Postcode predictions

The 40th anniversary of the postcode triggered a number of articles on the desirability or otherwise of particular postcodes and their role in shaping the identity of a place and, by inference, of the individuals who life there. This made me wonder about the inferences and generalisations based on Springhill’s postcode.

Springhill falls into the postcode BB4 7SP apart from 1,2 & 4 Springhill Cottages which for some bizarre reason are BB4 7SR. Check my area gets off to a good start stating that it comprises “Well-off older couples and families in large detached and semi-detached houses”. Whilst half a dozen or so houses (the new build on the previous farmland) may be described as ‘large detached’ there is not a semi- in the place. The conversion of Springhill House and its outbuildings has lead to a notch-potch of houses joined in apparently random fashion which are technically described as ‘terraced’ but nothing like the typical northern terraced rows.

“The properties are vey large in size’. Whilst there are some sizeable properties there are a similar number of 3 bedroom houses and a tiny 3 room cottage.

Apparently residents are most likely to have a ‘Barclaycard Platinum Purchase’ credit card and a loan from Natwest...I have no idea why they came to this conclusion or on what it is based. Nor have I any idea how accurate it is...but our credit rating is said to be good.

Streetcheck helpfully tells us that here are two more males than females but I have no idea how they reached the total of 180+ of each, given that the postcode comprises only 14 properties and at least one of those is single occupancy...the three houses in BB4 7SR apparently house 110 individuals and even including the ‘census area’ (which they helpfully map) it seems a bit tight. Their ethnic mix is way off and I’ve no idea who the 4 Hindus are. Nor the token Chinese.

I can however believe the crime figures showing two cases of anti-social behaviour.

Whilst these sites and others similar claim to offer postcode-specific data in reality it is aggregated from a larger area or generalised from ‘typical’ profiles. Much of the data is inferred, often from the census This inevitably makes such sites less accurate.

The next layer of analysis is ward, then the lower and middle layer super output areas (definitions here). The LSOA including Springhill is here but includes a number of other areas as well, with a minimum population of 1000. Being Office of National Statistics data these are more accurate...aren’t they?

what constitutes a link to a place?

I was transcribing the gravestones in Sion churchyard recently and was struck by the number of people buried there in the C19 who did not live in the immediate area. Most lived within a mile or so of Sion, but some obviously travelled considerable distance to worship and passed other Baptist churches on the way. Yet they were obviously connected sufficiently with Sion to be buried there.

So do they qualify for inclusion in a one-place study? What connection with a place is necessary to ‘count’? It’s not as easy as it seems!

Obviously study people who lived there - but for how long should someone have lived there? What about boarders on the census returns - should their link with the householder be followed up?

What about major landowners who never lived there? Springhill was copyhold land subject to the customs of the manor. Obviously study the copyhold holder but what about the lord or the steward?

There may be major employers with workers who spent all their working lives in the place but lived elsewhere. Alternatively a resident may have had a significant role - employed, voluntary, whatever - outside. How far do you study that up?

Marl Pits, once part of Springhill Farm, how hosts a sports complex with rugby and athletics club - should I study major club officials or key members, even if that was their only link to the area?

And when does it get silly - people who passed through on the bus...

Ultimately it is a personal study so it doesn’t really matter as long as the link is documented and explored consistently. Maybe the inclusion criterion is ‘whatever grabs my interest’!

Local traditions - the Rawtenstall Annual Fair

Immortalised in song by the Houghton Weavers and here by Lee Nicholson, the apocryphal Rawtenstall Annual Fair included sideshows of 40 ‘stone’ ladies, tattooed ladies, mermaids and the house o’myst’ry with a number of mishaps perpetrated by ‘the lads’ and a touch of general smut. The song has been described as ‘good rugby song stuff for the coach back from the game’ (but clean!). Incidentally the ‘coal pits up at Burnley’ referred to in the song have long gone...

There is no good evidence of a historic annual fair of this nature, rather local fairs included prizes for the best examples of a range of agricultural produce. Captain Patrick of Springhill was a regular entrant and won a number of prizes for, e.g., carriage horses, sucking pigs and geese.

Four years ago a local community group restarted the ‘Rawtenstall Annual Fair’, initially as a food/craft market with some chlldren’s stalls. It has since developed as a forum for local musicians/dancers/DJs to have the opportunity to perform live in public in the open air. But no mermaids.

In addition this year the local museum (now run by a community group after being closed by the County Council last year) ran an afternoon of Lancashire song and dialect and storytelling. I remember Lancashire dialect from my childhood, now it has all but gone. It is interesting that the fair is developing to try and preserve traditions such as dialect poetry and storytelling which were never part of the historic fairs of the area.

rawtenstall annual fair thumbnail Rawtenstall Annual Fair stalls thumbnail

Why is no 368 next to no 294?

Going through a neighbour’s deeds I found a list of tenants paying ground rent to the owners of Springhill Farm, together with date of tenancy and rent paid. Double checking which house was where showed that the numbers on the north side of Newchurch Road descend in order (apart from 388A but hey) from 420 to 368, all where you would expect them to be.

There is then a 20 yard gap with the entrance to Marl Pits sports ground.

The houses then resume with no 294 and descend in sequence from there down to Rawtenstall about 1/2 mile away.

newchurch rd bef widening marl pits 3 thumbnail

Although the houses along Newchurch Road form a continuous ribbon, this is relatively recent. Originally houses were sporadic (as illustrated on some of the maps on the map page under Albums) and were gradually infilled, finally becoming continuous in the 1980s.
When numbers were allocated there were many gaps in the ribbon and the numbers were allocated on the basis that the gaps would be filled with Victorian-sized terraces.

They weren’t. They were filled with peri-war semi-detached with relatively large gardens. As the gaps were infilled the numbers were counted up from Rawtenstall and down from Higher Cloughfold, with the gap at Marl Pits.

Local traditions - the Friends' annual meeting for worship

The Religious Society of Friends began to meet in Rossendale in the 1660s in Chapel Hill, about half a mile from Springhill. These meetings were initially in the open air then in various Friends’ houses. This continued until 1715 when the current Meeting House in Crawshawbooth was opened. The burial ground at Chapel Hill continued in use for burials until the mid C19 and 135 people are said to be buried there.

An annual meeting for worship has continued at the Chapel Hill site, certainly in recent years - I’m not sure if this is continuous from 1715 or not. On the last Sunday in June Friends gather from Rossendale and afield and sit quietly in the Quaker tradition until someone is moved to speak. Otherwise the silence is broken only by the wind in the trees, birdsong and ambient noise from the town half a mile away. It is a very peaceful place.

After the meeting the Friends walk the 3 miles or so over the moor to the regular Meeting House for afternoon tea.

Chapel Hill meeting 29 June 2014 thumbnail