52 residents #9 James Driver

Private, 28981, 2 Bn East Lancashire Regiment, d 15/03/1917 aged 28 (Cemserch has 37). Commemorated Pier and Face 6C, Thiepval.
He left 'all of my property and effects to my mother'.
He was awarded the British and Victory medals so presumably didn’t serve overseas in 1915, although his battalion did.

In 1911 he is enumerated at Meadow Head Farm, Stone Mason, single, 4 sisters and 3 brothers at home. The CWGC records his being the 'son of James and Margaret Driver of Cross Farm, Cloughfold’.These two farms are virtually at opposite ends of the same field so the family may have moved down the hill. As a stone mason he may have worked in the stone dressing works on the hill above Cloughfold.

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2 Btn East Lancashire was a regular battalion. They were in South Africa at the outbreak of WW1 but were stationed for pretty much the duration of the war on the Western Front. They returned from South Africa to Flanders in Nov 1914 and overwintered in the trenches.
Initially part of the 8th Division they transferred to 23rd Division on 18 Oct 1915 and returned to 8th Division 15 Jul 1916. They left the theatre in 1918, James Driver was dead by that time, presumably injured in the events surrounding Ancre in early 1917.

Outline timeline of 2 Bn East Lancs activity (not comprehensive!)
Neuve Chapelle 10-13 March 1915.
Aubers Bridge 9 May 1915. An assault which ‘failed bloodily’.
Bois Grenier Oct 1915. Held the front as part of the 23rd Division ‘for a considerable time’ until relieved early in 1916.
Carency 3 March 1916 to hold the Boyau de l’Ersatz and Souchez River fronts.
Vimy Ridge, 21 May 1916 supporting the 47th Division. Relieved 11 June.
Contalmaison 7 July 1916
Guedecourt 23 October 1916
Ancre/German retreat to Hindenburg March/April 1917
Westhoek Ridge July 1917
Bethen court 23 March 1918 (also Rosieres 26 March and Thiennes 31 March)
Villers-Bretonneux 24 April 1918
River Aisne 27 May 1918. They had been allocated to a ‘quiet area’ for a ‘rest’
Gavrelle 8 Oct 1918. By the Armistice they were 9 miles outside Mons

Lancashire Infantry Museum website summaries the involvement of the Lancashire regiments in WW1.

The famous ‘Accrington Pals’ was the 11th Btn of the East Lancs. They saw 235 killed and 350 wounded in about half an hour on 1 July 1816.


Every now and then we come across wayside shrines. Sadly these are often on pavements at the site of traffic accidents or where someone died violently. Sometimes they commemorate a place which was precious to the person being commemorated.

One such has recently appeared at the top of Edge Lane. There is a memorial card, a small wreath and a poem to ‘Mum’.

Shrine Edge Lane Feb 2015 200 shrine edge lane text 200

There are no clues to the identity of the person commemorated. The poem is rather sad (click on the image for a bigger picture).

52 residents #8 George Hargreaves

Well this is going well.

The will of Bathsheba Davenport still hasn’t arrived so she will have to wait another week.
Next up should have been Charlotte Anne Hargreaves but her marriage settlement hasn’t arrived yet (ok. I’ve only just ordered it)
So, rapidly rising up the pecking order is George Hargreaves

The key question here is, which George Hargreaves? Rossendale is stuffed full of them.

I do know that he was chairman of the committee which organised the building of the Sunday School at Sion in 1901. He got to lay the foundation stone to the right of the door, whilst his wife laid the second from the left on the south wall. As there are 14 foundation stones in that building, there were plenty left for others.

finance committee Sion new school 1902 thumbnail
(apologies to T Wallwork, who has ended up a bit blurred there on the back row left)

foundation stone 9 Hargreaves thumbnail foundation stone 12 hargreaves thumbnail

Ok, so who was he then?

A note in the local paper (
Rossendale Free Press Sept 5 2014) suggested that George Hargreaves ran a locally based building company.

He certainly wasn’t the George Hargreaves who ran Rossendale Colleries with John Ashworth, because that George Hargreaves was dead by then.

He certainly wasn’t the George Hargreaves of Underwood who is buried in Sion churchyard as he was dead by then as well. Incidentally this George Hargreaves is a direct ancestor of mine, my connection with Sion going back over the best part of 200 years. Makes finding ancestors tricky, their all being good Baptists and all. He certainly wasn’t a descendant of that George Hargreaves either; I know who they are…

He doesn’t appear on the composite memorial to the family of Elijah Hargreaves, though he may have been related to them.

So much for the churchyard, lets try the trades directories.

McDonalds 1879 doesn’t have a George Hargreaves under builders. There is a confectioner, a reasonable match surely?! Knowing Sion, I doubt very much he was the wine merchant…
He could be the Hargreaves of Hargreaves and Melladen of Crawshawbooth possibly?

Mannex 1875 has George Hargreaves clothes dealer. Not a builder then. The confectioner was there then as well.

(other directories have only been transcribed for the immediate area around Springhill, so he cold be lurking in there.)

Ok the census.
The 1901 census, as indexed by a major database, has only one George Hargreaves, builder, and he lived in Fleetwood on the other side of Lancs so not him. Get rid of the builder bit and there are 204 to choose from.

Say he was 60-70 in that picture, that would put his dob at around 1830-1840 ish. Putting a dob of 1835 +/- 10 years gives me 24 of whom 3 were born in the area:
7 Worth Lane Rawtenstall b 1832 blacksmith
71 Newchurch Road, b 1834 Waste dealer (Cotton)
23 Newchurch Road b 1844 weaver cotton mill

mmm not much further on there then.

There were 15 George Hargreaves died 1910 +/- 10 years of whom 6 would be in the approximate age group. Of course he may have retired to St Annes as many in the area did.

doing well aren’t we?

Newspapers: the local squeak hasn’t been digitised (FMP tell me they are working on it!). There are 146 references to George Hargreaves in Lancashire in papers between 1900-1919, none of which refer to my chap.

google wasn’t my friend on this occasion either.

Can’t help feeling I’m missing something obvious here, but further details of George Hargreaves will have to wait.

RFP 'yesteryear' page

Now I know I’m getting older but when your school pictures appear on the ‘yesteryear’ page of the local paper (Rossendale Free Press 19/2/15 to be precise), that is not good…

hockey pic RFP thumbnail
BRGS Under XV XI hockey team 1977/8 (not 1974 as the paper says)

L-R back row: Deborah Hepburn, Hilary Hulme, Gillian Wright, Christine Tyler, Alison Barff, Tina Howarth
front row: Janet Watkins, Lorriane Taylor, Elaine Dearden, Janet Crook, Linda Flynn

coached by the one and only Miss H Pretty.

some things never change

Whilst Springhill itself has never flooded to the best of my knowledge, there are a number of factors which make the wider area liable to flooding:
  • underlying poorly draining clay soil combined with a heavy rainfall,
  • culverted Parrock brook which isn’t dredged
  • two downhill roads meeting in a slightly hollowed part of the village
  • some houses on Newchurch Road being set at slightly below road level
  • mid C19 plumbing system taking water from the underground reservoirs on Seat Naze to the Springhill properties
  • potentially exacerbated by proposed building on the field behind Johnny Barn Close.

There was an extensive flood in Rossendale in 1911 resulting in ‘tons of debris’ being deposited on Edge Lane adjacent to Sion chapel (amongst numerous other places).

flood edge lane thumbnail

History repeated itself on 22 June 2012 when flash floods made their way down Edge Lane and onto Newchurch Road…

flood edge lane 1 thumbnail flood edge lane 4 thumbnail Edge Lane looking S and N
flood edge lane 7 thumbnail flood edge lane 9 thumbnailEdge Lane looking S, Newchurch Road

Yet the flood didn’t touch Springhill itself as this picture from the same spot as the first one above, looking W instead of S illustrates…

flood edge lane 2 thumbnail

The Environment Agency identifies Edge Lane, Johnny Barn Close, Johnny Barn Farm and Newchurch Road as High Risk areas and Johnny Barn Cottages as Medium Risk. Springhill is at no appreciable risk. Interesting as it is just round the corner.

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52 residents #7 Harry Dawson

My intention with this part of the blog was to look at people alphabetically, partly to stop me doing all the easy ones in the first part of the year. However the gov.uk website hasn’t yet produced the will of Bathsheba Davenport so Harry Dawson gets to jump the queue.

In brief:
Rifleman, R/9916, 8th Btn King's Royal Rifle Regiment d 24/08/1916 age 21. Commemorated Pier and Face 13A and 13B, Thiepval. ‘Killed in action’
Address 1911 22 Dobbin Lane, cotton weaver, single, two older sisters at home.
Born Cloughfold
He left 'all I have to my mother'.
CWGC records 'son of Thomas and Mary Jane Dawson of Springhill Lodge'.

Soldiers killed in great war has ‘killed in action’, France and Flanders which doesn’t narrow it down much. His medal card shows that he received the victory medal, the British Medal and the 1915 star. It also states theatre of war ‘France’, and qualifying date of 14/8/15. Looks like he got his pip, squeak and Wilfred then. Or rather his family did, as the medal card also records ‘K in A’ which is a little more subtle than that of my great uncle Gunner Tom Watkins whose medal card states rather bluntly ‘dead’.

The regiment’s war diaries for 14/8/15 suggest that the main concern was that telephone communications were bad all day. The battalion had seen fierce fighting with the loss of some ground and life on 30 July and the entry for 12 August records that they will soon receive reinforcements, which duly arrived on 15/8 . Presumably Harry was one of these.

I love the matter of fact nature of these diaries. The sound of the bombardments on 5 Sept 1915 was described as ‘somewhat unpleasant’. mmm. “Trenches very wet - knee deep in mud and water’. Lovely.

Approximately 180 men died from 8 Btn King’s Royal Rifles died in operations on 24 July 1816. RIP gentlemen.

It doesn’t help research that there were two Harry Dawsons b 1895 in the King’s Royal Rifle, the other chap being b Bingley and in 6th btn. (British Army service records 1914-1920 transcription WO 363, 62855) and was discharged in 1916.

This also shows the value in exploring a number of sources to determine who lived in Springhill. He wasn’t there at census time and his family aren’t named on any deeds I’ve seen, but his parents’ address is given on his CWGC record.

scary stuff

Absolutely no connection to Springhill but as an anaesthetist I can’t resist it.
Seen a few surgical nurses like the lady third left…usually when Mr X says he wants to add a ‘quick’ case to the end of the list.

nurses 1872

52 residents #6 E L Compston

EL Compston was a well known GP and homeopath in the area, probably practising from Springhill House as that address appears on his invoices. He was active in the St John’s ambulance and was the medical attendant at the auxiliary military hospital at Newhall Hey which is said not to have lost a patient during the war - a remarkable record.

His father Samuel also lived at Springhill House during his final illness. Samuel was alderman and JP for many years and Mayor of Rawtenstall who was given the freedom of the borough in 1919. He is commemorated by Compton’s cross, high above Clowbridge. The casket commemorates Samue being given the freedom of the borough.

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Compston’s cross Samuel Compston Freedom casket, Samuel

Edmund Leach Compston was born Settle, N Yorks, 3q 1870, the son of Samuel and Mary Ann Compston.

Samuel is listed on the 1881 census as ‘medical practitioner - unregistered’ living at Swinshaw, Higher Booths, Rossendale. As Swinshaw is at the top of the hill it seems a strange place to put a doctor. 1891 has Samuel as a ‘homeopathic practitioner (not registered)’. It is interesting that there was a demand for homeopathy in Rossendale at that time. EL is enumerated as a medical student at his parent’s address.

In 1901 and 1911 he is in Crawshawbooth with his family including daughters Flora (b ~ 1898) and Marjorie (b~1900). He had married Elizabeth Ellis q3 1984 in Prestwich. He was practising from his father’s house in 1901 with Samuel being enumerated as ‘Drs Pharmacist and dispenser’

crawshawbooth compston house thumbnail Lilac House, Crawshawbooth home of EL Compston on right.

EL Compston bought Springhill House in 1934 and set about converting it into a series of dwellings. Springhill house was subdivided into three - Compston’s portion retained the name Springhill House, with Lawn House and Sunset View being formed from the remainder. The Cot was formed from an outbuilding of what is now Sunset View and The Bungalow from the old billiard hall of Springhill House.

Apparently his embarkation details to New York include a description of a ‘cut on nose’ as an identifying feature.

1881 census:
Civil parish: Higher Booths Lancashire Street Address: Swinshaw Registration district: Haslingden Sub-registration district: Rossendale ED, 2 Piece: 4132
Folio: 54 Page Number: 43

1891 census:
Civil parish: Higher Booths Ecclesiastical parish: All Saints Town: Crawshaw Booth Lancashire Registration district: Haslingden Sub-registration district: Rossendale ED, 2 Piece: 3349 Folio: 49 Page Number: 40

1901 census:
Civil parish: Rawtenstall Ecclesiastical parish: Crawshaw Booth St John Lancashire Registration district: Haslingden Sub-registration district: Rawtenstall ED, 6 Household schedule number: 216 Piece: 3846 Folio: 133 Page Number: 33

1911 census:
Civil parish: Rawtenstall Lancashire Street Address: Crawshawbooth Rawtenstall Marital Status: Married Occupation: Physician And Surgeon Registration district: Haslingden Registration District Number: 471
Sub-registration district: Rawtenstall ED, institution, or vessel: 05 Piece: 24699

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