Burnley Historical Society

News and Views


Burnley Express Photographic Negative Archive


Members will recall reading about this Civic Trust/Burnley Express project in the April 2017 Newsletter. It has now been announced that this project has received a £32,400 Heritage Lottery grant which will help to  see that old images from the Burnley Express are digitized and made available to the wider community. Anyone wanting further information or who may be interested in becoming a volunteer for the Civic Trust can email burnleycivictrust @gmail.com or visit www.burnleycivictrust.org.uk





Appeal from Burnley Film Makers


One of our members, Mike smith, is the Secretary of Burnley Film Makers (also known as Burnley Cine Society) a group even older than the Historical Society and they have a project trying to collect old films about Burnley so that they can convert them to digital and so prolong their life. They are particularly keen to find a copy of a film they made in 1951,presumably about the Festival of Britain in Burnley and of which they no longer have a copy. They know about the Sam Hanna films but they are anxious to see any other films made by people or organizations in the past. These could be old cine films or films that were shot on early video cameras and on Betamax or VHS video tape, including home movies but particularly of events in Burnley which they would then put on their website. Films ect copied would be returned to their owners

If you have anything of interest please contact Mike. His email address is mikepsmith@yahoo.co.uk



A new local history book of interest


Ball, Richard


Five kings: the story of Brunanburgh. 2018.


 Pennine Publications. 2018.  £8.99.+ £2.00p&p  ISBN 978-1-64370-095-3.


This is the story of one of the greatest battles in British history fought in 937 between the English under king Athelstan (a grandson of King Alfred) and an allied army led by a Viking King of Dublin and two Scottish kings and is said to be the battle that defined England as one kingdom under one ruler. It is often cited as the point of origin for England as a nation and a victory that preserved England's unity.

 Unfortunately, all accurate description of its location have been lost and it continues to be a famous historical mystery This book covers the many candidates for the site, including an area just to the east of Burnley and this is discussed at some length. Also described are the lead up to the battle, the battle itself and its aftermath.


The book can be obtained online from www.mybestseller.co,uk





Thursday, 11th October, 2018


Dr. David Johnson


Old inns of the Yorkshire Dales


A very interesting talk on the historic differences between ale and beer and also between varieties of ancient hostelries and who was likely to frequent inns or taverns or alehouses. nd all supplemented by illustrations of old inns in Cravendale. Some are still there, some still there but in a different guise and many others no longer with us.


Thursday, 30th September 2018



Dr. Christopher Fitz-Simon


Tyrone Guthrie in World War II: from Dunkirk to Burnley


This lecture was given at Burnley Central Library as part of the Burnley Literary Festival 2018 and was attended by a round dozen of persons, including the speaker and some of his family.

We always knew that Burnley is somewhat of a cultural desert, this just proves it! The publicity wasn't good either and the enthusiasm of Burnley Historical Society members rather muted. Ah well, can't win them all!

The talk itself was very interesting and brought to life Burnley's small part in helping to preserve the artistic life of the country in World War II

Thursday, 13th September, 2018


David Wiseman


Transported: the story of two Burnley boys


In 1840 two young men from Burnley stole a few items of clothing etc. and were sentenced to be transported to Australia for 10 years. Luckily they both survived the land prisons, the prison hulks, the voyage to the other side of the world and the 10 years of semi-slavery ,to the extent of writing to relatives trying to persuade them to emigrate and join them. And, finally, leaving behind them the start of a new family, the descendants of which now number several hundred.

This was an interesting story well told by the speaker, the well known historian of the Burnley Football Club and himself a member of the same family as the boys.


Royal Exchange Theatre



On July 25th. members of the society enjoyed the second Summer visit of the year with

a trip to The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Two well informed guides led a conducted tour of the theatre and described some of the unusual features. The guides then talked about the history of the building and again pointed out many of its features. A tour behind the scenes followed including the wardrobe department and the wigs and make-up department where the people running them described their work and showed examples of what is produced. Refreshments were then provided with the guides answering questions asked by the members. An enjoyable and extremely interesting visit.




Dan Snow' History Tour


The well known TV presenter Dan Snow will be conducting a country wide History Tour during 2018-19. His talk will feature anecdotes and experiences from his career as a broadcaster and historian and will include facts and stories relating to each town visited.

He will visit Burnley Mechanics on March 9th, 2019.

Sounds interesting. We wonder which Burnley stories will feature!

added 24/07/2018 


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


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"


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



When Thompson Park opened in July 1930 it was different to the other parks in the town. You could hire a boat on the lake, paddle in the pool on a sunny day, queue for a turn on the high - and no doubt dangerous - slide in the children's playground and end the afternoon with a cup of tea in the Pavilion Cafe, run by the Cece family who were famous in Burnley for their ice cream.

Money to build the park came from James Witham Thompson, a wealthy cotton manufacturer, who left £50,000 in his will for Burnley Corporation to purchase the Bank Hall Estate and make a park for people to enjoy. He was 77 years old when he was knocked down by a motor cycle in May 1920 but building the park had to be delayed for eight years because of fears that the land may be affected by subsidence from all the mining that had taken place in the area, and work did not start until the autumn of 1928.

Arthur Race, the Borough Surveyor, is credited with designing Thompson Park, which has many features in common with Stanley Park in Blackpool. Stanley Park was designed in the early 1920s by the firm of Thomas Mawson, who was a well-known Edwardian landscape architect. Mawson was also responsible for making a new park in Barrow-in-Furness during the time that Arthur Race was Surveyor there in the early 1900s and quite possibly the two men met at that time.

The Boat House, Lodge and Pavilion in Thompson Park all have interesting Art Deco features and the conservatory was an attractive glasshouse where sub-tropical plants were grown - another first for the Burnley Parks. An elegant Italian Garden and well-stocked Rose Garden were also popular features in the new park.

Sadly, in the post-war period the park began to suffer from neglect and vandalism and lack of money to make repairs. In the 1970s the conservatory was demolished, the cafe was closed and motor boats were taken from the lake. Like most Councils, Burnley had not the funds to look after its parks properly and eventually even the columns from the Italian Garden had to be removed for safety reasons.

However, there was one new feature which brought visitors to the park. In 2001 the Burnley and Pendle Miniature Railway Society began constructing a railway near the Colne Road entrance, on the site of the Open Air School. This has proved a popular attraction over the years for children of all ages.

After a successful application for funding, Thompson Park received £861,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2017 which allowed work to start on restoring the original features in the Grade II listed park, which had a second Opening Ceremony in August 2018. The Pavilion has been beautifully restored, the Italian Garden is once more an elegant space, and the new, colourful children's playground is just as popular - and far less dangerous - than the original one.

Do you have memories of visiting Thompson Park as a child, or later as a parent? The Bank Hall project team are collecting memories for inclusion in their archive and if you would like to share your memories of the park please get in touch with me either at one of the Society's lectures or by e-mail to Raymond Pickles at hustheck@yahoo.co.uk

Molly Haines