Ex Burnley headteacher writes history book on ‘lost community’

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A RETIRED Burnley headteacher has penned a book about a long-lost community in the Lancashire hills.

Mr David Clayton, the popular and highly-respected former headteacher of Habergham High School, has written the incredible story of how a whole community suddenly abandoned their homes on Brinscall Moors, near Chorley.

Mr Clayton first came to Burnley in 1965 when he was appointed head of history at Burnley Boys’ Grammar School.

Since retiring in December 2001, he has kept busy by combining two of his great loves – walking and history. The result is his new book, “The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors”.

Hundreds of residents left more than 40 farms on Brinscall Moors in the early 20th Century after a decision by landowner Liverpool Corporation to protect their local water supply. All that is left of that community now are lonely piles of stone and evocative names on maps, such as Solomon’s Temple and Calico Hall.

Mr Clayton spent more than two years researching the people who lived on the hills and moors surrounding the village.

He said: “I’ve spent 40 years walking the hills around Brinscall and have always been fascinated by the many ruins and foundations in the woods and on the moors.

“I started looking at old maps and was amazed to discover just how many farms had once been there, and I realised that no one else had investigated what had happened.

“To me they weren’t just piles of old stones, but places where people were born and worked and died.”

He was originally going to present his research to the Record Office at Lancashire County Council. But the project mushroomed into a book which also features five walks around the ruins and extracts from a journal kept for more than 40 years by a farmer’s wife.

“I met many people in the village who had relatives who had lived on the farms, and even a couple of elderly residents who had lived up there as children,” added Mr Clayton (74).

“The most exciting thing was finding out that a journal existed from that time written by Elizabeth Jane Dixon. Her grandson, Harold Gomersall, who is in his eighties and still lives in Brinscall, allowed me to read it and include extracts in the book.

“I’ve lived in Brinscall since 1965, but I’ve met more people in the last couple of years than in the last 40 or so!”

The book is on sale now.