Memories of bygone Burnley light up fascinating new book

Burnley's fondly remembered but now lost era of weaving sheds, coal mines, theatres and dance halls has been brought back to life in a fascinating new book from local author John Cowell.

The memories of a bygone Burnley evoked in "Clogs and Shawls" will strike a chord with many older Burnley residents who lived through the very different times of the 1940s and 50s.

John is well known throughout the town for his big-selling first book "The Broken Biscuit" which recounted the struggles of his mother Winifred who brought up her eight children during the war years.

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The book would go on to sell 30,000 copies while Winifred was named Lancashire Woman of the Years two years running for her charity work.

John Cowell with his new book

John, now a sprightly 81-years-old, said: "I have written lots of books over the years, but Clogs and Shawls focuses on my childhood memories of growing up in Burnley during the war years and post-war period.

"I was born just a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War and one of my first jobs was down the pits. The comradeship down a pit is second to none because each miner depending on the other for their lives."

One memory recounted in the book which will resonate with many older readers is that of the legendary 'knocker-upper' who John recalls would wake miners up at 5am and the weavers up at 6am.

"I will always remember the cacophony of clogs flip-flopping down the street at around 7 in the morning as people made thier way to work. The joke at the time was who knocked up the knocker-upper?," John recalled.

"We lived at Albion Street at the time, which was a steep street which looked over the rooftops, meaning we could see the workers on their way to the mills."

Other evocative memories featured in the book include local children going to school with their gasmasks and making their way home during the blackout.

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John added: "I well remember the end of the war celebrations because I saw gas lamps and Burnley Town Hall clock lit up for the first time in my life."

John's lasy major book, around 10 years ago, "My Camino Amigo", told the story of John's many fund-raising pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Spain with good friend Fred Uttley.

To order a copy of the new book, which costs £12, call John on 01282 456482.