Photograph: Lone tree on frosty meadow

The newsletter editor is always pleased to receive articles to be considered for inclusion. The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect official LCT policy or opinion.

It is expected that anyone wishing to contrubute material to the newsletter will first seek the approval of the editor.

OFFICIALS OF LITTLEBOROUGH CIVIC TRUST

Chairwoman: Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173

Vice Chairman: John Street, Calder Cottage. 01706 378043

Secretary: Mark Ascough, Milbury Drive, Smithybridge. Tel. 01706 374257

Treasurer: Peter Jackson, 8 Chelburn View, Littleborough. Tel. 01706 373112

Membership Secretary: Lincoln Jackson, 1 Moorfield View, Shore. Tel. 01706 370542

Minutes Secretary: Chris Wilkinson, 3, Fair View, Littleborough. 01706 374020

Editor: Anne Lawson, 81, Todmorden Road. Tel. 01706 379604

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Dan Docker, (Contact via Chairwoman)
Michael Farrell, 41 Hollingworth Road. Tel. 370154
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Jill Roberts, 10 Townhouse Road. Tel. 377382
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711

Please pass on any suggestions that you have about the Trust and its work to any of the above.

 

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Welcome to the Autumn edition of the Littleborough Civic Trust Newsletter.

And autumn is certainly upon us now; the nights are drawing in at a rapid rate, the air has that autumnal chill to it, even on a sunny day, and the children have already knocked down the immature conkers from the trees I The warmer summer holidays seem a lifetime behind us, and the next ones a lifetime ahead ! So, settle down with a nice hot coffee and catch up on what the Trust has been doing - and what plans are afoot for the next few weeks. Get your diary out and make a note of where you can join in!

If you have noticed an improvement in the quality of this edition of the Newsletter, this is due to the fact that we have been able to purchase a word processor, by means of a generous grant from the Pennines Township Committee. We would like to thank the Committee for their support, and the Councillors who backed us. It should mean not only a vast improvement in the quality of the Newsletter, which has been painstakingly typed upon a variety of borrowed typewriters over the years, and in my time as Editor has necessitated the use of a large amount of Tippex, but should also allow us to respond quickly and efficiently to situations that demand written correspondence, and that will look professional.

This autumn sees the 25th anniversaries of both Littleborough Civic Trust and the Footpath Group. A great deal of work has been undertaken by both groups on behalf of the public over the years, and although sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel appears to shine but dimly, it is still there!

There are so many achievements that both groups can be proud of, and many exciting challenges for the future. New people, who can bring new ideas, new talents and new enthusiasm, are always very welcome, so if you feel you want to know more about our activities, or would like to leam more about our local environment - how to conserve it, improve it, or simply enjoy it!! - then contact any of the committee members as listed on the inside cover.

Editor

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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Tuesday 29th October, 8pm at the Coach House - to mark the 25th Anniversary of Littleborough Civic Trust, a red Midland tree will be planted in the Coach House grounds. Invitations have been sent out to Trust members to attend this memorable occasion, and we look forward to seeing you there.

PUBLIC MEETING
26th NOVEMBER at the Coach House 7pm to 9pm

Please see the article by John Street about the Fred Jackson Millennium Project.

Tuesday 3rd December, 8pm at the Coach House - ‘Life on a coral island‘ by Judith Schofield.
Judith spent part of her summer on Dan Jugan, a Philippine island, working on a coral conservation project. This evening promises to be a fascinating account of her time there, so get there early to get a seat.

FOOTPATH WALKS- please refer to the Walks List for details.

All newcomers welcome.

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On Life, Lawns and Meadows

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It was a turbulent relationship that was created when we moved to a derelict house which was overgrown with mature trees and had three-quarters of an acre of a paddock and the remains of an extensive Victorian garden.

The whole story is too long, but half the area had been tured from a slope into a flat area by the addition of enormous amounts of slag/ash carried from the nearby mill heaps, and the other half had ambitious cascades of gritstone forming walls and terraces - the whole property being surrounded by a dry stone wall, in parts 12" high. One part of our attack on this wilderness was to open up three lawns; two smaller ones, and one roughly the size of a tennis court.

Oh! the dream of the evening sunlight illuminating the well cropped grass.

Oh! the reality of three children and their friends scarring the rather undistinguished grass patches with endless ball games, and, in later days, the effects of a terrier who knew that her destiny lay in getting to Australia by locating the correct hole in the lawns and going straight down.

Add the invasive moss, the creeping buttercups and daisies and other unmentionable weeds - all friends to dandelions. . . Things didn’t look good, and the maintenance implications were bleak. Simply to cut the lawns with a mini hovercraft took three hours and you walked over a mile to do it. To trim the edges took another 40 minutes and at the height of the growing season it needed cutting every week, or the task rapidly became Herculean. We don't move quickly in agrarian matters, so nothing very meaningful happened during the next thirty years - except that someone stole the hovercraft, so we bought a bigger one.

Then came the breakthrough which historians may yet see as an "historical event" - after all, if Radio 4 commentators can have one on a daily basis, surely we are entitled to one small one. As the years went by, the thinking turned from struggling to tame the environment to working with it. "New People" delighted in proving that there was some useful function for otherwise useless areas of land in the middle of motor-way junctions, lurched away from some of the chemical excesses of modem farming, and even arrived by the oddest routes at paying farmers large sums of money not to grow anything at all but leave the land to nature. And somewhere in all this we discovered the value of meadows - which surely must have made our mediæval ancestors cringe.

I cannot pinpoint when these ideas impinged upon gardening, but when they did, they were irresistible. Certainly after a couple of television programmes where, with no apparent effort or cost, the presenters magic up a field of Old English flowers, the germ of progress was truly on the hoof!

We isolated an area of the largest lawn and just left it to grow. The impact visually was startling - by late summer it was over 3ft high with nodding seed heads blowing in the wind. There were daisies, buttercups, and dandelions, and the whole area seemed to be a home for small frogs. A conversation with the Groundwork people (now sadly gone) at Hare Hill House produced the names of two firms who knew about meadows, and the die was cast.

With their seed catalogues to hand, the imagination ran riot. On the front of each was a picture of an angelic little girl drowning in a sea of Old English meadow flowers and grasses, if not dying of hay fever. The message was clearly that their souls were expanding by the minute.

There is much to leam about meadows, but after digesting the catalogues, I went outside to cut another crescent shaped swathe out of the biggest lawn. lt clearly knew its number was up, but wouldn’t go easily, and on the fourth or fifth blow of my spade, my right leg collapsed (it was already much damaged) and l ended up in hospital. A pyrrhic victory for the lawn, we came back and stripped all the surface turf, and in the autumn of I995, a trial bed of seed was sown. The initial reward in the spring of ’96 was modest - the spread of a uniform low green foliage over the area. Speculation was rife and ribald that the local climate had killed off all the seed varieties (some 30) except the lesser knapweed or some such plant. Where was the Lady’s Bedstraw, the Birdsfoot Trefoil, the White Campion, the Wild Pansy, and a host more ? What a rotten and expensive failure. Oh ye of little faith . . . etc.

The ground was covered with a green mat which protects germinating seeds, and suddenly, out of it sprang three or four recognisably different plants. Within a month we had a white sea of orange-centred daisies, and quite suddenly they are shot through with red poppies, blue cornflowers . . Already the visual impact is heart-stopping, especially in the evening light, and who knows, one of those angelic little girls might pop out any time now!

Funny to think that gardening could be exciting, but after all, there are still some twenty more species to come up. We all agree that it must be the best £10 we have spent in terms of pleasure by return of growth (not post). Maintenance of a meadow can be as simple as scythe it once a year; it is self regenerating and self-seeding, and there are meadow mixes for all kinds of soil, acid or alkaline. However, the soil must be poor, not rich, and the range of native grasses and flowers will give you colour and growth for a large part of the year. Commercially, the development of these meadow mixes is aimed at the reclamation of the huge areas of Britain ravaged by intense farming or turned into a wilderness by industrial activity now dead. The suppliers in our experience are quite happy to provide small amounts of their range of seeds, it opens opportunities to do something different with the poorer parts of garden, or a rewarding new alternative to the demanding and perhaps rather dull lawns we have fostered in the past.

John Street

Photograph: Wild flower meadow

Two sources of further information:

Emorsgate Seeds,
Pea Mill,
Market Lane,
Terrington St. Clement,
Norfolk PE34 4HR
Tel. 0553 829028

Really Wild Flowers,
High Value Horticulture,
Colne House,
Highbridge Estate,
Oxford Road,
Uxbridge,
Middlesex UB8 ILX
Tel. 0895 272911

 

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Environment Agency: New Green Watchdog or Lapdog?

Logo for Environment Agency

The following anicle from the summer edition of Green Party News, has been reproduced with permission.

The Environment Agency started operating on lst April 1996. The Agency is responsible for integrated environmental regulation of the air, water and land environments, and is formed from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP), the National Rivers Authority (NRA) and local Waste Regulation Authorities. Green Party Water Campaigner Ian McCourtie assesses its prospects of success.

The new Environment Agency had been presented as a better system of integrated pollution control rather than having several statutory bodies dealing with different aspects of pollution. The National Rivers Authority, the most effective of these bodies before its dissolution was worried by the effect commercial lobbying was having on the legislation proposed to set up the new body. lt complained that "the primary emphasis appears to be the potential impact of the agency’s activities on industry, whereas the primary purpose of the agency must be to protect and enhance the environment." Although Eddie Gallagher, the Chief Executive of the NRA is now Chief Executive of the EA, Lord Crickhowell, the Chair of the NRA, who stood up for the environment has been found no role in the EA.

The CBI welcomed the act setting up the EA as "a major deregulatory step to help industry." Two instances quoted by Fred Pearce of the weakening of this legislation are that instead of it being mandatory to prevent deterioration of the quality of rivers and to seek improvements, the final version requires inspectors "where possible to maintain water quality ant to seek to secure improvements " and the guidelines emphasise the need to "acknowledge" that financial resources are not unlimited so that "choices must be made between environmental and other objectives." (Fred Pearce - A Green Force? - Natural World).

What all of this means is that instead of the Environmental Agency having the power to enforce environmentally effective decisions, industry will be able to resist by stating that any such decision is going to cost them too much making it economically untenable. What is the environmental cost of directing Kielder water through the Yorkshire River system rather than piping it to where it is needed? Are Eddie Gallagher and Lord de Ramsay, ex-chair of the Country Landowners’ association and now the EA’s Chair to be as forthright and uncompromising as Lord Crickhowell, whom some consider to have been an embarrassment to the government?

Ian McCourtie, Green Party Water Campaigner.

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The Littleborough Footpath Group - Silver Jubilee Year.

1997 sees the Littleborough Footpath Group celebrate its Silver Jubilee. In February 1972 the Littleborough Civic Trust had a social evening at which Arnold O’Brien, the area representative of the Ramblers’ Association, suggested we formed a footpath group, its aims being to protect the public rights of way in Littleborough (of which we have 90 miles !), by walking them and reporting problems as we find them. This has been done to a greater or lesser degree for 25 years.

Silhouettes of many walking

I was the secretary, and we had a small group of enthusiasts; Fred Harte, Bert Cannon (now both dead), Joan Corser, Lincoln Jackson and myself. We gradually attracted more people, some of whom have now been with us many years. Many joined the Civic Trust through the group, and some became Committee members. Maintaining the original aims of the group and gaining recognition from Rochdale M.B.C. in the early days was sometimes frustrating, but attitudes change, and we now share a mutual respect for each other; Tim Wood, the present Footpath Inspector, particularly merits my respect for what he is trying to do.

The future of the group however, may not be so rosy; there appears to be a shortage of volunteers to lead the walks. This problem occurs in all walking clubs from time to time, so I hope that this present hiccup will soon pass, and that the group will still be with us in another 25 years. Clubs will only continue with the injection of new - and younger - blood.

To continue the original aim of the group, and do the job properly, one must have an intimate knowledge of the network and have a copy of the definitive map. I know as Secretary I had a large 6" map with all the footpaths numbered, and in 1972, we obtained four 6" maps onto which Fred Harte then put the rights of way. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE? Without the maps, the group cannot do as good a job as it would like.- and the footpath network may suffer as a result.

John Hindle

Footnote: Should you know of the whereabouts of any of the missing maps, please could you let John, or any member of the Committee know, as they are essential to the Footpath Group in checking and reporting on the state of our footpaths, and are extremely expensive to replace. Thank you.

Furthermore, should you be interested in walking, or finding out about your area and its history, then come along on a Footpath Group walk (see the walks list for further information) and meet the people who can talk to you about Littleborough and its surroundings.

Editor.

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Footpath Walks

Recently Rochdale M.B.C. have established a Rights of Way Fomm to enable interested groups to discuss footpath issues with the relevant officers. This has to be seen as a positive development and we have been represented at both meetings thus far. The next forum will take place on 30th October, so if any member wishes to raise as issue there, please get in touch with Michael (370154) before then.

Appeals for more walks leaders fell on stony ground when we held our last Footpaths Group meeting in July. At that meeting, the possibility of walks going monthly was mentioned. We hope someone will come forward to avoid this happening.

The Autumn 1996 programme was decided at a meeting of the Footpaths Group in July. We would be delighted to have more members contributing walks and ideas. The Winter 1997 programme will be decided at a meeting on Tuesday 19th November at Harehill Park Council Offices at 8pm. Please come along.

Sunday October 13th Meet Littleborough Square 1.40pm or Ogden car park 2pm
Ogden Valley Circular
Leader - Joe Taylor

Distance - 5 miles

Sunday October 27th Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm. Cars to Mytholmroyd.
Coiners Country Circular
Leader - Geoff Sutcliffe

Distance 4.5 miles

Sunday November 10th Meet Littleborough Square 1.3Opm
Foxcroft Street - Dobbin Hill - Clough Road
Leader - Michael Farrell

Distance - 5 miles

Sunday November 24th Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm
Wuerdle - Sungate - Ealecs
Leader - Joe Taylor

Distance - 5 miles

Sunday December 8th Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm. Cars to Hollins Rd, Walsden
North Hollingworth - Stone House - Warland
Leader - Geoff Sutcliffe

Distance - 4.5 miles

Sunday December 22nd Meet Littleborough Square 1.30pm
Gorsey Wood - Grimes - Lightowlers
Leader - Michael Farrell

Distance - 5 miles

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Gone but not forgotten . . . !

One of the Tree Nursery’s most enthusiastic members has branched out and moved away from Littleborough to put down new roots in the south.

Dan Docker has been one of the driving forces in the group, giving of his time and energy to get the tree nursery established, and will be greatly missed. For those who remember reading his "letter from America", which was printed in the Newsletter and in the Rochdale Observer, Dan’s experiences with the Civic Trust are what lead him to become a student again, gaining qualifications in arboriculture, which have ultimately lead to his leaving the area for a new job. We all wish him and his family the best for the future.

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FRED JACKSON MILLENIUM PROJECT

As members of the Littleborough Civic Trust you are probably familiar with the outline of this project which is sponsored by our Society and is designed to work with all the other community groups in Littleborough and indeed with all Littleborough people.

The core of the project is that one of our community, Fred Jackson, wrote many papers, in the middle of the 20th Century, on the history of Littleborough: its houses, its people, its dialect, its geography, its early beginnings, its place in the industrial revolution, the growth of its religious life ---. A lifelong resident in our area there was no aspect that did not interest him. These writings have become a major source of information for the many people who are interested in such things today. The Fred Jackson papers are not easily accessible, copies can not be bought, and with the decline in local knowledge they are not easily understood. So we are proposing as a community project to reprint the material, to illustrate it fully with diagrams, maps and photographs so that we, our children and incomers to the area have an easy and enjoyable introduction to how our area grew from very ancient roots which are still there and operating today.

Of itself this could be an exciting project but in addition we have started to collect volunteers and are addressing picking up from where Fred Jackson stopped to carry the story through to the year 20()(). Thus we will achieve a portrait of our area as it was at the year 2000.

The plan is to publish a handsome volume at a price that our local community can afford that could play a really positive part in our millennium celebrations and represent lasting worth in the next century.

The Littleborough Civic Trust has, with help from many others, finished some six months of enquiry and consultation and the general result has been very positive. The time has now come to pass the ‘OWNERSHIP’ of the project to our community and start the detailed work.

As a key part of this process we have arranged a public meeting to present the ideas and outline the challenges and the opportunities that exist for everyone to take part. We do believe that people of all ages. the churches, the schools, the pubs, the shops everyone has got something to give from their memory, or their records - we are all part of the story.

Because of their interest and knowledge we do want our own Civic Trust members to come and share in this venture that is fun as well as worthwhile. Above all we may leave for the next generation of Littleborough people, both our children and incomers to the area, something to look at, read, leam from and enjoy - just as Fred Jackson did 50 years before.

A PUBLIC MEETING WILL BE HELD ON THE 26TH NOVEMBER AT THE COACH HOUSE LITTLEBOROUGH FROM 7.00PM TO 9.0OPM. THE MEETING WILL REVIEW THE FRED JACKSON MILLENIUM PROJECT. . PLEASE PUT THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARY.

John Street

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Editor: Anne Lawson

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