, people self-medicated and if they had a surgical emergency that was within their capabilities they just got on with it. Everything else would get a poultice of herbs and a dose of Mother Nature and patience. A sweaty sock round the neck cured a sore throat, a cobweb on a bleeding wound encouraged clotting. As late as 1950 people were still taking children with Whooping Cough down to the gasworks where they took a trip to the top of the retorts and got a lungful of phenols which was regarded as a sovereign remedy. Nobody saw anything unusual in this, it was life as they knew it and they had learned that you just did the best you could and trusted to luck for the rest.
I suspect that if we could be transported back to the Barlick of the mid-17th century and have a walkabout, apart from the visible signs we have discussed two other things would strike us. There would be more smells but of different sorts. Wood and peat smoke, the smell of human and animal waste and perhaps even the smell of the people themselves although having had experience of people who couldn’t bathe regularly, I don’t think this would necessarily be body odour but more likely a musty smell of outer clothing that was almost permanently damp and seldom if ever washed. The other thing that we would notice would be the small amount and different quality of sound. There was no traffic noise from wheeled vehicles, only the padding of feet and animal hooves on the bare earth of the streets. The loudest noise produced by humans in the course of their daily activities would be that of an axe, an adze or a hammer. The only place you would hear any sound of machinery of any sort would be if you were very close to the corn mill and even then it would only be the plashing of the waterwheel and a low rumble from the gearing and stones inside. We are so used to noise pollution today that we don’t realise that on a still day you would hear the cattle and sheep in the fields around the town clearly and if someone was singing or playing a musical instrument it would he heard hundreds of yards away. This clarity of sound is something we have lost entirely.
If it was dark we would get another surprise. On a clear night the moon and stars would blaze in the sky and we would be able to see the Milky Way clearly because there was no air pollution to speak of and no stray light to dilute the spectacle. It is very hard to find a part of Britain remote enough to experience this today. I remember being stranded by breakdown one night on the high fells near Tebay in Cumbria and what fascinated me as I waited for help was the lights dotted about on the fells as far as the eye could see. These were the windows of the remote farmhouses on the surrounding fells, most of them lit by oil lamps. We forget these days how dark it is at night, especially if there is no moon. I have lots of evidence from as recently as the early twentieth century of people managing their social calendar so that if they had to travel at night it was around the time of the full moon. This is the reason why the discussion group founded by Priestley, Watt and others in Birmingham in the 19th century was called The Lunar Society, they met on the night of the full moon so that they could travel in relative ease and safety. The last time we experienced this was during the black out of WW2.
There one more change we would note in the Barlick of the mid-17th century. People’s clothing was changing. In 1600 woollen cloth was heavy and thick and tended to felt up with use. Linen was a heavy and harsh material, I remember coming across a reference of a gentleman buying a new linen shirt and giving it to his land agent so that he could break it in for him. Remember the East India Company being given its charter in 1600? One of the consequences of their activity in the trade to the Indies was that large amounts of raw cotton, fine hand-spun cotton yarn and some light cloths began to be imported into England. Since the 12th century, the centre of the cloth trade in London had been Blackwell Hall. The provincial clothiers handling the growing textile trade in the North of England sent their woollen cloth there to the Mercer’s Company. This guild also dealt in the new fibre imported by the East India Company and took over the trade in cotton. Early in the 17th century the new staple started to appear in Barlick. It was easy for established woollen spinners and weavers to convert to the hand production of cotton twist and light cloths and these found a ready market.
Improvements in the quality of wool staple at the same time led to finer woollen cloths being made and these new cloths started to alter the appearance of people’s everyday clothing. These improvements started with the gentry because they could afford the new materials but soon worked their way down through society until only the poorest people were wearing the old style clothes. There were complaints that lady’s maids were dressing as well as their mistresses and short-lived legislation putting limits on how much could be spent on clothing. The medieval Sumptuary Laws were revived to counter what was seen as conspicuous consumption but failed in the late 16th century as they were directly in contrary to the spirit of progress and improvement which was generating so much wealth.
The domestic textile industry of Barlick at the beginning of the 17th century was firmly based on wool. By the middle of the century this was changing rapidly and eventually this was to change the textile trade completely in the town. It’s important to remember that raw cotton imports via Liverpool didn’t start in any quantity until after 1800, prior to that all the cotton came via London. We need to look at this in a lot more depth because it is going to dominate our story for almost 300 years.
One of the great virtues of the study of local history is that it allows very close focus on matters which the general historian recognises but hasn’t the time or the resources to look at in detail. This implies no criticism of their work, it falls to them to make the connection between local developments and the wider story. A good example of this is the suggestion of a link between the success of the local economy and rising population in West Craven in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was against the national trend and we think that it was because the availability of an income from domestic textiles enabled young people to gain independence and marry earlier when they were most fertile. This population increase forced the Royal Commissioners to sanction early enclosures of the waste and led to a general increase in economic activity which eventually resulted in a burst of industrial evolution that shaped the world we live in today. As we shall see, this factor influenced the course of World War Two 300 years later, a butterfly had flapped its wings and changed history.
The growth of the domestic textile industry changed Barlick fundamentally. This was the system whereby householders and farmers augmented their income by taking in yarn from a clothier or manufacturer and making cloth for which they were paid by the piece. There were many factors which combined to drive the trade forwards but I believe that the roots can be traced back much further than is generally acknowledged. I’m convinced that the shortage of labour caused by the Black Death in the 14th century gave the poorest people in England their first glimpse of independence. Labour was at a premium and for a short while the common man held the whip hand until the Establishment reacted and re-asserted some control but never regained the dominance they had before the plague. The key word here is control, independence allowed the lowest in society some small freedom of action. This change was reinforced by erosion of the spiritual power of the church. New currents of thought spawned nonconformity and a change in mind-set which allowed the belief that humans could control their own destiny, even that worldly success was a sign of grace.
There were many routes to this independence but in Barlick the major opportunity was textiles. Almost every small yeoman inventory of the time includes the tools of the textile trade, cards, spinning wheels and looms. Some also include a stock of yarn and cloth and these are almost certainly the higher class of weaver who was buying his raw materials and selling his cloth independently. Once these men started putting yarn out to other weavers and controlling them they were on the first rung of the ladder which led to being a manufacturer, all that was needed was improved technology.
In Barlick one such manufacturing family was the Bracewells of Coates. By 1800 they had amassed enough money to have a virtual monopoly of the putting out trade in the Barnoldswick/Earby area and had built their own water powered mill at Coates for processing cotton. Notice that I don’t assume they were spinning, there is no evidence of spinning by water power in Barnoldswick until much later. What they were most likely doing was carding cotton and producing roving for the hand spinners in the cottage industry to convert into yarn. This boosted the outworker’s productivity and the quality of the product.
This cottage industry was profitable but the manufacturers who ‘put-out’ materials and paid for cloth by the piece had difficulties in controlling their out-workers. Independence and an adequate income encouraged freedom of action. If the weaver had a small agricultural holding the textile trade became secondary in times of harvest or other essential field operations. There was no pressure to consume, people tended to work for subsistence and perhaps modest savings for a rainy day or family expenses such as marriage or funerals, once they had reached their preferred level of weekly income the weavers tended to take the benefit up by increasing leisure. ‘St Monday’, the practice of extending the weekend in prosperous times became the norm. What made it worse for the manufacturer was that this happened when demand for cloth was high and piece rates were good. Production tended to fall just when the manufacturer needed it most.
The manufacturers had no sanctions against this as they had no control over their outworkers. An early attempt at control was the ‘dandy shops’ where a manufacturer installed a number of improved hand looms and employed spinners and weavers to come and work on his own premises. We have several examples of this in Barlick run by families who later became mill-owners but it wasn’t until the advent of a complete spinning and weaving system driven by water power that this problem was solved.
There was another major flaw in the system which explains my strange title. This was embezzlement of yarn by the outworkers and it was a serious problem. There were various names for this practice; Atkinson, in his history, ‘Old Barlick’ talks about ‘Ronge’ and David Whitehead of Rawtenstall in his autobiography refers to the stolen yarn as ‘White Iron’. Statutes and by-laws were enacted to try to stop the practice. Punishments were harsh, whipping and imprisonment were recorded but the big problem was proving the offence and while the laws curtailed the practice they never stopped it.
When a manufacturer contracted with his outworker to produce a certain amount of cloth he had to estimate how much cotton fibre or yarn he had to allocate in order to make it. A certain percentage had to be added to the finished weight of the cloth to cover wastage in the processes. The better the out-worker the less the wastage and no doubt this was taken into account when making this estimate. Legally, this excess fibre or yarn was the property of the manufacturer and on completion of the cloth had to be accounted for and returned within a set period. I have never seen any firm evidence for how this practice worked as the records haven’t survived, if they ever existed. The only record we have is of punishments and these do not tell us how the system worked with honest weavers. There is reason to suppose that the excess yarn whilst nominally the property of the master was regarded by many out-workers as a perk of the trade. The more skilled the worker, the more excess there was and there was the Biblical precept of never muzzling the ox.
Atkinson is quite specific about the evils of this practice, he states that it was accepted that the excess should have been returned to the master but that dishonest weavers kept the ‘Ronge’ back and concealed it. He mentions that there were ‘Ronge dealers’ who came round and would buy the stolen yarn. This shows that there were manufacturers who would quite happily buy stolen yarn from these middlemen and recycle it in their business because being stolen it was cheap. Atkinson suggests that the introduction of the power loom in the 19th century was seen by honest hand loom weavers as a punishment on those who had indulged in the practice as the factory system deprived them of their freedom to steal. David Whitehead who became a major manufacturer in the Rossendale Valley describes how when travelling in the Pendle Forest area as a packman selling drapery he was often offered what he describes as ‘White Iron’ in payment for his goods. He was also approached by local shopkeepers who had a stock of White Iron taken in as payment for necessities.
So we know that the practice of embezzling yarn was common and structured with miscreants, middle men and dishonest manufacturers who would handle the stolen goods. The most pernicious thing about it all was that the honest workers suffered most from the practice. It was almost as though there was a penalty imposed on good work and it’s little wonder that men like Atkinson and Whitehead regarded it with such abhorrence.
I am not suggesting that this was the sole reason for the introduction of the factory system but there is no doubt that it was seen as a positive factor in favour of it. It’s perhaps ironic that with the introduction of set working hours and factory discipline the vagaries of the market could be better controlled at the expense of the workers. Piece rates were set at a level which ensured a profit for the factory owner even in times of low cloth prices. The only benefit to the workers of a strong market was increased working hours and more certain employment. Once established, this principle of management endured and can still be seen operating to this day in industry. Remember that we are looking here at the invention of the factory system. The manufacturers were making up the rules as they went along and they ensured that they were in their favour.
The end result for the workers of the new system was loss of independence and control over their lives and income which led to terrible conditions both at work and in the home. However, as better historians than I have pointed out we know very little of hard conditions in the home working for a cruel father under the domestic system. It could have been worse than a cruel master in the factory. It’s interesting to speculate that though repressed, the worker’s yearnings for independence never faded away. The long process of struggle for control started with this loss of independence and eventually led to combination, the trades union movement, improved rights and even the co-operative movement. As to how big a part was played in this by the sprit of nonconformity which we noted earlier, I’ll leave you to decide. This is another story and one well worth pursuing.

We’ve seen that in the 18th century there was an explosion in the demand for lighter yarns and cloth similar to the Asian goods coming into England via the East India Company and the Mercer’s Guild at Blackwell Hall in London. The necessary raw material, cotton fibre, was sourced from Asia and traded through London. When I was taught the history of the North of England the pre-eminence of the cotton textile industry was put down to the damp climate and access to the raw material via Liverpool. Wrong on both counts, there were other more important reasons why we took to the trade so readily.
Once again we need to step back a little for a better view. Can you remember that when I was talking about drovers I mentioned that investing in cattle and driving them to London was seen as the safest way to move the Ship Money Tax proceeds from the provinces to the capital? This was just one instance of the lack of mechanisms for official communications and administration. In many ways the North of England was regarded as a barbarous and uncivilised part of the country. Like the present day, government was based in the South and so were the other control mechanisms like the Guild System which was a way of making certain trades closed shops, accessed only by the privileged who gained entry by family connections or preferment. The Guilds had no power over the North West beyond some isolated examples like Preston and Liverpool, neither of them influential. One of the idiosyncrasies of the Guilds was that they practiced a form of apartheid, they would not allow foreigners, Non-conformists, Quakers or Jews into their ranks. These people were also barred from universities and the law. This meant that the only way they could advance in trade and commerce was in areas where there was least control. This is the reason why we see them coming to the fore in the ‘new’ trades like banking, the iron industry, mining and cotton. We were often taught in the old days that the Quakers were pre-eminent in such fields and the evidence for this was the fact that there were surviving accounts for these enterprises. Beware of this ‘historical fact’, part of the Quaker ethos was to be meticulous in record-keeping and it may be that their supposed dominance is simply a sign that they kept better accounts and looked after them thus leaving better records. Even so, if you look at the history of the major banks and metal industries you will find that many had Quaker roots. Another factor to bear in mind if you delve further into this subject is that the failures left no mark on the tapestry of history, they sank without trace and undoubtedly out-numbered the successes.
There were plenty of areas in England that had textile skills in the mid-eighteenth century. Spitalfields in London was a centre of silk production. Gloucestershire and the West Country were notable woollen areas. The problem with these centres of production was that they were often guild controlled or under the control of local conservative monopolies which had grown over the centuries and were resistant to change. The North West had none of these limitations and the people who held capital were quick to take advantage of anything that produced trade and profit. This is why we were so quick to take advantage of the demand for the new lighter cotton cloths and by the time the restrictive guilds had realised the importance of the new staple it was too late to control the development of the trade. The industry was so successful that it rapidly built its own organisation and preserved its independence. This is the main reason why the North West effectively cornered the market in cotton textiles in the 18th century. It wasn’t planned, it was a dynamic system that grew organically because it had freedom and available capital.
This may be the place to lay to rest the hoary old myth that we succeeded because the atmosphere was so damp. The North West of England didn’t have a monopoly on wet weather. However, it can’t be denied that we were wetter than some and a high level of humidity was quite common. I have broached this subject with men who have spent their lives dealing with cotton in all its stages of manufacture and perhaps the most succinct explanation came from John Greenwood, manager at Spring Vale spinning mill in Haslingden. He said that cotton is best processed at the temperature and humidity in which it was grown, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity, the nearer you get to these conditions the better the results. One of the main criteria that spinners look at when assessing cotton fibre is the length of the staple. The longer the individual fibres, the better it spins and the more expensive the raw cotton. The key to maximum profit is to be able to weave the best quality cloth with the cheaper short-staple cotton and this is where the North West scored. Using a combination of skill and the exploitation of local conditions they achieved miracles with short-staple cotton, producing the best cloth with the cheaper material. This was particularly true during the Cotton Famine caused by the American Civil War in the 1860s. The supply of good lang-staple American cotton dried up and manufacturers had to find a way of spinning inferior short-staple cotton such as Surat from India. They succeeded so well that these cheaper staples remained a mainstay of production even when the American cotton flowed again. This is the root of the myth that you need to live in a wet part of the country to manufacture cotton goods.
We had another advantage, we live in hilly country. This, combined with the higher than average rainfall meant that we had plenty of becks flowing down steep hillsides. Perfect terrain for small water power sites. We have already noted that water power was well understood, it had been used for grinding corn for well over 2000 years and in the early mining industries for pumping water. The population rise of the 16th century had put pressure on the local corn mills and they became inadequate to meet the demand. Despite the tight control by the Crown and local landlords on the use of water power demand proved stronger than regulation and we have plenty of instances of ‘pirate mills’ being built and fought against by the existing mill-owners.
Here is a letter written by Thomas Barcroft of Noyna Hall, Foulridge in about 1694: ‘I hear you are about bringing an action against me as to your fifth part of Foulridge Mill which methinks will appear to be a very unreasonable thing, whensoever it is brought before the Court of Chancery and the matter rightly represented, for I never heard of anybody ever concerned in it but they were losers by it and I can have the testimony of the whole country that it never was good for anything.. I have heard my grandfather say, who was chiefly concerned in it for many years, that he was £20 loser by it and in those days it was at best and let to one Bernard Emmott for 40/- per annum yet I am morally certain the rent was badly paid, and now since Pollard built the mill at Wood End nobody owned it (for it was short of water and without a drying kiln) Insomuch that John Spencer and Richard Hargreave who had stood their share before threw them up and would concern themselves no more about it. I had put it into good repair at £20 charge at least, as I find by particulars of my account – beside the £8-10-0 rent paid to you it cost me £5 or £6 in suit with the Towne, so that I may safely affirm I am £40 the loser by it and think my accounts will make it out; and for me to have maintained a miller and to have been at a yearly charge in reparations of the mill for the sake of your fifth part only, and of no benefit made of the mill, had been an unreasonable charge upon me. You may cause me to spend money and spend money of your own. But to avoid a Chancery Suit I am content to give you a Guinea though it be in my owne wrong, there is likewise a Mill rope, a good one, and a wire siff [sieve] you may have. I wonder you should expect I keep up the mill after I had sold two mill stones to Mr Hoyle (for two guineas which stood me in above £8) for the use of your own mill. I would desire your answer at your leisure that I may know what to depend upon.’
In this letter Thomas is protesting against the damage done to his trade by a pirate mill erected on the County Brook by a man called Pollard just above the site of the present-day County Brook Mill and from the letter it looks as though the Wood End Mill may have had a corn-drying kiln which gave it a commercial advantage in a wet climate.
Again, here is an example of court action against a pirate mill and the consequences which ensued. This is taken from a Calendar of Lancashire Documents which I found during the research and transcribed. The whole document can be found on the Oneguyfrombarlick website. ‘26th of May, 20 Jacob (1623) Sussex. Between Sir John Saville Knight farmer of his majesty’s mill Ashurst(?) mill in the manor of Shesworth(?) plaintiff and Richard Constable defendant. It is ordered that a mill newly erected by the defendant be pulled down.
Although this is not a local example it is typical of other documents in this Calendar relating to disputes over the rights of mills to have a monopoly of corn-grinding by reason of custom and usage. Demolition of the offending mill was no idle threat. I have found no record of this happening in the West Craven area and I suspect that the deciding factor was whether the pirate mill was fulfilling a need or simply stealing work from an existing mill. In the Calendar there are documents relating to actions in court against named clients of pirate mills seeking to force them to use the accustomed mill and not switch their trade to a competing mill which was charging less ‘multure’, this was the proportion of the grain ground which the miller kept for a fee. Like the case of encroachment on the waste by squatters, the Manorial Courts seem to have been quite pragmatic in their judgements. If a pirate mill was contributing to the common good by improving a service it survived.
I don’t want to delve too deeply into this fascinating subject, it needs far more space than we have here. I give these examples to show that from the 17th century onwards, new mills were being built and that the defence of existing mill owners against competition was to go to law citing the ancient rights pertaining to such mills which had grown over the years and become part of Common Law. We shall return to this subject later and when we do it will be useful to see how the defence against competition changed.
Back to the domestic textile industry. The first thing to note is that the arrival of cotton didn’t mean that the trade switched from the old staples overnight. As late as the 1851 census we can find hand-loom weavers designated as delaine (wool), silk or linen in Barlick. What we are see in the mid 17th century is a gradual increase in the number of weavers who chose to work with cotton. The most successful of these families started to assume the role of ‘putting-out’ manufacturers. These were the ones who had enough demand for their products to start employing other weavers to work for them, they supplied the raw material and took back the cloth at so much a ‘piece’ which was a standard length of cloth this is the origin of the modern term ‘piece work’, in other words, payment for the amount produced, not wage labour based on the time spent doing it. These local merchants were usually farmers but gradually moved towards manufacture keeping their agricultural holdings as a useful sideline. There used to be a saying in the industry; ‘One foot in the field and one in the shed’. This referred to the fact that it was useful to have two sources of employment for your workers, when one branch demanded attention like harvest time, workers could be diverted to it, at other times, the textile branch was more profitable. This flexibility was especially useful if trade was slack in textiles. It also meant that employment could be found for all members of the family, children and women on the textiles and men on the land. This is the origin of ‘the family wage’ which was to be a common concept of income in the textile industry until the mid 20th century, what counted wasn’t individual wages but what the total family income was.
These manufacturers were also always on the lookout for improvements in techniques which could make their enterprise more efficient and profitable. This search for improvement gained pace during the 17th century and by 1800 was to produce a revolution in the trade in more ways than one.

We need to take a short dip into the wider textile manufacturing revolution of the mid 18th century in order to understand what happened in Barlick. There was tremendous demand for the new cotton cloths and the stage was soon reached where there were bottlenecks in the flow of production. Kay invented the ‘flying shuttle’ and patented it in 1733, or at least that’s what they told me at school… In fact Kay revolutionised weaving by making a bed for the shuttle to run on (the slay) with a box at each end where the shuttle could be knocked along the slay and through the warp by jerking on a cord. Contrast this with the old system where the weaver literally threw the shuttle through the shed of the warp. No wonder it was called the flying shuttle, it was a lot faster and the weaver could manage a much broader warp. All good news you would think but Kay was attacked by the weavers for taking their skill of them, ignored by the manufacturers who used his invention but paid no royalties and eventually he left the country and died in poverty in France.
The more efficient shuttle meant that the weavers used twist faster and this put pressure on the carders and spinners, often members of the same family. Workers all over the North West bent their minds to this and produced small machines that would speed up preparation and spinning, remember these were all hand driven machines. One big problem was that these small spinning machines couldn’t produce twist strong enough to be used as a warp thread because it was under far more strain than the weft used in the shuttle. Various inventors produced mechanisms which could be used in spinning to produce stronger twist but none of them could get the system to work. A barber called Richard Arkwright looked at this problem and eventually found a way of combining the work of many inventors to produce a spinning frame that could make strong cotton yarn. Not only did he make the machine, he took the crucial step of making it so that it was a continuous process and could be driven by a belt powered by a pulley mounted on a turning shaft. His first machines in Preston were driven by a horse-engine. After various trials and tribulations he left Preston and settled on water-power as his prime mover.
This is where our attention to understanding water-powered corn mills serves us well. The best and most reliable source of the power to turn the shafting was a water wheel. In 1771 Arkwright set up a successful water-powered spinning manufactory at Cromford in Derbyshire. One advantage he had was that part of his water supply was a constant flow from the drainage adit of the local mines. His process was protected by patents but he was prepared to allow others to use it on payment of a licensing fee. By 1781 his patents were under attack and he was accused of stealing the inventions from the various inventors. Eventually the patents were overturned in 1785 but it is worth remembering what James Watt said about Arkwright who was no friend of his after he had stolen an idea for silk reels off Boulton and Watt during an earlier visit to their factory at Soho in Birmingham. Watt said that Arkwright deserved the credit of having made the system work. Watt himself was under attack at the same time as competitors tried to overturn his engine patents so he may have had some fellow feeling. For many years Arkwright was seen as a shady character who stole other inventors ideas but modern research tends to the conclusion that many of the accusations made against him were exaggerated or even fabricated to strengthen the case for breaking his valuable patents. An early case of black propaganda being used to damage a successful competitor.
The water-spinning technology started to spread before the patents were overturned. Some manufacturers took a license out with Arkwright but others took advantage of pirated versions of the water-frame and used the technology illegally. Not everyone embraced the full Arkwright technology, there is no evidence in Barlick of anyone using the waterframe in the early mills, it is much more likely that they were using cruder machines to produce sliver (a soft rope of lightly twisted carded cotton) for use by the hand spinners in the cottages which greatly increased the quantity and quality of their output. This simpler technology was widely available, not patented and capable of being adapted to water power
Whatever the level of technology employed, from 1780 onwards, all water sites, whether old mills or new builds, became a valuable asset. There was what can only be described as a gold rush, or perhaps more accurately, a water rush. The early textile water mills were very badly documented many of them only survived for a few years and then vanished completely. Thanks to the work of George Ingle in his book ‘Yorkshire Cotton’ we have some concrete evidence gathered by years of painstaking work trawling old records, particularly those held by insurance companies. Here are his results for the Barlick mills which can definitely be linked to cotton, note that the date given is the first insurance record and not necessarily the date of build or conversion. Mitchell’s Mill (Later known as Clough Mill), 1800. Parrock Mill, 1808. Gillian’s Mill, 1790. Midge Hole Mill on County Brook, first noted in about 1820 but may have started originally as a woollen mill. Old Coates Mill built by the Bracewells of Coates in about 1790, no firm date. Other mills were: County Brook Mill mentioned in Barnoldswick Manorial Court proceedings of 17th April 1732 as New Mill, fines levied on persons for obstructing the water course with rubbish. [It was almost certainly a corn mill at this time.] Wood End Mill on County Brook below Midge Hole, mentioned by Thomas Barcroft in a letter dated 1694/95, corn mill and no evidence of it ever being used for textiles. Ouzledale Mill near Forty Steps, date of build unknown but was a sawmill in 1850. A possible small water-power site in Wapping at Lamb Hill of which nothing is known. Barnoldswick Corn Mill, earliest mention is 1594, never used for textiles. The surviving records we have for these mills include the names of the people using them and we can detect many family names which later became prominent in cotton manufacture in the town.
If we take a snapshot of the town in 1800 we would see very little difference between then and 1700 in terms of the built environment and the extent of domestic buildings in Barlick. There would be some new building in what is now Gillians, the fold below Bancrofts Farm with its small mill dam immediately below Bancrofts. Another small mill at Parrock where the Parrock Laithe headquarters of the Barlick Scouts is now. Possibly a new building at Ouzledale. Mitchell had started his build on Gillian’s Beck below Ouzledale Mill and down at Coates on Butts Beck below the Corn Mill the Bracewells had started their mill on the site of the present day Rolls Royce car park. You can still see the sluice gate for emptying the dam for maintenance in the side of the beck below the car park. The roads had improved slightly and wheeled traffic would be more common.
There was one more change, from 1791 onwards the town was swarming with men brought in to build the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The work was completed in 1796 with the building of Foulridge Tunnel and the connection of the Yorkshire section with Burnley. It was finally completed in 1816. This was a tremendous event and must have been something of a culture shock for Barlick. Up until then freight transport was by packhorses carrying perhaps 150lbs on their back. One horse could now move 40 tons at the same speed. This opened up the quarries of Barlick to the rest of the north and allowed the cheap import of coal into the town from the Lancashire and Yorkshire coalfields. For the first time in its history, Barlick had a new industry in cotton manufacture and access to unlimited amounts of fuel. Add to this the growing skills of the inhabitants, the availability of capital and a desire to make profit and we have all the ingredients of a revolution.

I was asked whether there could have been power looms in the water mill at Roughlee in 1861… Here’s my answer which fills in some gaps in the improvements to textile machinery.
Start from the point where you understand that in the early days of the industry from roughly the mid 18th century onwards the capital holders in the industry round here were the families who put raw cotton out to the Domestic Industry. Most of the staple was issued to the cottagers as raw staple and the vast majority of the processing, cleaning, carding, spinning and weaving was done in the cottages. Notice that I said staple, it could be either flax (linen), silk, wool or cotton. The later we look at the trade in NE Lancashire, the greater the proportion of cotton. The large cotton imports didn’t start through Liverpool until about 1800. The shorthand here is that those dealing in wool were ‘clothiers’ and those in cotton were ‘manufacturers’.
All these masters had one problem in common, matching production to demand. As the demand increased this problem worsened and triggered innovation as inventors recognised the problems and strove to produce more efficient machinery. Lack of efficient machinery wasn’t the only problem, most cottagers worked the land and in haytime or harvest the crop took precedence and production fell. If trade was good and returns to the cottagers high, in the absence of a consumer economy the cottagers took time off, St Monday was the bane of the manufacturers. Quality control was difficult and there was the ever-present problem of embezzlement of yarn, the ‘rong’ or ‘White Iron’ trade.
These pressures meant that the manufacturers were on the look out for any improved machinery that they could use in a central location, under one roof, where they could lock the workers in and control them. In other words a factory system. In practical terms, from 1700 to 1820 this meant water power. Other power sources used in the early days were horse engines and even ‘Irishmen’ turning a wheel in the cellar.
The only name that most people recognise in this context is Arkwright but he was simply the man who took the available technology and made it work. From 1750 onwards crude engines for cleaning (the Willow), carding and spinning were invented and used. Many of the early mills started with this technology before Arkwright arrived on the scene. The focus of this innovation was on the bottlenecks in the process. Cleaning and carding were attacked first and by c.1770 there were many small water-powered cotton mills engaged in this process. Once clean staple had been cracked the bottleneck shifted to twist and yarn. Improvements were made to the hand powered jenny and manufacturers like Peel had ‘Jenny shops’ but these were hand driven by the operative. The next innovation suitable for water power was the throstle, a crude continuous spinning process but producing a weak yarn unsuitable for warp threads which had to be strong to withstand the weaving process in the loom. By 1785 the Arkwright patents had been overturned and the water frame became the standard spinning machine but was soon improved. The great advantage of this machine was that it could produce warp yarn as well as weft twist. I often wonder whether this was because Arkwright was first making yarn for the Nottingham hosiery trade and it could be that he accidentally produced yarn strong enough for a warp thread. This technological explosion moved the bottleneck to weaving.
The search for a power loom was long and fraught with difficulty. Men had been chasing it many years. There is an account in Wadsworth and Mann; The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire 1600-1780 of an inventor approached the town council of Danzig with a loom that could produce four or six narrow fabrics at once, what was known as small ware weaving. This was seen as so dangerous that the inventor was strangled and the loom suppressed. The more usual prime inventor is usually cited as the Reverend Cartwright, an amateur who heard some manufacturers talking and decided to solve the problem. His looms were in use by 1785 but they were not a commercial success. It was Richard Roberts who made the greatest contribution. He was a general engineer interested in many fields and realised that the growing textile industry was a great market. In 1821 he improved Avery Wilkinson’s reed making machine and in 1822 started production of a high speed power loom which was so successful that by 1825 he was making 4000 a year. In 1825 he patented his greatest invention the self-acting mule which was also a great success.
As for the switch from water to steam power, a crude rotative steam engine was available from the late 1770s but was unsuccessful. Far more successful was the use of the steam pumping engine (non-rotative) to return water from below the wheel to the mill pond above. In 1788 Boulton and Watt solved the problem with the condensing engine and the crank. Due to a defect in the patent system a man called Pickard patented the crank and Watt had to devise the sun and planet motion instead of a plain crank. This worked but was cumbersome and wore very quickly. Watt tried to justify the use of this motion by the fact that being geared it could be used to alter the speed of the flywheel and shaft. He was making the best of a bad set back. The spurious patent expired in 1794 but it appears that Boulton and Watt had been using the simple crank for some years before. Once the rotative engine was perfected power could be put straight onto a shaft to drive machinery in the mill. For many years such engines were used in conjunction with a water wheel and used to govern the speed. Some mills were using this system by 1790 but by about 1810 the purely steam powered factory was a reality.
So, the answer to the question. Could there have been any powered looms in Roughlee Mill before 1861? Yes, certainly. Powered looms were possible from about 1790 onwards but not commercially viable. It’s almost certain that manufacturers would be trying them out. Roberts’ power loom (1825) opened the flood gates and the last bottleneck was conquered. Many early weaving sheds were powered solely by water power. Old Coates in Barlick was certainly weaving using water before 1830 and later installed an engine as well. The first definite date for an engine in Barlick is 1827 at Clough and as this was an insurance policy date, could have been installed before then. In 1845 Bracewell built Butts mill as a combined spinning and weaving mill powered solely by steam. I have found power loom weavers in the 1841 census in Barlick.
One final complication, don’t assume that because technology was available it was immediately taken up. There is a powerful economic force called inertia. In other words, once an investment has been made it is difficult to discard it for something new. So Mills like Roughlee, who were making a profit using old technology would tend to stick with it. New mills like Butts would start with the most modern machinery obtainable. The pockets of resistance to change in the mid 19th century would have been the old water powered mills that had been established for years. This is the reason why so many of them made promising starts but then vanished without trace, they were overtaken by new and better technology. Of course the problem arose again when the ‘new’ mills were superseded by even newer ones…..

It’s 1820, and all your hard work in the last few chapters is about to pay off, you’ve got all your ducks in a row. Armed with some good background knowledge we can plough straight into the developments of the 19th century as the culmination of so much that went before. It’s an exciting story.
The first major consequence of the series of events leading up to 1800 was not quite what you may have expected, it has nothing to do with textiles. When the canal reached Barlick it made the transportation of bulk material an economic reality, 40 tons at a time could be moved by one horse at two or three miles an hour. This enabled two things, the transport of coal into Barlick and limestone out as a return load.
We need to take a short diversion into geology here. Barlick is split in two by the Craven Fault, a natural division between high grade limestone to the north east and good Millstone Grit, a hard sandstone, to the south west. This is why all the quarries on the Skipton side are limestone and all of them up Tubber Hill are sandstone. The first major expansion of quarrying in the town was during the building of the canal when the Leeds and Liverpool company cut a short branch canal into the hill behind what eventually became the site of Barnsey Shed at Long Ing. This opened up Rainhall Rock quarry for building materials for the canal construction. Two more quarries expanded at Greenberfield and Gill but not to the same extent. Loose Games, the gritstone quarry at the top of Tubber Hill was already being worked to supply building stone for the town and eventually was supplemented by Salterforth Quarry and Park Close Quarry on Salterforth Lane together with several smaller delphs that never expanded. Back to the effects of the canal.
The first thing to recognise about coal is that at the end of the 18th century there was only one use for the small quantities that reached the town, as domestic fuel for higher status houses. There is no mention of charcoal burning in Barlick until later on when County Brook Mill started to process wood into charcoal and extracting chemicals for use in industry. This is how it got its alternative name of ‘Stew Mill’. However, I suspect that the local blacksmiths might have had a source of charcoal, perhaps even making it themselves. For many years, limestone had been quarried on a small scale to the north and east of Barlick and some burned to produce quicklime in small kilns on farms for spreading on the land and improving it. The fuel used was wood. The limiting factor was the small amount of lime required and the availability of fuel for converting it from rock into a useable product. The only way coal could be brought into the town was expensive, by packhorse and the occasional wheeled vehicle on the bad roads. The advent of the canal changed all this and presented Barlick with a new industry. The limestone quarries at Rainhall, Greenberfield and Gill were the closest source of this essential material to Lancashire which had been short of lime for agriculture, building and as a raw material for the growing iron, steel and chemical industries. There was a ready made trade, limestone and limestone products out of the town and coal back in from the Burnley coalfield to fuel the kilns. The boats were fully loaded both ways and therefore even more efficient.
The canal company took advantage of this by building a large kiln at Coates Wharf which burnt limestone from their quarry at Rainhall Rock for local use and export. Smaller kilns were built along the line of the canal serving groups of farms nearby. There is one anomaly which I have never been able to fathom. There are extensive limestone quarry workings at Midge Holes up Esp Lane, often called ‘Humpty-Dumpty’s’ by children who played in them. These remains include evidence of a large brick lined kiln and it is evident that industrial lime-burning was going on there but it is such a strange place for such an enterprise. All the coal had to be brought in up a steep hill, a far more expensive proposition than a kiln on the side of the canal but the evidence is clear, it did happen and must have been profitable enough for the land owner to run the business. I suspect that it might have been one of the first sites to go out of use, it is all well healed over now so perhaps the fact that it existed at all is an indication of how profitable the business of lime-burning was in the early days.
The gritstone quarries were slower to get off the ground and didn’t reach their peak until later in the 19th century when there was a tremendous demand for building stone in Barlick and road setts for the improvement of the streets of the growing towns of East Lancashire. The quarries eventually had tramways running down to the canal and boats fully employed transporting millions of roughly squared blocks of hard stone every year. These tramways were in use until the late 1920s when we have evidence of Sagars, one of the major quarry-owners taking the tracks up. This was because road transport by motor lorries was cheaper.
Before the advent of motor lorries, the transport of building stone into Barlick was all done by horse and cart. Kelbrook New Road didn’t exist then so the quickest route into Barlick from the quarries on Salterforth Lane was by Higher Lane and what is now Manchester Road but there was a problem. Between the quarries and the road was the short and very steep hill up to Higher Lane. This was overcome by siting a steam driven winch on the small triangular island at the top of the Drag. A wire rope was taken down to the quarry entrance and coupled to the carts to pull them up the hill. Jack Platt worked in the quarries and he told me that the horses knew exactly where to stop at the entrance. If, through wear and breakage the rope had been shortened the carters had trouble getting the horses to go a yard further. I’m not clear whether Sagar and Whitham, owners of Salterforth and Park Close quarries respectively joined at this winch but it would have made sense.
Once they had reached the top lane it was a fairly easy journey for the horses until they reached Sagar’s other quarry, Loose Games at the top of Tubber Hill where the caravan park is now. The steep hill just below here was terrible for the horses. The stone carts had only a very crude brake and in order to stop the weight carrying the horse and cart away, the carters put a shoe or ‘scotch’ under each back wheel on which the cart skidded down the hill. This didn’t always work and Jack told me that he had seen two accidents where the horses were killed on here. He never forgot one horse that was mortally wounded when the cart ran away and went into the bank on the roadside. The broken shaft stuck in its side and Jack said the carter cradled its head and talked to it while they waited for someone to fetch a gun to shoot it. The accidents usually occurred at the top of Lane Bottoms next to where Jim Haworth, the Firewood King and noted Communist, had his hut opposite Letcliffe Lane end. Jack remembered that two of Sagar’s horses were called Robin and Charlie because he used to ride them out to pasture at another quarry owned by John Sagar behind the waterworks. We forget the price paid by horses in those days. Even though well-cared for by their owners and drivers the work was hard and dangerous.
Quarrying and lime-burning was large scale industry at work for the first time in Barlick. We know that in 1906, after the peak of the workings, there were over 250 men employed (evidence given to the Light Railway Commissioners) and in the late 19th century this figure would have been much higher. We know from the Badgery Estate Papers in the Yorkshire Archaeological Society at Leeds that J W Wasney, a barrister who lived at Thornton in Craven, leased Rainhall Rock (The ‘Little Cut’) to the canal company who paid him a royalty of 4d. (old money) a ton and the annual take was about 20,000 tons, an income of well over £300 per annum, a fortune in the early 19th century. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company ran the quarry long after the canal was finished so it must have been profitable. Gill Rock was owned by Farrands at one time and the take was about 15,000 tons per annum. We have no figures for Greenberfield Rock which was at one time owned by the Coates Estate but I suspect it never reached the production levels of the other limestone quarries.
If anyone is wondering why we don’t have big holes in the town after so much stone was extracted the answer lies in the 20th century. As the town grew, more and more waste was generated and had to be disposed of. The first council tip was down on what is now the playing fields at Victory Park. When that was full they started tipping in Gill Rock and completely filled it. After that the Little Cut at Rainhall was used and this too was completely filled in. It may have been the increased heavy motor traffic into the Rainhall Rock tip that caused the collapse in the 1960s of the tunnel which took the Little Cut under Cross Lane into the quarry. Loose Games at Tubber Hill is a caravan park, Salterforth quarry is a car-breaker’s yard and below that a garden centre. Park Close has been used as a scrapyard and later as a site for recycling stone but is at the time of writing under dispute and its future is uncertain. Midge Holes was just left to heal over and at the very least has been a happy playground for thousands of children over the years.
We should mention one more thing connected to the quarries before we leave them to go back to the textiles. When Billycock Bracewell owned Park Close Quarry at Salterforth one of the by-products from stone extraction was the beds of shale, a very hard almost rock-like clay, which had to be disposed of. Sagars at Salterforth Quarry had the same problem and their solution was to tip the waste (or ‘offal’ as they called it) on the side of the road below their quarry. When Kelbrook Road, the new road built in the 1930s, was under construction much of these waste tips was taken and used in the construction of the road bed. Bracewell at Park Close took a different route, shale is the essential material for processing into a putty-like consistency, shaping into bricks and hardening them by firing in kilns. He built a brickworks at Park Close Quarry shortly after he bought it in 1870. The brickworks was still in production when Bracewell and Sons liquidated in 1887 and may have worked for a short time after that. Harold Duxbury, an eminent builder in Barlick, once told me that they were very poor bricks fit only for the lining of stone built properties and that this was the reason why the works were abandoned.
That’s got quarrying and brick-making under our belts. Let’s get back to the really important development. The advent of the textile factory system in Barlick.

One of the hardest tasks we have when looking at industrial and social conditions during the evolution of Britain from an agrarian economy to the ‘workshop of the world’ is deciding what the general perception was at the time when assessing the quality of life or standard of living of people of any class. It is far too easy to assert that the Agrarian Utopia was good and the Dark Satanic Mills bad. Apart from being bad history it is obviously wrong because individual experiences varied so much.
I start from my own working experience and recognise that the hours of work and conditions which I found quite acceptable and indeed largely enjoyable would in most cases be not only anathema to modern workers but actually illegal. If this perception can change so radically over sixty years it raises the question as to what the frame of reference was in the nineteenth century. Our view may be of badly paid, ill-housed and maltreated factory workers but was their experience seen by them as better or worse than their life in an agrarian economy? Was a child in a factory better or worse off than one working for a hard-pressed father in the domestic textile industry? Was a pregnant working mother better off in an isolated farm cottage or a terraced house in a city slum where she could get support from her neighbours? Was there a universal perception?
The truth is that all levels of society lived in what we would regard as insanitary, uncomfortable and potentially dangerous conditions with ignorant or incompetent medical provision. A prince of the realm could die from a mild infection or suffer incredibly from medical procedures in just the same way as the lowest labourer or his family. Can we make judgements about how the wealthy regarded their lot in life or that of people in classes they regarded as below theirs?
I think the short answer is ‘with difficulty’. Historians and demographers have struggled to extract contemporary information that gives some indication of the relative standards accepted by both rich and poor. The general picture is that access to what comfort and security was available was easier for the rich than the poor but that the rich, particularly in the early days of the rise of manufacture, saw their quality of life and standards of living as resulting from their hard work and social status and the lower standards of the common people as the norm. They did not think that they could do anything about it beyond charity and a reasonable concern. Indeed, as long as the poor bred fast enough and produced enough labour to keep the system going, where was the need for more enlightened thinking?
The rise of the great manufacturing towns drew in hordes of workers from the country creating a demand for housing. Speculative builders saw the opportunity and threw up vast numbers of dwellings crowded together built to the lowest standards and completely devoid of amenities such as running water or adequate facilities for disposing of waste. These conditions proved to be the ideal breeding grounds for highly infectious and deadly diseases such as Cholera and Typhus which could kill hundreds and thousands in a few weeks. This was terrible by anyone’s standards and gave rise to the widely held perception, both then and now, that life at the base of the industrial pyramid was a hell on earth.
There was a problem, disease didn’t respect class or wealth and could spread up the hill to the big houses. Early in the 19th century it became apparent that the seat of the outbreaks was in the worker’s housing and public pressure started to build for sanitary improvements. Later in the century another factor came into play when recruitment for the armed forces was affected by the low physical standards of the available candidates. These pressures stimulated research into the causes of disease and low levels of ‘Physical Efficiency’ and promoted interest in sanitary reform. The miasmic theory of disease gave way to a recognition that the real enemies were dirty water and living conditions, overcrowding and adulterated food.
The tide of pressure for reform grew and in 1848 Parliament passed the Public Health Act which created a central Board of Health with powers to supervise street cleansing, improvements to water supplies and better waste disposal. During the next thirty years more specific acts were passed setting up local boards of health with powers to act in their own areas. The first targets for improvement were the worst sinks of corruption. Town Rate payers saw immense amounts of money being spent on the worst areas and an influential opposition rose against these expenditures on the grounds that they were ‘Municipal Socialism’. Though this never stopped the overall pressure for improvement, there were local instances where the pace was slowed until the message was brought home that this was the most efficient way to attack the killer diseases.
The summer of 1849 provided a powerful argument for the advocates of sanitary reform. Over 33,000 people died in Britain from Cholera, 13,000 in London alone. As the death rate was approximately 50% this meant that double that number were seriously ill. The cause of Cholera would not be positively identified until 1854 but the 1849 epidemic, added to those of previous years, spurred the debate forward and one very concrete result was that the Morning Chronicle in London initiated one of the greatest surveys ever attempted into the social condition of England.
“WE PUBLISH this day,” announced the Morning Chronicle of October 18, 1849, “the first of a series of communications, in which it is proposed to give a full and detailed description of the moral, intellectual, material, and physical condition of the industrial poor throughout England.” The undertaking, which continued until the end of the following year under the heading ‘LABOUR AND THE POOR’ was described by a nineteenth century historian of the English Press as “an unparalleled exploit in journalism”; and E. P. Thompson has said that the correspondents' reports form “the most impressive survey of labour and poverty at mid-century which exists” But apart from the London section, which was the work of Henry Mayhew, the project has been almost entirely forgotten. In particular, the reports of Angus Bethune Reach for the Chronicle on the Lancashire and Yorkshire textile districts sank into obscurity. Mayhew left the Morning Chronicle and continued his investigations, this was the start of his master work; London Labour and London Poor. Reach’s career ended in retirement due to illness in 1854 and death in 1856. His reports mouldered in the archives disturbed occasionally by an assiduous researcher but largely forgotten until Mr Chris Aspin and the Helmshore Local History Society resurrected them.
The Morning Chronicle introducing the survey stated; “No man of feeling or reflection can look abroad without being shocked and startled by the sight of enormous wealth and unbounded luxury, placed in direct juxtaposition with the lowest extremes of indigence and privation. Is this contrast a necessary result of the unalterable laws of nature, or simply the sure indication of an effete social system?"
I find this extract particularly telling, it signals to me that in a time of unprecedented change and wealth creation there was genuine consternation that the contrast between the life experience of rich and poor was so great. There was doubt whether this was due to ‘the unalterable laws of nature’, an echo of the medieval Chain of Being, or a sign that there was a need for some basic readjustment of society. It is never voiced but do we detect the faint dawning of realisation that perhaps redistribution of wealth might be one of the keys to the solution? What is certain is that as long as pockets of disease and deprivation were hidden in the depths of the agrarian economy they could be comfortably ignored. In an age where the concept of popular revolution was abroad, when whole districts of major towns and cities were affected and disease was rife, the problem had to be recognised and addressed.
Reach was a good investigator. He made it his business to see the places of work and the housing. He questioned his informants, noted their diet and health and sought their opinions on trade, levels of income and iniquity. The picture he paints is one of abject poverty brought about by circumstances over which his subjects had no control. He seems to be genuinely concerned and is not afraid to voice this in his reports. The only hint of prejudice that creeps through is the frequently used pejorative phrase ‘The Low Irish’; he leaves us in little doubt that he views them with a degree of contempt. He also had a rather quaint dislike of front doors which led directly from the street into the living room. A house without a hall or lobby was seriously deficient in his view.
Two things strike me particularly about Reach’s accounts of what he found. The first is that apart from general comments on the quantity and wholesomeness of food, he makes no allusion to adulteration. This could be because he was not aware that it was happening. I can’t imagine him keeping silent unless this was the case. The other striking aspect is that he actively pursued a line of enquiry which I have never seen investigated in such depth in contemporary accounts. He asks direct questions of his informants, pharmacists and medical men about the use of soporific drugs, both by adults as a substitute for alcohol and their use as ‘pacifiers’ to make child care easier. It is this evidence I wish to concentrate on.
It is very striking, particularly in the textile industries of the North of England, how the concept of the ‘family wage’ was generally accepted until the middle of the 20th century. The mills offered employment for men, women and children and any study of the census returns for the 19th century leaves us in no doubt that the norm was that as soon as children were old enough to work in the mill they started earning and ‘tipping up’ their wage in return for pocket money. This was not wholly a bad thing because it meant that a large family could command a joint income high enough to buy their house and perhaps the one next door as well to provide income in old age. I have found numerous instances in Barnoldswick of men who have achieved a good post in the mill, say as an overlooker or taper, and having a large working family were able to build a row of houses including a shop and thus ensure some diversification of income and a cushion against poverty in bad times. Not everyone could aspire to this level of capitalism but the minimum aim was to have some sort of security for old age, fear of the workhouse was very real.
Many of the poor people that Reach interviewed were in a classic poverty trap. Let us take the case of a hypothetical young married couple living in a rented house and both able to gain employment in the factory. Wage levels were dictated by the economics of the market. In the short term, periods of high demand forced wages up because of the shortage of labour with the necessary skills. In the long term, a pool of excess labour, constantly replenished by incomers from the country districts, ensured that the lowest wage possible was paid by the entrepreneurs. The consequence was that the norm was a bare subsistence wage in periods of stability in the market and poverty if trade was bad.
There were two ways in which our young couple could raise their wage and standard of living. One was by advancement to better jobs through individual worth. In practice these better jobs were scarce and in most cases not attainable. The other, long term route to enhanced income was to rear enough children to raise the family wage to a point where there was enough disposable income to live well and make provision for hard times or old age. The catch was of course that it took time and investment to rear the children. If the woman was disabled by pregnancy or childbirth and could not work the family income dropped below subsistence level. Despite these disadvantages, the normal urge to procreate won in the end and there were many families disadvantaged by having extra mouths to feed.
In these circumstances as soon as the mother had recovered from childbirth it was essential that she got back to work. This raised the problem of childcare because, even in what we would regard as terrible conditions, leaving young children in the house alone all day was unacceptable. The universal solution to this was the ‘childminder’. These were sometimes aged relatives but due to fragmentation of the extended family by migration more usually they were older women who were past their time of usefulness in the workplace and had to find lower class work to survive. Very often this was the combined trade of washerwoman and childminder. Babes in arms were deposited with the childminder and left there for the day.
The textile mills started early in the morning but it was the custom to stop at around 8am for half an hour for breakfast. In many cases this was the time when the young mother would slip out of the mill, go home for her baby, feed it and deliver it to the childminder. With luck she might be able to visit in the dinner hour and suckle the infant again. The childminder had the child all day and it was to her advantage if the child stayed quiet and undemanding so that she could get on with whatever her other occupation was. Anyone who has ever looked after a baby for the day, never mind a dozen or even more, will know that it is a full-time occupation. Babies cry, need changing and demand attention. The childminders had a remedy for this, they used ‘pacifiers’. Nowadays this usually means a dummy teat but in those days it was something far more efficacious and many times more deadly. The child was given a dose of cordial containing an opiate which put it to sleep and it would remain still and quiet for as long as it took the drug to wear off.
Before looking at this in more detail we should pause and adjust our frame of reference. We should remember that it was not until the passing of the Dangerous Drugs Act in 1920, banning the public sale of opiates and cocaine that over-the-counter sales of what we now regard as ‘illegal drugs’ was stopped. From ancient times, and certainly in the 18th and 19th centuries Opium and its derivatives were highly regarded as efficaceous in medicine, desireable as a substitute for alcohol and conducive to the achievement of higher realms of thinking. Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) wrote of “the marvellous agency of opium, whether for pleasure or for pain”. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) wrote Kubla Khan in a dream-like trance while under its spell. Until the nineteenth century the only opiates used medicinally or recreationally took the form of crude opium and its derivatives. Opium is a complex chemical cocktail containing numerous alkaloids, these opiate alkaloids are of inestimable value in medicine because they reduce or abolish pain without causing a loss of consciousness. They also relieve coughs, spasms, fevers and diarrhoea.
A significant advance in opium processing occurred in the sixteenth century. Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1490-1541), better known as Paracelsus, claimed: "I possess a secret remedy which I call laudanum and which is superior to all other heroic remedies". He concocted Laudanum [literally: “something to be praised”] by extracting opium into brandy thus producing tincture of morphine. In 1680, Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689) standardised laudanum in the now classic formulation: 2 ounces of opium, 1 ounce of saffron, a drachm of cinnamon and cloves, all dissolved in a pint of Canary wine. In 1805 a German pharmacist called Wilhelm Sertürner isolated Morphine from Opium and named it Morphium after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. It was believed for a long time that morphine was not addictive, indeed as late as the early years of the 20th century missionaries in China gave what became known colloquially as ‘Jesus Pills’ to opium addicts to wean them off their habit. The principle ingredient of these was morphine. In 1874, an English pharmacist, C.R. Alder Wright, boiled morphine and acetic acid to produce diacetylmorphine. This was synthesized and marketed commercially by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer and in 1898 they launched the best-selling drug of all time, Heroin. The year before, Bayer formulated Aspirin, and launched this on the world market.
In the Old Bailey Proceedings; Humphrey Parsons, Session II, Friday 15th January 1731 there appeared the following advertisement, dated Friday 4th December 1730: ‘Dr. Godfrey's General Cordial. So universally approved of for the CHOLICK, and all Manner of PAINS in the BOWELS, FLUXES, FEVERS, SMALL-POX, MEASLES, RHEUMATISM, COUGHS, COLDS, and RESTLESNESS in Men, Women, and Children, and particularly for several Ailments incident to Child bearing Women, and Relief of young Children in breeding their Teeth.’ This ‘General Cordial’ was a mixture of treacle, laudanum and sassafras or some other flavour and despite the long list of ailments it was supposed to relieve it was the universal weapon of choice for alleviating ‘restlessness’ in children.
Having absorbed these facts and transferring them to the world view of our young couple and their contemporaries we can be fairly certain that they would not regard opiates as anything other than a friendly helper, freely available and uncontested as an analgesic until 1897 with the advent of aspirin. Using these drugs as pain relievers familiarised them with their side effects and it was widely recognised that a fractious child could be put to sleep by a small dose of Laudanum. Many a mother exhausted by a days work in the mill, pressed by domestic duties at home and desperate for sleep herself would have gained respite by administering a small dose of an opiate to her child. Little wonder that one of the common brands sold by the pharmacist was called ‘Infant's Quietness’.
The childminder used the same technology but on a commercial scale. She soon found that the best way to manage her day was by administering a dose to the infant as a matter of routine. There were two problems with this practice, the first was that the infants became inured to the effects of opiates over time and in order to get them to sleep the childminder had to administer larger doses. Pharmacists made up their own version of Godfrey’s General Cordial, often giving it a reassuring name, Mother's Helper, Atkinson's Preservative, Dalby's Carminative, Soothing Syrup and James’ Fever Mixture to name but a few I have found. Herein lay our second problem, there was no standard formula and in the words of one retailer interviewed by Reach; “Children are drugged either with Godfrey's Cordial or stronger decoctions of opium. Every druggist makes his own Godfrey, and the stronger he makes it, the faster it is bought.” This variation in strength could result in an unintentional fatal dose caused by the pursuit of greater sales and profit by the chemist.
We have evidence in Reach of the fatal consequences which could ensue. Here is one of his accounts: “An intelligent male operative in the Messrs. Morris's mill in Salford stated that he and his wife put out their first child to be nursed. The nurse gave the baby “sleeping stuff” and it died in nine weeks. … The mother had to get up at four o'clock and carry it to the nurse's every morning but the distance was too far for her to suckle it at noon so the child had no milk until the nurse brought it home at night. The mother can often smell laudanum in the child's breath when it comes home. As for mothers themselves, they give the “sleeping stuff” principally at night to secure their own rest.” This service cost the parents 3/6 (17p) a week. Again from Reach: “Another operative in the same mill gave the following evidence: He had put out one child to nurse, and he and his missus had sorely rued it ever since. The child, a girl, had never been healthy or strong, and the doctors told them when she was 14 months old that she had been dosed.” This service cost 5/- (25p) a week but enabled the mother to earn 15/-. The economics of the practice are clear.
We have evidence from other sources. The following report appeared in the Lincolnshire Times on January 8, 1856: “On Thursday morning Mr Coroner Hitchins held an inquest on the body of Thomas Porter, a child aged 15 months. The deceased had been well up to the night of its death when about 12 o'clock it was convulsed but recovered and went to sleep and at about 5 o'clock it was dead. Every effort was made to conceal the fact of occasionally administering laudanum, but it was at length admitted. The mother of the deceased, a widow, …showed strong evidence of the effects of opium taking; sunken eyes, emaciated cheeks and an enfeebled frame. After a due caution had been given to the mother of the deceased against contracting a habit and indulgence in opium, which had produced so much evil, the jury returned a verdict that the death of the deceased was sudden but whether from an opiate injudiciously given the evidence was not satisfactory.” Again, the following appeared in the Nottingham Journal on December 20, 1845: “Inquest into the death of Mira Newton, 17 weeks, revealed that the child had been habituated since birth to the "infants mixture to keep it quiet". The dose proved too strong and brought on a convulsion which led to her death. Verdict: natural death accelerated by an overdose of a certain narcotic called Infants Mixture, or Godfrey's Cordial administered by the mother, she being ignorant of its effects.”
Despite public acceptance of these opiate cordials and their over-the-counter sales it is significant that Reach encountered some informants who wished to minimise the scale of the trade. He reported the following encounter; “Among the druggists who were obviously disingenuous upon the point, I may particularly mention one not far from the Rochdale-road. He tried to pooh-pooh the whole thing. “He sold nothing of the kind, at least next to nothing, nothing worth mentioning. Oh, no. The fact was that a great deal of nonsense was talked upon the subject. Isolated cases might be found, but to say there was anything like a general practice of drugging children was to raise a mere bugbear.” Now, during our conversation, which occupied about five minutes, my cool and candid friend actually suited the action to the word by handing over the counter to two little girls three distinct pennyworths of the very drug the demand for which he was resolutely denying! I would have given something for that gentleman's power of face. I think it could be made useful.”
Another druggist told me of a common feature in this hocusing system. The women go to shops where the “cordial” is made weak, and where a certain quantity, say half a teaspoonful, is prescribed as a dose. Afterwards they go to shops where the mixture is made stronger, and without making any further inquiry buy the drug and give the child the old dose. Yet some of the druggists, said this gentleman, “put twice or thrice as much laudanum into their Godfrey as others.”
By a druggist carrying on an extensive business in a low neighbourhood in Ancoats, inhabited almost exclusively by a mill population, I was informed that personally he did not sell much narcotic medicine, but that it was tolerably extensively vended in small "general shops", the owners of which bought the drug by gallons from certain establishments which he named. He informed me also that he was in the habit of making Godfrey without putting laudanum into it, a system, from all I hear, very much akin to making grog without spirits. He affirmed, however, that the carminative ingredients, used for flatulence, constituted an important element of the medicine, and one for which it was frequently bought. He expressed his belief that the drugging system was gradually going out, and that the “old women” and midwives, who were its great patrons, were losing their hold upon the mill population. Recipes, which had been handed down in families for generations, and which often contained dangerous quantities of laudanum, were occasionally brought to him to make up, but he found little difficulty in convincing their possessors of the noxious character of the ingredients, when he was sometimes allowed to change their proportions. Sometimes a half-emptied bottle of cordial would be brought, in order that more laudanum might be put into it, a request which he always met by pretending to comply with it, and sending the applicant away with the contents of the phial increased by a few drops of harmless tincture. The mortality among infants in Manchester this gentleman attributed not to narcotics, but to careless nursing and insufficient and unwholesome suckling. “When women work nearly all day in a hot and close temperature, and live for the most part upon slops, their milk does children more harm than good. Infants are suckled hastily at dinner time, while the mother is eating her own meal, and then they are left foodless until well on in the evening. The consequence is a train of stomach complaints, which carries them off like pestilence. Children who had been drugged with “sleeping stuff” he could recognize in a moment. They never appeared fairly awake. Their whole system appeared to be sunk into a stagnant state.” He believed that when such doses were administered, nurses were chiefly to blame for mothers often came to him with their ailing children, asking, in great trouble, whether he thought that “sleeping stuff” had anything to do with the child's illness. The proportion of illegitimate children carried off through inefficient nursing was terrible. As to adults, he knew that a good deal of opium and laudanum was taken by them. Women were his chief customers in that way. He had seen a girl drink off an ounce-and-a-half of laudanum as it was handed to her over the counter. Most of these people had begun by taking laudanum under medical advice and had continued the practice until it became habitual.
While we were talking, another druggist entered the shop and confirmed the main points of the above statement. He added that when he was an apprentice, twenty years ago [1829], in a country place, principally inhabited by hand-loom weavers, his master used to make Godfrey in a large boiler by twenties and thirties of gallons at a brew. He believed that the people did not drug their children half so much now-a-days. Coroners' inquests were good checks. Almost all the laudanum he sold was disposed of in pennyworths. “A great number of old women took it for rheumatism."
I beg, however, to direct particular attention to the following evidence, given by a most intelligent druggist carrying on a very large business in a poor neighbourhood surrounded by mills, and a gentleman of whose perfect candour and good faith I have certain knowledge: “Laudanum, in various forms, is used to some extent by the adult population, male and female, and to a terrible extent for very young children. I sell about 2s. worth a week of laudanum, in pennyworths, for adults. Some use raw opium instead. They either chew it or make it into pills and swallow it. The country people use laudanum as a stimulant, as well as the town people. On market days, they come in from Lymm and Warrington, and buy the pure drug for themselves, and 'Godfrey' or 'Quietness' for the children. Habitual drunkards often give up spirits and take to laudanum as being cheaper and more intensely stimulating. Another class of customers is middle-aged prostitutes. They take it when they get low and melancholy. Three of them came together into my shop last night for opium to relieve pains in their limbs. These women swallow the drug in great quantities. As regards children, they are commonly dosed either with 'Godfrey' or 'Infant's Quietness’. The first is an old fashioned preparation and has been more or less in vogue for near a century. It is made differently by different vendors, but generally speaking it contains an ounce and a half of pure laudanum to the quart. The dose is from half a teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls. Infant's Cordial, or Mixture, is stronger, containing on the average two ounces of laudanum to a quart. Occasionally paregoric, which is one-fourth part as strong as laudanum, is used. Mothers sometimes give narcotics to their children, but most commonly the nurses are at fault. The stuff is frequently administered by the latter without the mothers' knowledge, but it is occasionally given by the mothers without the fathers' knowledge. I believe that women frequently drug their children through pure ignorance of the effect of the practice, and because, having been brought up in the mills, they know nothing about the first duties of mothers. The nurses sometimes take children for 1s. 6d. a week. They are very often laundresses. Half-a-crown a week may be the average charge of the nurse, and the 'nursing' commonly consists of laying the infant in a cradle to doze all day in a stupefied state produced by a teaspoonful of 'Godfrey' or 'Quietness.' Bad as the practice is, it would not be so fatal if the nurses and parents would obey the druggists' instructions in administering the medicine. But this is what often takes place. A woman comes and buys pennorths of 'Godfrey’. Well, all is right for five or six weeks. Then she begins to complain that we don't make the 'Godfrey' so good as we used to do; that she has to give the child more than it needed at first; and so nothing will do but she must have 'Infant's Quietness' instead, for, as she says, she has heard that it is better, i.e. stronger. But in process of time, as the child gets accustomed to the drug, the dose must be made stronger still. Then the nurses, and sometimes the mothers, take to making the stuff themselves. They buy pennorths of aniseed, and treacle and sugar, add the laudanum to it, and make the dose as strong as they like. The midwives teach them how to brew it, and if the quantity of laudanum comes expensive, they use crude opium instead. Of course numberless children are carried off in this way. I know a child that has been so treated at once; it looks like a little old man or woman. I can tell one in an instant. Often and often a mother comes here with a child that has been out to nurse, to know what can be the matter with it. I know, but frequently I dare hardly tell, for if I say what I am sure of, the mother will go to the nurse and charge her with sickening the child; the nurse will deny, point blank, that she did anything of the sort, and will come and make a disturbance here, daring me to prove what of course I can't prove legally, and abusing me for taking away her character. The children also suffer from the period which elapses between the times of their being sucked. The mothers often live on vegetables and drink quantities of thin ale, and the consequence is that the children are terribly subject to weakening attacks of diarrhoea.”
As historians we must make our own decisions as to the veracity of our sources. Reach’s testimony rings true and is the most comprehensive and valuable evidence I have found on the use of opiates in the 19th Century. Reading his reports one can have little doubt that our hypothetical young couple are representative of many thousands in similar circumstances. Even though they knew of the dangers, economics forces them to accept the use of opiates and even worse, the terrible childminders. I hope that there were occasional instances of kindly and conscientious women in the trade but I think we are safe in assuming that the majority were using ‘pacifiers’ to ill effect.
There is a thread of unease with the system running through Reach’s reports. He condemned the practice and in his evidence we find responsible men agreeing with him. The obfuscation of the druggist who said the practice didn’t exist whilst selling the stuff openly while Reach was there is particularly telling. The coroner’s reports leave little doubt as to what official attitudes were but it was not to be addressed adequately until 1920 with the passing of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
I started this investigation by trying to assess what the contemporary perception would have been to the dreadful social conditions of the mid 19th Century in the working class areas of our industrial cities and towns. I still believe that there was a greater tolerance to bad conditions than we would have today but cannot accept that the working poor were so insensitive that they would not feel revulsion against the worst aspects of their condition and have a desire to improve their lot. In particular, abusing children by drugging them because of economic necessity must have been anathema, mother love was as powerful an instinct then as now.
So, my conclusion is that trapped by economic forces beyond their control they were forced to live in sub-human conditions and even drug their children to death. The more brutal their lives, the lower the standards they accepted. The evidence that resentment existed is probably most clearly proved by the political movements that gathered pace during the 19th Century which resulted in the massive political changes we see at the turn of the century. The circumstances we have looked at not only spawned Cholera and a system of drug abuse but eventually, a more fair and just society.
There was one area which Reach never mentioned, the practice of running ‘baby farms’ which for a weekly payment or in some cases a lump sum, would take a child in and foster it. There is little doubt that pacifiers were used in these establishments, sometimes to the point of death, the most lucrative way of dealing with a child who was not bringing in a weekly income. There are well-documented cases of these ‘baby farms’ degenerating into an opportunity for serial killing.

In the course of researching this subject I have questioned knowledgeable people and was surprised to learn that certain modern children’s medicines, though never described as ‘pacifiers’, are well known to have this effect. So, contrary to my initial belief, drugs capable of ‘pacifying’ children can still be bought over the counter. There is the thorny question of the use of prescription drugs such as Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant used in the treatment of narcolepsy in adults and attention deficit disorder in children, this contains methylphenidate which produces a calming effect.
So, as is often the case, my probing into history answers one question about the use of pacifiers to manage children but raises another disturbing thought. It strikes me that there is a connection between the case of the poor textile workers we have been looking at and today’s world. Economic pressures have forced many mothers back into the workplace just as they did in the 18th and 19th centuries. Use of the crèche and nursery school is the modern version of the childminder. Have the stresses and pressures of modern life made us take a retrograde step? A local pharmacist has told me that many preparations for teething and congestion are actually soporifics and bought for that purpose. Are we still drugging our children to pacify them and in some cases, could they be Drugged to Death?
I found another, even more disturbing example of the use of pacifiers. Research published in the British Medical Journal in March 2003 focused on 698 elderly people in Bristol, of whom 172 were nursing home residents. Although the nursing home residents on the whole had fewer medically diagnosed problems, they were being given more drugs than elderly people living at home. The authors found 28% of people in nursing homes were on anti-psychotic drugs compared to 11% of those living at home, the people in care were also three times more likely to receive a laxative. The conclusion the researchers reached confirmed suggestions of inappropriate drug use on elderly people, particularly in nursing homes. Even Reach, in his investigations of 1849 into the worst conditions of British society, raised no question of drugs being used to manage old people. Is what we have report progress?
To go back to my original question; what was the condition of society in the 19th century? Then as now it all depended on what your status was. Some things have changed for the better for everyone, the advances in medicine, education and working conditions are broadly applicable to all. However we are forced to the conclusion that the overall quality of life was poorer and this was exacerbated by low income. I can’t help thinking that some things never change, distribution of wealth is as much a problem now as it was then, in fact some statisticians will tell you it is worse. In this respect at least, tribal Britain in the Dark Ages might have been a more equitable society. The thought depresses me, I’ll leave you to mull it over.

We’ve seen that the foundations of the modern textile industry lie in individuals using local wool to produce cloth for their own use. This developed into the Putting Out or Domestic system whereby merchants used these individuals as out-workers producing cloth which was sold by the clothiers at central markets, at first in centres like Lincolnshire and London but later in local Cloth Halls at Colne and Halifax. With the advent of cotton as a staple many individuals switched to the new manufacture and financed themselves, these were the first domestic manufacturers.
As the technology improved it became possible to use water-power to drive crude machines which improved the production of sliver for use by domestic spinners. By 1787 the improved technology of Arkwright’s water frame was widely adopted but there is no evidence of them in Barlick. By 1800 small water-powered twist mills were working in Barlick and the surviving lists of tenants indicate that it was the domestic manufacturers who took advantage of the new methods. The technology improved so quickly that most of these small early ventures didn’t last long. We have evidence that at Gillians they had a building used by hand spinners, probably the first wage labourers in the Barlick industry. Mitchell, at what is now Clough Mill was adopting the new technology as it arrived and survived into the steam age. Bracewell Brothers at Coates Mill did the same and prospered. The out-workers in the cottages and farms were still important as it was to be about thirty years before a practical power loom was available. Until then, the mills concentrated on preparation and spinning yarn which was put out to the hand loom weavers.
As the scale of the industry increased so did the sophistication of the trading system. The first Manchester cotton exchange was built in 1729 and subsequently enlarged four times, the last being 1921. At one time the main room was reputed to be the largest trading room in the world. From its inception the Manchester Exchange was the trading floor for the whole of the north western cotton industry and eventually every firm had a Manchester Man, their representative on the ‘change. The exchange was all powerful and rapidly established standard contracts and mechanisms to regulate the trade, this killed any possibility of the archaic Guild System getting its dead hand on the industry and ensured complete independence. Manchester soon had another name, ‘Cottonopolis’ and was famous for independent thought and progress. ‘What Manchester does today the rest of the country will do tomorrow’.
There is one more significant event outside the town we should look at. The first auction of cotton in Liverpool was in 1757 and by 1800 the port was responding to the demands of the new technologies and had a virtual monopoly of cotton imports into Britain. This led to a symbiotic relationship between Liverpool and Manchester which accelerated the growth of both cities and on the 21st of May 1894 culminated in the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, at that time the largest ship canal in the world. This symbolised the supreme confidence of the time, if Manchester couldn’t be on the sea, the sea had to be brought to Manchester.
This confidence and willingness to innovate and take risk was infectious and we see it happening in Barlick. During the second decade of the 19th century both Mitchell at Clough and Bracewell Brothers at Coates took advantage of the new technology and the cheap coal coming in by canal by installing steam engines to supplement the power from their water wheels. Bracewells also built a coal gas plant to light the mill. [The confirmation of this early use of gas lighting is embedded in a report of illicit spirit being distilled in the gas house. Evidence sometimes moves in a mysterious way!] The early engines were relatively crude and inefficient machines but it was the only way that more power could be obtained to meet the rising demands of production. It’s important to recognise that water power was not a perfect way to drive an enterprise for two main reasons: They only functioned well in times of moderate water flow, too little water and they stopped, too much and they became inefficient because the bottom of the wheel was ‘wallowing’, the term used for a condition when the wheel was being slowed down because water was backing up below the wheel and in effect putting a brake on it. The second reason was that as machinery became more sophisticated it became important for it to be turned at a uniform speed. It is impossible to control the speed of a water wheel within fine limits but even the early steam engines were more accurately controlled by their governors. It was soon realised that if the water wheel was used to full capacity and the engine used to supply the deficit, the steam engine became the governor of the speed of the shafting and being more accurate and easily controlled this improved both the quantity and quality of production. Our Barlickers were learning quickly!
The next major development concerns the Bracewell family. Originally head of a large Barlick family based at Coates, William Bracewell the elder was an early entrant into cotton manufacturing and started a small water mill at Coates sometime around 1790. He embraced steam technology as soon as it became economic and available. It was the Coates family which produced the Earby branch who rapidly became the biggest manufacturers in that town and also installed a steam engine in an existing water powered mill as soon as the technology became available. The Coates Bracewells developed into the Bracewell Brothers, William, Thomas and Christopher who took over the family interest at Coates Mill. Their cousin William (Billycock) Bracewell, son of Christopher from Earby was evidently an independent soul and decided to branch out on his own in Barlick in competition against his cousins. It can be very confusing if I keep talking about different William Bracewells, indeed, in my early researches I became very confused myself so from now on I shall refer to either the Bracewell Brothers or Billycock. The important thing to remember is that though cousins they were competitors. The by-name ‘Billycock’ seems to have become common by about 1840 and probably refers to the bowler hat he wore.
Billycock was very active and soon progressed beyond a simple putting-out business run from a shop near the Seven Stars in Church Street to building an entirely new mill at Butts in 1845 at the age of 32. This was the first purpose-built steam driven mill in the town and contained preparation, spinning and weaving machinery under one roof. It was the first integrated cotton factory employing nothing but wage labour in Barlick. After years of studying Billycock I think I am qualified to be fairly sure about the motives for his behaviour. Only two things mattered to Billycock, success and control. His definition of success was to become more powerful than any other manufacturer in the town including his cousins and he succeeded by seeing them go out of business. The only instance in which he failed in this goal was that he never got the upper hand of Mitchell or his successors at Clough, the Slaters. His need for control is seen in everything he did from building Butts where he could lock his workers inside and dictate hours and conditions of work to his will in which he tried to exert the same level of control from beyond the grave.
The Bracewell Brothers installed a steam engine before 1830 and, though there is no direct evidence, I suspect they began power-loom weaving at the same time. I have evidence via Billy Brooks of his father weaving there before 1860. On the face of it they were running the same course as Billycock but with a head start. Unfortunately for them they came up against one of the basic rules of competition in a period of rapid technological change, the later entrant has the advantage of starting with the most modern and efficient technology in both buildings and machinery. The early entrant is handicapped by having capital invested in obsolete assets and the capital cost of improvement can be very hard to justify when, on the face of it, all is going well. Economists call this inertia, it is very hard to scrap perfectly serviceable assets returning an adequate profit in order to spend money on new technology.
Billycock had no problems with inertia, he was hooked on momentum. I often think of him as some sort of Action Man in the early years, his appetite for expansion was impressive. In 1853 he opened his second mill which was bigger and more modern than Butts. He called it New Mill but the name soon changed to Wellhouse Mill. He was now by far the largest employer in the town and built Wellhouse Square and other properties as accommodation for his workers. At the same time he was buying land and housing all over Barlick, he owned the largest milk round, supplied gas to the town from the plant he built to light Wellhouse and was buying water rights up wherever he could. By the time he finished Wellhouse he controlled the Corn Mill, eventually buying it. Outside the town he had an engineering works and iron foundry in Burnley and even purchased a coal field at Ingleton with a brickworks. I often think that if there had been cotton fields in Barlick he would have bought them as well. Everything he did was in pursuit of total control of his main business, manufacturing cotton and if possible, control of Barlick. In 1870 he was the chairman and main investor in building the branch railway line from Barlick to the Colne Skipton line at Earby. All this in just over thirty years.
After 1860 the American Civil War interrupted the main source of cotton for the new industry of the north west. The Cotton Famine was to have serious repercussions all over the region. I shall concentrate on just one aspect of it, its effect on the Bracewell Brothers at Coates Mill. The mill lay on Butts Beck below Barnoldswick Corn Mill. In the late 1850s it had a steam engine but still used power from the water wheel driven. The water coming down the beck was supplemented by water from a large drain called the Bowker Drain which brought water down the valley from near Salterforth and discharged into the reservoir which ran the wheel. Remember that Billycock had got control of the Corn Mill in the 1850s. The first thing he did was to vastly enlarge the reservoir supplying the Corn Mill and at the same time laid a 6” bore cast iron pipe down to the site of his New Mill. In a separate matter, although I can’t cite the actual case, Billycock gained control of the water carried by the Bowker drain. Taking these matters together, he now controlled the essential water supply to Coates Mill.
I have no direct evidence for what I’m about to say but have enough clues to be fairly certain this was what happened. Billycock managed the flow of the Butts Beck in such a way as to disadvantage his cousins at Coates Mill. He even went to the trouble of piping the excess water from the Bowker Drain that he couldn’t make use of at Wellhouse directly into Butts Beck at a level too low to be of any use to his cousins. This, plus the fact that the Coates was obsolescent, possibly not well-managed and suffering from the effects of the Cotton Famine, drove the Bracewell Brothers out of business in 1860. A man called James Nuttall bought the mill intending to restart it but Bracewell again went to court over the water rights and we have to assume that Nuttall lost because Coates never ran again and became derelict, finally being demolished in 1892. Nuttall built a new steam driven Coates mill in 1861 and not surprisingly it used the canal as a water supply for its needs. Once bitten…
In 1885 Billycock died and his business affairs unravelled. I had always wondered where he got the capital from for his empire and the research revealed all. In the beginning he had been working on his own capital, no doubt from his father Christopher in Earby. He expanded by borrowing from the Craven Bank who were no doubt more than willing to support such a successful young man. He eventually fell into the same trap that bankrupted both his cousins in Earby and the brothers at Old Coates. The structure of the trade altered and combined mills doing their own preparation and spinning as well as weaving became disadvantaged because improvement in technology had concentrated spinning in south west Lancashire. The future of Barlick lay in sheds specialising in weaving only, in other words concentrating on what they knew best. Neither Billycock or his relatives in Earby saw this coming and continued as they always had done, inertia held them back from modernising their operations. The old style combined mills became increasingly unprofitable and on Billycock’s death in 1885 the bank seized his assets and had a fire sale. It transpired that Billycock had never even lived in a house he owned and what little personal estate he had was swallowed up in a court case with his deceased son’s wife who had a stranglehold on the firm because of a badly drawn up agreement which though based on an inflated assessment of the value of the enterprise held firm in the courts and swallowed all his remaining assets. The ironic thing is that his will in which attempted to control the family from beyond the grave had no effect because there was no money to use to this end.
In his day Billycock was the most feared and respected man in Barlick. In death it became clear that whatever his virtues, he had lived all his life in debt to the banks. The collapse of his empire and the subsequent death at an early age of his surviving son Christopher ended the Bracewell hegemony in the town. All his enterprises closed or were sold, the mines at Ingleton drowned out, never to recover, and a contemporary newspaper report said that grass was growing in the streets of the town. Much of Barlick was in deep trouble.

Ordure is in the news. [Middle English, from Old French, from ord, filthy, from Latin horridus, frightful, from horrēre, to shudder.] I saw a report that a church magazine in a rural area had taken horse riders to task because they were not cleaning up after their horses. On the same day there was a report that track side workers on the railway are complaining about being sprayed with the overflowing contents of the toilet tanks on railway trains as the trains negotiate bends at speed.
I’ve had a life-long connection with excreta of various types and these two items got me to thinking… In my youth there were still traders in the streets using horse drawn transport. The Stockport Co-operative Society and the railways were still using horse transport and there were numerous rag and bone men touring the streets on two wheeled carts shouting for recycleable materials and swapping donkey stones or paper windmills for anything collected. Milk was still delivered straight from local farms with a horse and float or trap. Horse muck in the street was common but the difference is that in those days, particularly in residential areas, it was regarded as a bonus. My mother used to send me out with the fire shovel to collect the benison and apply it to the garden as free manure!
Anyone travelling on the trains 50 years ago would be familiar with the small notice in the toilet that warned against using the equipment while the train was stopped in the station. The reason for this was that anything deposited in the pan dropped directly onto the track when it was flushed. Not the nicest thing for waiting passengers to have to contemplate while stood on the platform. At high speed the contents hit the track and exploded so the underside of the carriage and the track was sprayed with faeces and water. In rural areas, during summer grazing, any piece of road used by milking herds moving from the steading to the meadows was liberally covered with cow muck and this applies today in some places around Barlick. We lived with this state of affairs with a certain amount of resignation but also with an understanding that this is real life, you can’t fit cows and horses with nappies and the muck was a concomitant of transport and the dairy industry.
So what has changed? Why are we, as a society, more concerned with public faeces now than we were 50 years ago? There used to be a saying, ‘We all eat a peck of dirt before we die’ and the use of the archaic measure of a peck [roughly two imperial gallons] betrays not only the age of the saying but that even then there was an aversion to ‘dirt’ and the need to cushion exposure by an explanation. Like all properly kept animals, humans did not foul their beds or living quarters if it could be avoided. It seems that there could be a pressure within society to achieve as high a level of hygiene as is possible within the limits imposed by real life and in this day and age, technology. In the mid 19th century the huge outbreaks of cholera triggered the realisation that disease was not caused by ‘humours’ or ‘miasma’ but by microbes and bacteria. The huge revolution in sewage disposal, provision of clean water and general levels of public hygiene took effect. It became possible to reach and maintain high levels of cleanliness in most areas of life and the technology was seized on and used. Washing soda, bleach, soap and eventually detergents enabled higher and higher standards. The paradox is that there are some authorities who warn that we are becoming too clean because as we push down the levels of bacterial exposure we reduce the efficiency of our immune systems, particularly in children. The results are seen in rising levels of allergies, ear and chest complaints and food-poisoning. I always remember the experience we had at West Marton Dairies when we first started making cheese. Colin Barritt, who was in charge of the production of the starter culture essential to making cheese was so successful in his attempts to keep the process sterile that it affected the efficiency of the bacteria. He had to introduce a controlled amount of contamination to the environment in order to keep the starter culture viable. There may be a lesson here for the human race.
So it seems that the change is that as a society we demand higher levels of cleanliness for the simple reason that it is possible. The question is whether there is an optimum level and it seems to me that when we get to the point where we expect a mounted policeman in the middle of a riot to clean up after his horse we are getting slightly too precious. Another thing that strikes me is that a common factor seems to be the fact that the animal or process is instantly identifiable and so can be made a target. How often do we hear the same level of public protest against discharge of raw sewage into rivers and coastal environments during storm conditions when the purification plants are overloaded?
There is another factor at work here, the contentious subject of newcomers to the countryside bringing town standards with them and objecting to age-old practices. They have not been reared in an environment where faeces, cocks crowing and unbridled sex in the open air is part of life. [I was once taken to task for allowing a boar to brim a sow in a field next to the road at Hey Farm… ] The sad truth is that an enormous proportion of society has no connection or understanding of the processes of food production. The ‘nasty’ bits are OK with them as long as they go on out of sight and out of mind. As soon as they impinge on their lives they have to protest.
Let’s have a bit of common sense. A bit of horse muck on a road never hurt anyone. The track side workers are probably at more risk from the weedkiller sprayed on the tracks by the rail companies than by E-coli infections from a bit of spillage from the train toilets. Some gentle education wouldn’t be out of place. People who keep and use animals have enough problems without having to accede to the demands of an over-fastidious public. Get the shovel out and put it on the roses if it bothers you, it will do them the world of good.

Before we push on into the textile industry let’s have a snapshot of the town in 1855. We can see that there have been significant changes. Apart from the new mills at Butts, Wellhouse and Coates and the enlargement of the dam at the Corn Mill, new housing is being built on the road leading from the town centre down to Wellhouse Mill. There is a new row of cottages at Townhead built by the Barnoldswick Friendly Society in 1928. Notice that it has nothing to do with the Quakers, this was a mistake made by a previous occupant. The town centre has changed completely, it has definitely moved nearer to the present Church Street. The village green which used to be on the north side of the road was gone by 1816 and has been replaced by the Commercial Inn and a row of cottages. The funds realised from the sale of the green by the parish have been used to build the Town Bridge, a structure which very few would be able to identify today. It is at the bottom of Lamb Hill where it becomes Wapping and replaces the ford where Gillians beck used to cross the road. The road here has been raised considerably and almost all the houses reflect the new level as they were built after 1816. However there is a clue, the level of the yard outside the first building on the left going down Lamb Hill is below present ground level. This used to be the level of the road which descended even further to the ford where there was a footbridge for pedestrians. The new bridge is more correctly a culvert which runs under the Clough Mill site and re-emerges across the other side of Wapping at the back of Hudson’s Yard and at the side of what is now the Pigeon Club in Butts. There are new builds at Gillians where houses and a spinning shop have been added to the mill. I suspect that Castle View next to the Greyhound Hotel on Barnoldswick Lane was built at about this time together with some cottages on the other side of Barnoldswick Lane on the corner of Blue Pot Lane, now Park Avenue. All over Barlick you will find odd rows of cottages springing up to provide accommodation for the increased number of workers. The population of Barlick has risen to about 2000 souls. There is still no public water supply, sewage disposal or power supply. The roads are slowly improving in that they are metalled with stone knapped in by hand but it is still the old medieval road system. There is more activity and a smell of coal smoke in the air from house chimneys and the mills.
The increasing activity in the mills and the advent of steam power means that there is much more wheeled transport. It was the wear and tear on the existing roads that forced the Vestry (the Town Council of the day) to pay more attention to the roads. Coal came into the town at Coates Wharf and Salterforth Wharf on the canal. A new profession rose, the coal merchants, these were men who bought coal by the boatload from the pits in Burnley and Yorkshire, unloaded it at the wharfs and transferred it into two wheel tipping carts for delivery to the mills or bagged it for household delivery. Small outhouses next to cottages became essential as the ‘coal hole’. The carts distributing the coal were operated by individuals or budding haulage contractors. They also carried cotton from Coates Wharf to the mills. Canal transport was the main route into the town for all bulk raw materials and machinery and general goods as well. In effect, anything beyond the weight of a small parcel. This small package trade was catered for by common carriers operating wheeled wagons to Colne and Skipton, they would carry passengers as well. Emma Clark told me that as late as the 1930s these carriers brought bulk household grocery orders in from provision merchants in Skipton. The wealthy travelled on horseback or in private carriages. This increase in transport resulted in another population rise, that of horses. These horses were stabled in the town and needed feeding so people like the Corn Mill and local farmers provided grain, hay and straw for them. Horse muck from the stables was either carted out to farmer’s fields or used in the market gardens like the one next to the stables in Butts where Briggs and Duxbury’s yard is now. Harold Duxbury told me that he bought the garden and greenhouses from Sam Yates who ran it as a garden supplying his greengrocer’s shop at 3 Church Street next to Harry Tinner’s, the Colne building society was there in 1982. The 1823 directory lists two gardeners in Barlick, Henry Townson and Christopher Edmondson.
2,000 people working full time needed feeding and we see the rise of small retail shops providing life’s necessities. Grocers, drapers, bakers, butchers, cloggers, cobblers, ironmongers and specialised trades like tinsmiths. We often forget that before the days of plastic the local tinsmith was a vital member of the community supplying everything from sheet metal work for the mills to buckets, baths and lading tins for the general population. The most prominent tinsmith in the town was Harry ‘Tinner’ Hargreaves who had a shop at 5 Church Street in 1887. The building work in the town spawned builders, plasterers, roofers and carpenters, very often combining together as building contractors who could supply all trades. Because they made the coffins these firms assumed the role of undertakers and funeral directors. The retail trades looked after you from the cradle to the grave. These shops and small firms were very profitable and as the town grew, many of the proprietors became wealthy enough to become investors in the new mills and in some cases manufacturers on their own account.
There was an innovation in food supplies. We see the first ‘fast food’ on sale. Fish and chips didn’t arrive until after 1870 when railway had reached the town assuring regular supplies of fresh fish but the workers needed ready-cooked food they could buy at dinnertime and on their way home from work. Pie and peas, torpedoes (a sort of pasty), potato pie and soup could all be bought from shops in the town centre. Remember me talking about the improvements in home baking that came with the adoption of ovens in houses? Prior to that baking had been done on a simple stone slab heated by the fire called ‘backstones’. Backstone baking became popular again but this time commercially with a smooth cast-iron plate over the fire like a big griddle. Oat cakes, crumpets, potato cakes and a thick pancake were made in large quantities and had a ready sale. These backstone bakeries often developed into full blown bakers and confectioners in later years like Hacking’s Bakery but some survived as simple backstone bakers. The last backstone baker in the town was ‘Stanley’s Crumpets’ behind the first houses on Wellhouse Road and backing onto the old railway sidings. They were making oatcakes and crumpets on a backstone until the late 1970s.
The first small scale schools were established, some of them informal Dame Schools, some private tutors and some semi-official establishments providing public schooling. There was a private school at the Hague between Kelbrook and Foulridge. The great advances in public education like the 1870 Forster Act Board Schools came later in the century. Mill owners like Billycock financed education for the simple reason that they needed literate and numerate workers for their enterprises to flourish. He financed the building of what became known as the ‘Brick School’ on Fountain Street in 1874. This was actually the Barnoldswick and Coates Unity School and scholars were transferred there from the old National School in Butts in 1876. Later the Brick School was boys only, the girls were transferred to the new Wesleyan School on Rainhall Road. When Billycock died in 1885 the school closed and became the Liberal Club, Later it was used as a builders yard. The Rover Company may have used it as a social club during the war years but in 1950 George Ashby bought it to use as a social club for his foundry workers at Ouzledale, it later became an independent club but still used the name Ouzledale Social Club. When membership declined it was closed and sold in 2001 for £85,000 and reverted to its original function as a nursery school. The chapels and churches started running Sunday Schools which also provided a low level of instruction in reading.
The professional class became more prominent, the doctors, solicitors, teachers, share brokers and bankers. We need to look at bankers and associated matters before we go any further. Private savings, investment and credit are about to become very important in our story. In its most basic form, credit is another word for cooperation. If an Iron Age farmer had a bad year and borrowed a bushel of seed corn from a neighbour who was lucky or wealthy enough to have a surplus, that was cooperation. It also meant that the borrower was in debt to the neighbour and as a reward for him taking the risk agreed to return two or three bushels after the next harvest. This was what made the transaction attractive to the lender and such a reward came to be known as interest. Throughout history this cooperation with the incentive of reward or profit has been essential, it was the oil which lubricated progress. Many great fortunes have been founded on the intelligent use of credit.
Let’s go back to 1855. How had credit and financial management in the West Craven area progressed since the Iron Age farmers? The answer is not a lot. We have documentary evidence in the Barcroft Papers of the 17th century of how the clothiers financed their wool purchases by means of loans from wealthy men and these loans were guaranteed by a banking system largely based in London which issued ‘letters of credit’ at a fixed rate of interest which could be redeemed by the holder at any time. There is also a suggestion that these wealthy men held funds for private individuals in strong rooms at their homes. The alternative was hiding it under the bed. These were the precursors of the banks and the letters of credit later developed into banknotes. There were no local banks at that time. At a lower level domestic credit to tide a family over hard times came from a variety of sources, short term loans from family and friends, credit given by local retailers was important. Many older people will remember the famous ‘shop book’ which was still in use in the 1950s when I was a grocer in Sough. Trusted customers had monthly accounts which were a form of credit. There was no interest charge beyond the normal profit made on the goods sold. There was no other safety net apart from Parish charity or the workhouse. If a family ran out of sources of credit they were thrown on to the not so tender mercies of local charity. Conversely, if a family had surplus money there was nowhere for them to put it for safety.
In 1791 a group of Quakers in Skipton banded together and formed the first local bank in the area, Birkbeck’s, Alcock and Company trading as the Craven Bank. The Skipton bank was used by the business community in West Craven. The bank opened its first branch in Barlick in 1876 in Mr Dean’s front parlour, it moved from there to the shop next door. In 1891 they were at the corner of Church Street and then in Station Road. In 1910 they moved into purpose built premises in Newtown and are still there incorporated in HSBC. I have evidence of William Bracewell using their services in the early part of the century and John Slater borrowing the money to buy Mitchell’s Mill in the 1860s. By the late 1880s the Craven Bank was financing the new shed companies, the Long Ing Shed Company and the Calf Hall Shed Company were both customers. So we can be sure that during the 19th century credit from the local bank was an important element in the development of industry in the area.
The banks needed deposits to provide the funds that they lent out to borrowers at interest. The main funders were wealthy land owners in Yorkshire who wanted an income from their capital and so lent it to the bank at interest. Theoretically this service was also available to small savers like workers but in practice it took a long time for the banks to gear their operations to handling small sums and they were not attractive. Remember that this was a new concept for the workers and it would take a long time for them to learn that the banks were trustworthy and a safe place for their savings. They found a different route to safeguarding their money and gaining a small profit. We shall find out what this was very soon.

It was Thursday the 2nd of May 2005 when Jack and I walked through Rainhall Road car park in the morning rain. I reflected on the fact that later in the day it would be full of the stallholder’s vans who will be running the French Market in Town Square that weekend. Being a historian and also aware of current affairs I considered the contrast between the French Market as a symbol of co-operation in Europe and the proposed Constitutional Treaty as a blunt instrument forged by Brussels to tell us what was good for us and the reaction it is provoking. It’s my opinion that any closer union founded on trade and enterprise is more likely to be successful than one forced on us by legislation.
Of course these are not new ideas, nor do they apply only to European enterprises. By a happy coincidence, the French Market was taking place on Town Square which was originally the site of the headquarters of the Barnoldswick Industrial Co-operative Society. If we go for a bit of a wander through the roots of the co-operative principle we might find that there are some common threads between what was happening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe, the effects this had on thought in Britain and how, in the end, it translated to Barnoldswick and became an important factor in the town’s history.
I immediately run into a problem because when I look for the earliest stirrings of self-help and independent thought I think of the Black Death, the Peasant’s Revolt and the collapse of Feudalism. I have to remind myself that I am writing for my neighbours in Barlick and not providing a synthesis of the history of thought in Europe. However, as I have been heard to say before, given the choice, I will always assume that my readers have enough curiosity and intelligence to be able to recognise the value of understanding what the forces were that shaped our town, they were not always local, single-cause or modern.
The major factor which controlled the social structure of England until the mid 14th century was deference to the local lord. This carried with it responsibilities of service and in return the lord lent his vassals just enough land to enable them to survive by peasant farming and pay whatever taxes and rents were demanded of them. The system was based on managing the labour supply by encouraging the villeins enough to breed but allowing them to be kept in check by regular episodes of famine and disease. In this respect the Black Death was a step too far because it cut the working population by half and put power and the possibility of independence into the hands of the workers because without them society couldn’t function.
This transformation didn’t happen overnight but spawned wage labour, the small entrepreneurs who started the Domestic Textile industry, individual land ownership and eventually, with the advent of technology led by the increasing demands of the evolution of industry and the factory system, produced more egalitarian ways of managing society, including modern political systems.
We need to look at a Welshman called Robert Owen born in 1771 in Newtown. By 1790 he had worked his way up to become manager of Robert Dale’s cotton factory in Manchester where he was the first man to use American Sea-Island cotton as opposed to Indian fibre. He was regarded as one of the most competent and enterprising men in the industry. He was also a thinker, he had seen the revolution in France, read the latest political philosophy and realised that if the new factory system was to develop its full potential there had to be a massive shift in the social status and physical well-being of the workers. They could not be regarded simply as factory-fodder, they had to be given a stake in the future.
In 1794 he moved to New Lanark in Ayrshire and with partners took over a large mill formerly owned by David Dale, whose daughter he married. He ran the mill on principles of democracy, fair wages and the best living conditions that could be supplied. By 1825 the New Lanark system had failed because Owen was a man seen to be moving too fast by the Establishment who recognised the genesis of a political movement when they saw one. For the last 25 years of his life until he died in 1858, Owen lectured and wrote on his belief that that individual character is moulded by environment and can be improved in a society based upon cooperation and that what was needed was transformation of the lot of the working class. By then his ideas had taken root in all sorts of strange places.
There were numerous attempts to put the principle of co-operation into practice but none of them succeeded. In 1844 28 working men gathered together to set up the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society and opened a shop on Toad Lane in Rochdale. They sold basic items such as flour, butter, tea and candles, but it was how they ran the business that made them different. Their concern was firstly to make sure that as far as possible they sold only unadulterated food of the highest quality and secondly to act as a true democracy in which every customer was a member of the society and shared in the profits. The enterprise prospered beyond their wildest dreams and was copied all over Britain.
In 1854 the principles of the Co-operative movement had reached Barnoldswick. Atkinson, in his history ‘Old Barlick’ says that about 24 members started the Barnoldswick Society in a rented cottage in Newtown, later Yvonne’s Lingerie shop. They graduated through three other shops and in 1870 built their own store at the bottom of Manchester Road which is now the Strategy Bar. It was an idea whose time had come and became a strong social influence in the town. We need to look at how it prospered into the 20th century and how the principle evolved beyond retailing into banking, savings and even into the running of weaving sheds.
The Co-operative movement was an idea that arrived bang on time. Because people’s time and ability to travel was minimal, most shopped either in the town centre or at the numerous corner shops that had sprung up all over the town as it grew. In those days in the second half of the 19th century there was no such thing as the Welfare State. If you hadn’t got a large family to support you or a nice little nest egg put by, old age meant extreme poverty at best and Parish Relief or the workhouse at worst. The more provident among the population saved hard, bought their own house and perhaps another one to rent so they had some capital and income when they could no longer work. Some built whole rows of houses. You can usually tell these because one house is bigger and of better quality than the others, this was the landlord’s house. Many built a shop onto their property. This was employment for the wife and younger children and a useful provider of income if let out to a shopkeeper. I’ve never tried to count the number of corner shops in Barlick but I’d be surprised if there were less than fifty. Not all these shops were run well. Small stocks and low sales meant stale goods. The search for profit and lack of competition meant high prices and low quality. In many cases there was active adulteration of food to improve its looks or make it go further. There is little doubt that between 1800 and 1850 food adulteration was practiced on a large scale.
We know much about this because of a book published in 1820 called ‘A Treatise on the Adulteration of food and Culinary Poisons’ By a German called Accum. This book was so popular it sold out in a month and went through four editions in two years. On the cover was a quotation from 2 Kings, Chapter 4, verse 40; ‘There is DEATH in the pot’. In the book he described the use of poisons by the London brewers in the manufacture of their beer, the collecting and drying of Blackthorn leaves to adulterate tea, Gloucestershire cheese coloured with red lead, cream thickened with flour, pastries coloured with highly poisonous compounds of copper and lead and many other practices. The one that really disgusted me was the addition of crushed snails to fresh milk to make it froth when poured into the jug, this frothing was seen as a sign of freshness. These revelations provoked such animosity towards Accum that eventually he returned to Germany, a bitter and disillusioned man.
Edward Smith’s records published in the Journal of the Society of Arts in 1864 of the diet of Lancashire mill workers showed that they lived largely on bread, oatmeal, bacon, some butter, black treacle and tea and coffee. By 1880 jams had made their appearance but were made of the cheapest fruit and vegetable pulp, the only thing that made them palatable was the sugar. There was one good augury for the future, on February 2nd 1880 the SS Strathleven arrived in London with 40 tons of Australian beef and mutton refrigerated in her hold and this was the start of the frozen meat trade.
Notwithstanding all these faults in the trade, the workers had to eat and food retailing was a very profitable business. It’s instructive to note that much of the start-up capital of the shed companies and individual manufacturers can be traced back to the retail trades. The workers were paying high prices for bad food and this was what the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844 realised and capitalised on. By 1854 the 28 original members in the cottage on Newtown had jumped on the bandwagon.
Cooperation in Barlick took hold quickly. Any retailer who promised the best quality at reasonable prices was going to do well but it was the concept of mutual ownership that clinched the matter. All the profits of the business were re-distributed to the members on a very simple basis, every time you made a purchase you gave your Co-op number, this was noted in the accounts and twice a year a dividend was paid on the basis of so much for every pound you had spent. In ‘A Way of Life Gone By’ it is noted that in 1907 the Barlick divi was 3/7 in the pound and 3/2 the next year. The current dividend card at the Pioneer superstore pays one new penny in the pound, the equivalent in 1907 was over 18 times as much. Many people used their Divi money to finance the annual holiday.
Not everyone shopped at the Co-op, many felt more comfortable in their old ways with a shop book and buying on credit from someone they knew personally but even so the Co-operative enterprise grew. Apart from the early premises there was the Central branch on Manchester Road, No. 1 branch on Co-operative Street, No. 2 branch on Mosley Street. No 3. on the corner of Gisburn Road and Skipton Road. No. 4 on Gisburn Road on the corner of Fernbank Avenue. No. 5 opposite Bankfield Shed and in 1907 the magnificent headquarters on Albert Road was built and extended in 1923/24.
In 1989 I got word that the interior of the Albert Road building was being stripped prior to demolition of the building. The shop was still trading but about to move to the old station site. I blagged my way in and did some pictures, one of them was of a commemorative plaque in the offices which recorded the opening of the completed building on Saturday April 12th 1924. It noted that the first phase was opened in 1907. The president of the society was Thomas Uttley, vice president Walter Farrar, committee members William Baxter, Daniel Brennand, Arthur Eastwood, John Fielden, George Hartley, Eli Holt, William Parker, Albert Smith, C. Stockdale and James Turner. The original architect was G. Bowker of Colne and at completion A. Hartley of Skipton. At this point the Society was at the height of its powers with almost 2000 members and was very influential in the town.
By the beginning of the twentieth century the Co-op could supply all your needs from the cradle to the grave. As well as groceries they sold haberdashery, clothes, furniture and even funerals. They were agents for the Co-operative Bank and would accept savings or give loans. Many a family event such as a holiday, wedding or funeral was paid for through the Co-op. The Co-operative Insurance Society is, even today, one of the largest insurance companies in the UK.
I’m not sure when the first branch on Co-operative Street was built but in 1900 a large extension containing the Co-operative Hall was added onto the end nearest the railway. This was used for weekly dances and private functions until it finally fell into disuse, it was a squash club for a while run by Billy Grace and finally housed the Mayfair School of Dancing. At the time of writing in 2008 it is being re-developed as flats. In an article in the Craven Herald of 5th of February 1932 there was a report of a meeting of the Barnoldswick Co-operative Society management committee which agreed, by 35 votes to 18 to allow the Public Assistance Committee to use it as a centre for administration of the Means Test. What fascinates me about this is that there were at least 53 members of that committee plus the chairman. You’d have a job getting that number onto a committee today.
Emma Clark told me that up until 1900 there was a public room in the old Co-op headquarters at the bottom of Manchester Road as well as the grocery shop, a greengrocer’s and a clogger’s shop. In 1907 her family moved into a house in the newly built Ribblesdale Terrace on Gisburn Road below Damhead. She said that these houses were built by the Co-op. They also built half of Denton Street and Ings Avenue, known at the time as the ‘Co-op Villas’. Again, I’m not sure of the date of the build but the recently demolished Accrington brick buildings on West Close Road where Garlick’s had their repair shop was built by the Co-op as stables and a slaughterhouse. The Co-op were also one of the biggest coal merchants in the town based on the coal yard at the station. Until recently I wasn’t sure where the bakery was but the alterations in the Co-operative Street building revealed large ovens in a white tiled room.
The Barnoldswick Industrial Cooperative Society was an independent organisation and this applied to the other 1,464 small towns which had independent societies. All these were affiliated to the Co-operative Wholesale Society which had its headquarters in Balloon Street Manchester. They ran large enterprises such as farms, milk processing plants and factories making everything from biscuits and soap to shoes and clothing. By 1950 it became obvious that the fragmented organisation that was the old Co-op was losing ground. Many small societies amalgamated and the organisation went through a series of reorganisations which culminated in 2000 with the original CWS buying out the breakaway Co-operative Retail Society and re-entering the retail market as a fully fledged supermarket chain which today has an annual turnover in excess of £40millions. They re-introduced a form of dividend and individual membership and entered the 21st century as a major player in British retailing.
Meanwhile, the principle of co-operation had spread into many other areas of life in politics, industry and society as a whole. This happened not only in Britain but all over the world. In the ‘Hungry Thirties’ when manufacturers were falling like flies due to the depression of trade cooperation had a new lease of life in the rise of the ‘self-help’ sheds. When R W Nutter failed in Earby in 1932 Sough Bridge Mill restarted under the title Nutters (Kelbrook) Ltd as a cooperative enterprise financed by the weavers themselves. Fred Inman described how when the Nutter interests collapsed at Grove, part of Albion and at Sough Bridge, the weavers paid £2 a loom and restarted as self-help. Percy Lowe, who had trained at Nutters at Grove Shed was the leading light and eventually he became manager for Johnsons who took over some of the self help interests and concentrated in The Big Mill.
In 1935 Sough Bridge reconstituted itself as a new company; ‘Kelbrook Mill Company Limited’ later changed to ‘’Kelbrook Bridge Manufacturing Company’ and functioned as a co-operative shed until the beginning of WW2. There were self-help sheds all over East Lancashire. Victor Hedges of Proctor and Proctor the Burnley accountants told me there were many of them, he said that in some mills there were even individual tenants who were self-help. One such group ran in Whitefield Mill in Nelson. In his opinion it was a good idea and usually they were very well managed.
Even today, wherever there is a small business vital to a community which is failing, new co-operatives are being formed, often with advice from CWS HQ. Everything from grocer’s shops and filling stations to amalgamations of farmers who are uniting to give themselves more bargaining power. ‘In Unity there is Strength’ has always been a good motto and nowhere was it more successful than in the movement founded in 1844 in Rochdale. Perhaps in these days of global giants dominating trade world-wide it would be as well to remember the principle and use it to good effect to maintain local independence.
Co-operation was a good principle and served Barnoldswick well. It was a major influence on the town for over 100 years and to go back to my original theme, I thought of this when I went to the French Market on Friday and spent £15 on good cheese and mustard. The core idea behind what we used to call ‘The Common Market’ is really not much different than the old Co-op principle. I have a funny feeling that the 1854 pioneers in Barlick, whilst regretting the fact that their magnificent headquarters have been demolished, would like the idea of a wider European co-operation as evidenced by the French Market. What a pity the politicians can’t keep it that simple, perhaps we would find it easier to make up our minds about an enlarged European Community.
One last thought for you. The late Ken Wilson’s book ‘My Days are Swifter than a Weaver’s Shuttle’, is based on the diary of Richard Ryley for 1862, a period of great change in Barlick, prosperity for some, but short time for others. Richard was a cotton weaver working for William Bracewell (Billycock) most likely at Butts Mill which was built in 1845. The entry for January 1st 1862 illustrates the great difference between then and now; he writes; ‘At work all day. In the evening attended the Co-operative Director’s meeting’. Only twelve words but if I’m not careful I could construct a whole chapter out of them! Get hold of the diary and read it. You will get a very clear and immediate picture of an honest, intelligent man struggling to survive in a harsh environment. Even so, his ideals drove him to invest valuable time in helping to introduce the new principle of co-operation into Barlick. We shall see these ideals again later on when we look at the Hungry Thirties.

We left Barlick in a bit of a mess in 1887. The Bracewell interests are in ruins and are being sold by the bank to recoup their losses. Butts Mill and Wellhouse Mill are still running at reduced capacity but this soon declined and many people were thrown out of work. This was a local difficulty, nearby towns in Lancashire were booming and because most of the Barlick workers were in rented accommodation it was easy for them to move to a new job in another town. Remember that by 1870 we had the railway in the town, transport was not a problem. Every textile town had a surplus of houses to rent, it was relatively easy for the head of the house to travel to say Burnley, find a job and rent a house within a day. He would send for his family who would pack up their belongings and using either a local carrier or the railway would flit to the new home. This is why Barlick lost so many people so quickly once the work dried up. Sometimes this was the famous ‘Moonlight Flit’ where a family moved out in the dead of night and left their debts behind them.
The mill workers weren’t the only people affected by the downturn, the professional classes saw their income falling, shop owners and proprietors of service providers relied on customers spending money earned in the mills. Even the churches and chapels were affected because they were losing their congregations. There was much private conversation and discussion of the situation and eventually a plan of action emerged. Bear with me here, we need to look at a piece of evidence in order to understand what was happening and its significance.
The distressed state of the hand loom weavers in Marsden whose suffering case has repeatedly been before the public during the last 12 months and who, from the depressed rate of wages are still unable to obtain a livelihood even when fully employed, and are therefore obliged to eke out their scanty pittance at the Vestry board; has at length induced the Inhabitants and Owners of Property to project the formation of a Company for the above purpose, with a view of providing more profitable employment and thereby relieving the existing pressure, which is felt in degree by every class of Society. Already the Weavers are emigrating to more favoured districts, and whilst Trade has been diminishing Parochial assessments have greatly increased: Tradesmen and others, whose means of subsistence depend on the labouring population are more or less injured in their circumstance and unless means are devised for checking the evil, a general depreciation of Property must ensue. It is therefore proposed to raise a fund in shares of £50 each for the erection of two or more Mills with Steam Engines of 30 Horses’ Power each, and other necessary appendages which shall he let to respectable Tenants who will provide their own Machinery: And it is Confidently anticipated that such a Rent will be Obtained as will amply repay the Proprietors for the Outlay.

The advantages which this Locality presents for the erection of mills and other manufactories are obvious to those who are acquainted with the district; but for the information of Strangers it may be needful to Observe, that the Township of Little Marsden is inhabited by a dense population chiefly employed in hand Loom Weaving; the Leeds and Liverpool Canal thro’ the whole breadth of the Township, nearly parallel with and at a very short distance from a good Turnpike Road, forming a direct communication with Manchester. The Marsden Colliery which has long been celebrated for its abundant supply of excellent Coal is situate between the Canal and the Road. The Township and its immediate vicinity abounds with good stone of every kind for Building purposes, which may be obtained at a trifling Cost beyond the expense of Quarrying and the Rivulet which runs thro’ the Valley with its tributary Streams affords an ample supply of water for condensing purposes.
This will not be a trading, but strictly a Building Company, and no Shareholder will incur any liability beyond the amount of his Subscription. The Property of tile Company will be vested in Trustees for the use of the Proprietors and the Shares in the Undertaking will he transferable at the pleasure of the holder under the provisions of a Deed of Settlement. Upwards of £3,000 bas already been subscribed, and when a sufficient sum has been obtained for the erection of one mill, a meeting of Subscribers will be convened by Circular for the purpose of forming the Company and carrying its object into effect; in the mean time applications for shares may be made to Mr Henry Tunstill, Cotton Spinner, Brierfield House. William Landless at the Marsden Colliery. John Bolton, cotton manufacturer, New Bridge Mill. John Edmondson, corn miller, Bradley Mill or to Caleb Haworth, Conveyancer, Marsden near Colne from whom any further information may be obtained.
Marsden. 5mo. 1838
[Transcribed by Stanley Challenger Graham from a document provided by Geoff Shackleton. 24 October 2004]
This document is a bit of a gem and I am very grateful to Geoff Shackleton for letting me have it. My interest in the Room and Power system stems from its importance in the development of the textile industry in Barnoldswick and this is the earliest instance of the system I have come across in the area. ‘Room and Power’ describes the system where a group of investors erect a mill, install an engine and transmission shafts and let space off to individual entrepreneurs who install their own looms and preparation machinery and specialise in weaving cloth. This specialisation was important as they could concentrate on one job and maximise profit.
In the early days of the factory system individual mill owners would let space to small manufacturers, sometimes even families, who would perhaps start with a few looms and gradually expand. We see this as early as 1800 in the small water powered twist mills, it was almost a form of co-operation. By 1880 the system had come of age and the most usual unit was a block of 400 looms with one tape sizing machine, one warp preparation frame and a cloth plaiting machine. 3 such units powered by a 600hp steam engine was the classic ‘1,000 loom shop’ which was a very profitable unit for the investors, almost always called ‘the shed company’.
In 1720 the collapse of the South Sea Company resulted in the ‘Bubble Act’, whereby joint stock companies were effectively banned. In 1825 the Act was repealed allowing a company such as the one described in the prospectus to be formed. They describe themselves as a ‘joint stock company’ but note that this was not with limited liability. In the prospectus they explain that the liabilities of the investors were only the amount of their subscription. They could not be held responsible for trading losses as this was not the function of the company. It was purely an investment company providing a building and the returns would be the gross rents less expenses. This had another advantage for the investors which was that they were in the position of landlords over their tenants and English Law has always provided very strong powers for the protection of property. These powers came in very handy during the terrible trading conditions of the inter-war years when the shed companies realised that they had the power to sequestrate the tenant’s machinery and stock in trade should they default. This power had precedence over any other debt.
Another point to note is that one of the reasons put forward in favour of this investment is to provide profitable work for the weavers so that they will not have to apply to the ‘Vestry Board’. This was the Parish Vestry who at this time were responsible for Poor Law Relief. This was funded by the local Poor Rate and the higher the demands on the Vestry, the higher the Poor Rate. The people who paid this rate were the very same land and property owners being asked to invest in the new mill. The inference is that in addition to the profit from the actual investment there would be a knock-on effect in that the Poor Rate would fall. Note also that this development was in the village of Little Marsden which had the advantages of the canal, a turnpike road, a colliery and adequate condensing water supplies. What we are looking at here is the start of the development of modern Nelson which did not exist in 1838.
A comparison with Barnoldswick is instructive. We had all the advantages cited by the proposers of this company including working water twist mills. There is no reason to think that this sort of development wouldn’t have happened in Barnoldswick at the same time had it not been for the fact that at the time this proposal was being made Billycock Bracewell was active in the town and was to take a different route, private mill building. He stifled joint stock and room and power development for fifty years. The only exception to this was tenants in the early twist mills and Mitchell, at what became Clough Mill, allowed small tenants from the earliest days. It was only after Billycock’s death in 1885 and the collapse of the Bracewell interests that the barriers to development were broken down. In 1887 the Long Ing Shed Company was formed and in 1888 the Calf Hall Shed Company. Barnoldswick’s march to prosperity via room and power could begin. The town never reached the size of Nelson but in terms of concentration, looms per inhabitant, it surpassed it.
The worried men in Barlick knew all about this new system of financing and managing new mills, it was obvious to them that something had to be done and they decided that this was what the town needed. The result was the foundation of the Long Ing Shed Company in 1887 which built Long Ing Shed and let it out as Room and Power to local manufacturers. This was a start but more was needed. In 1888 there was a crisis meeting on Tuesday October 16th in the Old Baptist Chapel chaired by the Rev. E R Lewis. Those present were local retailers and businessmen who stood to lose most if the town failed to recover. The result was the formation of the Calf Hall Shed Company which within 12 months had built the new Calf Hall Shed from scratch and eventually bought and restarted Wellhouse Mill and Butts Mill. Existing and new manufacturers in the town took up this modern weaving capacity and laid the foundations of the later mill-building in the town with the profits they made as room and power tenants of the shed company.
The actions of 1887 and 1888 completely changed the town. The dead hand of the Bracewells had been thrown off and the introduction of the room and power system gave any capital holder access to manufacturing facilities as a tenant at a low threshold of investment and the profits were enormous. Billy Brooks once told me that the price of a loom in the late 19th century was about £5 and the profit on the first five pieces of cloth woven paid for it. Long Ing Shed Company never advanced beyond running one mill but the Calf Hall Company had three mills in Barlick, Calf Hall, Butts and Wellhouse and they rapidly expanded all of them to give more capacity, they bought Viaduct Shed in Colne as well. The shed companies were a good investment and local people lent money to them rather than put it in the bank. Local people also bought shares in the initial start-up and whenever they came up for sale afterwards. There was a social cachet in being part owner of the mill where you worked and almost all the capital required was raised in the town.
This was a boom time in the cotton industry and so much profit was made in the sheds that the tenants wanted more capacity. By 1900 the existing sheds had reached the limits of expansion and they were desperate. They were also annoyed that because of the wide distribution of small share holdings they couldn’t get control of the shed company and share in its success. The result was that they built their own mills. By 1914 there were thirteen mills in Barlick and Salterforth and one in process of building, Bancroft, but this was delayed by the war and eventually opened in 1920. Barlick was the biggest concentration of weaving in any town in England in terms of looms per head of population. At the peak there were almost 25,000 looms and a total population of 10,000. The success of the industry and the availability of work for the whole family dragged in workers from the surrounding districts, this was what depopulated Stock near Bracewell which in the 1851 census was a thriving hamlet with two shopkeepers, by 1900 it was deserted. Even with the rise in population there weren’t enough workers to man the looms. Tramp weavers flooded in every week and were accommodated in ‘Model Lodging Houses’ in Butts and inns like the Greyhound near the Hey. This is the reason why Briggs and Duxbury are in a building still known as the Model Joinery Works, it was a working men’s lodging house until 1931 when they took it over as it had become redundant with the decline of the mills.
This explosion in population generated a building boom. The quarries were working full-time hewing stone and transporting it downhill into Barlick. New streets were laid out and houses built, the town altered out of all recognition. Housing and mills weren’t the only things needed to support this expansion. There was the small matter of local government, water supply, roads, sewage works and gas. The old administration run by the Parish Vestry was swamped and something had to be done.
The first change in administration was that Barlick was taken under the wing of the Skipton Rural District Council, remember we were still in Yorkshire at the time. In 1890 the Barnoldswick Local Board was formed and this eventually became the Barnoldswick Urban District Council which ran the town until we were absorbed into Pendle in the boundary changes of 1974. Run by elected members and officers the new Local Board set to and started to make the necessary improvements. The town had already got a partial gas supply, originally from the gasworks at Wellhouse, then from Bracewell’s new gasworks at West Close which was bought in 1888 by private investors but taken over by the Local Board in 1892.
The next task was a water supply. Harold Duxbury once told me that the older houses on the west side of Mosley Street had rainwater tanks under the kitchen floor which stored the water off the roof. Each house had a pump in the kitchen. Many buildings had outside tanks for rainwater collection. Most people relied on the town wells, Jack Savage relates that there was a house at Townhead called The Pump House which had a well to which anyone could demand access. Garibaldi Pickles, a local carrier, used to sell water door to door at three halfpence a bucket. Thomas Whitaker carted water from Gilbert Well opposite Wood End bungalow on Whitemoor and sold it for a penny a bucket. Atkinson, in his memoir ‘Old Barlick’ says that when New Mill (Wellhouse) was built in 1853/54 the road on the Barlick side of the Vicarage (built 1845 and now the Masonic Hall) was lowered five feet because the sand bed there was quarried to build the mill. There was a well in the cellar of the Vicarage and the Reverend Milner reported that it had dried up and he was forced to have water brought from the Dam Head Well. This well dried up later during the construction of the new sewage system in the 1890s but it was reported that the Vicarage well started to flow again in 1856.
There was no adequate public water supply in Barnoldswick until about 1895. Prior to the founding of the Barnoldswick Local Board in 1890, the body that supervised the provision of water was the Skipton Rural District Sanitation Authority. They had powers to borrow money and investigate provision of public sanitation services and this included a water supply. We know that they were pursuing the matter in October 1878 because this is the date on a letter from their consultants, Brierley and Holt, who were dealing with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company’s objection to the use of White House Spring as a supply for the town (This spring is across the road from White House Farm below Whitemoor). The Canal Company used the overflow from the spring for supplying the summit level on the canal and were jealously protecting their rights. In the same month the Skipton Authority accepted the advice of Brierley and Holt that W H Wood Esquire, of Cragg Farm, Foulridge, the owner of the farm and the spring, was asking too much money for rights to the water. The rural board accepted the B&H recommendation to bore for water and eventually on September 4th 1890 bought land from David Rushworth to build a waterworks below Whitemoor near the Fanny Grey pub. I don’t know exactly when the first bore was put down on Whitemoor. The contract for walling the site was let out to the Salterforth Stone and Brick Company (Park Close Quarry) on March 17th 1891 and this was nearing completion in May 1892. The works were officially opened in 1892 as the first project of the newly formed Local Board. The daily output was 150,000 gallons and it fed a service reservoir at Park Hill which held 356,400 gallons. There was more than one borehole at Whitemoor waterworks because Newton Pickles described one as being 96 feet deep and wide enough to climb down. He knew because in 1945 he was down there repairing the clack on the force pump. On the 1st of July 1897 the new Local Board was writing to E Timmins and Company, The Bridgewater Foundry at Runcorn, about a borehole pump for the 170feet deep borehole at Whitemoor which was quoted as being nine and five eighths of an inch in diameter. I suspect this was the first bore and the 96 feet well came later. There is another letter on this subject to Tom Biker, described as ‘Surveyor of Barnoldswick’. Some of the cores from this bore can be seen in Letcliffe Park.
The Local Board called a Town Meeting on the 11th of March 1892 at 10:30 in the morning at the Mechanic’s Institute on Jepp Hill. [Later to become the Town Hall.] It was described as being ‘an enquiry into the supply of water’. I suspect that this was when the Board laid out to the townsfolk the cost of the laying of water pipes and the matter of water charges. I have a note dated 1st March 1894 of an enquiry held in Barlick under W J B Clarke Esquire to examine a proposal to borrow £8,000 for the provision of public sewers and other similar meetings in 1896 and 1898 for further sums of £2,000 and £1,850 so I think we can safely assume that from 1890 to at least 1900 almost every street in the town was torn up to lay water and sewage pipes. It must have been chaotic and makes our recent experiences with Balfour Beatty in 2006 seem like a picnic.
As soon as Whitemoor waterworks was commissioned and in full flow it became obvious that good as the supply was it was going to be overtaken by the demands of industry and a growing population. By 1919 a site for a new supply from Elslack Moor had been identified and in 1919/1922 the Park Hill service reservoir was enlarged and supplied from a filter house on Elslack Beck. In 1923 a four inch main was laid to Coates Ward. A contract was signed with a firm called Hayes of the Canal Wharf, Wharf Street, Lancashire Hill, Stockport on the 29th November 1926 for the construction of a concrete basin reservoir lined with asphalt on Elslack Moor, price £139,346. The final price rose to £151,696 after problems were encountered with the geology. The opening ceremony was on 5th of March 1932 and it’s worth recording that there was one death during the construction, the Craven Herald of 4th of January 1929 reported the death of Charles Edward Muxlow of Eshton as a result of an earth slip.
So, by 1900 we had gas and water supplies in the town and a sewage system. The next part of the infrastructure that demanded attention was the roads. Apart from the work of laying gas and water mains and installing sewers there was the mill traffic and the movement of materials to build the new housing required. The Local Board evidently addressed the matter because in 1898 they borrowed £500 to purchase a steam road roller. A new era of local government had begun.
I told you it was a busy time didn’t I. We need to draw breath and stand back for another snapshot of the town in 1914. It has been completely transformed from what we last looked at when Billycock had just died in 1885. The original buildings have been submerged under new housing and roads. The street pattern has altered, Gillians Lane, Philip Street, Back Lane and Newtown are no longer through routes, these have changed to our present pattern of Manchester Road, Church Street and Skipton road. Kelbrook New road hasn’t appeared as yet so Higher Lane is still the main route out to Lancashire. Townhead and the original folds at Lane Bottoms, Gillians and Coates still survive but are backwaters. In 1880 if you stood at Forester’s Buildings on Skipton Road and looked North and East there wasn’t a house in sight apart from a few scattered cottages at Coates, Dam Head Farm and beyond it Hen House Farm. If you did the same in Newtown and stood at the junction of King Street and Rainhall Road there was nothing to the east apart from the new railway station and none of the building to the south beyond Chapel Street. By 1914 this had completely changed. If you want to see the pattern of the old buildings, get up to somewhere where you can look down on the town. All the buildings with grey slate (stone) roofs are pre 1880. All those with blue slate roofs come afterwards. This is because Welsh slate (blue slate) didn’t come into the town until after 1870 when the railway arrived.
All the roads are metalled with stone and some in the town centre are paved with stone setts. There are proper footpaths along the side of the roads and gulley grates to get the water away. There is gas lighting on the town’s streets and a new reservoir at the end of Park Road behind where the council houses are now. Near the Fanny Grey pub above Salterforth there is a new pumping station drawing water out of the boreholes for the town. It has a smoking chimney because the original pumps were steam-driven. There are large mill chimneys sprouting all over the town, each pumping out plumes of smoke, the stones of the older houses are becoming dark with the smoke in the air and the new houses are following suit. There is even an occasional crude motor car on the streets. What we are looking at is present day Barlick, apart from the post Second World War council housing and the odd infill Barlick has all the houses it needs for the next forty years.
It has been an enormous transformation and it is salutary in 2008 to recognise how it was done. All the money needed for the infrastructure was a product of local rates, even the borrowings had to be repaid from this source. The reason why this was possible was that all the profits made in the town stayed here, there was almost no export of capital from profits whether it was industry, retail shops or private wages. There may be a lesson for us here for today when so much of the wealth of the town is sucked out by national and multi-national enterprises.
The house-building in the town was financed by workers who had done well out of the family wage. If all the family including the children were in work and tipping wages up each week a loan for a house was easily affordable and many better paid workers financed a row of houses and perhaps a shop on the end to give the wife of the family a job and an income for old age. Some builders erected houses to rent but these were soon bought by tenants seeking security. Investment in the shed companies was still popular but there were banks now and the Post Office if you preferred them. This period was literally an explosion of improvement and investment. The cotton trade was booming, everything in the garden was lovely. There was only one small cloud on the horizon, trouble in the Balkans……

In 1844, in his preface to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ Charles Dickens wrote “In all my writings I hope I have taken every available opportunity of showing the want of sanitary improvements in the neglected dwellings of the poor”. Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s new London sewage system was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1865 but was not completed until 1875. Great forces were at work, the sanitary revolution was under way.
By the 1890s every street in Barlick was ripped up to lay water pipes. At the same time the Local Board were installing a sewage system on the ‘water carriage’ principle. Put simply, this was the use of water to flush solid waste into the sewers and transport it to a treatment plant. This is the same system we use now and it might seem that it was accepted that as soon as running water was available the sewage system would follow. However, at the time, it wasn’t quite as clear as it seems to us now.
It was obvious, even in the 18th century, that the rise of population in towns was causing a sanitary problem. It wasn’t until the 1830s when cholera struck and the role of contaminated water was fully understood that central government actively legislated for improvement. In 1839/1840 a Poor Law Commission enquiry identified disease as a major cause of poverty. In 1842 Edwin Chadwick, the PLC secretary produced his famous report on the ‘Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population’. In 1848 a Public Health Act was passed but this was not compulsory and in 1858 it was repealed and a new initiative sought. The 1866 Sanitation Act created Local Boards of Health and it was under this legislation that Skipton set up the Rural Sanitation Authority and started to examine a water supply for Barlick. In 1872 the Public Health Act defined the responsible authorities and gave them statutory powers, all this legislation was consolidated in the 1875 Public Health Act.
Whilst the legislative process was ongoing experts in sanitation were researching and experimenting to define the best practice. One such man was Dr George Buchanan and in 1870 he presented a report to Parliament entitled ‘Report on certain means of preventing Excrement Nuisances in Towns and Villages’. We tend to avoid discussions of this nature but if we are to understand the decisions that were taken we would do well to note what he had to say. Dr Buchanan was so proud of his report that he had it privately printed and circulated amongst his colleagues, I am lucky enough to have a copy and it makes fascinating reading. The major debate was between the pail system, where solid waste was collected by hand and disposed of, and the water carriage system in which water was used to flush waste away. Bear in mind that many small towns such as Barlick didn’t have mains water and so flows of foul water in the existing drains weren’t powerful enough to keep them clear in dry weather. Harold Duxbury once told me that there was a rudimentary system of foul water drains in Barlick before the arrival of the full water carriage system but it was very poor. In 1880, Christopher Bracewell and J Widdup were deputed to meet Mr Proctor to ascertain on what terms land could be bought to construct a sewage farm to deal with existing flows of foul water from domestic drains. Harold said that in wet weather these drains could have coped with solid waste but in order to relieve the load on the sewage plant, rainwater drains were kept separate from foul water drains and so there wasn’t enough flow.
Dr Buchanan was well aware of these problems. He travelled widely and compared the methods adopted by different towns to deal with the problem. He listed four systems: The Midden. The pail system with cartage. The Earth System used in Lancaster. The water system used in Leeds and Liverpool. His conclusion was that complete removal of waste products within a day of production was necessary to prevent infection and foul odours. He acknowledged the superiority of the water carriage system but did not think that the expense of provision could be afforded in the poorer districts of towns, for these districts he proposed that the pail system was the most practical and had the advantage that there was a profit to be made from the sale of the product for agricultural manure.
As populations concentrated in villages and towns the waste problem became more acute. There wasn’t enough space for every house to have its own midden and from clues in the Manorial Court Rolls it appears that there were people who simply threw rubbish out into the street. Some houses had cess pits built into their foundations and all the liquid and human waste ran down into it. When it was full a contractor was called in to empty it by hand. I have no evidence of these in Barlick but there is plenty of evidence for them in larger and wealthier houses in other towns and cities.
What appears to have happened in Barlick is that at a very early stage the Vestry arranged for private contractors to be paid from the Town Rate to collect rubbish and dispose of it. All houses had an ashpit or midden into which rubbish and ashes was thrown and these were emptied about once every fortnight. Horace Thornton told me that before WW1 in Carleton it was common practice to throw the contents of the toilet bucket into the ashpit and it was all collected and spread on the land. Bear in mind the fact that everything was burned before it went into the midden and there was no modern packaging to deal with so, apart from a small amount of broken crockery or glass, the contents of the midden were predominantly ashes which soaked up the human waste and partially sanitised it because of the chemicals in the ash.
The next step forward was to separate the contents of the pail toilets from the ashes that were thrown into the midden. Special contractors were used to deal with this and it was always referred to as ‘night soil’ to distinguish it from the ashes. In a letter to the Craven Herald of 11th of December 1886 a correspondent complained about the nuisance cause by W & T Bracewell spreading night soil on their lands at Calf Hall and Moses Lee. The BUDC papers report that the same men had the contract for scavenging in 1891 and in 1898 there is a letter to Proctor Barrit who had the contract for scavenging. Notice that this was after the sewers had been laid. It took time for all houses to be provided with a toilet and a connection to the main sewer. It would appear that the general practice was still to simply spread all the waste on the land but pressure from an increased population was causing problems. It was obvious that Barlick had reached the stage where a decision had to be made, experience had proved that the water carriage system was the best solution despite the initial capital cost and so this was adopted.
The phrase ‘flush toilet’ immediately brings to mind a comfortable indoor facility flushed by clean water from a cistern. Such a lavatory was first invented in 1596 by Sir John Harington. Alexander Cumming’s 1775 version is generally regarded as the first of the modern line. Thomas Crapper and Company improved on what was available and popularised it. In the 1880s the Prince of Wales purchased the Sandringham estate and Crapper supplied the plumbing including thirty flush toilets. It is quite possible that there were examples of this modern equipment in Barlick but if so, it would only have been the wealthy who could have afforded them. The standard water closet in the town with the advent of the new sewers was the ‘Tippler’. The lavatory pedestal was in an outhouse in the yard and all the domestic waste water flowed out into a ‘tippler’. This was a hopper in the drain shaped so that as it filled it became unbalanced and shot its contents into the shaft of the lavatory and flushed it. Sitting on the lavatory when someone in the house emptied a bath was an exciting experience! For sixty years this was the standard outside lavatory in Barlick, we still had a tippler at Sough when I had the shop there in the late 1950s but the indoor flush toilet was becoming universal on the grounds of convenience and comfort.
The concept of using the foul water from the house to flush the toilet was a good one and is being readopted today in the most modern environmentally-friendly houses. It has been estimated that a third of all water used inside the house is flushed down the toilet. Grey water from showers or rainwater from the roof would be just as efficient and pose no health problems. Worldwide, one of the biggest problems looming on the horizon is water shortage. The Local Board made a brave investment in the 1890s, perhaps it’s time we made another improvement and cut down on our clean water consumption.
One surprising fact for you. Until at least 1982 the night soil men were still collecting in Barlick. By then their usual customers were disabled people who had to use a commode downstairs and the council emptied them. The only tippler I know of that is still operational is at the Clarion House at Dimpenley near Nelson.

On the 28th of June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were shot dead in Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia. This triggered off a series of events which culminated in Germany sending troops through Belgium to invade France. This led to Britain declaring war on Germany on August the 4th 1914. Though called the ‘Great War’ at the time, this was to be the first of two world wars which would change the face of Europe, disrupt world trade and eventually hasten the death knell for the world supremacy of the Lancashire Cotton Industry.
None of this was foretold in 1914. The general opinion was that ‘it would all be over by Christmas’. There was much anti-German feeling and a general enthusiasm to ‘join up’ and fight for England. The conflict was to rage until November the 11th 1918 and result in the death of approximately 700,000 British troops and about 1,500,000 wounded. 287 men from Barlick died and probably about 600 were wounded. This out of a population of 10,000, so over 10% of the total male population of all ages was lost to the workforce. The Armistice was greeted with relief but this was only short-lived. Death hadn’t quite finished with Barlick. We know a bit about pandemics from the Black Death, we are about to have another close encounter.
In March 1918 at Camp Funston, Kansas, USA some soldiers went down with influenza. By the end of 1918 a world-wide pandemic was raging that killed more humans than any previous recorded. Estimates vary but between 20 and 40 million people died, mostly young people and the frail elderly. As it was wartime, the first place it was freely reported was in Spain and hence it got the name ‘Spanish Flu’. Pravda in Moscow reported that ‘The Spanish Lady is in town’ when it reached Moscow.
In 1980 Emma Clark told me about the 1918 Spanish Flu in Barlick. “Oh it was shocking, shocking. People said that you could see funerals going down Skipton Road every day.” Almost everyone in the town lost a friend or a relation. This intrigued me and I looked into why this strain of flu was so much more dangerous than normal winter flu. In 1918 nothing was known about viruses and their ability to mutate but in the light of today’s knowledge, we can at least give an explanation.
There are three strains of flu virus; A, B and C. B and C infect only human beings, it is the A strain that can cause the worst trouble because it has the ability to infect birds, animals and humans. The normal ‘A’ strain influenza virus has the ability to mutate and does so slowly all the time. When it infects us we produce antibodies which kill the virus and give a measure of protection against re-infection. The thing that made the 1918 strain so deadly was that it was a very virulent strain and most importantly, it had mutated so violently in its transgenic path that nobody had any antibodies that had any effect on it. Even today the true origins of the mutated virus which caused the pandemic have never been found. The most widely held version is that pigs in Iowa developed a form of Flu, passed on possibly by avian or human transmission, and for some reason this mutated and jumped the species barrier into humans. Current investigations using sophisticated DNA techniques are being used in Alaska where some bodies of those who died there from the disease have been preserved in the permafrost. It was confirmed recently that DNA had been recovered and the Spanish Flu virus reconstructed. I hope they have it in a very secure place.
I have never found any definite figures for deaths in Barlick from the Flu but taking the average for the country as a whole it looks as though at least 70 people could have died, many of them young people. So, as we moved into 1919 and the steady flow of funerals stopped, Barlick heaved a sigh of relief and got back to the serious business of making a living. One good thing was that there was a good demand for cloth, trade was good and the mills were working flat out.
Part of my research was to delve into the Bank of Liverpool reports for 1919 and 1920, they are enlightening: ‘Bank of Liverpool Industrial News for July 1919 reports that the rise of 6/- per ton in price of coal forecast for July 9th was 1/6 more than had been expected. Suspicion voiced that it was done to make miner’s case for advance in wages and conditions more unpopular. The chairman of the Coal Commission seemed to be advocating nationalisation and in a report had admitted in effect that control of the industry by the government was ‘a dangerous experiment’. The ‘News’ calculated that a rise of 6/- per ton equated to 7/6 per loom/year. 1919; Bank of Liverpool industrial news reports on trade in Barnoldswick. Further advance in cotton prices. Manufacturers margins improve. Difficulties with transport owing to congestion on railways and canal closed by drought. January 1920 gives good report for Barnoldswick. July 1920 report is less optimistic. By October picture is gloomy and coal strike begins October 16th 1920. By December depression is reported as acute’.
July 1920 is possibly the most significant date in the history of the modern cotton industry in the north of England. Ever since cotton arrived in the industry the overall trend in production and profits had been upwards. True, there were occasional downturns but the trade always came back stronger then ever. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that the immediate post war boom in the trade was due to customers re-stocking the shelves after five years of shortages. This forced commodity prices up and when the re-stocking was finished the trade collapsed. This could have been simply another temporary set-back, indeed this what most manufacturers forecast, but there was another factor which hadn’t yet become clear. The Great War had totally disrupted world trade and the overseas customers not directly affected by the war who still wanted cloth had sought it elsewhere. Japan and the Indian sub-continent had stepped into the breach and from that point on became deadly competitors against the home industry. The UK cotton industry started to decline and never recovered. Barlick, together with the rest of the Northern mill towns was in for a hard time. We need to look closely at what happened in the inter-war years and the best way to do this is look at the fortunes of one family. The Brooks family had built Westfield Shed in 1910. They had done well in Room and Power and built their own mill. Their experience after the Great War was typical.

My mind started to wander one day around the pet’s hell called Bonfire Night and Remembrance Day the week after. I was reminded of a reference to explosives I came across while researching Barlick. Also on my mind was a request I had from a bloke called Raoul Saesen who is a schoolteacher and battlefield guide in Ieper in Flanders who asked me to give him a short history of World War One explosives. It all seems pertinent so we had better have a look at explosive matters.
The Barlick reference came in April 1890 when the Calf Hall Shed Company were in the process of buying Bracewell’s Wellhouse Mill for £8,000 off the Craven Bank who were the owners because they had taken it in lieu of cash for debts owed to them by Billycock when he died in 1885. In order to make sure the mill was a good risk to lend on the bank had imposed conditions on the sale which meant that they scrapped the old beam engines and the Shed Company installed a new engine large enough to drive the mill and any subsequent extensions. If they had to repossess, they would have a large mill with a modern power plant.
£8,000 plus approximately £3,000 in new plant and repairs was a lot of money in those days. An average weekly wage for a skilled labourer would be about £1, relate that to about £300 for the same hours today and you get a figure of somewhere between two and three million pounds. So you can understand the Shed Company Directors consternation when they found out that George Rushworth, the Colne scrap merchant who was taking the engines out of the mill, was using Dynamite to break up the castings! The Shed Company immediately fired off a letter to George Robinson, manager of the Craven Bank at Skipton to ask him whether he was aware of this circumstance and whether the bank would pay for any damage caused by this dangerous practice. History so far hasn’t divulged what transpired but as there is no further mention of the matter I assume that George was reined in, the use of Dynamite stopped and no further damage was caused.
I wasn’t surprised by the use of explosives, black powder had been used for years in the quarries to fracture large faces, what did surprise me was the use of the trade name ‘Dynamite’ so I had to do a bit of research. I already knew a bit about explosives from my army career but when I started digging into the subject I found some fascinating stories.
Here’s where we get our link with Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. We think that black powder was first used by the Chinese in the 9th century. They discovered that a mixture of ground charcoal, sulphur and the white crystals that gathered on the walls near well-rotted manure (saltpetre or potassium nitrate) made an explosive mixture and the first use for it was in fireworks for ceremonial occasions. They soon found that the shock value was useful in battle as large explosions caused panic in troops who had never seen them before and assumed they were fire devils on their opponent’s side. As this effect wore off when the knowledge spread, the Chinese started to experiment with hollow bamboo tubes loaded with stones and arrows, the first recorded guns. The Arabs got into the technology towards the end of the 12th century and it is generally reckoned that when the English scholar Roger Bacon gave explicit instructions for making gunpowder in 1242 he did so because, being a scholar of the Arabic language, he had picked up the formula during his researches into documents left by the Arabs when they were expelled from Toledo. By 1314 there is a firm record of a shipment of iron guns from Ghent to England and the arms trade was born.
Black powder was the universal explosive for the next 500 years but in the early 19th century the modern science of chemistry threw up some interesting and extremely dangerous new compounds. In 1845 a man called Christian Friedrich Schonbein spilt some nitric and sulphuric acid and wiped it up with his apron. He hung it to dry by the stove and was surprised when it exploded shortly afterwards! The combination of the acids with the cellulose in the cotton apron had produced nitro-cellulose, the basis of guncotton or cordite as it later became known. Other chemists were working on the same lines and in 1847 an Italian chemist called Ascani Sobrero formulated nitro glycerine which was so unstable it exploded if a drop hit the floor!
Many chemists worked on nitro glycerine and a depressing number were killed as their experiments exploded. One such unfortunate was Emil Oskar Nobel, brother of Alfred Nobel. He died when the family’s nitro glycerine factory blew up. Alfred redoubled his efforts and by 1865 had made the process of manufacturing Nitro Glycerine reasonably safe. He invented the blasting cap in 1866 and in 1867 patented a solid explosive made by absorbing nitro glycerine into a special clay called kieslguhr and named it Dynamite. So, I had solved my problem, George Rushworth could have been using Dynamite in 1890, and the name was evidently well known.
Raoul’s question to me was whether dynamite was used in warfare in the Great War and the answer was no. The main reason, apart from cost, was the fact that dynamite was very difficult to store. If it got too hot it started weeping nitro with obvious dangers, too cold (below 11 degrees C) and it froze and gave unpredictable results and on top of this it attracted water which damaged it further. One of the reasons why gunpowder had been so popular was the fact that if you kept it dry, say in a small keg or barrel, it had a virtually unlimited shelf life and normal ranges of temperature didn’t affect it.
By 1914 other explosives had been developed which were cheaper, more stable and could be modified to give different burning speeds. This is very important because you need different characteristics for different jobs. If you want to propel a bullet or shell out of a gun barrel you need a very progressive rate of burn to push the projectile rather than blast it out. At the other end of the scale, a torpedo needs the most powerful and highest speed explosive you can make. Another quality that was needed was castability, if you were filling a shell or a bomb it was an advantage if you could melt the explosive and pour it into the cavity of the shell. This is the reason why the standard method of extracting the explosive from a dud bomb or shell is to steam it out, a technique commonly used by bomb disposal squads.
Picric acid was a very common explosive used for shell filling but had the distressing side effect that anyone in contact with the fumes from it gradually acquired a yellow tint to their skin. The girls who worked on shell-filling at Woolwich Arsenal were nicknamed ‘The Canaries’ because of this.
In my wagon driving days I used to have regular run taking barites, which is powdered, calcined marble, down to Cooke’s Explosives at Penryndydreuth in Wales. It was used as an inert filler in the manufacture of gelignite. That factory always interested me, they used to take the battery off the wagon and you were towed around the place by a little propane fuelled tractor that was specially constructed to be flame proof. If you had hobnails in your boots you weren’t allowed through the gate. I was sat in the only place you could smoke in the factory one day, a glass box in the middle of the canteen where there was a naked gas flame to light your pipe. I was watching a sign writer working on a big sign behind the counter and noticed that it celebrated the safety record of the works. The bloke was drawing a red line under the entries. I asked him why and he said there had been an accident. He took me to the window and pointed to a large crater in the field next to the works which had been a hut where three ladies did some operation on the product. I don’t know what went wrong but there had been an explosion and they were all killed. I was a bit more wary about that place afterwards!
Right, you’ve got the history, now you can go out on Bonfire Night and let your squib off knowing some of the background. Funnily enough, the vast majority of fireworks sold in this country now are Chinese. They should be good, they’ve been making them for over a thousand years! But be careful, think about explosives in war which are used to kill and maim, the fireworks you are letting off in your back yard are equally destructive and dangerous if used in the wrong way.
The most dangerous circumstance I have come across with explosives is if a charge fails to explode. This is known in the trade as a ‘hang fire’. The only safe thing to do if you have one is go away, brew up and leave it alone for at least twenty minutes. Many old Barlickers will remember a blind man called Hardisty who lived in a bungalow opposite the site of Loose Games Quarry at the top of Tubber Hill. He was blinded when a hang fire exploded as he was drilling next to it to place another charge to initiate the first one. Remember this if a firework fails to go off. Leave well alone.
Having given this advice I want to confess that in my time I’ve done some pretty stupid things with explosives. I think it must run in the family, my dad had an operation late in life for a traumatic cataract caused by an explosion in his youth in Australia. He wanted to find out what happened if you put a small piece of dynamite on an anvil and hit it with a hammer! He found out all right, it blew the hammer right through the roof of the smithy and he was blinded for a fortnight. In the army, familiarity bred contempt and we used to use plastic explosive 808 as a firelighter in our stoves. A knob of 808 and a shovelful of coal will give you a hot stove faster than anything else I know! Another trick we perfected….. on second thoughts, I’d better not tell you that one, it might give some of you ideas!

It’s 1920 and the Brooks Family at Westfield Shed and their tenants are marching forward into an increasingly uncertain future. The family had come through the war and the Spanish Flu with the loss of one son, Harry, killed on the Western front. The other two sons, Sidney and Christopher were running the family firm. The late Bob King, an old textile manager told me: “I remember Sidney and Christopher Brooks. As a lad I lived on Burnlea terrace, Gisburn Road and our back street was bounded by Westfield Mill. We christened the brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee because they were both little fat men, well-fed from the look of their stomachs and walked down Gisburn Road as if they owned it. Christopher lived in a house across Gisburn Road from us, next to the Congregational chapel and had a housekeeper. Later he married a younger woman. Sidney built a house at Bracewell. They had a small office in the mill and both walked to work.” I suppose the brothers had good reason to be confident, the family firm was doing well, they had secure positions and a good income. All they had to do was follow in Father Robinson’s footsteps, keep the overheads down and make sure the workers did a good job. If they could get this right, the future was assured.
We can be certain that the last thing that ever entered their heads was any notion of re-investment in more modern machinery or processes. The Lancashire looms, tape machines and engine and shafting were only eight years old at the end of WW1 and everyone knew that they were built to last 100 years. In their minds they had a new mill full of modern machinery, why even think about change? Of course they knew about the new semi-automatic Northrop looms but opinions were divided in the industry about how versatile they were. They had complete freedom with their Lancashire looms as they could be quickly changed from one type of cloth to another. They knew that firms like Jimmy Nelson’s in Nelson were experimenting with new artificial yarns like rayon but they understood cotton and even though orders were tight, they were keeping the looms full and weaving. We shouldn’t be too hard on them, they were not alone and there was much sense at the beginning of 1920 in ‘steady as she goes’.
Outside Barlick the world was changing, revolution was in the air. As the dust of war settled over Europe all eyes were on Russia where the proletariat had risen in revolt abolished the monarchy and embraced Communism. The British government was worried and was treading very warily in its attitudes towards the workers in general and the ex-servicemen in particular. They knew that the horrific experiences these men had suffered in the trenches of the Western Front had changed them forever. There was an appetite for change and improvement in social conditions that spelled trouble if it wasn’t handled sensitively. This showed in some of the post war legislation, particularly the Addison Act which was a very generous measure aimed at building new houses ‘fit for heroes to live in’. It also showed in the government’s reaction to the ‘Clyde side Revolt’ in Glasgow which was not a revolt at all but a march by left wing militants led by Manny Shinwell to press a claim for a shorter working week. Whitehall viewed this with such alarm that they moved troops into the area and sent tanks to be used on the streets if needs be. They were never deployed but the fact that they were sent gives a clear indication of the lengths the government was prepared to go to if trouble arose.
Nothing like this happened in Barlick. The only tank we ever saw was one that was placed on a plinth up at Letcliffe Park to celebrate the town’s excellent record in the War Savings campaign. However, it’s significant that when it was delivered it was immobilised and the guns were removed. I’ve always wondered whether they were making sure the lads couldn’t commandeer it and use it against the established order! I know this sounds far-fetched but at this time in Barlick, when Arthur Entwistle’s father heard about his sister being charged twice for some furniture he went home, got his service revolver and went round to the offending dealer and sorted the matter out! Horace Thornton told me about a group of men in Carleton after the war who were chatting on the pavement when an officious young bobby ordered them to ‘Disperse in the name of the King!’ One of them went home, got the revolver he had ‘liberated’ from the army and came back and started shooting at the constable’s feet. He ended up doing six months with hard labour. There were incidents like this all over the country and they were taken very seriously in the seats of power. Echoes of the revolution did reach Barlick three years after the Armistice, in 1921 a Communist Party branch opened in Barnoldswick and as we shall see it became very vocal and active in the industrial troubles that were brewing.
The Brooks family, in common with all the other manufacturers, ran a very tight ship. They kept a close rein on spending and their workforce. A weaver could be ‘called up’ into the warehouse at any time for a variety of ‘offences’ ranging from weaving faults to timekeeping or making too much waste. The brother’s aim was to produce the maximum amount of cloth at the least cost. Every other manufacturer in Lancashire was doing the same thing and as competition for orders increased, profit margins fell. The brothers couldn’t do anything about the cost of coal, oil or yarn but the expense they did control was wages. So there was an obvious way to improve profits, spend less on wages. We should note here that this was partially a result of the success of the Cotton Exchange in Manchester. The industry was so well organised and protected by clauses built into the yarn and cloth contracts to automatically vary the price if the cost of production changed that it became possible to trade on very low margins of profit with high turnover. This efficiency led to problems when orders fell and there was greater competition. Firms couldn’t compete on price in the market place, all they could do was get more production out of their workers. This was the root of the harsher post war conditions in the industry.
I don’t intend to bore you with a long list of disputes over wages, if you are interested there is plenty of reading in the library. Let’s just agree that through the formation of the Barnoldswick Manufacturers Association, the firms in the town united in 1895 and imposed local agreements on the town for ‘Local Disadvantage’ which was a technical ploy whereby they could legally lower wages by 2% because Barlick was regarded as an outlier of the main Lancashire industry. After WW1 they moved even more aggressively and the only reason why Barlick wasn’t paralysed by the 1929 strikes in the district over a 12½% cut in wages was because the manufacturers had already met with the unions and extended the Local Agreement. This was negotiated by A E Gardner on behalf of the workers and Robinson Brooks acting for the employers. A straight fight was looming between the manufacturers and the operatives and wages was only part of it.
At Westfield Shed the Brooks family saw trade shoot back up to pre-war levels during the re-stocking boom which followed the war and 5 years of shortages. However, some observers saw a puzzling difference, almost all the orders were for domestic British consumption. Before the war it was a truism that the Lancashire mills wove from starting time at half past six until breakfast time at half past eight for the home market and the rest of the day was taken up by weaving for export. What had happened was that many of the great export customers like India had reacted to the war shortages by increasing home production. The markets were lost and though it wasn’t apparent at the time exports would never reach pre-war levels again. The economies of Europe had been decimated by the war and simply couldn’t afford imports. We know now that what was happening was that the repayment of war savings in the form of paper money was paying for the boom and at the same time stoking up raw material prices. It was inflation with no sound foundation and in July 1920 the trade cracked and Britain slid into a depression that was to haunt the country for 15 years.
Barlick didn’t escape this and the first thing the manufacturers did was call a halt to investment and cut wages. The weavers had seen some advance in wages and working conditions during the war but these were soon chiselled away by unemployment and cuts and by 1925 the operatives were about 20% worse off than pre-war due to lower wages and rising prices. The event that most people remember from this period was the General Strike of 1926 triggered by wage cuts in the coal mines. The country was virtually paralysed for a fortnight. We can get a faint flavour of what this was like in Barlick from first hand accounts of the time. Arthur Entwistle said that there wasn’t a saw or an axe to be bought in the town because they had all been bought to cut wood for fuel. Dorothy Carthy told me that her uncle Walter Broughton farmed Lower Calf Hall and he fired his shotgun in the air to drive away people who were felling his trees and chopping up fencing. The police arrested him and put him in the cells for the night, Dorothy’s father had to do the milk round the following morning. Horace Thornton said that the thing that impressed him most was the silence, all the mills and the railways were shut down and there was no traffic noise.
I have a little known fact for you which demonstrates what attitudes towards the General Strike were in certain quarters of government. As is so often the case, I was digging into one facet of history and found something totally unexpected. I was interested in the activities of a lady called Gertrude Bell who was the first woman to write a government white paper and was almost solely responsible for the re-drawing of the map of Mesopotamia to create the modern Iraq. Part of the British activity in Mesopotamia between the wars was to take punitive action against the Kurds to persuade them to pay their taxes. The man in charge of this was an RAF lieutenant called Harris who virtually invented aerial bombing as a way doing this. He is reported to have said that machine-gunning them as they ran away was very effective. During the 1926 strike this same man sent a memorandum to Winston Churchill suggesting that bombing a centre of revolt like Salford would quickly bring the strikers to heel. I took the trouble to speak to the historian who had discovered this memo and he assured me it existed and he had held it in his hand. And yes, you’re right, this man later became ‘Bomber Harris’ in WW2. This is of course not connected directly with Barlick but it is useful to us because it illustrates the depth of feeling that existed against the strikers and this wasn’t confined to Westminster and the Establishment. We shall see attitudes surfacing in events directly relating to Barlick which have a flavour of the same rabid hatred of the workers.
The industrial unrest was bad enough but what perturbed people like the Brooks family and the other manufacturers was the rise in protest amongst the workers. True, the industry had seen industrial disputes and strikes before the war but the post war disputes were different, there was organisation and an increased militancy due to the birth of the Labour Party, the increased power of the unions and in 1920, the formation of the Communist Party in Britain. By 1921 there was a branch in Barnoldswick and what we often forget is that the Communist Party members cut their teeth on protest long before 1920 in the old SDF. In 1881 Henry Mayers Hyndman a Marxist lawyer founded the parent organization of the Social Democratic Federation which in 1911 became the British Socialist party, with Hyndman as chairman. The SDF were on the far left and never allied with the new Labour Party but in WW1 lost their influence. The creation of the Communist Party gave many of the old activists a new channel for their energies, there was a branch of the SDF in Barlick and the members almost all transferred to the CP. At this time it was perfectly legal for Communists to be members of the Labour Party as well and several names stand out in Barlick.
“Bessie Dickinson (nee Smith) was born in Barnoldswick in 1904 into a weaving family of parents and seven children. It was a socialist household and Bessie used to collect her father’s copy of ‘Justice’. The left wing tracts ‘Merrie England’ and ‘Britain for the British’ were the first books she read. She entered the mill at 12 and worked as a tenter for half a crown a week. From 1922 she was active in the Young Communist’s League. She married Harold Dickinson in 1926 and they lived in Blackburn. She stood as a Communist Party candidate in the Blackburn municipal elections in 1928 and 1930. She was the author of a pamphlet on ‘Women and More Looms’. Like other activists, Bessie and Harold were unemployed for much of the period 1929-32 and took part in many of the mass pickets in the Burnley and Blackburn areas.” [see Gender, Class and Party: ‘The Communist Party and the crisis in the cotton Industry Between the wars’ by Sue Bruley, University of Portsmouth. Published in Women’s History Review. Volume 2. Number 1. 1993)] Bessie was a leading light in protest in Barlick even when she had moved to Blackburn because she used to come across and support her old Barlick comrades, Jim Howarth and Jim Rushton.
Jim Howarth was an old SDF man and was better known as ‘The Firewood King’ in Barlick. He lived at Lane Bottoms and had a wooden shed at the top of the lane on the side of Manchester Road where he prepared his bundles of kindling for sale in the town. Jim Rushton was born at Stonefold, Haslingden. His family were hill farmers but with the growth of the textile industry moved down the hill to work in the mills, his mother was a weaver. He married, his wife Mary Elizabeth coming from the same background of farming and weaving. There were eventually four children of the marriage, Mary, Annie, Margaret and Norman. In 1912 the family left the Rossendale valley to set up house in Barnoldswick. He had a small hen-pen near his home in Gisburn Street. Jim got work in the mill and later was at Albert Hartley's and then Nutters’ at Bankfield shed.
Politically, 1924 was a bad year for the workers in Barlick. A resolution was passed at the Party Conference banning collaboration with the Communists. Despite this the local party refused to expel the communists and joint activities still took place. Much of this united effort was built around the ‘Sunday Worker’ which had a good sale in the town. A number of leading communists were on the local labour party committee, including Jim Howarth and Jim Rushton. This position continued until late 1926 when the right wing of the local party, followers of Ramsay Macdonald, broke away from the main local body, calling themselves the Labour League. [To this day, many old Labour Party members revile MacDonald because he was seen as a class traitor] This was done with backing of the Skipton Division of the Labour Party of which Barnoldswick was part. The official party carried on, paying outstanding debts and collecting membership dues, but eventually the divisional office stepped in and formed a new local branch excluding the Communists. After the new party had been formed the disaffiliated party carried on for a while but it was now splintered, so a decision was then taken to break up and either rejoin the Labour Party or go over to the Communist Party. However, this did not prevent the Communist Party in general and Jim Rushton in particular from maintaining close links with Labour members and the workers. The rift in the Labour ranks was seen as good news by the manufacturers. It weakened protest and made the union officials more compliant due to the influence of the MacDonald faction. Besides, it was estimated that there were over one thousand non-union operatives in the town. These factors might have influenced the manufacturer’s decision in 1926 to apply more pressure on the workers.
By 1924 the limit of wage reductions had been reached and it was only the timidity of the unions and the terrible state of trade that kept the workers in line and the mills running. The time seemed ripe for new tactics to raise profitability. Early in 1926 Edmondson’s at Fernbank Shed hardened their policy of calling up workers into the warehouse on account of ‘bad stuff’. By March 1926 the workers were so incensed that they walked out. What followed suggests that even though the focus was Fernbank, the new policy had been discussed and agreed by the Barnoldswick Manufacturer’s Association because as a result of the walk-out, every manufacturer in the town locked the workers out and the town closed down for three weeks. There was much hardship and contemporary evidence suggests that no unemployment benefit was paid as the operatives were held to have caused the dispute by withdrawal of labour.
Jim Rushton and the local Communist Party stepped into the vacuum created by the inactivity of the local Labour Party and the unions. He held meetings at the factory gate at Fernbank and it was probably due to his oratory and militancy that the workers walked out in the first place. The Calf Hall Shed Company Minutes reported that the lockout was coming on the 24th March and later reported a restart on the 26th of April. Negotiations between the manufacturers and the weavers resulted in a payment of 15/- to each weaver and the Weaver’s Union secretary was quoted in the Craven Herald as saying that “he was glad it was all over, as he did not want the strike in the first place.”
Early in 1928 there was a move to expel Jim Rushton from the Weaver’s Union. The local press reported in April “that a ballot of union members in the town was in progress, but the writer could not find the results''. Jack Pilkington told Bessie Dickinson in later years that “It was a substantial vote against expulsion”, but the official result was recorded as being in favour. Jim and his fellow militants had been frozen out by both the unions and the Labour Party.
The Craven Herald of the 18th of January, 1929 reported another dispute at Fernbank Shed. Every weaver had to mark their cloth with their loom number with wax crayon so that any faults could be traced back to them. Edmondsons received complaints from the finishers that the crayon marks were washing out during processing and they wanted the number ‘sewing in’, that is, embroidering into the cloth so that it was indelible. This of course took longer than a simple crayon mark but Edmondsons offered no extra pay for the work. The order had been introduced the previous Monday morning and in the afternoon the weavers walked out and were still out on the 17th when the paper went to press. Edmondsons won this round, the workers agreed to sew in the numbers and returned to work on the 18th of February.
There were many small disputes like this, all symptoms of the bad relations between the manufacturers and their operatives due to pressure to raise profits. Westfield Shed under the Brooks Brothers wouldn’t be any different than any of the other weaving sheds and it was a very unhappy and insecure time in Barlick. The root cause was the lack of work and profitability in the trade and by the late 1920s the manufacturers had exhausted all the avenues open to them to reduce costs and increase productivity.
The year 1929 was another busy year for Jim. The local Communist Party branch started to publish the ‘Barnoldswick Factory Worker’, which was a duplicated sheet selling at a halfpenny. Unfortunately there are no known copies surviving. Five hundred copies were printed every week and published every Friday night. Jack Pilkington said later that “We could have sold more if we had had the time”.
There was another event in 1929 which was to be the cause of the worst industrial disputes that Barlick had ever seen. A manufacturer called Tertius Spencer in Burnley had a bright idea. He reckoned that if he slowed his looms down slightly he would get better cloth and if at the same time he gave each worker more looms they would be more productive and could actually earn a larger wage whilst still giving significant benefits to the employer. With hindsight, he was quite right and in the end this was to prolong the working life of many mills. However, there were two major flaws in the ‘More Looms’ system as far as the workers were concerned, it was radical change without consultation which they did not trust and it meant less weavers so there would be redundancies. Manufacturers all over N E Lancashire watched the experiments with interest. This could be just what was needed to increase profits. We need to have a look at the More Looms dispute.

Our concept of time has changed. In a peasant society there was no need for timepieces, the sun was your clock and once a week the church bells would remind you it was Sunday, the day of rest and worship. The advent of the factory system necessitated the imposition of time discipline on the workers and the earliest factories borrowed from the church and had bells to summon the workers, later, steam whistles were used. The ‘knocker-up’ with his long cane with stiff wires on the end was employed to rattle the bedroom windows to let you know another day was about to dawn. In summer he was redundant, the sun woke his clients but in winter, when the workers were fighting nature and couldn’t afford an alarm clock he was essential.
By 1850 the Magnetic Telegraph Company were laying telegraph lines throughout the country and their first customers were the railways who needed a standard time in order to function efficiently. The first accurate clocks were those on railway stations which were corrected each day by a time signal from the telegraph. By 1870 the Post Office had its own telegraph system for communications and a clock appeared in the post office window, also regulated by the telegraph. There was a problem here in the early days in that railway time did not always agree with post office time. As late as 1902 the Calf Hall Shed Company in Barnoldswick was forced to accede to a request from their tenants to run to post office time and not railway time as there was a four minute discrepancy between the two. The engineer’s clock in the engine house was set to railway time as noted by the Manchester Man each day. The workers used the post office clock to set their watches and the result was that they were coming in to work late every morning. There is a record in the Calf Hall Shed Company minute books of the engineer being called up before the directors to be instructed to start and stop the engine to Post Office time. He was also informed that if there was any repetition of the recent incident where he struck a carter on the head with a shovel he would be severely disciplined! The advent of radio in the 1930s solved the accuracy problem once and for all because the radio broadcasts were timed using the Greenwich Time Signal which was then the world standard.
It is salutary to note here that in the days of unreliable timepieces punctuality was king. There was a saying that ‘Punctuality was the politeness of princes and the courtesy of kings’. My own jaundiced view is that we all have timepieces on our wrists that would have occupied two rooms in Manchester University in 1948, despite this, punctuality has become a very old-fashioned concept. [Grumpy old man?]

Before we look at the ‘More Looms’ dispute we should perhaps make sure that we understand exactly what was happening. Ever since the advent of power looms in Barnoldswick the number of looms per weaver had remained constant. When a learner weaver was judged proficient they were given two looms to manage, once they had proved their worth they got four looms. A very good weaver, particularly if they had a learner helping them, was given six looms and the only criterion that determined whether they kept six was the amount and quality of the cloth they made on each loom, they had to keep up to the shed average. Only the very best weavers or those with family connections to the management got to run six looms. Payment for the cloth produced was by the piece. A weaver only got paid for weaving a piece once it had been accepted in the warehouse so if the warps were bad and they got no finished pieces off by Wednesday which was the cut-off for calculating the next week’s wages (making up day) they got nothing for a week’s work.
The More Looms system was based on the theory that if the looms were slowed down they would weave better cloth and a weaver could look after more of them. The net result would be more profit for the manufacturer and in theory, a better wage for the weaver despite the fact that they were getting less per loom. Under the old system the looms had run at an average of 240 picks a minute, under More Looms they would be slowed to 180 picks. The reduction in speed could be made by simply slowing the engine down but this had two disadvantages, it affected everything in the mill and reduced the efficiency of the engine. There was an easier and more effective way which was to replace the loom pulleys by which the belt from the shafting drove the loom with larger ten inch diameter pulleys. To give some idea of the speed of the changeover, Newton Pickles told me that one of the first jobs he had when he was in full time work aged 14 in 1930 was helping to make 13,000 ten inch pulleys. Each loom needed two pulleys, one fast and one loose, so this order alone modified 6,500 looms and other engineers and ironfounders were making them as well.
Henry Slater at Clough Mill was a friend of Tertius Spencer at Burnley where the system was first tried out and his manager John Metcalfe told me that Henry went on to look at how it was progressing and came back convinced that it was the way forward. He immediately converted some looms and set weavers on to see how it worked out. The first order John Pickles got in 1930 was from Anthony Carr at Crow Nest who ordered 2,000 pulleys, enough to convert all his looms.
Bessie Dickinson, in her book; ‘James Rushton and his Times’, relates how Jim Garnett, a cotton worker himself from Haslingden, and active with Jim in many of the activities of that time, remembers Jim Rushton on March 6th 1929 leading a march to Spencer’s Waterloo Shed at Trafalgar Mill to protest against the more looms experiment in Burnley. By 1930 the effects were beginning to be felt in Barlick and Earby. Bessie Dickinson relates the evidence of Jack Pilkington who was working at Bancroft Mill for Nutters who were taking a cautious approach to More Looms and started by introducing the new wage scale on the slowed down looms but not giving workers eight looms because “they didn’t want to sack anyone”. The result was that Jack’s wage for four looms was reduced and the only way he could recoup the loss was to go on to eight looms. He refused on the grounds that this broke the agreements between the Manufacturers and the unions based on the Uniform List of Weaving Prices, got sacked and was refused the dole. It took six weeks for the union to get his case before the Court of Referees who reversed the decision, even so, he lost six weeks dole. There were many such cases, all resulting in the weaver losing money.
The Manufacturers Association saw More Looms as a way to reduce costs and increase profits and presented a united front. The stage was set for years of confrontation and hardship in Barlick, Earby and further afield. The introduction of the More Looms System meant there was a prospect of getting more production out of fewer workers and as soon as the experiments started in Burnley the manufacturers grasped the change without fully consulting either the unions of the operatives. What isn’t generally realised is that the operatives and the unions saw the advantages of the new system but couldn’t find any evidence that anything had been done to recognise or provide for the weavers who would be displaced. The negative effects of the More Looms System fell entirely on the shoulders of the weavers as none of the other processes in the mill were to be cut back. The fight was to be clear cut, the weavers against the owners, the complaint was clear as well, it was the prospect of half the weavers being made unemployed.
One of the problems the weaver’s faced was a less than enthusiastic response by the unions to their members demands for action. They had lost a lot of negotiating strength because of the lack of trade. It was difficult to make a case for better provision for the weavers when everyone could see the industry was in deep trouble. There was only one avenue of protest left, direct action, militancy and withdrawal of labour. The leaders who stepped in to fill the gap were the old guard of the SDF and the Communist Party and the leading light in Barnoldswick and Earby was Jim Rushton. He and his comrades started a programme of ad-hoc public meetings, published pamphlets and as the situation worsened, led marches to picket mills where the More Looms System was in operation, often run by blackleg labour brought in from outside by the mill owners. The local name for these people was ‘knobsticks’. I have never pinned down exactly why this name was used, I presume it was because in order to defend themselves against the pickets they carried stout sticks.
Tom Rolt in his book The Inland Waterways of England has this to say about ‘knobsticks’; ‘To boatmen elsewhere, this community [the men working the Mersey-Weaver and Anderton boats] is known as "the Cheshire Lock Boatmen" or “the Knobsticks." The origin of the latter term is obscure. It is reputed to refer to the fact that in the early days of the Trent & Mersey a boat marshal was employed to ensure that the boatmen kept moving and did not linger too long in the public houses which are conveniently situated by many of the locks on the Cheshire section of that canal. He is said to have patrolled the tow path on horseback carrying as his badge of office a short baton tipped with silver. This became known as the "knob-stick," a term which attached itself first to its bearer and finally to the boatmen whom it was designed to overawe.’
There are many reports of Jim Rushton’s activities in the local press for the period. The range from his candidacy in the local elections through court appearances and as a leader of petitions and marches. We have to be very careful about taking the reports at face value because the fact he was a Communist was anathema to the Liberals and Conservatives and the press was controlled by people with this viewpoint. I’m not suggesting for one moment that all the values he espoused were acceptable but the point is that where he made his mark was as champion of the working man and the underdog, many of whom hated Communism just as much as the establishment. Jim founded the local Ex-Servicemen’s Association and regularly went to the Magistrate’s Court and the Court of Referees who controlled who got the dole, in both cases as an advocate for the workers under examination.
In February 1931 the Craven Herald reported the start of the Earby lock-out by the employers, 2,000 workers were thrown out of work. Jim Rushton and his fellow Communist Ann Hargreaves of Burnley led a party of ten from the local strike committee on a march to Preston to present a petition to the County Council for out-relief for the unemployed who were refused dole. Another report in the same paper in March 1931 related that The Barnoldswick Council had refused to see a delegation from the Communist Party led by James Rushton. Their reason was that it ‘would set a dangerous precedent’. The petition that Jim wanted to present for support by the Council was for free meals and footwear for all children, a free meeting room for the unemployed, relief schemes to give employment building public baths and worker’s housing, changing huts and lavatories on recreation grounds and all houses to be converted to lavatories working on the water carriage system.
By 1932 the situation was worse, particularly in Earby. Bessie Dickinson relates that “a dispute started at Shuttleworth’s Victoria Mill in May when the employers posted notices for a wage cut of 1/6 in the pound and so the union called for strike action at the mill. Pickets were outside the gate. Only some 58 workers answered and 160 did not, which together with about 26 outside knobsticks enabled the factory to keep running”. Jim organised marches in Earby in support of the strikers and in June he was hauled up before the magistrates at Skipton for ‘inciting an obstruction’ when he spoke to a crowd of 300 pickets outside the mill gates. He received a fine which was paid by a collection amongst the workers who had walked to Skipton to support him. In July he was up on the same charge and was fined the enormous sum in those days of £25 with £4-13-0 costs. A collection was taken, the fine paid and Jim was carried shoulder high by his supporters down Skipton High Street.
During the latter half of 1931 the worst disputes over More Looms and wages were in Burnley and Nelson. By the end of the year both sides were exhausted, the weavers had kept up the pressure on the mills working the system and the manufacturers had retaliated with lock-outs but there was no resolution and the mills had to be re-opened in order for them to survive. The parting shot of the manufacturers at the end of the year was to suggest that a 25% cut in wages on the List Price would give them time to reorganise. The industry was in turmoil as local negotiations had produced a variety of wage rates and nobody knew any more what the standard rate for weaving was. Uncertainty fuelled even more militancy and all over North East Lancashire there were mass demonstrations which were put down by police imported from outside the area. It isn’t going too far to call many of these disturbances pitched battles. Barlick and Earby were spared the worst of this for a while because of the local agreements which had enabled the manufacturers to carry on with the old loom system, reduce wages and secure an uneasy truce. The Amalgamation of Weaver’s Unions favoured accepting the lower wage scale and balloted workers in the Lancashire towns. The workers voted for reinstatement of the old agreements and to strike in support of this but the Amalgamation reported that on the whole, so many agreements had been broken that the strike would not be productive.
In May 1932 Shuttleworths at Earby posted notice of a wage cut of 1/6 in the pound, a seven and a half percent decrease and the workers struck. The strike soon spread and mills like Sough Bridge and Dotcliffe that kept going were besieged by pickets who were, in turn, attacked by police. In August a county wide strike was declared in Lancashire. The dispute spread to Barlick and at Long Ing there was so much trouble that the police over-reacted and baton-charged the crowd. This incident was so bad that Barlick Council complained to the Home Secretary but he was told by the police that the situation had demanded force and that was it, no action taken. At the same time policemen were sleeping in the engine house at Long Ing to forestall any attempt to sabotage the engine.
It’s hard to imagine today that crowds of thousands picketed mills and fought the police in West Craven but there is ample evidence of police brought in from Manchester and Liverpool using more than reasonable force against the workers. I wonder what our reaction would be today if we met a large crowd marching down Gisburn Road towards Westfield where large numbers of police in riot gear were waiting for them. In 1932 such sights were common and many of the older people in the town can still remember them.
The government was watching events unfold in Lancashire and what surprised many observers was the fact that even though times were so hard the workers showed such solidarity. The general view had been that there would only be isolated incidents but instead of this, the whole industry was ablaze with indignation. Bessie Dickinson reports a slogan seen in Nelson on a banner carried on one of the marches that said it all; ‘This is a grand national government, 1914 heroes, 1932 zeroes’. It was clear that post war attitudes were very different from those of pre-war days. Men like Jim Rushton and his comrades were at the forefront of these demonstrations and paid a heavy price, they were fined and some even imprisoned. They had the added disadvantage that they had a pretty good idea that they would be blacklisted and it was doubtful if they would ever find work in the mills again. It is ironic that the next time many of them found work was when the Shadow Factories opened up in Barlick in WW2. All was forgiven, their country needed their labour again.
In 1932 the government called a conference at the Midland Hotel in Manchester and on the 27th of September the ‘Midland Agreement’ was announced. Basically the terms were a wage cut of 1/8½ in the pound. No firm guarantee of re-instatement but that “good will” should be shown. In other words, no victimisation of militants. There were to be early negotiations to finalise the more looms system. The more looms agreement terms arising from the decisions of the Midland Agreement were negotiated in December. The final terms being a wage of 41 shillings for standard cloths woven by a weaver of average ability, if earnings fell below 90% of that figure then a joint investigation could be made. As well as reduced loom speeds, there were to be larger weft packages and help for the weavers in the shape of weft and cloth carriers. There was to be a minimum fall-back wage of 28/- a week but the employers reserved the right to lift warps out, and so in practice the fall back wage could be avoided by emptying a weaver’s looms and putting them on the dole. No minimum wage was agreed.
This was not a good settlement for the weavers and there was much ill will against the Amalgamated Weaver’s and talk of a breakaway union but in the end things seemed to simmer down. This was not the end of the troubles because as the More Looms System was brought in many weavers were put out of work and there was a definite shortage of the ‘goodwill’ mentioned in the Midland Agreement. Jim Pollard the manager at Bancroft mill told me about the case of Tom Whitaker who was a tackler at Dotcliffe. He picketed that mill during the disputes and never worked again in the area. There was a weaver at Bancroft called Preston who was marked down by the management as Communist, he never wove again. Jim said that whilst in theory they couldn’t be sacked, in effect the management made their lives a misery until they left. There were still sporadic outbreaks of trouble, in September 1933 Clough Mill was picketed, apart from disputes over the wage scale there was great unease because Slaters had started a two shift system after the Barnoldswick Flood of July 1932 in order to catch up on outstanding orders. This had been so successful that they kept it on. Part of the eventual settlement was the return to single shift working.
The troubles rumbled on for over three years until in April 1937 the Conciliation Board, recognising the poverty of the weavers, imposed a wage increase on the industry of 1/3 in the pound, the first advance for 17 years. From then on wages and production rose slowly in the mills. However, the damage had been done, in Barlick there were empty mills and much space standing idle in the shed company’s mills. Production was down to probably less than half of what it had been at peak and on top of that, the looms needed fewer weavers. The town had fallen into the classic trap of having all its eggs in one basket, it relied entirely on one industry, cotton weaving and unfortunately it was terminally ill. Once again, things were looking bleak.

It was Monday lunch time and Harold Duxbury and Evered Holdsworth were in the joiners shop on Commercial Street looking out of the window towards Butts and commenting on the threatening storm over Weets and the heavy rain that was falling. Harold said that the first unusual thing they saw was lumps of ice floating down the beck which was running a banker. Then they saw a wall of water come down Butts, there was so much water that the culverts couldn’t take it and so it ran down the road. The beck was running so fiercely that it carried away the back walls of the red brick stables below on the side of the beck and completely destroyed some more old buildings in Butts.
The level rose until it was within a foot of the doors in the slaughter houses below, Butts was completely submerged. The red brick stables below were covered almost to the top of the ground floor. As they watched they saw two hands sticking out of the top of the end stable door and realised that someone was trapped in there. By this time they had been joined by a few more onlookers and Harold and Sid Barnett decided they would have to go and rescue whoever it was. They tied themselves to a rope and set off into the torrent.
When they got to the stable door they found that the problem was that rubble had been washed against it and it was jammed shut so they had to take turns diving below the water to clear the obstruction. They opened the door and found that the man was a carter called Widdup who had been sheltering in the stable when the storm struck. They lashed him onto the rope and signalled to be pulled back to safety.
Harold said they were like drowned rats. He popped over the road and changed into some of his father’s old clothes. The carter seemed to be alright but died shortly afterwards and there was little doubt it was because of his experience. There were two things that stuck in Harold’s mind about this matter: The first was that the report in the paper credited his father with the rescue. The second was that in his pocket was a gold watch he had been given for his twenty first birthday and it never worked again after the flood.
The aftermath of the flood was a seven day wonder, people were walking round the town marvelling at the damage that had been done. Occupation Road was washed out down to the bedrock. The wall of Bancroft Dam was washed away, the bottom of Wapping was choked with rubble and cars that had been washed down to Lamb Hill. The back walls of Clough Mill and Calf Hall Shed were broken in and many businesses and houses flooded. Harold said that at the height of the water there were hen huts, dead animals and all sorts of flotsam rushing through Butts, never to be seen again.
The storm lasted for five hours from 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm. on Monday 11 July 1932. Ernest Widdup, the carter, lived in Bankfield Street. The Craven Herald of 22nd of July reported on progress in cleaning up after the flood. Slater's at Clough reported 60 warps back in and forecast 100 by 25 July.  The mill had to be disinfected and workers gave up their holidays to help.  Morris Horsfield of Mat Horsfield and Son at Calf Hall said they were re-taping soiled warps to clean them but much damaged cloth had been sold locally at 1d per yard.
In the same paper dated 15 July it was reported that Ouzledale Foundry was struck by lightning and destroyed in the flood. Four men were working in the foundry when it was struck. J Ashby, owner of the foundry said that his wife was rescued by neighbours from the house next to the foundry, she had just come out of hospital. Tom Ashby (15) was trapped in the foundry and had to be rescued. R Leeper, manager at Clough Mill and a tackler, Benjamin Whittaker of Cobden Street had a narrow escape. Workpeople were ferried away from Calf Hall on one of Wild's lorries driven by Herbert Newbould. Butts Mill was flooded and warps destroyed. Westfield and Crow Nest suffered flooding. Moss Shed boiler house was flooded. Bancroft and Barnsey escaped without damage apart from the dam wall being washed out at Bancroft. Proctor's furniture shop and Isaac Levi's store in Westgate were flooded, also Townson Demain's greengrocer's shop and C R Waterworth's general store in Walmsgate. It was reported that Mr Proctor had refused an offer of flood insurance a month earlier. Hailstones over an inch in diameter smashed most of the windows in the shed roof at Long Ing shed. Ernie Roberts told me that the water was flowing so strongly at Calf Hall Shed that a rope had to be strung across the road for people to hold on to as they escaped from the mill after the culvert had broken through the floor of the weaving shed.
One of the problems for the mills was that most of them were covered for fire and lightning but not flood. The Corn Mill and the Gas Works were seriously flooded damaging much stock at the Corn Mill and at one point giving serious concerns for the safety of the gasometers.
Mr Sam Yates, well known greengrocer and fur fancier was trapped on the top storey of a building in Butts which housed his rabbits. This is the garden and premises that Harold Duxbury later bought and made into the yard for the Model Joinery Works. Mr and Mrs Golding of 66 Esp Lane were flooded to a depth of 3 feet. A man who was sleeping on one of the stalls in the Butts open air market was marooned and rescued by Mr Charles Edmondson, and PCs Hudson and Spencer. A big problem was that the wooden garage of Wild Brothers on Gillian's Lane, above Bancroft Shed took the full force of the flood and was smashed to pieces. It was this debris and the skips and weft boxes stored there that washed down and blocked the culverts at Ouzledale and Walmsgate thus making the floods worse. Wild's never worked from there again but moved to the Cobden Street garage. In A Way of Life Gone By, by Dorothy Carthy and Margaret Lancaster the address of Ernest Widdup the carter was given as Skipton Road Cottages [Bankfield]. Belle Broughton was working at Barnsey Shed and said the hail broke a lot of windows in the shed roof. Ben Lancaster recalled that hay in the fields at Horton Lane Ends was covered with oil carried down from the mills.
Walt Fisher told me in 2004 that his father, Stanley Fisher, who was engineer at Moss Shed re-arranged the pipework so that he could pump water out of the Bowker Drain and discharge it into the canal. This alleviated the flooding in the shed and boiler house which was caused by water flowing in from the surrounding fields.
The flood was caused by what we would call nowadays a ‘severe weather event’ In 1932 things were more simple, it was a ‘cloud burst’. The salutary thing to bear in mind as we recall the flood is that the choke points in the becks which made things much worse haven’t received any attention. I remind people every now and again of what happened in 1932. The only thing that is certain is that sooner or later it will happen again.

The darkest hour is before the storm. This was never more true than Barlick in 1939. On top of all the problems in the cotton industry trouble was brewing again in Europe. This may be a good time to have a snapshot of the town. To the casual observer, very little has changed since 1914. We have a shiny new war memorial in Letcliffe Park commemorating the dead of The Great War. I always thought this was a funny place for it as it meant that everyone had to climb a steep hill to get there. Eventually it was moved to its present site at the end of Wellhouse Road. Many of the roads are paved with tarmac. The town has electricity and a new road has been built down to Kelbrook as part of the government’s programme of works for the unemployed. The branch railway is still in place and there are local bus services connecting the town to Skipton and Colne. Motor transport is common and the canal is falling into disuse apart from some coal deliveries. Most coal now comes into Barlick via the railway and is transhipped in the coal yard, part of the sidings which stood on the green where Cravenside old people’s home is today. There are two cinemas and a thriving musical culture which is revelling in the advent of radio and the ability to hear first class music in your own home. There are rumours of something called television but it hasn’t reached us yet.
The really big change apart from the silence of the mills which have closed is in people’s attitudes and political affiliations. For over a hundred years the cotton manufacturers had reigned supreme and acted like feudal lords towards their workers. True, they were not all despots, many of them were well thought of and treated their workers well and with respect. After all, they knew which side their bread was buttered, without the skill and loyalty of their workforce the mills were useless. The industrial struggles since 1921 had blown this world apart. Too many people had been damaged by the fight for survival in the weaving industry. This wasn’t all the management’s fault, they were in the grip of forces they couldn’t control and didn’t fully understand. The end result was that the workers were still needed but would never be patronised again. Something had changed in Barlick, the first part of the twentieth century had taken our innocence, we were different.
Meanwhile, over in Germany a man called Adolph Hitler had been busy climbing to the top of the heap. Like many Germans he had never forgotten the humiliation of Germany at the Versailles Conference of 1919 and was convinced that he could lead a greater Germany towards a Third Reich that would last a thousand years. In September 1939 it all came to a head when he invaded Poland and we were at war again.
I’m not here to recount the story of the Second World War, I want to concentrate on its effect on Barlick. Although we didn’t know it at the time the government had been making plans they knew that WW2 was going to be notable for the fact that air power and bombing was going to a the main weapon. A common saying in those days was that ‘the bomber will always get through’. This was correct and we had very little defence against aerial attack. It was known that the Luftwaffe knew where our major aircraft factories were and plans were made to move essential war industries to parts of the country where they would be safe from bombing. Among the places noted as being suitable were the empty mills of Barlick, Earby and Clitheroe. As soon as the war started they were designated as ‘shadow factories’ and the vulnerable industries were moved to safety. We can’t do better than hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Barnoldswick and Earby Times which tells the story:
November 20th this year (2000) is the 60th anniversary of the Viking invasion of Barlick. No, I haven’t lost my marbles, these particular Vikings didn’t wear funny hats and drag longships around with them, they were fitters who worked for the Rover Car Company whose logo, carried on the radiators of all their cars was a Viking Longship. A couple of months ago I got a surprise telephone call from Eddie Spencer who used to live in the house where I am now. The good news about Eddie is that he has survived a serious operation and is now on the way to a full recovery but with a bit less lung capacity than he started out with. He rang me up the other day to remind me that November 20th is the 60th anniversary of the day he and his five mates came up from Coventry to inaugurate what was then The Rover Company’s but is now Rolls Royce’s association with the town. He wanted to tell the story for our readers but didn’t feel he was capable so I offered to tell do it for him. What follows is Eddie’s account of Rover in Barlick. (Eddie died from lung cancer shortly after I wrote this but he had told his story.)
“The week leading up to November 20th 1940 had been bad in Coventry, we had several twelve hour air raids and the city was getting knocked to bits. I was working for the Rover Company as a service fitter and since the beginning of the war we had been working flat out reconditioning Armstrong Siddely Cheetah aero engines which were used in Oxford trainers and Anson coastal defence aircraft. It was pretty obvious to everyone that the Germans knew exactly where the Rover works was and it was only a matter of time before it was completely flattened and essential war production ceased. The government had foreseen this danger and the Ministry of Aircraft Production [MAP] had scoured the country looking for out of the way places where there were empty factories and a local workforce who were used to factory work and could be re-trained. The Pendle area was perfect, plenty of empty mills and a reliable labour force so the MAP requisitioned some of them. They took Bankfield, Calf Hall and Butts in Barlick, Grove at Earby, Sough mill and Waterloo at Clitheroe. (They also took over Bracewell Hall country club as offices) Overnight these were all designated Rover factories and turned over to war production. Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as that!
The first we knew about it was when six of us, Bill Tilsley, Jimmy Johnson, Sid Shaw, Cyril Galby, Les Banks and myself were told to get ourselves up to a place called Barnoldswick and start working. A bus was laid on to take us but Les and I went up in his Singer Bantam car and after many adventures in the dark with no maps, signposts or street lighting and a slipping clutch into the bargain we arrived outside Bankfield Shed in the early hours of the morning. [Eddie later told me that at one point they were somewhere near Leeds and a passer-by told them to drive west until they got into the country and then ask again!] Mrs King, who lived in a house at the end of the lane down to the shed, gave me and Les a pot of tea and a bacon butty at seven o’clock out of the kindness of her heart and this was our welcome to Barlick.
We set to straight away. We found a room, cleaned it out, scrounged some old benches and installed our toolboxes. This was the start of what was to be a lifelong association with the town for both me and the industry. Within a few days, the massive (in those days anyway) RAF ‘Queen Mary’ lorries were delivering aero engines to us for reconditioning. We couldn’t get these wagons down the side of the mill so we had to unload them by hand and carry all the material into the shed. In a very short time we had our act together and were turning good engines out. Conditions were primitive, no heating, no service machinery and we had to do test runs on a makeshift wooden cradle out in the road. If we were short of work at Bankfield we went up to Calf Hall to help with the conversion of that mill into what was to become our permanent home. I can still see the looms in the shed and the look on Mr Metcalfe’s face as we tore out the shafting and gearing to make room for our machinery.
Eventually we moved into Calf Hall and Bankfield started to concentrate entirely on the development of the jet engine. It was strange being in Barlick after the hell that was Coventry in those days. It seemed so quiet and peaceful, we could hardly believe there was a war on at all. I suppose that nowadays we’d be diagnosed as having post traumatic stress! All we knew then was that it was a definite improvement. We were billeted in the Vicarage (later the Masonic Hall opposite Crow Nest Mill) and our landlord and landlady were Jack and Eileen Usher. They were from Birmingham originally and Jack worked on crankshafts with me but his wife looked after the Vicarage. By this time we were full time at Calf Hall and I remember many a morning getting a lift on Town’s horse drawn coal wagon up into the centre on the way to work. Many girls who worked in the factories were billeted at the end of Greenberfield Lane in the building that is now the Rolls Welfare and Sports centre.
Our families were still in Coventry in the middle of the bombing of course and we did all we could to get back home to visit but this wasn’t easy. If we went by rail we had to leave for Skipton at six in the evening and we were lucky if we got to Coventry by eight the following morning. The trains were usually delayed and were packed so we often had to stand all the way. Travelling by car was better but there was the problem of petrol rationing. Fortunately the RAF drivers always had plenty of spare fuel in jerry cans and we could buy them for the price of a pint so we managed!
Life wasn’t all doom and gloom, we managed the odd pint of beer and occasionally we had parties in the billets. We often walked down to Earby via Ben Lane carrying bottles of home made whisky which a man and his sister distilled in a farm not a million miles from the canal bridge. [This ‘white lightning’ was still about in the 1950s and I remember it was in old Lanry bleach bottles] One of our co-workers, Tommy Rushton kept the Commercial so we were often in there as well. I remember we were having a party at the Vicarage just before Christmas 1941 and we ran out of beer so me and my mate went up town with a big enamel jug to get some. We had a couple of pints in the Commercial and set off down Wellhouse Road with the jug. Just before we got to Skipton Road we were stopped by a bobby who wanted to know what we were doing. We told him about the party and offered him a drink. He told us he couldn’t drink on duty, looked round, took his helmet off and lowered the level in our jug for us!
As time went on things got well organised. Gill Brow was built by the Ministry of Aircraft Production as an ancillary to Bankfield which was working on the development of the jet engine. Calf Hall was still doing the Cheetah engines and Butts was where the American Pratt and Whitney engines were overhauled. By 1943 demand for the Cheetahs was falling but a new engine had been developed by Rolls for use as a tank engine, it was an un-supercharged version of the Merlin and was called the Meteor. A deal had been done between Rover and Rolls and we got the new tank engine while Rolls took over Bankfield and the jet engine. Production of the Meteor in Coventry at the rebuilt Rover factory was behind schedule and several of the old Coventry hands, me included, were sent down to help out. We found out later that the main problem was union activity and, in effect, we had been sent down as strike-breakers. This wasn’t a happy time but at least we were with our families. I had met a lass in Barlick called Widdup who lived on Calf Hall Road and I was now a family man myself.
Rolls Royce were in charge at Bankfield and Gill Brow but the other mills stayed in Rover hands until the end of the war when all their facilities were moved back to the Midlands. Rolls however stayed in Barlick and grew into the world class industry they are today. After the war I wanted to stay on with Rover in Coventry but we ended up having to live in a bed sit with a bad landlady and finally we decided to move back to Barlick. I bought the house that Stanley lives in now and started a small garage in Butts yard doing bodywork and paint spraying with a home made compressor. I played about with my motor bikes and cars and it was a happy time until by 1963 things were going downhill in Barlick. I visited my family in my home town of Holyhead which at that time was booming so we decided to move there. So, things have gone full circle, I was born in Holyhead and here I am back home again but I still have fond memories of the funny little town that played such a big part in my life. As soon as I am a bit fitter I shall be back for a visit.”
That’s Eddie’s story as he told it to me. I’m sure he’s right, it’s a good thing to remind ourselves that due to an accident of fate, Hitler gave Barlick a lifeline at a time when the cotton industry was in sharp decline. People forget that many mills were closed before the war started. Where would Barlick have been without the aero engine industry? The ironic thing is that this was not the result of some strategic economic planning, it was an accident of fate. As a historian there’s an even stranger facet to this, when Barlick faced disaster in 1887 with the collapse of the Bracewell empire it was the local people who saved the day by investing in the town. It was these same mills that saved us again in 1940 by becoming an invaluable aid to war production. The cotton industry served us well for 100 years. The aero engine industry has been here for over sixty years. As Eddie said to me, “Good luck to Rolls and the town.” But how long can they go on? What pulls us out of the mire next time round?
Allow me a small but pertinent diversion here. You’ve heard me say so many times when we have been looking at the early history that unfortunately we have no written evidence. At the same time I have said that those sources we have aren’t necessarily accurate, they can be polluted by polemic or downright forgery. You may think that modern history is easy, there is so much evidence available. Unfortunately quantity does not automatically mean quality. Eddie’s story raises a good example.
There is a widespread belief that the raid on Coventry on November the 14th 1940 was forecast by the ‘Ultra’ team at Bletchley Park who had cracked the secret of the Enigma coding machine thanks initially to the work of Polish code breakers, a fact which is sometimes overlooked. It has also been suggested that when Churchill was told of the raid, code-named Moonlight Sonata by the Luftwaffe, he vetoed any action to warn the city as this could have alerted the German High Command to the fact that Enigma codes weren’t secure. I looked into this and as far as I can ascertain it is a myth, a conspiracy theory. Interviewed after the war, scientist R V Jones who was in charge of technical counter-intelligence said that the Enigma signals relating to the raid were not decoded in time. He also said that they were not aware that Coventry was the target. This means that Churchill couldn’t have taken the action attributed to him. The problem is that a small seed of doubt has been sown in our minds. How can we tell which version is true? More is not necessarily better when it comes to evidence and whilst I distrust conspiracy theories instinctively, I can’t prove they are false. Strangely, I am more comfortable with Bede than the internet… I leave you to make up your own minds.
As it turned out, the concept of moving these vital components of the aero industry to Barlick was right, not a single bomb fell on the town during the war. It must have seemed like heaven to workers moved in from Coventry. I was raised in Stockport and never tire of telling my mates in Barlick that they don’t know they were born. Mind you, living under bombardment and later even the occasional V1 was exciting and there was always the shrapnel to collect the following morning from the Ack Ack shells.
The injection of new industry into the old sheds meant that they had to be brought up modern standards. The old flag floors were concreted, electric wiring was installed and modern water supplies and facilities built in. When these mills became vacant after the war they were far better premises than they had been when the war started and were to become a crucial asset. During the war, normal life in Barlick went on. Some mills still ran producing essential textiles for the war effort. There was still a demand for transport, building services, retail trades and of course, plenty of employment for the war effort in the new factories. Many people prefer to draw a veil over the fact that due to the scarcity of labour, pressure was exerted to improve wages. Remember what Eddie said about strikes in Coventry in the tank engine factory. When patriotism hit wage demands it was often the former that suffered. Regardless of the mechanism, many people found that in monetary terms the war made them better off.
There was rationing of course. Britain got perilously close to serious food shortages. The government formed the War Agricultural Committees and these had the power to force farmers to plough land for new crops and improve their husbandry. They also had the power to subsidise the provision of new tractors. The Standard Fordson tractor imported from the USA replaced many horses on the land. It was recognised that shortage of food could impact children’s health and clinics were established to monitor health, give advice and hand out free concentrated orange juice and cod liver oil. That generation of children has been remarked on ever since as the ‘last healthy generation’. I was one of those children and we were better nourished than at any time in history, before or since. Farm productivity increased rapidly and the net effect was that whilst the war wasn’t a time of plenty, there was enough and the modern scourge of obesity wasn’t a problem.
There was a thriving ‘black market’ in farm produce. Again, nobody knows the real scale but I can remember that my father used to come home many a time with ‘something extra’ to supplement the rations. I can’t speak for Barlick because I wasn’t here but a few years ago I was talking about making pastry with an old lady and she showed me how to make the most wonderful short pastry. You simply mix equal quantities of cream and flour. I tried it and I can tell you it melts in the mouth. I asked her where she had learned it and she told me that she was a farmer’s wife during the war and they had so much cream they didn’t know what to do with it. So you see, there was always room for a bit of private enterprise. The thing that fascinates me is that though everyone knew it was illegal it was a universal practice and regarded almost as a sport. It wasn’t seen as a hurting the national war effort, more as getting one up on Hitler.
Young people nowadays would get a shock if they had to go back to night time in Barlick during the war. The street lights went out in September 1939 and every window, including the great expanses of north light roofs in the weaving sheds, had a ‘blackout curtain’. These were drawn at night and Air Raid Wardens and the police patrolled the streets to enforce the ban. The cry of ‘put that light out’ became one of the most well known phrases of the war. Motor vehicles were fitted with louvered plates over the lens and emitted the dimmest of lights. Barlick at night with no motor traffic was pitch black if there was no moon. We have forgotten today what pitch black is and I often think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one moonless night a year when all the lights could be switched off just to remind us what darkness is like.
For six long years Barlick endured the war and all the problems it brought. Constant worry for wives and mothers with husbands, sons and daughters in danger in foreign parts. The daily worry of finding food and fuel. The niggling little hardships like the black out, make do and mend of clothes and even getting new clog irons. There were constant drives to collect scrap metals for use in the war effort and if you look at the wall tops of most gardens in the town you will see the regular holes in them which used to hold the supports for the cast iron railings which were cut off and taken away to be melted down. In odd places they survived. Next time you are in Salterforth take notice of the garden walls on the cottages between Kelbrook Road and the Anchor Inn, for some strange reason the railings survived.

Whilst the Second World War was a horrible and destructive event, it made it possible for Barlick to start a new chapter in its history with the arrival of the aero engine industry. A terribly black cloud definitely had a silver lining. Good came out of bad. This got me to thinking about the number of times in my life something that looked like a disaster at the time had actually proved, in the long term, to be a benefit. For instance, if I hadn’t been made redundant in 1978 I wouldn’t have gone to university and my life would have been completely different. How many workers were spared Bissinosis, rupture or deafness by the closure of the mills? It seems to me that the reason why this line of thought can be so fascinating is that the benefits come as a complete contrast to the original evil.
In 2003 I noticed an event just before Christmas. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Great Smog of London and there were several commemorative pieces in print and on the radio. I’m afraid my prejudices start to poke through a bit here. The anniversary was presented as though there hadn’t been any smog anywhere else. I’m not saying that the fogs in London weren’t bad, I’d just like to put it on record that other parts of the country had fogs which were just as bad and perhaps even worse.
For the benefit of my younger readers who have never seen an old fashioned ‘smoke fog’ or smog, it occurs when you have a lot of pollution from industry which is producing very small particles of carbon, sulphur and a lot of other nasty and acidic chemicals. This mixes with natural fog which is suspended water droplets and under certain weather conditions it is trapped, say in a valley, and cannot get away. Instead of diluting in the wind and dispersing, it sits there getting thicker and more poisonous until eventually it becomes a killer.
I was born in Heaton Norris in Stockport. Stockport sits in a river valley. It was heavily industrialised before the war and was a breeding ground for smogs, they were common even in summer. Also because of the river valley, Stockport has one of the biggest brick railway viaducts in the country which carries the main Manchester to London line over the river valley and it was a key target for the enemy in WW2. If it could have been destroyed and the rail link cut it would have been a massive blow to the war effort.
Before the war, and during the war itself, the Germans put a lot of effort into obtaining aerial photographs of prime targets. It was noticed in the 1930’s that the German airship Hindenburg used to get lost quite often when coming in over England from America. It flew over Nelson and the Rossendale Valley and there was grave suspicion that this was deliberate, they were taking reconnaissance photographs. It was the belief that the enemy had this sort of knowledge that prompted the government to move vital industries to safe areas, like the Rover Company to Barlick.
This being the case, as we sat in the Anderson Shelter in the garden at Heaton Norris listening to some very heavy bombs falling all round us, what we couldn’t understand was why they never hit the viaduct! It wasn’t until after the war, when the Luftwaffe archives were captured and examined, that we found out what had saved us. It was industrial pollution, the Stockport smog. They couldn’t see us or the viaduct. Every aerial photograph of Stockport had one thing in common, a big black smudge hiding the centre of the town. We had our own protective umbrella of dirty stinking fog!
In case you younger ones are thinking that this is a bit far-fetched, I can remember the fogs of the Autumn of 1952 and they were as bad as anything I’d seen up to then or since. I can remember coming out of school on to Wellington Road in winter in the dark and if you stood under a lamp standard and looked up you couldn’t see the lamp even though it was lit. There was only a dim halo of light and if you held out your hand in front of you, you couldn’t see it. All the traffic had stopped except for the trams and the only way they kept moving was because the conductor walked in front carrying an oil flare. These were cast iron lamps with a rope for a wick fuelled with thick oil and they gave an orange flickering flame which was easier to see in the fog. It took almost two hours to get from Davenport to Heaton Moor Road, about five miles. When I eventually got home, my mother went to the corner shop about 200 yards away and got lost, she didn’t get home for almost an hour. Imagine how bad the visibility was to make this happen.
So, the message is, even the darkest cloud can have a silver lining. WW2 brought industry to Barlick. The smogs of 1952 killed thousands of people all over the country but led eventually to the Clean Air Acts. During the war smog saved Stockport Viaduct. The only problem is that if there was ever another bombing war we wouldn’t be so lucky because the Clean Air legislation has worked so well that modern satellite photographs of Stockport are crystal clear. Get the tin hats out lads!

There are 59 names on the war memorial for 1939 – 1945. The victory had been won at a terrible price even though it was far less than the slaughter on the Western Front in the Great War. What is often forgotten is the legacy of ill-health suffered for years after the war by members of the forces who hadn’t been wounded but had picked up deadly and sometimes long-lasting tropical diseases. Ernie Roberts, tackler at Bancroft Mill, once told me that he had suffered from what he graphically described as ‘boot-lace diarrhoea’ ever since he contracted Black Water Fever in Burma. He told me a funny story about this. He was sent back to a field hospital where he was to be assessed to see if he was ill enough to be repatriated. One of the diagnostic procedures was examination of a sample of his stool. Ernie retired to a small tent with his receptacle and produced the sample. Two soldiers who were there for the same thing asked Ernie what he had that produced such a foul smelling fluid. Ernie told them, they bought a sample off him straight away for ten bob apiece and as far as Ernie knew they got back to Blighty OK. Jim Pollard, the weaving manager at the same mill took two years to recover from a fever he caught in Africa and it affected his health for the rest of his life. While I was driving the cattle wagon for Richard Drinkall I used to deliver to a man called Bill Robertshaw at Summerseat near Bury. He was deaf, blind in one eye and had a limp. All this was a result of bad treatment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. There were many more like them but they usually kept quiet and only those close to them knew the price they paid and continued to pay until they died. We should remember these things.
Like the Great War, the experiences of those who survived changed them forever. Barlickers were not the same docile lot that had seen their men marched off to the Somme in 1914. Add the hard times in the inter-war years and then the effects of WW2 and it is little wonder that in the 1945 election the country rejected the old guard and brought in a transforming Labour Government under Clement Attlee. Everyone knew that there had to be a change and it was this tide of reformation that swept in the National Health Service, the improvements to the benefit provisions and nationalisation of what Aneurin Bevan called ‘The Commanding Heights of the Economy’. There was another similarity with the end of the Great War, WW2 had destroyed the pre-war patterns of trade and Britain, in common with most of Europe, was flat broke. There is good historical evidence to suspect that this wasn’t entirely bad news for the US government, they had their eyes on the Commonwealth which was seen as a valuable resource and it was in their interest for Britain to emerge from the war in debt. It was only the growing unrest in the colonies as they sought independence and broke out into armed rebellion in places like Malaya that made this look less attractive. We had expended our blood and gold in the struggle against evil. Luckily, the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles hadn’t been forgotten. Instead of punishing the German nation by imposing impossible demands for reparations, the United States of America realised that it was in everyone’s best interests to restore the manufacturing and trading capacity of Europe as soon as possible and the Marshall Plan was conceived whereby billions of dollars were invested in rebuilding the shattered industries and economies. Unfortunately we didn’t qualify and had to rely on our own efforts. Even with the benefit of a resurgent Europe Barlick was in for a long slog. Food rationing continued for another ten years and there were shortages of raw materials. Most important was the shortage of credit based on national reserves to finance imports of essential goods. There was only one answer, ‘export or die’! A new slogan appeared in the north west plastered all over the press and on notices pasted up in the mills; ‘Britain’s Bread Hangs By Lancashire’s Thread!’
Aircraft production wasn’t the only reason for requisitioning mills. In Barlick some mills had been used for storing tobacco in bond, newsprint and looms stacked up which had been removed from other mills to make space available for war purposes. These mills were released first and as soon as they were available they were returned to their original purpose as soon as possible and the cotton industry repeated the experience of 1919, it roared back into life but on a smaller scale than pre-war. The old manufacturers had a bit of a problem, the advent of the aero industry in the town had absorbed many skilled workers and shown the rest that factory work could be done in pleasant conditions and for a higher wage. The textile mills couldn’t match the new wages but they could take steps to make themselves more attractive. For the first time since the Great War, labour was at a premium, the model lodging houses were gone and so had the pool of tramp weavers used in the past to keep the regular workers in line. Free transport was laid on from the town centre to outlying mills, canteens supplying hot food were installed, the old system of punitive rules on faults and waste in the weaving shed vanished, the management leaned over backwards to make themselves more attractive. They were helped by the natural preference of the workers to ‘get back to normal’ in an industry they knew inside out. It was the same syndrome as the consequences of the Black Death but this time there was no pressure at government level to scale back the improvements. We had a Labour government and they encouraged the raising of standards. Much was done to improve the conditions but this didn’t alter the fact that the weaving industry had been worn down by six years of war and inadequate maintenance. Their wasn’t enough capital to innovate and modernise machinery and even if there had been the plant wasn’t available. What is often forgotten now is that no new plant could be purchased without a licence from the government, even the new machinery needed to get us out of the mire was rationed. We had a viable industry as long as demand and prices remained high but there were other textile manufacturers all over the globe fighting to establish themselves. For the next thirty years of decline the cry was going to be against ‘Foreign Competition’. With hindsight we can see that the post war boom was a flash in the pan, we were too expensive and not efficient enough and by the mid-1970s the textile industry that had supported Barlick’s explosive growth was dead.
A gloomy picture, but there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Rover had left the area and gone back to Coventry but Rolls Royce stayed in Barnoldswick and expanded and became an important staple of the local economy. The demand for household goods was strong and a low-tech industry like manufacturing beds and mattresses could be set up in any of the old mills that hadn’t been modernised. We saw Silentnight establish itself and go from strength to strength. This same demand for goods was stimulating other industries to look for space to expand and Barlick and Earby had two vital assets, we had the mills that had been modernised for the aero industry which now lay vacant and we had a workforce that had been accustomed to working at a high level of skill at the Rover works. This made us very attractive to outside industry and the mills rapidly came to life again as plastics manufacturers, tractor makers, small engineering firms and even woollen textile and asbestos filter makers grabbed the available space at rents which compared to the national average were very low. Herr Hitler’s intervention had done more for the area than any other government policy, Barlick was a viable manufacturing town again but with a much broader industrial base. We were no longer a single industry town.

The older I get, the more I realise that whilst in some ways I am very aware of how unfair and devious the world can be, in other ways I am still very naïve. I had a good example of this when I whiled away the time in Minnesota researching the history of the Krupps armaments works in Essen, Germany.
As many of you will know, I have a deep and abiding interest in the two World Wars and the effects it had on the victims. Anyone who doubts the significance of this should take a few minutes to read the names on the war memorial which now stands opposite the Post Office. Any event as big as a World War is bound to throw up surprising facts. I’ve known for years that due to the lead the German chemical firm of I G Farben had in aniline dyes, the British Army marched off to war in 1914 in khaki uniforms finished using German technology. Something like this is an accident of history and can be readily understood. However, I’ve now learned that there were other overlapping fields of Anglo-German cooperation that were definitely not accidents and were not brought to an end by the war.
In 1904 Krupps held the patent to the most sophisticated fuses in the world. The fuse is the essential part of a high explosive shell that ensures that it explodes when it has hit the target and not before. These fuses were so good that Armstrong, the major British arms firm, negotiated with Krupp and agreed that in return for the rights to use the design they would pay one shilling and threepence (six new pence) for every fuse made. They were using these fuses when we went to war with Germany in 1914 and in answer to a question in Parliament assured the government that since the outbreak of the war, no royalties had been paid. What they didn’t say was that they were keeping count and setting aside the royalties in a special account (the ‘K’ Account).
Imagine the scene; you are a German soldier in the mud of Flanders and a British shell lands next to you. Luckily, it is a dud, it doesn’t go off, and there were many of these. If you’d taken the trouble to clean the mud off the shell you would have found it was stamped ‘Kp Z’ and if you were really clued up you would realise that this meant it was fitted with Krupp’s patent fuse. How curious, German soldiers being killed with shells initiated by their own country’s fuses. It got even more curious after the war, Krupps put in a claim to Armstrong’s for £260,000, they had been counting. In the end, after a long legal battle, Armstrong’s paid Krupps £40,000 in full settlement of the claim. Now I know that this was probably legally quite correct but this is where my naivety comes in. I would have thought that if we were at war all contracts would have been void. Say we had gained knowledge of the design by espionage, I doubt we would have paid anything. I just can’t get my head round the fact that we were paying the enemy for every shell we fired at him!
Even more suspect was an organisation called ‘The Harvey United Steel Company’ which didn’t exist except on paper. It was collaboration between the German, British, French and American branches of the Harvey Steel Company. When it was constituted in 1903 one of the directors was Herr Klupfel of Krupps. The steel companies exchanged patents for the manufacture of case-hardened steel and there is good reason to suspect that the shell company was formed to collude in the maintenance of the price of armour plate. I don’t know what the effect was in this country but the German government found they were paying twice the going price for armour plate. The bottom line is of course that profits often come before patriotism.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised, after all it was a French Excocet missile that destroyed the Sheffield in the Falklands. It’s a big problem and I don’t have the answer to it. An armaments industry can’t see into the future, our allies today may be enemies tomorrow, but I can’t help feeling that there is something shameful in profit from innocent deaths, especially when you are killing your own people.
Looked at from this point of view, the old cotton manufacturers in Barlick look positively saintly. They may have been hard on their workers in pursuit of profit but at least they weren’t strangling them with the cloth!

A snapshot of Barlick in 1950 wouldn’t have looked a lot different than 1919. All the mills looked the same but there was less smoke coming out of the chimneys. The modern mills were mostly powered by electricity, the day of the steam engines was drawing to a close. The streets are busy with foot and motor traffic. Motor lorries are common, road transport had taken over as the major freight carrier and there were thriving haulage firms well established. The retail shops were much the same but some trades had declined like tinsmiths, backstone bakers, market gardens supplying fruit and vegetables and anything connected with horses like stable proprietors and farriers. Horses were a rarity. The advent of electricity in the 1930s had generated a new breed of retailers but they had been held back by WW2. After the war they rapidly became an important sector of the local economy. Everyone who could afford to buy wanted washing machines, electric cookers, radios and of course, television sets which were just coming on to the market.
With the end of Clothing Coupons, the rationing scheme which had reduced everyone to make do and mend, the fashion industry revived and new clothes became available. Even as a ten year old lad I can remember the shock of seeing pictures of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ fashions in the newspaper. Until then clothes had simply been something everybody wore to keep warm and decent, the concept of ‘fashion’ had never entered my mind. The only virtue I recognised in clothes was what had been instilled into me during the war, phrases like ‘he’ll grow into it’ and ‘is it hard-wearing’ come to mind. The world was suddenly becoming a brighter place but of course it wasn’t all sweetness and light. The nation stumbled on through economic crisis, devaluation of the currency and occasional downturns in trade. On top of that we were all worried about the possibility of Atomic War which would annihilate the world. I remember talking it over with my wife Vera at the time, wondering whether it was responsible to bring children into such an uncertain world. We decided that it was alright and had three children but we were not alone in our doubts. British troops were still fighting in far-flung corners of the world and at home civil resistance was building against the Bomb.
On the plus side we had entered the age of the National Health Service, the greatest social benefit ever introduced into the country. We had no fear of illness dragging us into poverty, treatment was free and the state paid sickness benefit if you were ill. One of the unexpected benefits of war is the advance in medical treatments it stimulates. The Great War had produced amazing advances in plastic surgery and wound treatment. WW2 stimulated mass immunisation policies that rapidly eliminated so many killer diseases. The supervision of the Ministry of Food had increased knowledge of nutrition and the nation came out of the war healthier than it went in. One of the greatest advances was the discovery of antibiotics like Penicillin. These treatments have been abused by over-use and are blamed for some modern afflictions but it’s as well to remember the number of lives they saved. The first dose of Penicillin was like a miracle, I remember in the 1960s having a bad cut on my shin that refused to heal, after one application of a simple gauze pad soaked in penicillin ointment I was as good as new inside a week. Dental treatment and opticians were available to all and unlike today, freely available.
Education had been revolutionised. Barlick got the Board Schools late in the 19th century, by 1950 there was a complete system of schooling from the earliest years up to leaving. Access to higher education hadn’t quite arrived but was moving that way. National Service in the armed forces was taking young men out of the town for two years and exposing them to a completely new life and in many cases travel all over the world. It wasn’t welcomed when it happened to you and is a hateful idea in 2008 but many of those who were inducted at the time did their service and returned to civilian life as better and more experienced people than they were when they went in. Some of us still see it as a life-changing experience that introduced us to the concepts of discipline and personal pride. This in itself was a form of further education that we have lost now.
The road system hadn’t changed beyond the building of Kelbrook New Road. It was still the medieval pattern of the last 1000 years. The Water, sewage and gas supply systems were essentially the Victorian infrastructure of the 19th century with the addition of electricity mains in the 1930s. The branch railway to the main line at Earby was unchanged and still had steam locomotives. The mills and much of the housing were 19th century build. The only change we might notice is out at Gill Brow there is a totally new factory built for Rolls Royce. The hostel at the end of Greenberfield lane is being transformed into a social club and there are construction scars at Coates and Salterforth where new housing estates are going to be built by the Urban District Council. These were to be modern affordable homes for rent. They weren’t replacements for houses destroyed by bombing, they were additional build which reflected the relative prosperity of Barlick and Earby after the war. It wasn’t always easy to recognise at the time, people tend to focus on what is wrong rather than the bright side but on the whole Barlick had escaped the war lightly with improvements to the industrial and social base and no bomb damage. Bad though things looked at times, we had a good foundation for the next 50 years.

I wrote this eight years ago after a hectic summer. I’m including it because it’s a good illustration of how National Service broadened your outlook and had repercussions down the years. I should explain that for twenty years I taught American students from Carleton College in Northfield for a week every year and Martha and Roger Paas were the professors who were associated with the course. Over the years we became, and still are, good friends.
“I’ve been travelling since mid-April when I went to Northfield as usual. I was there, with Martha and Roger, until June 10th when we all set off for Europe. They went to Cambridge and I came home to Barlick for a few days. On the 14th of June I went down to Cambridge, we all flew out to Frankfurt and there we met the Carleton Students who had flown direct from America. We then had ten days travelling across Germany and finished up in Flanders. I got home on June 26th and have been here ever since getting straight. On July 14th I go to Keele to teach the students for a week and then attend Martha’s daughter’s wedding in Cornwall, from there I come straight back home.
Martha, Roger and I were in Frankfurt meeting the kids and getting them on the train for Rothenburg where we stayed two nights in the jugendherberge or Youth Hostel. Rothenburg is a wonderful survival, it was bombarded badly in the later stages of the war and when it was rebuilt the locals decided to keep it exactly as it was. The result is a slightly ersatz but fascinating medieval survival complete with walls, gates and watchtowers. We spent two days sucking the juice out of the place and then moved on to Nuremberg. One of the main things that struck me at Rothenburg was that the war memorial in a chapel on the medieval walls not only recorded the names of people who fought in the army but those civilians who died in the town during the war.
 At Nuremberg we settled in at the jugendherberge next to the Kaiser Burg on the north side of the town and explored the town. My main interest, apart from the churches and architecture was the fact that Hitler had chosen Nuremberg as the spiritual centre of his Third Reich. I’d never fully understood why this was so but learned a lot from Roger and Martha while I was there. Nuremberg, in addition to being a major trading town after the downfall of the north German Hanseatic League, was the seat of the Holy Roman Emperors. The HRE was elected by the seven German Electoral Princes and was the titular head of most of Western Europe under the auspices of the Pope. This was the case until 1806 when the post was dissolved by the last HRE to prevent Napoleon from usurping the title. This was the high point of German power in Europe during medieval times and into the nineteenth century and Hitler wanted to associate this period of power with his Third Reich so he chose Nuremberg for his rallies and the headquarters of the National Socialist Party.
 We went to the marching grounds on the south side of the city where there are the remains of the stadium built by Speer on the Zeppelin Field which was made famous by Lenni Riefenstahl’s film ‘Triumph Of The Will’. Unfinished and partly ruined, the space is tremendously evocative of what went on there in the 30’s and 40’s. The scale is vast and in the background are the remains of the unfinished Speer Stadium which was to have been the venue for the Olympic Games in perpetuity and was designed to hold 450,000 spectators. The ‘Marching Road’ which passes in front of the reviewing stand on the Zeppelin Field points directly towards the Kaiser Burg at the north end of the town and was intended to make the association with the Holy Roman Empire. [After the war, a big block of flats was built to obscure the view and hide the association] The concept and the scale are so overwhelming that it is easy to see why it was such a potent symbol and so useful to the Nazis when they were building their movement. I can’t tell you how evocative it was to stand on the same podium that Hitler stood on. As you looked out over that vast space you could see the scenes from Riefenstahl’s film in your mind’s eye.
 We went from the Zeppelin Field to Room 600 at the Courts of Justice in Nuremberg. This is not normally open to the public as it is still used as a courtroom for murder trials but we were lucky and managed to get in. This is of course the room where the Nuremberg Trials were conducted after WW2. My first impression was that it was too small but this was soon explained when the court official told us that the end wall had been knocked out by the Americans to make room for the press and spectators. The site was chosen because it had direct access to the prison behind by an elevator and after the trials and the executions, the prison was demolished.
 The court official was intrigued when he heard that I had guarded the surviving nazi leaders in Spandau Gaol in 1953. He said he couldn’t remember any visitor to the room who had done so. The American students were fascinated by this fact. It is all so long ago to them and here they were with someone who had actually been there and spoken to some of the prisoners.  I can’t say I was disturbed by my visit to room 600 but I was certainly affected particularly so because I knew that later in the week we would be at Ieper in Flanders looking at the WW1 battlefields. It disturbed me a bit when the kids sat in the judge’s seats for photographs but I realised that this was because I had a different frame of reference and shouldn’t impose my standards on them.
Three days later we were in Brugge boarding the coach that was to take us to Ieper. We were accompanied by Brigid Pailthorpe, soon to be mother in law to Martha’s daughter Emily, who is two years older than me and whose father and father in law both served on the Western front in the Great War. I got on with her well right from the start because she knew I had been very helpful to Emily and her son Daniel throughout the negotiations for residence in UK for Emily. We also found we had other things in common because her father in law was a surgeon at Ballieul, the dressing station where my granddad, John Shaw Challenger, died of his wounds on Feb 1st 1917. He could have been the surgeon who treated him.
 We went round a lot of sites that day and Brigid and I were frequently in tears and supporting each other. The impression of useless death was overwhelming and reached a high water mark at eight o’clock that evening at the Menin Gate where volunteers from the Ieper Fire Brigade sound the Last Post every night. I can’t ever remember being more moved. The Last Post has always had this effect on me as I learned during my army service what its significance is. It is sounded every day at military depots and tells the story of a soldier’s daily life in bugle calls ending with the Last Post which signals the end of the day. The symbolism of it is that it reminds all the soldiers of their fallen comrades and whilst I have never subscribed to the military ethos I have always been moved by the reminder of what I consider to be all those wasted lives. To hear it at the Menin Gate was overwhelming. Brigid and I were close to each other and weeping but both keeping very private. I noticed that Julia, one of the students, was watching us and was evidently in distress. I spoke to her about it the following day and she said she wanted to help us but didn’t know what to do. I told her I had seen her and the fact that she was so aware of us was a great help. At this, she burst into tears again. I found out afterwards from Martha that the students were up until 2:30 in the morning talking about the day. At first, I was a bit worried about the fact that we were exposing them to such terrible things and such deep feelings. On reflection I think it was alright and may have helped them to understand why our frame of reference is different than theirs. One thing is certain, they were impressed and changed by the experience and I think it can only be for the good.
In conversation afterwards there was another coincidence. Brigid was asking me about my service in Berlin and guarding the war criminals at Spandau and I mentioned teaching the 1st Battalion the Black Watch how to handle the 17pdr. Anti tank gun when they came to Berlin straight from service in Korea. She told me that a man called Moncrieff would be at Emily’s wedding in Cornwall and that he was an intelligence officer with the Black Watch in Berlin and had been in Korea with them. He will almost certainly remember me, perhaps not personally but the fact that one of the Cheshires came down to instruct them. I can foresee a fascinating conversation when I meet him. Brigid was amazed at the coincidence and also the fact that the Colonel of the Black Watch had given me permission to wear the kilt. She said it was unheard of and was yet another point of contact between us. I have a feeling that Brigid and I will be in touch for many years to come because I was certainly impressed by her.
[I wrote this before the wedding in Cornwall and my meeting with Jock Moncrieff. (Lt-col. John Graham Moncrieff, OSTJ (The Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem) The day of the wedding arrived and I met the Moncrieff. He had seen the old CO of the BW 1st Battalion at church the weekend before and mentioned the story to him and he remembered me teaching their A/Tank the 17pdr but thought I was dead as the last he heard about me I was being carried out en route to Hanover Hospital with what turned out to be botulism. He sent a message with Jock Moncrieff to say he was glad I had survived and his permission to wear the Black Watch kilt still applied.  Brigid was most impressed because I think she had her doubts about the story.”
We all had a long conversation about this afterwards and I pointed out that it was a good job the old Colonel had remembered me or I would have been regarded as simply a teller of tall stories. The moral of this story is that your exaggerations or fabrications will always find you out. None of it would ever have happened had it not been for National Service and I for one have always been glad that I was made to do it. I think of things like this whenever I hear arguments against some form of National Service. I could never be described as a militant person and I hate the idea of war but if I had my time to do over again I would still do my two years. I suppose that makes me some sort of old buffer.

We’re nearing the end of our story now. Barlick is marching forward into the second half of the 20th century in much the same form as we see it today. It would be superfluous to try to tell you what most of you already know, because you’ve lived through it. For the benefit of any younger readers, we had one industrial scare in the 1950s when Rolls Royce failed. A government rescue package saved the day by nationalising the firm and it was later split up and sold off but we kept our factories. Barnoldswick is now the world’s leading centre for the design and manufacture of ‘wide chord fan blades’ an essential component of all modern high-efficiency jet engines. The march of easily available credit and technological advance increased the number of cars on our streets and electronic devices available to all. Fewer people went into industry but the growth in the retail and service industries soaked up the surplus and kept local unemployment near its historically low level. More people commuted by car to work in nearby towns and with the rise of the Cathedrals of Choice, the supermarkets, our shopping patterns changed. We saw the rise of the ‘out of town shopping opportunity’ and to some of us wrinklies it looked as though shopping was less of a necessity and more of a leisure activity stoked up by wall to wall advertising, particularly on TV. We lost the railway in the late 50s under the Beeching axe but gained new bus services. The last steam-driven mill, Bancroft Shed, closed in 1978, I remember it well because I was running the engine and was made redundant. There were a few looms left in the town but these soon followed the rest of the industry down the pan. I suppose the miracle of the last sixty years is that a town that was totally reliant on a single industry could lose it and come out unscathed.
In 2008 it is beginning to look as though we are seeing the end of the glory days. The biggest threat to Barlick after the two world wars was foreign competition for markets, today it is resources which are under attack. The era of cheap and easily available energy and food are over. 200 years of being resource-rich has softened us and raised our expectations, we are in for a big re-adjustment. As I write this we are suffering from the effects of the greatest global economic crisis since 1926 and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen.
All quite gloomy isn’t it. So, after 30 years of examining the Barlick Story, what do I predict for the future? I have to say I am an incurable optimist. Over the last two thousand years we have faced great change, tragedy, wars and economic shocks, the one thing that can’t be denied is that we have survived and prospered. We shall certainly survive and whether we prosper or not depends on how we define prosperity. If we are blinkered and use the narrow definition of the ability to consume we are in trouble. There are other things in life besides wealth and consumption. Our ancestors understood this perfectly through all their troubles and afflictions. They pitched their expectations to a level that was achievable. That is the key to the future, we have to re-adjust our expectations and be satisfied with less. If we can do this we will find that the rewards far outweigh the penalties.
We have one great advantage, we live in a human-sized walking-distance town set in the middle of glorious countryside. Given employment inside the town and good retail services we can cut back on the need for personal transport and maintain a reasonable standard of living. If we concentrate more on our local amenities and get back into the simple pursuits of going for a walk in the fields instead of driving miles through choking traffic to someone else’s beauty spot we will not only save money but we will be healthier and improve the quality of our lives. I know, it all sounds simplistic and too good to be true, but I really do believe that this is the way we will surmount the latest shocks to our lives.
We’ve reached the end of my story. Thanks for staying the course. I haven’t been able to tell you all there is to know and I’m sure some of you will be sat there saying “Why didn’t he tell us about so and so”? Who knows, I may write more about those very things. Don’t turn the page looking for suggestions for further reading, there aren’t any. If anything I have written about interests you ask at the library or if you have access to a computer do a search on the internet. You will find all the reading you need! So many books and so little time. I hope that you have gained something from looking at the things that interest me about Barlick. We have a long and successful history and this has given me my story. Some of it may stick in your minds as you walk round the town and enhance your enjoyment. If it does, it has all been worthwhile.

SCG/12 November 2008

abandoned villages 116
accidental steel 53
Addison Act 278
Admergill 140
Adolph Hitler 298
aero engines 299
Agrarian Utopia 229
Agricola 198
Agriculture 17
air pollution 207
aircraft factories 299
Aire Gap 12, 69
Alan’s Seat 140
ale 39
Alexander 94
Alexander of Fountains 139
Alfred 81
Alfred Nobel 275
Allen Edmundson the Younger 142
Ambrose Barcroft 159
Ambrosius 65
American Civil War 244
Anarchy 125
anchorites 92
Anderson Shelter 307
Aneurin Bevan 200
Angles 65, 84
Anglesey 17
Anglo Saxon Chronicle 125
Anglo Saxons 66
Angus Bethune Reach 231
Ann Hargreaves 290
Antonine Wall 55
apartheid 213
Archduke Franz Ferdinand 271
Argyll 68
Ariminum 64
Armorica 40
armour plate 313
Arthur 31, 65
Arthur Darcy 129
Aspirin 234
Atkinson's Preservative 234
Atomic War 314
Augustine 65, 72
Aulus Plautius 41, 45
Avery Wilkinson’s 222
back kits 172
Backstone 185
Backstone baking 251
badger 156
Badgery Estate Papers 227
Bancroft 159
Bancroft Farm 219
Bancroft Mill 288
Bancrofts Farm 172
Bank Newton 134
Bank of Liverpool 273
Bankfield 169
Bankfield Shed 169, 300
banking system 180
Bannester 144
Bannister 129
Baptist Chapel 205
Baptists in Barnoldswick 191
bar iron 158, 159
barber/surgeon 207
Barcroft Diaries 164
Barcroft papers 159
Barlick church 83
Barnewick 5
Barnoldswick church 97
Barnoldswick Corn Mill 218
Barnoldswick Factory Worker 283
Barnoldswick Layne 152
Barnoldswick Local Board 263
Barnoldswick Manufacturers Association 279
Barnoldswick Mill 167
Barnoldswick Urban District Council 200
Barnoldswick Wood 103
Barnsey Shed 225
Barrowford 152
Barrows 19
Bartholomew Edmundson 142
baton-charge 291
Battle of Newark 141
Beaker People 22
beaten earth floor 205
Beatrix Lister 167
Bede 83
beehive oven 185
belief system 29
Belisima 34
Beltane 42, 181
Benedictine Order 92
Bernulf 13, 67, 70, 72, 152
Bessie Dickinson 281
Beverley Road 147
Bible 184
Billy Brooks 243
Billycock 203
Billycock Bracewell 199, 228
Birkbeck’s, Alcock and Company 252
Black Brook 12
Black Death 107, 116, 156, 209, 309
Black Dyke 11, 140, 147, 154
Black Dyke Mill 147, 154
black market 303
black powder 145, 274
Black Water Fever 308
blacklisted 291
Blacko 157
Blacko Hill 154
Blacko Hill Side 147
Blacko hillside 195
Blacko Hillside 151, 154
blackout curtain 303
blacksmiths 206
Blackwell Hall 208, 213
Blue Pot Lane 153, 159
Board of Health 230
Board Schools 251, 315
Bob King 277
boiler for Butts Mill 168
Bolton Priory 102, 106, 150
bombing 298
boot-lace diarrhoea 308
Booth House 104
bore for water 264
borehole pump 264
Bosworth 126
Boudicca 41
Boulton and Watt 222
boundaries 90, 139, 154, 167
boundary marker 154
boundary walling 184
bovate 162
Bowker Drain 244
Bracewell 14, 89, 100, 124
Bracewell Brothers 241, 243
Bracewell family 157
Bracewell Hall 299
Bracewell hegemony 245
Bracewell Mill 203
Bracewells of Coates 209
Brethren of Leruth 98
Bretteville 66
brickworks 228
Bridgewater 168
brigands 23
Brigante 11, 69
Brigantes 39, 41, 43, 46, 55, 57
Briggs and Duxbury 263
Brigit 74
Britain’s Bread 309
Britannia Secunda 55
Britannica 35
Brittany 57, 68
broadsheets 191
Brogden 14, 60, 72, 141
Brogden Lane 153, 159
brogger 156
Bronze age 195
Bronze Age 21
Bronze Age track 153
browse wood 151
Brunanburg 86
Bubble Act 261
Bubonic 107
builder’s contract 187
builders 206
building boom 263
building carts 207
bullock teams 162
Burn Moor 140
Butts 14
Butts mill 223
Cadwallon 69
Caledonia 51, 69
Caledonians 42
Calf Hall 72
Calf Hall Beck 49, 167
Calf Hall Shed 262
canal 168, 225
canal company 154
Canal Company 264
Canal transport 250
candles 198
Canute 86
capitalism 120
capitalists 199
Captain Savery 192
Caratucus 45
carding cotton 209
Carlisle 56
carriers 206
carters 170
Cartimandua 41
carucate 88
cast iron railings 304
cast iron vessels 130
Castle View 250
Cathedrals of Choice 320
cattle eating holly 150
cattle plague 181
Cattle. Shoeing of 179
Catuvellauni 43
Causeway Carr 159
cave-dwelling 15
Celtic Christianity 64
Celtic revival 30
Celts 17, 49
Cerdic 139
cess pits 269
Chain of Being 111, 130
Chancery 138
Chancery Court 143, 203
childminder 233
cholera 268
Cholera 230
Christ 63, 68
Christianity 49, 56, 63, 64
Christmas tree 78
Christopher Banaster 141
Christopher Edmondson 191
Christopher Ellis 203
Christopher Parker 142
Church Street 164, 249
Cistercian 92
Cistercian monks 20
Citeaux 92
Civil Rule 65
Civil War 191
Claude’s Clough 140
Claudian Invasion 43
Claudius 41
Clean Air Act 307
Clement Attlee 308
climate change 22, 106
Clitheroe 88
clogmakers 206
closed shops 213
Cloth Halls 241
clothier 209
clothiers 159
clothing 208
Clothing Coupons 314
Clough 242
Clough Mill 218, 241
Clough Park 171
Clyde side Revolt 278
Co-op slaughterhouse 172
coal 142, 197
Coal as a domestic fuel 198
coal fire 199
coal gas 242
coal merchants 171, 250
Coal Pit Lane 140, 142
coal yard 298
Coates 14, 60, 72, 153, 163, 242
Coates bridge 168
Coates Hall 185
Coates Mill 241
Coates Wharf 250
Coefi 83
cogs. teeth on cart wheels 170
coinage 159
coke 200
Colne 159, 241
Colne Mill 104
Colne Road 130, 152
columbariums 35
combination 211
combined mills 245
commanding heights of the economy 200
Commercial Inn 249
common 152
common grazing 143
Common Law 136, 216
common rights 144
communal fields 130
Communist Party 279
compensation 181
Conciliation Board 292
Constantine 61
Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act 181
Control of society 125
Cooke’s Explosives 275
cooking 197, 198
Cooking vessels 130
Copyhold Leases 130
corn mill 198, 207
Corn Mill 203, 244
coroner 141
cotton 186
cotton as raw material 169
Cotton Famine 244
Cottonopolis 242
Council of Arles 64
council tip 227
County Brook 12, 139, 215
County Brook Mill 218
Court of Referees 290
Coverdale 140
Cramp’ Hoyle 204
crank 222
cranogs 35
Craven 134, 180
Craven Bank 244, 252
Craven Fault 225
credit 251
Cromford 217
Cromwell 191
Cross Gaits 147, 154
Crow Nest Mill 300
Crusades 106
Cumrogi 69
cushions 205
customary wells 207
customs duties on wool 126
Cymru 69
Dal Riata 65
Dalby's Carminative 234
dam 203
Dam Head Farm 265
Dam Head Well 264
Dame Schools 251
damp climate 213
dandy shops 210
Danegeld 81, 86, 162
Danelaw 81, 82, 86, 132
Danes 65, 85
Dangerous Drugs Act 233
Dark Ages 158
dark oak 205
Dark Satanic Mills 229
David Blegbrough 167
David Crossley 191
David Rushworth 264
David Whitehead 211
Defender of the Faith 33
deforestation 22, 47
delaine 216
delphs 146
Denmark 80
depopulation 100
detonator 145
diacetylmorphine 234
dissent 117
Dissent 192
Dissenters 192
dissollution of the monasteries 184
Dissolution 129, 144
Dissolution of the monasteries 185
District Council 163
ditches 131
Dog 172
Domesday 13, 88, 203
Domesday Book 72, 162
domestic credit 252
domestic drains 268
domestic industry 130
Domestic system 241
domestic textile industry 120, 143, 208, 216
Donnan 72
Doreen Crowther 103, 143
dove holes 185
Dr Ed. Furgol 205
Dragon Ships 75, 82
drainage 131
Drake family 185
Drinkall’s 180
drovers 213
Drovers 179
Drugged to Death 239
Druids 29
drumlins 12, 195
drying kiln 215
dynamite 274
Earby 13, 153
Earby Grammar School 185
Earby lock-out 290
Earth Goddess 31
Earth System 268
East Hill Street 200
East India Company 186, 208, 213
Ebony 149
economic migration 116
Edmondson 142
Edmund de Langele 141
Edmund Grundy 167
Edward the Confessor 87
Edwin Chadwick 268
Eigg 72
Eilert Ekwall 13
Eire 51
Eisteddfods 30
electric cookers 314
electric motors 200
electricity 200, 314
elephants 41
Elesa 139
Elesa’s Well 140
Elfwynetrop 94
Elfwynthrop 14
Ellesagh 139
Ellshaye 139
Elsehay 34
Elslack 50, 139, 153
Elslack Beck 265
Elslack Moor 265
Elslack reservoir 265
embezzlement of yarn 210
enclosures 143, 145, 152, 159
encroachment 131, 145, 147
encroachments 152
Endemic 106
energy 197
Engine for Raising Water 192
Epidemic 106
Esp 72
Esp Lane 159, 171
Ethelbert 72
Ex-Servicemen’s Association 290
Excocet 313
Excrement Nuisances 268
excreta 247
explosives 273
factory system 210
Factory System 286
family wage 216, 232
famine 106
Fanny Grey 264
Farrands 227
fast food 251
Father of the Reformation 184
fences 131
Fernbank Avenue 170
Fernbank Shed 282
Feudal Rule 95
feudalism 86
field system 130
fire 197
fire. Creation of 197
fireworks 274
Fish ponds 35
fish sauce 42
Flasby 134, 203
flea 107
Flint mines 18
flint tools 22
flour 203
flush toilet 269
fobbing off 122
Folly Lane 159, 172
foot and mouth disease 181
Foreign Competition 309
foreigners 213
Forest of Blackburn 140
Forest of Blackburnshire 140
Forester’s Buildings 265
Forster Act 251
Forty Steps 153, 159
fossil fuel 197
foul water drains 268
Foulridge 153
Foulridge Tunnel 219
Fountains 93
Fountains Abbey 57, 139
Frank Street 172
fulling mill 116, 159
fuses 312
Gailmers 139
gall 156
Gallic Wars 40
Gamel 13
Garibaldi Pickles 264
garlic 133
gas 169, 200
gas and water supplies 265
gas tar 171
gas works 203
gasworks 200
Geese 179
General Strike 280
genetic testing 82
George Buchanan 268
George Halstead 203
George Ingle 218
George Rushworth 275
Germanus 66
Gilbeber Hill 50
Gilbert Well 264
Gildas 49, 56, 64, 66
Gill Brow 301
Gill Church 49, 129
Gillian’s Mill 218
Gillians 14, 72, 152, 241
Gillians Lane 152
Gillions 153
Gillonswick 153
Gisburn Auction Market 180
Gisburn Lane 168
Gisburn Old Track 11, 140, 146
Gisburn Road 130
glacial erratic 154
glaciers 195
Glastonbury 35
Gloucestershire 213
Goat Cave 8
Godfrey’s General Cordial 234
gold 159
Gorsedd 30
Gough’s Cave 10
governor 242
Grammar schools 185
Great Exodus 68
Great Murrain 106
Great Plague 107
Great Schism 64
Great Smog 306
Great War 271
Greenbank Farm 154
Greenberfield Lane 153, 159
Greenberfield Locks 171
Greenwich Time Signal 286
Grey water 270
Greyhound hotel 185
Grindleton 157
gritstone quarries 226
Guild System 213, 242
gulley grates 266
gunpowder 37
Hacking’s Bakery 251
Hadrian’s wall 51
haggs 152
Hague 203
Halifax 159, 241
Halifax Act 160
Haltwhistle 198
Hanson’s Dyke 11
Harald 87
Harling and Todd 169
harness makers 206
Harold 87
Harrowing the North 88
Harvey United Steel 313
Haslingden 214
Hastings 87
haulage contractors 250
Havre Park 14
Hayn Slack 154
Hebrides 80
hedge, age of 154
hedgerows 150
henges 19
Hengest and Horsa 66
Henry de Lacy 94, 138
Henry de Lacy’s Perambulation 148
Henry Higgins 191
Henry Mayhew 231
Henry of Anjou 125
Henry Pudsey 141
Henry VII 126
Henry VIII 127, 183
heresy 68, 69
hermits 92
Heroin 234
Herriff Butts 14
Hexham 141
Hey Farm 47, 60, 185, 206
hide 88
High Lane 130
high level of humidity 214
High Middle Ages 106
Higher Lane 152, 153, 159
Higher Sandiford 147
highway 131
Hill Clough 159
hill forts 34
Hill Street 171
Hindenburg 306
Hodge Lane 153
Hollin Hall 155
Hollins 150
holly 148
Holly as a Winter Feed 150
holly as fodder 150
Holly propagation 149
holly trees 154
Holly trees 155
Holly Trees. longevity 150
holly wood 150
Holly. origin of name 150
Honour of Clitheroe 163
Hope Memorial 1
horse bridge 157
horse engines 198
horse manure 170
horse-engine 217
Horses 130
housing estates 315
Hoyle family 204
Hudson’s Yard 249
Hugh of Kirkstall 65
Humpty-Dumpty’s 226
Hundred 89, 132
Hundred Years War 119
hygiene 248
hymn of praise 192
I G Farben 312
Ice Age 9, 155
Iceni 41
Ilkley 51, 57, 153
immunisation 315
Imperial Religion 64
Improvements 143, 152
Improvements of Barnoldswick 143
Industrial Revolution 198
inertia 223, 243
Infant's Quietness 234
inflation 61
Ingleborough 56
Ingthorpe 102
Inquisition’ 114
intransigent villagers 100
Investment 266
Invisible Society 192
Iona 80
Irish Gold 20
Iron Age 35, 252
iron foundry 244
Isle of Man 17, 80
Isle of Thanet 66
isoglosses 90
Isurium (Aldborough) 44, 49
Jack Platt 145
Jackson Slack 140
Jacobean furniture 206
jagger 156
James Nuttall 244
James Tattersall 163
James Watt 217
James’ Fever Mixture 234
Jarrow 80
Jenny shops 221
Jepp Hill 164, 265
Jesus Pills 234
jet engine 301
Jews 213
Jim Howarth 281
Jim Rushton 281
Jimmy Nelson’s 278
John Clayton 154
John Greenwood 214
John Hartley 203
John Parker 142
John Sagar 169
John Taylor 191
John Tillotson 163
John Turner 103
joint stock company 261
Judaic Christianity 57
Julius Agricola 41
Julius Caesar 40
Justices of the Peace 126
Jutes 65
K’ Account 312
kangaroo 13
Kay 217
Kelbrook New road 265
Kelbrook New Road 315
Kildonnan 72
kiln at Coates Wharf 226
King Edwin 83
King Henry VI 141
King Henry’s Parlour 141
King Street 171
King’s Commissioners 147
King’s Highway 167
King’s Steward 141
Kirkstall 98
Kirkstall Abbey 129, 140
knapping 169
knobsticks 289
Krupp’s patent fuse 312
Krupps 312
Labour 209
Labour Party 281
Lamb Hill 104, 205, 249
Lane Bottoms 265
lathe 103
Laudanum 233
lavatorum 95
Lawrence Halstead 203
lead 199
Leeds and Liverpool canal 168, 219
Leeds and Liverpool Canal 198
Lenition’ 133
Letcliffe Park 170, 264, 278
licence. Drover's 179
lightning, holly as protection 149
lime 151
lime-burning 227
limestone 225
Limestone rock 170
Lindisfarne 80
Linen 208
linen shirt 208
Lister Well 34, 74, 139, 146
Lister Well Lane 144
Little Cut 227
Little Ice Age 106
Liverpool 208, 242
Local Board 163, 169, 170, 203
Local carriers 171
Local Disadvantage 279
lockout 282
Long Ing 14
Long Ing Lane 153
Long Ing Shed 262
Longfield Lane 172
looms 169
Loose Games 225
Lord of the Manor 130
Lords of Trawden 144
Lordship of Foulridge 144
Lordships of Bracewell and Barnoldswick 144
Low Irish 231
Lower Sandiford 146
Ludlow Castle 127
Machiavelli 126
magic 16, 118, 138
malting floors 21
Manchester cotton exchange 241
Manchester Man 242, 286
Manchester Road 152, 170
Manchester Ship Canal 242
Manny Shinwell 278
Manor Court Rolls 142
manor of Barnoldswick 129
Manor of Barnoldswick 94, 129, 140
Manorial boundary 130
Manorial Court 111, 129, 131, 147
Manorial Court roll 203
Manorial Court Rolls 163, 167, 269
Manorial Courts 136
Manorial system 71
Manorial System 143
manufacturer 209
manufacturers 298
map of 1580 138, 143
Marmots 107
Marshall Plan 309
Martin Dickonson 203
Mary Himmelfart 73
Masonic Hall 300
masons 186, 206
Mathew Watson 191
Matt Hartley 172
Maurice Horsfield 147
Maximus 62
mead 21
Mechanic’s Institute 265
medical provision 229
medieval streets 171
medieval wall 155
Mellitus 73
Members of the Staple 160
Mercer’s Company 208
Mercer’s Guild 213
Messiah 63
Metals 130
miasmic theory 230
Michael Lyster 142
midden 49, 269
Middop 12, 140
Midge Hole Mill 218
Midge Holes 226
Midland Agreement 291
militia 134
Milky Way 207
Mill Bridge 198
Millstone Grit 225
millstones 164
miners in Barnoldswick 142
minimum wage 292
Ministry of Aircraft Production 299
minor gentry 205
Mistletoe 148
Mitchell’s Mill 199, 218
mitochondrial DNA 10
Model Lodging Houses 263
Moidart 72
monasteries 92
monastic foundations 183
monastic institutions 70
Mongol Empire 115
Moor Close 142
Moorcock pub 147
moot 135, 136
More Looms 288
More Looms’ system 283
Moreland Hoyle 203
Morning Chronicle 230
Morphine 234
Moses Lee 269
Mother Hanson 147
Mother's Helper 234
multure 215
Mungo Park 13
Municipal Socialism 230
Murrain 181
myth and legend 29
National Health Service 308
National Service 315
New Age 29
New Look 314
New Mill 200, 218
Newfield Edge 200
newspapers 191
Newton Pickles 264
Newtown 170, 172
Nicholas Winckley 167
Niger River 13
night soil 269
nitro glycerine 275
nitro-cellulose 275
Non-conformists 213
Nonconformism 119
Norman Davies 8
Normandy 86
Norsemen 75, 80, 86
North Road 157, 179
North Sea Oil 200
North West 213
Northern Tribes 55
Northrop looms 278
Northumbria 73
Noyna Hall 159
oat cakes and crumpets 185
obsolete assets 243
Occupation Road 144
offal 228
Old Coates 223
Old Coates Mill 218
Old King Cole 62
Old Norse 82
old roads 154
opiates 233
Opium 233
oppida 34
Order of Bards 30
Ordinance of Labourers 117
Ordovices 41
Orkney 45
Orkneys 80
Orthodox 64
out-workers 210
outdoor relief 170
Ouzledale Mill 103, 207, 218
ox 130, 162
Oxen 158
oxgang 162
Oxgill 140
pack 160
pack horse 44
packhorse 172, 206
packhorses 157
packs 157
pad nags 158
Pagan 61
pagan ritual 32
Paganism 67, 118
pail system 268
Palaeolithic 8
Pandemic 106
Papacy 56
Parish Boundary 130
Parish Council 169
Park 153
Park Avenue 153, 159
Park Close Quarry 225
Park Hill 206
Park road 170
parke holyne 150
Parrock Mill 218
Pasture Head 154
patents 217
Peasant’s Revolt 121
peat 197
Peel House 145, 146
Pelagius 69
Penda 73
Pendle Hill 13
Penicillin 315
perambulation 139
Perambulation 154
Percy Fee 140
Philip Street 171
Phoenician 56
Phoenician traders 35
Phoenicians 64
Physical Efficiency 230
pickets 289
Pickles Hippings 167
Picric acid 275
Picts 56, 65
piece work 216
Pigeon Club 249
pirate mills 214
Plague 107
Plague of Cadwallader 107
Plantagenets 125
Pneumonic 107
poaching 141
political affiliations 298
politics 70
Poll Tax 125
pollarding 151
Pontifex Maximus 33
Poor Law Commission 268
Poor Law Relief 262
Poor Rate 147
Poorbones 170
Pope 64, 93, 183
Pope Gregory 72
population 142, 143
post office time 286
post war boom 309
potholes 170
power loom 222
Preston 159
Prince Arthur 127
Prince Rupert 192
private capital owners 199
private ownership of land 144
Privy Council 126
Protestant 119, 184
Public Health Act 230, 268
pump (domestic water) 206
Pump House 264
purgative 149
Puritans 192
Putting Out 241
putting out trade 209
putting yarn out 209
Quakers 213, 252
quarries 146, 225
quarry 145, 190
Queen Isabella 140
Queen Matilda 124
Queen’s Steward of the Manor 142
quicklime 225
rabbit 70
radios 314
railway 171
railway time 286
Rainhall 14, 124, 163
Rainhall Road 170, 172
Rainhall Rock quarry 225
rainwater collection 264
rainwater drains 268
rainwater tank 206
Ralph Pudsey 141
Ramsay Macdonald 282
rationing 303
rayon 278
record-keeping 213
reed making 222
reeds 205
Renaissance’ 114
reservoir at Park Hill 264
resources 144
Reverend Cartwright 222
Reverend John Henry Warner 129
Reverend Milner 264
revolver 279
Ribchester 42, 50, 57, 60, 153
Richard Arkwright 217
Richard Boothman 141
Richard Heber 203
Richard III 125, 126
Richard Laycock 142
Richard Roberts 222
Richard Ryley 168
Ridings 132
Rievaulx 93
Rimington 141
rinderpest 181
rinderpest in Islington 181
Ritalin 239
ritual marks 195
River Aire 135
road roller 170
road transport 226
roads 158
Robert Bewe 142
Robert Boyle 192
Robert Parker Esq 167
Robert Waite 203
Robinsons at Standridge 172
Roger Bacon 274
Roger Tempest 124
Rollo 86
Rolls Royce 301, 310
Roman Civil Rule 50
Roman Occupation 153
Roman roads 159, 166
Roman Rule 62
Romanisation 40
Romans 49
Ronge 210
Room and Power 261
Roughlee Mill 222
Rover Company 299
roving 209
Royal Commissioners 159, 209
Royal Society of London 192
rubbish 131
rugs 205
Rush-Bearing 205
sacrifice 68
Sagars 145, 226
Salter’s Ford 153, 158
salter’s way 158
Salterforth 153, 158
Salterforth Lane 145, 225
Salterforth Quarry 225
Salterforth Stone and Brick Company 264
Salterforth Town Stoops 163
Salterforth Wharf 250
Salters Ford 36
saltpetre 37
Sandiford Clough 144
Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population 268
Sanitation Act 268
Sardicia 64
saw pit 103
Sawley 124
Sawley Abbey 129, 138
sawyers 102
Saxons 62, 65
Scandinavia 79
Schoonebeek 200
Scotia 68
Scotland 68
Scots 51
Scotti 61, 68
Septicaemic 107
Seric Iron 54
settlement site. mid-slope 151
setts 170, 171, 266
Seven Stars 243
sewage 169, 207, 248, 250, 267
sewers 265
sewing in 283
Shadow Factories 291
shale 228
shed companies 263
Shetlands 80
Ship Money 180, 213
shires 132, 154
Shirley Oldfield 145
Shitten Ginnel 100
shoemakers 206
shop book 252
short-staple cotton 214
Silentnight 310
silk 216
single industry town 310
Sir John Tempest 141
Skipton 134
Skipton Road 130
Skipton Workhouse 170
Slaters 243
Slipper Hill 154
Slipper Hill Clough 144
sliver 218
slopstone 206
small savers 252
smoke fog 306
soap operas 32
social conditions 229
Social Democratic Federation 281
Soothing Syrup 234
soporific drugs 232
Spanish Flu 272, 277
specifications for building 187
Spinefex 151
spinning frame 217
spinning wheels and looms 130
Spitalfields 213
Spring Vale 214
squatter’s house 145
squatters house 147
St Boniface 77
St James’ Square 171
St Mary’s Mount 74
St Mary’s Well 74
St Monday 210
Staincliffe 132
Stainton 134
Standing Stone Gate 152, 154
Stanistone Bungalow 154
Stansfield Tower 154
Stanwick Hill 34
Star Chamber 126, 191
starvation 106
Station Road 170
Station Yard 169
steam engine 169, 199
steam power 193, 222
steam pumping engine 222
steam road roller 169, 265
Steel 53
Stilicho 62
Stock 89, 100, 263
Stockport 1
stone 145, 184
stone axes 18
stone chimney pile 185
stone flags 205
Stone of Destiny 68
stone walls 153
Stonehenge 22
stonemasons 184
sun and planet motion 222
Sunday Schools 251
Sunday Worker 282
Syke 168
Talbots 141
tanks 278
tanners 206
television 298
television sets 314
Tempest 144
Tenants of Barnoldswick 144
Tertillian 56
Tertius Spencer 283
Teutonic Knights 31
The Lunar Society 208
The Rev. T D Whitaker 7
Thomas Alderson 145
Thomas Barcroft 214
Thomas Drake 185
Thomas Driver 163
Thomas Edmondson 167
Thomas Hoyle 167
Thomas Murgatroyde 142
Thomas Whitaker 264
Thorn at Hayn Slack 154
Thornton in Craven 100
throstle 222
tides of cattle 180
Tin Islands 35
tinsmith 250
Tippler 269
tithes 112
Togidubnus 45
tolls. Turnpike 157
Tommy Carter 147
Towers Singleton 171
Town Bridge 249
Town Head 152
Town Rate 230, 269
Townhead 20, 48, 74, 100, 130, 159, 171, 205
trade routes 36
trades union movement 211
tramways 226
transport 156
Trappism 93
Travis Brow 1
tribal monuments 34
tribal unrest 40
tribal warfare 19
tribe 16
Trinovantes 43
Tubber Hill 60, 145, 225
Tudor dynasty 126
Tudors 126
turf 143
turfs 142
turkeys 179
turnpike road 147
turnpike trust 157
Turnpike Trusts 168
twist mills 241
Tynwald 80
Typhus 230
unadopted streets 172
undertakers 251
Uniform List of Weaving Prices 289
Upper Hall 145, 147
Upper Hill 153
Urban District Council 263
Urn people 22
Vandals 68
Venerable Bede 72
Venetius 45
Venitius 41
Verbeia 34
Versailles Conference 298
vestry 169
Vestry 250
Vicarage 264, 300
Vicarage well 264
victimisation 292
Victorian infrastructure 315
Vikings 72
village green 249
villeins 89, 116, 156
Vortigern 65, 66
Waddington 141
wage labour 243
wagons 164
Wallingford 124
wallowing 242
walls 145
Walmsgate 171
Wanless 142
wapentake 134, 136
Wapentakes 132
Wapping 14, 104, 171, 205
war memorial 298, 308
warp thread 217
Wars of the Roses 125, 141
washing machines 314
waste 152
Waste 143, 153
water 206
water carriage 267
water frame 241
water power 198, 199
water power sites 214
water rights 199
water supply 169, 185, 207, 250, 263, 264
water wheel 242
water-frame 218
water-powered corn mill 198
water-powered corn mills 130
Waterloo Shed 288
wattle and daub 48, 130
Weaver’s Union secretary 283
weaving for export 280
Weets 153, 159, 195
Weets Hill 11
weft 217
Wellhouse 200
Wellhouse Mill 203, 243
Wellhouse Square 170, 243
Welsh 69
Welsh slate 266
West Close 263
West Country 213
West Craven 209
West Marton 134
West Marton Dairies 248
Western Front 278
Westfield Shed 273
Westgate 164
Wheat 18
Wheathead 140
wheeled cart 157
wheeled traffic 157
wheelwright’s 206
Whinberry Clough 146
Whitaker 129
White House Spring 264
White Iron 210
white lightning 301
Whitemoor 153, 264
Whitemoor Map 154
Whitemoor reservoir 139, 146
Whitemoor Reservoir 154
Whitemoor. 11
wide chord fan blades 320
Wild Brothers 145
William (Billycock) Bracewell 243
William Brockeden 142
William de Percy 124
William of Malmsbury 40
William the Bastard 87
William Thomas 142
William Waddington 124
window glass 130
Windy Harbour 181
winter fodder 151
Witches 149
Wood End 104
Wood End Mill 215
wood of Barnoldswick 102
wood-turner 206
Wooden platters 130
wool 95
wool dealer 160
wool trade 121
woollen spinners 208
woollen textile industry 186
Wootz 54
woven wall hangings 205
wrought iron 54
Wycliffe 121, 183
Wycoller 167
yeoman farmers 156
yeoman inventory 209
yeomen 205
yerba mate 149
Yersinia Pestis 107
Yorkshire 132
Yorkshire Cotton 218
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!
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Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at

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