Friday, 16 December 2016

Snow tales - Sledging, Sliding, Skating and other fun things

From David Desforges (12th January 2017)

Been reading the sledging clip,we would sometimes use the hill to the side of the row of houses on donkey row side of the railway and sometimes we would sledge down railway road starting of at the top where it joined station brew road swinging right hurtcaling past the bottom of station steps  to the bottom  and over the road that went past the railway where someone would be watching if a car  was coming, on one trip down and on getting near the bottom car coming was shouted so I had to sledge straight on into the house wall banging my head in the stonework ,67years old now and still have that lump on my forehead ,david desforges


For the four years we lived in Haslingden, each winter was predictably enveloped in deep snow since the westerlies brought ballooning mountains of moisture which , confronted by the implacable Pennines, would dump onto us avalanches of snow which would drift and blanket the town for weeks and months  on end. The local kids quickly became adepts at dealing with the stuff and there was a perfect sledge slope in Victoria Park which, after the first snowfall would  speedily fill up with families out for a spot of fun.
But in some ways the best sledging wasn’t done in winter at all. They were four hot summers we lived there (1974-78), with uncharacteristically dry weeks stretching rainless and shimmering through the school holidays and beyond. The reservoirs shrank, the NO SWIMMING notices got ignored and bewildered oldies were thwarted from complaining  about the weather.
Now was the time to find cardboard boxes, beat them flat and trudge  up onto the heights above the town. We lived on Blackburn Road just where Hud Rake swoops down and joins the main road, so for a brief walk we could cross the road, turn up Hud Rake and scramble up the steep hillside beyond, up towards Slate Farm. In minutes we were high above the town with a commanding view over towards  the hills in the west known as Oswaldwistle Moor .

We threw our cardboard down, slid our bums into position and we were off, careering down the grassy slope as fast as over snow. There’s something special about grass at 800 feet: it is quite unlike the grass you find in parks and gardens in the valleys. Its tough resilient blades aren’t flat but cylindrical, dark green and shiny and perfectly designed to allow any smooth surface to travel over it at speed. The more sophisticated sledgers brought out their winter sledges – plastic trays appeared too and a riot of kids would hurtle down the hot slippery grass , tumbling in a heap to rise and climb again.

uploaded here on 7th December 2016


Skating on Holden Wood Reservoir (Photo: Andy Metcalfe) 

Above is a photograph from the distant past kindly sent in by Andy Metcalfe.  Andy is the one in the centre with the blue and white (Leeds) bobcap and to his far left with the red and white bobcap is Stuart Beardmore.  It was said that the ice on the res that year was 8" thick for quite some time. 


(Photo: kindly shared by Andy Metcalfe)

Andy wrote: This is the bombhole at Longshoot in early 1979.  We could sledge from the top all the way to the stream by Grane Mill.  In Summer we would sledge on cardboard on the dry grass then go "Sweelin" (set on fire). Is "Sweelin" a local word?



Following on from Anna Cunnynghams memories of sledging in 1974-78.

In the 1950's which were my formative years in Haslingden, the heavy winter snow falls arrived with regularity and stayed for weeks which curtailed the movement of motor vehicles everywhere except the main bus routs.

Everyone would reclaim their home made sledge from the coal hole and set about polishing the iron runners to clean off all the accumulated rust otherwise you would not get any speed up, no fun in that.

Every location would have its own sledging place.  As for me living on the Long Shoot housing estate we made good use of Kirk Hill, that is the rough track extension at the top of Poplar Street at its junction with Cedar Avenue up to the junction with Haslingden Old Road.

It had a right hand bend half way down with a set of five large stone steps which allowed access to the allotments, when covered with deep snow made a high speed bank to be negotiated on the way down.
Several failed to get round the bend and ended up shooting up and over the garden fences behind Cedar Avenue which was even more exhilarating.  
If it was a prolonged cold spell, with work, the sledging track could stretch as far as the bottom of Poplar Street and Hillside Road.  All to soon the council would battle its way through and salt the side street followed by the thaw.

The thrill of sledging down an uncontrollable run was as exciting as it got, even better when you linked up to ten sledges together to make a flexible toboggan train with each rider having to hold the sledge rope tight otherwise the train broke apart creating a pileup.  Despite the risks I never knew anyone who sustained any injury.  Only for the brave was belly flopping, like the Cresta Run with your face just a few inches from the ground.  As well as belly flopping another rider would sit across the back of the laid down rider like riding a horse... great times, you cant replicate that on an electronic gizmo. 

Another good sledging track was the pavement down Rosewood Avenue, that was until the householder came out and scattered the hot ashes from the coal fires across the track spoiling the fun.
 Great times. 

A view of Grane kindly shared by Tim Kirby

The following three pictures taken at Fairy Glen in Grane Village and kindly shared by Tim Kirby.

Bury Rd Haslingden in the snow. Kindly shared by Tim Kirby.

St Stephen's Church and Grane Rd in the snow. Kindly shared by Tim Kirby

Sledging in Victoria Park. Kindly shared by Tim Kirby

 Blizzard 1933 - Acre with Carter Place in background
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Gary Barnes
(Click over photo to enlarge)

Snow scene at old cottages on Helmshore Rd opposite Flaxmoss House c1930s 
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Gary Barnes
(Click over photo to enlarge)

 Snow scene on Helmshore Rd by entrance to Flaxmoss House c1930s 
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Gary Barnes
(Click over photo to enlarge)