Burnley Historical Society

News and Views

Medical bulletin about Brian Hall

Brian Hall

The latest news about our treasurer is very encouraging. Brian has now been transferred to a convalescent facility in Bacup called Olive House to get him ready for going home. In the meantime Roger Creegan and other of Brian's friends have been supervising building work at Brian's house to make it easier for him to get around when he eventually arrives there.

The address of Olive House is 11 New Line,Bacup, OL13 0BT.

added 21/04/2018

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. 

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"


Lecture Programme 2016 - 2017

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.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Kevin Illingworth
Traditional buildings in NorthEast Lancashire

The lecturer is a member of various vernacular architecture groups in the north of England and has a background in the building industry. All of this enabled him to give an interesting and informative talk on the history of many old buildings in our local area including Worsthorne (Jackson's Farm), Hurstwood ( Spencer's House and Tattersall's Farm) and many others.

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Isobel Stirk
The Bronte family

The speaker is an expert in 19th century English Literature and is obviously attached to the Bronte family as she gave us a sympathetic account of the life and times of that doomed but brilliantly talented family, a talk which was appreciated by a full house.

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Dr Ali Ronan and Denise North
The Women's Peace Crusade 1917-18

This was a talk with accompanied by a slide/film show outlining one of the
many, alas, unfruitful attempts to achieve a negotiated peace in the midst of
the World War I carnage.
The majority of the women were from the working class and were led by a
small number from the middle class with backgrounds in the suffrage, socialist
and co-operative movements.
Their efforts by marches, meetings and propaganda eventually failed due to
the refusal of the power obsessed leaders of the government to listen.
Locally the movement was very strong, especially in the Nelson area.
A moving way to commemorate November.

11th December, 2017

Annual General Meeting

After the usual 10 minute meeting to receive reports from officers, re-elect the
said officers and decide NOT to increase the subscriptions until next year, the
20 or so us settled down to listen to Edward Walton of the Burnley Civic Trust
updating us about their progress in organising the Burnley Express
photographic archive. They now have a home for this in the basement of the
Town Hall and have made a start in assessing how to move the project
forward, hopefully, with Heritage Lottery assistance. They are still looking for
volunteers to help them, as outlined in the April 2017 Newsletter. Forgotten
already? Not to worry. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact
them at www.burrnleycivictrust.org.uk or get in touch with Edward Walton on
01282 426618 or at edwardburnley@gmail.com
It sounds like something worth supporting.

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Brian Jeffery
Floods in Whalley

A fascinating talk by an accomplished speaker who suggested that Whalley's recent liquid problems are due, not especially to climate change, but to how the natives of that part of Lancashire have treated their landscape over the centuries.
Not enough trees, ill-advised fiddling with water courses various, too many buildings, too much intensive agriculture, not enough flood plains and lack of political will!

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Douglas Jackson
Desperately seeking Joseph: the search for the English "Tiffany"

An extremely interesting account of a local lad ( well, fairly local) made good. Joseph Briggs of Accrington emigrated to America late in the19th century, got a job with Tiffany's the famous producers of Art Deco glassware and never looked back. He left his own collection of the best bits to his home town in the 1930's when it was having a downturn in value. Now it is one of the most valuable collections of glassware in the world and lives in four rooms of the Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington.

Thursday, April 12th, 2018
David Glover
Buried alive? Past funeral customs in Caldervale
David gave n interesting and detailed account, largely based on the Halifax area, of funerals, funeral customs and funereal oddities, including one female corpse who/which rose from the dead having been buried in the family vault with all the trimmings!

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

Libraries to be reprieved? No. 1

Following the recent County Council elections and the success of the Conservative party in gaining control of the new Council, the new Cabinet member for community and cultural services, County Council Peter Buckley has announced that the council are considering the phased reopening of 14 libraries, nine of which will be run directly by the county council and five as independent community libraries and retaining a full service at six libraries which were due to close or to offer a reduced service. The cabinet will also defer decisions relating to twelve other libraries. Three libraries cannot be opened because of the surrender of leases. This accounts for all twenty six libraries recently closed. This is a welcome ,if unlooked for, bonus prompted , one supposes , not merely by the change in the composition of the county council but also by pressure on the government from many quarters and its realisation that it has, after all, a statuary duty to provide a satisfactory library service.
The Burnley Campus Library will reopen and consideration will be given to reopening Briercliffe and Rosegrove Libraries and Pike Hill Library will become one of the independent community run libraries. On a sourer note time and money will need to be spent on recruiting and training staff, building repairs, reconnecting ICT and other infrastructure and reallocating book stock, money which could have been saved by not closing them in the first place. It is anticipated that around £3 will need to be spent Celebrations in breweries comes to mind!
There has been a lot of opposition across the country to library closures. If you are interested details of ongoing protests etc can be found on the web at "The Library Campaign" (www.thelibrarycampaign.com)
added 01/08/2017

Libraries to be reprieved No. 2

Under the County Council's programme to reopen libraries recently closed
Burnley's Campus Library on Barden Lane has become the first in East
Lancashire. This is good news for those readers in the Colne Road area.
There are no signs, however, of any further re-openings in Burnley.
Just a thought. The 1972 Local Government Act was a disaster for our local
libraries. Amongst other things it passed control of libraries to the County
Councils from the then County Boroughs like Burnley. Since 1974, when the
Act came into force, they have proved fairly conclusively that they have not
risen to the occasion. Pre-1974 they ran an efficient library service in the large
parts of the county which were not served by the medium and large municipal
authorities like Burnley but they have failed to make the step up to controlling
these larger library units as efficiently.
Some authorities in Lancashire such as Blackpool and Blackburn with
Darwen have managed to opt out of the county run system of local
government and have reverted to being, amongst other things, library
authorities in their own right. Burnley joined with Pendle in applying for such a
change, twice, but were turned down on both occasions by the government's
decision that, even together, they were not large enough.
Perhaps the next chance might come with a change of government and then
we could start to rebuild our library service, once one of our town's treasures,
to its former status. If only……

Libraries under threat. No 28

Just when you thought you had finished with retrospectives here is another one:
• Since 2010 at least 478 public libraries have closed in England, Wales and Scotland.
• Since 2010 the number of books held by surviving libraries has dropped by 14m.
• Since 2010 the number of librarians has been cut by 8000.
• Statistics released recently by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy showed that in the past 5 years loans of books have dropped by 25% and spending on public libraries by councils fell by £66m in 2016-17. Bear in mind that libraries are regarded in public spending terms as "fiscally insignificant" so that is becomes an even larger amount.
• Book loans to children since 2011 have fallen, as evinced by the following examples:
Birmingham - 32%
Newcastle - 25%
Sheffield - 56%
We wonder what the Lancashire figure would be?
As to the future, in Northamptonshire the County Council is considering closing as many as 28 of the county's 36 libraries. In Bury, Manchester 10 of the 14 libraries are about to close and closures are looming in Cheshire, East Sussex, Anglesey, Shropshire and more.
[This information is taken from a "Guardian" article =by John Harris on 15th December 2017]
Happy New Year to library users everywhere1