Book review: Chilling Tales from Burnley's Past

History becomes more relevant as you get older, especially when it concerns the town where you were born and bred.

Friday, 9th September 2016, 7:00 pm
Chilling Tales from Burnley's Past
Chilling Tales from Burnley's Past

Seeing photographs of Burnley from years gone by that were part of my childhood and early adult years stirs a feeling of nostalgia and happiness.

And I have now reached the stage where I point out places in the town to my two children and ramble on about what used to be there. Or as my nine-year-old son says: "In the olden days.."

But I must admit I gave little thought to the people who existed in those faded old images They were just part of the scenery.

Until I read Julie Kayley's book, Chilling Events from Burnley's Past.

Quite simply the book does what it says on the tin and lifts the lid on sad and tragic tales from the town's past dating back over 100 years.

First time novelist Julie started to write the book five years ago after the untimely death of her son, Phillip, at the age of 25. Researching into her family tree through the British Newspaper Society she stumbled almost by accident on some heart rending stories of tragic events in her hometown.

Julie started writing notes, not quite sure what she would do with them, and when it was suggested she write a book, Chilling Tales was born.

All the stories in the book are true and Julie has written them in a way that really lets you connect with the people in the book. She lets the facts speak for themselves in a straightforward way without any flowery language or embellishment.

And it is that simplicity that makes the book so enjoyable to read.

She writes in the language that would have been used at the time as she sets the scene for a series of sad, tragic and moving stories.

Although it sounds comical, the opening story about a young woman called Bertha Button tells the heartbreaking story of two young lovers who agree to commit suicide as their families forbade them to be together as they were from separate areas of the town, Burnley Wood and Rosegrove.

The story begins from the time the tragic pair make their pact to the discovery of one of their bodies and the subsequent drama that unfolds.

Another story tells the tale of a young mum who was suffering from post natal depression , a condition that very little was known about at the turn of the century. Such was her pain she drowned herself and her three youngest children in the canal at Byerden Lane.

And how many people will know about the appalling tragedy that occurred during the funeral of Lady Caroline Harriet Towneley as hundreds of people lined the streets of Burnley to pay their respects?

But one of the most moving and sad stories in the book is the Tim Bobbin ice fatality which claimed the lives of five men from the same family on Boxing Day in 1887 as they made heroic attempts to save two young boys who had fallen into an icy lake.

That was the story I could not stop thinking about as it went from being something that happened in the dim and distant past to a tragedy that was very real and painful. So painful in fact that the father of one of the victim's was so distraught he was unable to attend his son's funeral.

Julie is now working on her second book concentrating on chilling true tales from across East Lancashire.

Chilling Events from Burnley’s Past is published by Nu-Age Print and Copy in Padiham Road and is available from Amazon, Ebay and facebook priced at £9.95.