'All the nice girls love a tar'

I was browsing the Discovery catalogue this afternoon in a quiet half hour (as you do) and was struck by 5 entries in the Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services from 1907-1917. All were for young men from the local area who had signed up for the Navy. None were from the immediate Springhill area but all gave their birthplace as 'Cloughfold', the village of which Springhill is part.

There were three things in particular which struck me:

Firstly, this area is approx 40 miles from the sea and I wonder what induced them to join the navy. Was it the excitement of the unknown? Did they have any idea what they were letting themselves in for? Had any of them ever actually seen the sea?

Secondly, 3 of the five joined up before the start of WW1 so it was presumably a conscious career choice for them rather than an attempt to avoid a less palatable option in the trenches. There was plenty of employment locally and the area was a net importer of labour so it is not likely to be desperation to find work.

Thirdly two of the lads (Fred Taylor - good luck researching that name round here- and Charles Wright - attested at the same time and have registration numbers which are not quite consecutive but separated by one digit. Were they friends who signed up together? They both registered in 1914 - did they see which way the wind was blowing and opted for the navy rather than the army?

I haven't sent off for the records yet. In that parallel universe with plenty of time…


'Waingate worthy of a song'

My father always used to say that there was a hymn tune named after Waingate, a hamlet about 400 yards along the hillside from Springhill. He couldn't remember it, had never sung it to his knowledge and didn't have a copy.

This was substantiated however by a line in a poem which referred to various parts of Rossendale and concluded 'Waingate worthy of a song'. I was no nearer finding the tune but had some external evidence that it existed.

My family had a number of hymnbooks of various ages including my great-grandfather's from 1896. Nope, it wasn't in any of them. However an online friend implied it was 'readily available' so keep looking…

Some time later I began to volunteer at the local museum (The Whitaker) and their collection included music which was played by the Deign Layrocks, a C18-19 choir and band who played in the Water and Goodshaw areas of Rossendale. Some of their instruments and original music is on display in the local history section but this reproduced copy of the music was in the store.

And there it was!


Waingate score book copy





Waingate score copy 2


I haven't tried playing it yet…need to get my clarinet out…

For good measure, the original Layrocks' instruments.

dean layrocks instruments 600




In memoriam

In memoriam:
Harry Dawson
James Driver
George Caygill
Harold Hart
Joseph Taylor

Springhill residents or neighbours who died in WW1. Rest in peace, gentlemen.



peace poppy