Photograph: Bluebells on hillside

Littleborough Civic Trust is a voluntary body affiliated to the national Civic Trust. It was established in 1971 and exists to conserve and enhance the environment of Littleborough.
Its committee and officers are elected at an Annual General Meeting in April, although new members are always welcome.

Committee Members 1998-1999

CHAIRMAN: John Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043

SECRETARY: The post is currently vacant

TREASURER: Peter Jackson, 8 Chelburn View, Littleborough. Tel. 373112

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Jill Roberts, 34 Brown Street, Littleborough. Tel. 375426

MINUTES SECRETARY: Chris Wilkinson, 3, Fair View, Littleborough. 374020

NEWSLETTER EDITOR: Chris Wilkinson, as above


Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Anne Lawson, 81 Todmorden Road. Tel.379604.
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711
Iain Gerrard, 2 Pikehouse Cottages.
Barbara Daveron, 38 James Street. Tel. 378664

The Newsletter is produced four times a year. The views expressed in it do not necessarily reflect the views of the Trust. Contributions are welcome and should be sent to the Editor who thanks contributors to this edition and invites articles for the next by the 1st December.



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The Story of Littleborough

As a member of the Littleborough Civic Trust you will know that we decided in 1996 to write a book to be available for the Millennium. It was based on Fred Jackson’s original papers on the history of Littleborough, which has been greatly expanded to become Littleborough‘s story from 200,000 BC up to 2000 AD (the second Millennium). In brief the text is complete and the editorial group are working on the illustration and final composition before submitting it to the printers. Many people both inside and outside our Trust have generously given us access to their records, photographs and a wide range of other material and we would like to take this opportunity of thanking you all. Without the tolerant help of everyone the project could not have progressed.

The book will be published in late autumn 1999 in both hard-backed and soft-backed editions and will have over 350 pages, 20 maps and diagrams and nearly 100 photographs. Only 500 copies of the hard-backed edition will be published.

As members of the Civic Trust, I am pleased to offer you the opportunity to buy one or more copies of the hard-backed book. Each copy will be numbered and contain your, or a nominated person’s name. An order form ls included with this newsletter which, when completed, should be sent to Molesworths Bright Clegg, local solicitors, who have kindly volunteered to administer all orders; we are deeply grateful to them for providing this service. All orders must be accompanied with payment in advance.

One very important aspect of this arrangement is that all money so collected will help ensure that we can produce the books at an affordable price. We would add that all the work on the book has been done voluntarily and that neither the editor nor the editorial board or the Civic Trust will receive any monetary recompense. Any surplus income from the sale of the book will be donated to Littleborough charities.

What we all hope is that the book will be read and enjoyed by the people who know Littleborough and that in the future it will also be used as a reference book until it is due for revision sometime in the next hundred years! Thank you again for your support. If you wish to become a special subscriber we would appreciate your order by the 17th April 1999.

John Street
Littleborough Civic Trust

Advert for open meeting

Website editor's note: This advert was interleaved with this edition of the newsletter


The Pennine Bridleway

Chris Wilkinson reports on another National Trail to pass through Littleborough

You may have heard the recent announcement that £1 .84m has been allocated by the Sports Lottery Fund to the Countryside Commission to spend on the creation of the first 143½ miles (231 km) section of the proposed Pennine Bridleway, from Middleton Top in Derbyshire to Long Preston in North Yorkshire.

Both the main route and a West Pennine Loop run through Littleborough, so we can anticipate an increase in horse riding and mountain biking along the chosen paths.

The last plan I saw of the route showed it coming into the Borough across Ripponden Road and following the Station-to-Station walk down to Piethorn Reservoir and up to Tunshill Lane. From there it would take a currently unclassified track into the valley of Longden End Brook and then down the track under the motorway to Rakewood. At Hollingworth Lake it would head through Syke to the track along the foot of the moor and then along to Lydgate. From here it follows an existing footpath around the Littleborough side of Stormer Hill to cross the A58 at the former ‘Nook Restaurant’ and down to Castle Clough. It goes past Leaches Farm and along the footpath around Chelburn Reservoir, crossing the Canal and Todmorden Road by the Summit lnn, thence onto Reddyshore Scout and northwards into Calderdale.

The West Pennine Loop leaves Reddyshore Scout and heads towards Higher Calderbrook before bearing off to Grimes‘ Farm. It crosses Tum Slack Clough, heads south to High Lee Slack, where it picks up the track from Higher Shore round Dobbin Hill to Watergrove. At the sailing centre it goes up Ramsden Road for a while before turning back towards Whitworth, skirting Brown Wardle Hill and entering Whitworth through the Square (by the Red Lion).

You will have spotted that a lot of the route uses existing footpaths, so considerable time will have to be spent on legal work to make horse and cycle use permissible. Sections of the route will also have to be improved if they are to accommodate the extra traffic. (The path around Chelbum Reservoir will be a big job!) This work will fall to the Council and we wish their already overworked Rights of Way Officer the best of luck!


A Grand Meeting

John Street invites you to the Coach House for a ‘good time’!

On Thursday 29th April at the Coach House at 8.00pm will be the Trust's Annual General Meeting. At first you may think that this involves 1.5 hours of Victorian procedures to re-elect the predictable to carry out the monotonous. However, stereotypes can be defied. We have had some very good AGMs with very good speakers on real local topics. There is a good feeling this year because the topic is the publication of the first ever history of Littleborough which is a serious endeavour and it may be can only be matched by a few towns anywhere in Britain. The presentation tells why Littleborough deserves it and we are lucky to have part of the presentation done by a local man, Peter Cryer, who knows more about Littleborough than most can dream of and has a strongly developed sense of humour.

But I do not flinch from all that stuff about electing officers and the remote danger of being asked to do something! Life is full of risk and yes, there is a vacancy on the committee just now. If you sit on your hands there is no danger but the activity of the Trust is increasing and we do need help. The jobs are not demanding, the atmosphere is relaxed and it may add a little interest to tack on to the end of a working day. Beware, for some it is addictive. Thinking about numbers, 93 (individual members) is a healthy number and it is gently rising but it would be good to be 100 by the AGM. You get exposed to a lot of activity for £2.50 per annum (the price of one posh pint!). In the last year we have had actions where we pick up everyone else's litter at one end and have written to the Deputy Prime Minister at the other. (Yes we got an encouraging reply). So please think about the younger members of your family, or friends or anyone who likes the place they live in and might like to join. Just suggest they come to the AGM, it's an open event.

The committee look forward to meeting friends old and new; to remind everyone there will be a spread of posters distributed nearer the time and lastly, the committee commit to keeping the procedural element to an absolute minimum.

We really just want the chance to meet you all.


A Pennine Pioneer

Drawing: South Entrance to Summit Tunnel

South Entrance to Summit Tunnel

If you read ‘the Ob’ on the 20th February, you will have heard about the publication of a new book. Allen Holt explains below why he considered it necessary to write an in-depth history of the Summit tunnel.

My interest began as a small boy, with family connections in the Calderbrook area, I had been aware of the tunnel from an early age. Many years later, a guided walk through the Summit pass, led by the late lamented Alan Luke was a revelation Standing on shafts I first saw the site of Summit tunnel shantytown, where railway navies had built over 100 stone walled shanties in and around Steanor Bottom Wood.

But it was in retirement, as an avid reader of railway books that the idea of a tunnel history first took root. At first I was bemused, but later became disappointed that so many writers and editors dealt with Summit tunnel in six lines of text, or less. Almost always quoting the now-hackneyed statistics; so many bricks, so much cement used and at what cost, not forgetting to mention George Stephenson. Could it be that was all they knew’? Even the esteemed John Marshall in his superb 3-volumed history of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company recounts the building of the tunnel in just two pages.

And that was it - and I wondered why - after all, when opened in 1841 it was the wonder of the age — the longest railway tunnel in the world. The only logical explanation for this lamentable lack of interest was that Summit tunnel‘s glory days were long gone. Superseded by far bolder civil engineering projects. And was therefore not considered important enough to warrant serious research. On leaming of my interest in the tunnel an erudite friend of mine said "which end did they start digging at and didn't Fothergill and Harvey’s have something to do with it?” At that point I decided if Joe Bloggs didn't understand the whys and wherefores of Summit Tunnel, then I would try and redress that omission.

With no fixed starting point I was delighted to discover just how helpful Librarians and Archivists can be. If they couldn't answer my questions they invariably knew someone who could. My research progressed quite literally from Pillar to Post, inevitably all roads lead to London.

Having acquired the obligatory reader's ticket, I duly presented myself at the Public Record Office, Kew, London, to study the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company papers. The first thing they did was to confiscate my briefcase and camera for the duration of my visit. You are only allowed to take sheets of blank paper, tracing paper and a soft pencil into the reading rooms. After having my credentials checked and signed the register affirming my good intent, a pager was attached to my lapel. Only then was I assigned to a numbered reading desk. Understandably, stringent security measures are in place at the repository of the Magna Carta! For almost three hours I was in another world, reading, writing and wishing my camera was to hand. My abiding memory of that visit was a longitudinal drawing of Summit tunnel almost 7ft in length, tinted in colour wash.

I had been corresponding, on and off, with British rail for some time, when one of their engineers arrived at my house. I suspect they wanted to see the ‘nutter’ who kept asking awkward questions about Summit railway tunnel. I told him all about what I had seen in London. He made no reply but gave me a knowing look. Two days later he was back with Barco negative copies of the very same drawings, which included the full specifications of the two tunnel contracts, written in beautiful copperplate handwriting.

From then on there was to be no going back, facts and figures emerged from those documents which would tell the untold story of Summit railway tunnel. Whilst making no pretensions that my book is in any way a definitive his- tory, it does shed much new light on what was and still is, a monumental feat of civil engineering, and more importantly, about the people who built it. Some where famous, many were unknown and have remained so. It is a true measure of the appalling class-conscious Victorians that of the 1253 navies who worked at Summit tunnel, I have only been able to put names to two of them. One because he was the first married man to be killed in the tunnel. The other because he was arrested by David McIntyre, active constable for the Blatchinworth and Calder- brook districts of Littleborough.

Allen’s book is available from George Kelsall’s shop and probably other good bookshops for £9.95.

A Pennine Pioneer

A short review of Allen Holt's book, ‘The History of the Summit Railway Tunnel’, published by George Kelsall, which has already been bought and read by Rae Street.

You will have read elsewhere ln the newsletter of how this book came to be written. I would just like to recommend it as a really good read. The development of the railway was central to Littleborough’s expansion as a Pennine industrial village. So the book is not only about the early railways and how they grew, but you get an insight into the lives of weavers, the beginnings of the Co- operative movement, brick making and the navies. It also includes interesting photographs and drawings; very well researched.


Shorehurst Tree Planting Day

By the time you read this it will probably be too late for you to clean the rust off your spade by showing it some action at the Shorehurst Tree Planting Day. So we can only report on the latest success in the Shorehurst Project's history.

Supported practically by RMBC’s Countryside Service and financially by the Forestry Commission and the ‘Greening Greater Manchester‘ Landfill Tax credit scheme, the planting took place on the 6th March and we look forward to seeing healthy growth this summer.



Drawing: Chequebook and pen

We believe that there are one or two people out there who still do not wake up on the 1st of January thinking that it is time to renew their membership of Littleborough Civic Trust.

To those of you with such a selective memory, our Membership Secretary would very much like to hear from you!



Rae Street has some good news and some bad news on the subject of trees.

Members of the Civic Trust have always cared passionately about trees. Among other schemes we started a tree nursery and helped with a new planting, ‘Barker’s Wood‘.

Drawing: Person planting a tree

I remember when we followed a national slogan, ‘Plant a tree in '73‘ and ‘Plant some more in '74’. One of our initiatives then was to ask each church in Littleborough if it could plant a tree for us. Many did take an ornamental tree given and planted by what was then our new Local Authority. Sadly, because of closure of churches and chapels and redevelopment, many of those plantings have gone. One or two still remain. Look out for them; there is a flowering cherry for example behind the United Reform church in the centre of Littleborough.

It's not only redevelopment but vandalism from which trees suffer. Readers will recall the cutting down of the Christmas Tree in the . Square. At the same time one of the trees, a winter flowering cherry which was in full bloom last spring, planted by our M.P. Lorna Fitzsimons, was chopped on the same night by, presumably the same gang. However, thanks to the RMBC Tree Officers, we now have a new holly (see Winter '98 Newsletter) planted as a replacement and an Acer alongside the large light. We have written to thank RMBC Ground Maintenance Department.

You will read on another page about the Shorehurst tree planting. However we are always on the look out for new sites, so do give one of the Committee members a ring if you have any ideas on where a tree or trees could be planted.


Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Spring 1999 Walks Programme

Sunday 14th March - Thieveley Pike Circular (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30pm. Cars to Ratten Clough Car Park
Leader: Michael Farrell

Sunday 28th March - Strongstry — Shuttleworth — Plunge (5.75 miles)
Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30pm. Cars to Exchange Street, Edenfield
Leader: Joe Taylor

Sunday 11th April - Around Midgely Moor (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30pm. Cars to Mytholmroyd
Leader: Geoff. Sutcliffe

Sunday 25th April - Mams Head Circular (5.5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30pm. Cars to layby before Baiting’s Dam
Leader: Harry Radcliffe

Sunday 9th May - Whitworth Boundary Walk (14 miles)
Meet at Whitworth Museum, North Street at 10.00am
Leader: A. Schofleld


Round Hallfold (4.5 miles)
Meet at Whitworth Museum, North Street at 2.00pm
Leader; B. Taylor

Sunday 23rd May - Wharfedale Circular (10 miles)
Meet at Littleborough Square at 9.00am.
Leader: Geoff. Sutcliffe


Local Walk
Meet at Littleborough Square at 2.00 p.m.

Sunday 6th June - Kelbrook Moor (7 miles)
Meet Littleborough Square at 1.00pm.
Leader: David Costa

Sunday 20th June - Pennine Way — Windy Hill - Rough Road (7 miles)
Meet at Roman Road Car Park, Blackstone Edge at 1.45pm.
Leader: Michael Farrell

Sunday 4th July - Local Walk (4 — 5 miles)
Meet Littleborough Square at 2.00 pm.
Leader: Kevin Kiernan

Please note that dogs are not allowed on these walks.


Membership Registration Form



Editor: Chris Wilkinson