​​​ 
James CunninghamWilliam Ewart Gladstone | William Arthur Duckworth | Joseph Harrison 
Rev Dr Nightingale | James Hargreaves | Samuel Crompton | Richard Arkwright | John Kay | Roger Haydock 
Dr James Taylor Thom Ramsay | David Johnson | Photography Pioneer | John Thomas Baron 
Kathleen FerrierJohn SpencerJacob HowarthWilliam Kenworthy 

 

 
Self Made Ma​n
 
 
James Cunningham was elected Mayor of Blackburn in 1859, having spent many years building up his reputation and social standing in the town.
He first came to Blackburn in the 1820’s from the Scottish borders (where exactly we are unsure of)* to work under service as butler to William Feilden at Feniscowles Hall in Pleasington. As a Conservative Member of Parliament William Feilden would frequently travel to London with his butler on matters of Parliament. It is during this time that Cunningham was able to build on his passion for politics and observe the etiquette of the upper class.
 
 
 
 During his time in service with the Feildens James Cunningham built up a tidy savings account, and after 30 years as butler he left the household in 1836 and bought a brewery close to the town centre, called Snig Brook Brewery,  just off Montague Street. Using the business and social skills learnt from his employer James Cunningham was able to build up the brewery, and in turn established himself as a successful business man in the town. His success as can still be seen today in the form of (what is now) St Pauls Working Mens’ Club on Montague Street, the residence Cunningham built for himself with the profits from the brewery, an achievement he was very much proud of. It is an impressive building, built to show the wealth of its owner.
 
Due to his success as a business man in the town, James Cunningham was able to enter the town council as a representative of the St Paul’s ward, the area in which his home and brewery were situated. He was able to move further up the social ladder, due to the backing he had from the Liberals, to become first an Alderman (a body of people in aide to the Mayor with a legislative function) and later in November 1858 he was elected Mayor.
 
 
It is certain qualities in his personality that enabled Cunningham to achieve the title of Mayor of Blackburn. He was a popular man not only with the upper classes of Blackburn, due to his interest in politics and success as a brewer, but also with the poorer classes to whom he was able to relate. He never forgot where he came from, and had experienced first hand the restrictions that came with being poor. He was passionate about improving services and conditions for the poor in Blackburn. For example, his biggest achievement as Mayor was to open a free public library, spending £150 on books. This gave the under educated poorer classes an opportunity, usually restricted to those with money, to learn to read and expand on their knowledge.
 
 
James Cunningham was an inspirational man, building up his success and status from butler to Mayor through determination and his passion to help. He was a very social, laid back person with a good sense of humour and a happy demeanour which made him popular with everybody he met. For example, even after quitting politics the Conservatives re elected him as Alderman in 1865, achieving the largest number of votes of any Alderman ever elected. He used his success, popularity and wealth to help others all throughout his life. He was a big donor and supporter of the Widows and Orphans Fund who in 1873 awarded Mr Cunningham the title of ‘Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds, Widows and Orphans Fund’. It was said of him during the presentation of this title
 
“You have been a father to the fatherless, you have caused the widow to wipe away the tear of sorrow from her eyes, and caused her to rejoice when she knows there was some one to watch over her little ones...”
 
James Cunningham died on 19th October 1876 in Lytham at the age of 80, having built himself up from butler, to alderman, to mayor and finally to county magistrate. His legacy was not forgotten. A portrait of Cunningham was hung in the Free Library and Museum, and still hangs there to this day.
 
Researched and written by Helen McFeely, volunteer at Blackburn Museum
 
* Although the books such as Abram’s Blackburn Characters claim he was born in Scotland, this is untrue. He was of Scottish descent, but was born in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, his parents having moved there from Ayrshire. In 1866,he placed a stained glass window in the church at Haydon Bridge in memory of his parents Henry and Eleanor.
 
 
 
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Why is there a statue of Gladstone in Blackburn is a question that is frequently asked. The'Grand Old Man' was not born in the town and never represented it. Indeed Blackburn was the first town in the land to honour the G.O.M. with such a monument after his death.  To answer the question we need to look at Gladstone's career.
William Ewart Gladstone was born on December 29th 1809 in Liverpool, the son of a merchant. He was educated at Eton and Oxford where he won a double first.  He was elected MP for Newark in 1832, the year of the Reform Act.  He became a junior Lord of the Teasury in the short-lived Peel administration of 1835. In 1841 when Sir Robert Peel was again in power, he became Vice-President and then President of the Board of Trade. His instincts were becoming increasing Liberal however and in 1846 he left his Tory seat in Newark and became a Liberal MP for the University of Oxford.
 
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When Lord Palmerston, the Liberal leader, became Prime Minister in June, 1859, he offered Gladstone the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gladstone first became Prime Minister in 1868.  He was to become Prime Minister again in 1880, 1886 and 1892. Extension of the franchise is ever associated with Gladstone's name, although it was Disraeli's 1867 Reform Act which had given the vote to every male householder.  Gladstone though was a keen advocate for votes for working men, and it was this perception of him which established him as the champion of the people.
Gladstone's other great cause was Home Rule for Ireland, but Tory and House of Lords opposition frustrated all his attempts. Gladstone saw further than any of his contemporaries.  He correctly forecast the consequences of the arms race that was a feature of the late Victorian age in Europe, but his warnings went unheeded and his own grandson was to die in the Great War that followed.  He was an inspired speaker and his oratory attracted thousands to his open-air meetings.  He was particular popular in the industrial areas of the North.  His words went to the hearts of men and women who knew they hadn't much to expect from those in power.  They knew he was different - a man of the people. He died in 1898, aged 88 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
Blackburn's Gladstone statue was also its first one. A public subscription secured the £3,000 cost. Adams Acton, who had known Gladstone and created the statue of him which adorned Liverpool's St George's Hall, was the sculptor.  The Earl of Aberdeen unveiled the statue on November 4th 1899 in the presence of 30,000 spectators.  The statue originally occupied a site on the Boulevard and was there to greet Victoria when her own statue was unveiled six years later.  However Gladstone and Her Majesty never got on.  Perhaps she'd been jealous of the G.O.M's popularity.  Certainly it was better for both when Gladstone was later moved to his present situation by the College; besides he was always, first and foremost, a man of learning.
 

 
Lancashire Leaders: Social and Political
Ernest Gaskell
 
 
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Joseph Harrison​

 
Iron Master
 
Joseph Harrison was born in Ingleton in 1804.  His father was a mining engineer.  Joseph became an itinerant blacksmith and settled in Blackburn in 1826.  He set up business in the old smithy in Dandy Walk, originally the smithy for the Dandy Walk factory set up at the beginning of the 19th century.  After marriage to Elizabeth Hodgson he took up residence in Darwen Street.
 
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Harrison specialised initially in wrought-iron work, manufacturing gates many of which could be seen in the town, eg the entrance gates to Sudell House in King Street.  Later he established Bank Foundry at Nova Scotia and cast lampposts for the Gas Company and the town council.
 
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Harrison became a councillor and alderman, representing St Peter's Ward. He moved from Darwen Street to Bolton Road and in 1847 to Galligreaves Hall, which stood then in its own grounds amid elm trees and extensive lawns.  Later when streets and factories hemmed it in, it became a Conservative Club and later a public house.  In 1862 Harrison bought Samlesbury Old Hall and restored it to its 15th century splendour.
 
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Harrison's three sons had distinguished careers.  Henry set up the Chamber of Commerce and his name will for ever be associated with the famous Mission to China in 1896.  Joseph Harrison died on February 18th 1880.
 
With thanks to Jim Halsall for supplying resources.
 

 
 

 

The Story of My Life - The Rev Dr Nightingale
 
This is a series of three articles of the autobiography of Rev. Dr. Benjamin Nightingale (1854-1928) printed in the Blackburn Times on the 18th, 25th of February and the 3rd of March.
 
Introduction from the Blackburn Times:
 A melancholy interest attaches to this series of special articles, of which the following is the first.  Dr. Nightingale’s autobiography was written, and he himself despatched the MS. To “The Blackburn Times,” just before his last illness in December.
By arrangement with him publication was to have commenced the first Saturday in the New Year.  His death led to its being suspended till such time as the wishes of Mrs Nightingale and her family could be ascertained.
If the story of his strenuous life shows other young people what can be done by faithful endeavour, and serves as a stimulant—phrases from his own letters—its posthumous appearance will have achieved the purpose Dr. Nightingale had in view.
 
1—BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE
I was born on January 7th, 1854, in the little village of Tockholes, which lies some three miles from Blackburn on the old Bolton and Blackburn road.  I am a little uncertain about the house.  We lived for a time at Lower Hill in a simple cottage with a somewhat tall chimney, which was once seriously damaged by lightning; and from this place we removed to Silk Hall Fold, the top house near the main road; and I have always understood that this was the place of my birth.
 
My Fathers name was Benjamin, and the Nightingale family to which he belonged in all probability came from about Rivington near the middle of the 18th century.  He was one of a numerous family, his father being William Nightingale, who was brought up at Lyons Den, a wild and desolate place on Darwen Moor Looking down the Tockholes valley.  My Father’s mother’s maiden name was Nancy Grime, aunt to the celebrated Dr, Grime of Water-Street Blackburn.  She survived my grandfather several years, and I remember occasionally seeing her.  My grandfather left Lyons Den somewhat early and resided Sunnyhurst Wood, where he died comparatively young.  The house still stands and is now used as a place of refreshment [see if it still there].  My father was just a plain working man, and for some time he travelled each day to his work at Darwen, and that at a time when hours of labour were much longer than they now are.  I do not remember much about him, for he began to be seriously ill when I was very young and went for three weeks to the Convalescent Home at Southport.  As I was also unwell at the time it was arranged for me to go with him, and I well remember the strange feeling I had when I saw a train for the first time in my life.  Southport also was very different from what it is to day.  The visit did me great good but my father none, and he died after much suffering on January 26th, 1865, at the early age of 45, when I was just 11 years old.
 
My Mothers name was Agnes Brindle daughter of John and Agnes, who lived at Lower Wenshead.  The Brindles like the Nightingales, were an old Tockholes family and very numerous about Darwen and Blackburn in later years, as well as Tockholes.  Agnes Brindle, my grandmother, was a Hawkins before marriage, and so connected with the Hawkins of Preston; the Brindles were also connected with the Higsons of Blackburn.  According to stories circulated in the family, my grandmother was a most remarkable woman.  It is said that she had twice and twenty children (a common expression about Tockholes, meaning 22) of whom two were born on the same day, and two were buried on one day.  Four of her daughters married six Nightingales and, late in life, for some reason she had her leg amputated and was provided with a wooden one from an apple tree, the pip of which, after the apple had been roasted, she had set in her young days.  I never knew her, for she died for she died on February 7th, 1853, at the age of 69 years.  Nor did I know my grandfather, John Brindle, who died on July 2nd, 1849, aged 66 years.  My mother survived my father many years, and late in life married my father’s brother, James Nightingale, whose previous wife was Nancy Brindle, my mother’s sister.  He was at the time living at the farm at Silk Hall Fold, belonging to the Congregational Church, and my mother and I went to live there.  My mother died in April 1881, and was interred in the graveyard of Tockholes Congregational Church.  She made no profession of religion, but she was a good woman and most devoted to her children.  Unless something absolutely prevented, she was never absent from the service on Sunday afternoon.
 
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SCHOOL MASTER’S WILLOW STICK.
My early life was exceedingly simple and primitive, for in those days the village was very far removed from the town, and weeks and months might pass without a fresh face appearing in it.  Darwen and Blackburn Fairs were red letter days in the year, when occasionally one had the privilege of going and, with a sixpence in ones pocket one felt rich beyond compare and able to buy nearly all in the fair.  The day school I attended was as primitive as all else.  It was a simple structure at the back of the Bethesda Chapel, in a somewhat dilapidated condition, which was said to have been the manse when that place had its own minister.  There were two rooms below, the one behind being unflagged as was the case with many cottages, and called “The Shop” because there the handloom weaving was done.  The teacher was Thomas Nightingale, who was one of the great men of the village, being a deacon and a choirmaster of the church, and indeed, general leader of the place, who invariably conducted the weeknight service when there was no minister and frequently occupied the pulpit.  The three R’s only were taught there and those only to the very elementary stage. 
 
A picture of the school, which was well attended, rises before me as I write.  An old well spectacled man, with a long white beard, smoking his pipe, is sat before the fire in a in a broken down fireplace.  In his right hand is a long willow stick and at his side a boy “saying his lesson.”  While this was going on the rest of the children were left to themselves and, as may be expected, often became very noisy, with the result that the willow stick would unexpectedly descend upon them.  Some would steal away into the shop and play at marbles until willow stick appeared, and others would slip outside and the spacious grounds around, where grew many trees, in the time of autumn would gather the fallen leaves for a bonfire, until again willow stick appeared to cut short their joy.  I was all very primitive, and will doubtless amuse those who have educational advantages of today, but it was the only education that not a few ever had, and the old teacher was held in revered memory by those who were privileged to sit at his feet.
 
Quite a number of “half timers” came from Hollinshead Mill, then belonging to the Shorrocks of Darwen and in the village it needed little education to mark out a boy or girl as remarkably clever.  The people would say with astonishment, “He con read th’ Bable an’t newspapper.”  After a time the school was given up, and being then a half timer at the mill, for a short time I attended the one belonging to St. Stephen’s Church, whose teacher was Mr. George Slater, who lived in Blackburn during his retirement.
 
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A WATERLOO VETERAN.
I have a very vivid memory of the Cotton Famine in 1862, though I was only eight years old.  Lancashire was never more hardly hit, and the suffering of the people was very great.  Many indeed, who had moved in spheres of comparative comfort, were utterly reduced and some carried to the grave burdens of debt then contracted.  Tockholes, which was largely dependent on its two mills, suffered as did many other places, and soup kitchens and food stores were opened.  The vicar, the Rev. G. Hughes, BA, and the Congregational minister, Rev. Richard Crookall, worked heartily together in the endeavour to relieve the distress of the people.  Young as I was, I well remember spending days in travelling with my elder brother, William, in search of work to no purpose, and the rejoicing was great when the famine ended and the people again got to work.  It was thought at one time, with a view to finding employment for the people, that an attempt would be made to level the Morris Brow, which has always been a serious difficulty for vehicular traffic between Blackburn and Tockholes, but the idea was abandoned as much too costly for the authorities to face.
 
There were several curious characters in the village, one of whom went by the name of “Owd Kester o’th cloise.”  He was of great age and was a Waterloo veteran.  He was accustomed to go round the village selling small articles and very few dared to refuse to buy.  He was regarded by the people as the centre of much mystery, as he told strange stories of his doings when he was in the army. 
 
I do not claim to have been any better than other boys of my age but it is only truth to say that I was happily saved from falling into evil habits not uncommon.  In this connection I recall an experience that marked a critical moment in my life.  At one place in the village, a person had recently opened a sweet shop and started a lottery, and not a few of the boys spent hours there gambling in a small way.  I went one Saturday night and played a considerable time, with what result I cannot say, but I was not easy whilst I was there.  The company was not quite to my liking and I vowed that I would not go again.  The vow was kept and I often thank God that it was, for of those who frequented the place few made anything of life.

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MILL WORKER AT TEN.
When I was quite young, not more than 10 years of age, I began to go to the mill.  There were two cotton mills in Tockholes.  One which went by the name of  “Redmayne’s Mill” was built about 1838 by the Redmayne brothers, who had connections in both Blackburn and Preston.  This subsequently passed into the hands of Henry Ward, of Blackburn and in my young days it was at its best.  The other was built by Eccles Shorrock of Darwen in 1859, being known as “Hollinshead Mill.”  It was here that my elder brother and I worked, and in those days working hours were much longer than they now are and the conditions much less Favourable.  This mill later passed into the hands of Messrs George and Ephraim Hindle, of Blackburn.  Both buildings have now disappeared, but in those days some two or three hundred people were employed in them and they were a great boon to the village.
 
About this time also there was a considerable amount of handloom weaving in the place the looms being in that part of the house which has already been referred to as “the shop,” and often far into the night and even into early morning the candlelight’s might be seen twinkling in the windows, the weavers being anxious to finish their pieces so that they could take them on the Saturday to Blackburn to those who employed them.  Not infrequently the weavers kept time with the shuttle by singing some well known hymn, and it is said that a certain Darwen minister, who late in life gave himself to handloom weaving, used to sing “Oh what heavenly work this is, hands, feet and arms singing praise to the Lord.”
 
Shut in within themselves and having so little contact with the larger world outside, it is no wonder that superstition lingered long in these villages and Tockholes was no exception to this.  Linked with almost every house of any age was some ghost story which was seriously believed by the people.  There was a least one family also that had that had the highest veneration and reverence for the cricket.  It was known that there was a considerable colony in the house, for the chirpings could be heard in the road some distance away.  Along with some of my school fellows, I had been anxious to get a sight of this mysterious creature, as to whose strange powers many stories were in circulation.  One day, therefore, we went to the house and preferred our request.  We were informed that we might see the crickets on solemnly promising not to injure one of them, the person adding that for some years ill-luck had attended the family in the way of sickness and death because some time ago one of the crickets had been killed.  The promise was of course given and we were admitted to the house.  The hearthstone was carefully lifted and under it must have been hundreds of them, which were as carefully protected as if they had been so many guardian angels.  Doubtless this was an exceptional case, for I cannot recall any other at all corresponding to it.
 
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FAVOURITE READING.
Nearly all the people were at the same social level, farmers and artisans, simple in their habits and plain of speech, which almost without exception was the Lancashire dialect.  If anyone happened to go away for a time and on his return attempted a little more refined speech it used to be said, with not a little surprise: “Eh, mon, he tries to talk fane.”  In my early time I gad a somewhat serious illness which greatly reduced me.  Its precise nature I do not know, for in those days doctors told their patients less about their ailments than they do now; but I vividly recall how, when walking about the village, women in particular would say even in one’s hearing: “Poor lad, he’s nod long to be here, he’s goin’ whoam fast.”  How mistaken these good friends were, who were quite sympathetic in their remarks, my present years testify.  The Rev A.M. Davis, who exercised a great ministry in Oldham extending over 50 years and whose training was received at Blackburn Academy, used to tell a similar story about himself.  When he settled in Oldham, some of the people said that the thin, pale-faced young man was suffering from consumption and could not possibly live long.  When he was over 80 Mr. Davis, relating the story, jocularly remarked: “I am consuming yet.”
 
I was always fond of reading, but in those days books were expensive, and for country lad money was not plentiful, consequently my library was very small.  My favourites, however, were Robinson Crusoe, Captain Cook and Robert Bruce.  My heroes indeed were Bruce and Wallace, and it may not sound very patriotic when I say that I rejoiced exceedingly when I read of the defeat of the English at Banockburn by my great hero, Bunyans “Pilgrims Progress” was my daily companion.  I read it over and over again, told the story to my companions as we went together to our daily work, and often wished it had been literally true instead of allegorical, so that I might take a similar journey.
 
I was also greatly interested in missionary stories, which were often most exciting; for in those days the romance of Christian missions was at its height and “The Juvenile Missionary Magazine” was my great delight, which has been long extinct for many years read every sentence in it, long preserved and treasured the copies and often felt that I would like to live and work in those strange and distant lands with which they were concerned.  So my young life went on happily in the little place which was not much longer to be my home.
 
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Religious Decision And Preparation For College.
One of the chief centres interest in the village is the little Congregational Church whose history reaches back at least to “The Great Ejection” of 1662.  Linked with those early days especially, is a great deal of real and most wonderful romance.  The people were of a strong and sturdy type, faithful to their religious principles when there was considerable risk in being so, and tradition tells how they used to meet in secret places, of which there were many in the neighbourhood, and hold their meetings, when nonconformity was a forbidden thing.  The history of this little church was written by me over 40 years ago.  It was my first literary venture.  For more than two and a half centauries it has kept the light of divine truth brightly burning in the village, and sent to the neighbouring towns of Blackburn and Darwen many who have been among the most devoted and earnest workers in the churches there.  In the long line of men who have served in the ministry there are several who rank among the most distinguished men in Congregation history. 
About a hundred yards away from it was Bethesda Chapel, built in opposition to it in the early part of the 19th centaury.  It never however was a great success, and had only one minister.  After a time it was acquired by the other people and became the Sunday school.  It was a large building in quite capacious grounds, where many trees grew, which served as a graveyard.  It was to this building that the manse was attached, where the day school already named was held.

At Silk Hall was a large room over the farmhouse; that was used for weeknight services, tea meetings and Sunday evening services.  Attendance at both school and church was part of the Sunday programme, which could no more be set aside than breakfast or dinner, and I often feel very thankful that it was so, and that from my earliest days the habit of attending school and church was formed and never broken.  It was the old chapel that I attended, the chapel of 1710, which continued until 1880
When it was superseded by the present handsome structure on its site, and as I write, the place as it then was comes vividly before me

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THE CHAPEL OF 1770.
It was galleried on three sides, the pulpit being on the fourth and almost within reach of each gallery.  The pews were straight backed and ours was in the gallery to the right of the preacher.  The place was well attended and many good, earnest, devoted families were represented, such as the Gregsons, Smiths, Leighs, Sumners, Worrsleys, Whipps, Nightingales, Brindles, Fowlers, Richardsons, Kershaws, Dewhursts, Aspdens, and others.  The earliest minister of whom I have any recollection was the Rev. C. Bingly, who was the earnest and most devoted man.  As he was there only four years and left for Droylsden in 1857, my memory of him is very faint; but an incident occurred which made a deep impression on my mind, young though I was.  Some part of the time my mother was seriously ill in bed and Mrs. Bingley came to see her and on leaving sprinkled something on the bedclothes which, I thought made her well again.  Then, for another four years the Rev. Horrocks Cocks held the pastorate.  He resided in Blackburn part of the week and the other part at the manse at Silk Hall.  He will be remembered as Editor Of the “Blackburn Times,” which was just entering on its career.  He was a somewhat eccentric character and always began the Sunday morning service with the same hymn, “Sweet is the work my God, my King.”  In his later years he resided in London and, when I was writing the Tockholes history, I had much interesting correspondence with him.  The Rev Richard Crookall followed, and as already noted, he was here during the cotton famine, [see part one] and did great work in connection with it.  He was a most impressive preacher, and his appeals, to the young in particular, were often most effective.  I have a vivid memory of one such appeal, when he was speaking on Absalom at a cottage meeting at the house of Mr. Whipp, New Barn.  He remained only a little over three years and removed to Northallerton, in Yorkshire.
During the frequent vacancies the pulpit was occupied by various persons, ministers and laymen.  The Rev Wm. Hodge, of Bretherton, was quite a favourite and he scarcely ever preached without shedding tears.  Mr. Hoole, once connected with Blackburn academy, and who subsequently had an important school in the town, was another.  He, also, was most pathetic in the pulpit, suggesting a very tender disposition, and I remember him once telling one of his old pupils about this, who smiled and said that there was little evidence of this in the classroom.  The Rev. G. Berry, of Lower Chapel Darwen, was noted for the way in which he divided his sermons into “generals” and “particulars.”  I have heard him give half a dozen generals and as many as 19 particulars, yet his visits were always welcome.  One gentleman who came from Preston whose name I never knew, a layman, had a rather bad time.  There was one boy in the gallery who was sometime unruly, and in the middle of his sermon he stopped and said quite sharply: “take that boy out, he has been a naughty boy for some time.”  The incident made a deep impression on my mind though I was very young; I did not in the least justify the boy, but the preacher lost all his power over me and through all my ministry, whatever provocation I may have had in any service, I have never permitted myself to call attention to it by any remark from the pulpit.
 
 
A Startling Apparition.
Another gentleman, also a layman from Preston, put on rather amusing airs.  Referring to the mouth of the River Nile, in slow, ponderous tones, he said; “For-r-mingh a large del-ta covered by a multi-tu-dinous number of stones-ah.”

As already stated, the Sunday school was in Bethesda Chapel in my day, though it also has given place to finer and more convenient structure at the top of Silk Hall Fold.  The school was exceedingly well attended.  The teachers were simple, earnest, devoted Christian men and women without any scholarship, but full of zeal for Christ.  One of my later teachers was James Fielden, whose lessons betokened great preparation and study.  For one while he lived in Blackburn, but he never failed his class and his scholars were greatly attached to him.  To this good man, who still resides in Tockholes, I owe much, and I often feel grateful to god that it was my privilege to be a scholar of his.

One curious incident in the school life is worth relating.  The superintendent was Thomas Nightingale, who has already been mentioned [see part one] in connection with the day school.  One Sunday afternoon when opening the school he intimated that one of the scholars, well-known to all, was seriously ill, lying in deed at the point of death, concerning whom there was little hope of recovery, and the sentence had barely left his lips when, to the surprise of all, the scholar in question walked in to the school, comparatively well again.
In 1867, when I was just entering upon my teens, the Rev. John Robinson, from Tosside, near Settle, came to be minister and it is to him that I owe my decision for the ministry.  He was an untrained man, one of several prepared for the ministry by the Rev. Joseph Wadsworth, of Clitheroe, and a most earnest and faithful preacher.  I have often felt that had he had the training that men get to-day, his preaching power was such that he would have occupied a prominent position in the denomination.  Very early in his ministry I began to be seriously impressed, and from about 14 to 16 years of age may be said to have been under religious impressions.  Sometimes they were stronger than others, but they were always there, and I passed through much before peace came.  Bother minister and teacher tried to help me, but seemingly to no purpose.  A book was put into my hands, “The touchstone of sincerity” by John Flavel, an old Puritan Divine, but it was hardly the book for me at the time for tortured me with doubts and fears.  Bunyan’s “Pilgrims Progress,” his “Holly War” and other works of his were read in the hope that light would come, but it held back.

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A SACRED PLACE.
A little place attached to the barn at Silk Hall Fold is still very sacred to me, for there in the darkness, after returning from my work at night, I often poured out my soul in earnest supplication to God, and the ecstasy of the moment, when I felt that Jesus was my Saviour is still with me.  Shortly afterwards I was received into the fellowship of the church.
Mr. Robinson was a particular fond of Nonconformist history and almost worshipped the Nonconformist heroes of bygone times.  I recall visits paid to our home when he told exciting stories of Oliver Heywood, Isaac Ambrose, Thomas Jollie, the Pilgrim Fathers, and the sufferings of the early Christians in the Catacombs of Rome, all of which fired my young heart.  Doubtless in part at least, those visits, as well as my connection with a church which had such a glorious history, are responsible for the form which my studies have since taken.  Mr Robinson left for Ramsbottom in 1873, and subsequently was at Elswick in the Fylde district, a church whose history reaches even further back than that of Tockholes and whose career has been equally honourable and great.
Shortly after admission to the church I began to do Christian work.  In particular I became teacher in the Sunday school, occasionally engaged in prayer at the weeknight service, and eventually Mr. Robinson spoke to me about the ministry.  He asked me if I felt at all inclined towards it.  There was no pressure of any kind and I was left to consider the matter for a time.  There was one difficulty in the way.  I was already engaged to Miss Sumner, my faithful, and devoted wife all through life, the representative of an old Tockholes family, and who attended the same church and school as myself.  In case I went to college, which was what Mr. Robinson suggested, it meant postponing, considerably, our marriage day.  When, however, I mentioned the matter to her, I found that she was not only willing but most eager for me to do it, and when next I saw Mr. Robinson I gave him my decision accordingly.  He promised to give me what help he could in providing opportunities for Christian work, and occasionally I was called upon to open the Sunday school and take the introductory part at cottage meetings.  Mr Robinson suggested that I should go to Nottingham, but being an untrained man himself, he could give me very little help in preparing for this 
 
Tockholes united reformed church today.jpg 
 
GREEK STUDIED AT THE LOOM.
I began the study of Greek and used to take my book with me to the mill, snatching occasional minutes to look at it.  I was a four-loom weaver; the working hours then were from six to six o’clock, and, as I had over a mile to walk each way, it meant from 5.30 to 6.30.  On arriving home at night, after a simple meal, I went into my little bedroom to study and often remained there until one o’clock in the morning.  The little window of the room where this was done looks out upon the Fold and I never see it without vivid memories of the struggle of those days.  My mother, who was most devoted to me and eager to help me all she could, used to waken me at five in the morning, and this I did for quite three years.  I saw, however, that some further help than my life in Tockholes promised was necessary and I resolved to go Darwen to live with my brother William at Hollins Grove.  He was an overlooker at Eccles’ Mill, and work there was secured for me.  I often vividly recall the day of my removal: it was a most trying experience.  I had never really been away from home before; it was the opening of a new chapter in my life history.  As already noted, my mother had been married to my uncle James, [see part one] but I felt greatly the wrench from her and the old home.  I took the way over the Winter Hill carrying in a parcel a few of my belongings.  When I reached the top, I looked behind it, the dear old home that I was leaving forever and before me at the town of Darwen in the Valley, a sort of mystery land, and though I was then a young man, I wept tears of deep sorrow.  My life in Darwen was not very eventful.  I joined the Church of  Belgrave, of which the Rev. James McDougall was pastor, and attended the young men’s class there, of which Mr Nicholas Fish was the teacher.  He was an able man and many of the young men subsequently rose to promise in the town and held impotent positions in the church.  Mr McDougall gave me such help as he could, but he was to busy a man to do much.  He got me my first preaching appointment, which was at the little chapel at Wiswell, near Whalley, which as since been replaced by the church at Barrow.  The building, which has been turned into cottages, will always be. Sacred to me, for there I took my first full service and preached my first sermon.  I remember well the time.  The leading man there was Mr Hugh Harrison, a most devoted Christian worker, who always took a great interest in me.  My sermon was on the text: “What think ye of Christ.” (Matt.xxii, 42.)  I had quite a good time and was so delighted with the opportunity of preaching that I refused a fee, even travelling expenses, and thought I ought to give the people something for the privilege of taking the service.  By a singular but happy coincidence, the cause at Wiswell was originated and the chapel built by a relative and namesake—Rev. Benjamin Nightingale, who was subsequently minister at Ramsbottom.

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College Life.
After some nine months, I made application to Nottingham Institute, now Paton College, and was admitted as a student in the autumn of 1873.  I well remember meeting the committee, before being accepted, when one member asked if I done much preaching.  I had to admit that I had had little opportunity of doing so.  “How do you know that you can preach then?”  Was the swift and somewhat stern question which I thought sealed my fate.  He was one of the College lecturers, and in reality a kindly old man whom I afterwards learned greatly to respect; but the question was harsh and harshly put, and the situation was saved by Dr. Paton, who put in the plea for me on the ground that opportunities for preaching had been lacking.  The course then extended to three years only, and it was intended for men who were either too old to take longer training or whose educational equipment was to imperfect to promise much success in a longer college course.  The English tutor was the Rev. F.S. Williams, and very elementary was some of the work we did with him and, of course, it needed to be to meet the requirements of the men.  Theology and New Testament Greek were taken by Dr. Paton and we had lectures on ecclesiastical history by the Rev. H.F. Ollard.
We lived in private house, and where I was were two others.  The institute was then in a most flourishing condition and the number of students was about 50.  With the exception of several Scotchmen there were few men from the north; mainly they were from the midlands and the south, and the two or three who, along with myself, came from Lancashire were always betrayed by their northern accent.  On one occasion in the sermon class, which was exceedingly good, one of the seniors, a Lancashire man, gave his lecture and I was selected by the principle to write a critique on the words, style and pronunciation.  This I did, and his Lancashirisms were singled out for special comment.  Dr. Paton greatly enjoyed it and said how true it is; “Set a thief to catch a thief.”  Once a month we had the communion service on Monday afternoon, when Dr. Paton gave a short address, and every other Monday afternoon there was a prayer meeting.  Those were very sacred and helpful gatherings.

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Vacation Experiences.
Connected to the institute were several mission stations, and every student was on one or more of these missions, which he attended once a week as well as Sunday if not preaching elsewhere.  The afternoon was spent in visitation and in the evening a service was held.  Thornwood Lane Hucknall and Arnold were the stations with which I was connected, and the training which those mission stations gave was in every way excellent.  Then we had a supply list which some times took us long distances and provided us with most interesting experiences.  One place which was quite a favourite with the students was Helpringham, in Lincolnshire, where I preached more than once.  There was a kindly old man there who, when the holiday drew near, used to speak of the vacation as the “vocation.”  He always wished us a good time during the “vocation” and said he would welcome our return.  Long journeys on foot, a seat in a milk cart or a market cart were not uncommon experiences in order to reach the little villages which were often miles away from any town.

During the vacation I returned to Darwen and usually had several preaching appointments.  Blacksnape, which recently celebrated its centenary, and Bolton Road School, now represented by the fine church somewhat lower down, both connected with Belgrave, were places where I frequently conducted services.  It has already been stated that Mr. Robinson came to Tockholes from Tossside, a country district a little beyond Clitheroe in side the Yorkshire border, and by his kind ness I was able to spend a week there talking two Sundays and visiting the homes of the people during the week, besides conducting cottage meetings.

I had now been at Nottingham a little while and I thought I knew all the theology that was to be known, or at any rate that was necessary, but hear I was disillusioned.  I had heard of antinomianism, but here I was brought face to face with it in its most pronounced form: At the cottage meeting on the Monday evening some of the leaders of the little church spoke to me about a good man who was of that way of thinking, and who had been at the services on the previous Sunday.  In the midst of the conversation there walked quietly in a certain individual, and the conversation immediately dropped.  I did not, of course, know him, but by a kind of instinct felt that that this must be the person in question.  I went on with the service, gave a short address on “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (HEB. Iv 9), and at the close intimated that the heavenly rest was open to all who believed in Christ and accepted Him as Saviour.

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Dr. Paton’s Influence.
I was advised to pay a visit to the person in question the following day, and we soon got on his favourite theme.  I found that he knew his bible well; at least all those passages that were supposed to uphold his views were at his finger ends.  He referred to the service of the previous evening, and said it was quite good until I got near the end, where I spoiled all by offering the heavenly rest to all.  “What business have you to do that?” said he.  “Only the elect and chosen few will enter there.”  In further conversation he said that there were “infants in hell a span long.”  It was perhaps a little presumptuous for a young man, but the only thing I could say that served to move him was; “Are you a married man and a parent?”  He replied in the affirmative.  “ I should shudder.” I said, “to be a parent if I knew that some of my children were doomed to perdition.”  It was altogether a most interesting experience and quite a revelation of what strange things men may believe, and that with a faith that scarcely anything can shake.
It was Dr. Paton’s custom in those days to select men from his students who were sufficient young, and who gave promise of fitness for a longer and severer academic training than the institute offered, and to send them to some other college; and to my surprise, after I had been there almost 12 months, he made choice of me with one or two more.  It was, of course, a distinct honour, but there were some difficulties in the way and I laid them before him.  He was exceedingly kind and sympathetic, but he assured me that if it could be done it would be of immense service to my future career.  I eventually gave my decision in favour of his suggestion.  The choice of college was not easy, for there was considerable suspicion of heterodoxy in relation to most of them.  Dr. Paton’s own preference would have been in favour of Spring Hill, but he was not sure of it.  Being a Lancashire man I was anxious to go to a Lancashire college, but it also was suspect.  My pleadings, however, eventually met with success and the rest of my time At Nottingham was occupied almost entirely with preparation for entering therein.
My Life at Nottingham extended to two years and they were exceedingly happy years.  I have often thanked God that it was my great privilege to be under Dr. Paton for so long a time.  He was in every way a great man, a distinguished scholar and a true Saint, and his influence upon his students was deep and lasting.  He more than once visited me for special services after I entered the ministry, and those visits are a most precious memory, for whilst he was perfectly human he was like an angel in the home.  It is interesting to remember that a brother of his, the Rev. R.B. Paton, BA was for some time minister at Park Road Blackburn.

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Back To Lancashire.
It was in the Autumn of 1875 that I entered Lancashire College, being one of 13 admitted at the time, the largest number known to have been admitted at once, and bringing the number of students in the college up to about 60, the largest number ever in college either before or since.  The principle was the Rev. Caleb Scott, BA LLB (later Dr. Scott).  He was most devoted to his work and no student in the college ever surpassed him in that respect.  That indeed, was the one thing about him that always impressed the students.  Whoever might be slack and indifferent the principal never was, and his lectures always indicated the most careful and through preparation.  He took Theology and New Testament Greek.  The arts were largely in the hands of Dr. Hodgson, a most genial kindly man whom the students greatly loved.  Some times, I am afraid, his good nature led to liberties being taken with him.  Dr. Thomson, minister of Rusholme road Congregational Church, gave assistance by taking the Hebrew class.  He also was a dear soul, knew his Hebrew Bible from cover to cover but there few men whom he filled with the enthusiasm for the Hebrew language which was his own.  During the arts course we went several times a week to Owens College.  The University had not then come into existence, and among the men there of whom I treasure any sacred memories was Dr. Wilkins, Who took us in Latin.  He knew his subject perfectly and had an interesting way of putting it before his students.  Dr. Wilkins was a Congregationalist and attended Rusholme Congregational Church, then under the pastoral care of Dr. Finlayson.  Later he was called to the chair of the Lancashire Congregational Union, and by a happy coincidence delivered his presidential address in Cannon Street Church, Preston, during my pastorate there.
 
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Hard Study.
Life at Lancashire College was very different from what it had been at Nottingham.  For one thing we all lived in the college and consequently saw sides of each other’s life and character which we had no opportunity of doing at Nottingham.  Then there were games of various kinds: cricket and football in their respective seasons, and many a stiff game at “Rugger” come vividly before me as I write.  I am free to confess that in my early days there, so different did the men seem from what I had been accustomed to see at Nottingham, that I was occasionally shocked, but I came eventually to see that nothing was lost by keeping alive the humorous side of life.  Then I was thrown into contact with men whose educational advantages had been so much greater than my own, who all their life, almost, had been in training in good schools, which made work for me exceedingly hard, and often necessitated long hours of study.  We had also quite a brilliant set of men in college at that time, among them Arthur N. Johnson MA, for many years Home Secretary of the London Missionary Society, whose father, Rev. G.B. Johnson was for some years minister at Belgrave, Darwen; W.H. Bennet. MA Litt. D, who subsequently became principle of the college and who stood in the forefront for his scholarship and learning; T.K. Higgs, MA, who for a time was minister at Greenacres, Oldham; and J.R. Murry, MA, who after long years secretary ship of the Church House, Manchester, is leaving for Church Stretton, in Shropshire.  I entered college at a time when Dr. Scott was most anxious to do degree work, and whenever possible a man was sent in for matriculation.  Almost the only degree open to us was that of London University, and at the end of the first year I sat for matric. With several others, but few of us got through.  I tried again the following January, having to go up to London for the purpose, and this time managed to pass in the first division. The certificate is date February 13 1878.  An interesting experience occurs to me as I write, which is worth relating.  I had been brought up in a somewhat strict school, and among other things had been taught to shun novels as dangerous and wicked things.  I must have read many a bit of fiction but I had never knowingly read a novel proper.  One of my fellow students urged me to read Sir Walter Scott, but I refused.  He urged me, however, again and again, and at last I yielded, taking by his advice “The Heart of Midlothian,” I was delighted with it and followed on with “Ivanhoe,” which completely fascinated me.  I kept on until I had completed the whole series.  One of my fellow students, whose study was beneath mine, used to tell how anxious he got about me when he heard me up late.  Thinking it was Scott with whom I was occupied he said, “He used to pray for me.”
My course at Lancashire College was considerably shortened owing to my previous Nottingham training, and in the spring of 1878 I accepted an invitation to the pastorate of Townsfield Congregational Church Oldham.  At Lancashire, as at Nottingham, my life was very happy and I often think with gratitude of the distinguished men at whose feet I was privileged to sit.

by Stephen Smith

 
  
 
 c1720-1778
 
 
 
James Hargreaves was born near Blackburn at a farm on the moors above Oswaldtwistle (the exact location is unknown). Relatively little is known about his early life, apart from the fact that he was a handloom weaver, unable to read or write, but with an interest in carpentry and engineering.  Details of his marriage and the birth of his children have been gleaned from the Parish Registers of Church Kirk.

In the 1760s Hargreaves and his family lived at Stanhill where they spun on a spinning wheel and wove on a handloom.  James had a keen interest in streamlining the various processes used in the production of cotton cloth - his first innovations improved the process of hand-carding, where the tangled fibres of cotton are teased out between two hand-held combs.  Hargreaves' 'stock-card' featured a wooden bench or 'stock' covered with carding wires, which allowed far more cotton to be carded by one person at once.

However, James Hargreaves' most famous invention was the Spinning Jenny, a machine which took the traditional spinning wheel and turned it 90 degrees to a horizontal position, allowing it to spin multiple spindles at once.  Debate still rages as to the origin of the name 'jenny'.  It is often claimed that Hargreaves' daughter Jenny knocked over an old spinning wheel one day, giving James the idea for his machine - sadly, this is just a romantic myth: the Registers of Church Kirk show that Hargreaves had several daughters, but none named Jenny (neither was his wife).  The word 'jenny' is in fact an early abbreviation of 'engine', simply referring to a machine or device.

The original machine was produced some time between 1764 and 1767.  It featured eight spindles onto which the cotton thread was spun from a corresponding set of rovings (roughly spun cotton).  This had a dramatic effect on the amount of thread that could be spun by a single person, although the early machines produced thread that was coarse and broke easily, only really suitable for the weft of a handloom (that which travels horizontally in the shuttle).
Hargreaves may have been a talented inventor, but he was not a shrewd businessman.  He didn't apply for a patent for his Spinning Jenny until 1770, by which time many others had copied his ideas, reaping the rewards that were rightly his.

Although Hargreaves originally produced the machine for family use, news of his invention gradually spread across the industrial North.  In Lancashire, traditional hand spinners saw the Spinning Jenny as a threat to their livelihood.  They realised that the machine could produce spun cotton thread far quicker and more cheaply than their traditional method.  An angry mob marched to Hargreaves' workshop, destroying his equipment and forcing him to leave the county.  He moved to Nottingham and built a small spinning-mill, using his Jennies. Although this venture was not particularly successful, Hargreaves continued to refine the Jenny increasing the number of threads from eight to eighty.

By the time of his death in 1778, over 20,000 of Hargreaves' Spinning-Jenny machines were being used in Britain, but despite being credited with the invention of this remarkable machine, James only received very modest financial returns and died in relative poverty. 
 
by Nick Harling

 Stanhill Post Office
 

 
 

 ​Samuel Crompton

 
1753-1827
Inventor of the Spinning Mule
 
 
 
Samuel Crompton was another great inventor from the north-west whose ideas revolutionized the cotton industry, but who received little personal gain for his efforts.  Crompton was born at a Bolton farm called Firwood Fold, but within five years his parents rented part of Hall i'th' Wood, a Tudor mansion now preserved as a visitor attraction.
 
As a youth, Samuel undertook various jobs including farmer, spinner and weaver, but he also displayed a keen and inventive mind as an accomplished musician and mathematician.  As a spinner, Samuel had encountered Hargreaves' Spinning Jenny and Arkwright's Water Frame and felt that by combining elements of both (the rollers of the Water Frame and the twisting action of the Jenny), he could produce a much more effective machine.  His first, hand-operated prototype was nicknamed the Spinning Mule, as it was a hybrid of the two earlier machines.
 
Almost as soon as Crompton had completed his first machine, he found himself in trouble with the local hand-spinners and handloom weavers, who saw any mechanization of the cotton industry as a threat to their livelihoods.  In 1779, Samuel had to dismantle his machine and hide it in the rafters of Hall i'th' Wood in order to avoid the unwanted attentions of the machine-breakers.
 
When the threat of physical harm had passed, it became clear that Crompton's Mule would make a huge difference to the spinning branch of the cotton industry.  Not only did the Mule produce a strong and very fine yarn, but larger versions, powered by steam engines, could spin thousands of spindles at once.  Indeed, many cotton magnates built factories especially to house these very long mules.
 
Sadly, Crompton's precarious financial position at the time of the Mule's invention meant that he could not afford to apply for a Patent for his machine.  Instead, he sold to rights to a Bolton manufacturer in order to raise some ready cash.  In the long run, this move must have cost Samuel thousands of pounds.  Despite a House of Commons award of £5000 for his invention (as late as 1812), Samuel Crompton's own cotton factory was a failure, and this great inventor died a pauper in his home town of Bolton in 1827.
 
by Nick Harling
 

 
 

Richard Arkwr​​ight

 
1732-1792
Inventor of the Water Frame
 
Rather than being an inventive genius, Richard Arkwright was a sharp-witted businessman who recognized the potential of other people's innovations, and made a very large personal fortune from developing them.  Preston-born to a very poor family, Richard was taught to read and write by a cousin, as his parents could not afford schooling.  His first job was as a barber's apprentice.  By 1762, he has founded his own wig-making company.
 
His first contact with the textile industry came during a  business trip when he met the Warrington watchmaker John Kay, who had spent some time trying to perfect a new spinning-machine, but had run out of funds.  Arkwright was very interested by Kay and his machine, offering to employ him and other local craftsmen to develop the invention.  The resulting Spinning Frame could produce stronger thread than the contemporary Spinning Jenny, but was far too large to be operated by hand.
 
Arkwright and his team tried various experiments using horse-power, but the reliability and cheapness of water-power won the day.  In 1771, Arkwright and his colleagues established a spinning and weaving factory on the banks of the River Derwent at Cromford, Derbyshire. The new invention became known as the 'water-frame'.
 
Thus established, Arkwright's mill required a huge workforce.  He built numerous cottages for his workforce and 'imported' factory operatives from all over Derbyshire, preferring weavers with large families who had plenty of children to work in the mill.  Cromford Mill was only the first in Arkwright's large and profitable empire of factories, which spread from Derbyshire into Staffordshire, Lancashire and up into Scotland.  Many of his mills took power from brand new developments in steam-engine technology.  In fact, Arkwright's mills were so profitable that rival millowners sent in spies to discover the secret of his success.
 
A testament to Arkwright's sharp business acumen came on his death in 1792, when it was found that he was worth half a million pounds, a staggering amount of money in the 18th century.
 
by Nick Harling
 

 
 

John Kay

 
1704-1780
Inventor of the Flying Shuttle

 
John Kay was born near the Lancashire town of Bury.  Very little is known of his early life, but by 1730 he had already applied to patent a machine for cording and twisting worsted.  However, it was a subsequent invention which really revolutionised the cotton weaving process and is now seen as one of the single most important inventions of the nascent industrial revolution.
 
Producing cloth on a simple handloom was a slow and labour-intensive process.  Passing the shuttle containing the weft through the 'shed' formed by lifting alternate warp threads was an awkward business - it effectively limited the width of cloth that could be woven to the length of the weaver's arm as he passed the shuttle through.
 
Kay's great innovation was to increase the speed at which the shuttle passed across the loom, and to increase the distance that it travelled. He installed two 'shuttle boxes' at either side of the loom, connected by a wooden track or 'shuttle race'.  The shuttle was propelled backwards and forwards along the race by means of a 'picking peg' which the weaver jerked from side to side.  The speed at which a piece of cloth could be woven increased dramatically.
 
Kay's 'Flying Shuttle' was the first true mechanization of the textile weaving process.  The success of Kay's invention greatly increased the demand for spun cotton, as weavers could now produce finished cloth far more quickly than they could be supplied with the spun thread.  The knock-on effect of this shortfall was for other inventors such as James Hargreaves and Samuel Crompton to mechanize the spinning process later in the 18th century.
 
Sadly, as with many other innovative men, Kay was not recognised as a prophet in his own land.  Greedy manufacturers refused to pay him royalties for his invention and machine-breakers raided his Bury home in 1753.  He left England for France shortly afterwards and is thought to have died in poverty.
 
His son Robert continued the Kay family tradition by inventing the 'drop-box' in 1769, allowing rapid interchange of multiple shuttles with different coloured threads on one loom.
 
By Nick Harling
 

 
 

Roger Haydo​ck 

  
Roger Haydock.jpg
 
Roger Haydock was an ancestor of mine. He was referred to as "Uncle Roger" and this picture of him hung in my Aunts' house for many years.I often wonderd how we were related. I have now discovered that he was my Great, Great, Great,Great Uncle, with Roger's sister Ellen being my direct ancestor. She was the Grandmother of John Aspden Ormerod, JP and Mayor of Blackburn.He was my Great Grandfather.
 
A book was written about him in 1912 , by the Rev. John Whittle."Owd Roger":Bible Colporteur and Primitive Methodist Lay Preacher. The story of a Bible-Inspired Life.
 
 "Owd Roger", as he was affectionately known, was born on 26th December 1809, or as he used to say " I am three days owder than Mester Gladstone".
 
Several other luminaries were born in this year - Tennyson, Darwin and Mendelssohn .
 
The Battle of Waterloo was won when he was only five years old, but he could remember the scenes of jubilation at Wellington's victory.
 
His father was George Haydock, a farmer and handloom weaver in Clayton-Le-Dale.Roger was the fourth of a family of twelve children. His father was well known in the district. He was singing master at Salesbury Church for 46 years.
  
He began work at an early age. At four he was a bobbin-winder. By seven he was acting as a minder to a handloom weaver and soon after took charge of the handloom himself. He carried his finished pieces to the "Putter-out" in Blackburn. First to James Fisher of Ainsworth Street and then to James Briggs of New Water Street.When work was available he earned from 8s to 12s a week.
 
He said" Things in those days were very dear; we were hampered on all sides; poor pay and expensive food. Tea was only a luxury for grown ups, children were never allowed to partake of it. The youngster's drink consisted of cloves, pennyroyal and such like.. Flesh meat was a luxury to be dreamed of, but very rarely to be tasted. We had "hasty puddings" three times a day, and for our Sunday dinner, potatoes and bacon collops. A family that could boast of a red herring meal was considered as belonging to the higher classes."
 
Mary Haydock.jpg 
 
Roger lived through turbulent times in his youth. In his early days wheat stood at famine prices and salt was taxed at thirty times its ordinary value.Thus he became a keen supporter of Free Trade and the abolition of the Corn Laws. He remembered the loom breaking riots of 1826 and the attack on the Dandy Factory in Blackburn.
The nearest town with an MP was Preston, with the Preston Guardian the only paper circulating in his area of Lancashire. As the cost of the paper was generally beyond the reach of the ordinary people, it was arranged that a different family would purchase it each week and make it available for all. At least this gave them an insight into the Parliamentary news of the day.
The Preston Guardian presented a supplement to one of its issues containing a portrait of the great Chartist Fergus O'Connor. This was considered such a prize that the villagers threw dice to see who would carry off this great treasure. Roger was the lucky winner and returned home in high spirits.
 
Roger with Bible van.jpg 
 
At twenty four Roger married Mary Howarth of Wilpshire at Blackburn Parish Church .The marriage produced nine children."Eawr Mary"(as Roger referred to her) had to teach her husband to read, as one of her first wifely duties.Soon after the marriage, Roger gave up weaving and changed his trade to quarryman, working at William Forrest's delph at Lower Cunliffe. In those days it was expected that quarrymen would consume large amounts of alcohol, and Roger was no exception.Indeed he was very popular with publicans for he was a good singer and dancer.He was persuaded to attend a temperance meeting in the old Music Hall off Mincing Lane, where Dr. Skinner, of Mount Street Chapel spoke eloquently about the evils of drink. This made such an impression on Roger that he signed the pledge that night. This was in 1841 and he remained faithful to the temperance cause for sixty three years.
 
He was to travel hundreds of miles, spreading the message of teetotalism.
 
He acted on impulse again when asked to become a seller of bibles known as a "bible colporteur". He was persuaded to give up his quarrying by John Baynes, local secretary to the British and Foreign Bible Society and Mayor of Blackburn in 1858-9.He promised him that he would earn £1 a week, whether he sold any bibles or not. Roger considered this to be a good amount of money, but was concerned that he wasn't suited to the task. However he agreed to take it on.
 
His fears were unfounded as he had great success and it was estimated that he sold more than 100,000 bibles and testaments to working people. He covered most of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire on foot, entering all the mills he passed on the way. For more than 20 years, he was to be found on Blackpool beach, during the summer season, where his wit and good humour made many converts.
 
Along with his Bible selling, Roger was a lay preacher for sixty one years on the Primitive Methodists' Blackburn First Circuit. The "Ranters" as they were known were very active in Blackburn. He preached in most of the villages and hamlets for many miles around Blackburn, as well as in the town itself.He and his wife were also Sunday School teachers, with Roger rising to the rank of Superintendent.
 
Primitive Methodist Church.jpg 
 
For many years, he spent his birthdays at Duxbury's Temperance Hotel on Railway Road, where he renewed old acquaintances.He attributed his longevity to "Temperance in all things, and the grace of God".
 
A stained glass window to his memory was erected in the Primitive Methodist Church, Montague Street. The inscription read "To call to remembrance the saintly character of Roger Haydock, Christian worker, Temperance reformer and worthy citizen, who entered into the reward of the pure and faithful, March 22nd 1904, aged 95. Blackburn had lost one of its most famous characters, who had outlived his contemporaries, his wife and even his own children. Only one daughter Ellen Walmsley,with whom he lived,remained.
 
His funeral, which was held at Montague Street Primitive Methodist Church was attended by family and a large contingent of religious, temperance and civic figures.
 
 by Diana Rushton
 

 
 
 

 ​Dr James Taylor Thom Ramsay

 
James Taylor Thom Ramsay was born in Dundee on July 14th 1854.  His father George was employed by the Harbour Trustees. His mother Margaret was the daughter of James Thom of Peterhead.  At the age of ten he joined the spinning department at Baxter Brothers and progressed via the weaving department to the mechanics' shop, where he completed his apprenticeship in 1872.
 
ramsay roe lee 1.jpg 
 
He worked from five in the morning until six at night and supplemented a meagre income by acting as knocker-up.  He devoted what spare time he had to study: Latin grammar and Euclid, and obtained a post as teacher to the blind.  Again the pay was meagre and he worked as a proof-reader on the Dundee Advertiser to make a living wage.  By now he was working eighteen hours a day.
 
 In 1874 James had obtained a scholarship at the Dundee High School.  In 1879 he matriculated at Edinburgh University, where the strain of over-work at last became too much and he suffered a breakdown.  He cured himself by taking a passage on a steamer bound for Newfoundland.  On his return he worked first as assistant to a doctor in Wharfdale  and then joined Dr Grime, the senior physician, in Blackburn.
 
ramsay roe lee bowls.jpg 
 
James returned to Blackburn after completing his studies at Edinburgh in 1891 and married Margaret Baines.  He became a familiar figure in the town with his frock coat and broad-brimmed, silk hat.  He succeeded Dr Grime as the Factory Doctor and was known to stand no nonsense.
 
James was first elected to the town council in 1896 as Conservative representative for St Mark's Ward.  He became an alderman in 1908 and was Mayor for the years 1922 - 24.  On 30th May 1923 he opened Roe Lee Park and is pictured above at the ceremony and left at the game of bowls afterwards.  He retired from the Council in 1930.  He served as a magistrate for 32 years, presiding over the Tuesday court and meting out justice tempered with mercy. He was a keen reader, being President of the Dickens Fellowship.  His paper on Burns, which he read at the poet's centenary, was widely admired.
ramsay funeral.jpg 
 
Dr J T T Ramsay died at the Royal Infirmary on the evening of Monday May 10th 1937 at the age of 82.  Typically only the day before he'd been at work, visiting patients.  After a funeral service at St John's his remains were cremated at Manchester Crematorium.  The flowers were laid in the Garden of Remembrance at Corporation Park, where family, friends and former patients could view them.
 

 
 
 

​​​David Johnson

 
 
David Johnson, a photography pioneer, was born in Blackburn in 1828. He was the son of William a grocer and corn miller and Hannah.Willam was born in Prescott in 1794 and Hannah in Kildwick, Yorkshire in 1784. The family lived on Northgate and David joined his father in the business. Census returns from 1851 have William listed as a corn dealer and cheese factor and David as a corn dealer and shop keeper.
By 1861, Hannah has died, William is still a corn dealer,and David is a photographer. In 1854 he built premises on the corner of Cardwell Place and Corporation Street, close to the scene of his famous photograph of the Peel homestead. He leased the ground floor to the Blackburn Times and he used the top floor as his studio.

We know that he exhibited 6 examples of his work at a photographic exhibition in Amsterdam in 1855.

Blackburn photographic.jpg 
 
After the 1861 Census the Johnsons no longer appear on the Blackburn Census. We do know that David had sold the business sometime in the 1860's as the company had become Blackburn Photographic and Fine Arts Company Limited (late David Johnson) of 3, Corporation Street.
 
David married Jemima Jones in Wrexham in 1863. In 1865 their 5 month old daughter Margaret Hannah died and was buried in Blackburn Cemetery. At this time they were living on Wellington Street St. John's.
 
 In 1871 David and Jemima are listed on the Census in Wrexham. They have a 1 year old son, William.  David's father William is also living there. He is a retired corn dealer and David is a corn miller.
 
William senior died in 1872, but came back to Blackburn for burial alongside his wife and grand-daughter.
  
 
10 years later on the next Census, Jemima is living in Chester with 2 daughters, Edith Margaret 9 and Elsie Evadne, 5. There is no sign of David or their son William. She has several boarders and 2 servants residing with her.
 
 
So what has happened to David? On the 1881 Census the only David Johnson of the right age and birthplace of Blackburn is in London in a private hotel. He is listed as having no occupation.William the son has disappeared by 1881 so it is likely that he died in infancy. In 1891 David, Jemima and their 2 daughters Edith and Elsie are living in Croydon, where he is described as a retired manufacturing chemist. By 1901 David is widowed and living with Elsie in Wandsworth. It looks like he died the same year, in Wandsworth.
 
 
According to the following account of David Johnson's life,by George Miller, he moved to the Metropolis and made his fortune from a drink "Zoedone". However in Flaubert's novel "Madame Bovary" there is a reference "Come round to Bridoux's now and have a glass of zoedone." As this was published in 1857, when Johnson was pioneering his photographic techniques in Blackburn, could he really have been the inventor?

Some new information has been supplied to us by Wrexham Local Studies Librarian.There was a Zoedone works  manufacturing mineral water drinks in Pentrefelin, Wrexham, with a London head office. The firm was established in 1880. It was the quality of the water which made Wrexham a popular place for brewing and drinks manufacture. So perhaps David Johnson was the owner?

From Blackburn Worthies of Yesterday, 1959-
 Local devotees of the photographic art are perhaps unaware that more than one disciple of W.H. Fox Talbot or David Octavius Hill flourished in Victorian Blackburn, and even achieved considerable fame outside its borders. I have in my possession a reproduction of David Johnson’s ambrotype photograph of the Peel homestead in Fish Lane, dated 1854, a fine, piece of craftsmanship from the hand of a master, and it is satisfactory to know that among the masterpieces of Victorian photography listed by the Arts Council in 1951 is a portrait entitled “A gentleman with a top hat”, by David Johnson, Blackburn, 1853.
It would be interesting to learn the identity of this top-hatted townsman of ours, or to know if this, or any other specimen of Johnson’s work survives.

David Johnson was an interesting soul, whose father was a grocer in Northgate, in which thoroughfare he too set up in business, down a narrow entry opposite Lower Cockroft. The premises are still tenanted by a picture-framer I believe. After the old property in Fish Lane had been demolished, he built the premises at the corner of Corporation Street and Cardwell Place. He used the upper rooms for his studio, leasing the ground floor to the proprietors of “The Blackburn Times” newspaper. Whilst residing in the Snig Brook area, he found that the Gawthorpe water then supplied to its inhabitants was injurious to health, being of a gravelly nature. This he promptly countered by patenting a filter, which he retailed to the neighbours at cost price.

Ultimately Johnson deserted Blackburn for the Metropolis, where he is reputed to have made a snug fortune out of a patent drink called “Zoedone”. A melancholy accident happened at his father’s death, when the coffin holding his remains was damaged in a railway accident at Clifton Junction near Bolton, when on its way to Blackburn for interment.


 
 
 
 

Two articles from the Blackburn Standard provide an insight into David's photographic skills.
 
LIFE-SIZE PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS
We had the opportunity the other day of seeing in the studio of  Mr. David Johnson,  a beautiful life-size portrait of the late John Addison, Esq.  The portrait was taken only a few weeks before the death of the lamented judge, and on the day he was taken ill in Blackburn he had arranged to call at Mr. Johnson’s for the purpose of seeing it.  It is only a striking likeness, but being life-size, it is more life-like than any miniature can possibly be.  The apparatus which Mr. Johnson has fitted up for the purpose of taking life-size portraits – of which the portrait of Mr. Addison is the first fruits – is very perfect, and has necessarily cost a great deal of money.  Perfect as it is, however, Mr. Johnson hopes to improve it, and to so simplify it that he will be able to produce life-size portraits at a comparatively trifling cost.  Looking at the great advance which such a speaking life-size portrait as that of the late John Addison, Esq., is on the dim miniatures which photography first produced, and that only a few years ago it is difficult, and would be hazardous, to set any limit to either the perfection or economy with which the ‘human face divine’ may in a few years be made almost to breathe from the canvas, if we may so speak, of the photographer.

From Blackburn Standard 17th August, 1859
 
LECTURE ON PHOTOGRAPHY, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.
 On Thursday evening, a lecture on photography, illustrated by experiments, and concluding with the exhibition of a series of photographic dissolving views, by Mr. David Johnson, photographic artist, was delivered in the ‘Oddfellows’ Hall, Heaton Street, to a large and delighted audience.  The room was crowded to the door.  The lecturer, in a simple and intelligible manner, sketched the history of photography from the time of the alchemists, who knew, but paid no attention to the fact, that the salts of silver were decomposed by light.  The fact remained simply a fact for centuries, till Wedgewood and Davy, in the course of their experiments, undertaken for the purpose of producing pictures by the agency of light, discovered, after several years experimenting, the secret of fixing the image produced by light, and making it permanent.  That was a great step in advance, but it was left for Talbot and Daguerre to discover the complete process of producing photographs and fixing them.  This they did in 1839, and it is a curious fact that the announcement of the discoveries they had each made, as the result of experiments carried on independently of each other, and without either of them knowing the nature of the other’s researches, took place in the same month of that year.  Talbot’s discovery was the process of producing photographs on paper; the discovery of Daguerre was that which was afterwards and still is known by the name of Daguerreotype, a photograph on silver. The discoveries of these illustrious names were further improved upon by men of science, and  the latest and most wonderful discovery in the art is that which was made by Mr. Scott Archer, of London, known as the collodion process.  At this stage of the lecture Mr. Johnson illustrated the collodion process, by going through it and producing before the audience a picture of Clitheroe Castle.  He then stated that Mr. Mercer, of Oakenshaw, had introduced a new process, which was still a secret, for producing blue photographs from a negative; and this blue could afterwards be changed to any other colour.  An experiment illustrating the first part of Mr. Mercer’s discovery, which has been imparted to Mr. Johnson, was then performed, and a portrait of the Rev. Mr. Macfie, in blue was produced.  This discovery, Mr. Johnson remarked, was a most important one, as the chemicals used by Mr. Mercer were simple and inexpensive, while the chemicals which were now used in photography were very expensive, being mostly gold and silver.  One firm in London, he stated, has last year dissolved two tons of silver for photographic purposes.  At the close of the lecture Mr. Johnson exhibited to the meeting a series of 29 photographic dissolving views, of cathedrals, castles, etc, closing up with some splendid views of sculpture.  The views in themselves were only about two inches square, but they were exhibited on a screen 18 feet square, being magnified about 15,000 times.  The light by which they were exhibited was the oxycalcium light, and the effect was astonishing and most gratifying.  In the course of the exhibition of the dissolving views, Mr. Rhodes played some choice pieces on the harmonium.  At the close of the proceedings Mr. Johnson was cordially thanked for his lecture and exhibition.
From Blackburn Standard  18th January, 1860
 
We are fortunate to have some examples of his work, particularly the photograph of Robert Peel's birthplace on Fish Lane(shown above) from 1854 and the newly built Town Hall from 1856. Some examples of his portraiture are on the previous page.
We also have 2 images of him - one a photograph, the other a portrait, from the Vladimir Sherwood painting "Laying the Foundation Stone of the Cotton Exchange".
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

John Thomas Baron​

 
(JACK O’ANN'S)
BLACKBURN'S MOST PROLIFIC POET




 
John Thomas Baron, Jack o’Ann’s
Blackburn, can proudly boast of having had many good poets over the years, some well known and popular in their time and known even today.  George Hull in his book “Poets And Poetry Of Blackburn” writes about 56 of them.  Names like William Billington, spring immediately to mind, he wrote many poems for various newspapers and two books, “Sheen and Shades” and “Lancashire Songs with other Poems and Sketches”.  He also kept a beer house on Bradshaw-street known as The Poets Corner, from where for many years he ran a literary club.   Another well known poet of that time was Joseph Baron (no relation to our subject) who wrote both a Blegburn Dickshonary and a Lankisher Dickshonary”  These, and most of the others written about by Hull at one time or another wrote poems in the Lancashire dialect.  But certainly the most prolific of our local dialect poets has to be our present subject, John Thomas Baron who, for over 30 years, with just one short break due to illness wrote a dialect poem each week for the Blackburn Times and never missed an issue.

John Thomas Baron was the son of John Baron, a card room grinder, and Ann Bond weaver; they were married on the 22nd of February1846.  John Thomas was the fourth of six children, two of whom died young.  He was born on the 1st of March 1856 at 42 Chapel-street Blackburn.  The surviving children were an elder brother, James and a younger brother William, who was born 19th April 1865. Like his brother, William became a poet and wrote under the name of “Bill o’Jacks.” There was also a sister, whose name I cannot find, she married a man called Ashover and for some time was the caretaker of the Ragged School, on Bent-street.
In 1859 John’s father became ill and so the family moved to the cleaner and healthier air of Blackpool. They resided at “Napier House,” 28 Chapel-street. Here for a fee of a penny-a-week John Thomas got his only education, a place was found for him in the infants department of the National School in Bank Hey-street, (just behind where the tower now stands.) His teacher was a Miss Jones who he described as: “An admirable and painstaking lady.  Her teaching was excellent.”  In 1865, when John had turned nine his education  came to an abrupt end when his brother William was born, his parents thought he would be more useful at home helping his mother.
 
 
42 Chapel-street where John Thomas Baron was born.
About a year after the birth of his brother William the family moved back to Blackburn for a short while.  Back in his hometown John Thomas got his first job as an errand boy at Anthony Welding’s saddlers shop, at 12 Darwen-street, but it did not last long.  After just six months back in Blackburn the family returned to Blackpool.  John Thomas soon found employment at a newly opened “Dick’s Shoe Establishment” in Lytham-street were he remained for the next two years.
On May 23rd 1869 at thirteen years old John Thomas was to suffer the greatest loss of his short life, it was the sudden death of his mother, who he adored.  One of the first poems he wrote was dedicated to her; he called it “A Mothers Love.” The first verse runs:
 
There is a flame, more pure and holy
Than that which burns at Beauty’s shrine;
‘Tis shared alike by great and lowly,
And once—ah, once!—‘twas mine.
It lingers sweet in recollection,
And haunts us wheresoe’er we rove—
The gleaming pole-star of affection;
It is—a mother’s love.
 
 
In 1919, on the fiftieth anniversary of her death he wrote another poem, called simply “IN MEMORIAM (Ann Baron died May 23rd 1869.)

The golden glory of a summer’s day
Streams from the azure dome wide-arched on high
As blossoms tell the presence of sweet May,
Yet sadly I behold them with a sigh.
On such a day—remembered with a tear—
Grief’s first great shadow o’er my life was thrown
Death struck (we recked not he was lurking near,)
The gentlest Teacher Youth had ever known.
 
 
Grieving at the loss of his wife John Baron decided to move and on Whit-Monday, 1870 the family came back to Blackburn.  Within a few days of their return John Thomas got an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner at Dickinson’s Phoenix Foundry Bank Top, the firm made looms and other textile machinery. He would  remain there for the next fifteen years.
 
 Phoenix Iron Foundry: John served his apprenticeship here as a fitter and turner
 
While still an apprentice he began to write poetry seriously and had some of them printed in various magazines including “Oldbury Lyrist,” “Young Folks,” “Rambler,” “Echoes from the Lyre,” and “Dick Snowdrop’s Journal.”  His brother William latter recalled a tale about this journal, he said:  “My brother had hardly passed out of his teens, but even at that early age he had written some fifty or sixty [poems] for the Journal, and was easily, with the exception of “Dick Snowdrop” himself, its most prolific contributor.  One morning he received a letter from “Dick” inviting him for supper at the editor’s domicile, as slight acknowledgement of his services, and needless to say, this bit of recognition on the part of his editor excited my brother considerably.  On the appointed evening he set forth in high spirits, with visions of an epicurean banquet floating before his eyes.  But alas, he was quickly to be disillusioned, for the feast he had so eagerly looked forward to eventually materialized into a plate of potato pie, and nothing more.”
In an article for Blackburn Times in 1978, J.S. Miller wrote about John Thomas, he said: “He widened his experience by joining the local Artillery Volunteers, being promoted Sergeant when he was only 19—the youngest in the Corps.  While engaged in manoeuvres at Southport, he gashed his thumb on a jagged part of the gun mechanism, and reported to the duty surgeon in order to have his wound attended.  When the officer asked what on earth he had been doing, the poet promptly retorted, ‘Shedding my blood for my country, Sir.’” He was to remain in the Volunteers for seven years.
 
The first poem he had printed in a newspaper appeared in the Blackburn Times of October 14th 1876, when he was twenty.  The poem was called “Hope” and is written in plain verse.  He also began to contribute poems to many other newspapers, including the “Blackburn Standard,” “Preston Chronicle,” “Blackpool Gazette,” “The Oldham Chronicle,” “The Accrington Times,” and “The Blackburn Weekly Telegraph.”  His second poem in the Blackburn Times was printed on November 17th 1877 and was called “Art and Song” which Edwin Waugh, perhaps the greatest Lancashire poet of the time, had a great deal of admiration for and said that he hoped the author would long be spared to produce poetic work of such quality.  John had no poems printed in the Blackburn Times in 1878, however one appeared in the Preston Chronicle of August 1879 called “Song of the War King.”  All these were written in plain verse, he had not yet got into the dialect, at least not into getting it printed.
 
On Thursday May 1st 1879 at 5.30 in the morning, Montague-street Congregational Church held a “May Morning Breakfast” which attracted over 400 diners at a shilling a head.  After the meal a public meeting was held when another 400 people came to watch the proceedings.  They were entertained with music, recitations and speeches.  Prizes were offered for the best two poems on the subject of  “May Time,” John won the first prize which was Tennyson's complete works in eleven volumes, he was twenty three years old at the time.
 
As a poet John used many nom-de-plumes “Trouncer,” “Borona,” “Jounty Baronious,” “John Brannot,” “Bob o’ Clinkems,” “Jacobite,” “Tummy Tulip,” “Byronic-B,” “J.T.B.” “John T. Baron,” “Jo Hotbrann,” “Baron.”  Another name he used was “Nora B,” There were not many local female poets at this time and it was thought that “Nora B” was one of them.  Perhaps he wanted to write some sentimental poems, which he felt he could not do using the name of a man.  Eventually it was realised that “Nora B” was simply Baron backwards!  His most famous non-de-plume by far was “Jack o’Ann’s—this way of writing a name continued an old Lancashire custom, it means Jack of Ann’s or Jack son of Ann—which he wrote most of his dialect work under.   George Hull tells an amusing story in his book  “The Poets and Poetry of Blackburn” (written in 1902) he says: “For a long time after Mr. Baron adopted the nom-de-plume of “Jack o’Ann’s,” he kept his identity secret… While on his way to work, Mr, Baron met, in Salford an old shop mate who had often read and admired the poems, signed “John T. Baron” or “J.T.B.”… This admirer asked his poet friend if he could tell him “who that `Jack o’ Ann’s` was?”  Our poet answered evasively, that he was not at liberty to divulge printing-office secrets; and this answer proved affective.  When, however they had parted at the bottom of Eanam brow the inquirer suddenly stopped and called out to the poet, some forty yards away—
 
“Heigh Jack.”
“Well; what’s up?”
“Tha’s written some fairish bits i’ th’ pappers neaw an’ ageon; but tha’rt a foo compared to yon `Jack o’ Ann’s.`”
In May 1877 John married Sarah Watson with whom he had seven children, four boys and three girls, sadly two of the boys died in infancy.  He wrote a poem to the memory of one of his dead sons (see below.)  In 1885 he left Dickinson’s foundry and moved to Henry Livesey’s Greenbank works, where he was to remain for the rest of his working life.  About a year after this change, on October 30th 1886 he had his first dialect poem printed in the Blackburn Times under his pen name “Jack o’Ann’s.”  He had expected to see it in the usual poets corner of the newspaper, but to his surprise the Times printed it in a place of its own and called it “Rhymes in the Dialect.”  The poem was called “A Comfortable Smook.” The following week—November 6th 1886—a short poem called “Audley” by a poet with the initials “W.P” appeared in the “Rhymes in the Dialect” column, with “Jack o’Ann’s dialect poem “To the River Blakewater” appearing in the usual poets corner.
 
The next dialect poem John had printed in “Rhymes in the Dialect” was a very touching poem called “Johnny’s Clogs.” This poem was about the loss of one of his children.  I have copied it in full:
 
JOHNNY’S CLOGS
 
Howd on, theer!  Dunnot use ‘em rough but put ‘em gently deawn;
They’re nobbut hawf-worn clogs to yo, wi’ tops o’ musty breawn;
To me, they’re sacred links ‘at bind my thowts to one i’ th’ mowd;
Eawr Johnny wore those clogs afooar Deeath med him stiff an’ cowed;
They’re but a pair o’ little clogs, wi’ irons rusty red,
Yet thowts they wakken i’ my heart, ov a life-star ‘at’s fled.
For th’ gloom o’ grief seems darker neaw, an’ Life’s nowt near as sweet
As when he used to welcome me wi’ hooam smiles every neet.
Tho’ th’ sod’s bin o’er him money a while, to life he’s gi’en a grace;
Oft reawnd my cot aw wond’ring stare—there’s summat eawt o’ place.
Thad lad wur th’ best mate ‘at aw hed i’ sunshine or i’ storm.
Wur aw a King, my creawn aw’d give, to clip th’ familiar form.
No other eye could shine like his; his speech, so soft an’ mild,
Fell o’ my ears like music-strains,—he wur my darling child.
No hand seemed hawf so nice to grip, nor greetin’ e’er so kind
As his; an’ neaw aw seem to hear his voice I’ every wind.
Last neet, aw see a little star, ‘at fairly pleased my eye,
It seemed o ov a flutter theer, heigh up i’ th’ dusky sky.
An’ then a thowt flashed thro’ my mind ‘at med my eyeseet dim.
He wur My child! Aw stood on th’ earth an’ looked tort Heaven’ on him.
Con he be waitin’ for me theer, hawf-way fro’ th’ gowden Throne?
Wur them his wings ‘at fluttered breet heigh i’ thoose realms unknown?
His bonny face seems allus near, an’ th’ love for him shall be
Held sacred i’ this heart o’ mine reight to Eternity.
 
 
For the next thirty-three years he was the sole contributor to “Rhymes in the Dialect” and not once did he miss handing in a dialect poem for the column.  George Hull says that after his first poem was printed in “Rhymes” he never wrote anything for another newspaper.
 
 It should be remembered that while he wrote his weekly contribution to the Times he was working full time at Livesey’s Greenbank Foundry, he was also was an official for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.  To their credit Henry Livesey’s gave him time off to fullfil his writing obligation to the Blackburn Times when he become well known as a poet.
 
In 1889 on Edwin Waugh’s 71st birthday, John wrote a poem which he dedicated to the writer, it was called “To Edwin Waugh (on his 71st birthday”) which had the prefix “Tha good owd King o’ Trumps—God bless thi silver yure!”  At this time Waugh was living in Brighton and so John sent him a copy of the poem together with a letter.  Waugh wrote back: “It’s a cheering thing at my time of life to feel that I have the friendship and good wishes of so many of the people of my native county.”
 
According to George Hull John Thomas wrote “for amusement rather than the instruction of the reader”, he seemed to enjoyed writing poems describing events, such as New Years, Valentines day, Pancake Tuesday, Easter, and Christmas, although these were annual events the poems he wrote about them when their times came around were never the same.  He also wrote about the annual holidays, about  going on and coming back from.
 
By 1906 John had been writing for “Rhymes in the Dialect,” for 20 years and on the 13th of January of that year, he had his one thousandth poem printed in that column, The poem was called “’Lectioneerin” it told of the troubles a man went through on the days leading up to an election, how he was pesterd by his friends, neighbours and politicians trying to win him over to their way of thinking.  In the same Issue George Hull wrote a poem and called it “A Tribute To Jack o’Ann’s”
 
An article printed in the Blackburn Times for the occasion said: “it would be absurd to claim that every single rhyme…would satisfy a highly critical taste, but when we recall the fact that the “Rhymes” which are from half to three-quarters of a column long, have never once failed to appear at the appointed time…we are filled with amazement.”  The article goes on to tell how John had over the years been in correspondence with such well known authors and poets as Harrison Ainsworth, Samuel Carter Hall, Ruskin, and R.D. Blackmore who all applauded his dialect and plain verse poetry.  It also quotes John as saying: “I have endeavoured at all times to give my readers something fresh and tried to show the people just as they are or were.  My great aim has been to be a help and consolation to my fellow workers. My greatest difficulty is to find a suitable subject, that found, the rest is fairly easy.”
 
John carried on writing poems for the Blackburn Times until June 1919 when, at 63 years old, he suffered a serious illness, which confined him to his bed.  The illness prevented him contributing his poetry  the Blackburn Times and the Editor reprinted some of his older work beginning with “A Comfortable Smook.”  William, his brother, said that during this illness when he found he was unable to contribute to the Blackburn Times, he cried like a baby. By October however John was on the mend and on the 16th of that month he resumed his  “Rhymes in the Dialect” with a poem called “A Day at Blackpool.”  Once again John was writing a poem a week for his “Rhymes in the Dialect” and he continued for a further two years until 1921.  On the 7th of June 1921 his brother William received a letter at his home in Rochdale from John.  William said: “The feeble and uneven scrawl off the envelope—so unlike his usual flowing hand-writing—filled me with fears and misgivings, and these were only too speedily realised as I opened the letter and hastily scanned its contents.”  It told William that his brother was seriously ill and he wanted him to go immediately to his home.  When William arrived there he was shocked at the great change in his brother.  The once strong and healthy man had wasted to a shadow.  He was however still cheerful and they talked of the old days, of authors and poets.  Old friends of the poet were constantly visiting the house.   One fellow poet who visited the house was John “Jack” Rawcliffe who was about to sail the following day for a new life in America.  During their conversation the name of William Billington came up and some comment was made about the poets work.  At that Jack Rawcliffe jumped up and said: “Neaw aw’m nooan avin’ a word ageon Billington’s poetry, becose moast on it’s gradley good stuff, but no poet should write on subjects as he knows nowt abeawt, an’ that’s what he’s done.  For instance, just tek his poem, “Look under t’ leeoves iv yo want ony nuts.”  Why its ridiculous, to say t’ leeast on’t.  Nuts ripen i’ t’ sun, as every foo’ knows, and yo’ll hev to look aboon t’ leeaves for em not under, iv yo want to find ony.  But ther’s one thing certain, if Billington hed bin forced to gooa gatherin’ nuts to fill place o’ butter cakes, like eawr Dick an’ me hed to do mony a time as lads, he’d hev known better than to mek sich a silly blunder.”
  
John Rawcliffe.jpg 
John Rawcliffe poet and friend of John Thomas Baron
  
With much difficulty John continued writing Rhymes in the Dialect until December 31st 1921 when he contributed his last poem called “A December Nights’ Dream.”  His health was rapidly deteriorating, and on February 3rd 1922 he died at his home at 92 Scotland Road aged 65.  The funeral took place on Wednesday 8th of February when he was interred in the Blackburn cemetery, Whalley New-road.  As well as family many of his old friends also attended the funeral including George Hull, the author, James Rostron, Editor of the Blackburn Times, and Mr and Mrs. Robinson who represented the Lancashire Authors' Association.
 
On March 17th 1924 the Mayor and Mayoress welcomed the Lancashire Authors Association to Blackburn when they held a commemorative meeting for John at the lecture hall.  They talked of the contributions John had made to dialect poetry and also discussed the direction dialect poetry was going.  Someone suggested that it would be a grand memorial to Jack o’Ann’s if a selection of his work could be made into a book, but this was never done.  After the meeting they moved onto the library where, in the art gallery an enlarged photograph of John Thomas Baron framed in oak was unveiled by William Baron and presented to the Corporation.  The frame had the inscription “John Thomas Baron, “Jack o’Ann’s,” author of Rhymes in the Dialect.  Born March 1st 1856, died February 3rd 1922.  Presented by the Lancashire Authors’ Association, March 1923.”
 
After this they went to the cemetery where the chairman of the L.A.A. laid a laurel wreath at the poet’s grave. The day finished with tea and a public meeting back at the lecture hall, where James Baron, one of John’s sons, read a poem written by his father.
 
In his day John Thomas Baron was a very popular and prolific local poet.  In 35 years he wrote about 1,800 dialect poems for the Blackburn Times.  It is thought that he must have wrote at least 3000 poems altogether. 
 
Expatriates from all over the world who had their origins in East Lancashire and had the Blackburn Times delivered through the post would contact the paper saying how the poems of Jack o’Anns brought a little bit of Lancashire to their adopted part of the world.
 
It is unfortunate and surprising that a compilation of his poetry was not put together until 1978.  At that time his great-grandson, John Baron of Accrington made an anthology of almost 150 poems by John Thomas Baron and called it appropriately “A Cotton Town Chronicle.”  In it are verse in both dialect and plain verse and is well worth reading if you can borrow a copy.
 
 ​The grave of John Thomas Baron at Blackburn’s Whalley New-road Cemetery
 
 
 
I will finish by giving you the very first poem “Jack o’Anns” wrote for the column Rhymes in the Dialect.
 
“A Comfortable Smook.”
Aw,m bothered nooan wi’ acres broad, nor burdened mitch wi’ wealth;
For tried friends aw’ve a ready hand, an’for misel’ good health!
When work is o’er, at hooam aw sit i’ th’ cosy cheer i’ th’ nook,
An’ reych my pipe deawn to enjoy a comfortable smook.
There’s doctors, nobs, an’ simple fooak, wi’ faces long an’ pale,
‘At’s fairly shocked at pun or jooak or gradley merry tale.
They say as 'bacco’s pisenous, an’ dolefully they look
On every hearty cock who loves a comfortable smook.
It’s nowt to me, they suit thersels, they’ve narrow hearts an’ brains;
They suit thersel’s—but nobr’y else,—an’ ged chaffed for their pains.
Mi grondad wur a veteran bowd, who fowt wi’ th’ “Iron Duke.”
He oft enjoyed—an’ sooa will aw!—a comfortable smook.
When sorrows linger reawnd my mind, an’ try to poo me deawn,
Aw leet my pipe—a puff o’ wind, an’ troubles leave my creawn.
They ged i’ th’ draft wi’ t’ smook; up flue they fly, an’ quit my nook.
There’s nowt ‘at kills care sooner than a comfortable smook.
It’s th’ true philosophy o’ life to tek things as they come;
An’ if yo have a gradely wife an’ childer reet at home,
Yo’ needn’t cry o’er th’ Past, nor try to peer i’ th’ Future’s book;
Use th’ Present weel, an’ calmly tek a comfortable smook.
I’ winter time, when neets are dark, an’ blustry winds blow cowd,
My pipe, lit wi’ contentment’s spark, brings hooamly joys untowd.
When summer fleawrs i’ th’ sunleet gleeam aw ramble deawn bi th’ brook,
An’ birds sing for me while aw hev a comfortable smook.
Aw’ve oft watched th’ smook arise an’ curl i’ queer shapes o’er my head,
But queerer thowts hev filled my brain wi’ th’ fancies ‘at they’ve bred.
Like ‘bacco, Life soon burns away, eawr ashes gooa to th’ rook;
So while Life lasts, live reight, an’ tek a comfortable smook!
 
 
by Stephen Smith
 

 
 
 


 
 1912-1953
 
Kathleen Mary Ferrier was born at 1 Bank-terrace, Higher Walton on April 22 1912.  She was the youngest Child of William and Alice Ferrier, her sister Winifred was eight years older and her brother George five years older.

When Kathleen was eighteen months old Alice persuaded William to apply for the headship of St. Paul’s School Blackburn, when he got the position the family removed to 57 Lynwood-road in the town.  Kathleen was just three years old when she began to learn the piano.  One day while playing a simple tune with one finger she burst into tears saying to her cousin who was listening, “I want to play, and I can’t play properly”.  When Kathleen was five she was sent to St. Silas’ school, but after hearing rumours that the school was unhealthy her mother removed her and sent her to Crosshill, which was then the junior section of the Girls High School, here she excelled in all aspects of school life.
At nine Kathleen’s mother decided that she should have piano lessons.  She was taken to see Miss Frances Walker, who was very highly regarded as a music teacher.  At first Miss Walker told Kathleen’s mother that she did not take beginners, but was finally persuaded to take her on.  Again this was something that Kathleen excelled in.  At the age of fourteen the Blackburn Times reported that; “Miss Kathleen Ferrier, daughter of Mr. W. Ferrier, head master of St. Paul’s School has achieved an unprecedented success in passing in the final grade the Associated Board R.A.M., and R.C.M. examinations at the extremely early age of fourteen.”
 
 
Kathleen aged 14.jpg 
 
When a choir was formed at her school, each pupil was tested individually, after hearing Kathleen sing the music teacher told her; “yes, I will have you in the choir because you sing in tune, but be careful to sing softly.  Your voice is husky.”
 
At fourteen the decision was made by her parents that Kathleen should leave school, and in July 1926 she started work as a probationer at the Blackburn Post Office, her duties included addressing envelopes, and distributing telegrams.  She was very popular amongst the other girls and was not averse to telling jokes to the telephonists as she walked passed them.  Being a good tennis player it wasn’t long before she was chosen to play for the Post Office Club Team.  When not at work she was a member of the Girl Guides.  She also enjoyed visiting her cousin’s house where they would hold impromptu concerts.
 
 
In November 1928 the Daily Express held a national competition for piano playing.  The event was split into regions, with the final held in London, Kathleen entered the northern regional contest which she won; the prize for this was an upright piano. The Blackburn Times of 1st December 1928 reported:
 
“… Today I have heard that Miss Kathleen Ferrier, daughter of Mr. W. Ferrier, headmaster of St. Paul’s school, and a pupil of Miss F.E. Walker, the well known teacher of pianoforte, has won a piano in a national competition for piano playing.  There were 20,000 entries in the competition organised by the Daily Express, and Miss Ferrier, who was only 16 years of age, has won her prize in Grade B of it.  I offer my heartiest congratulations to Miss Ferrier and her very gifted music mistress on the distinction she has attained.”
 
When the finals were held her mother was ill and so Kathleen went to London with her sister Winifred.  There were 72 regional winners taking part, however when the six overall winners were announced Kathleen’s name was not amongst them.
 
She continued playing the piano, and at twenty played at King Georges Hall Blackburn taking part in a duet with the violinist Louis Godowsky.
 
In 1934, aged 22, Kathleen was transferred to the Blackpool Post Office, here she took up table tennis and played for the Post Office in the Blackpool league.  A year later she was selected along with eleven other telephonists from the Blackpool exchange to enter the “Golden Voice” competition. The object was to find a suitable voice to be used for TIM, the speaking clock.  She was not the one chosen, the reason she gave was that she had added an extra aspirate in the reading test.
 
On the 19th of November 1935 Kathleen married Albert Wilson at Hillside Methodist Chapel, Brinscall.  They had met at one of her concerts, some of her close friends however did not think he was the right man for her, and so it proved, for in 1946 the marriage was annulled.  The marriage meant the end of Kathleen’s career at the telephone exchange, at that time they did not employ married women, and for the next few years she settled for being a housewife.  The couple first lived at Warton, near to Carnforth, Albert was a bank manager and when later he was transferred to Silloth they moved in to a house there.
 
Rape of Lucretia.jpg 
 
Kathleen continued with her piano playing, and joined the Silloth Choral Society as their accompanist.   In 1937 she entered the “Open Piano Class” at the Carlisle Festival.  Albert bet her a shilling that she would not dare to enter the singing contest; she took him up on the bet.  She got first prize in the piano class winning the “Dr. Lediard Memorial Trophy,” and was also first in the singing class, for which she won the “Silver Rose Bowl,” after this she began to be offered singing parts in local opera and was even paid 7s 6 for singing at a church Harvest Festival.
 
At a Festival held in Workington in 1938 she won a Gold Cup for singing Vaughan William’s “Silent Noon.”  By now she was able to begin a “newspaper cuttings book” showing the places where she had appeared.
 
On the 23rd of February 1939 Kathleen made her first radio broadcast for the BBC at their Newcastle studio.  The programme was called “Hark Forrard” and was broadcast live at 8.30, she sang “Curly headed Baby,” “Mighty Like a Rose,” and “The End of a Perfect Day” with the Millom Male voice Choir.  She made further broadcasts at the Newcastle Studio, even though travelling there from Silloth was difficult.
 
In 1939 she once again won the singing contest at the Carlisle Festival.  One of the adjudicators at this time was Dr. J.E. Hutchinson, who later was to become Kathleen’s singing teacher.  He was able to iron out the one or two small problems she had with her voice, he also extended her repertoire. By now the War had started and in 1940 Albert was conscripted into the army, this event was possibly the beginning of the end of the Wilson’s marriage.  Kathleen had always sung under her married name but when Albert was called up, she reverted back to her maiden name, Kathleen Ferrier.   Soon after Albert had joined the army Winifred got a teaching post at Carlisle, Kathleen and her father left Silloth and the three of them moved into a small house in the town.  Kathleen used to tell people that the house was so small that she had to open the back door to use the oven. 
 
Early in 1941 she auditioned before Eve Kisch and joined CEMA—the Council for the Encouragement of Music—this group toured towns, factories and army camps bringing some entertainment in the dark days of the war.  In 1942 Kathleen got an audition with John Tillett of the classical music agency Ibbs and Tillet.  She went with her sister and sang a short selection of songs for him, and he accepted her onto his books.  Now she had a London agent she was advised by Malcolm Sargent to base herself in the capital.  Luck seemed to be with her because a few days after her audition her sister was offered a job there which she accepted.  While things were arranged about their move to London, Kathleen continued her work with the CEMA, appearing in such diverse places as Cockermouth, Holmes Chapel, Newcastle and Runswick.  By Christmas Eve 1942 their new flat in Hampstead was ready; they moved in and were able to spend Christmas day in their new home.
 
Kathleen gave her first London recital on the 28th December1942, It was a lunch time concert held at the National Gallery before a large audience.  She still felt, however that she needed further voice training and so took the baritone Roy Henderson as her new tutor.  Her next event, and the biggest up to this date, was at Westminster Abbey, in the Messiah, with the soloists Isobel Baillie, and Peter Pears.  The performance took place on the 17th May 1943 and was a huge success for all concerned.
 
Sir John Barbirolli.jpg 
 
Her first move into gramophone records was made in 1944 with Columbia.  For her first record she chose two songs, “O Praise the Lord” and “I will lay me down in Peace,” it was issued in September of that year.  When her contract with Columbia ended she left them—she had not been happy there, and on the advice of Roy Henderson signed with Decca which was the one he recorded for.  She was kept busy with more and more prestigious engagements culminating in 1945 when Kathleen auditioned for and was accepted to sing in that year’s Proms which was held on the 15th September, for the event she sang “L’Air Des Adieux.”
 
Benjamin Britten had written an opera called “The Rape of Lucretia”, having seen Kathleen in her performance at Westminster Abbey. He persuaded her to take the part of Lucretia.  It was performed at “Glyndebourne,” an opera house near to Lewes in Sussex and ran from 12th July 1946.  After Glynbourne it went on tour around the country and then on to Amsterdam where it was a hugh successes.  Her next opera opened on June 19th 1946 this was “Orfeo ed Euridce” in which she took the part of Orfeo, the opera was again done at “Glyndebourne.”  It was another huge success for Kathleen who took sixteen curtain calls.  At the 1947 Edinburgh festival Kathleen sang “Das Lied von der Erde”, she was seen here by visitors from all over the world and it resulted in offers to sing in these countries.  She got an invitation from America which would include appearing at Carnegie Hall.  She accepted the offer and on the 1st January 1948 she set sail for New York.  Her debut in America was at Carnegie Hall were she together with Set Svanholme, tenor, and with Bruno Walter conducting, she sang Das Lied von der Erde.  She also visited Ottawa, Illinois, and Chicago, before returning to New York and home.  Kathleen made a second tour of the States in 1949 where she visited New York, Granville, Ohio from there she went to Montreal, Canada then back to America going to Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Newark and New York before returning home.  She made many other visits abroad going to Amsterdam; in June 1949; a third tour of America between December 1949 and April 1950 and Italy in 1951.  It was here she was told of her father’s death.  She also visited Germany, and the Netherlands.
 
Kathleen in 1953.jpg 
 
It was about the time of the German tour that she found a lump on her breast.  On her return home she went to University College Hospital where after extensive tests she was diagnosed with breast Cancer, she was told, that it needed to be removed immediately. All her concerts for the next two months had to be cancelled.  Kathleen went into hospital on the 9th of April and had the operation on the 10th.  After three weeks she was allowed home, but had to visit the hospital every day for treatment.  Her return to singing took place on the 19th of June 1951 at the Royal Albert Hall, where she sang Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” this was followed by a gruelling tour around the country.  She felt well enough to make her usual trips to the Holland and Edinburgh Festivals.
 
On the 30th April 1952 she was asked to sing at a private party before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.  Kathleen said about the event, “It was suggested by one of their ladies that they had a little do, [The King had only recently died] and I am told they have cheered up considerably at the Idea—so ain’t that nice.”  Later while visiting Burnet Pavitt’s house, David Bowes Lyon, brother to the Queen Mother, came in and asked if she would sing for the Queen the following night.  She replied “I’m sure the poor love would rather sit with her feet up.”  She did go however, and sang some Schubert and some folk songs.  She would sing again for the Royal Family at a private performance held at the Chapel Royal, Windsor, on the 2nd November 1952.  December 23rd saw Kathleen perform the Christmas “Messiah” which was described as quite wonderful.
 
KF memorial Garden Higher Walton.jpg 
 
In the New Years honours list Kathleen was awarded the C.B.E., but was too ill to attend the Investiture which took place on the 17th of February 1953, at Buckingham Palace.  She was told that another date would be arranged for the event in the summer.  She was not altogether disappointed however, because Sir Benjamin Ormerod brought a length of ribbon in the C.B.E. colours and pinned it to her pillow.  She was once again receiving treatment in hospital, and when she was finally discharged it was found that she could no longer get up the steps to her flat.  A maisonette was found for her in Hamilton Terrace, St. John’s Wood, which she took, and moved into in early April.  In June she was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal this is one of the highest wards that can be given to a musician. It was to be presented to her in hospital but she was too ill to receive it and so it was given to her when she was feeling a little better.  She wrote the Society a letter stating how grateful she was for the award.  About August Kathleen became desperately ill, for a few days things looked bleak but then she rallied, and her sister decided to take a short holiday in the Lake District.  After only two days Winifred received a phone call saying that Kathleen had got worse again she caught the train to London where she went straight to the hospital.
 
Six weeks after this while talking to a nurse Kathleen said, “wouldn’t it be lovely if I could just go to sleep and not wake up.”
 
Kathleen died peacefully on the morning of 8th October 1953, she was just 41 years old.
 
Her wish was to be cremated at Golders Green Crematorium as her father had been. The private service took place on Monday the 12th October; it was conducted by the Rt. Rev. C.K.N. Bardsley, Bishop of Croyden.  On 23rd October a tribute was paid to Kathleen at Blackburn when some 2500 attended a concert arranged by Sir John Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra.  Many more memorial services were held for her over following months.
 
On the 7th October 1954, another memorial service was held at the King Georges Hall Blackburn.  Once again it was done by Sir John Barbirolli.  A bronze head of Kathleen was unveiled; it was the work of an Australian sculptor Arthur J. Fleischmann.
 
In 1967 all Kathleen’s musical scores were obtained by Blackburn Library and Museum.  Her C.B.E. and Gold Medal from the Royal Philharmonic Society were also given to the town by her sister Winifred.
 
A sheltered housing complex was opened in Blackburn in 1986 and named after Kathleen.  In 1993 The Kathleen Ferrier Society was formed to mark the fortieth anniversary of her death, its aims are to celebrate the life and music of Kathleen.
 
There is also the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship Fund which holds an Annual Competition before a public audience at the Wigmore Hall in London every April. Here young professional singers compete for cash prizes plus the chance of instant international recognition.
 
The Hymn Tune Composed by Kathleen.jpg 
 
In 1936 the Choir master of Withnell Fold, Howard Roberts, wrote a Vesper but could not find a tune for it.  He asked Kathleen if she would compose a tune which she did and called it Withnell Fold.  Long after Kathleen’s death it was sung at Withnell Fold schools Harvest Festival and appeared on both Granada T.V. and the B.B.C.  It was adopted as the village school hymn.
 

  
 

John​ Spencer 

​ 
 Aman of Principle,  The Civil War, Business, Law and Politics.
 
John Spencer image.jpg

Sometimes a rather ordinary name can mask an extraordinary life. At a glance Mr John Spencer was an ordinary mid-Victorian businessman, but when we delve into the depths of his life we uncover his noble quest to America to serve in the civil war. Spencer led a very interesting life and after research we have also discovered his activities in the borough beyond his military career.
 
John Spencer was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1841 and during his youth his family moved to Blackburn. At this time Blackburn was a prosperous industrial town and so it seems as if John’s father, Robert Spencer, was looking to take advantage of the thriving industry by setting up a firm named Spencer and Company. This firm became very well-known and was a huge concern, becoming agents for the Wigan Coal and Iron Company , who became the largest colliery owner on the Lancashire coalfield. The activity of Spencer and Company will have been to sell this firm’s coal to both domestic and commercials buyers around the borough. John Spencer was actively involved in assisting his father in the business.
 
  
We believe that when he was aged 22 he travelled to America on the Margaret Evans, a packet ship. This ship was of a relatively small size, weighing 900 tonnes and holding between 200 and 300 passengers and was largely responsible for moving immigrants between London and New York.
 
But, under what circumstances did he travel to America? To quote the Blackburn Times “he crossed the Atlantic to serve as a Volunteer in the Federal Army”. At this point a brutal civil war was taking place in America between the Union (Federal) Army in the North, under the direction of President Abraham Lincoln, and the Confederate Army in the South. The North supported anti-slavery and wanted to preserve the union, whereas the South wanted to break away and form the Confederate States of America which would continue to use slavery. The attitudes of the people of Lancashire to the American Civil War were complex. After researching local newspapers from the time we discovered that they were actively hostile to the Union. This is notably because of the blockade of Southern ports by the North which dislocated the Lancashire cotton industry by lack of supplies of raw cotton. This shortage principally led to the Lancashire cotton famine and so it is understandable why many were against Lincoln and the Federates and in favour of the Confederates. However, in contrast, many workers recognised the political issues surrounding the civil war and so supported the Union in the fight to prevent the establishment of an American republic grounded on slavery. It seems as if John Spencer was part of the latter group; believing in the freedom of the individual from slavery. His Liberal stance in politics and his support of the James-street Congregational Church, who were important in social reform movements including Abolitionism, provide a strong argument for this. Therefore it is very likely that the reason why he travelled to America to join the Federal Army is because of both his political and religious motivation.
 
The Union emerged victorious and, as mentioned in his obituary, Spencer took part in several significant engagements, including the recapture of Charleston and the retaking of Fort Sumter which the Union formally took control of in February 1865. The civil war was a momentous event and for a Blackburn citizen to be involved in it is fascinating and quite fulfilling.

ft-sumter-1_Picture1_small.jpg

As we have seen, John Spencer was certainly a man of principle; abandoning his secure work at Spencer and Company to fight for the abolition of slavery. When he returned from his duties he continued to show a determined and strong-minded attitude by commencing business as a cotton manufacturer in Blackburn. In 1878, he took control of both Canton and Plantation mills and, by 1881, he employed a total of 124 men, 100 women, 45 boys and 57 girls. Quite clearly he was a very successful businessman. After this, he became a yarn agent on an extensive scale for a reported 20 years, retiring three or four years before his eventual death. 
 
In terms of his personal life he was married to Alice Dugdale with whom he had five children. He lived at ‘The Sycamores’ for the vast majority of his life and only employed two servants, one of which was a nurse, which was remarkable given the fact of his great earnings.
In politics he was a robust Liberal, actively campaigning for the Liberal politician Mr W.E. Briggs who became elected as MP for Blackburn in 1880 and continued to hold this position until 1885. He was evidently passionate about his politics as shown through his membership of the Blackburn Reform Club, a group aiming to promote Liberal values in the borough. He served as a senior magistrate in Blackburn for an incredible 30 years being placed on the Commission of the Peace for the borough in 1882.
 
As we have discovered, John Spencer was an admirable man who achieved a great amount in his life. He passed away at his home in March 1913 due to failing health. His extensive obituary in the Blackburn Times suggests that he had a significant influence on the town and was considered to be of great importance. He deserves to be commemorated as a man of principle, an enterprising businessman and a loyal citizen. His sheer determination to travel across the Atlantic, putting his life at risk, to fight for his beliefs is astonishing. Isn’t it just fascinating to know that a man from Blackburn was involved in such a historic event and had a role in abolishing slavery in North America? I certainly think it is.
 
By Jonathon Kirkaldy
Jonathon, from St. Christoper's CE High School in Accrington, was a Work Experience student at Blackburn Museum July 2012
 

 
 
 

 Jacob Ho​warth

 
JACOB'S AMERICAN ADVENTURE
 
Jacob Howarth was born in Blackburn in 1852. As a youth he ran away from home in search of adventure. In July 1871, he sailed to America on the "Colorado", arriving on the 25th. At first he worked in a brickyard and then on a farm, but then decided to join the Army. The German recruiting officer couldn't pronounce Howarth properly and so Jacob went through the records of the American Army as Jacob Howard.
 
In December 1871 he was sent along with 200 infantry recruits, 100 cavalry and 50 black cavalry to reinforce troops in Texas.After travelling by train and steamer to Victoria they had to march the whole distance to Fort Griffin- 700 miles.This took from Christmas Day to 14th February 1872.
 
In 1873 he gained two promotions to corporal and then to sergeant.In January 1875 he became a sergeant-major, but gave it up after 5 months.
 
jacob Howarth.jpg

He fought against the Sioux Indians in Dakota and was present when Governor Fletcher and Bishop Whipple witnessed the signing of the treaty between The Whites and The Redskins. One of the wildest Indians in those battles was "Big Trees" a desperado who gave  an immense amount of trouble.He was captured and put in chains. Later "Big Tree" became a deacon of a Baptist Chapel in Western Texas.
 
Jacob Howarth had had some experience of military life before going to America as he had joined the local Rifle Volunteers in 1868 at the age of 16.
 
On returning to England in 1876, he entered the railway service. His father George being stationmaster at Bolton Road, under the old Lancashire and Yorkshire company and also first stationmaster at Blackburn when the L and Y and the East Lancashire systems amalgamated.
 
After 18 months he returned to Greenwoods corn millers from whose service he had run away.Subsequently he was in turn chief clerk for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company; chief clerk to a firm of corn factors; licensee of the Clarence Hotel and later of a Yorkshire inn ; and clerk to Mr. Robert Duckworth, tax collector of Richmond Terrace.
 
 
In 1917, an Act was passed in the USA granting pensions to veterans of the Indian War.Mr.Howarth applied, but was turned down as he wasn't an American citizen.However in 1928 the people of the County of Throckmorton Texas made hima free citizen of their county and his pension was granted.He received 50 dollars a month which later rose to 72 dollars on account of advancing age.
 
In recognition of his Army service he was appointed a commandant of the Indian War Veterans Association, USA.
 
In his private life he was married to Mary for 60 years. They had 3 sons: John, William Arthur and Oswald and 2 daughters Ellen and Susie. All the sons served in World War 1 and survived, whilst Jacob was in the East Lancashire National Reserve.When Jacob died in November 1938 at the age of 85, he was survived by his wife and family. John was living in Montreal; William in London and Oswald in Blackburn. His daughters were both married and living in Blackburn.
 
He was a Freemason for many years and the oldest member of the Junior Conservative Club with which he was connected for almost 60 years.
 
Howarthsjpg.jpg
Image of William Kenworthy.jpg

Introduction
William Kenworthy was not a native of Blackburn or of Lancashire but he saw himself both as a Lancastrian and a Blackburnian. Although he was a councillor and a magistrate for the town he never pushed himself forward.  He never became an Alderman or Mayor, nor did he look for honours.  He was very highly respected by the Mill workers, who he had a great understanding of, coming from that class himself.  He was a campaigner for the “Ten Hour Bill” and received the appreciation of the Lancashire Short Time Committee for his tireless work to that end.  Unlike many other wealthy men in the town Kenworthy tried to  live a very private sort of life and to that end nothing his known about his first wife and child other than what is shown on the 1841 census.  Not a lot more is known about his second wife and virtually nothing about his children.  He was respected by both workers and mill owners as is shown by the number of people who attended his funeral.  Today he is largely forgotten and  I hope this short biography goes some way to make people who are interested in the cotton industry of Blackburn, or indeed the town, appreciate what a great man he was and what a great debt of gratitude we owe him.
 
William Kenworthy was born in 1802 at, according to most sources, Glossop Dale in Derbyshire, (however see inscription on Memorial below).  All that is really known about this period is that as a young boy he worked in a Spinning Mill, but he must have had a reasonably good education.  At the age of 24 (1826) he moved to Preston taking a position at Oxendale’s Mill in the spinning room.  Showing great ability it was not long before he was appointed manager of the spinning mill.  His next appointment was at Rodgett’s Mill, Bow-lane, Preston.  Here again he was made manager of the spinning department.  It was while he worked at this mill George C. Miller says, that he first met James Bullough who was to play a great part in his life...  In about 1828 or 29 he came to Blackburn, one story says he was “poached” by Hornby to work in his Brookhouse Mill, as manager, he also persuaded Hornby to take on James Bullough. 
 
On his arrival in Blackburn, Whittle says he went up a nearby hill to survey the town.  From his position he could see only three mill chimneys.  Many years later, climbing the same hill there were so many chimneys he was unable to count them.  
 
By 1836 Kenworthy was sufficiently settled to be elected as a member of the Blackburn vestry which consisted of twenty  rate payers, the vestry served the town until it became a borough in 1851.
 
 
At Brookhouse Mills Kenworthy, together with James Bullough, made many improvements to the weaving and spinning machines. W.H. Hornby was so impressed with Kenworthy that he was made a partner in the firm, and he remained one until his death in 1856.  
Early 1841 Hornby and Kenworthy built a Gymnasium for their workers.  Situated close to their mill at Brookhouse, it was opened in August 1841.  After the ceremony a public dinner was given for Kenworthy and Hornby, at the Craven Heifer public house; however Hornby was unable to attend.  It was paid for by the mill operatives, of whom 150 attended together with other Blackburn dignitaries. The Blackburn Standard described the gymnasium; “...the land is laid out for a variety of interesting games, calculated to invigorate the youthful frame, such as quoiting football tennis ball, skittles &c.” 
The prosperity of Hornby’s mill was due in no small part to William Kenworthy.  Hornby acknowledged this when he said “While referring to the growth of this establishment I cannot avoid reminding you...I see him (Kenworthy) on whom, at an early period I cast my anchor.”  He went on. “I saw in my partner a talent for business and an aptitude for machinery which qualified him for the management of such a concern; and I therefore did not hesitate to take him into partnership.  When the first large addition was made to these premises, I received a great number of anonymous letters, in which I was warned that the costly outlay incurred would prove my ruin... I was determined to speak to my partner on the subject.  I did so, and he fully convinced me that the extra strength of the machinery, and the great power employed were necessary for the increased speed which he contemplated.”

Both men were strong supporters of the “Ten Hour Bill.”  Kenworthy, wrote a pamphlet in 1842 entitled, “Inventions and Hours of Labour, A letter to Master Cotton Spinners, Manufacturers and Mill Owners in General.” This pamphlet advocated shorter hours in the weaving and spinning industry.  Kenworthy wrote; “give shorter hours of labour to those at present employed and we should then soon be enabled to find work for those who are idle.”  And; “Too much importance by far has been attached to `foreign competition. ` What, I would ask, are the poor toiling factory hands our only security from foreign competition?  If so, they are a vastly more important class of people than they have ever yet been generally considered.”  He concluded; “... Believing, as I do most firmly, that the salvation of our commerce in a great measure, depends upon the adoption of shorter hours of labour for the working population employed in manufactures, I entreat all those who are interested (and who is not?) to give every consideration to a subject of such vital importance to the welfare of this country; and to lend an active and energetic helping hand to snatch from the vortex of disease, immorality, and crime in which they are engulf, the major part of the manufacturing artisans—the wealth of Great Britain.”  This pamphlet was quoted in Parliament as an authority on the subject, and later Lord Shaftsbury, a keen advocate of the 10 hour act, visited the Brookhouse Mills.  Kenworthy also gave his support to the Preston mill workers when they went on strike for better wages in October of 1853.  During that strike nearly all the mills in Preston were closed and the workers suffered great hardship.  He wrote several letters on the subject, trying to get an equality of pay between the workers at Preston to those at Blackburn. 
William Kenworthy was a well-respected man, and not just in Blackburn.  In July 1843 James German, of Grundy and Co. Preston presented him with a silver cup.  The Mayor of Preston attended the presentation and dinner together with the main manufactures of the town.  On the cup was engraved; “Presented to William Kenworthy, Esq., by Thomas Grundy and Co., to testify their admiration of the talents which he has so successfully devoted to the invention and improvement of machinery, connected with the cotton manufacture; and to mark their sense of benefits derived by them from his most useful and ingenious discoveries.  July 1843.”

A presentation was made to Messrs Kenworthy and Hornby in August 1852 by the workpeople of Brookhouse Mill.  The Blackburn Standard reported that on Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock about 1,500 gathered in the Brookhouse mill yard.  “The order of the procession”, the paper said, “corresponded exactly with that in which they were engaged in the mill, in reference to the various processes through which the cotton has to undergo, those employed in the earlier processes walking first, and those engaged in the later processes following.”   Carrying flags and banners they were headed by a brass band from Harrisons and Sons and from the mill, paraded round Daisy Field, Cob Wall, and Whalley-road returning to the mill for the presentation.  Kenworthy and Hornby were presented with a flower vase, a claret jug and a silver salver each. On Hornby’s salver was engraved; “Presented to W.H. Hornby, Esq., first Mayor of the Borough of Blackburn, by the workpeople employed at Brookhouse Mills—August 28th, 1852.”  And on Kenworthy’s; “Presented to William Kenworthy, Esq., by the work people employed at Brookhouse Mills—Blackburn, August 28, 1852.”  After the presentation, 150 of the workers together with other dignitaries retired to the Craven Heifer public house for a dinner

The first real information I can find about William Kenworthy is given on the 1841 census.  Here it says he lived at “St. Albans,” (he was at Brookhouse Lodge at this time.)  His age is given as 35 (on the 1841 census ages were rounded to the nearest 5 years.)  He is married to Margret [sic] who is also 35, they have a daughter Maryan [sic] aged 10, he is a cotton spinner not born in the County, (at this time it was only required that people stated whether they were born in the County or not.)
 
 
It appears that his first wife, died sometime in the 1840’s but I can find nothing about this nor what happened to his daughter from this marriage.  This part of his life now becomes quite interesting.  On the 1851 census he is shown visiting a Martha Kenyon (whom he later married.)  She is shown as living with her 21 year old sister, Elizabeth, at Wellington-terrace Birkenhead.  Martha Kenyon was born at Preston in 1826, the daughter of Joseph Kenyon, a school teacher.  Martha and her sister are shown as being annuitants, this seems strange for such young women, and probably Kenworthy was paying for their keep.  The interesting thing is that she has a 5 month old son called on the census form, William Kenyon, but further research shows him to have been called William Kenworthy Kenyon and so probably his illegitimate son.  He is shown as being a visitor to the house, 47 years old and born in Hyde Cheshire.  It would seem that he wasn’t being altogether truthful on this census both about his age and birth place. I have tried searching for William Kenworthy Kenyon on later censuses but with no results.
 
Crystal palace.jpg 
 
The Great Exhibition was held at the Crystal Palace, London, between May and October 1851. Hornby and Kenworthy had on display a model sizing or dressing machine for cotton and other material, and a model warping machine.  Kenworthy, with James Bullough displayed the model of a power loom. All these machines were much appreciated and Hornby and Co. won a medal.
 
Some time in July or August of 1851 William Kenworthy travelled to London with Martha Kenyon, whilst there they no doubt visited Crystal Palace and saw the many exhibits there.  They may also have gone for another reason, because while they were there they married at the Chelsea Registry Office.  On their return to Blackburn they settled in Kenworthy’s house, at Brookhouse Lodge whether their son William Kenworthy Kenyon was with them I cannot find out. Whittle gives a short description of Brookhouse Lodge, he says; “this gentleman (Kenworthy)  has a neat residence, after the cottage ornee style, at Brookhouse, consisting of gables equilateral, clustered Chimneys, Pyramidal roofs, &c., which is walled round, with the exception of the approach to the main entrance.”   Over the next two years they had two children, Mary Jane born 1852 and Ann Elizabeth born 1853.
 
At Brookhouse Lodge on Tuesday the 2nd of July 1853 one of the Kenworthy’s servants, Hannah Harrison, died as a result of dinking prussic acid.  Hannah worried that she might be pregnant and so in March, together with David Porter, the suspected father they visited a surgeon in Bolton-le-Moor for verification.  The surgeon confirmed that she was expecting.  Witnesses when questioned had not seemed over concerned about her state of mind at the time, although two of her closest friends suspected that she might be expecting but weren’t sure even so they could give no definite reason why she should take her own life.  The jury at the inquest gave their verdict that they; “ are of the opinion that Hannah Harrison came to her death by taking prussic acid; but as to how she came into possession of the same, there is no evidence to show.”
 
Although Kenworthy never seemed, like some other men in the town, to push himself forward he did none the less take some small part in the running of the town.   In November 1849 he was elected as a magistrate and then in 1851 was elected on to Blackburn Council for Trinity Ward, he served here until November 1854 when he retired.  From 1848 until his death he was president of the Blackburn Choral Society which he enjoyed immensely. He also served on the committee of the Mechanics institute.
 
William Kenworthy died after a long illness at his home, Brookhouse Lodge, on the 14th of October 1856.  He was 54 years old.  His Funeral was held on Monday the 17th of October.  The burial service was to take place at twelve noon at the Parish Church, but long before that hour the streets leading from Brookhouse Lodge to the Church were crowded with an estimated 30,000 people. Preceding the cortege were 600 mill workers from Brookhouse and other mills in the town walking four abreast at the church the coffin was carried by “principle hands” employed at Hornby’s Mill.  The service was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Robinson, incumbent of Holy Trinity Church before interment in the parish church yard.
 
The following Sunday, at the Parish Church, a memorial service was held for William Kenworthy.  It was attended by 2,500 people, which included most of the manufacturers and trades men of the town and a large proportion of workers.  The vicar, John Rushton caused great shock and a lot of ill feeling among the congregation when he took the following passage as his text; “He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust: and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea.  He let it fall among their tents: even round about their habitation.  So they did eat, and were well filled; for he gave them their own desire: they were not disappointed of their lust.  But while the meat was yet in their mouths, the heavy wrath of God came upon them, and he slew the wealthiest of them.” (Psalm 78 verses 28 to 31.)  The Blackburn Standard said: “If the text excited astonishment among the congregation the sermon seemed to be listened to with feelings of still greater wonder.  We cannot but believe that much unnecessary pain was caused by so injudicious a discourse.”  No indication of what the sermon was about is given.  The following week a letter appeared in the same paper.  The writer said; “I am sure I am uttering the sentiments of nine-tenths of the large congregation which was assembled, on Sunday morning last...when I say that the sermon preached by the Vicar on the occasion was one of the most unsuitable and uncharitable that could have been delivered under the circumstances.  Many parties...with whom I have conversed with do not hesitate to pronounce the tone of the discourse to be the most un-Christian.”  The writer went on: “The tone in which Mr. Kenworthy was evidently alluded to by the Vicar as the type of the manufacturers of Blackburn was, I am assured by great numbers, felt to be insulting to both the living and the dead.”
 
A memorial to honour the life of William Kenworthy, paid for by public subscription, was erected in the Parish Church in 1858.  It was described by the Preston Guardian as; “A massive monument in the Gothic style of Architecture was erected in Blackburn Church in memory of the late Mr. William Kenworthy.  A large base supports a table and four buttresses, placed at the angles, terminated by turreted caps, and the tablet is surmounted by a gable, richly ornated with large crockets, pateras, elaborate tracery, and a highly effective finial terminating the whole.  A wreath of oak leaves surrounding the initials, “W.K.,” placed directly above the inscription, forms an attractive and effective feature.  The material is British marble, the superiority of which consists in its imperishable hardness and its enduring whiteness.  The monument is six feet wide and thirteen feet six inches high.  It was designed and executed by Mr. T Duckett, of Preston.”  It stood in the Church until the late 1940’s or early 1950’s when as George Miller put it; “It was demolished, apparently without protest, with not a single voice to cry: ‘Sweet friend for Jesu’s sake, forbear’”
The memorial bore the following inscription. “In Memory of William Kenworthy, a man of warm heart and benevolent disposition, energetic in business, and of great mechanical talent.  He raised himself from a humble station, and obtained the respect and affection of the working classes by his kindness to them and his constant exertions for their welfare, especially in his successful efforts in support of the act for shortening the house of labour in factories.  Born at Denton, near Manchester.  Died at Brookhouse Lodge, Blackburn, 14th October, 1856, aged 54 years.”
It should be noted that on the inscription, according to the Blackburn Standard and Preston Guardian, Kenworthy’s birth place is given as “Denton near Manchester in Lancashire” and not “Glossop Dale in Derbyshire,” as the same papers gave in his obituary. Why this should be I do not know.
 
Two years after his death in September 1858, Martha Kenworthy remarried.  Her new husband was Matthias Forshaw, a school master; they were married at St. Albans Catholic church, Blackburn. They had a daughter named Margaret. In December 1858 Brookhouse Lodge was put up for sale.  It was described as a “Desirable Residence with building land.”  It was advertised as being about 7.5 acres and contained; coach house, gardens, pleasure grounds, stocked with choice fruit trees.  The house was bought in 1859 by the Sisters of Notre Dame they then began to turn it into a boarding and day school for girls which opened in 1862.
 
 Martha and Matthias meanwhile removed to Clayton le Woods, living on his father’s farm.
 
In 1859 an action was brought by the bankers Brooks and Co. against the Forshaws to recover the balance due on a promissory note for £400.  The bank won and the Forshaws had to pay.
 
Matthias Forshaw died at Clayton Green on 22 November 1864, and Martha died on the 15th of June 1868.  She left in her will under £450. 
 
Some Information about Brookhouse Mill:
 
Brookhouse Mill was established in 1828.  By 1833 the firm was run by W.H.  Hornby, John Newsham, and William Kenworthy.  Newsham left the partnership in July 1839.  Brookhouse was a spinning mill until 1830 when power loom weaving started, probable by James Bullough.  Many improvements made to both the weaving and spinning process by William Kenworthy and James Bullough.  By 1885 there were 76,316 mule spindles and 1,289 looms; the work force was in excess of 1,400 throughout the nineteenth century.  W.H. Hornby went into voluntary liquidation in 1927-28 when Hornby’s Blackburn Mills Ltd was formed.  The mill finished spinning and weaving in 1932.
 
The above was taken from “Industrial Heritage, Part one, the textile industry” pages18, 19
 
Some Inventions by Kenworthy.
As well as being in partnership with Hornby at Brookhouse Mills, Kenworthy also spent time in improving weaving and spinning machines both with James Bullough and on his own account.
1834 Kenworthy patented a method of stopping a loom when the weft broke by means of a “vibrating fly reed.”  This method, however, was              not a success.
1839 Kenworthy and Hornby patented a sizing machine.  This was a far superior and cheaper method for of sizing and preparing warps.
1841 January Kenworthy and Bullough patented various improvements for the power loom
1841 July Kenworthy and Bullough patented further improvements to the power loom.
1849 February Kenworthy suggested a construction for a whistle to enable the guard of a train to communicate with the driver.
 
Although improvements in the power loom were meant to make life easier for the weavers it was not always appreciated by the workers as the letter below, addressed to the manufacturers of Blackburn shows.  It should be noted that the “outlay” mentioned was made by the weaver, who had to pay to use the newly patented improvements.