Burnley Historical Society



News and Views


Summer Visit

On our first Summer visit this year members of the society visited the Midland Hotel in Manchester. We were taken on a tour of the outside and inside of the building by a very informative guide. She described the history of the hotel and pointed out many interesting features. Accompanied by the guide we were able to visit some of the areas not normally accessible to the public. The guide also had some interesting accounts of many of the famous people who had stayed at the hotel including Princess Anne. We were shown round the suite of rooms occupied by the Princess on her visit to Manchester. After the tour we enjoyed afternoon tea.

added 26/06/2016 





Historical Society Publications

Until fairly recently stocks of Historical Society publications had been stored for many years at the Central Library.
For reasons which seemed good to the authorities there we then had to move them elsewhere. Fortunately our friends at the New Church were able to store them for us but now they have closed we are in difficulty again. Ken Spencer has kindly offered to store them in the short term at his house but unless we can find a more permanent home for them the Committee have decided to reduce the numbers involved. The great majority of the volumes are copies of Bennett's History of Burnley, Parts III and IV. In previous times this would have been a slow but steady seller, mainly through the Central Library and the local bookshop (Badger Books), with reprints required only infrequently Both sales outlets are now closed to us so the number of volumes ,some 500, is an embarrassment. So, as an experiment, copies of Parts III and IV, which are currently priced at £8.00 each, are going to be offered at £5.00 for the two - a saving of £11.00.
These will be available as follows:
At our Society lectures ( The first lecture in the new season is on 14th September 2017)
At Towneley Hall shop (at a date to be announced)
At Towneley Hall Society lectures (at a date to be announced)
At The Weavers' Triangle Visitors Centre
At Nu-Age Productions, 289 Padiham Road ,


 added 25/05.17




Margaret was born in November 1935 in Wallasey, Cheshire. With her younger sister Joyce she was evacuated to Mold in North Wales for a time during the Second World War, but returned to Wallasey where she attended the local High School.
After A levels Margaret read History at Leeds University and a few years later, with a degree and a teaching qualification, she arrived in Burnley to join the High School staff. During the 1960s she met and married her husband Roy and their children, Edward and Elizabeth, were born. Sadly, Roy died in 1981. Three years later Margaret joined the Padiham Branch of the Workers Educational Association and became involved in activities which were to keep her busy for the rest of her life.
She joined a course tutored by Gill Glenn to research and write a history of the working class St. Giles Street in Padiham, and Margaret was immediately drawn into local history research, an interest which she never lost even after she became ill. She joined other WEA courses, and ran at least one herself; she became treasurer of the Padiham branch and many people still remember the theatre trips she organized in the late 1980s when the group visited theatres in Bradford, Manchester, Blackpool, Lancaster and many other northern venues.
Margaret joined Burnley Historical Society and served on the committee for about 25 years; for much of that time she was Speaker's secretary and brought some very good talks to Burnley. She edited Who was Who in Burnley, which remains one of our best selling publications, and of course gave talks herself. She also contributed several articles to Retrospect on aspects of Padiham history because Margaret was, above all, a Padiham historian.
Education, religion, shops, public houses, people - Margaret was the person to ask for information as she had a great collection of newspaper articles, photographs and items of interest gathered from books, adverts and souvenir programmes. She shared her knowledge through the books she wrote and the talks she gave to many different groups over the years.
Burnley U3A was formed in 2007 and Margaret was a founder member and its first treasurer. She was also co-leader of the Local History Group which, from the start, was involved in local history research resulting in the publication of A History of Mill Street, Padiham in 2009 and The Heyday of Palatine Square two years later.

Margaret had many interests outside local history: she was a great reader and was an enthusiastic member of the U3A book group, was actively involved with the philosophy and architecture groups and had also taken up handbell ringing - which she said was not always successful but it was great fun.
Margaret will be greatly missed, but remembered with affection for all that she did, and the enthusiasm with which she did it.

Margaret also edited for the Burnley and District U3A’s Local History Group a book entitled “Some prominent Padiham people of the past 1820 – 1920”. This has been published recently by the U3A, price £6.50 and is now on sale at the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre, 85 Manchester Road, Burnley  and at the Mooch Café, 87  Burnley Road, Padiham. We hope also to have it on sale at our first meeting in September. 






A Descriptive song of Cliviger

By David Hey

i) I am a resident of Cliviger,
I live near Walk Mill
Where grandeur encircles
Spring Gardens Mill
ii)There are fertile green pastures
In grandeur serene
Where pure rippling streamlets
Run sweetly between

iii) From Crown Point to Thievely
There's a grand range of hills,
Far away from the turmoil and smoke of the mills

iv) Where honey bees kiss
Sweet heather in bloom:
And hyacinths in woodlands
Shed forth their perfume

v) In a clough near Stonehouse,
Amongst brambles and bush,
In the year ninety- three
There was caught a White Thrush


(The original document has 14 verses ) 

One of our members, Ramon Colling, says that "this poem was found folded up in a book by someone clearing a house and I am wondering if anyone can throw some light on it. Who was David Hey (was this a pen name) and where did he live? I had a cursory look at the 1901 Census but could find no one of that name. Does anyone know anything about the capture of a white thrush in Stonehouse in 1893".

Since this was written Ken Spencer (who else) has come up with the following facts. In the Barretts Directory for 1902 David Hey is listed as a fish dealer at Mereclough. In the 1905 and 1908 Directories he is listed as a greengrocer at Mereclough. Ken also says there is a rare bird called White's Thrush but the bird referred to in the poem is simply an albino song thrush or mistle thrush.

If you can help Ramon his telephone number is 01282 412815, his email address is ramon37@talktalk.net or you can find him behind the bookstall on lecture nights.

 added 04/02/2017

New venue for meetings

As mentioned in the August 2016 Newsletter, we are leaving the New Church
at the end of this season. We have now found a new place for future meetings
from September 2017 onwards. This will be the Parish Rooms at St. John the
Baptist church on Ivy Street. It should be very good as the hall is the size we
want with the requisite number of chairs, kitchen and toilets. There is also a
large car park just outside the hall so no more on street parking.
Many members will already know where St. John's is but if you don't it is just
off Briercliffe Road. If you are coming from the Prairie it is on the left the next
street past Brennand St. If you are coming from the Centre it is on the right
just after Newman St and the LIdl traffic lights. Turn right at the pelican
crossing, When you turn into Ivy St. the car park entrance is immediately on
your right. The entrance to the Parish Rooms is at the far end of the car park
through a pair of large metal gates. The Parish Rooms are then just on your
If you are still not sure you can always Google "St. John the Baptist church,
Ivy St., Burnley" and you will get a street map with the church marked.

added 11/02/2017 

Burnley Express Photographic Negative Archive

The Burnley Express (Johnson Press) has kindly given the negatives used for their Press photographs, from around 1966 until digital cameras were used, to the Burnley Civic Trust. This enormous resource may extend to approximately 1 million images in 35mm and 6x6 format. In addition, the microfiche films of the Express, Nelson Leader and Clitheroe Times have also been acquired together with a microfiche reader.
The Trust intends to create a website to make images available to the public and is now investigating the viability of the project with the aid of a Heritage Lottery grant. The task of selecting which images to post onto the website will need volunteers to scan negatives, to choose which are worthy of publishing and the Trust would appreciate help from members of Societies and Groups that have common heritage interests to become involved in the project. Guidance and training will be given if required. At a recent Trust meeting, a PowerPoint presentation was displayed showing images produced from photos taken of older postcards and 1960s scenes - a sample of what had been discovered in initial investigation.
If you would like to be involved in the development of the website in any way contact Burnley Civic Trust through www.burnleycivictrust.org.uk on our Contacts page.


Tony Mitchell

added 21/02/2017 

Libraries under threat No. 26

The headline of the Lancashire Telegraph on Boxing Day was "48,000 library
books missing".
What follows is mostly a summary of the newspaper article.
Following a Freedom of Information request the County Library had to admit
that this enormous number of books was "missing from the shelves". The
figures include more than 15000 adult non-fiction books with around 4,500
from Burnley alone. There were more than 7,000 adult fiction books missing
with Burnley and Accrington libraries having the most missing, 1625 and 1488
respectively. Children's books also suffered with 22,000 fiction titles gone
Various members of staff said various things such as , popular titles,
"because they are borrowed a lot the chance of them going missing is higher"
and "people who don't come in regularly tend to bring back books late". In
relation to this ,apparently, £20,000 is owed by library users in hire charges,
reservation fees and loan fines.
The County Library manager said that "the number of books not returned is
tiny compared with the more than four million items issued across the county
every year". This is true but like is not being compared with like. What
percentage of the library's total book stock is going missing we wonder. And
assuming the cost of an average item is £10 and a great many will cost more,
that amounts to £480,000. Quite a slice from the book fund. Furthermore, the
response from the library authorities seems to refer only to items lent to
readers and says nothing about items which readers just walk off with. This
number must have greatly increased since the supermarket "serve yourself"
system was introduced at major libraries. Previous to that, these libraries had
a security system which prevented people walking off with a book tucked
away. Now you just bring your own wheelbarrow!.

added 16/01/2017


Libraries under threat 25 ( a copy of a letter sent to the Burnley Express)


Dear Editor

I thought I would send you the latest edition of the Burnley Historical Society's Newsletter as it contains quite a lot of information concerning our beleaguered library service, which may interest you.
The latest blow to fall is the virtual closure of the Local Studies Library on January 1st. A token selection from the large amount of material housed in the basement floor room and which was formerly open to the public is now in the Lending Library together with what is left of the Children's Library and the Stocks Massey Music Library. In line with recent announcements about library closures the only information available to the public is a curt notice of the fact of the closure and a promise to make available from "downstairs" any item which has not been moved "upstairs", on request. On visiting the library, post 1ST January, I saw that ,besides the token selection of material referred to above, one or two map cabinets, the odd microfilm reader, the cabinet containing the vast "Burnley Express" archive of microfilms have been squashed into corners of the Lending Library. A better idea might have been to utilise for local studies the very large open space in the middle of the department, now mainly occupied by twenty odd public use computers and various displays..
Obviously none of the above is the fault of the local administration and, presumably, the above scenario is being repeated across the county. The County Council itself is at the mercy of this austerity mad government but I have the feeling that the cuts to the library service could have been managed rather better by, for instance, giving the public more and earlier information through notices and via the media and by responding to complaints and suggestions. Only recently the Historical Society wrote to both the County Library Manager and to the cabinet member with responsibility for library matters because they were seriously concerned about the future of the Local Studies Library. They received from the officer no reply at all and from the politician a reply which was basically an acknowledgement and nothing else.
I am also concerned as to the future of the Local Studies Library accommodation in the light of the County Council's decision to locate other services to libraries which still remain open. It would be only too easy to pack up all the material in the local studies Collection and send it off to the Record Office at Preston. There would then be three very large unused open spaces in Burnley Central Library available for other departments such as Social Services, Education or whatever. And would the library services ever get them back?. On peering in at the door of the erstwhile Local Studies Library I was astonished to see that all the material has been removed from the shelves. Where has it gone? .It cannot have been transferred to the stack area next door as that was full already. Has this large room already been changed into a store area?
I am sure that you know that the present local studies collection relating to the history of our town is one of the largest in the county built up over many years and has been of great help to all kinds of people interested in Burnley's past history, not only to present day published local historians like Ken Spencer. Roger Frost, Brian Hall , Stephen Child Jack Nadin to name but a few but also to those from the past such as Walter Bennett and Lesley Chapples and to the countless other researchers, young and old, who have made good use of the stock of books, microfilms, archive material, photographs and slides etc.
I do hope you can make use of the above information in order to make public the damage which is being done to their library service other than that done by the closure of buildings.
Yours sincerely,
Raymond Pickles
Editor, Burnley Historical Society Newsletter
The Editor,
Burnley Express,
Suite 104
Empire |Business Park
Off Liverpool Road,
BB12 6HH

added 12/01/2017 


Libraries under threat 24

Since the County Council took over Burnley's library service in 1974 the following two libraries have been opened:

Burnley Campus
Coal Clough ( This was a transitional building already started by the former County Borough of Burnley at the time of the handover of library services to Lancashire County Council)

And the following nine libraries have been closed:

Barbon St.
Burnley Campus
Burnley Wood
Colne Rd.
Pike Hill

They do say that facts speak for themselves.

added 4/01/2017 



If you are interested in online social networking services or even if you are not why not try our Facebook page. This is edited by Philip Cregan and people with access to Facebook and, if not, it is easy to log on to it, will receive updates about the Society and other local history news. The page is proving very popular having now attracted over 200 "likes". Phillip has asked members to send him photographs and information by email.
Find us on Facebook at "Burnley and District Historical Society"




Lecture Programme 2016 - 2017


Thursday, 8th September, 2016


Dr. Malcolm Greenhalgh 
The river Ribble and how our present day countryside came into being


What should have been a somewhat depressing talk was elevated into interest and enjoyment by the likeable personality of the speaker. His subject was the continued environmental degradation of our landscape. Brazilian farmers are destroying the rain forest, our farmers are destroying the British countryside and the flora and fauna inhabiting it. And all this in the laudable cause of feeding growing populations.
Dr. Greenhalgh's talk was illustrated by slides of the still splendid landscapes through which the Ribble flows.

added 9/09/2016 





Thursday, October 13th

Mike Clarke

The two hundredth anniversary of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. 

This was the annual Walter Bennett Memorial Lecture chaired by our President, the Mayor of Burnley The audience were treated to a comprehensive and exhaustive account of the
canal's history with emphasis on planning, whose complexities left the HS2
route discussions completely in the shade.
The evening was completed  by a lively question and answer session.

added 14/11/2016 

Thursday November 10th. 

Davies Heather
Frogs, firearms and fireworks: unexpected hazards in museum collections

A lively and entertaining explanation by the chief conservator of the
Lancashire Museum Service of the many hazards faced by museum staff and
visitors when examining exhibits.
These range from white arsenic (in Victorian times used to make dresses) to
poisons various, which is where the legendary South American Indians come
in with their curare tipped arrows, to various explosive devices from powder
flasks to grenades and bullets. Beware also of touching natural history
specimens. Taxidermists had a habit of soaking them in arsenic to keep the
bugs away.
A motto for museum visitors

 added 14/11/2016                                                           


January 12th 2017                 

Lecture on The Commonwealth War Graves Commission By Mrs. Denise North,

In January, our Chairman, Mrs. Denise North, gave an illustrated talk on The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (originally Imperial War Graves Commission), which celebrates its centenary this year. (It was finally established by Royal Charter in 1917). She explained the reasons behind the foundation of the organisation, especially the role played by Sir Fabian Ware, too old to fight in the Great War but becoming instead the commander of a mobile unit of the British Red Cross. Mrs. North was able to use her extensive knowledge of the cemeteries as she and members of her family had visited them, researching their family history. She explained how each graveyard had its own characteristics from the huge Thiepval Monument with its French as well as British graves to a few small out of the way ones with only a small number of graves. Each soldier's personal religion is recognised with the Cross, Star of David or Moslem crescent or in some cases none at all. This was an absorbing lecture enjoyed by the considerable number of members who had braved the elements to get to the New Church on this snowy winter's evening

added 24/01/2017


Thursday, 9th February 2017

David Joy
The Liverpool cowkeepers

This was the story of Yorkshire farmers who, in the mid 1800's, moved, for
economic reasons, to Liverpool to sell fresh milk from their backyards to local
The title sounds ridiculous but as David Joy, whose family were one of the
cowkeepers, explained, it made sense, as an end terraced house with back
yard can easily accommodate several cows, a milking parlour etc.
The cowkeepers observed all the local health and hygiene regulation, which
were quite strict, fed the cows on spent grain from local breweries and similar
products from other firms and sold the resultant muck to middlemen who sold
it on to farmers.That way they made a good living from a popular local
A well told tale with appropriate illustrations.


Thursday, 9th March 2017

Tony Foster
A girl without a name: an account of research into a Victorian painting.


A fascinating tale from a very experienced family historian based on an anonymous attractive oil painting of an equally anonymous and \attractive young lady. All the ins and outs of tracing her ancestry were explored but, alas, she was still unidentified at the end. Still, a good evening.

Thursday, 6th April, 2017

Kathy Fishwick
Weavers' cottages of North East Lancashire


Kathy Fishwick gave us an informative and entertaining talk on "weavers' cottages", which came in all shapes and sizes and were not always the two up and two down ones of popular imagination. In the course of her descriptions of vernacular architecture she also gave us an outline of the development of handloom weaving in the era before large scale industrialisation.


Membership Secretary

Following the resignation of our long serving Membership Secretary Molly Haines, Roger Creegan has kindly volunteered to fill the vacancy and has now taken over. So any queries about membership matters can now be referred to him. He can be contacted at 01282 436542 or at rmcreegan@btinternet.com

 added april 2017


Programme Secretary


The programme for 2017- 2018 is now complete (see this Newsletter) and the Programme Secretary would like to thank those members who have taken the trouble to recommend lectures to her and hopes that this will continue.

 added april 2017


The Weavers' Triangle Visitor Centre

January 14th was the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Burnley Industrial Museum Action Committee, which became the Friends of the Weavers' Triangle in 1981. Those of us who were at the meeting in the offices of the Burnley Express in 1977 could not have imagined that we would still be running a successful Visitor Centre in 2017.
This summer the Visitor Centre is holding a display by Padiham Archive together with an exhibition by Padiham Photographic Society. In the Weavers' Triangle room a new, full-size copy of one of the faces of the clock at Clock Tower Mill has been installed. It includes the only surviving piece of the original clock which was demolished following a disastrous fire thirty years ago on 7th April 1987.
The Visitor Centre will be open between 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday to Tuesday until the end of September and on Saturdays and Sundays in October.

added April 2017