Changing face of Pendle’s towns and villages

You might not have realised it but, over the past few weeks, I have been taking you on a picture postcard tour of the area.

Thursday, 24th July 2014, 3:23 pm

We started on the safe ground of the parishes to the east of Burnley – Briercliffe, Worsthorne and Cliviger – but we stayed very securely in the borough.

Then we looked at some of the places to the west of Burnley – Padiham, Hapton and Higham – though, with the latter, we strayed into Pendle. Mind you, Higham’s history has little to do with Pendle and, when local government boundaries were redrawn in 1974, it should have remained with Burnley with which it has been connected since before the Middle Ages.

However, this week, we are going to more than “stray” into Pendle. We are going to spend some time there, starting in Nelson, going on to Brierfield then to Barrowford and finishing in Higherford.

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I might have an occasional “go” at Pendle but I have always liked the area. I even lived in Nelson, in Every Street, in the early 1970s and, mentioning that, I am reminded a friend I made in those days (he is partner to one of my sisters now) once bet that he would run on “every street in Nelson”. An unsuspecting young man accepted the bet and my friend ran down part of Every Street winning a couple of pints at the old Clayton Arms.

Incidentally, there is a connection between Every and Clayton as the Every-Clayton family owned the Carr Hall estate. I know, also, that the Every-Halsteads, of our own Rowley Hall, in Worsthorne, are essentially the same family but I have not gone into the subject in any detail.

The Briercliffe Society has got lots of pictures of the towns and villages of our part of the world. So many, in fact, that it is often difficult to decide which ones to bring to your attention. The ones I have chosen today constitute a completely personal choice. The only thing that links them together is that they are neighbours, east of Burnley.

I think that you will agree that some of the images are splendid like the one with which I start the article. There are specialist collectors of postcard images of trams and this one, of a double-decker tram in Nelson town centre, is what might be described as a “cracker”. I think that this picture is of a Burnley Tramways vehicle rather than one owned by Nelson Corporation.

The publication of this card brings to my attention just how much Nelson has changed. Many of the buildings on the right of this card remain very much the same and the church tower and spire, in the distance, is that of St Mary’s which, though the church has been declared redundant, its bells removed and gracing York Minster, is still standing and is still in use.

On the left, however, these buildings have gone, replaced, as is the case in Burnley’s St James’s Street, by some mundane structures that would not even look right on the “back lot” of an equally mundane town in America’s Mid West. None of them are worthy of the architects’ fees that will have been paid possibly by the council.

In the picture you cannot see a great deal of the buildings on the left but they were stone built, solid shops rather like the largely Victorian buildings destroyed (mostly needlessly) in Burnley. One of them survives but it is in Derbyshire! More about that when we take a look at the images in more detail.

The planners (of both Nelson BC and Pendle DC) have made more of a mess of Nelson than their equivalents have done of Burnley. In fact they continue to do so (this time LCC is to blame) with the recent changes to the highway (Manchester Road) which you can see in the picture.

I will not drive down it since the changes have taken place as it is not safe to do so: the new layout delays traffic and is a danger to pedestrians. Can a highway get any worse than that, I wonder?

That out of my system, I can return to the aspects of Pendle that I like. First, there is the Pendle countryside and the hill from which the borough derives its name. Then there are the charming villages of Barley, Roughlee and Newchurch-in-Pendle, which I have looked at in articles in this series and its companion, “Peek into the Past”. In addition, I like the parts of Pendle that were once in Yorkshire, the areas around Barnoldswick, Earby and Kelbrook.

So now join me in Nelson, Brierfield, Barrowford and Higherford. We will look at Colne, Trawden and Wycoller in another article. Incidentally, there is plenty to see in and around the places we are going to visit today. Why not get out into the countryside and enjoy the summer?