The era of Burnley Clog Fund

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THIS is the fourth article based on an aerial photo, taken in 1962, of part of Burnley centre.

Today we look at the bottom left hand quarter of the picture which is bounded by Church Street, at the top, Standish and Market Street, at the bottom, Edward Street (right) and the streets to the north of Parker Street (left).

You will have noticed a sizeable area of property in the middle of the picture has been demolished.

Areas of what we now call "Green Space" are not new to Burnley.

Much of this land remained undeveloped for more than 30 years!

The first demolitions began in about 1930 but it proved to be impossible to attract developers to invest in this area – a problem we still have to deal with in other parts of town.

I hope you see how important a knowledge of local history can be.

There are lots of lessons to be learned and one is that those who condemn Burnley Council for the perceived current lack of progress in the rejuvenation of the recently demolished parts of Burnley Wood and Daneshouse, for instance, fail to appreciate the magnitude the difficulties with which the town has had to cope with over a long period of time.

Many properties in the area identified have been demolished but the streets themselves have survived though, since 1962, further demolition has taken place and the area has been redeveloped.

Unfortunately, some of the buildings which now occupy the land here are among some of the least attractive buildings ever constructed in Burnley. When I tell you they include Brun House and the building generally referred to as GUS, you will know what I mean.

A few words about the area itself might be of interest.

Among the streets were Park Street and Park Lane. These remind us of the name by which this area was once known, "The Park" or the "Irish Park".

This latter name was applied because of the number of poor Irish families who came to live there in the period after dreadful consequences of the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, sometimes (and for good reason) known as the "Hungry '40s".

A lot of old photos of the "Irish Park" have survived. They have come down to us as the engineers of Burnley Council preserved images, taken in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when officers had been charged with taking advantage of new legislation to get rid of what amounted to slum property in the older residential areas of industrial towns.

Burnley had large areas of such property, not only in the Irish Park but also at Pickup Croft (where the bus station is now), Hill Top (off Church Street), Mount Pleasant (Hammerton Street area), Plane Tree and Sandygate and the streets off the lower parts of St James' Street.

The photos are so interesting I have often thought an exhibition of them is something that should be put together.

In fact Burnley Civic Trust did put a few of these images on display in St Peter's Church some years ago and it proved quite popular. If Burnley's library staff are interested would they contact me?

Although much of the property in the Irish Park has gone you can see part of the street pattern in the photo. These also included Crown Place, Roper Street, Charles Street and Raws Street (sometimes erroneously spelled Rose Street).

The name derives from a former assistant Curate at St Peter's who was also headmaster of Burnley Grammar School.

The Rev. John Raws, a very good likeness of whom survives in St Peter's, was a man who did much for Burnley at a time when Anglicanism was under fire from the Non-conformists.

He was a man who should not be forgotten and the same could be said of a man after whom three streets in the "Irish Park" were named.

He was the Rev. Robert Mosley Master, later Archdeacon Master, who came to Burnley in 1826 and was known, in his adoptive town, as the "Clogging Parson".

An odd name, you might think, but I feel sure Mr Mosley Master was proud of it as it signified the clergyman's founding of Burnley Clog Fund, an organization which devoted itself to the important task of ensuring Burnley's poorest boys and girls did not go unshod.

When Mr Mosley Master arrived in Burnley he was shocked by the poverty of many of its people and the sight of dirty barefooted children walking in the muddy, badly made streets of the town was something he could not tolerate.

Other men who had occupied the position he now held had done little to help the youngest and poorest of their flock, but the future Archdeacon was different and, during the 30 years he was to reside in Burnley, there was no more popular man in town.

The juxtaposition of Robert, Mosley and Master streets with another, Parker Street, part of which survives to this day, is also something I should not let pass without comment.

We have heard of the clergyman but another Robert, this time the surname being Townley Parker, is remembered in Parker Street.

He was a great landowner, also known by his nick-name, the "Cock of Cuerden", but was also the owner of the historic Townley of Royle and Parker of Extwistle estates.

It was Robert Townley Parker who appointed Robert Mosley Master as incumbent (or Curate) of Burnley, just about that gentleman's best decision in a long and productive life.

Parker Street is very clear in the picture so a few words about it.

In the 1930s it had three pubs on the street. At number 2 there was the Bank Top Inn, at 32/4 the second pub was the Miller's Tavern and at number 13 there was the Engineer's Arms.

These pubs are now long gone and almost forgotten but I have been interested in why these names applied in this part of town and I think I have worked out why the names came to be used.

In the earlier part of the nineteenth century the upper part of Bridge Street was known as Mill Lane. It led directly to Burnley Soke (or Corn) Mill and it is likely the name comes from this connection.

The Bank Top Inn got its name because it was close to the part of Burnley which was known as Bank Top where the railway station, now known as Burnley Central, stands.

The name, the Engineer's Arms, was chosen because the pub was within walking distance of a number of engineering works. Perhaps the most important was the Bethesda Foundry of Cooper Brother's, one of Burnley's great loom-makers, and the Carriage and Motor Works of John Knape and Sons Ltd, which was in Railway Street.

I think that, yet again, I have probably gone on too long! I have enjoyed writing this article and hope you have enjoyed reading it.