Much of the material for one place studies comes from primary and secondary sources. Increasingly these are scanned and available online but there is still something special about seeing the original documents. Equally there is something about walking around the area of study, imagining what it was like in different ages when buildings were absent and others still standing. Artifacts are another means of connecting with a place and the people who lived there before. Usually artifacts are seen in museums but it was a privilege this weekend to see some in the context in which they were originally used.

This weekend was the heritage open day weekend when a large number of historical buildings are open to the public and display some aspects of their heritage. Yesterday I visited the Crawshawbooth Quaker Meeting House, opened in 1716. Prior to this the Quakers met in a private house on Chapel Hill and their burial ground is still there.

The Crawshawbooth Meeting House is virtually unchanged since is opened but of particular interest to me were three artifacts brought there from the old place of meeting. They were therefore older than the meeting house itself and were used during or after Quaker worship in the Springhill area in the late C17 and early C18. They are described in the history of the Meeting House.

The table

Tables, altars and pulpits do not feature in Quaker worship and this table was probably used for refreshments after the meeting. The cross bars are grooved from centuries of feet resting on them.

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The candle holder
Obviously there were no electric lights when the Meeting House was opened and this candle holder was brought from the original meeting place. I don’t think the candles are original...

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The pitcher

Friends travelled a considerable distance on foot or horseback to the Meeting House and this pitcher, said to be C16, contained wither water or wheat beer for their refreshment. It seems that they all shared a common cup. Its use now is solely ornamental, and to prop up the C21 ‘fire exit’ notice.

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Local traditions - round the hills walk

The Rossendale Round the Hills walk is an 18 mile walk which goes, err, around the hills. It vaguely follows the old boundary of the former borough of Rawtenstall. Vaguely.

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It is not a traditional ‘beating of the bounds’ type walk, being started in 1967 by Walter Whittaker as a family friendly community event, though the families have to be of a certain age to manage all 18 miles. It is now run jointly by Rossendale Rotary Club and Rossendale Harriers, and is still free to enter although donations welcome.

The first Sunday in September sees around 300 people start off from Marl Pits sports complex (100 yards along the road and on land historically belonging to Springhill Farm). The route then passes down Newchurch Road to Rawtenstall, up Haslingden Old Road and pate the ski slope Cribden. Traditionally it then went along the side of Cribden and the summit is not on a right of way and was inaccessible (cough) until opened up by the CROW Act. The use of footpaths on Cribden is closely monitored by a local farmer who has used voice (regularly) dogs (occasionally) and in more lurid versions shotguns (allegedly) to keep ramblers on the straight and narrow.

From Cribden the walk passes along the tops to Hambledon Hill past the ‘weather station’ to drop down by Clowbridge Reservoir (adjacent to the site of Gambleside Colliery, once owned by John Ashworth of Springhill House). It then passes past Compston’s Cross (commemorating Samuel Compston, father of EL Compston of Springhill House... theme emerging here) to Water. The route then passes up Dean Lane to Jack Lodge, alone Edgeside Lane to Waterfoot, losing some every year in the Jolly Sailor. It then passes up Lench and over Cowpe Lowe to Cloughfold, going through the quarry scrubbing mill at Cloughfold, visible from Springhill House...

You are now about half a mile from the end but it is up Peel Street, only 1:10 gradient but a killer after 18 miles. The route then passes along Newchurch Road past Springhill (where to temptation to just go home and not finish has to be resisted) and back to Marl Pits. Then, to add the final insult, you have to go upstairs to get your certificate.

It was a glorious day this year and I had to work...

A description of the walk is given here.

(Occasionally, as on this map, the walk starts at Fearns school in Waterfoot but the circuit is the same. The last 2.5 miles have more downhill if you start there)

remote infuences on your place

Lovely day so walk over Rooley Moor between Rossendale and Rochdale. It was thought originally to have been a medieval route linking Whalley Abbey and the monks of Spotland,

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Much of Rooley Moor Road was setted in the mid 1860s, as a job creation scheme for Rossendale cotton workers impoverished by the cotton famine. This was a shortage of raw cotton to supply the mills due to the blockade of Confederate ports by Unionists during the American Civil war. The effect was profound, with short time working at best (with some cotton from India and Egypt), massive demands on poor-relief and near starvation.

in 1863 Parliament passed the Public Works (Manufacturing Districts) Act allowing local authorities to borrow at low interest to fund projects of public benefit. The setting of Rooley Moor Road was one of these, Alexandra Park in Oldham another.

Despite the hardship many Lancashire people supported Lincoln. In 1862 a group of mill girls sent a letter to Lincoln supporting his actions; his return acknowledged their hardship and praised their stance as ‘an instance of sublime Christian heroism”.

Other consequences were in the migration of individuals, many of whom left to seek work elsewhere. One of my ancestors has older and younger siblings born in Rossendale. She was born in Stockton on Tees, where her family went to seek work during the cotton famine.

The history of one place can be influenced by events far removed from it, and a one-place study may stretch out a very long way...

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’!