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Newsletter Archive

Number 97, Spring, 2009.


This is an illustrated talk about St. James' Street in Burnley. All members of the Society will know of St. James' Street and that it has changed considerably over the years. It is not only that most of the famous shops of the past are no longer with us but that the buildings themselves have changed. Almost all of the shops, public houses and offices on the north side of the street have gone but quite a number on the other side have been replaced by buildings which do not have the same character of those many of you will remember. Mr. Ken Hare's talk is eagerly awaited.
Briercliffe Community Centre, 7-30pm. Admission, 1 inc. refreshments. Everyone welcome.

Monday 8th.June, 2009.
The June Trail on Monday 8 June is to the Horses & Ponies Protection Society (HAPPA) which is based in Briercliffe at Shores Hey Farm on Blackhouse Lane. We will meet there at 7pm.
There will be refreshments and a charge will be made.
Monday 10th. August, 2009.

An illustrated talk by Mr. Harry Nuttall.
Briercliffe Community Centre, 7-30pm. Admission, 1 inc. refreshments. Everyone welcome.

Saturday 29th. August, 2009.
Each year the Briercliffe Society and the Briercliffe Allotments & Garden's Society join forces to put on the Briercliffe Flower Show and this year is no exception. Details will be published nearer the time.
Haggate School. Open to the public from 2-30pm. Small entrance fee.
Refreshments will be available. Prizes will be distributed before 4pm.

Monday 14th. September, 2009.
This year the quiz masters will be Committee members Mrs. Pauline Frost Hardwick and Roger Frost. They have been talking about a few innovations but whether they materialize is questionable at the moment. The quiz is open to non-members. Prizes will be awarded to the winners. We can not be responsible as to what might happen to the losers!
Briercliffe Community Centre, 7-30pm. Admission 1 inc. refreshments. Everyone welcome.


Report of Activities, 2008-9 Season.
The Society's Local History Group meets once a month (the last Wednesday evening) at Haggate School. This year we started with the Roggerham History & Ghost Walk which took place last September. Those who turned up were amazed by the amount of history and mythology which can be packed into this small area. We did not walk very far but we covered the area around the Roggerham Gate Inn and finished the evening there over some refreshments. It turned out to be a very pleasant evening and one we intend to repeat in the Autumn with a visit to Thursden.
A lot can be learned by driving between a number of observation points and it is hoped that this walk will start at the Thursden picnic site from where there is a lot to see. After, we will descend, in cars, to the valley itself and we will have a look at what can be seen there where the terrain is quite flat. There is a potential problem with cars but we should be able to park the vehicles safely in the bottom of the valley. This walk is taken from Roger Frost's walk "The Valley of the Goblins", a leaflet which describes a walk around the Thursden area, which we hope to publish this year. The other meetings from September, 2009 have usually taken the form of talks by Roger Frost though John Bentley manfully stood in when the former was delayed in the Town Hall on the evening
of the February meeting.

Local History Group Visit

The last meeting of this year (in May) will constitute a visit to the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum where members will be shown around the exhibits and will have refreshments provided by the Museum. There is a charge for this (4) but the visit will be well worth it. Members of the Society who do not normally attend meetings of the Local History Group are welcome to attend this visit but they are asked to let Roger Frost know in advance so that the mill can be informed of numbers attending.
Queen Street Mill Museum is a great asset to Harle Syke and Briercliffe. It is not only that we have the Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry in our community but, in season, there is plenty going on there for young and old alike. The latter might like a visit to the tea rooms which make a great place for locals to meet. You will be made very welcome. For the youngsters, the Mill provides a
whole range of activities in the holiday periods. Costs are kept to a minimum and the courses are provided to a very high standard.

Plans for the Local History Group

No one could doubt but that the Local History Group has been a great success. A large number of members turn up and they come again so we must be doing something right! But, John and Roger, when they set up the Group, wanted to see it produce its own research like other similar Groups.
Unfortunately this has not happened. We have talked about a few research projects - interviewing people with memories of Old Briercliffe, a study of one of our villages (Haggate was suggested) and helping with Roger's study of Briercliffe shops and shopping over the years - all these (and more) have been suggested but we have not managed to make much progress.
The problem is (and many of you will have guessed this) that there are only so many illustrated talks that can be organised about Briercliffe. In the coming season, we hope to have Dr. Duncan Bythell come to talk to us about a project he has been working on with Roger and we have asked someone from Towneley Hall to talk to us about exhibits with a Briercliffe connection held at the Hall. Dates have to be organised for these events and I am sure that we can fit in another few illustrated talks, but John and Roger feel that we need to get down to research and produce something of which we can be proud. That is the challenge for 2009 - 10.

The Committee

The Briercliffe Society has a new Committee. Well, it's not all that new really, but existing members of the Committee have accepted new appointments. All this became possible when Ivan and Ruth Eastwood indicated that, because they have a number of commitments ahead of them, Ruth would like to stand down as Hon. Treasurer, though both wanted to remain on the Committee and Ivan will help to organise other events. At the Annual Meeting of the Society we thanked Ruth for all she has done for us and Stephanie Sutcliffe agreed to take on the responsibilities of Hon. Treasurer. We would like to thank Stephanie and Canon John Edge who was elected Chairman of the Society. Roger Frost is now Chairman Elect. Other members of the Committee remain in place but we would welcome offers to join the Committee. Being a member is not all that onerous and the Committee works very well together.

Local History Exhibition.

Members will know that last year the Society celebrated its 25th. Anniversary and that the main event was the Local History Exhibition which took place on Saturday 13th. September, 2008 during the National Heritage Weekend. Mrs. Joyce Haworth, a founder member of the Society opened the event.
The day was very successful and we had a lot of visitors. Entry was free though refreshments were available and the Society made a small profit on them.
Since the exhibition the exhibits have been put back into the Society's archive. It has taken some time and it has recently been completed but now the Society has to make a decision about how we should exhibit our collections to the public. Two ideas are being discussed. The first is to have small exhibitions in Briercliffe Library which is about to the enlarged and refurbished. Another is to have our own exhibition area in either (or both) Kings Mill or the Queen Street Mill Museum of Textiles. Whichever alternative we choose we will have to be more professional about how we present our exhibitions. If we had one in the Museum it would have to match the professionalism of the Museum
itself but this is costly and, at the present time, we are looking at how this might be done.
The Committee would be interested in hearing from members about how we might proceed.
Lastly, the Society does intend to hold exhibitions in the Community Centre in the future but not for two or three years or so.

Gift from Mr. Paul and Mrs. Beverley Halstead.

As many of you will know Mr. Paul Halstead is the current Chairman of Briercliffe Parish Council. He comes from a family with very long Briercliffe connections and, recently, he has been able to help Duncan Bythell and Roger Frost with a booklet that they have been working on.
The subject of the book is the Harle Syke Mill, the building which gave its name to Briercliffe's biggest village. Paul's family was connected with one of the firms which operated in the mill and, in asking Paul if he had photographs of his grandfather and great grandfather, a number of images of Old Briercliffe came to light which it was thought best should be kept in the Briercliffe Society archive.
The pictures have been gratefully accepted and they include photographs of musical events held at Haggate School and others of Haggate and Harle Syke scenes. One of the latter shows a funeral cortege passing Yates' Fish & Chip shop on Burnley Road in Harle Syke. This was interesting to me
because I have no record of anyone so called running this business. Two other shop windows are shown but we know quite alot about these firms. Another photograph shows a brass band on Burnley Road in Haggate. This may be useful in finding out about the cottages which once stood on the Sun Inn's car park.
Also included in the gift are programmes and tickets for a number of shows put on at Haggate. One example will suffice to show you what I mean. It is dated Christmas Eve, 1949 and is for the Variety Gang Show (with an all male cast). It was produced by Jack Berry and the programme included 19
performances in two parts. These are a few extracts, "Put on a Big Smile", Ta-ran-ta-ra", "3 Married Men",
"Burlington Bertie", "The Fly on Father's Head" and "Carol Time".
There is list of the 15 performers on the back of the ticket which at two shillings for adults was something of a bargain as it included a picnic supper. Incidentally, many of you will recall a number of the performers.
It was very pleasing to have these mementoes of Old Briercliffe presented to the Society. Together they add much to our knowledge of our community. Such Items should not be cast aside. Please remember that the Society would be pleased to look after old photographs, documents and bits of Briercliffe ephemera. Once gone they can not be replaced. Contact Roger.

Procession of Christian Witness.

Many of you will, know that the Churches in Briercliffe have arranged a Briercliffe Proccssion of Christian Witness which is to take place on Sunday, 19th. July, 2009. The procession will start at Haggate Baptist Church at 2-30pm. and finish at St. James' School via St. James' Church.
A lot of Briercliffe organisations - the Churches, the Schools, Mother's Union, Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers etc. - are involved. The Briercliffe Society was consulted and the Committee resolved that as the Society is not a religious body it should not ask members to take part in a religious rally or procession. In any case, many of our members are also involved with groups who are supporting the event and a number of our members will be present.


New Bridleway.
If you have been in Thursden in recent months you might have been forgiven for thinking that it had become the training ground for a military operation. A helicopter has been in use in the valley, not for any potential military purposes, but to carry stone, sand and other heavy materials to the top of the moors on either side.
A firm has been constructing what appears to be a bridleway. At the moment little can be said about the work because it is incomplete, but a wide "path" has been constructed from the Trawden boundary in the direction of New House (the archway above Coldwell) to Thursden's Jockey Spring Wood and, from there, all the way up the side of the Rieve Edge in the direction of Worsthorne.
At the moment, I can not tell you where the path connects in to the Pennine Bridleway but I suspect that it may make the Mary Towneley Loop more accessible to Briercliffe riders. I have climbed the bridleway from Thursden in the direction of Jerusalem (a ruined farm property high above the valley).
It was a very pleasant evening but those who choose to undertake this journey would do well to take their horses with them. Some parts of it were very steep but even the walker will be rewarded with spectacular new views of the surrounding countryside.
The bridleway is bound to become an asset to the parish but there are some potential concerns. I would not like to see the route become the favoured means of access to Briercliffe and Extwistle for motor cyclists. Whoever is doing the work should ensure that this does not happen. I see no signs that this has been considered at the moment. (We will keep you informed about progess).

Parish Signs.

The Briercliffe Parish Council has been working, for some time, on a rolling programme of new signs which will carry the name of the Parish and its villages on road side metal signs which are to be made in memory of Cllr. Mr. Michael Holsgrove by Aircelle Ltd., the firm where he worked. It is hoped that the first signs will be in place this year. Approval is required by the County Council before the work
can commence and this is being sought at the moment.
Michael designed the signs and was about to make a model to size not long before he died. He did, however, make a template and this has been used by his friends at Aircelle in the final pre-production stages. The signs, of course, will be something of a memorial to Cllr. Holsgrove but they will be a very useful one. Since recent boundary changes many local residents do not know where Briercliffe begins and Burnley ends and, similarly, people are not aware of the boundaries of our local villages. The signs will solve these problems and, at the same time, remind us of our heritage.


In this issue we have mentioned Thursden more often than is usually the case. The Society is going to visit the valley in the Autumn and one of our Joint President's has just led an "expedition" to Thursden as part of Burnley's 2009 Walking Festival.
The walk took place on a fine Saturday afternoon early in May. There was only a small party. The route was only two miles long but the walk took about three hours. The Thursden Valley turned out to be a place of considerable interest for those who did not know the area all that well. Starting with the name; Thursden means literally the "valley of the goblins". Thurses, in Old English, were demons. A better word would be goblins, but we might use the German would poltergeist, a mischievous spirit which throws things about and causes problems for the humans who occupy the same space. The "den" part of the word literally means "valley".
The meaning of the place name adds to the local perception that this area is one of the most haunted parts of the country. There are lots of "ghost stories" associated with Briercliffe - from the raising of the Devil at Lea Green to the Black Dog story at Holden but Thursden is almost a natural place for such stories. The valley is remote and, in the past, it was almost cut off from the rest of the district.
Thursden's remoteness made it a perfect place for criminal activity and, in the eighteenth century, it was an outpost for the coining gangs of what we now call Calderdale. There is even a property in the valley which has the name Robin Hood's House, a name associated with the secret word of those who were in conflict with the law. As late as the early twentieth century Thursden was a centre for illegal gambling and there are accounts, in the press, of police breaking up gambling rings in the valley in much the same way as the authorities had to do in the Wild West.
To get back to Thursden's mythical past, we know of a former resident, now buried in Briercliffe Church Yard, who was known to believe in the legends of the valley. Her house was "protected" by ceremonies designed to ensure the safety of its inhabitants. Jeremiah Preston make reference to what went on at Bridge End and Boulsworth End in his Reminiscences which have been published by the Briercliffe Society.
These days we think of Thursden as a place of scattered farms but, in the past, it was a hive of industry. There was handloom weaving, of course, farming, quarrying, leather making, lime hushing and floristry. Just read that, again. Floristry? Yes. It was a form of employment as, in the early to middle nineteenth century, there was a nursery by the stream at the bottom of Thursden which supplied the
Burnley and Colne markets. At the site of the nursery there is now a place where magnificent yellow flag, the flower, grows every year but there are examples of this plant at places throughout the valley. In fact the Valley is a pretty good place for wild animals, birds as well as plant life and this will be discussed in the next edition of the Briercliffe Society's Newsletter.

Queen Street Recreation Ground

Recently, the Parish Council has had a number of problems with the Recreation Ground. The difficulties are a consequence of work undertaken by United Utilities who wanted to cross the land with a new water pipe. However, their contractors have failed to re-connect the old drainage system to the new drains that have had to be provided. This has meant that Briercliffe Rovers JFC have not been able to use their pitch for a full season and tenants of the Parish Council have been inconvenienced for some time. It is not all bad news as the Parish Council has done quite lot of hedge improvement work and the woodland has been restored. More importantly, the Children's Play Area has been moved to a new site and new equipment installed. Let us hope that the drainage work will be finished very soon.

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