Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Coalman, the coaltrucks and the firebeater.

Some memories of “The Coalmen, the Coaltrucks and the Firebeaters …. (blog created 3rd December 2011)

It was a regular thing! Certainly monthly during the winter months, you would hear the coalmen draw up in their wagon and lift the coal grate at the front. And then mum would shout, “Count them bags of coal they’re putting down shoot lad and make sure you count ten” You could hear the coal travelling down the stone lined coal shoot, which started its journey by the coalman lifting a metal cover (14ft square) on the floor, just in front of our front door, this is were he deposited the contents of the coal bags, which then made its way down into the cellar below the house.
The noise seemed to be a sort of rumbling thunderous sound has the coal must have caught the sides of the shoot on its way down and then as it reached the existing coal it made a loud thud, and that’s when you started counting, one, two, three and so on, up to five, but sometimes up to ten. I counted them with such concentration, just as though my life depended on it! There always were five or ten, never less and never more.

This is were W.H. Shaws office used to be, the first house in this photo which was on the corner of Spring Lane.

Most of the time, mum gave me the money each month, and I would go along to the coal office and pay the coal bill, I would take the white delivery ticket of about 6” square, showing details of the quantity of the delivery etc, and the ticket was always well smudged with black coal dust.
Going through them big doors into the coal office was just like going back in time, and it felt as though it was like a chapter out of “a Dickens novel”. (see photo above - Coal Office was on Blackburn Road as shown above, later this property was converted to the Islamic Centre, and then much later back to a private property)

“They’re were always at least three gentlemen in the Office, on most occasions they would be stood to their high desk, entering their ledgers. There were chairs for them at their sides, and so high of a chair, just like what “Bob Crachitt” may have been sat on. The gentlemen in that office were always so polite, it was especially such a great pleasure to see the boss, who was such a smart gentleman who always wore a “bowler hat” when you saw him outside, and sometimes you would see him driving his shiny red jaguar car. I never ever saw him going above 20 miles per hour, but that was about the usual speed most cars did those days. But to see him there, stood in front of his high desk with his quill pen. (It was a pen he had made with what I considered to be a very large turkey feather and cut at the bottom of the quill to provide a nib) and you would see him dip the pen into the blue ink, within the pot well, and sign his signature to his letters. His signature was large and probably measured about 2 ½” x 1 ½”. But looked really “classy”. (The Coal firm was called William Henry Shaws and the boss was called Mr. Sidney Jagger JP, and the others in that office were: Mr. Arthur Standley, Mr Aldred (well known Haslingden Cricketer), and later Mr Jagger's nephews joined the company David and Bernard Pickup)

I remember going home from school each day and walking along the side of the railway track. At one point the area was called “The Coal Sidings” and here there were always up to thirty coal trucks parked up on both sides of the sidings. The trucks were large timber oblong trucks sat upon metal bogies (bogies = assembly of four to six wheels forming a pivoted support at either end of a railway coach or truck.) These trucks contained various different sizes and qualities of coal, some for household use (usually larger cobs of around 4” to 8”) and some of the trucks contained smaller coal chippings, and these were used to keep the local factories going.

Daily I would go past the factory “fire holes” (some would call them boilerhouse) and sometimes you would see the “fire beater” shovelling the coal chippings, into the two large hoppers which were elevated at about six foot high at the front of the large boiler. I was also to later have the pleasure of experiencing what it was like to be a “fire beater” for a week or so, whilst the regular chap was off work. (buts that’s yet another story!)

Here are some of the local firebeaters I can remember were: Mr. Dewhurst at Clough End Mill, Alias at Carr Mill, Tom Riley and later Granville Nuttall at Union Mill etc.)

But getting back to the "Coal Sidings", the chaps there could be seen loading up their coal delivery wagons from the content of these trucks (railway trucks as seen in the photo above, and the chaps always seemed to be so strong, lifting and moving the bags of coal around without problem, they made it look so simple, they must have also had the “knack” with doing the same job day in, day out. One guy in particular was a giant, and a really strong chap, his name I think was “Walt” (Walter Green?). And he always reminded me of “desperate Dan” for some reason, he was always black with coal dust and wearing his thick leather padded coalman’s waistcoat. Most times you saw him or the others, you would have thought they were members of the “Black and White Minstrels cast, or maybe members of the Bacup Coconutters. You could just about see their white eyes shining through the blackened coal dust face.

Looking back it was a very busy railway sidings, because hardly a day went passed when you wouldn’t see a train spending most of it’s morning shunting coal trucks from one siding to another, separating the full or part full trucks from the empty trucks. The coal coming on a almost daily basis from various pits out of Yorkshire.

Arrival uh’ Cools (3rd December 2011)

Mum would shairt!,
Count them bags of cool!
They’re putting down shoot, lad!
And mek sure tha hears ten.
but it was five during a lean month
So I stopped all and counted,
One, two, three and moor,
Until a raiched ten.
So conscientious was I,
Tho life depended on it.
Reet again for another month.


A mail received today (6th Feb 2012) from John R. Edwards, confirms that Tom Riley was the firebeater at Wm. Robinsons, Union Mill.

Hi Bryan
When I worked at Union mill, 1958-1965,Tom Riley was the firebeater. Granville Nuttall stood in for him when he was absent. Besides firebeating, Tom carried weft to the weavers and carried their finished pieces to the cloth warehouse (which is where I started work, before moving into tackling).

Also a later mail:"Yes I was talking to Tom yesterday and he told me that he took over clothlooking when Harry Taylor retired.
Joe Southworth was the weaving manager and just before I left Jim Southworth, his twin brother, came to be a tackler.
John Simpson was the spinning manager, and a Blackburn councillor. I used to get lifts off him to go Blackburn college, every Monday night. I remember one night when there was a 'peasouper' of a fog and I spent most of the journey to Blackburn with my head stuck out of the passenger window looking for the kerb and passing the info to John. In Blackburn there were oil lamps lit in the middle of major junctions. At some there was a policeman, helping the traffic."John R. Edwards.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The 1960 Floods, Also the 1964 Hailstones & Flood Memories (18th July 1964)

(Here is a photo taken at the bottom of Northfield Road, Rising Bridge. -click over to enlarge)
I was sixteen at the time and remember it as though it was yesterday. It all started around the 10 o’clock mark during the mid morning of Saturday July 18th 1964. It did not start with rain, but large hailstones, and when I say hailstones, by the left they were the biggest I have ever seen, and remain so from that day to this, I know many say “as big as golf balls”, well I certainly would not go that far, but they must have been well above one inch in diameter.

They made a noise like no other noise you’ve ever heard before, such was the downpour against your slated roof, which sounded of a thunderous nature, and wondering if at any minute your windows where going to crack and shatter!. I thought at the time about poor old Donald the milkman from Gibbon’s Farm, who had just gone past our house delivering milk from his horse and cart! Just about the time when the hailstones had started, and thought about what a stinger he and his horse must have received with hailstones like that!. Then after a further ten minutes the hailstones stopped, but this was soon to be followed by thundering and lightening and then torrential rain, so powerful the drains could not take it.

I suppose for us at the top end of Hud Hey it wasn’t so bad, but sadly for people who lived in the bottom or in the direct line of any of the local water courses, it must have been a nightmare to say the least.

I think it may have been about twelve noon or a little later that the torrential rain finally abated.

But the damage had been done, and the lodges at the top of Northfield Road, together with others at Duckworth Clough, Brook Street and elsewhere, had burst their banks and were causing severe flooding further down their watercourses, especially to the houses at the bottom of Northfield Road and also to the shops on Blackburn Road, Rising Bridge.

I remember at Rising Bridge, that the flooding had become so severe that it caused major structural damage to a couple of houses/shops on the main Blackburn Road, in fact, one of the shops was actually built directly above the “torrented stream” and was in part washed away and the property was so severely damaged that it and the property next door had to be demolished.

But far worse tragedy had to come that day, and it happened further on towards Haslingden, with the loss of life, when poor little “Annie Wroe” drowned whilst in her house situated in Back Carr Mill Street (just off Hud Hey near Carr Mill factory). I can remember Annie, who was a very pleasant little lady and she was of about 5ft in height, she had lived there with her brother Frank who was the fork lift driver at the nearby Carr Mill Factory.

Below is a photo kindly sent in by John Sumner of a Yellow Ford Anglia, which was forced under the road bridge and when it came out the other side taking out the keystone causing the bridge to collapse. If you look at the picture of the house collapsing you may spot two people beside the end house. Those two people are my aunt and my grandma.

Also Jackie Ramsbottom has kindly sent in this photo of the same "Yellow Ford Anglia" which by then had obviously moved down the culvert even further.

5th August 2012 - Jackie Ramsbottom, has kindly sent in the undermentioned newspaper cuttings and it also confirms that there was another flood during September 1960. This also goes on to confirm the fact that the boat rescue shown in the photographs above which show Mr. Walter Cockerill being rescued in a small boat must relate to the period of the 1960 flood...

Larry Sagar kindly informs me that in regards to "the rescue of Walter Cockerill, one of his would be rescuers was Walter's youngest brother Alan assisted by Terry Southam who still lives in the village.  There four brothers in the Cockerill family, the other two, Fred and Jim both served in the army during the war and having survived the D-Day landings on the 6th of June. Jim was killed in France on 11th June 1944. Fred survived the War"

(23rd June 2013). Myra Frohnapfel has sent in this photo
 of her dad James Lewis Hall clearing up the freak hailstones
 at Carr Parkers Mill on the 25th July 1964. 
This photo was shown in the local newspapers at the time. 

James Lewis Hall clearing the hailstones at Carr Parkers Mill
on Charles Lane from the freak hailstones on the 25th July 1964. 

Hello Bryan
As it's approaching the 50th anniversary of the “Great Flood” on the 18th July, I would like to add these pictures to your Hailstones and Floods blog.
I have also dug out a Flood Souvenir copy issued by the Telegraph the week following the flood which is in poor condition but I have scanned a few pictures and articles which I don’t think are on your blog. 
Hope this is of some interest.
Allan Bradshaw. (17th July 2014)

Flood damage down at Every Street which was off Grane Road leading to Waterside
(photo kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw

Another photo of flood damage at Every Street - note submerged car
(photo kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)

 flood damage down at Every Street
(photo kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)

Another photo of flood damage down at Every Street
(photo kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)

Flooding at Coronation Street,
Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
"Mr Madens shirt left out to dry during the unexpected floods in 1964

Many residents never returned to their houses. The height of the water
 and the mud left behind with its horrible smell was just too much.I also remember
Grane Rd turning into a river as the hailstones blocked the drains
 and the level of water rose. We stood in front of the shop brushing
 the water away to prevent it getting in! It was very scary.
We were very fortunate that the shop wasn’t affected but felt very sorry
 for the people in the Coronation St and Every St houses who were.

  Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
The backs between Every Street and Coronation Street
during the 1964 floods

Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
The backs between Every Street and Coronation Street
during the 1964 floods

 Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
The backs between Every Street and Coronation Street
during the 1964 floods

 Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
Every Street 1964

Photo kindly shared to us by Lynda Batty
Every Street 1964 with evidence of hailstorms

Floods at Broadway
(photo kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
Here is a scan of the front page of the Lancashire Evening Telgraphs "Flood Souvenir" published on the
25th July 1964 a week after the actual floods.
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
Showing small individual photos of the tragedy of Rising Bridge caused through the great floods
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
More Rising Bridge flood photos (kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
Photos showing Rising Bridge Road and thats Raymond Clegg there who was then a firemen at Haslingden.
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)

A photo showing the giant hailstones outside of Cordingleys next to the Bay Horse Pub
(kindly sent in by Alan Bradshaw)
Astonishing daring work being carried out at Rising Bridge
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
A gaunt relic of the flood - Rising Bridge
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
Flood havoc at Sheperd Brothers Rising Bridge
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
More Rising Bridge photos
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
Caught in the action of collapse at Rising Bridge
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
precision time of collapse
(kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)
And a 15 second shot later
(Kindly sent in by Allan Bradshaw)

This piece written below is from Derek Whittaker who gives his recollections of the floods of 1964 from what he remembers from when he was a teenager, and here is a fabulous account of the situation especially around the Coronation St, Every St and Charles Lane areas. (Sent in 21st September 2015)

          On that day I had finished delivering my paper round for Jack Hayton and called at Lynn and Jean Howarth’s house in Peel St. It was quite a normal day and I hadn’t even worn a coat for the paper round and then the hailstones! They came tumbling down the chimney covered in soot and were approaching the size of golf balls. Then the pyrotechnics started - it was late morning but soon became very dark with lots of sheet lightening and thunder. You couldn’t see across the road because the rain was that heavy.
   When it all subsided it returned to a quite pleasant day. I set off down Charles Lane to our house in Coronation St. Every thirty or forty yards there was a fountain shooting up about 20 feet in the air. The pressure of the water pouring down the drain under the road had blown off the manhole covers and created this amazing sight.At the bottom of Charles Lane where the road forked left and right there was a bridge across  what had previously been a gently flowing stream. What I encountered was a poor little chap standing on the parapet of the bridge in what looked like the middle of a lake. His mates, safely three floors up in the mill were leaning out of the window having a great time shouting out things like “Swim for it Paddy, you’ve got your wellies on!!’.
   It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to get home that way so I went back up Charles Lane, through Prospect Hill and down Grane Rd.
   What had happened at the bottom of Coronation St and Every St was that the railway ran along there on an embankment had a culvert where the stream ran through. The culvert couldn’t cope with the amount of flood water and also became blocked up by dustbins and other things swept up in the flood (I remember a drowned dog flowing past). The embankment became a damn and the water backed up quite dramatically. Coronation St and Every St sloped down to this encroaching new lake.
   We lived at No 18, about half way down and I can remember wading through our back door with the dirty, eerily cold water being about waist high, to see my dinner floating around on the table. There was no sign of my family. I retreated and found them with others higher up the street on the other side making sandwiches and flasks of coffee/tea for those in even deeper water farther down the street. My bother, David and I clambered over the outside toilets and coal houses with these to pass them up to bedroom windows where people were stranded.
   In the bottom house lived three OAP’s who asked us if we would be kind enough to see if we could rescue their television from downstairs. Believe it or not we waded in up to chest height and did! Don’t ask me what use it was going to be having spent a couple of hours underwater. When we got it to the stairs where they could lift it out they asked if we could possibly do anything about their car. We knew they had a maroon mini which was their pride and joy so back through the water, up onto the toilet roof and eventually we spotted about two inch of car aerial sticking up out of the deluge. We gave up on that one.
   Slowly but surely the water started to drain away but the worst was yet to come. The mud left for some reason stunk, and I mean STUNK!! The houses didn’t have cellars but did have a void under the floors of about 2 feet. This was left filled with the stinking slime and repeated injections of disinfectant did little to improve matters.
   A fund was started and I seem to remember my parents receiving £200 from it. Every piece of furniture downstairs was thrown away with the carpets. The decoration was ruined and all the appliances (oven, TV, etc) also ruined. In the “front room” there was a cupboard which held all our family photographs and a full set of Encyclopedia Brittanica that my parents had scrimped and saved for to help their son and daughter (Maureen) through grammar school. All ruined and £200 didn’t go very far to recover the situation.
   In the days following a few mates and I made some good pocket money in the nearby mills sweeping the offending mud out as the water receded. Strangely at the age of 15 I was never scared or worried and I remember it as merely a very interesting event. What I do clearly also remember is the spirit of my parents and others who although badly affected rallied round and immediately started to help others in an even worse predicament. Would other places have the community spirit to be knocking up cheese butites whilst there home has filthy water washing around in it? Haslingden did.

 Derek Whittaker

The photos below have been kindly contributed by John Clegg

The photos above have been kindly contributed by John Clegg