INDEX

Abstract of Fourteenth Century Deeds Relating to Leigh

The Plague in Lancashire

Parliamentary Solutions to the Unemployed 1547

Graveyard epitaph in Winwick Church

Colonel Blood the Lancashire Connection

Thomas Blood’s Petition to Charles 11

Richard Arkwright the Leigh Connection

The First Spinning Jenny

Where Did Thomas Highs Live?

Mathematical Problem in Bedford 1749

The Shooting Butts

Stag Driving in the 18th Century

Recollections of Old Leigh

Gourmandising Feats

Jannock in Leigh

A Novel Bolton Bible

The Duke of Cumberland Passes Through Leigh

Folk Lore and Traditions in Leigh

Leigh Coronation Festivities for George 1V 1821

A Description of Leigh in 1824

Leigh Coronation Festivities for William 1V 1831

The Leighth Feight 1839

Roman Road Discovered at Worsley

Excavation of Castle Hill at Newton

Welsh Hill Wakes 1858

The 1861 Census Enumerator

Hoard of Coins Found at Eccles

Leigh’s Oldest Barmaid

Frog Commits Suicide

Remember Remember the 5th of November 1865

Another Casualty of the Gunpowder Plot

Death of a Shoemaker 1866

The Gipsy problem 1868 Nothing has Changed

Justice the Victorian Way

National Election Rioting at Leigh 1868

Voluntary Clock Rate 1869

Saturday Night in a Common Lodging House 1871

The Remains of Sir Thomas Tyldesley Found 1871

Monument to the Name of Thomas Leigh 1871

Discoveries at St. Mary’s Leigh 1871

Local Board Time Signal 1873

Public Clock 1874

The Frog Fishing Season in Westleigh 1875

Oak Apple Day 1875

An Ear Crucifixion Near Golborne

The Lately Common Floods

Leigh’s Coffee Van 1877

Westleigh Pub Wakes 1887

The Miraculous Bunion Cure

The Opium Eaters

A Freak of Nature at Croft

A Duck With Four Legs

Leigh Operator Approaching 100 Years in Haulage

The Multi-talented Hezekiah Close

Fletcher's Bedford Wharf Tunnel

Empire Day at Golborne 1907

 

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Abstracts of Fourteenth Century Deeds Relating to Leigh

A quitclaim in the parish of Workislegh, by which Hugo de Tildeslegh quit-claims to Richard del Wichenese & co, .all my rights & co in all rights and tenements had by the demise of the said Richard, in le Wichenese in the vill of Workislegh as entirely as Adam the son of William the clerk held that of me - Witness Adam de Lever; John de Hetone; John son of Henry de Hulton; John de Bedeford; Richard de Farneworth clerk and others, given at Legth the Sunday next before the feast of St. Peter, in Cathedral (January 18th) 15 Edward 111 (1332)

Hugh de Tyldesley the grantor is probably the second son of Thurston de Tyldesley and his wife Margaret daughter and co-heir of John de Worsley Lord of Wardley. This Hugh's elder brother Thomas was sergeant in law to King Henr1V, and dying without issue, the manor and the estate passed to the line of Hugh. Of the other party to this quit claim no trace could be found, or the location were he derived it's name - the Wichinesse or Wickenesse is Worsley. This deed was executed at Leigh, and probably in the church there, this would be the parish church of the Tildsley family and of John de Bedford and other witnesses. It was executed on a Sunday which was not unusual in those times, as probably the day on which the representatives of country families being assembled together for devotion could without personal inconvenience remain to attest the execution of the deeds.

(2) By this deed of the 27th Edward 111 (1353) Adam de Kynanale now Kinknall, grants that all lands and tenements, with the buildings (thereon), and all the appurtances, which Roger son of William de Shuttlis Worth holds for the whole of his life in the vills of Bedeford and Astlegh together with all lands and tenements which Robert son of Thomas Shuthelesworth, holds of the same Roger for a term of years, and which after the decease of Roger reverting to my heirs, ought to remain entire after the death of Roger to John, his son borne unto him by Alicea, his wife, my daughter. I grant also that all lands and tenements & co, which Henry de Leght and Alice his wife hold in the name of a dower (dotus) to the said Alice, in the vill of Bedeford, and one messuage with one acre of land adjacent, and which John de Leght holds for his whole life, in the same vill, which after the death of the said Alice, John and Roger should revert to me and my heirs, shall after the decease of the aforesaid, remain to the foresaid John. To have and to hold & co. of the Chief Lords, of their fees by all services which to the said lands & co. belonging forever; with all liabilities and casements to the said vills belong. And if the said John, should die without heir of his body. I will by the present grant, that then all the lands & co. should remain to Thomas, his brother son of the said Roger and Alice to have & co.. Remainder, to the heirs of Roger, borne by Alice his wife & co. for ever. Remainder to right heirs of Roger for ever (witness) - R it may be Richard, Robert or Roger de Bradeshagh of Pynington: William de Waferton; William de Urmiston; Richard de Pynington; William de Sale and others. Given at Bedeford on the Tuesday next after the feast of Pentecost (Whitsontide) Tuesday May 14 (27 Edward 111 1353)

Of the old family of Kirknall no trace can be found, this can be a spelling variation of Kempnall? the old hall of that name in Worsley is of no great distance from these lands in Bedford and Leigh. In 1636 the then Bishop of Chester, certifying the value of the living or rectory of Westleigh stated that the corn tithes of one half of Bedford town was sold to Richard Urmston of Kinknall. In the 17th century James 1(1610-20) the manor of Bedford was held by Richard son of Hugh Shuttleworth of Bedford and Esther daughter of Roger Urmston of Lostock. A grandson of this Shuttleworth, also Richard marrying the daughter and co-heiress of Richard Urmston becoming joint Lord of Westleigh. Of the Urmston's and Shuttleworth's no pedigree is given in Bains Lancashire. Shuttleworth House of the 17 century seat and property of the Shuttleworth's in time reverted to a farmhouse. The old form of their name seems to have been Shattle or Shuttll's Worth (Shotll's way or road is a hamlet or village). Of this branch of the Leigh name there is no trace. The witnesses are all of resident families of the vicinity. Hope Carr once the moated home of the Sale family reverted to a farm house.

  1. A quit claim of lands in Bedford, of the 45th Edward 111 1371. William le Smyth de Bedeford releases, remits and quit claims to Thomas son of William de Shuttleworth, & co. .all rights & co.in all lands and tenements, which I have of the gift and feoffment of the same Thomas in the vill of Bedeford; so that neither I or any of my heirs or name shall make any claim, exact any right or sell any portion thereof, whatsoever & co. forever (no witness). Given at Bedeford on Monday, in the Vigil of the Nativity of St. John Baptist in the 15th Edward 111 (June 23rd 1371)

A Simon de Bedford is mentioned in the Chancery Rolls of King John in his 3rd year (1201-2). The arms cannot be traced to any family. The Smiths of Wray in this county have fleur de lis in their coat. This deed is just 18 years after 2.

  1. A grant of land in Lancashire of the 45th Edward 111 (1371). Thomas son of William de Shuttlesworth gives grants, and confirms to Master Robert Shuttlesworth, all my lands and rents & co.. within the county of Lancaster. To have and to hold of the Chief Lords, of there fees, by service due and by rights accustomed. I have also given and granted to the same Robert all my goods and chattels, wheresoever's in the same county, wherever they may be found (witness) Roger Gillibrond; James de Tildeslegh; Roger de Wareton; Gilbert de Sale: James de Sale and others. Given at Deresford Tuesday after St. Barnabus June 11th 45th Edward 111 (Tuesday June 16th 1371)

This grant made in the same year as number 3 is a family gift by one Shuttleworth to another. The witnesses are of local family Roger Gillibrond was of the family of Chorley (Lower) Hall, Pynington is Pennington, Deresford when this grant was executed should be somewhere in Lancashire, but it's location has not been found.

  1. A bond or obligation in Norman French called a statute merchant, given in the 47th Edward 111 1373, where a Thomas de Shuttleworth of Bedford is held and by an obligation of statute merchant, fully (playnement) bound to Henry de Hulton of Bernhull in 30 (vent) marks (£13, 6s 10d) at a certain day and place, as in the said obligation is more fully continued. Now, therefore the said Henry wills and grants for himself & co. that if the said enfeoffs not causes to be enfeoffed. Thomas de Clayton, chaplain into all his lands and tenements with the appurtances which he had after the decease of Roger de Shuttleworth, his brother in the vill of Burnhull; and that the said Thomas de Clayton & co, will not implead Thomas de Shuttleworth & co. neither by law, fraud or in any other manner. Then Because (or on account of) these things the obligation or bond of the statute merchant to be of no value. Or if the covenant he does not punctually or exactly held (depay on point). Then the said Thomas wills and grants that said obligation of statute merchant be in force and used.. And that if may be used according to law. In witness thereof the said Henry has placed his seal. - Given at Burnhull on Tuesday next after the feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle in the 47th year of our Lord King Edward 111 (August 30th 1373)

This is an obligation binding Thomas de Shuttleworth of Bedford to Henry de Hulton of Burnhull or Burnley, in 20 marks to enfeoff Thomas de Clayton chaplain, into all the lands & co. which he (Shuttleworth) had after the death of Roger de Shuttleworth his brother. The statute merchant, as this obligation or bond was termed, was a bind of record acknowledged before the clerk of the statute merchant, and Lord Mayor of London, or two merchants assigned for the purpose, or the bailiff of any borough & co. sealed with the seal of the debter and the king: it's condition being that if the obligator pays not the debt at that day; execution may be had against his body, lands and goods. This sort of bond was under the provision of the statute of Acton Burnel, and the statute of merchant were contrived for the security of merchants only, to provide a speedy remedy to recover their debts, But they were found to be so convenient in practice that they were used by others not in mercantile pursuits and had become one of the commonest assurances of England, at the period of which we refer. The Thomas de Clayton chaplain may probably have been of the family with John de Clayton who in 1334 witnessed a deed at Manchester as being the parson of Manchester, that is rector of the old parish church. Another witness to that deed was John de Hulton and to this we find Henry de Hulton was a party on behalf of Thomas de Clayton. This bond is executed at Burnley two years after number 3 and 4 and the party bound was in all probability Thomas the son of William de Shuttleworth or Shuttlesworth.

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The Plague in Lancashire

 AD 1349 Lancashire – The plague raged fearfully in Lancashire and in the rest of the country wiping out a third of the country

 AD 1483 Lancaster - Among the Chancery Rolls of th Duchy of Lancaster is a Precept dated 11th Henry V (AD1483) issued on the 11 June of that year to the Sheriff of the County, commanding him to cause a proclamation to be made in all market towns and elsewhere in the County, that the Sessions that were fixed to be holden at the town of Lancaster on Tuesday the morrow of St. Lawrence should be then commenced, and then adjourned to the Wednesday following, to the town of Preston in Amounderness. Because the King hast heard by both vulgar report or the credible testimony of honest men that certain parts of Lancashire, especially in Lancaster, there were raging so great a mortality of the people there from the corrupt and pestilent air, infected with diverse infirmities and deadly diseases, were dying rapidly and the survivors quitting the place from dread of death, so that the lands remained untilled and the most grievous desolation reigned where before was plenty

 AD 1485 Lancashire – The “sweating sickness” was especially fatal in Lancashire in the autumn of that year.

 AD 1500 Lancashire – The plague broke out in Lancashire and was very violent

 AD 1540 Liverpool – It is on record that Liverpool was nearly depopulated by the plague in that year

 AD 1551 Ulverston – The “sweating sickness was prevalent in the County. In the parish registers of Ulverston is found an entry that the great number of burials in that year (39 in August alone), were due to the visitation of the plague.

 AD 1558 Liverpool – A plague raged in the town. The burial place was in the neighbourhood of Sawney Pope Street. (Gregsons Fragments)

 AD 1562 Preston – It is mentioned that a “great plague” visited Preston in 1562 which was the year of the Guild Merchants of its affects no mention is on record.

 AD 1565 Manchester – There was a sore sickness in Manchester and about it, of which many died. (Holingsworth’s Mancuniensis)

 AD 1577 Hawkshead – Now in this month came the pestilent sickness in this parish which was brought in by James Barwick. Whereof is deceased is thus marked, number of burials so marked 38. (Hawkshead Parish Register)

 AD 1558 Manchester – There died of the parishioners in the month of April 70 Persons (Holingsworth’s Mancuniensis)

 AD 1594 Hailsworth – The sickness was in Hailsworth at Clough House (Hollingsworth)

 AD 1605 Manchester – In 1605 the Lord visited the town (as 40 years before and 40 years after) with a sore pestilence; there died 1,000 persons amongst them were Mr Kirk Chaplain of the College, and his wife and four children. All the time of the sickness Mr. Burn preached in the town so long as he durst (by reason of the unruliness of the infected persons want of Government) and then he went and preached in a field near Shooters Brook, the towns people being on one side of him and the country people on the other (Hollingsworth’s Mancuniensis)

 AD 1607 Oldham and District – Smallpox, Sir George Ratcliffe the a boy of 14 years wrote to his mother, in the year 1607, from a school at Oldham where he was placed under the instruction of an eminent master Mr Hunt “We are all in good health (God be thanked) here at Oldham. My Maisters sonne is come home long since, and I think will remain with us all winter. My cousin Charles was with us at Oldham last weeke and I had thought to have written unto you, but because I had so little time, because of his short staying I could not. The pocks are as it were, a plague amongst us and very many die of them in our County (district). There was a very lamentable accident upon Monday last, for Sir Richard Worsley the flower of our house, dyed of the pocks that day about noon. He began to be sick the Friday before; and endured his sickness as patiently as was admirable, and when the pain of death came upon him, he laid so quietly as made the beholders wonder, having often in his mouth the saying Lord have mercy upon me – Sweet Jesus receive my soul” (Life of Sir George Ratcliffe)

 AD 1610 Liverpool and District – In this year a lay of half a fifteenth was charged upon the townships of East Lancashire to the relief of those infected by the plague in the several towns of Liverpool Uxton (Euxton) and others.

 AD 1623 Blackburn – The Blackburn parish register for 1623 prove a great mortality doubtless from the plague or “sweating sickness” that has raged in the town of Bolton the same year. The average number of burials yearly at Blackburn Parish Church at this period was 110 to 120 (122 in 1625) but in 1623 (from January 1622-23 to December 1623) there are as many as 410 burials, being about 300 in excess. The baptisms for that year were 133, which at the rate of 33 births per 1000 living persons, would give the population of the township near about 4000. The mortality was at its highest during the last three months of 1623; 60 corpses were buried in October, 55 in November and 66 in December, four burials took place Christmas Day. Numerous members of the families of local gentry as well as townsfolk, traders and cottagers died.

 AD 1623 Bolton – The plague or “sweating sickness” caused the death of one third of the inhabitants. The number of burials in the churchyard was nearly 500.

 AD 1630-31Kirkham – The Parish Book records – “This year was a great plague in Kirkham in which the most part of people of the town died thereof. It began about the 25 July and continued vehenomously until Martinmas, but was not clear of it before Lent; and diverse parts of the Parish were infected with it, and many died thereof out of it at Treales, Newton, Grenall, Eastbrick and Thistleton - NB The great mortality was in the year 1631, 304 died in that year and were buried at Kirkham at where 193 died in the months of August and September

AD 1630-31 Preston – The Preston Guild Order Book contains the record – Sexto et Septimo Caroli RRs. The great sickness of the plague of pestilence, wherein the number of eleven hundred persons and upward died within the town and parish of Preston began about the 10th day of November in Anno 1630 and contained the space of one whole year next after. (Abrams Memorials of the Preston Guild)

AD 1631 Dalton in Furness – It is recorded that in the year 1631 there died in Dalton of the plague 360 and in Walney 120. The contagion made its first appearance in July and ceased about the Easter following. A mound of earth on the east side of the churchyard is supposed to point out the burial place of the victims (Bains History of Lancashire new edition p648)

 AD 1631 Manchester – “The Lord sent his destroying Angell into an Inn in Manchester in which Richard Meriot and his wife Mister and Dame of the house and all that were in it, or entered into it died for certain weeks, till at last till they burned or buried all the goods in the house; and yet God in the midst of his judgement did render mercy, for no person else was touched that year with the infection (Hollingsworth’s Mancuniensis)

 AD 1645 Manchester and District – Adam Martingdale in his biography wrote “Manchester was sadly visited by the Pestilence in the year 1645 and a public fast day was held at Blockley Chapel on behalf of the poor of Manchester and district. The plague raged so violently that for many months no one was suffered to enter or leave the town. Most of the trading inhabitants were ruined by it. The burials in the Collegiate Church in May 1665 were 61; in June 135, July 172, August 310, September 266, October 122. Thus the distemper was at its highest in August and September 1645. On one day 2 September there were 29 burials in the parish churchyard of Manchester. Next year from July to September only 26 burials were registered. December 9th 1645 Parliament ordered collections for the poor of Manchester in all the Churches and Chapels in London and Westminster. The moneys so collected were to be paid to Mr. Thomas Stone, Mr. Henry Ashurst, Mr James Wainwright and Mr. Thomas Markland citizens of London and then conveyed by them at all possible speed to Mr. John Hartley of Manchester to be equally distributed among the poor inhabitants as should be agreed upon by the officers. and chief persons of the town.” (House of Commons Journal iv 371)

 AD 650 Cockerham – In the Parish Registers of Cockerham near Lancaster is an entry dated July 1650. The names of those who died with the infection in Cockerham 21 died in July, of whome 11 were of the family of Braid; 34 in August of whome was the Rev. Thomas Smith, vicar, 5 in September and 4 in October. The last of those died on the 8th and here the plague ceased. (History of Lancashire ii 305)

 AD 1665 Wigan – The London Gazette on the 11th December 1665 reports – Wigan in Lancashire December 6th. This town was startled by the death of a woman found early morning before the dore of a poor cottage in the highway within the limits of the Corporation. The Mayor of the town was very industrious to find the cause of it, and upon the examination of three persons that came with her into the town from Ireland and many notorious circumstances, it was clear that she was clean of any infection, and that being with child, to avoid the shame among her friends who are of good fashion and live not many miles from this place, she destroyed herself with poison (Cited in Pal Note Book Although this proved not to be a case of fatality by plague, yet the great alarm by the townsfolk of Wigan on hearing of the poor woman’s sudden death, suggested that the plague must have been present in those parts of England in the latter part of the year 1665.)

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Parliaments Solution to the Unemployed 1547

Parliament acted on the 29th November 1547 that all that should anyway loiter without work, or without offering themselves to work three days together; or that should run away from work and resolve to live idly, should be seized on; and whoever should present them to a justice of  peace was to have them adjudged to be his slave for two years, and they were to be marked with the letter V, imprinted with a hot iron on their breast.

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 The following epitaph was once to be found in the graveyard of Winwick Church

Elizabeth ye daughter of John Byrom of Lowton

Departed this life March ye 17th 1680 aged 55

Lived pyous and chaste life: died a maid: left

Ye interest of £50 for the use of ye poor of ye said

Town for ever

Few will be found to follow her example

Live a maid so long and give a stock so ample

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Colonel Blood the Lancashire Connection

Colonel Blood the notorious character, who attempted to steal the English Crown at the Tower of London in the reign of Charles 11, is said to have married Mary one of the daughters of John Holcroft, a gentleman of good character in the County of Lancashire (Culcheth). Thomas Blood married Mary one of the daughters of John Holcroft of Holcroft by Margaret daughter and co-heir of John Hunt of Manchester. Mary was the sister of Thomas the last male heir of the Holcrofts of Holcroft who was born in 1633. He married Eleanor daughter of Thomas Birch of Birch, and by her he had two daughters Eleanor and Margaret. In 1679 Eleanor was married to Thomas Tyldesley of Morley

Thomas Blood’s Petition to Charles 11

After the death of Charles Holcroft of Holcroft Captain Blood who had married his sister Mary presented the following petition to Charles 11

The humble petition of Thomas Blood sheweth that yr Petir  by ye late death of ye last Heir male of John Holcroft in ye County of Lancaster Esq. in right of his wife ye daughter of ye said Holcroft becomes entitled to ye estate of ye said Holcroft for ye recovery of which yr Petir has a sute depending against some of ye family of ye Holcroft who labour by all artifices to defraud ye Petir of his aforesaid just rights, and finding there own titel to be weake have combined with one Richard Calverley to promote an old titel to his part of his said estate, which titel for this 40 yeares hath been overthrown at law, most of ye estate having belonged to ye Holcroft’s and possessed above 500 years yet hath ye said Calverley been so vexatious yt when his tittel at law was rejected thy laboured by violence to get footing in ye estate, and about 6 yeares ago they hyered severall obscure persons out of Wales yt went to the house of a gentleman, one Hamlet Holcroft a relation of ye Petir and with a Pistoll killed him dead for not giving them possession when they had no legal procis nor officer to demand it by, and some weekes since ye said Richard Calverley being attacked by some of ye Sherifes Balifs according to law concerning ye premisis claimed by ye Petir after they had him in custody ye said Culverley catched up a rapier and killed one of ye said Baylife dead on ye place. May it therefore please ye Matie.out of your Princely Grace and for ye better enabling ye Petir to serve ye Matie. (who is therefore obliged to his upmost power above any person in ye world) to conifer upon ye Petir what estate ye said Richard Culverley layes claim unto the lately seized of ye aforesaid estate of John Holcroft and his heirs and consequently ye Petir of yt upon Calverley’s tryall and conviction it shall be forfeited to ye Matie.

Hamlet Holcroft who was stated to have been murdered by Richard Calverley in his own house appear to have happened about six years before the petition. In the Newchurch registers Hamlet Holcroft described as senior was buried on the 9th March 1662-3 and in the following year the burial of another Hamlet Holcroft of Culcheth, no doubt his son is recorded the 2nd June. It was probably the latter who was killed.

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Richard Arkwright the Leigh Connection

Richard Arkwright was born in Preston 27 December 1732 the son of Thomas Arkwright and youngest of 13 children. The house or shop that Arkwright resided, says a local historian (1857), was pulled down a short time ago, it stood on the north side of Lord Street and Molyneux Square. Nothing is known of his early life with certainty saved he was apprenticed to a barber.Aged 23 he removed to Bolton where he married Patience Holt, daughter of Robert Holt schoolmaster, who bore him one son Richard, December 1755; who survived him and inherited his wealth. Patience seems to have died shortly after the birth of her son.

   Richard Arkwrights second wife later Sir Richard Arkwright of the parish of Bolton barber and Margaret Biggins of the parish of Leigh, spinster, were married in the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Leigh by license and with consent, the 24 March 1761 by John Hartley curate. Mr Biggins father of the bride is described as a respectable inhabitant of Leigh, and lived many years in the town; and his daughter up to the time of her marriage lived with him in Market Place Leigh at a house now (1827) known as the sign of the Millstone. The second Mrs. Arkwright seemed to have a little money or property of her own - perhaps to the value of £400, which also seemed to have been settled on herself. That the pair were married by license, would, of itself one might suppose, betoken, that Arkwright or his wife was at that time in tolerable circumstances.

   The shops being mentioned as occupied by Arkwright when in Bolton, one in the passage leading to the old Millstone Inn, the other a small shop in Churchgate. The lead cistern in which his customers washed after being shaved is still in existence, in the family of the late Peter Skeltern of Bolton. Stories of Arkwrights barber life are not wanting. In one instance he occupied in Bolton an underground cellar over which he put up the sign " Come to the subterranean barber - He shaves for one penny." The other barbers finding their customers leaving, reduced their prices to his standard, upon which Arkwright to push his trade announced hi intention to "give a clean shave for one half penny." At this time he was simply a barber; but soon after he travelled the country buying human hair. He possessed a valuable chemical secret for dying it, and when dyed and prepared it was sold to the wig makers who esteemed it as the best in the country. Between the time of his second marriage and 1768 Arkwright had frequent intercourse with Leigh and it's inhabitants, and through his connection with his father in law - the respectable Biggins engaged one Dean, a workman well skilled in the making of the strong country wigs, the in very general use, as his journeyman. And the latter left the service of John Richardson senior, then a hairdresser in Leigh, and went to Arkwright in his shop, when the latter finally left Bolton. John Richardson senior now (1827) aged 74 years, John Burkill about 72 years and Joseph Pounal about 74 years, some of the oldest inhabitants of Leigh, and whose fathers had lived here before them authenticated this statement to Mr. Guest.

     In 1786 Arkwright was knighted whilst a resident in Derbyshire and in 1787 was made High Sheriff of that county. During his latter years, he was partly occupied in building Willesley Castle which, with a church at Cromford, intended by him to receive his remains, he did not live to see finished. He died in August 1792 at the age of 59, left property to the value of half a million sterling to his only son and heir, he dying in 1843 aged 88 years, he left property to the estimated value of no less than 7 million pounds.

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The First Spinning Jenny

A statement by Thomas Leather an old Leigh weaver can be found in an appendix in Guests Compendium History of the Cotton History. This witness after describing the many attempts of Thomas Highs, of Leigh, to invent a new spinning machine, confirms the story of the trial that Highs had to bear owing to his wife not appreciating the work he was engaged in, ending in the machine he had made being broken up and thrown from the window to the house yard. The wheel of the Jenny thus destroyed was picked up and came into the possession of Mary Bretherton, a next door neighbour, at the sale of whose effects by Mr. Joseph Boardman,auctioneer of Wigan (a brother of Mr. Thomas Boardman father in law to Mr. Richard Greenough of Leigh), it was bought by Mr. Henry Lowton of King Street. The shaft attached to the wheel, and which had a tooth wheel at one end, was taken out and used as a poker. The wheel itself, of mahogany with turned spindles, was used by Wilkinson, blacksmith of Bradshawgate, Leigh, in the construction of a balling machine - the first introduced into this neighbourhood. This machine, to which is attached the interesting relic of what is possibly the first Spinning Jenny, is still in the possession of Mr. Richard Greenough, the Chairman of the Leigh Local Board.

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Where Did Thomas Highs Live ?

Thomas Highs the claimant to be the inventor of the Spinning Jenny, lived it is commonly supposed in a house in buildings close to the old workhouse in King Street, Pennington. He is also said to have resided in Doctors Nook (off Market Place). Richard Guest (the cotton manufacturer) relates that in 1767-1768 having long been resident in Leigh; Highs removed to a house in Bradshawgate, and there constructed the first Spinning Jenny which was set up in an unoccupied house next door to the Archer Tavern in Market Street. From other statements quoted by Mr. Guest it is clear that before Highs removed to Bradshawgate he resided on the east side of The Walk in Pennington.

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A Mathematical Problem in Bedford 1749

The following question was proposed in the Diarean Repository for the year 1749 by Mr. John Hampson of Leigh Lancashire

At Bedford Mill, near old Leigh town is found,

In form triangular a piece of ground,

Whose sides and area none can yet explain,

Tho' these subsequent hints may them obtain.

One angle makes degrees just seventy-nine,

Which being of three to ten, cut by a line.

Of chains eleven, drawn to its side oppose'd,

The area is the least can be enclosed.

The miller thus "who best explains the truth,

Wins for reward our buxom daughter Ruth"

To save you wracking your brains to claim the fair hand of buxom Ruth, who has by now  sadly turned to dust, I have given the submitted answer below:-

Let C be the given angle, draw the given line CD dividing it in the given ratio. Draw the base AD so that it will be bisected in D: the triangle ABC will be minimum. Parallel to BC draw DM cutting AC in M. By similar triangle AM = MC and DM = 1/2 BC then by a well known trigonometrical formulae, the angles, sides and area can be found.

Angles                                 Sides

A = 20 deg 41 feet      AB = 19 17385  chains

B = 80       19              AC = 19 55730  chains

C = 79       00              BC =   7 .00516 chains

Area = 6 acres 2 r 26 p

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The Shooting Butts

 The portion of Bedford known as Butts was formerly a shooting butt for archers, the cutting of the canal in 1760 did away with any former usage. The site was close to what is now known as Butts Bridge and for a time was used as the town yard. The stocks also stood near and fell into disuse about the same time as the canal was cut. Formerly a fair was held here on the 29th May. Souther Butts was a name given to where a row of houses once stood near and is a corruption of Shooters Butts.

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Stag Driving in the 18th Century

Buried at Disley, Cheshire 2nd June 1733, Joseph Watson, in the 105th year of his age. He was born at Mosley Common, in the Parish f Leigh, in the County of Lancashire, and married his wife from Etchelle, near Manchester, in the said County. They were a happy couple 72 years, She died in the 94th year of her age. He was park keeper to the late Peter Leigh Esq. of Lime and his father used to drive and show red deer to most of the nobility in that part of the kingdom to the general satisfaction of all who ever saw them, for he could have drive and commanded them at his pleasure, as if they had been common horned cattle. In the reign of Queen Ann, Squire Leigh was at Macklesfield in Cheshire, in company with a number of gentlemen amongst which was sir Roger Mason, who was then one of the members for the said county, they being merry and free, Squire Leigh said his keeper should drive 18 brace of stags to the Forest of Windsor, a present to the Queen Sir Roger opposed it with a wager of 500 guineas saying that his keeper nor any other person could drive 12 brace of red deer from Lime Park to Windsor Forest on any account. So Squire Leigh accepted the wager from Sir Roger, and immediately sent a message to Lime for his keeper, who directly came to his master, who told him he must immediately prepare himself to drive 12 brace of stags to Windsor Forest for a wager of 500 guineas. He gave the Squire, his master, this answer, that he would drive him 12 brace of stags to Windsor Forest, or to any part of the kingdom by his worship's direction or he would lose his life and fortune. He understood and accomplished this most astonishing performance which is not to be equalled in the annals of the most ancient history. He was a man of low stature, not bulky, of a fresh completion, pleasant countenance, and he believed he had drank a gallon of fresh malt liquor a day, one day with another, for over sixty years of his time.(evidently the pie shops were all closed!)

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Recollections of Old Leigh 1800

My name is John Gerrard, I was born in Leigh on the 29th May 1800 and I am now 80 years of age I was born near the back of the Nelson (Lord Nelson Inn). I first went to two old ladies to be taught, one of whome was Mr. Whittle’s grandmother, I later went to the Grammar School by the church the master being Mr. Worrall, he was a very severe master. I remember he locked children up until 12 o’clock at night, “three young porters he locked up took their hook” I remember as a boy threatening to repay Worrall for his cruelty. One Saturday I came from Wigan and before visiting my stepmother I went to the Swan knowing that Worrall would be there, I went into the kitchen which was crowded and Worrall was there, and on seeing me he said “I have beaten him black and blue and I have made him into a first class scholar, there is no better hand, I could beat him now” The people cried shame, but he repeated it. I remember emptying my glass and then striking Worrall who fell to the floor. I visited my mother in Church Street and returned to Wigan. The news spread round the town that Jack Gerrard had beaten old Worrall. But he was a cruel Master. He used to make children stand with their heads under a form for three hours together. At that time the Church School was in Newton Street and the children wrote in sand with sticks. Paper and ink were of so much value then, copy books were 1/- apiece. Leigh at that period was all thatched houses, hedges and ditches in all directions. It was not so thickly populated as now. There was only one or two houses facing the Nelson reet into Bedford. My father was the only master plumber and glazier in the town – Edward Gerrard. When my father died I was bound apprentice to a man named Gregson, New Springs near Wigan. I stayed there almost three years then came into Dangergate Wigan. Afterwards I came back to Leigh and worked under old Thomas Boardman the builder. That was in 1820. In 1830 his son William Boardman began trade and I remained with him to his death. I was the first and last man to make his coffin. I remember the present Queen commencing her reign and the festivities in Leigh at that time. The streets were illuminated with small oil lamps, and I remember them roasting a cow and a sheep in the Market Place. We used to have bonfires too on the 5th November, there were four or five cartloads of coal and a man used to look after them all night. I can well remember working with a lion in a cage. I was working near Leigh at this time, with a boy fixing a shed at a place called the Noggin (Noggin Inn Culcheth). Wombwell’s Menagerie was in town at that time and they sent for me in a trap, the wanted me to line a lions den. He brought me to the Market Place. The menagerie had its back to the church wall. He shows me into this place does the keeper. When we were in he said “this is the place we want lining” I said “very well get him out” meaning the lion in the cage – “and I will be at it.” He said “get him out, we have no where to put him.” I said “do you want me to work with this chap.” “Certainly” he said “or there or there was no use sending for you, the master told me you were the only man who would do it.” “Still” I said “ I am not going in if he is to be my mate.” “Well then” he said, “you are no man.” So I stood a little and after a while I said “I will go in if you will go in with me.” “Certainly” he said. As soon as we got in the great lion rolled his head against me. “If thou dust not behave thyself” I said “ill chop off thy head.”

You must not meddle or trouble him” he said. I said “If he will keep away I wont.” I got to work and in about half an hour I heard something that went click. I turned round and saw that the keeper had got out of the cage and had locked me in. I said to him “where are you going” he said. “I have four lions on the other side of the place, I have to perform with them.” “Well” I said, “Tho doesn’t care for me.” There’re all right “ he said, “Thall take no harm” he said and went away. turning to the lion I said, “Ill warm thee devil, if thee does anything.” At 12 o’clock I said to the keeper “owd mon its dinner time.” What are thou going to have” he said. “I don’t know till I get whoam, my wife doesn’t know I am here” I said. He said “you are not going to your wife, we will fetch you what you want.” They fetched me some bread and cheese and ale and I sat me down. I had not long sat down when my lord put his feet between mine, I said “ill give thee some to eat owd mon.” I gave him some and after dinner, commenced work again and I worked until eight o’clock at night. The place was full many a time. It was a new thing Wombwell’s Menagerie, one of them said “look there Jack I would not be in his shop for summat.” I only said “he’s a quiet mate.” After I had finished Mr. Wombwell came to me and said “now my man have you finished.” I said “I had” and he says. “Here is half a crown for you, this is the fourth town we have been in, and the timber has been got ready in these four different towns, and this is the first place anyone will go near him.” I said “I knew that when I was at the Noggin I should not have come here, why the lion kept getting at me, rubbing his head and roaring, and it was not a comfortable place to work in.” I have been to many a bear baiting at Chowbent (Atherton) and Tyldesley Bongs, and I have had a rostle with a bear at Orchard Lone. A man came from Lowton, it was the time of Bent Wakes (Chowbent Fair) – with a bear, and some men were to come with some dogs to bait him. I was there with my dog, but the men did not come, and the man from Lowton went of to Bent leaving the bear with me. Bye and bye some men came from Bedford with some dogs. I said I would fetch it out of the stable so it could be baited in Old Orchard Loan, I got to fetch the bear out of the stable, when I got her out the dogs began barking and the bear began clipping me. I fell and the men began to ask “What was the best thing to be done?” I told them to attack the bear from behind with dogs, and then he would loose me. They did so and no sooner was I free than I ran out of the road, and I stood there and they baited her as they had a mind. After the bear was baited I took her back, she was quiet enough when the dogs were away. We have baited bears regularly at Stirrups, and in King Street. Well I liked Leigh better in the “olden times” than I do now. They were nearly all one family in my days, they were people who would take one another’s word for anything in those days; whereas you dare not trust your next door neighbour now. If they said it they did it. I can remember the Franchise Bill being passed and the commotion it caused. I am a strong Liberal and can remember the repeal of the Corn Laws. At the time of the Chartist Riots, they swore me in as a constable and gave me a truncheon. But I said, “I will not use it, I will not break anyone’s head.” There were a lot of riots in that time. Many people had there heads broken with truncheons. I walked by the side of Smith, when he said to the officer “Fire, you cannot miss them; you will kill a lot of them.” But the officer said “I know better than to shoot a lot of innocent men that have done nothing wrong.” The soldiers were living in barracks at the old workhouse. I can remember hearing John Bright speak, and Cobden. I can remember when the Radicals had their hats trimmed with green. At this time there was a song “ Wi Henry Hunt we’ll go.” I remember the time I used to go up to Dr. Wints in King Street to hearing papers read, I have read many a thousand hours to the public. I can remember the cotton famine very well, there was a lot of distress about Leigh. Never shall I forget it, we lived on barley bread, jannock and buttermilk. I can remember bread being 6p a lb, and sugar now selling at 2p being 16p a lb – At this point Mr Gerrard abruptly ceased saying he could fill a newspaper if he liked.

Gormondising Feats

In 1775 William Horrocks a labouring man on Saturday night undertook for a considerable wager to eat 12lb of ox steak, 12 penny loaves and drink 6 quarts of ale between the hours of one and three in the afternoon of the same day, which to the astonishment of a great number of spectators he performed in one hour and three quarters and seemingly went unsatisfied (evidently the pie shops were all closed) Manchester Mercury 4 Feb.1775

At a public house in Blackburn a man upwards of 70 years consumed the following enormous quantities of meat within two hours, 2lb of cheese, 21/2lb of beef steak and 6lb of bread. In order to quench that after this shameful gluttony he afterwards drank 14 quarts of strong ale. Not still satisfied he offered to bet a wager of £2 that he would then eat 2lb of beef steak, 1lb butter and 3lb of bread; but persons present having such proof of his rapacious appetite declined the wager - Preston Chronicle 1822

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Jannock in Leigh

Jannock is a peculiar kind of bread made of oatmeal in the form of a loaf, is said to have been introduced into Lancashire by the Flemish immigrants about the year 1567. Its use in Leigh is easily accounted for by the fact of the early introduction of silk weaving into the town presumably by the refugees. The word jannock is a foreign importation. Jannock is now used more here than in any other part of Lancashire

Ballooning ascents in Lancashire. In 1785 there seemed to be been a perfect mania for balloon ascents in the county. On the 27 July in that year Mr. Lunard ascended from Liverpool and after about an hour in the air landed at Simonwood about 12 miles from Liverpool. On the 15 September following Thomas Baldwyn of Chester ascended from that city in Mr. Lunards balloon and in three hours and a half landed at Rixton Moss 25 miles from his starting place.

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A Novel Bolton Bible

A Bolton family have a bible with names entered by the father and grandfather in a very novel fashion dispensing with dates:-

"Eawr Jem wur born ith American War" - (1773)

"Eawr Mary wur born in that great frost" - (1776)

"Eawr Bill wur born when the ostler wur killt ith Delph" - (1777)

"Eawr Sally wur born when Gossey Meadow wur mowd" - (1778)

"Eawr Peggy wur born ith great wind" - (November 1780)

"Eawr John wur born when Holland wur hung" - (1789)

"Eawr Robert wur born when th' sow ran at my mother i'th Hedges-lones" - (1790)

"Eawr Jenny wur born when Longworth were gibbeted and owd penny pieces were made" - (1796)

"Eawr Charlotte wur born when 'th short peace were made an aw have as bonny a mark of a yerrin on my soide as ever yo seed in yore life" - (1814)

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The Duke Of Cumberland Passes Through Leigh 1745

In 1745 the Duke of Cumberland was recalled from France to suppress the invasion of Jacobites under Charles Edward the Young Pretender, and grandson of the deposed Stuart King James 11. In pursuit of the Prince's army and after spending a night in Dunham Massey, Cumberland crossed the river Mersey at Hollins Green and passed the valley of the Glass on his way to Wigan by Leigh; a James Clayton who served as his guide described the country they were passing through as little but wild.

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Folk Lore and Traditional Tales of Lancashire

A Lancashire fairy tale. Two men went poaching, and having placed nets, or rather sacks over what they thought were rabbit holes, but in reality were fairy houses, the fairies rushed into the sacks and the poachers believing them to be rabbits and content with their pray marched of home again. One fairy missing another in the dark sack called out (in a Lancashire dialect) "wheer at thou?". To which the fairy Dick replied "In a sack, on a back, riding up Barley Mow". The moral of the story was that the poachers were that frightened they never poached again.

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The Croft Boggart -On an evening in October 1885 as the members of the village band and some of the workers from the brewery were proceeding home at a reputable hour, something “uncanny” was observed, walking to and from a style leading into the road. The pedestrians were so alarmed they took to their heels, but the unfortunate weight who carried the big drum, not being able to keep up with the rest, was obliged to drop it and run with the others. The boggart there upon commenced to amuse himself with the noisy instrument doing this in so very “spirited” fashion that the neighbours were aroused. One informant said that the drum was never recovered.

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Bacon Bridge (Breaston Bridge) is believed, and on pretty sure evidence is named after the following incident. About 1760 a lad was taking two flitches of bacon from Culcheth to Leigh, a horse with a pack saddle on its back being used for the purpose. It is supposed that the boy, wishing to mount his horse, got on the battlement of the bridge, when he fell into the water. The boy was certainly found drowned with the horse and the bacon upon him.

Another version of the tradition is that a man was carrying a pig to Leigh. He had thrown the carcass over his shoulder, and tied the four feet together so as to carry the body yoke fashion, and easily. Being weary he rested on the bridge, when the carcasses slipped over the parapet and the man was strangled.

A third version of this tale concerns a man living in the neighbourhood, who was returning from Leigh one stormy night with a live pig in a bag over his shoulder, out of which, on nearing the bridge, the pig managed to make its escape.After a smart chase he managed to catch the refractory animal on the bridge, and was making use of the battlements to steady it on his shoulder when he overbalanced, and both man and pig fell into the brook and were drowned. It is said in the neighbourhood that on stormy nights the ghost of the man and his pig can be seen on the bridge.

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Dangerous Corner. Westleigh - Tradition has it that a certain man whose wife was supposed to be dead, was proceeding to bury her, when the bearers of the corpse in passing this corner, knocked the coffin against the wall. This caused the wife who was only in a trance to wake up and exhibit considerable signs of life. It is said she lived for a considerable time after to trouble and perplex her husband, and that when she did ultimately die, and the bearers were carrying her in her coffin, he warned them to be aware again of coming into contact with that Dangerous Corner. The poor husband had no desire for a second resurrection.

Dick Mathers Lane - It may not be well known that Dick Mathers Lane (Mather Lane) and Dick Mathers Bridge in Bedford Leigh was so named, according to local legend, after a school master named Richard Mather who drowned himself in a pit near to where the bridge now stands

Landside - There is a tradition that all the land around Leigh was covered by the sea with the exception of Landside, which then wnt by the name of the Lancashire Marshes. Then an embankment was made to prevent the sea from coming over somewhere to the north of Lancashire which was named Mole Cap, for which the country was taxed; and the embankment is said to be still in existance today.

Landside - Kilnfields at Ladside are so called from bricks having been stacked and burned here. It seems that clay had been taken out of a large excavation about Landside especially one on the east side of the highway.

Nel Pan Lane - This lane situated in Westleigh was originally called Nel's Pond Lane, whoever Nel was has been lost in the mists of time

Pyisic - The first row of houses to be erected in this location were built by Dr. Lund of  Homestead, Leigh, a curios onlooker asked the builder " who's art th' heases fur" the builder replied "thi fert Physic (doctor) and the name stuck

Twist Lane - In the year 1592 John Byrom of Byrom Esq by his will gave x shillings towards the reparation and amendage of the way in the lane between Westley Milles and the house of Laurence Twiss near Leigh, which is interesting in explaining the origin of the name of Twist Lane.

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Green Field Farm in Bedford, close by to Landside, is also said to have been the scene of a severe fight or justifying the name of a battle, during the war between the King and the Parliament, and the cannon balls found in the ground there 50 years ago (1824) evidently confirm the tradition.

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The old Windmill near to Pennington Hall was totally destroyed by fire in 1829. After the fire the site was so thickly planted over that no vestige of the mill can now be traced. In a name given to a row of Houses in Pennington we have however a reminder of the old mill of Pennington.A dispute between the miller and the squire led to opposition, and the miller was forced to erect a new mill some 200 yards nearer Leigh. The new venture failed to pay the enterprising miller, and he became bankrupt. The mill was pulled, down and the houses - hence the name Windmill Houses - were partially built with the materials.

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A toothache charm, a good preventative for toothache. A charm against prolonged toothache is worn in the Fylde district inside the vest or stays and over the left breast. The words on the charm were given "Ass St. Peter sat at the geats of Jerusalem our Blessed Lord and Savour Jesus Christ passed by and sead, what eleth thee, her said Lord my teeth ecketh, he said arise and follow mee and thy teeth shall never ecketh moor Fiat Fiat Fiat"

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A local charm to prevent ague and fever - When Jesus saw the cross which his Body was to be crucified he shaked the head, Jews said unto him what makes thee shake. Art thou in Ague, he answered and said I am not in an Ague but those that shall keep these words either in mind or in writing shall never have the Ague nor the fever. Lord Jesus bless and keep this thy servant.

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A travellers tale extracted from Pepy's Diary - the following remarkable story occurs 4th February 1661-2 - To Westminster Hall where it was full term. Here all the morning and then to my Lord Crew's where one Mr. Templar (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seemed to be) dined; and discoursing on the nature of serpents, he told us of some in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness and that do feed upon larks which they take thus; they observe where the lark is neared to the highest, and do  crawl to be just underneath them and they place themselves with their mouths uppermost and there, as conceived, they eject a poysen up to the bird, for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent, which is very strange. He (the narrator) is a great traveller - It is pretty evident that the old gossip had been imposed upon by Mr. Templar who was intent of making fun of the frumpy Mr. Pepys and did so.

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Gaping Saturday - It was the custom in Lancashire to give large manufacturing establishments the whole of the Whitsontide week as a yearly holiday; and in shops and small establishments th whole of the afternoon of three days; in many parts of the country Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; but in Manchester and surrounding districts, the three or four race days Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. - Saturday was usually set apart for wives, sisters and daughters from the country to go into Manchester and stare about them, where it is derisory called Gaping Saturday.

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Bragot Sunday (1) formerly it was the practise in Leigh to use a beverage on Mid Lent Sunday called bragot, consisting of a kind of mulled ale; and also for the boys to indulge themselves by persecuting the women, on the way to church, by secretly hooking a piece of coloured cloth to their gowns. Bragot Sunday is the name given in Lancashire to the first Sunday in Lent which is in other places known as "Mothering Sunday". Both appellations arise out of the same custom.Voluntary oblations called Quadragesimalia (from the Latin word for Lent signifying 40 days)were formerly paid by the inhabitants of a diocese to the Mother Cathedral Church at at this time prevails the custom of procession to the Cathedral on Mid Lent Sunday. On the discontinuation of processions the practise of "Mothering" or visiting parents began; and the spiced ale used on these occasions was called bragot, from the British word bragawd the name of a kind of metheglin (a spiced or medicated variety of mead). This description of liquer was called "Welsh Ale" by the Saxons, since that time the liquer drunk on this day is principally mulled ale, of which there is a large consumption on Mid Lent Sunday.

Bragot Sunday (2) Leigh has two mid Lent Sunday customs - the making of bragot seems to be quite local, the word has various spellings bracket, braket, braget, bragot in its derivation and probably has some connection with the word brew. It is described as a kind of mead made of ale boiled with honey seasoned with pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon and nutmeg fermented with yeast. Bragot is understood to be spiced or mulled ale, but a drink made out of water, sugar, raisens, spice etc and fermented with balm and mulled is of course also much used on this day, but it is different from bragot. The name is said to be derived from the British "bragawd" the name of a kind of metheglin  called by the Saxons "Welsh Ale" - The other custom is Calf Tail Sunday which involved tagging women as they came from church.

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All Souls Eve - To know if a woman is to get the man she wishes, she should to catch her swain and then truss him "Get two lemon peels and wear them all day, one in each pocket, at night rub the four posts of the bedstead with them; if she is to succeed the person should appear in her sleep and present her with a couple of lemons. if not there is no hope"

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Souling - The custom of souling is not confined to one neighbourhood in various counties peasant girls go to the farmhouses and to and to the mansions of the gentry singing "soul, soul for souls sake, pray good mistress a soul cake"

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Pancake Bell – Pancakes had there origins in the custom of giving a pudding or cake after dinner to stay the stomach of those who went to be shriven (absolved). The Shrove Bell was called the Pancake Bell on the day of shriving or Shrove Tuesday “Pancake Tuesday”. The custom of eating pancakes derived from the ancient practice of being shrived or shrove, obtaining absolution for the day. It was an ancient custom to go to confession the day before the first of Lent or Ash Wednesday. After having made confession it was usual to spend the remainder of the day in amusement. The eating of flesh however was forbidden, and it was a common practice to eat pancakes, from where is derived the modern custom.

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The Nick Stick - formerly accounts were made with a nick stick, bakers for instance in delivering bread had a stick of which the customer had a duplicate, and both being cut at the same time. A check was thereby created against fraud.

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Shrove Tuesday Custom at Lowton

A Shrove Tuesday custom – the Rector of Lowton Rev. R. Smith kept up his annual custom of giving a new penny to each of the scholars attending the schools of his parish. The penny bore the date 1906 and it was called a pancake penny. There were 293 recipricants.

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Thick as Inkle Weavers – Inkle or beggars inkle is a kind of course tape used by cooks to secure meat previously to being spitted, and by farmers to tie round horses feet. The introduction of this kind of tape was from the low countries during the persecution of the 16th Century. The traffic was carried on by a few foreign weavers, who kept the secret amongst themselves, and of being of one religion, trade and country, of course they became staunch and familiar friends. Hence the expression.

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Drunken Cloak – For an appropriate type of inebriate the drunkards cloak or new fashion cloak was commissioned by the court, it consisted of a barrel with one end staved in. At the upper end a hole was made to allow the head to protrude, and the whole weight of the barrel would rest upon the shoulders. At the sides smaller holes were made through which the drunkard thrusts his arms, and the culprit was marched through the town by the beadle

 

The brank and bridle for scolds the ducking stool for vixens – The brank or bridle, an instrument that used to be a local torture was only ceased in the mid 19c, was used in Bolton as late as 1856. As a punishment for scolds, it was formed from iron and may be referred to as a skeleton helmet, consisting of a band that circles the head from ear to ear; a circle under the ears extending from the mouth where a spike or rowel is inserted over the tongue, that extends to the crown, and the whole is stabilised by an iron cross that turns on a swivel with leather reigns or ribbons attached. The unfortunate woman was then led through the streets by the constable or the beadle

 

Ducking Stools – The earliest form used during the reign of Edward the Confessor was used as a punishment for bad brewers in Chester. the more recent variety was of a different construction and application. A certain James Neild while visiting Liverpool in 1766 relates – “In the Bridewell I saw a ducking stool complete, the first I had ever seen; we had two at Knutsford; one in a pond near the higher town and another near the pond in the lower town. In these scolding and brawling women were ducked; but the standard in each is all that remains in my memory. I never remember them being used, bu the Liverpool one allows me to describe it. A standard was fixed for a long pole, at the extremity of which was fastened a chair; on this the woman was placed and soused three times under water until she almost suffocated. At Liverpool the standard was fixed in the court and a bath made on purpose for ducking; but why in a prison this wonton and dangerous severity was exercised on men and not on men I could nowhere learn”

 

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LEIGH CORONATION FESTIVITIES FOR GEORGE 1V 1821

At a meeting, on the 9th of July, held at the " Pied Bull" Inn, the following programme of proceedings was decided:—

Resolved—That the bells of the Parish Church be rung during the day.

Resolved—That the peal, which shall be rung at half-past eleven o'clock, be the signal for those persons who form the Procession to assemble in the Market place and that the procession do move at twelve o'clock precisely.

Resolved—That the Procession do move in the following order:

Beadles,

Music.

Constables of Astley, Bedford, Pennington, and

Westleigh.

Churchwardens of Astley, Bedford, Pennington, and

Westleigh.

Inhabitants, four abreast, wearing blue favours on their

left breasts.

Masonic Band.

Free and Accepted Masons.

Children of the Protestant Sunday Schools.

Children of the Roman Catholic, Calvinist, and Methodist

Sunday Schools.

Beadles.

The head of the Column (Beadles, Music, and Constables) to form on the south side of the market place; the centre, on the west side; the rear, on the north and east sides.

The procession to move down Market-street, through the Turnpike, and down the Walk, keeping on the Highway. At the Twist-lane the Procession to cross over to the footpath on the East side of the highway, and return through the Turnpike up Market street, through the Market-place, to the Avenue. The Procession to enter the Avenue on the south side, to cross over at the White Gates to the north side, and return to the Market-place. The Procession then to form a circle round the Market-place. The two bands and select singers to stand near the obelisk, and sing the verses of the National Anthem each to be repeated in chorus by the whole of the procession.

The whole of the Procession to give three cheers; immediately after, the bells to give a volley, and the children to retire for refreshments to their respective Schools.

Resolved—That twenty-one pounds be expended in buns and ale to be distributed amongst the children of the different schools ; and that they drink His Majesty's health.

Resolved—That Mr. Holcroft and Mr. Lund be appointed to carry the above resolution into effect.

Resolved—That thirty pounds be expended in roast beef and plum pudding; and that each subscriber be allowed a number of tickets in proportion to the amount of his subscription, to authorise such persons to dine as he may think proper.

Resolved—That it be recommended to the subscribers to distribute the tickets amongst old and indigent people of both sexes.

Resolved—That Mr. Thomas Battersby and Mr. Joseph Battersby be appointed to superintend and carry into effect the providing the above dinner.

Resolved—That barrels of ale be distributed among the people in the Market-place, when the procession is closed, and during the time the elderly people are dining.

Resolved—That the committee do superintend the carrying into effect this arrangement.

Resolved—That a dinner be provided at this house at four o'clock on the day of the coronation; and that Mr. David Hodgkinson and Mr. Heywood be appointed Stewards,

Resolved—That the tickets be three shillings each, and that all applications for the same to made to the stewards, or at the bar of the Pied Bull Inn, on or before Friday the 13th instant,

Resolved—That the following gentlemen be appointed to request the Rev. D, Birkett to accept the chair: Mr. Coleby, Mr. Crouchley, Mr. Higginson, and Mr. Heywood. Mr. Birkett having accepted the chair,

Resolved—That the chair of the Vice be offered to Mr. Guest.

This programme was carried out on the Coronation Day of George 1V

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A DESCRIPTION OF LEIGH 1824

      Leigh a small village near Bolton is all but entirely neglected and uncared for and the morals of the "Leigh Man" degraded to the lowest ebb. For the punishment of evil doers and the prevention of crime, the stocks and the dark hole are provided and occupied (on the site where the old Town Hall in King Street now stands). On a piece of spare land adjoining the stocks lies the place that bull baits and cock fights are carried out amidst the plaudits and drunken ribaldry of a brutalised mob. The toll bar stands a little down the road which forms part of the main highway between Warrington and Bolton and is traversed by the pack horses, carriers and coaches, which formed - beside the canal the only means of communication for men and merchandise. Market Street consists of low thatched houses, and the houses even in the better parts of town, were small, ill built and generally with clay or brick floors. The Market Place is even more neglected, the churchyard almost enclosed. Stretching across from Newton Street to the Grammar School, and almost trenching upon the churchyard itself is a range of ugly looking buildings, used for butchers shambles and other similar trades and known as the "Old Pendices" and in Bridge Street another toll gate bars the exit from the town. The limits of the town or village are very circumscribed, and Leigh proper is separated from Bedford by a country road. The streets are narrow and the roads filthy, little or no care is taken for the happiness or well being of the inhabitants. In King Street stands the Workhouse more like a prison than the retreat of indignant poverty. The doors of this old workhouse are thickly studded with nail heads, the yard gates crested with iron spikes, and the small diamond paned windows are intersected every few inches with brickwork, or crossed and re-crossed with iron bars.

     If the sanitary conditions of Leigh are thus neglected, the moral and social standard is sadly degraded, no well dressed person is free from repeated insults in the public streets. The street corners are occupied by lounging kinds who insult with their ribaldry and by their actions every respectable person who passes them.The preservation of the peace lies in the hands of a pompous and useless parish constable, lawlessness is practically unchecked. Although there are 22 licenced public houses in the village, not a day school, stationer or library exists and education is nowhere; but sin and vice reign all but unrestrained. Saturday night fights form one of the standard amusements of the week with biting purring and kicking from the combatants with all the fury and malignancy of maddened devils.

     On the occasion of the coronation of George 1V of most pious memory "free beer" was the rule and ale barrels were broached in the street. The result was a drunken debauch, and the man who was called the parish constable was called upon to stop twenty fights that were going on at one time in the Market Place. The Lowton muslin weavers too, occasionally visit Leigh in gangs, and, in mere spirit and bravado challenge to combat the Leigh men, who to willingly close with the offer, and manage a fearful battle, ending in disablement and fearful injuries fought for the honour of Lowton and Leigh

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LEIGH CORONATION FESTIVITIES FOR KING WILLIAM 1V  1831

A printed circular was issued by the committee appointed at the meeting of the inhabitants on the 15th August 1831. From this we learn that the festivities on the Coronation Day were very similar to those arranged ten years previously, with some trifling changes. The bells of the Parish Church were rung, and a procession assembled in the Avenue formed of the Pensioners, the Freemasons, Oddfellows, Druids, Gardeners, Orangemen, Constables, Churchwardens, Clergy, the Inhabitants (four abreast and wearing blue and rend favours), and Sunday School children. This procession moved through the Market-place, Market-street, King street, over the Canal Bridge, through Pooter's Lane, then, turning to the left, passed on the west and south sides of Mr. Nield's house, returning by the same route to the Market-place, where the " National Anthem " was sung, three cheers given, the bells gave a volley, and all went off for refreshment, barrels of ale being distributed in the Market-place. Twenty Pounds were expended in Buns and Ale for the Children, and seventy- five pounds were expended in roast beef and Plum Pudding for the aged and indigent. A dinner (tickets three shillings each) was held at the Cloth Hall, on the Coronation Day, under the presidency of the Rev. T. Topping, the Vicar. Mr. Tickle and Mr. Lund superintended the arrangement of the procession, in which, by special recommendation of the committee, no flags or banners bearing any political or party devices-were exhibited.

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The Leigth Feight1839

During the 1830s there was great suffering and deprivation among the hand loom weavers of Leigh and the surrounding areas. The Chartists of Leigh having made themselves notorious throughout the country by their zealous advocacy of what was called the Peoples Charter began to rouse the workers into a discontented mob. Early on the morning of Monday the 12 June 1839 a considerable number of persons began to assemble in the Market Place; and about 9: 00am a procession of several thousand people, mostly armed with heavy bludgeons and headed by a band of music set off from the town with the purpose of stopping the various factories in the district. The first factory they went to was that of Jones Bros.& Co.but on the proprietor failing to stop the engines the mob proceeded to Hayes's Mill in Kirkhall Lane and threatened to burn it down, then to all the other mills in succession, most of which they were met with similar refusals. But with the hand loom weavers and other artisans the had more success, and before noon every loom was stopped, those who refused were abused with the most violent language.On Tuesday a more numerous assembly took place, and strong detachments were sent out to the various mills for several miles around the town. If the owners or managers did not stop the engines the most threatening language was handed out to the by the leaders, who in several instances displayed their sharpened pikes. Finding that resistance was in vain, the hands were turned out of the mills before noon and about twelve factories ceased work and those workers fell in with the protesters. On returning to the town the numbers had so increased as to cause alarm, and it was thought advisable to call out the troops from Haydock, and about 100 arrived before 9: 10pm. Wednesday ushered in heavy showers of rain which had no effect on dampening the spirits of those assembling, and before 10: 00am a mass of 6-10,000 people mostly armed with bludgeons, or short poles where a pike blade could be affixed moved in procession to where the troops were stationed. They taunted the troops who did not respond, so they marched back to the Market Place boasted that they would have beaten the troops if they had dared to come out.The magistrate Thomas E. Withington of Culcheth Hall, after consulting with the commanding officer bravely went out and read the Riot Act to the mob. Soon after the troops with special constables arrived at the Market Place to disperse the crowd to find they had moved on to Chowbent. The protesters were expected to return about 5: 00pm as on the previous day, but at around 2: 00pm strains of music were heard and the Chartists returned to release two men who had been arrested and taken before the magistrate at the White Horse Inn. The mob threatened to pull the house down to its foundations if the prisoners were not released. A constable named Whittle went out and asked the crowd to disperse peacefully, but was answered by a blow to the head with a stick. About thirty officers ran out to rescue Whittle and this caused conflict to be brought on. The Chartists were blocked in the narrow Market Street, with those at the rear unable to see what was going on at the front, the officers then made great effect with their heavy truncheons and a great number of Chartists were felled by heavy blows. The people at the front turned into those behind, and an inexplicable panic ensued in the whole mass; within minutes thousands of men were in full flight from a few officers running in all directions into the open countrside.After a complete dispersal of the mob, the constables and soldiers carried out an active search for unlawful weapons, many of the pikes had been thrown into ponds or burned, but 60-70 people were arrested. Many of the Chartists were injured but no policemen, except for Whittle. By the following day many had returned to work while others ensured that radicalism continued in Leigh eventually leading to electoral reform and universal suffrage.

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Roman Road Discovered at Worsley

Roman Road Worsley - In excavating soil for a new line of railway from Eccles to near Wigan, the workmen laid bare a piece of an old Roman Road about a foot below the surface. The exact site is in a field north of the Westwood Gardens, and a little north west of the pits that have the name of the "Seven Pits." The road appears to be at least seven yards in breadth. It is exactly in the style of the Roman Road which Mr. Whitaker historian of Manchester describes at some length (vol.1 p.108) and which some years ago the late Rev. Edmund Simpson of Ashton in M. walked over, with Whitaker's description in his hand, and to some extent (as to this neighbourhood) verified it. Commencing in Manchester the road passed through the Hope Estate, near Old Hope Hall, across "The Heath" to Chorlton Fold, across Folly Lane and the Westwood Fields, to near the Old Factory and Drywood on the Worsley Road, and then by part of Shavings Lane to that part of the highroad at Walkden Moor still called Stanley Street. Whitaker states that he traced it to Blackrod, and supposed that there was the Roman station at Cassium. Mr Sibson says that it is part of the Roman Road to Wigan and its course in the neighbourhood referred to is through Brookside Estate, Westwood Fields, Chorlton Fold, a field near Heath Lane, Heath Fields, and the Hope Hall Estate. He adds that the track is still (about 1832) very viable in the Heath Fields, Heath Lane and in the next field to the Heath Lane; but is nearly obliterated at Chorlton Fold, in the Westwood Fields and in the Brookside Estate. He adds that the whole of the road from Manchester to Wigan lies in a direct line, and quotes Whitaker as saying that it was twelve yards wide and made of gravel in Mr. Blomley's closes near Chorlton Fold. Now the bit of road laid bare is in one of these closes, or the adjoining field, and its verification therefore, at a point were it had nearly been obliterated, is a satisfactory confirmation of the line assigned it. Anyone drawing a line on the sheet 103 of the 6" ordnance map from the Old Hope to the junction of the roads between Worsley Church and the entrance gates to Worsley New Hall, will find it describe the line of Roman Road intersecting the spot already indicated as already uncovered by the railway navigators.

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Excavation of Castle Hill Newton

Excavation of the mound at Castle Hill were carried out in July 1843. Castle Hill is an ancient barrow or burial mound  but no kist-vaen or stone coffin, armour or ornaments were discovered. About 10 foot from the centre of the mound on the south side a chamber was discovered 22 foot long and 2 foot high and broad, its roof is a semi-circular arch, and it's course a sharp curve. The floor was covered with a dark substance, apparently a mixture of wood, ashes, animal matter and calcinated bones.The east side of the chamber bore a distinct impression of an adult human body, its head being to the west. From evidence noted during the excavation it is probable that part of the barrow had been previously explored.

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Welsh Hill Wakes 1858

On Saturday the 18th June 1858 the following amusements took place at the house of John Makin, at the sign of the Oddfellows Arms Twist Lane, Pennington to commence at 4:00 in the afternoon. Viz. running for a cheese from the above named house, through to the canal, over the turnbridge and back to the house. Running for a leg of mutton, running for a shoulder of mutton; and a ham to be danced for by single step dancing.

The 1861 Census Enumerator

The trials and tribulations of an 1861 census enumerator attempting to persuade a woman that he was not trying to raise her rent. The conversation is in a Worsley dialect slightly different from that of Leigh "But if tha tries ard tha met get thi yed reand it"

Enumerator - Well good woman I have brought you a paper to fill in; we are taking the census. Female occupant confused - Sensus, sensus what dun yer mean? we han noan i Worsley mon? Wees had ours raised once. I'll ha noan o' yoer pappers; we pay'n six peaund ten nea, and see how ill floor wants flaggin. If yoa bringnon yoar pappers here i'll brun um;oust be like Owd Flankou, I'll stick em  i'th feigher! Be goin; or thew'ill get parred afore tha geets from this auction. Enumerator - It's the taking of the population my good woman. Female - Population hooa tha fernups is hoo? Yoan hav to tell me gradely afore I tell yer owt.  Enumerator - We want to know the number of people in your house next Sunday night. Female - God largus days; you noan there's no population in my heause,, nor annot been ut money a yer. Enumerator - Her take this paper and fill it in by Monday next. Female - What the eccles mon I fill it we? Aw've nowt i'th heause but a sope o' buttermilk an a toothrey pratoes for yar Dicks baggin when he comes fro his work. Enumerator - It should have put in, your husbands your own and your children's names, ages and employment. Female - If theaw leaves it I'll gie it, he'll pleas hisel what he dis we it! Enumerator - leaves the schedule and approaches another house. Female occupant to her neighbour - Eh! Sayrah, Sayrah wap doortoo, the mons coming wi pappers fort raise rent again. Enumerator collecting papers on a Monday - Good morning Mrs---; your papers please, (looking over it) this paper is not filled up.  Female - non filled up, be haryed a take larke; yar Dicks not that nidyard for soign another papper t' pay moor rent; youd bi goin (shaking her fist). Enumerator - Allow me to fill it for you. What's your husbands name? Female - By tha mons theaw 'll ha' to be fause t' find that eawt. Enumerator - What age was he last birthday, and what does he do? Female - Heer thirty last reckonin Monday but one, an wurtches fer the Jukes. Enumerator - Thirty last birthday was he; just the right age for a soldier. Female - Eh! deary o' mie. Dun yo a wont him feight French ur Turks, with T'alians? I'll tell yer nowt else; yoan set noa aw un a wakherin! yo han that. Enumerator - have you a son, what age is he? and what is his occupation. Female - Ya, ya  awve a son too; he were twnty last pasteggin toime; un goos a feightin th' volunteers. Enumerator - Have you a daughter? Female - Ya an' a dowter, un hoo's a sweetheart too; hoos a pratteur mon! hoo wants noan o' yoa. Enumerator - What age is she? Female indignantly - that's nowt i yoar way. Aw'll tell you what mesthur, I want t' be beawt you; you'd better be gooin. If yar Dick comes whom't is baggin, and foinds awve towd you ow't t' put i that papper, hee'l parr me i' deoth wi his clog. I wold look a deeol better on yoa if youd geet our heawse fettilt, and not come here a sparrin wi yore pappers. We hannot a greight stock o' brass man, un th' factories are on'th stroike; we cannot pay sich heegh rents an there's an eend on't, un thew way out as soon as't cum - Exit Enumerator.

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Hoard of Coins Found at Eccles

In August 1864 a very large number of silver coins chiefly of the reign of Henry 111 were found. The extent of the find was about 6,400 pieces having a weight of avoirdupois. A new junction road is being made from Wellington Road, Eccles, past the boundary wall on the west side of the ancient residence known as Monks Hall, where it is probable the monks of Whalley Abbey, where formerly the Lords of the greater part of Eccles, Monton and Swinton had a grange or farm residence with tithe barns etc.and where they collected rents and tithes from their tenants and other inhabitants. The discovery was made by a young man named Britch, who picked up a few coins at the wall, thought little of the discovery, and gave some away to his companions. He afterwards found more and was introduced to Mr. Gibbs a local antiquary, under whose auspices a course earthenware pot containing the quantity stated was discovered.

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 Leigh's Oldest Barmaid

There is at present living at Bancroft Road, King Street Farnworth a woman named Betty Pearson who has attained the extraordinary age of 100 years. She was born in Bedford near Leigh 21st December 1755 and was baptised at Culcheth Hall near Warrington there being no place of worship in that district at the time, and from which latter place her register of baptism has since been procured. Mrs. Pearson has been married twice. She was united to her first husband at 24, and during his lifetime had 11 children he having been dead 55 years. She had 1 child by her second husband who also died 26 years ago. She has resided in Astley in the same house for the long period of 40 years; but until very recently she resided at the White Horse in Leigh serving in the capacity of barmaid; and created no small amount of curiosity amongst those who saw her while there. Her 7th child a daughter became mother of 16 children 10 of whome were born in the short period of 10 years. The daughter with whome she at present resides I the youngest of the 11 children, and is in her 60th year, having had 15 children, 12 of whome are now living. Mrs. Pearson has lived to see 25 grand children, 50 of her grand children's children and 12 of their children, her great great grandchildren in all 87 individuals. She has been of very temperate habits, living on the very plainest food and during her early life was accustomed (using her own words) " to carding and spinning wool on her own knee" she worked as a hand loom weaver till she was 80 years old. Her sight and her faculties are as good as most people of 70, having lost only 2 teeth she is able to crack nuts with the greatest ease. She is in good health. - Manchester Guardian

This must have been the same character also known as Betty Whip 21 December 1755-1864, she lived to the ripe old age of 108 years. She was said to have been a barmaid at the White Horse for many years, a remarkable character, smoking her pipe and chatting about old times.

A portrait of Betty Pearson or Betty Whipp as many called her, was displayed in the window of the Leigh Chronicle office and had attracted hundreds of onlookers. the portrait gave credit to the artist Mr. Boucher who had succeeded in the difficult task of portraying old age with great truthfulness. The old dame in her 103rd year was born at Bedford near Leigh 21st September 1755. The portrait was drawn for in a raffle at the George & Dragon Inn on the 9th February 1858

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Frog Commits Suicide

On Sunday the 21 August 1858 a young man while half drunk was seized with the idea that he would perform an explicit act that would once and forever immortalise the name of Crompton, and which would rank him in the pages of history with the next Quixote of the day: he seized hold of a large full grown black frog and put it into his mouth holding the toes. It is said by some that the frog jumped down his throat, and others that he had deliberately swallowed it. The writers impression however is that rather than breathe the foetid atmosphere of its new lodgings, and thinking the man's throat to be  an open sepulchre it put an end to it's own existence by jumping down.

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Remember Remember The Fifth Of November 1865

It was certainly a day to remember for the Leather family, as another victim of the foolish practise of celebrating Gunpowder Plot took place. On Saturday some persons were firing off a cannon, one of the number being a man named Richard Leather a self acting minder for Messrs. Tunnicliffe & Harper. He fired the cannon, when it exploded carrying off the lower part of his face and neck; his lower jaw and tongue were shot off. The poor fellow presented a most frightful and ghastly spectacle. Dr. Evans was sent for, he bandaged up his face, sending him at once to Manchester Royal Infirmary. The surgeons at the institution said they had never seen a more horrible case. According to the latest account he is still lingering in a most miserable condition. He has a wife and two children, the unfortunate woman is in an advanced state of pregnancy.

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Another Casualty of the Gunpowder Plot

On the first of November 1883 at Tyldesley a 12 year old youth named John Mather was seriously injured by the explosion of a cannon which had been manufactured out of lead piping, and as the boy was in the act of firing it exploded, the contents landing in his face and almost destroying his eyesight. One of his thumbs was also partially blown off. The youth had been attending Manchester eye hospital and it was feared he would lose one if not both of his eyes

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Death of a Shoemaker 1866

Thomas Goodliffe also known as Shakespeare a shoemaker residing in King Street, Pennington was charged at the Atherton Petty Sessions with being intoxicated on the 11 March 1866 and fined 5/- and costs. He was allowed six days to pay the penalty, but failed to raise the money. He was apprehended on Monday week and conveyed to Kirkdale Goal where he had to remain for seven days in lei of payment. On Monday last his term being expired, he was set at liberty, but he had not been out many minutes when he was taken ill and had to be carried back to prison where he died shortly afterwards. The prison discipline was evidently too severe for his constitution.

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The Gipsy Problem 1868 Nothing Has Changed

Some two or three hundred yards from Tamar Lane End, on the Wigan Road End you find a row of small cottages known as Bank's Row. At present it seem they are without a legal claimant, and as the old tenants have vacated them, they have been taken over by a set of low wandering Gipsy like characters whose occupation is that of making and hawking rubbing stones. In one house you find a large family with two or three donkey's; in another house a large family with two horses. These cottage/stables are cleaned out once a week weather they need it or not, and this delicate operation usually takes place on a Sunday morning about church time. Sometimes the manure is pitched through a broken window pane in the shop, but it is as often brought through the house, then swept up with a besom in a thorough stable like fashion, and this is the only cleaning they ever get. The third house though not occupied by cattle is rally worse if that can be possible. It is an overcrowded lodging house. Although unlicensed and unregulated it is the general rendezvous of their compeers on the road. As for mopping and lime washing that is entirely out of the question. Filth rubbish and dung hills abound in every direction both inside the house and out.There is a dangerous time of the year coming on, and should an epidemic break out in the neighbourhood the authorities cannot plead ignorance of its existence

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Justice the Victorian Way

A fine little girl named Margaret Grogan not yet 10 years old was charged with stealing a coat and waistcoat belonging to James Wilkinson painter of Leigh. I appears the prisoner was without a mother and her father had left her at home while he worked.She had thus ran wild, and while the prosecutor was at work, she on two occasions entered his home an stole the articles in question pawning the waistcoat for 3/6p at Mr Barlows and the coat for 11s at Dickenson and Garnetts. The prisoner had spent the money on sweets and a bottle of rum and had a tea party with her young friends. The child begged to go with her father who offered to pay the costs and send her to school. The Magistrate said it was a bad case, the father ought to have sent her to school before. She must now be sent to prison for 21 days and then committed to a reformatory for 5 years

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National Elections Rioting At Leigh 1868

Early in the afternoon of the 23 November 1868 celebrating the Parliamentry election some foolish people commenced throwing missiles from the windows of the White Horse Inn. This excited the crowd opposite and two or three light skirmishes took place. An omnibus near the Town Hall was occupied by a number of men and boys, one or two of whome were dancing on it. At the time no bad feelings were shown, but some police officers came up and hastily dislodged the occupants of the bus dealing out one or two ugly blows. This created much bad feeling and from that time every opportunity was taken to retaliate of the officers. Stones were thrown at them and four or five were injured. In return they dashed on the people with their staves in a very indiscriminate manner, and upwards of 30 people were speedily in the hands of surgeons with wounds of various descriptions. Dr. Evans was busily engaged dressing wounds in the street. One man well known in Leigh named John Jones a very inoffensive man was injured - indeed, his death was reported and much sympathy was shown (the name must not be confused with that of a man of the same name who was afterwards taken into custody for the attack on the police). A telegraph messenger was proceeding down Market Street with messages when he was knocked down by a police mans staff, although he held out the message and called out telegram when he was knocked down. His head was laid open and bled profusely. A man came to the news office for a paper and while asking for it received a severe blow from a constable. We regret to say all the windows of the White Horse were broken, all the shops were closed, and most of the public houses. Among the police injured were Sergeants Gardner, Harbourne and Bryning who sustained severe injuries to the head from stones. Constable Dugdale received a blow on the head and Constable Salter from the Higher Blackburn Division was struck on the knee with a brick bat, Constable Parkinson received a blow to the jaw and Constable Whitehead one on the ankle. All those injured are believed doing well

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Voluntary Clock Rate 1869

In a time of widespread illitracy and poverty the parish church held an important part in the working and social life of it's parishoners. Without the benefit of a warch or clock how did one know when to get up for work, or when to retire for the night. It's bells pealed out to celebrate a wedding and tolled to mourn the dead, it called the faithful to Sunday service and rang out to celebrate national events

The Leigh Parish Church voluntary rate, this was paid to the ringers, keeping the church clock in repair and for ringing the 5 O'clock and 8 O'clock bells. Parishoners were requested to observe this rate which was collected for salaries etc.as the above were both useful and necessary to the parishoners

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Saturday Night in a Common Lodging House 1871

About 11 o'clock on Saturday night PC Moorfield and Taylor hearing a disturbance going on in Bradshawgate, found a man named Keogh quarrelling with his wife in the street. The officers ordered them home and saw them go into a lodging house owned by Bridgett Delaney, Some twenty minutes later they heard a disturbance in the house and on entering the officers discovered Keogh in the act of inflicting corporal punishment on his better half. The poor woman was lying half naked in a pool of blood on the floor, her clothes having been torn off her back by her infuriated husband. On seeing the officers Keogh ran off into the back of the premises but he was pursued and brought back by Moorfield who confronted him with his injured wife. She however would press no charges against him, he had been a good husband, and they had lived happily for 26 years and brought up a large family. The officers supposed they had restored peace amongst the parties and left the house. But they had not gone more than quarter of an hour when they were informed that another row was going on in the house. On again entering the premises they received a salute in the form of a teapot which was thrown at their heads, fortunately aimed to high but showered them with cold tea leaves. They found Mrs. Delaney engaged in a praiseworthy effort, endeavouring to restore order amongst her lodgers by dealing blows right and left with a formidable poker which she held in her hand. Keogh had evidently felt the effect of the weapon as he was lying on the floor, evidently trying to protect himself with a frying pan. As may be inferred is was no easy matter for the officers to force their way through the excited group; but in going into one of the bedrooms they found several men and women concealed under the bed, and others in the bed, all with bloodstained habiliments bearing signs of the recent affray. Keogh as the ringleader was taken into custody and on Monday was charged with drunk and disorderly and fined 5/- or 7 days imprisonment on default.This is a picture of what is almost a daily occurrence in many of the common lodging houses which Leigh is so numerously infested.

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The Remains of Sir Thomas Tyldesley Discovered 1871

In 1871 work began in rebuilding the old Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Leigh, the body of the old structure was crumbling but the tower was still sound, so it was decided that the tower would be renovated and the rest of the church demolished and rebuilt. When the workmen were taking out the foundations of the Tyldesley Chantry they came upon an oblong coffin 6 foot 2inches in length and 18 inches inside made from boards that were  one and a quarter inches thick and fastened at the corners with large nails. It contained a full sized skeleton which we may I think presume was that of Sir Thomas Tyldesley. About a yard to the north of this coffin was found another 5 foot 11 inches long and 15 inches inside, of the same shape, formed of boards one inch thick and contained a smaller skeleton having by it's side a wooden staff. Upon the side of this coffin was a crude wooden handle, hollowed so as to allow of the fingers, passage between it and the coffin; and upon the lid was the traces of a metal plate. From the middle of these coffins to the east wall of the Chantry was a distance of four yards; so local tradition was in this respect correct as to the position of Sir Thomas's body. Both of these coffins were buried at a lower depth in the same place they were found.

Monument to the Name of Thomas Leigh 1871

Amongst Some memorandum taken down before the restoration of the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Leigh was written the following - In the old gallery on one of the boards is an angel, a cross and three crowns, the arms of the Leigh's of Stoneleigh in the county of Warwickshire are - Arms - Gules a Cross engrailed Argent in the dextor canton a lozenge, of the secord; Supporters:Two unicorns heads Argant armed and maned Or, the arms of the Corona family sometimes bore G the Leighs of Adlington, were: azure three crowns or coronets Or.It is not known if this hereldic insignia was on a monument or a hatchment

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Discoveries at St Mary Leigh 1871

 During the process of pulling down the old Parish Church a spiral flight of stone steps were discovered in the interior of the pillar at the north west corner of the Atherton Chapel adjoining the staircase leading to the organ gallery. The stairs within the pillar were very narrow, being only 15” in width at one point. They are supposed to have given access to a roof loft in former times. During the removal of the old Parish Church many important discoveries have been made in connection with its early history. Several piers of a Norman or early English date it is impossible to say which, though they are probably the latter have been discovered. These are circular and when entire would measure 21 inches in diameter. They have been split up and built into the south wall of the recent building. Others of an octagonal form have been found and from their position it is possible that the pillars of the nave were alternatively round and octagonal a plan not uncommonly met with in early English churches. The square chamfered plinths on which they stood look live very early Norman or early English. Built into the wall on the second pier to the left hand side from the east wall, the remains of a newell staircase was found. This undoubtedly led up to the roof loft from which the Gospel and Epistle were read, and on which stood the holy rood with the figure of the Beloved Virgin and St. John on either side, and on which, no doubt, the people of Leigh burnt many a pound of wax tapers in their honour. The offering of wax was very common in early times. By a deed offered at Eccles on Sunday in the octave of St. Martin the Bishop in the winter of 18 November 1293 Henry de Workedesley (Worsley) grants to God and the high alter of the church of the Blessed Mary of Heeles, yearly forever, for the salvation of Joan my wife, and of my father my predecessors and my successors, and of the souls of all the faithful dead, at the Feast of St. Martin in winter (Nov 11) one pound of wax, faithfully offered in fulfilment of a vow; that whosoever be Rector of the Church may compel us by ecclesiastical censure, as by the lesser or greater excommunication to make the offering at that feast if we neglect it. It is probable that this offering was made until the Reformation. A picsena with a cinque fail head probably circa 1380 was found in the proper position near to the alter; the projecting part of the drain has been broken off so as to make it even with the wall. There appears to have been a moulding above it, which for the same reason was also cut away. The drain is surrounded by eight grooves and it is not round like a basin, as is generally the case. A beautiful piece of square draper work has also been found; this is probably one of the oldest pieces remaining; the design is exceedingly beautiful. Several pieces of tracery, showing that the Church in ancient times stood here must have possessed some very fine windows have been found; from the smallest of the cusps these to appear to be early English; indeed the evidence of all the discoveries tend to show that a very good early English Church occupied the site of that which has disappeared. At the west end some traces of floral fresco painting, very greatly debased have been found, and in the Chancel there were remains of some text having been painted somewhat inartistically on the walls

 

Local Board Time Signal 1873

By the 1870s it had become imperative to know the correct time, with no radio or television, and only mechanised watches and clocks it was impossible to determine Greenwich Meantime.The local board devised a system whereby a signal would be sent to Dr. Anderson's house in the Avenue from where he would discharge a time signal

The time signal is discharged at 5 seconds to 10 o'clock and bursts in the air showing a white star at 10 o'clock exactly. Unless the time is not known within 2 seconds the signal is not given. The shell is discharged from Avenue House about 70 yards east of the church tower. The watchman on duty at Messrs. J. Knott & Son Pennington Mill fires a gun instantly on seeing the burst of the shell, but not otherwise.

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Public Clock 1874

A large double faced clock has been placed by Mr. Roberts watchmaker of Bradshawgate in front of his premises, and can be clearly seen by persons passing up or down that thoroughfare. The clock will be illuminated at night, if the local authorities will pay for the gas, and the clock  no doubt will be a great convenience to the public

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The Frog Fishing Season in Westleigh March 1875

This highly interesting season commenced with the glass blowers in Plank Lane and neighbourhood and will continue until the end of April during which period the lovers of such delicate morsels as stewed frogs legs will have ample time to gratify their Parisian tastes. The catch of frogs auger well for the seasons take.It may not be generally known that the name of "Frog Eaters" applied by the well developed Briton to his neighbours on the other side of the British Channel can equally justly be given to some of the residents of the surrounding English districts of Firs and Abram.

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Oak Apple Day 1875

The custom once so general of a leafy display of mistaken loyalty on the 29th May, is fast dying out, this year very few horses bore the oak leaf once so conspicuously displayed from every house and every vehicle, on the anniversary of the Restoration of Charles 11

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An Ear Crucifixion Near Golborne

There are many customs in this country that could be put down with advantage to public morals, cock fighting, pugilistic encounters, punching and other brutalised practises in connection with which the lower animals are butchered for sport, call for resolute action on the part of the police. There are however, customs of a quasi-social nature, which is not so easy to deal with. What for instance can be done about a man to prevent a man allowing his ears to be nailed to a door for a quart of beer. When a number of men assembled in a public house near Golborne encouraged John Roscoe to submit himself for "crucifixion", as the custom is termed an proceeded to nail his ears to a door, the authorities could not very well interfere. The man was a voluntary victim, and if a statement of a contemporary is to be credited the process is not infrequently resorted to by way of getting a little pleasurable excitement amongst the class John Roscoe belongs. Considerations of hospitality however, in some degree enter into the performance. Whilst nailed to the door the complacent Roscoe was treated to a pint of ale, which he drank with difficulty remarking that "it was very hard to get all the beer out of the jug". It is evident that the men concerned in the matter understood the meaning of reciprocity. Roscoe gratified them consenting to having his ear nailed to a door, and they rewarded him with a pint of ale. It is a pity he should have suffered inconvenience in drinking the cup to the dregs, for after all, what is a pint of beer as Prince Hal might have explained, to such an intolerable deal of pain.

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The Lately Common Floods

Between 1860 and 1880 tremendous floods used to take place over Lateley Common and all the farm houses were submerged, and the inhabitants had to live for a time upstairs. It was not uncommon to catch eels in the houses for the water reached halfway up the stairs. Carts charged a penny each for carrying persons across the flood to and from the direction of Leigh

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Leigh's Coffee Van 1877

A coffee van promoted by the temperance scheme that has been established to supply workpeople with hot coffee, buns, pork pies etc. from 5-9 am each morning was started on Thursday morning 7th March and will stand in the Market Place each morning from 5 till 9am and on Saturday's from 4 till 10pm. The price of a really good cup of coffee and a small bun is 1p, pork pies 2p, large buns 1p, eccles cakes 1p and those wishing to take coffee to work are supplied at 1p a pint. The van is a very handsome vehicle and the scheme has everything to commend it to a very large number of customers. Such a reasonable scheme of temperance reform deserves success.

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Westleigh Pub Wakes 1887

A pastry feast and wakes was held at the Millstone Inn the house of William Parkinson on Saturday Sunday and Monday the 8-10 September 1887. On Saturday a bottle of rum was given for the handsomest couple, and a pound of black puddings for the ugliest couple (this proved to be a tough call), and on Monday evening a silk handkerchief was given to the best singer and a pair of clogs to the best dancer.

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The Miraculous Bunion Cure

This article was published in the Leigh Chronicle in 1882, it illustrates the then universal acceptance of a language that would not be tolerated in the press today. Anyone sensitive to the misuse of political correctness should read no further. It has not been included to offend, but to show the broad minded humour of over a century ago

 - A few days ago a well known citizen of Tyldesley who was very fond of a joke had one cracked on his head in a manner which was more practical than agreeable. A wandering “nigger” called into his shop to try and persuade him to spend a few coppers in the purchase of a box of miraculous salve, for the cure of corns and bunions. Our worthy townsman thought to have some fun with “blackie” and began to chaff him on the curative effects of the wonderful ointment. Tha towd mi th’ last toime tha wur ere ‘at bunions wur a growth on’th bone an’ wot con tha salve do” and such like badinage was indulged in and meekly borne by the salve vender, but when a pair of pigs feet – in which our hero deals – was placed before the “black medicine man” to try the effects of the ointment on them, his patience became exhausted. Whether he had Jewish blood in his veins, and could not bear the site of the unclean animal is not known, but the negro corn curer lifted his stick and dealt his tormentor a blow on the back of his head, which raised a corn or bump, where such a thing by nature should not be. It is said the joker has vowed to be more guarded with his intercourse with black human nature in future

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The Opium Eaters

Opium in the form of laudanum was largely consumed in the factory districts of the North and in some of the Southern agricultural counties. Laudanum is a poison schedualed in the Pharmacy Act, but it was also an ordinary article of commerce, and there was, therefore, nothing to prevent a chemist from selling any quantity of it to any person giving a plausible explanation. It was also widely sold and used as a comforter for babies when they were crying, teething or would not sleep. It was available from most chemists and grocers under the label of Godfrey’s. Some victims of the habit would consume three ounces daily, yet a single drachm has been known to cause death. Ether drinking was common amongst the natives of Connemara; who also on certain occasions were in the habit of dosing themselves with tarter emetic, probably the most loathsome of all toxic drugs. This was taken under the impression that it was a preventative for consumption. Arsenic eating was indulged in to a considerable extent throughout England. Middle class ladies swallow the poison in profusion, so did the foreign born East London flower makers who regard it as beautifying their complexion.

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Empire Day at Golborne

Empire Day at Golborne by order of the Lancashire Education Committee – Empire Day was first officially recognised in the four Golborne Schools on the 1st June 1907. Addresses on the Empire its development, its greatness, and the children’s duties to it, were given in the evening. Patriotic songs were sung, and cheers given for the flag and the Royal Family and a holiday was given in the afternoon.

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Hesfords Haulage

 

 Leigh Operator Approaching 100 Years in Road Haulage
(AN ARTICLE FROM THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR JULY 1944)

 

From Steam Wagons and Horse-drawn Vehicles to a Fine Modern Fleet of 35 Machines in four years time, William Hesford, Ltd., Chapel Street, Leigh, Lancashire, will celebrate its centenary in road haulage. It was in 1848 that Mr. William Hesford founded the business with horse-drawn vehicles, the traffic at that time consisting mainly of cloth and yarn, which were carried daily to Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale, return loads, consisting mostly of foodstuffs, being brought from Manchester to Leigh. In 1906, Mr. Hesford became interested in the steam waggon and, although these vehicles were Steel tyred and their legal speed limit was 5 m.p.h., their introduction in place of horses marked a definite stage of progression in his road haulage business. Four years later saw the acquisition of the first petrol-engined vehicle. Right from the early days, furniture removals by horse-drawn vehicles have been undertaken and, to show that distance was no object, journeys as far afield as Colwyn Bay-75 miles from Leigh were undertaken. The company still specialises in furniture-removal work and, in connection with it, his spacious depositories for storage purposes. At the outbreak of the 1914-1918 war the fleet consisted of two steam Wagons, as well as four petrol-engined lorries, of which three were requisitioned by the Government in the early. days of the war. That Mr. John Hesford should see the particular vehicle that he used to drive in England, while on service in France, is a remarkable coincidence. He had no difficulty in recognising it despite its camouflage.

To-day, daily services are run to Manchester and various East Lancashire towns,. the outward traffic being mainly cloth, artificial silk, or yarn, and the return loads foodstuffs and smalls collected from numerous merchants in the city. These return loads are brought into Leigh and are transhipped on to lorries for delivery the following day to towns within a 20-mile radius. All classes of load are carried, with the exception of heavy machinery. Those men employed on removals work have the necessary specialised knowledge called for in the packing and general handling of furniture and household effects. Through the medium of the company's lift vans, removal to places abroad -were undertaken.

The present fleet operated by the company totals 35 motor vehicles, including hired lorries, and four horse drawn vans. Since 1939, 70 per cent. of the fleet has been engaged in the transport of essential war material, the vehicles being kept on the road for seven days a week. Some of the machines operate 24 hours a day, it being necessary, of course, to arrange for two shifts of drivers. In addition to Thornycroft and Albion machines, of which the fleet is principally composed the company also operates Leyland, Bedford and Dodge vehicles. The oldest Thornycroft at present in commission is a J.J. type, which has .given consistently good service and has completed well over 400,000 miles. During the past two years, three Thornycroft Sturdy machines and two Trusty models of the same make have been acquired and all of these vehicles are approaching the 80,000-mile mark. We understand that delivery is shortly expected of a further two Thornycroft Sturdy vehicles, which is convincing evidence of the type of service which the company is obtaining from this particular manufacturer's products. Apart from the fact that the machines perform with a high degree of satisfaction, William Hesford, Ltd., pays the highest of compliments to the Manchester service branch of the vehicle maker, Even under present conditions it is seldom that a vehicle has to be kept off the road through non-availability of an essential component.

All repair and .maintenance work, which is in charge of Mr. John Hesford and Mr. Walter Hesford, grandsons of the founder of the business, is carried out by the company's own staff and, so far as possible, under the conditions obtaining, each vehicle is brought in once a week for greasing and servicing, In this particular connection. some extensive improvements have been planned, and these will include the erection of a modern workshop four times the size of that one at present in use.
The total number of employees in the service of the company is over N, several of whom have been with it for from 30 to 49 years. Many interesting stories can be told by them of the days of steel and solid-rubber tyres and when vehicles used oil lamps.

There is no doubt that the drivers of the early steam wagons, the speed limit of which was 5 m.p.h., and of the horse-drawn vehicles and early petrol-engined machines were the real pioneers of the road haulage industry. Engaged as they were on long-distance work, the difficulties they encountered and overcame would make a story of perseverance and doggedness against odds which must have severely tested their tempers. In a way the road-transport industry is unique in respect of the individual efforts which have contributed towards its establishment as a powerful national asset. This story of William Hesford, Ltd., is just another instance of the way in which private enterprise, backed by a firm determination to succeed, whatever the difficulties, has built up a financially sound structure.

 

In it’s time this steel-tyred Leyland Steamer (top speed 5 m.p.h)

Represented a considerable advance on the more usual horse drawn mode  of transport

 

Hesford's Employees Circa 1900

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William Hesford the Early Years

Jane Shaw married Samuel Hesford a Culcheth silk weaver 6th February 1796 at St, Mary's Church Leigh, they had eight children William born 1829 being the seventh. By 1851 she was a widow running a shop in King Street Pennington assisted by her children,  William was a weaver and also did the baking for the shop. By 1861 the family had removed to the Brewery Inn, Brewery Lane, Bedford a beer house and provision shop, she was also a baker and flour dealer, William had married Jane Jackson in 1855 and as well as baking for the shop he had started a carting business assisted by his younger brother Peter who was killed in a carting accident at Manchester in 1869. An advert placed by William in the Leigh Chronicle 1861 states that he had taken over the business of Thomas Wood and has commenced carrying between Leigh and Manchester. In December 1866 Jane died and William took over the licence of the inn which he ran till at least 1871 as well as a carrier  William and Jane had three children John William, Edwin and Emma and both the boys entered the business. In 1881 the family resided at 4 Chapel Street, Bedford and by 1891 had settled in at 2 Hesford's Yard and it was now run as a family business. On the 24th August 1898 tragedy struck again, Edwin on his way back from Manchester called at the Swan Inn Astley, on returning to his waggon, as he tried to remount the horses moved and he fell off landing on his head, he died shortly after leaving a widow and eight children. William had been unwell for the past year and had not taken an active part in the business for the past two years, the shock of his youngest sons accident hastened his death some two weeks later. The business was carried on by John William who had three daughters, and no sons to carry on the business which eventually devolved to Edwin's eldest son.William Hesford

 

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The multi-talented Hezekiah Close 13.1.1885 - 20.6.1950

Hezekiah was born in the mining & cotton mill town of Leigh in South Lancashire, a town in previous agricultural times noted for its excellent Leigh `Toaster` Cheese.  He was the fourth child and only surviving son of coal miner Melchizedeck Close and cotton weaver Jennet Jamesey Porteous. His CLOSE family origins go back from Leigh via Westhoughton, Pemberton, Orrell and the Shevington areas of Lancashire then back in the 1790`s to the Grinton area of Swaledale in Yorkshire where Hezekiah`s 2x Great Grandparents James CLOSE and Ann (Nanny) Harker married just prior to them `emigrating` to the Wigan area of Lancashire.  The reason for the move is not known but more than likely could have been the running down of the lead mining industry in the Swaledale area with the increase in the coal mining industry in Lancashire offering a more secure future.

As a young child Hezekiah attended the local Methodist School and showed an aptitude early on for music as well as demonstrating an interest in all things mechanical, both of which would serve him well in his future working life. He was also a keen footballer, playing for two local sides in Leigh. Two team photographs have survived showing him as a teenager representing Bedford White Star FC in the 1899/1900 season and Leigh Villa FC in 1900/1901 season. 

He was the first of his known CLOSE family male line to deviate from being a miner (either lead or coal) but whether this was influenced by the death of his grandfather William CLOSE at Albert Colliery, Westhoughton in a fall down the pit shaft in 1854 can only be speculated upon. On leaving school at age 12 he was apprenticed in 1897 to a local foundry which specialised in the manufacture of farming implements and he eventually learned his trade as a mechanic. He combined the work of a mechanic in the foundry during the day with that of a musician playing in local theatres and brass bands during the evening and weekends. He was certainly  strongly endowed with the work ethic.

In 1905 he was playing in the orchestra of the Leigh Theatre and was part of the Glazebury Prize Band that played at the civic opening of Leigh`s new Town Hall in 1907,  also performing in the orchestra at the new Leigh Grand Theatre and Hippodrome which opened in 1908.  

He became proficient enough both as a mechanic and a musician to acquire sufficient capital to set up in his own business in the first decade of the 20th century with a shop and workshop in premises on Railway Road, Leigh. Marriage followed in 1908 to Louisa Shuttleworth at Hezekiah`s Methodist church in Leigh with a second ceremony being performed a year later at Louisa`s RC church in Bedford, Leigh. Louisa was to play a full part in Hezekiah`s business whilst bringing up their three children. The business of servicing farming implements and vehicles, motorcars and motorcycles as well as selling motor cycles prospered until the onset of WW1 when Hezekiah was seconded in a reserved occupation to the war effort as a mechanic in civilian war work being based in London, only returning home on a monthly basis.

After the end of WW1 he re-joined his business which had been kept going in a reduced capacity by Louisa and one employee. Hezekiah was an avid motor cycle enthusiast having a motor cycle and sidecar in 1910 which enabled him to take his young family out on regular Sunday trips. The business continued to prosper and in 1922 Hezekiah designed his own marque of motor cycle named the HCL (Hezekiah Close of Leigh). Again fortune has looked down as far as family history research goes in that a sales leaflet for the HCL survives from 1922 which includes a photograph of the motor cycle that bears his initials complete with a full technical specification as well as blueprints.

 

Hezekiah outside his Railway Road Shop

Unfortunately only six of the HCL motorcycles were manufactured by Hezekiah before a local company whose fleet of vans he had contracted to service went bankrupt, owing him the then princely sum of over £800. He was unable to recover from this financial blow and had to close down his business, but in a couple of years he had worked hard enough as a professional musician to pay off any creditors and start again as a publican in a mining area of Leigh in a public house called the Spring View Inn (which he kept until his death in 1950).  By now he and his wife Louisa had a family of three girls Ena, Ivy & Louie - the latter being my mother. 

As a musician he had a varied career which took him abroad for the first time in 1929 to Spain where he performed at the "International Exhibition of Barcelona" and on one occasion performed before King Ferdinand of Spain, again fortunately a photograph survives of this event. A second journey abroad came in 1931 with a trip touring Canada performing with the World Champion Brass Band, St. Hilda`s, culminating with the band performing at the Vancouver Exhibition. His commemorative medal for partaking in the exhibition has survived.

A feature of the St. Hilda's concerts included Hezekiah`s soloist performances on the xylophone and the glockenspiel with his speciality piece called "The Two Imps". In addition to his Brass Band career he played in orchestras in various theatres around Britain including summer seasons at Colwyn Bay, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Derby, Dundee, London, Wigan and Liverpool to name a few.

 

  He also combined seasonal theatre work with spells touring in theatres company revues (musicals of their day) and the traditional pantomimes at venues around Britain as well as abroad. Perhaps the most notable of the revues performed by the musical companies he was involved with was the revue "No No Nannette".  Many photographs and documents (contracts etc.) relating to his musical work have survived which serve to add a great deal of depth and colour to his life story.

From the early 1930`s  he had owned a car ( A Ford 8 Registration Number JP3895 in which I learned to drive at an early age) which was a rarity in the area he lived in although it was necessary for him to be able to attend the heater and return home long after public transport had ceased for the night. His last position in the theatre was with the orchestra of The Royal Court Theatre in Warrington where he played from 1935 until the evening before his death in July 1950. A stark contrast could be seen in the public house as he prepared to leave home for work and chatted to black faced miners in their working attire whilst he was dressed in an evening suit complete with silk scarf, silk top hat, expensive Crombie overcoat, silver topped cane and grey spats covering his black patent leather shoes - his sartorial elegance standing out as he made his way out amongst the regular public house clientele. 

It was not only the difference in clothes that set Hezekiah aside from his public house customers as his working life had been far more interesting, varied and exciting than theirs and that of his CLOSE ancestors. Despite his many friendships with the stars of the stage, who often stayed as guests at the public house, he remained a working engineer at heart as well as a humble drummer.

He was the last male of my CLOSE ancestors with his middle daughter Ivy, my aunt, being the last of the line to die in 2009 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa at the age of 95. Although I was only eight and a half years old when he died, due to my living with him at the public house I retain many happy memories of a talented and loving grandfather and soon hope to do justice to his life by completing a biography of him.

With grateful thanks to Ian Johnson  for allowing us to publish this article

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Fletcher's Bedford Wharf Tunnel

From as early as 1828 coal was transported from Messrs.. Fletcher's Endless Chain Mine down Lovers Lane to the Stock Platt depot, by a rail that ran parallel with the Bolton /Leigh railway line, it was then transported in horse drawn tubs to the coal wharf at Leigh. By around 1850 this rail was removed and a new line laid along the original alignment and extended north to the new deep mines at Howe Bridge. With the increased in production and disputes with the Leigh Guardians over the damage to the roads, it was proposed that an extension be made from Stock Platt to the Bridgewater Canal at Bedford, circumventing the need to travel through Pennington . In February 1857 a tender was accepted from a Mr. Saville of Chorley. to make a cutting, and construct a tunnel under the roadway to be 899 feet long, by 9 foot wide leading to the Bridgewater canal, where loading platforms were to be constructed 8 foot in breadth and 8 foot 5 inches high.Outside this platform a bank was formed 12 foot 3 inches in breadth and 3 foot 2 inches above the surface water which had been excavated to a depth of 5 feet. The tunnel was to pass under the brickyard between Brown Street and Princess Street, and also beneath Queen Street Chapel Street and adjacent property, to within a hundred yards of Fletcher's new wharf on the north bank of the canal. As the tunnel was to be excavated and not bored, and as it's route was to pass through a busy thoroughfare, a temporary bridge had also to be constructed.This undertaking was completed by September 1857. New rails were laid that ran behind the north side of the workhouse and their use commenced in 1860 bringing the horse drawn tubs into total disuse. Two special locomotives the Lilford and the Ellesmere, under S & J Patents were ordered and manufactured by Messrs. Hawthorne & Co. of Leith. In construction they resembled those in use on the Bolton and Kenyon line, which are of the uno in duo character, the engine and tender being on one set of wheels; but it's main peculiarity is that the smoke funnels are very diminutive to allow it to pass through the tunnel. The trains first travelled down the line on Monday 26th May and the new route was officially opened the following day. At the opening ceremony a train of six waggons were fitted up with seats with the Lilford locomotive at it's head, having drawn up in a kind of ravine, formed by huge embankments of black debris rising abruptly on each side of the rails the excursionists led by Fletcher dignitaries and their families took their seats for the grand tour. This was followed by a banquet with many toasts and speeches. The colliery workers were not forgotten, and several barrels of beer were supplied by the Howe Bridge Inn,.