The Mayor addressing the assembled crowd

The Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Alan Godson,
opening the proceedings at the 40th Anniversary
Celebration in October.

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

 

 


40th Anniversary Celebration

On the 27th October Littleborough Civic Trust celebrated its 40th anniversary with over a hundred members, friends and dignitaries at the Coach House in Littleborough. We were honoured by the presence of Mr. Simon Danczuk MP, Mayor of Rochdale Councillor Alan Godson, many of our local Councillors, local business people and representatives from many other local groups.

The Mayor of Rochdale in his opening speech paid tribute, in his own inimitable fashion, to the Trust as an “amazing group”, and was particularly impressed with the 40th Anniversary Souvenir Magazine that was also produced by the Civic Trust to coincide with the Party.

Rae Street, a founder member of the Civic Trust, paid tribute to Keith Parry, whose desire and drive to preserve the heritage of Littleborough and enhance its character led him to suggest the formation of the Trust. Rae outlined some of the main projects and members of the past, reminiscing about their achievements and also looking forward to the future as she also spoke of the need for new members to take the reigns of the group.

The evening included drinks and nibbles on arrival and a few speeches followed by a wonderful buffet, music, raffle and lots of chat. All in all a terrific evening and the Civic Trust Committee hope that all who came had an enjoyable evening and for those that could not make it, we are so sorry, you missed a great night out!

Tony Smith

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John Stanley's Disappointment

Longstanding member John Stanley unfortunately missed the celebration owing to a mixup over the date. In an email regretting having missed the fun, he writes:

"I wanted to hear what everyone had to say about those early days, I can't remember all the people who were there at those first meetings in Peel Street, I can see two Pickises, two Streets, Keith Parry and me – there must be more.

"Then we switched to a room in Church Street before gravitating to the Home of the Civic Trust - Rae's front room - everything was planned in Rae's front room: The Country Park, The Coach house, The Toll House, The Trust’s Logo. The Streets deserve a plaque for their generosity over the years.

"Well I've got that off my chest. Sincerely sorry to have missed the treat and the people I wanted to see.

"Don’t think I'll make the Eightieth; probably get the day wrong."

Regards

John

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Photographs at the Event

 

 

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* * * * * * *

How I came to join the Littleborough Civic Trust...

Russell produced this reminiscence for our special souvenir booklet, but unfortunately there was insufficient space to include it.

“Volunteers wanted to help to plant some trees on land off Starring Way” was the kind of advert to get my attention when I read it in the Rochdale Observer. First, because I lived nearby, and second, because I was always interested in improving the environment. So on the Saturday morning I walked up the lane and introduced myself, only to find that I knew some of them already, Don Pickis was there, Judith Schofield, and others, and so we began planting. I remember Judith saying that the Alder Whips were to go near the stream because they liked the water, but others could be further away. One funny incident occurred because I had taken our dog with me; I had dug the hole and planted the Whip and moved onto the next one, only to find that my dog had ‘helped’ me, and had dug up the previous one and had brought it to me, I suppose he thought we were burying bones!

This was the start of Barkers Wood, in 1993. An ideal project for the Littleborough Civic Trust, having started a tree Nursery just off Todmorden Road at Gale. Some eight years later I was asked to get involved again this time planting Daffodils and Bluebells.

I was involved with the Littleborough Action Group in the meantime, having helped them to erect the Christmas lights. Keith Parry had left the Littleborough Civic Trust by then and started an action group; no one would tell me why.

When I moved house into the Wardle area I sort of lost interest, plus I was busy with the house a lot of the time. A couple of years later, quite out of the blue, I got a phone call from Keith saying there was an interesting meeting at the Cricket Club, and that I should attend, this was the launch of the Littleborough Town Design Statement. My wife and I went along, and I found myself interested in the section called “Conservation and the Built Environment”, so I put my name down for that, thinking that either I would not be contacted, or it would be an interesting section if I was.

How wrong was I! It turned out that not only was I to be in the group for Conservation etc. but I was the convenor (chair). I was shocked to say the least, and couldn’t understand it, until I spoke to Peter Jackson and he told me that as I was the only name on the list that he recognised, he had put me down as the convenor for that group!

Anyway the group elected someone else at the first meeting, but she left shortly afterwards due to work commitments, and I was elected, and chaired it for the rest of the time. I stayed with the T.D.S. right through, but missed the Launch being away at the time.

It was through this that we were invited to join the Civic Trust, of which we are still members, and hope to help through into the future.

Russell Johnson

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BETTY HOYLE TAYLOR M.B.E. 1927 - 2011

Betty Taylor (née Nuttall) who died on the 6th. of October 2011 was a very special lady. She was devoted to her family – husband Joe, their four children (Patricia, Andrew, Peter and Anthony) – eight grand children and one great grandchild and supported them in both good and bad times.

Betty spent all of her life – except for a brief time at Leicester University – in Whitworth, a place she loved, and was always pleased to get back to. She had a varied career from 1946-60 and from 1966-78 when she retired from paid employment.

Betty had a strong social conscience and would endeavour to right any perceived wrong hence many letters to the Rossendale press, Rochdale Observer and appropriate authorities. Her social conscience and desire to help others led her to becoming a volunteer at Whitworth Citizens Advice Bureau in 1966 and organiser from 1970–1992. This led to Betty being awarded an M.B.E.

Throughout her life Betty was a devout Christian and took a full part in the life and work of Hallford United Reform Church where she was an Elder and a choir member and also took part in productions of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Betty was a member of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Whitworth Museum, Littleborough Civic Trust and the Ramblers Association. A keen walker and a determined person who wasn’t afraid of doing her own thing and going her own way.

Summer pastimes included visits to tea rooms both near and far. Her favourite particularly in recent years was Millcroft Tea Gardens. July and August was the time for picking bilberries – to you and me – but always WIMBERRIES to Betty.

From Mr. Geoff Schofield, long-time friend and fellow walker in the Littleborough Civic Trust Walking Group.

Betty is survived by her husband Joe, and her children and grand children, Joe is still very active within the Walking Group.

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When the Waterwheel Stopped

This is an old news cutting found recently amongst papers at Wardle and Smallbridge History Group. Unfortunately no publication date or other details had been noted. If any of our readers can add anything, please contact the Editor. Thanks to Bernice Clifton for supplying this.

“The fact that the old water wheel in Hare Hill Park, Littleborough, has been stopped in recent weeks through lack of water may not seem of importance in these modern days, but it is interesting to recall the village history associated with it and the wheel’s continued usefulness even in the present days of up to date competition.

"It was only just prior to the Second World War that the old wheel ceased to be the means of supplying the whole of the district Council Offices with water. It was installed in the dim past by the Newall family, the former owners of Hare Hill Park and estate, to provide a water supply for the house so that before the days of a public supply the Newalls had all the facilities of a domestic water system.

"Brought by a six inch pipe from the hills beyond Calderbrook Road water was also made available in the old days to the Newall farms, and the water lost at the wheel filled the lodge of the Hare Hill Mill so that not a drop was wasted.

"Since the main supply was installed at the Council Offices about nine years ago water from the wheel has been used for park purposes, for the paddling pool and also for the Hare Hill Mill lodge.

"It is of interest to note that but for the offer to the district council by the late Major Fenton-Newall of Hare Hill House and grounds as a public park and offices, the council staff might now be housed in a building on the Square where the War Memorial stands. The council had bought the site, had plans prepared, and were about to start on the project when the offer of Hare Hill House came.

"The house itself was built in 1776* by Laurence Newall, a member of the Newall family which could trace back an unbroken pedigree for 600 years, and was the residence of the Newall family up to the end of the nineteenth century. No member of the Newall family has however lived at Littleborough during the past century. The offer of the house was gladly accepted by the District Council and there was a public opening of the Hare Hill estate on May 4th 1901.

"To return to the water wheel, council workmen have been uncovering sections of the pipe, which has been laid for a hundred years, in order to trace the cause of the stoppage of water and soon, it is hoped, the wheel will be turning again to the delight of the children and, incidentally, of the Parks Superintendent, Mr.G.A. Cumberlidge."

*Editor: Our understanding is that the main part of the House dates from the mid-nineteenth century, although some parts may be as old as 1776.

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Fond Memories of Littleborough from Afar

Two former residents of Littleborough have recently applied to join the Trust via our website.

Roy Fryer, now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada left this message:

I have just discovered the Littleborough Civic Trust, and I have read with deep interest the stories. (I need a moment to wipe my eyes). You see I used to live in Littleborough but left to come to Canada in the sixties. Were it not for the fact that I meet my wife in this city of Halifax in the province of Nova Scotia I think I would be back living int’ Borough... My wife and I visited Littleborough once on our honeymoon and again twenty five years later for our anniversary. My brother, sister and I lived up on Salley Street, Calderbook, before which we lived in one of those cottages in front of Calderbrook Church. Please tell me how I may join your organisation or if not renew some connection with the places I just enjoyed reading about and having been a part of long ago.

Thanking you and asking the almighty's blessing on you all, I will say bye for now. Roy Fryer.

Another former resident, Barrie Batemen, also has fond memories:

Living in Bedfordshire since 1966, and having left Littleborough in 1995, I retain a sentimental attachment to the 'old place'. A neighbour of mine, who herself was born in the 'borough' passed to me the Autumn / Winter 2007 Newsletter. Please let me know how much I would owe you for annual membership.

I was born in 1932 at 36 Ealees Road, and subsequently lived in Hare Hill Road, Shore Road, and finally in Henderville Street, into which street my family moved, brand new house, the week that war broke out! My father, William Bateman, was a postman in the town for 47 years, and my grandfather, also William, was a gardener at Town House for some 55 years, and lived at Town House Lodge. I worked for the Yorkshire Penny Bank in both Todmorden, Rochdale and Littleborough, before moving to Bolton. Before doing that I had a spell working at Whittles.

I have two sisters living. One is in the Nursing Home in Smithy Bridge Road, and the other still lives in Calderbrook Road.

I have many nostalgic memories of Littleborough. My vists now are few. I do not enjoy the motorway driving, and ration my journeys to Lancashire to those which are absolutely necessary.

There! I am sure that is enough! My memories of Littleborough I treasure. Central School; transfer to Heywood Grammar; cricket matches and umpiring at Hare Hill; a devoted addiction to Spotland and things soccer (first match there in 1943); refereeing in the Rochdale Sunday School League. You can divine that I am an old codger (actually just short of touching 80).

I was a close schoolboy friend of Keith Parry for the whole of my school days. We spent a deal of the summer holidays in each other's homes. During the fine weather we often cycled beyond Salley Street, and, near to one of the tunnel outlets, there was (and no doubt still is) a stream tumbling down the hillside. Many is the hour of delight we spent rearranging the stones to make alternative routes for the water. Joy, and bliss. Our paths diverged after leaving school, and I heard no more of Keith, nor he of me, until six years or so ago I had a compelling urge to see Keith again. I recognised him, but he could not reciprocate, alas. He had no recollection, it seemed, of those years ago. A month or so after I saw him, he was dead. Just what compelled me to go to see him I will never know, it being a sudden act as I passed the bottom of his street off Hare Hill Road, but I am glad I did!

Best wishes,

Barrie Bateman

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The Memory Box

We’re pleased to include another extract from Rod Broome’s “Memory Box”, with these memories of a time when people didn’t buy their Christmas bird at Tesco!

The Silver Three-penny Bits

A few days before Christmas, after he’s finished his tea, Dad stands up and says, ‘Come on, son, it’s time we got our Christmas dinner.’

So leaving by the back door, wrapped up in our warm winter coats against the cold weather, Dad and I set out for the hen pen.

We stride quickly along Calderbrook Road towards Demurest, but when we turn the corner there are no more street lights, so Dad switches on his torch and we follow its oval beam along the track towards the gate.

Once inside the pen, we make our way to the long shed and, as soon as we get inside, Dad lifts down the paraffin lamp from its hook in the roof and lights the wick with a match from his pocket. When he puts it up again our half of the long shed is bathed in a pale yellow light.

In the other half of the shed, beyond the wire gate which divides it, the hens shuffle uneasily on their perch, cocking their round glassy eyes in our direction, wondering what the reason is for this unexpected visit.

We don’t hang about.

Dad says, ‘Here, give me a hand,’ and we slide out a big blue tub and an empty tea chest – which normally are pushed into a corner out of our way – and place them under two hooks that are screwed into a strut in the roof. Then he says, ‘You can do the one over the tub, I’ll hang mine over the tea chest.’

He opens the wire gate and moves quietly along the perch looking at each hen in turn. He already knows which two birds he is going to choose. Gently he lifts a hen from its place and holds it in the crook of his left arm. Then, returning to where I am standing, he puts his right hand around its neck, just below the head and, with a downward twisting action, kills it instantly. It doesn’t squawk - there is no sound. Looping a piece of string around its legs he hangs it up, flapping and jerking, on the hook above my tea chest.

He then makes a second journey, chooses another hen, and returns to our half of the shed again before quietly breaking its neck. That hen flaps too, but he hangs it above the blue tub, gives me a smile and says, ‘Right! Off we go!’

I don’t feel too happy about pulling the feathers out of my bird when it’s jerking about and its wings are still moving, so I look at Dad anxiously.

‘Are you sure they’re dead?’

‘Yes, they are – definitely. Don’t worry about that. It’s just the nerves that make them flap. They’re much easier to pluck when they’re warm. So get cracking!’

We go at it as fast as we can, letting the feathers fall into the containers below the hens. Dad is much quicker than I am, but soon there are two bare white bodies hanging on the hooks before us, giving the occasional twitch. They still have feathered necks and lower thighs, so Dad lifts them both down and lays them on the bench to remove the last of the feathers and chop off their heads and feet.

I stand beside him and watch quietly, not upset in any way.

‘What are we doing now, Dad?’

‘I need to clean them out before we take them home to Mum. You can just stand and wait. I won’t be very long.’

Not sure what he means by “cleaning them out”, I watch as he makes a slit in the first hen’s bottom and eases it apart until there’s a hole. Then plunging in his hand he pulls out a string of multi-coloured tubing – pale blue, and pink, and cream – and an egg without a shell.

In goes his hand again and this time more solid things emerge. Dad points out various organs. ‘Look, there’s the heart, the liver and the gizzard – we’ll take those home to Mum.’

‘Can we eat them?’

‘They’re the giblets. Yes, they’re very good. Mum will use those to make gravy.’

The second hen is treated in exactly the same way as the first, and a few minutes later, both of them are wrapped in white paper, and then newspaper, ready to take home to Mum.

Dad wipes his hands on the bit of old rag he brought with him.

‘That’s another job done,’ he says contentedly, as we lock up the shed and walk back home. ‘There’s one for us and one for Cousin Marion.’

I nod, and feel pleased with our night’s work. Christmas Day is the only day in the whole year when we have chicken for dinner – and I have helped Dad to prepare it.

* * *

It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow so I’m going to make sure the real Father Christmas knows what presents I would like. I’m not allowed to say ‘want’ because Mum says those who ‘want’ don’t ‘get’.

Usually I have to get Dad to help with sending the letter, because we have to go very close to the fire. First I get an old copy of the Daily Herald that hasn’t been used to wrap the peelings in, and a pencil or crayon out of my pencil box. I tear a strip off the edge of a page and rest it on a book on the table. I’m not allowed to put it straight on the table-top because the marks might go through. Then I start my letter. I always put ‘Dear Father Christmas’ and I always say ‘please’ and Dad says not to make it too long or Father Christmas won’t get it.

The way we send it is like magic. When my letter is finished, I fold it up very small and give it to Dad. We have to wait until the coal is red and there are some good flames, and then he takes the little folded paper, leans into the fireplace over the flames, and throws it up the chimney as hard as he can. Then we both stare into the fire and wait to see what happens.

Sometimes my letter comes tumbling down again and gets burned up by the blazing fire, which means Father Christmas didn’t get it, but sometimes it stays up the chimney. It just disappears up there! Then we know the message has reached Father Christmas!

I ask Mum if she thinks he’ll bring the presents I want – I mean would like – and she says she thinks he will. But I must not forget to put out the mince pie and glass of milk on Christmas Eve to help him on his way.

When Christmas Eve comes at last, we all go down to Grandma Broome’s house for a party. Dad gets home from work at 7 o’clock, has a quick wash in the kitchen, puts on his best suit and off we go along Whitelees Road to Stubley.

When we get there, we go in at the back door, because that’s the way everybody goes in, and find the room is decorated with streamers, holly and Christmas cards. Uncle Charlie and Auntie Ethel are there already, and all the Aunties are wearing their best dresses, and everyone keeps saying Happy Christmas to each other and giving them kisses. I look up at the ceiling and catch out two of the Aunties right away under the mistletoe.

Mum, Dad and I take off our coats and Grandad gives Mum a sherry and Dad a bottle of beer, and Auntie Nellie gives me a lemonade. She says it’s Co-op Lemonade and it’s the best there is!

Everyone talks to everyone else, and we play a few games like Tippit, The Tingalary Man and Hide the Thimble and then it’s time for the Buffy. We only have a Buffy at Christmas. It’s a table full of all kinds of food from which you can go and help yourself. There are different kinds of meat and a bowl of tomatoes and a big pork pie and celery and pickled onions and cheese and bread and butter and fruit cocktail and Carnation milk and mince pies and Christmas cake.

When you’re eating the mince pies or Christmas cake, you have to be very careful because sometimes, hidden inside, are some silver threepenny bits. Every single time Dad eats a piece of Christmas cake or a mince pie, he finds a silver three-penny bit!

I watch him pick up a mince pie and take a bite. Suddenly he stops chewing and turns to me with a surprised look on his face. ‘Just a minute,’ he splutters, with his mouth full of pie. ‘What’s this?’ and then he puts his hand to his mouth and there’s a shiny, silver threepenny bit!

I eat three mince pies but I don’t find one. Then Uncle Charlie eats a mince pie and he finds one. Then Grandad Broome finds one. I have another mince pie and I still don’t find one. Then Mum says I mustn’t eat any more, or I’ll be sick. Grandad and Uncle Charlie and Dad all laugh, and Grandad gives me the silver three-penny bit that he found.

‘You were just unlucky,’ he says, and they all laugh again!

The clock on the mantel shelf chimes half-past eleven, and Mum says it’s time to go home, as Father Christmas will be coming soon.

I say, ‘Can we stay a bit longer, please?’ and Mum says, ‘Five minutes,’ but at a quarter to twelve she goes and gets our coats and we put them on.

We say ‘Goodbye’ to everyone and wish them ‘Happy Christmas’ once more even though we’ll be seeing them all again tomorrow, and soon we’re out in the cold, frosty night under a pale yellow moon and a canopy of twinkling stars. And now we have to walk all that way back along Whitelees Road to get home!

My legs are tired and I walk slower and slower, and I wish I had enough courage to ask Dad to carry me, but I know he won’t so I don’t ask. Suddenly, half way along Whitelees Road, he stops with a startled look on his face.

‘Oh my goodness!’ he exclaims. ‘I think we’re too late!’

Mum and I stare at him, and I say, ‘Oh, what’s the matter?’

He tells me that he has just glanced along a back entry, and thinks he saw someone in a red coat with a sack over his shoulder. It must be Father Christmas delivering his presents, and if I’m not in bed in ten minutes he’ll give our house a miss!

I take hold of Mum’s hand and begin to pull her along, and we set off at top speed towards home, with me glancing over my shoulder every few seconds. I don’t see anything, but Dad thinks he hears a bell jingling, so we go even faster and soon we reach home and unlock the front door.

I start getting undressed the moment I walk into the front room, whilst Mum goes upstairs to get Cowboy and my pyjamas. Then I kiss Mum and Dad goodnight, pick up Cowboy and head for the staircase.

When I reach the bottom step, Dad calls, ‘Haven’t you forgotten something?’ and then I remember the drink of milk and mince pie for Father Christmas, so Mum gets them from the kitchen and I put them carefully on a mat in the centre of the table in the front room.

Tomorrow will be Christmas Day, and all my presents will be here – and after dinner the Aunties will call and see what Father Christmas has brought. Everyone will wish each other ‘Happy Christmas’ all over again, and enjoy the Buffy Mum and Dad have made. And this time I might be lucky and find a silver three-penny bit.

* * *

In a little purse in my Memory Box are a few silver three-penny bits. Nowadays they look very small indeed and are quite rare. They were not produced after 1945, and during my early childhood they were already on the decline, being replaced by the heftier nickel-brass, twelve sided three-penny coin.

During the 1960s, silver three-penny pieces were sometimes made into bracelets by drilling the coins close to the edge and threading them together in some way, often with little silver links. However, my coins are untouched. They probably came from my Grandparents’ home, and were no doubt found when their house was cleared after their death.

The custom of hiding coins in puddings or mince pies seems to have died out nowadays – doing so would probably contravene Health and Safety regulations! I shall leave mine in my Memory Box.

(Copyright © Rod Broome 2011)

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Editor: Brian Walker


 

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