Bygone Rawtenstall and Newchurch

Nigel Birch has taken a selection of old photographs and linked them together into videos showing arms of Rawtenstall and Newchurch in days gone by.


Rawtenstall part 2

Rawtenstall part 3


Newchurch part 2


Some excellent pictures amongst them.

Z is for Zoo

There isn't a zoo in Springhill, or in Rossendale for that matter, with the nearest zoo being in Blackpool about 50 miles away. At first sight therefore the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 don't apply to the area. Similarly I am not aware of any birds of prey kept in captivity so the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as they apply to birds of prey are not relevant either. Similarly the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 which requires the licensing and inspection of such animals to be held in captivity.

Yet I'm not so sure. Like many moorland areas there are persistent rumours of a panther or other large cat roaming on the hills. Nobody has actually seen it, everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who has seen it. Meanwhile the lambs seem to be born and survive to market every year. But who knows, perhaps an animal subject to the terms of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act wasn't held as securely as was needed?

Rather randomly, under the Grey Squirrels (Prohibition of Importation and Keeping ) Order 1937 a license is required for grey squirrels to be kept in captivity. Why anyone would await to is another question. The 'prohibition of importation' section obviously didn't work…

Y is for Youth

Prior to 1837 educational provision was very ad hoc:
Education for the privileged by governess or public school. Mary Ann Ashworth went to school 'in Rochdale' in the second decade of the 19th century and whilst this hasn't been traced with certainty the 'school for young ladies' is a possibility.
Dame schools, catering predominantly for young children, education may be minimal
Charity schools, none known in the area
Sunday schools from the 1780s onwards. the issue of teaching writing led to a split in the Methodist Church in Newchurch over whether or not this constituted 'work' on a Sunday

In 1852 the Select Committee on Criminal and Destitute Juveniles was formed in response to children roaming the street and causing mischief. It recommended 'systematic education and training for industrial work'. This was encouraged further via the 1857 Industrial Schools Act which established industrial schools covering training/skills for a trade. This included 'character reform' even if no crime committed... (these are distinct from the industrial schools established by Poor Law Unions in 1830s-40s for orphaned children) for children aged 7 to 'under 14' brought before the justices for vagrancy. Time period in school defined. In 1866 a further Act extended the reasons for admission to include begging, wandering, being in the company of thieves or being beyond parental control. The 1866 Industrial Schools Act also introduced regulations for certified establishments and schools for other denominations than C of E. Children under 12 convicted of imprisonable offence could be sent to industrial school instead of prison. In the 1876 Elementary Education Act, responsibility for industrial schools passed to education committee of the Local Authority. Apparently in 1880, a child aged under 14 living or associating with a known prostitute could be placed in an industrial school. The 1908 Children's & Young People Act made probation an alternative to industrial school. Industrial schools were abolished in 1932 and were replaced by approved schools

The 1870 Education Act England & Wales made school compulsory for children 5-13 although schools were only obliged to make provision up to age 10. Exemption could be given if a child had deemed to have reached a certain educational standard, and Patrick as Factories Inspector did prosecute mill owners for employing children without the required school certificates. This Act also established board schools, i.e those run by a school board. School boards could establish Day Industrial Feeding Schools and Truant Schools. The 1880 Elementary Education Act raised the age for which a certificate of educational standard was required in order for a child to be employed to 13 years. The minimum leaving age was raised to 11 in the Elementary Education (School Attendance Act 1893 irrespective of the standard raised. It was further raised to 12 in 1899. Education became compulsory from 5-14 under the 1918 Education Act which also began the introduction of part time education up to age 18. The school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1944, to 16 in 1972,though this had been in preparation since 1964. Similarly conversations were commenced in 2006 to raise the leaving age to 18, but the Education and Skills Act 2008 instead made it a requirement for young people to participate in education or training until they were 18. This need not necessarily be in school.

School boards were abolished in 1902 and responsibility for education was transferred to the local education authorities.

The legislation covering the education of children with special needs since 1944 is summarised in this article from the
TES. The picture before 1944 is complex with a range of provision for blind or deaf children, those with epilepsy and those who were deemed to be 'mentally defective'. These were described in the Defective and Epileptic Children Act 1899 and the Mental Deficiency Act 1913. A scholarly article on the social construction of special educational needs is given by Benjamin.

The Cloughfold Mentally Defective School was in operation between 1928 and 1941 and is summarised in my blog post go 30 March 2016.

Place your X in the box

Prior to 1832 the ability to vote had developed differently in different constituency types. Constituencies were usually counties or boroughs, so areas which weren't boroughs had minimal or no representation irrespective of their population, which might have grown markedly over time. Some places, most famously Old Sarum, returned MPs despite having no residents. Some powerful individuals controlled the election in several boroughs. Eligibility to vote varied widely between those constituencies in which voting was held. For county seats it was often based on the '40 shilling freehold' or holding freehold land worth 40 shillings in a county entitled the holder to a vote in that county. Owning property in more than one place gave entitlement to vote in each place.

The Representation of the People Act 1832 (2&3 Wm IV c 45) sought to 'take effectual Measures for correcting divers Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament'. Electoral Reform was a major issue in the 1830 General Election. It led to the abolition of borough seats with small franchises,
reduction in the number of MPs returned from remaining borough seats from 2 to 1
  • creation of seats distributed more evenly across the English counties and including larger towns.
  • extension of the franchise in counties to copyholders worth £10 and holders of long term leases on land worth £10. This would have a big effect in Rossendale where most land was copyhold. For borough constituencies (which Rossendale was not), men living in properties worth over £10 per year were enfranchised.
  • Introduced voter registration, administered by the overseers of the poor.

It was followed in 1867 by the Representation of the People Act 1867 (30&31 Vict c102) which continued the reforms of the previous Act. Locally that led to the establishment of Burnley as a Parliamentary Borough and its area covered Rossendale in the early stages. The changes also in effect led to the enfranchisement of all male heads of household.

Next came the Representation of the People Act 1884 (48&49 Vict c3). This led to the establishment of one-member constituencies with reduction in the return from the remaining two-member constituencies. It also standardised the franchise between borough and county seats on adult men paying £10/year rent or holding land worth £10. This covered 66% of men in England. Acquiring multiple votes by sub-dividing a property was outlawed - this did not affect Springhill as Springhill House was not sub-divided until after 1896.

After WWI it was realised that about 33% of adult males were ineligible to vote despite their war service. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave all men over 21 the vote in the constituency in which they were resident. The rules for 19-21 year olds who had turned 19 during service in WWI were confusing and were clarified in a subsequent Act in 1920. Over time that would cease to be a problem as they turned 21 anyway.

Women were entitled to vote under this act if they were either a member or spouse of a member of the Local Government Register, owned property or were graduates of a University which returned MPs. Universal female suffrage was introduced in the Representation of the People Act 1928 for females over 21.

The voting age was further lowered to 18 in 1969, effective from 1970. Further discussions continue about lowering it to 16. We will see.

This only applies to Parliamentary elections. Local Government franchise is different. Of course.

W is for War, or refusing to fight it.

Again a huge topic so this will concentrate on the legislation surrounding WWI.

It soon became apparent that the need for servicemen would not be met by volunteers so the Milirary Service Act 1916 introduced conscription for single men aged 18-41. I wonder if this led to a rash of marriages in an attempt to avoid service.

There were exemptions for those medically unfit to serve, for clergymen (many of whom allegedly urged their parishioners to sign up), teachers and certain protected occupations. This led to numerous challenges to conscription on the grounds that their occupation was protected. Locally this centred on what was a 'shoe' and what was a 'slipper', shoe workers were exempt as they could make boots but slippers were designated luxury items and their workers had to fight. In one case the recruiter argued that velvet shoes were a luxury and the individual argued, successfully, that they were made to be worn outdoors and so constituted a shoe.

It also introduced certificates of exemption for conscientious objectors, of which Springhill with its Quaker and Baptist influences had plenty. Conchies fell into three main groups:
  • non combatants - sign up but non arms bearing
  • alternativists - work not involving military control
  • abolitionists - no service supporting the war

Nationally,approx 16,000 applied, most of those who were successful were Quakers. The minister at Sion Baptist at the time, Rev J Barton Turner, was accused of running classes prior to the tribunals of men applying for conscientious objection. At his hearing he denied stating that it 'didn't matter whether Britain was ruled by King or Kaiser'. Around 3,400 accepted Non-Combatant Corps or RAMC, these were given rank, number and uniform.

In May 1916 Military Aervice Act was amended to include married men (so any rush to marry didn't work for long) and in April 1918 it was further amended to include all men between 17 & 55 in conscription.

peace poppy thumbnail

Organisations supporting conscientious objectors included
Fellowship of Reconciliation formed 1914 to 'promote non violence as a personal, social, economic and political transformation'
Peace Pledge union, also no more war project John Hart of Polefield Cottage left a legacy to the Peace Pledge Union.
No-conscription Fellowship, formed 1914 by Fenner Brockway and Clifford Allen to support conchies