Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Vaccary Wall Enclosures in Haslingden and Helmshore

Where are those VACCARY Enclosures in Haslingden and Helmshore? and what did "Vaccary mean"?

Vaccary origins:  

The word is from the mediaeval Latin "Vaccaria" with Vacca meaning (Cow) plus aria meaning (ary) = Cowery

The word seems to have gone out of use nowadays when speaking of historical matters and these days it fails to qualify to be mentioned in most dictionaries.

The Vaccary (the cattle farm)

Commercial cattle farms first appeared in Lancashire in the Royal Forest which were originally royal hunting areas granted to the de Lacy family in the 12th century. The commercial cattle farm became known as THE VACCARY.

"Vaccary Walling" was the name given to the type of walling which may well have been used for the enclosures at that time. Our "vaccary walling" in these photos below will be much later in period, but obviously will have been taken from that original design. 

Vaccary Walling:

Vaccary walling can be observed in many parts of Lancashire (and probably Yorkshire as well), but there are examples of it quite locally in areas of Rossendale.  How it became associated with HASLINGDEN and HELMSHORE is still a mystery, but we are thankful to still be graced with odd examples of these "slab stone walls or vaccary walls" . 

Examples of this sort of walling is still seen on Helmshore Road between Rose Cottage (which is almost opposite York Avenue) and enclosing the land down as far as the newish properties which are just before the entrance to Campion Drive. Check out the photo below kindly given by Robert Wade (Wadey).   Also there are examples up on Laund Hey playing fields, although sadly these are only remnants of what they were in the past, but at least you get some idea.

We have a fine photo immediately below here which shows "vaccary walling" enclosing the fields which ran between Gregory Fold and St. Thomas Church (opposite side of the road to St. Veronica's). This is obviously how it was before the new semi-detached properties were built. 


"Vaccary" Walling that once graced Helmshore Road  (Click over to enlarge)

"Vaccary" Walling on Helmshore Road opposite York Avenue  (Click over photo to enlarge)
Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Wade (Wadey)

Another showing Vaccary Walling on Helmshore Road
Photo: Google Earth

"Vaccary" Walling is seen here in Laund Hey Playing Fields to the base of Cribden.  (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: taken around 2008

The Walling in the distance to the middle of the field, I remember being a nice solid example that went across the full field, sadly today its just a remnant of how it used to look.  Also there is this small section as you come towards the base of Cribden.

Photo: taken around 2008

Another photo I have just found from 2003 showing the Laund Hey Vaccary Wall 


Sunday, 13 March 2016


(13th March 2016) There is that much information come through on Ginnels, Alleyways and Snickets that it only be right to start up a blog so that these are recorded for the future.

Ginnel = Is a roofed (covered in) passageway running through (or beneath) property connecting the front with the back. In the majority of cases it will be a narrow width passageway although occasionally you get some wider typical of the ones built next to the Black Bull Pub, or the one on Manchester Road opposite the Commercial Pub (see photos below). 

Alley or Alleyway = Is similar narrow passageway (similar to a ginnel) but having no roof and open to the sky at the top and usually running down the sides, or between properties to connect the front with the back 

Snicket =  is an open narrow passageway between houses or at the bottom of their gardens, sometimes bordered on one side or either side by a hedgerow or similar. (At sometime in history it could well have been taken from the meaning of "thicket"

Also In Manchester and Oldham, Greater Manchester, as well as Sheffield, Leeds and other parts of Yorkshire, "Jennel", which may be spelt "Gennel" or "Ginnel", is common.  In some cases, "ginnel" may be used to describe a covered or roofed passage, as distinct from an open alley. (information found by Jackie Ramsbottom)

Where are all the "Ginnels" 


Blackburn Road near Vale Street leading down to Back Beehive Terrace (Muckyback)

This is a very interesting "Ginnel" because it is of a descending type which would have been a thoroughfare to take people from Blackburn Road down into either Back Beehive Terrace (also known as Muckyback) or alternatively took them to easy access of Cross Street North. The ginnel and steps themselves also had a local nickname which was "Monkey Steps"

Looking up from the bottom of the steps at Back Beehive Terrace
Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Wade (Wadey)

Photo: thanks to Riaz Mohammed


"99 Steps - Blackburn Road and down to the back yards - opp St James Lych Gate and close to Howley's Chemist (was covered and descending) but long gone demolished.  This one had similarities to the one already mentioned above.  Although the access was far more restricted and the thoroughfare went from the fronts on Blackburn Road and down to a communial alley to serve the lower cellars etc - No photograph available

On 14th March 2016 Michael Mullaney added: "The Ginnel on Blackburn Road opposite the Lych gate which was known as 99 Steps and allowed residents who lived below the upper terraces in back to earth properties to access the houses but it allowed workers to short cut their journey down to the mills in the bottom"


Ginnel from Prospect Hill and down into Charles Lane

Photo: kindly contributed by Jackie Ramsbottom 

More photos of Prospect Ginnel from the rear (Charles Lane side)  (Click over)
Photo: kindly contributed by Jackie Ramsbottom

This Ginnel is another descending type with steps and goes from Prospect Hill down and into Charles Lane.


Old Pleasant Street - half way up from Higher Deardengate with Ginnel at side of shop

This Ginnel was to give access from Pleasant Street into Back Pleasant Street.
(Photo and information kindly contributed by Michael Mullaney)

On 13th March 2016 Michael Mullaney wrote: The Photo was taken in 1968 as demolition was underway for the new Central flats.  The reason for the Ginnel, to allow easy access to Back Pleasant Street.  At first glance it seems an ornate entrance for a humble Ginnel and perhaps it is.  It would seem that the Ginnel entrance was in fact the original door to the property which is now a shop and was the gable end at one time.  As the buildings and street were extended it was necessary to construct a Ginnel. 

The rear of the Pleasant Street Old Ginnel (as shown above)

(Photo and information kindly contributed by Michael Mullaney)

On 13th March 2016 Michael Mullaney added: This photo is of the Pleasant Street Ginnel taken from Back Pleasant Street. It can be seen that the inner wall is constructed from brick helping with the theory that it is of later construction.  We can also see the new flats.


Showing Ginnel entrance midway along Wilkinson Street

On 13th March 2016 Michael Mullaney added: My first photo is of the Ginnel on the front of Wilkinson Street, it was in the top half of Wilkinson Street just below the Middle shop and allowed pedestrian access to the back of Wilkinson Street which went by the more local name of "The Irish Back".

Early urban development constructed properties in the simplest and cheapest way.  This usually took the form of long terraced rows forming a square or triangle.  In order that people could gain easy access to the backs of the properties many of which would be "back to back houses" Ginnels were constructed for this purpose.  Back Wilkinson Street (Irish Back) had three access Ginnels/Alleyways.


Back Wilkinson Street (Irish Back)
(Photo: kindly contributed by Michael Mullaney

On 13th March 2016 Michael Mullaney added: The Ginnel exits along the side wall of the small two storey out building which brings a further reason for the Ginnel.  In viewing the picture above (eg: Wilkinson Street), its clear that the third level of houses in Wilkinson Street are being used as possibly some of the first factories with hand loom weaving taking place on an industrial scale.  The two storey out building housed a stairway to allow rorkers to get to the top floor without disturbing the residents with their coming and going.  The Ginnel in King Street accessed the back from its lower end whilst a third Ginnel accessed it from the top end and Rake Foot.  Properties on Rake Foot were constructed in the Back to Back style, again easy access was required from the surrounding streets.  Two storey Back to Back properties usually had the upper floors constructed from stone flags.  This was not a cheap way of making a bedroom floor but an early attempt at making a building fire proof from accidents with open fires and compact building methods.  Note the larger properties at the lower end of the back, these are the grander houses on the corner of Wilkinson Street and King Street.


Showing the ginnel on King Street
Photo: Kindly contributed by Michael Mullaney

On 13th March 2016 Michael Mullaney added: This ginnel was in the top half of King Street which shared a corner with Wilkinson Street. Note the grand architecture around the second door.  The property just out of sight but forming the corner of Wilkinson Street I think was known as Marsden House and had a grand entrance hall with sweeping staircase.  The picture was taken just prior to being demolished to make way for the new flats on Marsden Square.

This Ginnel is at the top of Bell Street and goes through to a joint back to houses on Regent Street

Photo: Thanks to Robert Wade (Wadey)


Showing ginnel between old Legion Club and Shop and leads to Deardengate Croft

Photo: Kindly contributed by Robert Wade (Wadey)

Ginnel which goes from Blackburn Rd (side of Black Bull Pub) and then leads
through to Ratcliffe Street
(Photo: Thanks to Robert Wade (Wadey)


This ginnel is at the start of Manchester Road and opposite site of the
Road to the Commercial Inn.  This ginnel gave access to the Far Back Pleasant
Street and came out near the old Grammar School. 
Photo: Thanks to Tracey Bell.

This ginnel is in Greenfield Gardens (photo thanks to Tracy Bell)

This ginnell is on Bury Road near to the Old Bakery and is set back in the old cottages
Photo: thanks to Tracy Bell. 

"Where are all the Alleys (Alleyways)"

Burgess Nook Alleyway - Deardengate to Car Park
This one that goes up the left hand side of the library was once the access to Burgess Nook (properties now gone).  Today the alley takes you through to the rear of the Library and the Central Flats Car Park.

Townsend Street alleyway which leads down the back of Heys Street to where the park was. Photo: kindly shared to us by Tracy Bell. 

Alleyway between Pickering St and King Street(Photo: kindly contributed by Barbara Greenwood)

A fabulous photo which shows the alleyway which went between Pickering Street to King Street, note the very special rare "curvature" to the flags, setts and floor guttering. 

17th March 2016 - Marie Ives commented:  You are now in Pickering Street and looking straight through the Alleyway into King Street. At the bottom on the left was a yard with a single house, and further in were the back doors to the houses in Hargreaves Street adjacent to No. 19 which was the Old Police Station.  Further up again was another yard with one or two back doors and the back entrance to the Craven Heifer Pub. 

Old Map showing the "Pickering Street Alleyway"
(Map: kindly supplied by Jackie Ramsbottom)

Added by Michael Mullaney on 4th January 2021

Between Pickering Street and Back Pickering Street is shown a yard with buildings either side, not housing but missing a description.

In the 19th century there was a thriving nail making industry in Pickering Street.  Small enough enterprise to behoused in just such a location and worked by local inhabitants. Probably ceased to function due to mass production from places like Birmingham. 


The following (below) will soon be integrated within the above descriptions desperate for photos of any of the undermentioned if anyone can help:

King Street and just before the Craven Heifer and led to Pickering Street (now gone)
from George St to Church Street coming out facing Frank Heaps Chemist, it went behind the shops in Market Place and the Swan pub - Gone demolished in the 70s (uncovered) 

Holcombe Road down to Station Road (alleyway or snicket)

Around 32 Bury Road a ginnel leading to a shared Courtyard (Ginnel)

Top of Townsend Street next to chinese takeaway on corner (Ginnel with wood door)

Helmshore Rd (almost opposite Nearys) and leads through to Musden Avenue, Helmshore. (Snickett)

Top of Grane Road - Goes through to Charles Lane (alleyway)

Runs to the South side of Grove Mill, up against the wall of the mill with the by-pass on the other side. Runs for about 150 yards. It is not far from Carrs by the Swinnel brook and comes out nearby to below steps leading to Commerce Street. (Alleyway)

Alleyway between top of Grane Road and leading down to Charles Lane
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Derek Woodall

Peel Street leading through to Sunnybank Street

More yet to be added

Where are all the "Snickets"
Holly Avenue

Northcote Street to Back Lane

Thanks to all the following persons for their kind support: Jeni Coates, Ann Dewhurst,
Marie Ives, Heather Holden, Myra Frohnapfel, Sharon Gallagher,  Sandra Hayhurst Trainor, Raymond Halstead, Margaret Clegg, Derek Whittaker, Ann Noone, Tracey Mawdsley, Lorraine Brumpton, Ann Podge, Chris Howarth, Robert Wade, Donald Hendry, Karen Ratty Marsh, Joyce Thorne, Sheila Ryan Lucking, Francesca Grimshaw, Dot Birtwistle, Milly Morgan, Ann Belshaw, Andy Fletcher, Tom Place, David Edwards, Judith Knight, James Stroud, Pauline Emmett Dagg, Janet Eddisford, Chris Reid, Georgina Dunn, Michael Mullaney, Ralph Clark, Ron Baron, Jackie Ramsbottom, Barbara Greenwood, Tracy Bell, Riaz Mohammed, Craig Fleming,  Robert Wade for many of the ginnel photos.  Derek Woodall.

Friday, 4 March 2016


A Part-Time Dictionary for Haslingdonians or Hazeldeners
(only to be used now and again!)

A selection of "local words" which some are very interesting and mentioned here, I like to think maybe HASLINGDEN (or certainly LANCASHIRE) words, which people outside of the area, usually look at your and always say – WHAT?

(I am rooting through all clothes because soon we will be flitting to a house with a ginnel running under it, but it’s very slutchy in back garden and we will be lucky if we can play murps on its surface. It’s very parky today and I will need to wrap up before climbing up Brew to get to this new house. On way up we noticed “a bit of a tuttle” coming down.)

Descriptions are purely based on what we think the words might mean!

GINNEL – a narrow width footpath (with debate on whether or not it should have a covered in roof or not, or maybe does not matter either way - covered or uncovered).

SNICKET – a narrow width footpath (with a open top and bordered each side with a hedgerow)

FLITTING - removing house

SLUTCHY – meaning very muddy underfoot

UP THEM DANCERS – Meaning go up to bed (retire upstairs) dancers meaning stairs

UP THEM JOHNNY HORNERS  - Again meaning to go up to bed

IT’S PARKY – it’s very cold. (Parka is a warm waterproof coat with hood originally worn by Eskimos)

BREW – another name for a hill whilst walking (Climbing up the Brew)

MURPS – a local name given for marbles

ROOTING – looking for items amongst jumbled up items

BIT OF A TUCKLE (OR TUTTLE)  A lady who dressed different to the norm was called

 BONK meaning "Hill" as in "Lets play up Bonk"

CRAMMED  not in the correct meaning of tightly packing, but by the meaning of "being annoyed and off hand with everyone"

HOYND or maybe OINED as in the meaning to be pestered

Interesting local word associations:

Chris Reid commented: “It was a common saying about people with bandy or bow legs, that they couldn’t stop a pig in a Ginnel!  I always wondered where that saying arose from, it is a nasty comment really, but maybe back in the day it was not meant with the same type of nastiness”

Derek Whittaker commented: There was, and still is, a ginnel between Maple and Rosewood Ave’s up t’shoot.  It had an ash surface that was ideal for playing marbles (or murps) on.  We used to dig an heel in, spin round, making a small pit.  This was called the “NUG”.  A white marble with bright red swirls was called a “BLOOD ALLY”.

David Cardwell  commented  "Put wood i'thoyell" meaning to "shut the door after you come in"

Marie Ives commented  "My auntie used to say about someone (mainly female) if she was unkempt "who's no shap" she always said who instead of she!

Deborah Armstrong commented "Lets play up Bonk" - Lets play up on Hill

Marie Ives commented that if she wasn't doing a job quick enough her Aunt would say "Cum on get Agate"

Marie Ives remembers her dad saying if some had been repaired or mended
"Av feckled thad"

Jean Tomlinson  Her Grandparents would say "shap thisen" meaning "Com on get going"

Julie Greenhalgh commented "My old boss, if he didn't believe what you said would say "if that's reet I'll show "mi a-se at Big Lamp!" (others say Commercial)"

Marie Ives commented - When I came home and asked Dad where Mum was he always said "Back O Gatties i rain tub" Never knew where Gatties was, does somebody else know who has Hassy roots?

Jean Tomlinson commented - Her Grandparents would say "Slop Stone" meaning stone sink or drain

Michael Mullaney commented:  Whilst not claiming its roots in Haslingden, the saying used regularly by Margaret Walsh my Grandmother was "fag ae Bolla thurryup carts coming"
This was brought to Haslingden by the Boston, USA Irish.  Its interpretation is "get out of the way the police cart is coming" 
Equally when inquiring as to what was for dinner her reply would be "Pigs a-se and cabbage".
Another saying was "Julia Flarter" used in a friendly way to name a difficult girl child.

"Rek O'thi hey" meaning to check how vertically straight with just the eye (forget the plumb-bob)

David Bate's mum used to say: "Side the pots" which meant clear the plates away after the meal. 

Eddie Redfern says "Cobuz" that hammer instead of Give me that hammer

Barbara Henry - My Grandma always called us kids "childer" and she blew her nose on handKETcher

Ivy Murray - My Grandma used to say "Come on lets give you a catlick", and that meant a quick wipe around my face with a damp cloth

Debbie Simpson - "See ya", And "oy" and "innitt" - Wa ya born inna barn, shut that door, I'll give you a thick ear, I'll give you a good hiding"

Kathleen Barlow My grandma used to say "Its in yon" (short for yonder) and meaning it is in the next room. 

Ivy Murray - My Grandma used to quickly get a shuffle, theres some coddy muck int rooad, put it on rhubarb - translated "shovel and horse poo"

Myra Frohnapfel - My dad used to say "he/she is as numb as a yether"
meaning someone was thick

Derek Fitton - "As thick as two short planks"

Vaughan Riley - Grandmother used to say about women who wernt married but were waiting "Shes at the last shove up"

Judith Murray - Works party was called a "footin" eg: butty, pie and a cake

Derek Fitton - his Grandma used to say about bow legged folk "they couldnt stop a pig in a ginnel"

David Rothwell - his dad always said "Stone the Crows"

Brian Metcalfe - When mum was going out, she'd put her "TUTTIE" on meaning make up

Eileen Mortimer Webster - "He's as much use as a chocolate fireguard"

More local sayings:

Deborah Armstrong commented "Shut your cake hole"

Chris Howarth commented "Buggerluggs"

Raymond Halstead commented "A reet Digdag"

Eunice Parfitt
commented, her Gran would say "Its blowin a hooligan out there!"

John R Edwards commented "Gobsh*te" - One who talks a lot of rubbish

Other local sayings/customs etc:

Maureen Nash says "when it was thundering my mum used to say "that God is mad with someone", and when it was lightning she would open both front and back doors, and said that if it strikes this house "it can come in one door and go out of the other"

Derek Whittaker  remembers saying "Do you fancy a game of "Knick Knack"? which meant knocking on someone's door and then running away quickly and peering from somewhere to see if they had come and opened the door and looking around for someone

Derek Whittaker tells a Haslingden joke - Went t'vets with t'cat - He said "Is it a Tom"? "No" I said, I brought it with me".

Maybe not just as local but still used today

Derek Whittaker  Living together, not married = "living over the brush"
Terry McGuire I'm sure we all knew someone who had done a "moonlight flit"
Terry McGuire  "Gormless" (Gaumless) meaning "dopey"
Terry McGuire - "traipsing" meaning to wander about aimlessly
Susan Coyle  "Fell Off a Flittin" - You look like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards!

Again it’s been fun getting these names together and I am sure many more will come along soon, but for now it’s thanks to the following for their great contributions:

Chris Howarth, Alison May, Chris Reid, Karen Ratty Marsh, Peter Taylor, Marie Ives, Deborah Armstrong, Derek Whittaker, Sheila Ryan Lucking, Eileen Webster, David Cardwell, Mike Ryan, Lorraine Brumpton, Raymond Halstead, Maureen Nash, Eunice Parfitt, Chris Kirby, Terry McGuire, Peter Fielding, John Megan Edwards, Ron Baron, Julie Greenhalgh, Susan Coyle, Michael Mullaney, Jean Tomlinson, John R. Edwards.  


"The Apprentice Initiation" 

All I did was ask the question “CAN YOU REMEMBER THESE?” – When some of us started work at 15 you may well have been asked, something like – Go over there lad and ask Fred for a “BUCKET OF STEAM” or go over there girl and ask Frieda for a “LONG STAND”.  And there were plenty of others as well which I have selected some and printed below:-

Go and get a “GLASS HAMMER”
Go and get a “TIN OF TARTAN PAINT”
Go and get me some “VIRGIN WATER”
Go and get me “BOWMAN’S CAPSULE” from the hospital pharmacy
Go and get me a “BEVELLED CHALK LINE”
Go to the electrician “FOR A BOX OF SHORT CIRCUITS”
Go and get me “A TIN OF ELBOW GREASE”
Go and get me “A SKY HOOK”
Alternate to Long Stand was:
Go and ask for a "LONG WEIGHT" (a favourite for tacklers!)

It was great and thanks to all those who participated:  Andrew Bridge, Janette Jones, Kathleen Barlow, Chris Reid, Peter Taylor, Liz Wright, Jim Nuttall, Sandra Hayhurst Trainer, Derek Fitton, Gordon Fox, Ellen Dewhurst, Andrew Metcalfe, Mary Gallagher, Deborah Armstrong, Rachel Bannister, Maureen Nash Peter Fisher, Allan Halshaw, Maria Meadowcroft, Peter Sansom, Raymond Halstead, Peter Fielding, Ian Kendall, Ann Taylor, Neil Dunn, Stew Smith, Mike Ryan, Tim Kirby, Ralph Clark, Joe Harrison, Eddie Wilkinson. 

Email received from MICHAEL MULLANEY on 4th March 2016 reads:

"A Shrove Tuesday tradition no longer witnessed possibly due to the passing of traditional apprenticeships, was seeing the apprentices who were in their final year being chased around the town by the tradesmen from S.S. Stotts and also the cotton mills, who if caught would be defrocked so to speak and subjected to a similar fate to tar and feathering.  If they stayed at liberty until 12 noon they were allowed to return to work as victorious over the tradesmen

8th March 2016 (Apprenticeship Initiations)Derek Whittaker remembers:  - I remember the Shrove Tuesday "shenanigans" mentioned by Michael Mullaney.  At Porritts and Spencer's, Sunnybank Mill, it was also thought that no matter what you did before noon as an apprentice you couldn't be sacked.  I tested this theory one year by putting senapods in the tea of the other electricians - Teddy Wilkinson, Stan Griffiths, Billy Metcalfe and Jimmy McQuade   -  Derek

And yes! there was such a thing as a "Glass Hammer"

On 15th March 2016 Joe Royle wrote: 

I've just been mooching through your excellent blog, and I came across the reference to glass hammers in the "The Apprentice Initiation" section. 
After leaving Haslingden, in the early 80s, I had a job making training and educational videos. One that I made was for Pilkington Glass in St. Helens, the theme being the strength and versatility of glass.
The film showed the making of a glass hammer, about the size of a 2lb lump hammer, and glass 6 inch nails, the highpoint was at the end when the hammer was used to drive the nails through a 3 inch thick block of wood!
I filmed the event from behind ballistic screens, but there was not a single splinter or accident!
Cheers, Joe