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Own Entertainment

Sykers Made Own Entertainment

Pals composed musical revue

Burnley Express and News


In the fifth article of our absorbing feature of life in Harle Syke in the past Mr Rowland Kippax - better known to many as "Th 'Owd Syker" - today looks at some of the village's more interesting events and the characters who have been associated with them. Once again the story is ilustrated by two old pictures, in which some readers may recognise themselves, relatives or friends.

In this the next to the last of my series of articles on Harle Syke, it is rather appropriate to return to my own beginning and my memories of three nice ladies, one of whom brought me into the world and was present 22 years later, when my son was born.

She was Mrs Parkinson, of Duke Street. The other two were Mrs Nutter and Mrs Holmes, both well known ladies in the village, and along with Mrs Parkinson were the practising midwifes.

You could often see them wearing their white pinnies hurrying about the district attending to births and many times at the opposite end of life, seeing them off. I know one of Mrs Holmes's daughters very well and before I wrote this I asked her what training these ladies had in the early days. She said: "As regards my mother she had fourteen children, does ta think she needed onny training." Alice and her sister, Mary, are the only two left out of the fourteen, both are in their eighties.

I am devoting the first part of this article to one or two individuals who had hobbies, or jobs that differed from the usual run. There was a man who made a hobby of collecting birds eggs. I refer to John Jackson, who was manager at Althams Mill (Tay Hoil) at Harle Syke. I had the privilege of seeing this collection at his home on Queen Street. He had a specially made cabinet to keep them in, and every egg had a label attached to it or to part of the box in which it was laid. I know that collecting birds eggs is wrong, but in those days it was a hobby that in John Jackson's case meant that if he had that kind of egg he didn't take another. But I know that two wrongs don't make a right.

Before he died, his collection was given to Towneley Hall. About twenty years ago, I was given permission by the curator to take my grandson to see the collection, and there must be eggs that are close to a hundred years of age in it. It is in one of the storerooms there.

My next item is about two individuals, two pals who lived next door to one another in the row of houses facing the post office in Burnley Road. They were Joe Turner and Tom Halstead. They went to London as quite young men and they wrote or should we say composed a musical revue which they called "Splash Me." This came to Burnley to the Palace just prior to World War One. Unfortunately for the producers the war came and Tom Halstead enlisted and I am sorry to say that he lost his life.

Pork Scratchings

An article in the Daily Mail of March 17th this year told about a company that was marketing pork crackling that had been roasted brown and hard, under the name of Pork Scratchings. They are about 70 years behind Tom Thornton, the Harle Syke butcher. You could get a penny worth of these in a paper like you can get fish and chips today. We called them scraps, and you could also buy the pork dripping that he had got out of the fat when rendering them down.
He didn't sell or make black puddings for that matter, because like a lot more of the original members of Haggate Chapel they had a religious aversion against using the blood for food. However, Herbert Kippax once told me about a pig that Mr Thornton had bought from their farm. His mother wanted the blood to make some black puddings and he had to give way to her because she had everything ready for making the black puddings. I had a special reason for telling this and that was the second main content of the puddings, which belive it or not was fresh cream.
Two red indians - no doubt you will say "not up Syke," but, yes, there were two red indian motor bikes. I can remember them coming new to two Harle Syke young men who were older than me. They were Harry Wentworth Leaver (Harry Wenty) son of Fred Leaver, the headmaster at Haggate, and the other was another local, a weaver at Mason West and Bathers, named Arthur Cowgill. This man was a fashion plate as a young man.

Huddy's Bus

Midneet artillary - As a small boy I was sleeping one night at my Uncle Bill's at 1 Queen Street. During one night I was awakened by noises of a lorry coming away from the stables just behind the house. I asked him what it was and, he replied "It's only midneet artillary, they're going round emptying lavatories that aren't connected up to the sewer."
Huddy's bus was an old fashioned wagonette, that in the old days before the trams came up Harle Syke, used to run from Queen Street end to Cronshaw's Hotel in Grimshaw Street in Burnley. The fare was fourpence down and sixpence back. On the return journey they had to change horses or add extra horses to pull the bus from the Black Bull Hotel to Syke. My dad told me that on one occasion someone left a bottle of whiskey in t'bus." Nobody claimed it. Hudsons also had a posh little cab which they used for weddings.

South View

Eight houses in South View for many years had no toilets and had to use toilets at the top and bottom of the street. I think that there were two "long drop" toilets and an ash pit at the top and the bottom of the street.
One man who lived nearer the bottom than the top always used the top toilets first. when asked why he went there first he said: "If thems full when ah get theer, it's a lot easier ter run dairnhill, than it would be if ah went ter bottom an them were full an ah hed ter run up ter top."
During the First World War there were two families of Belgian evacuees brought to Lan-bottom. I remember two boys who came to Haggate School, they were Carl and Jean de Doen, and there was a young girl called Elvera de Munter. The boys soon fell in with the Harle Syke lads. Every weekend they were asked out to tea by different local families.
It isn't easy to guess how many boys and girls went to the Band of Hope every Monday in winter, but I would think around two hundred. There were quite a few men there who I wouldn't call bouncers, but if you caused any trouble you only got warned once, the next time you got a clout or put out.

Postmasters whom I remember were Jimmy Wilson Edmondson, his son-in-law Dick Hargreaves, Lol Halstead and Billy Graves.
Cricket - My memories are mostly concerned with Haggate Baptists. I remember them winning the cup around 1906, I was only a small boy and they came back in a wagonette from Nelson and paraded like that to Haggate. They won it agin about 1910 at Seedhill, I watched them there. I have sent a photo of the 1929 winning team and I think that they won it again in 1932.

Sporting People

I have received a newspaper cutting from Mrs Fanny Ashworth, a daughter of the late Mr Whitham Halstead, of 20 Granville Street, Harle Syke. Mr Halstead died on January 1st 1937, so this cutting announcing his death must be taken from the first Burnley Express that was printed in 1937.

His son William Halstead told me that at one time he held no fewer than nine directorships in cotton mills. So the article in which I only mentioned Taylor and Hartley, West Grove, and Mayfield Mills as being mills in which Harle Syke money had been invested, was on the small side.
The second part tells of Mr Halstead's sporting activities. I will quote this as written. "In his younger days he was a keen sportsman and played with the old Haggate football team. His death recalls an amazing feat for which he held the world record at the age of 20 years, and which has never been equalled. With ten hops and a jump he covered 146ft 8 1/2in. This was done on the parade ground at the army barracks at Bury in 1880.

Football - the first team which I remember was called Briercliffe Rovers. This was pre-1910. They played on the old recreation ground and their headquarters was at Dawson City, which was a big qood hut at the top of the ginnel going up from Jackwell House to the rec. I only know two or three players, so I am not mentioning them.
The next team also played on the rec, and again were called Briercliffe Rovers. This was just prior to World War One.
A list of players is as follows: Billy Hogan, Hartley Stuttard, Walter Taylor, Fred Cliffe, Charlie Dixon, Billy Dixon, Luther Brierley, Tommy Blamire, Ben Stuttard, J.W. Whitehead, Arthur Taylor.
The best team which I remember at Harle Syke is the one on the photo of Haggate Baptists. Billy Leaver, John Tommy Greenwood and Edwin Foulds were also brilliant amateur cricketers.
Edmund Halstead who came a season or two after this team, was in the same category as the above three. Then, of course, coming a few years later again, was Fr Taylor who played for Burnley. If I had to judge the best all rounder in the village in my time, it would be John Tommy Greenwood. Outside crack professional cricketers he was a top class fielder or stumper who could have gone anywhere had he wished.

The Haggate Baptist football team, which in Mr Kippax's opinion was one of the finest, winning the Sunday School B Division championship in 1921-22. Pictured are: back row (left to right) - W.H. Leaver, H. Lambert, J. Pilkington, D. Smith, L. Berry, W. Leaver and W.P. Smith; middle row - S. Yates, A. Harris, W. Smith, H. Berry, J.T. Greenwood, E. Foulds, W. Kippax. Front row - W. Duerden, E. Kippax and H. Atkinson. Ambrose Harris turned professional with Nelson in the second division of the football league.

Haggate Baptist Football Team >>

Winners of the Nelson Sunday School League in 1928 or 29

Winners >>

With kind permission of The Burnley Express.

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