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Down Memory Lane With Th Owd Syker

Burnley Express and News


Today sees the second in our series on memories of the "good old days" in Harle Syke, with Mr Rowland Kippax - better known as "Th'Owd Syker" - taking us for a walk down memory lane.
Although he now lives at Colne Road, Burnley, mr Kippax is Harle Syke born and bred. He tells a fascinating story of how life in the village used to be, and introduces us to some of the interesting characters who lived there.
The series is illustrated by old pictures of Harle Syke, and some of our older readers may be able to recognise themselves.

Tales My Dad Told Me

Let me commence this week by telling you some family history that is connected with old times, as told to me by my dad.
He was educated at the National School which was at Haggate but has been demolished. The headmaster was a Mr Corrin and he and his family lived in a house adjoining the school.
My grandparents, and my dad lived in a house across from the school. There was no water on tap and the had to go to Banks Farm for it, which entailed a walk of about half a mile each way.
They moved into a newsagent's in Burnley Road which is now occupied by Mr Smethurst. My dad had to go to Brierfield Railway Station every night for two quire (48) "Pinks" to be sold for a halfpenny each.


My grandad got the job of inside manager at Queen Street Mill and they then moved to 48 Queen Street. A Dr Burns used the front room as his surgery. There was no telephone installed then and when anyone was ill during the night my Dad had to walk to Todmorden Road in Burnley, awaken the doctor, then go to the Carriage Company in Plumbe Street, get a hansom cab, return for the doctor and ride home with him to Harle Syke. I remember Dr Burns, he used to give the children pink scented cachous.

My dad also played with the local band, Briercliffe Brass Band, and I ave pictures of him playing the cornet, but he finished up with the largest instrument in the band - the double B. I remember going with him to a band practice in a stone-built building behind the Hare and Hounds Hotel at Haggate. The licensee, a Mr Proctor, had the place built not, so I was told by his grandson, to help the band, but because he thought that it would bring more custom to his pub. This idea didn't work for so long, as the band moved to a wood building near the Commercial Inn. The building behind the Hare and Hounds became the bowl house for the bowling green which was also behind the pub.

Members of the band whom I remember: My Dad Mr J Kippax, E. Kippax, Jim Robinson, Johnny Atkinson, Albert foster, Joe Foster, John Duerden, Smith Waterworth, Albert Waterworth, J.W.Whittaker, W. Dent, John Greenwood, Mr Pickard, Mr Trafford, W. Jones, J Bullcock, Joe Turner, Billy Nutter, Albert Proctor. The latter became conductor after World War II, Albert Foster was conductor at one period, but the conductor with the longest service in my opinion was Harry Trigillgas.

How he and his brother Wilfred came to the band is a story in itself. Both of them agreed to come if they could be found work, and the village was canvassed in order to find them a window-cleaning business. Harry Trigillgas's son still carries on the business, both Harry and Wilfred are dead. The business must have been in existence for close on 60 years.

Every Whit Friday for many years the band would parade through the village about six a.m., prior to setting out for the Manchester district where they played for the annual Whit Friday Walking Day.

Before the trams came to Harle Syke, people coming to the village had to walk from somewhere near to what is now the General Hospital; in those days it was the Workhouse. They had to walk round by Lane Head School, and there was a man named New Van Hisen (it sounds like that) who lived in a little one up and one down building and sold cups of tea and coffee at a halfpenny each at 5 to six a.m. on weekdays to people coming to Harle Syke to work. This man was of Dutch extraction and he later moved into a back-to-back house near the Sun Inn at Haggate.

When there was a football match on at Haggate he used to sell small pots of hot peas at a penny a pot. This man became famous when he replied to the recruiting board, "Doorn't blame me if yer get licked," when they refused him for service during the first world war.


In that little shop which he occupied near Lane Head School, I remember it being used for advertising purposes for overalls by Dewhursts, and it also had a model loom made by a man named Wormwell, and it was also used as a room for Boy Scouts.

On the opposite side of the road, about half way between the Craven Heifer and the Commercial Hotel was a row of houses and shops that was known locally as the One-Eyed Row. This name was derived from the fact that two of these houses had to join at one bay window, the dividing wall between each pair of houses, also divided the bay window, which meant that the people living in one house could only look to the right and the other people only look to the left.

There has never been a pub in Harle Syke. The Craven Heifer and the Commercial are in Burnley, and the Sun Inn and the Hare and Hounds are in Haggate. The Commercial, which is nearest Harle Syke, is much better known as "Top o't Row," and the Craven Heifer is better known as "Bottom o't Row."

In the middle of the One-Eyed Row was Zack Lambert's Yankee Bar, a well-known restaurant where you could get a real good meal for as little as sixpence (2p to day). Meat pie, peas, sponge pudding and custard and a cup of tea, or a plate of potato pie instead of the meat pie and peas for the same price. At supper time you could get 'afe and 'afe, which was half a black pudding and a halfpenny worth of peas for one penny (old cash). Zack Lambert was followed by Walter Leaver with still the same good food, then Harry Wood.

Opposite the Commercial is the Wesleyan chapel. This is still a place of worship on sunday's, but in my boyhood days it was also the local headquarters for the Rechabites. Two of the leading lights of both organisations were John Tommy Glenn and Tom Wright senior. Mr Wright's son, also named Tom, was a boy soprano, and I remember him being the subject of an article in the first world war, when it told about him entertaining the troops (he was in the Army then) and that he was billed as the "Lancashire Nightingale."


The first row of houses in Harle Syke on the same side of the road as the tin Tab was known as Nick Hearps Row, because it had been built by a man named Nicholas Heap. The first shop was owned by a very pleasant woman named Mrs Healey. She would sell you two Woodbines for a halfpenny, put your name on the other three, and you could have them for the other halfpenny when you had one. During the first world war she used to send small parcels to her old customers. Woodbines were five for a penny (old cash) when I was a young lad.

Both building societies, before amalgamation, had offices in this row. The next shop of note was Jack Atkinson's. That shop has been owned by an Atkinson as long as I can remember and it is still in the hands of a grandson of his, Neville Atkinson.


Neville, like his grandfather also carries on the undertaking business. On the opposite side of the road, almost opposite to Atkinson's, there was a watch repairer named Berry, which later became a milliner's owned by a Miss Catlow, who married a builder named Faulkner, who actually built the house which I live in today. Next door was a barber's, who opened at 5 a.m. on Saturdays so that it was possible to get shaved on your way to work - and the price was one penny (old cash).

Back again to the other side of the road. In my boyhood days there was only one shop, the subject of one of my poem's, Obadiah Robinson's Pot Shop. when news went round that a new crate of chinaware had arrived many of the youngsters, if they weren't at school, would stand near watching Obadiah emptying the crate. The crates were usually too big to get into the shop, or even into the garden, because the garden wall had not been removed at that time. There were "oohs" and "ahs" of excitement as various items were lifted out of the straw used for packing. Then if there was a wind blowing the straw would be blown all over the place, and other shopkeepers would be cursing as the straw was being trodden into their shops.

In those days there were no cinemas, only on odd occasions, and watching the different forms of pottery come out of the crate was equivalent to watching a conjuror at the Band of Hope, which was the weekly entertainment in Harle Syke. The first cinema show I ever saw was at Haggate School. I remember the comic, it was a comedian named Max Linder having all sorts of difficulties on a bike and finally going over London Bridge into the Thames.

Obidiah Robinson's Pot Shop >>


On the opposite side of the road to Obadiah's shop was Tom Auston the plumber, a business which has been kept going in the village for at least sixty years. Next door was Lol Duerden a fruiterer, and next door to that was a Mr Dixon with small hardware. This last shop is interesting to me because when betting shops were legalised my firm bought this shop, and having got planning permission for it we opened it as a betting shop, much to the disgust of a relative of ours. When she met me in the road, and I politely asked her how she was, she replied "If thy grandfather knew what thar were doing he'd turn o'er in his grave," - my grandfather was a member of Hill Lane church before he died.

The newsagent's, which at one time was my grandparents, was then owned by Mr and Mrs W.H. Leaver. Next door to it was Harry Marsden's "chip hoil" which in its way was as well known locally as Harry Ramsden's famous chip shop has become in Yorkshire. You could go in, and sit down, and be served with a small fish, chips and peas and a glass of sarsaparella for 2d (old cash) the lot. The place was spotless. There were no tablecloths, but the tables were scrubbed white, and the floor was mopped and sanded. Both Mr and Mrs Marsden who also worked in the shop would have spotless white overalls on every day, and Harry's moustache waxed and pointed every opening time.

Next door, was Sam Shorrocks' grocer's shop, later to become Dick Whitehead's. Sam Shorrock's son Percy was a well known amateur footballer, who I think would win three hospital cup medals with Barden pit. He was later to be steward at Nelson Golf Club and later still at Morecambe Golf Club at Bare.


The next shop to Sam Shorrock's was a barber's. The first barber I remember was a Foulds Heap and he was followed by John Willie Alderson. The latter used to publish a sheet of football results every Saturday night. Remember that there was no football "Pink" up Harle Syke in those days. The next three shops were owned by the Burnley Co-op Butchers, Cloggers and shoe repairs, and the drapers. The butcher was a Mr Lister whose son Maurice as a boy in the Mercantile Marine during World War I was honoured for an act of bravery when the ship on which he was serving was sunk.


The Co-op grocers was at the top of Townley Street. This was one of my weekly Saturday morning shopping errands in those days. The manager at that time was a Mr Amos Mellor who later became for many years General Manager of the Burnley Co-operative Society.

I wonder how many of my readers could remember what a "flair poork" was? For those of you who don't know it was a bag, generally a small pillowcase which was used for carrying flour.

Continuing up the same side of the road we come to the first mill, Haggate Weaving Company, better known as "Company Hoil." the other half of the mill was run by Altham's of Heasandford Mill, Burnley, this being better known as "Tay Hoil". It derived this name because it sold tea to its work-people. I think at other times it sold jam as well, because during World War I I remember going to buy a seven-pound tin of pineapple jam for my mother. For a time it was very welcome, but it was exceptionally sweet, and you had to be a sweet tooth to like it. My dad used it for sugar on odd occasions to sweeten his tea, when our sugar had run out.

The buildings and engine were owned by a loom and power company called Briercliffe Mill. The engineer and firebeater here for many years were Tom Walker and Abraham Fielding (Owd Abb). They must have chased me and a lot more lads scores of times for fishing. The mill lodge was alive with fish including goldfish.


Going back again to the opposite side of the road to Holgate Street the first part of Harle Syke Mill was at one time run by a Mr Simpson, and was known as "Fal Hoil". This was before my time but I mention it because my dad used to weave there, as also did George Mason (better known as "Dody") who was in later years to become a partner in the firm Mason, West and Bather (also better known as "Dodies"). Also in the same building my grandfather Brierley along with his brother, had begun manufacturing, but unfortunately he was drowned in a Morecambe Bay boating disaster and the business was taken over.

The next part of the mill was operated by James Thornton and Co, again better known as "Yuss Hoil". Mr Whitham Halstead was for a long time manager of this place. The remaining part of the mill was operated by the owners of the building, Harle Syke Mill Co, better known as Siberia. The reason for this name was because the owners were in a hurry to get their looms running. There was a boom on at the time, and weavers were working in bitter cold weather, also there was no heat in the mill - they said that it was like being in Siberia.

Briercliffe Brass Band

Gleaming instruments and immaculate uniforms were a feature of Briercliffe Brass Band, pictured around 1920.

Briercliffe Brass Band >>

The Haggate Baptist cricket team, pictured around the year 1910.

Haggate Baptist Cricket Team >>

Pictured wearing fancy dress are the prize winners in the village peace celebrations.

Prize Winners >>

With kind permission of The Burnley Express.

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