PEEK INTO THE PAST: Building Centenary Way 50 years ago

Peek into the Past. (s)
Peek into the Past. (s)
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THERE are a number of things happening in the heritage and local history sphere at the moment.

This means I have not got the space for one of my longer historical articles, but the picture I have chosen is a very interesting one.

The image comes from a former Burnley Council officer who knows I am very interested in old photographic views of Burnley. He has supplied the pictures of the changes that took place in street lighting in the 1960s which I have published and many of you have enjoyed. I would like to thank him for his continued interest.

Today’s picture was taken just over 50 years ago from, as it says on the back of the photo, the “old Norweb offices at Centenary Way End”. As you can see, Centenary Way itself is still under construction though work is well advanced. An elderly lady (top, central in the picture) appears to be inspecting what is going on and the parked car is a Hillman Minx series I, II or III of 1956-9 which was in production when the “flyover”, as we used to call it, was being built.

Apart from the construction work there are a few things which interest me in the picture. The most significant can be seen at the top left and, if you look carefully, you will be able to see the Finsley Gate (or rather Exmouth Street) premises of UCP: United Cattle Products, the famous tripe dressers.

UCP had factories, shops and restaurants all over Lancashire. In Burnley the long-established firm of tripe dressers, Ralph Mason Ltd, were part of UCP and it is their building you can see in the photo.

To the right of the white painted UCP factory there is a low spinning mill but in front of the two buildings, and in Finsley Gate, there used to be a long, row of very small back-to-back houses. They had at least two passages cut through the ground floor to give easy access to Exmouth Street, on which the UCP factory stood. I have long since wanted a photo of these houses, so if any of you know where there might be one I would be pleased to hear from you.

Look at the skyline. The church is the Manchester Road Methodist Chapel of 1905 which was designed by William Waddington who lived almost opposite. Many of you will know that most of the chapel has been demolished leaving only the splendid tower and spire. I think it is a great pity this building was lost. It still makes a contribution to Burnley’s skyline but the building was one of Waddington’s better structures and, fairly uncommon in Burnley, it was a Nonconformist place of worship built in the gothic rather than classical style.

I will be introducing you to more of the photos of the construction of Centenary Way in the coming weeks. One of them is superb panorama of Burnley taken 50 years ago. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Roger Frost