PEEK INTO THE PAST: Duke Bar at the turn of the 20th Century

editorial image

I REALISE those of you who are regular readers of Peek into the Past will have seen images of this part of Burnley before. However, I particularly like this photo as it gives us a splendid view up Briercliffe Road (to the right).The photographer has placed himself at the top of Hebrew Road and, because of that, the image is much more interesting.

We are in the Duke Bar area of Burnley in about 1908. The photo is another of the pictures which has been passed to me by Coun. Jean Cunningham. There are more to follow so I am very grateful to have them.

You might think that, superficially, little has changed in this part of Burnley in the past 100 years. Take out the stone setts of Colne and Briercliffe Roads, the tram lines and “fashions” of the Edwardian era and we could take a similar picture today. There are, of course, differences and we will look at them in the article but I want to start with something you cannot see.

As I say, the photographer was standing at the top of Hebrew Road when he took the picture. Behind him was the whole length of what was one of the most interesting of Burnley’s highways. Hebrew Road was unlike the town’s other roads in that many of the buildings which lined it were very distinctive. Only a couple survive. They are stone-built, have three floors and each, individually, occupies a very small plot of land.

When built they were houses though, on a recent visit, I notice one of the few survivors declares itself to be a meeting place for Catholics who follow the Old Rite. Most of my mother’s relations, had they still been with us, would have approved of that. They loved the Latin Mass which, I take it, those who occupy this building still use in their very distinctive and colourful worship.

Burnley had a number of properties of this kind though I think these were intended for mill workers whereas many of the others were slightly larger and were better built. If you want comparisons consider these buildings and then look at the property on the streets off Red Lion Street in the centre of town. You will see what I mean and there were others in St James’s Street. In fact, some of the latter remain but they are disguised as shops.

If anyone has photos of Hebrew Road, as it was before demolition, I would be pleased to hear from you. I am particularly interested in the properties nearer Hebrew Road’s junction with Colne Road, but a word about the name itself. Hebrew Road is one of the older street names in Burnley. The highway is outside the Police Circle so the name was not influenced by the Commissioners responsible for that part of Burnley.

Originally, the road which is now known as Hebrew Road was part of Burnley Lane, a name which still survives in the area. There is still the Burnley Lane Chapel at the bottom end of the road and it might be because of the location of the chapel that the current name evolved. The first chapel, which incidentally is still standing as part of a very impressive complex of NonConformist buildings, dates to 1787. It was not many years before this that the turnpike road (modern Colne Road) was built and it just may be that the name was changed to reflect the presence of the chapel.

Let’s get back to the photo. Starting at the left, notice the building with Bovril advert: this building at the time was what was then called a “selling out shop”, an off-licence, which had a grocer’s attached. Behind the people in Colne Road, who appear to be particularly well dressed, you can see a double-decker tram which is in front of St Andrew’s Church of England School. In those days the building was much larger than it is today as the west wing was removed when a one-way road system was installed.

The spire belongs to the splendid St Andrew’s Church which dates from 1867. As with many of Burnley’s Anglican churches it is in the early English style and the building is a real statement as the site was chosen to dominate the junctions of Colne Road and Barden Lane while, at the same time, to be seen from Briercliffe Road.

The large building in the centre of the picture is the Duke of York Hotel which, originally, did not occupy all of this site. When the turnpike road was completed what became known as the Hebrew Hall Toll House was built at the junction of the new road and the existing Brierclife Road, though that highway was known as Burnley Lane, passing on its name to the district we now know as Lane Head.

Notice the original gawmless street light in front of the hotel. We have heard about Burnley’s gawmlesses in recent articles so I will not repeat myself. The larger structure behind the gawmless is a pillar which supported the tram lines which went up in the Briercliffe direction.

Coming to Briercliffe Road (on the right) we can see quite a good stretch of the road, the lower part of which was a significant shopping area. The streets off to the right include Cobden Street, Bar Street and Ribblesdale Street with Thursby Road higher up. This latter cannot be seen in the picture but there was another gawmless at the junction of Thursby Road and Briercliffe Road.

The shops included some of Burnley’s most well known businesses – the Co-op, at number 1, Briercliffe Road; Lupton’s, the saddlers, at number 11; Herman Lang’s, pork butchers, at number 13; and Beswick’s confectioner’s shop at number 21. There were many others but the one I remember most was the soda fountain with its very impressive door which opened on to the angle of the road and the street.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing this splendid picture as much as I have.

ROGER FROST