​​ ​ Gatepiers South of Turton Tower | Turton Tower Listed Building | Turton Tower | Darwen Tower 
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee | The Opening of the TowerAn Uncertain Future
The Future of Darwen Tower | Reverend William Arthur Duckworth | Darwen Tower Refurbishment

 

 ​Gatepiers South of Turton Tower 

 

Grade II
Date listed: 27th January 1967
Date of last amendment: 27th September 1984
 
SD 71 NW
 
North West Turton (off) Chapeltown Road.  Gatepiers around 80 metres south of Turton Tower. Pair of gate piers, probably c.1840. Rusticated ashlar. Large square piers with moulded caps and ball finials; wrought iron gates with crests.
 
 
 
 

Turton Tower Listed Building



Grade I
Date listed: 27th January 1967
Date of last amendment: 27th January 1967
 
SD 71 NW
 
North West Turton (off) Chapeltown Road. Turton Tower. Manor house, late medieval, altered and enlarged mainly in late C16 and early C19. Stone pele tower 2 storeys raised to 3 c.1596, with windows of that date and C17; 2-storey 2-gabled porch with jettied timber-framed upper floor, also late C16; cruck-framed wing to the north probably C16 or earlier, subsequently raised and altered; with various early C19 additions and alterations in matching style but on larger scale. Scheduled Ancient Monument. (References: VCH; Pevsner; N.G. Philips Views of the Old Halls of Lancashire and Cheshire 1822-24, published by Gray 1893; G.E. Peter Laws A Guide to Turton Tower 1985).
 
 
 
 
 

Turton T​​ower ​


Originally a fortification built at a time when raids by marauding Scots were still a feature of life in the north of England, Turton Tower has been added to and modified over the centuries.
 
By the 16th century it was a comfortable residence. The Tower was presented to the Urban District Council in 1930.
The Tower is currently administered by Lancashire County Museums Service.
 
Turton Tower is a Grade I listed building. Also to be seen in the estate grounds are its gate Piers, old stables, and the two ornate  railway bridges 150m SW and 170 NW of the main building
 
 
 
 

D​​arwen Tower

 
 
Grade II
Date listed : 17 APR 1972
Date of last amendment : 17 APR 1972
   
SD 678 215  
 
Observation tower, 1897. Rock-faced sandstone. Late medieval style: octagonal tower 86ft. high, incorporating a spiral staircase to observation decks and surrounded at the base by a buttressed open arcade carrying a low-level deck. Base has stone shield over each arch, a band above these, and a ramped parapet to the deck. Tower has Tudor-arched doorway to deck on west side, lancet stairlights, bracketed cornice, embattled parapet with cross-shaped arrowslits at the angles, and is surmounted by a lantern with domed cap and weathervane. Tower was built when, after a protracted legal dispute with the lord of the manor and the owner of shooting rights, Darwen Moor became public property.
 
 
 
They say you can see the Welsh hills from the top. I've never seen them and I must have been up there a hundred times. More often than not you are lucky if you can see the Lancashire hills; mist and moorland are seldom parted. But whatever you can or can't see from up there, from down below and from many miles away, it commands your attention. You can see it from the M6 north of Blackburn; you can see it from the centre of Preston; you can see it from the hills above Bury; the hills above Chorley and the hills above Accrington; you can see it in the gaps between houses all over the town: Darwen Tower is a beacon that beckons the eye.
 
It isn't the first, nor the only such landmark; all sorts of monuments flourish on our Pennine hills. There's the tower on Rivington Pike, the Peel monument near Bury, the Snowden memorial above Colne, the tower on the fells above Abbeystead and, of ancient and unknown origin, the tall structures on Gragareth, Lancashire's highest mountain. This urge to build something on the nearest hill surfaced again in Darwen just over one hundred years ago. On one level it was a gesture of loyalty to a monarch celebrating her sixtieth year on the throne, but on another it was a gesture that struck at the very thing that monarchy is all about: the ownership of land and the power and privileges that go with it.

 

 

Que​​​en Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

 
The story of the freeing of Darwen moors has been told many times. It's enough to say that apart from a few bloody skirmishes on the moors, the struggle took place in court and that Duckworth lost it and that in September 1896 the negotiations were finally completed and the townspeople had regained the right to use the moorland footpaths. Ashton had died in 1894, but his three sons lead a celebratory procession up on to the moors to the spot where the Tower now stands.
 
The victory coincided with the need to think of a way of celebrating Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. There were not that many people in the town who could remember anyone but Victoria being on the throne. To us now it would be as if Elizabeth had succeeded to the throne in 1937. No doubt there was a feeling something grand should be done, if only to outdo Blackburn. Perhaps the idea of a tower had been discussed openly in the town already, perhaps when the suggestion first appeared in print in the Darwen News on January 13th 1897 it was a novel idea. The writer signing him or herself Landmark added as an afterthought that such a tower would also mark the freeing of the moors. There was something for everybody in an idea like that: flaunting a victory for the common person in the guise of a loyal gesture to the crown. In spite of some grumbles about the cost, the idea was adopted.
 

 
​​ 
A competition was held for a design for the Tower, which was won by David Ellison of the Darwen Borough Engineers office. Jubilee Day was June 22nd 1897 and up on the moor the first sod was cut on the site for the Tower by the Mayor Alexander Carus. It was a hot Summer's day. In the evening there was a bonfire and a firework display.
 
It must have been a mixed blessing of a job for the men who built the Tower. There was a long climb up to the site with their tools, the stone was already to hand at Red Delph quarry; but then on fine days there'd be grand views all around whichever way they looked. Of course fine days would be the exception, more often than not there'd be bitter winds, slicing rain and cold, grey skies. Indeed bad weather so delayed work that by the official opening day, September 22nd 1898, some of the porticoes round the base were still not completed.
 
By Alan Duckworth

 
 

The O​pening of the Tower



Another fine day and the Reverend W. A. Duckworth was there to declare the Tower open. Over three thousand people came up on to the moor to see him do it. Many of them must have wondered what was going through his mind. It was a long way from Somerset to Darwen in those days. Was he just being decent about it, after all he had donated the stone for the Tower? Was he just showing his face, reminding everyone that he was still a force to be reckoned with? Certainly he used his speech as an opportunity to explain his position and to express his hope that people going on to the moor would cause as little disturbance as possible to the game. His tenant Mr. Ashworth was not there, but Duckworth read a message from him expressing his hope that trespass on the moor would be less in the coming season than the last.
A pepper pot, a space rocket, a stumpy, awkwardly proportioned piece, thus has the Tower been described over the years. It is in fact an octagonal structure with outer faces fifteen feet in width. It has sixty five stone steps and an iron staircase of seventeen steps. It has sixteen windows and three panels over the northern archway. It is built square to the compass with walls two feet thick. It stands eighty five feet high. It was built by local contractor R. J. Whalley with ironwork by Robert St. Foundry, copperwork by Entwisle and Nutter of Market Street and plumbing and glazing by H. C. Jepson of Bolton Road. Two stonemasons from Brindle did most of the structure.  Peter Brindle and Harry Flew walked over from Brindle every day. They declined to take lodgings in the town, because they had their gardening to do when they got back.  Darwen Tower though is more than the sum of its parts.

First of all it stands for the town in a way that other towers, with the possible exception of Blackpool Tower, do not. The Peel Tower isn't Bury Tower, the tower at Rivington isn't Chorley Tower, the Snowden Memorial isn't Colne Tower. Darwen Tower is Darwen Tower because it was built to stand for the rights of Darwen people. Furthermore it has encouraged successive generations to visit the moor and has become a welcome landmark for hillwalkers. And last but not least it has been an inspiration for countless artists, reproduced on canvas, in wood, in ceramics, and in metals both precious and base, most recently of all on the new railings in the town centre.
 
By Alan Duckworth

 
 

An Uncertain Fu​​ture

 
 
It has stood up there for one hundred years, even though on a number of occasions its future has been uncertain. During the second world war it was feared that German bombers would use it as a landmark and attack the town. An editorial in the Darwen News urged that it be pulled down. Of course it wasn't and apart from in October 1940 when seven bombs were dropped and a double decker bus going up Marsh House was machine gunned the town escaped relatively lightly.
 
In 1947 however gales blew away the original wooden turret that had crowned the Tower. For a long time the abbreviated Tower suffered from the attention of vandals and the neglect of officialdom. There were proposals that it be bricked up indefinitely, but in 1971 Bill Lees as Mayor launched a fund to have the Tower repaired, cleaned and topped with a new dome. This was done and on January 18th 1972 the refurbished Tower was declared open.
The most bizarre threat came later that year when an offer purported to come from the U.S.A. was made to buy the Tower so that it could be exported and reassembled overseas. The town council considered the matter and declared its refusal to accept any offers for the Tower.
 
By Alan Duckworth

 
And there it still stands one hundred years later at an altitude of 372 metres or 1,200 feet as we used to say. It looks set fair to survive well into the twentieth century and who knows that one hundred years hence folk won't be celebrating its two hundredth anniversary. What will you be able to see from the top then I wonder. Alas it's not likely that anyone reading this today on will ever know.
 
By Alan Duckworth




 Reverend William Arthur Duckw​​orth


Much more so than now, in those days communication was by foot. There are plenty of people up on the moors on a sunny day today, but their business is recreation, a hundred years ago their business may well have been business. Packmen, peddlers, farmers and labourers communicated by track and trail and moorland path, not by phone, fax and the Internet. So when in the 1870's the Lord of the Manor the Reverend William Arthur Duckworth began blocking ancient rights of way and turning people off the moor, he was doing more than depriving them of the right to a leisurely stroll after work, he was denying them a basic form of communication.
 
 
The Reverend William Arthur Duckworth was born in 1829. He was a nephew of George Duckworth who had bought the Manor of Over Darwen in 1810 from John Trafford. William Arthur was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and ordained in 1854. In 1859 he married Edina Campbell daughter of the Lord Chancellor. He visited Darwen only rarely, residing for much of his life at Orchardleigh near Frome in Somerset.
 
When the Manor of Darwen had been offered for sale in 1766 it was described even then as being well stocked with game. By the time it came into the Reverend William Arthur's hands gaming rights had become a valuable commodity. Wealthy captains of industry loved nothing better than to ape the aristocracy; buying castles and Scottish islands, riding to hounds, shooting and fishing. The last thing Duckworth wanted was to have his land devalued by what he saw as trespass on the moors.
 
By Alan Duckworth
 
 
 

Darwen Towe​​​​r Refurbishment

 

It has stood up there for one hundred years, even though on a number of occasions its future has been uncertain. During the second world war it was feared that German bombers would use it as a landmark and attack the town. An editorial in the Darwen News urged that it be pulled down. Of course it wasn't and apart from in October 1940 when seven bombs were dropped and a double decker bus going up Marsh House was machine gunned the town escaped relatively lightly.
 
In 1947 however gales blew away the original wooden turret that had crowned the Tower. For a long time the abbreviated Tower suffered from the attention of vandals and the neglect of officialdom. There were proposals that it be bricked up indefinitely, but in 1971 Bill Lees as Mayor launched a fund to have the Tower repaired, cleaned and topped with a new dome. This was done and on January 18th 1972 the refurbished Tower was declared open.
The most bizarre threat came later that year when an offer purported to come from the U.S.A. was made to buy the Tower so that it could be exported and reassembled overseas. The town council considered the matter and declared its refusal to accept any offers for the Tower.
 
By Alan Duckworth
 
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