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Belthorn (Lancashire)

Belthorn shown within Lancashire
OS grid reference SD717246
Parish Yate and Pickup Bank
District Hyndburn
Unitary authority Blackburn with Darwen
Ceremonial county Lancashire
Region North West
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB1 2
Dialling code 01254
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
European Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Hyndburn
Rossendale and Darwen
List of places: UKEnglandLancashire

Coordinates: 53°43'08?N 2°25'53?W? / ?53.718857, -2.43124

Belthorn is a small moorland village situated to the south-east of Blackburn in Lancashire, England. It is about half a kilometre away from junction 5 of the M65 motorway, which runs from Colne to Preston. Surrounded by ancient fields, farmsteads and moorland ways the village perches on the edge of the West Pennine Moors with views of Pendle Hill, the Ribble Valley, Longridge Fell and out over Blackburn and Preston to the sea at Blackpool.

Belthorn has an excellent primary school and a large playing field ('The Rec') with a children's recreational area with swings etc.

The village has two pubs: the Dog Inn and the Pack Horse; the Pack Horse is an Italian restaurant and the Dog Inn serves pub food. There is also a small post office and local shop, and a drum emporium housed in the old Co-op. Syke Mill, an old weaving shed, nestles in the bottom of the village across from the manse, alongside a restored lodge, or millpond.

The houses are mainly old weavers' cottages. Most of the village is in Hyndburn, though some of the houses, including those higher up in the village, are in Blackburn with Darwen.


[edit] A Brief Introduction Belthorn by Mike Rothwell

The village is divided by the boundary between the ancient parish of Yate and Pickup Bank and the township of Oswaldtwistle. During the nineteenth century a small portion of the village, including Syke Mill and a few farms, was in the parish of Lower Darwen. The modern development of the community began in the last quarter of the eighteenth century when many calico handloom weavers' cottages were built. In the same years the common lands were enclosed and new farms established. Similar growth occurred in the neighbouring hamlet of Daisy Green. Coal mining was also important in the district and pits were sunk to the east of Elton Road in the early nineteenth century. At Yate bank the workings were reached by drifts into the steep hillsides. Two cotton weaving mills were opened in the middle of the nineteenth century and were the principal employers in the village for over fifty years. The mills closed in 1933 and 1958. Education in the Belthorn district dates back to the 1790s when a Sunday School was established at Shorrock Fold, Yate Bank, by the Church of England. Although there is evidence of the provision of basic schooling at Belthorn Independent Chapel from 1818 onwards, the first purpose built school was Daisy Green National School, opened in 1837 as a mission of Immanuel Parish Church, Oswaldtwistle, and replaced in 1861-62 by Saint Michael's School. The decline of the settlement at Daisy Green began after the construction of two reservoirs by the Borough of Blackburn in the late 1840s. The lack of adequate drainage and sewage facilities in the hamlet resulted in the demolition of the houses and the removal of the school to a new site at Belthorn.

[edit] Richard Ainsworth's History

The following article first appeared on the 19th June, 1920 in the Accrington Observer and Times.

BELTHORN is situated at the summit of that wild stretch of country lying between Oswaldtwistle, Darwen, and Haslingden. The group of grey old homesteads which constitute the village, appear to have grown with the landscape, and out of it, like the thorn-bushes, the rocks and the rough-coated acres of moorland that seem to isolate them. These old homesteads have brought forth a sturdy race, who have shown their love of home by clinging to these high moorlands, and wrestling with nature in all her moods. These hills and moors possess a spell which is difficult to define. The rushes, the heather, and the soft spring turf; the sigh and the rustle of the herbage, as it is stirred by the wind; the ever varying colours, the brown and the purple, the rich green of the moss; the freedom that encircles, the silence that reigns, all go to make up the glory of these moorland heights in the summer time.


The origin of Belthorn, like many other places in our land, is lost in the dim and distant past. Centuries ago much of the lower land in our district was either forest or vast morasses, in which streams flowed and caused vast areas to be nothing but quaking bogland. The hill tops were the safest places for man, the best way of getting from one place to another. Growing civilisation has drained the marshes and lowlands, while the people have betaken themselves to the warmer valleys. Now the hill tops and ridges are left comparatively lonely, as they never were in the old days, but this isolation has preserved to us traces of the life of other days. There is no doubt of Belthorn's early origin, but very conflicting are the theories of how it got it's name. One of the most imaginative and fascinating theories is that Belthorn is a corruption of Beltane or Beltein, a festival connected with sun worship. This carries us back to the days of the Druids and has a biblical connection with the worship of Baal. This festival was held on the 21st June, during which fires were kindled on the tops of the hills, to which the people gathered, and various ceremonies were gone through in the worship of the sun. Another and more commonplace theory is that a bell was fastened to a thorn. The fierce winds that blow upon this hill top, caused the bell to ring. This was in order to give travellers a knowledge of their whereabouts. A more reasonable idea is that its name is derived from the thorns which grew hereabouts. 'Thorn' is frequently used, with a distinguishing prefix, in local placenames, such as Gaulkthorn in Oswaldtwistle.


The old roads of a district are a very interesting study, and none more so than in this locality. The ancient Roman road from Manchester to Ribchester was within sight of Belthorn heights. The present highway from Bury to Blackburn keeps very near the Roman way, in many places, and is identical with it in some stretches. As Watling Street it passes over the height of Affetside, then on towards Blackburn. The most interesting stretch of this Roman road is that at Blackamoor, near Lower Darwen. It is known as Roman Road near Blackamoor Church. Vestiges have been traced near Daisyfield Brow. A few years ago a portion of the original pavement was laid bare when some sewerage excavations took place. The road was about twenty feet in width, and was discovered at a depth of four feet below the present road. The stones comprising the pavement were large, and the upper sides were worn smooth by the traffic which passed over them whilst the Roman road continued in use. The stones were unsquared, rough hewn out of some neighbouring quarry, and are of millstone grit, probably from Revidge. Traces of a cross road of lighter construction, at about the same level as the main Roman road, on either side under the existing branch road to Guide and Oswaldtwistle eastward, and to the valley of the Darwen river westward, were also discovered. Probably that road occupies the line of a vicinal way, or Roman by-way running in those directions. The present highway through Belthorn follows closely the line of a very old road, from Haslingden Grane to Blackburn. In medieval times there were a number of stone crosses alongside this road. The base of one, the Holden cross, which stood near Holden Hall, is preserved in Haslingden Park. Then there were the Higher Abbey, and Lower Abbey crosses, but all traces of these have disappeared. A stone cross two feet high, with some Roman coins under it, was found near Guide in 1865. There were several old tracks and pack horse roads; a good example is to be seen passing by Quaker Fold.


The settlement of the district is no doubt due to the presence of the roads. The Roman road would have been utilised by King Oswald's forces in the Saxon period, when this corner of Oswald's kingdom was the contending ground for rival armies in the 7th century. The most intimate knowledge in regard to the early period that this district was settled is to be gained from the De-Lacy accounts of the 13th century. The stretch of country on the Darwen side from Belthorn to Hoddlesden should interest Accrington and district people, for this part was reclaimed from the waste moorland and hillside by the enterprise of those who held Accrington. Money spent upon development of the land was included in the yearly accounts of the steward, and afterwards the greave of Accrington Grange. The accounts for 1296 show that 6d. was received "for one old cottage at Hoddlesden sold". "For cleaning the house there are 3s. 6d., mendings hedges 2s. 1d., rebuilding and roofing house £19 3s. 4d." Under the year 1305 appears the item "6d. for cleaning meadows". From this period we can trace the development of this district, comprising Belthorn in the township of Oswaldtwistle, Yate and Pickup Bank, and Hoddlesden in the valley below, from the wild moorland to a chase reserved for hunting, then to a stock-raising farm or vaccary dependent on Accrington, a holding leased from the overlord by the Radcliffe family, then to a group of smaller farms, granted to tenants by copyhold, according to the custom of Accrington Manor. Through all these centuries a small population has continued to exist on the bare and breezy heights of Yate-cum-Pickup Bank, which attains the height of 1,000 feet at Belthorn.


The grey old stone homesteads that lie along the hillside and cluster on the crest exhibit no claims to architectural art. They are all strongly and sturdily built to withstand the wind and storm, and are similar in type to those of neighbouring districts. Many of these old homesteads are now derelict. Quaker Fold is an instance, where only the rear and end walls remain. Originally occupied by the Yates, it was later the home of Richard Ratcliffe, who lies in the neighbouring burial ground. The principal family is undoubtedly the Yates, who derived their name from the township, the meaning of which is way or road. They were settled on this hillside as far back as the reign of Edward III. There are so many branches of the family that it is impossible to trace them out, for all the bearers of that name at Yate Bank were more or less related. They were the leading yeoman family for centuries. One member, William Yates, was a leader in a disputein regards to lands in 1548. Then we have 1608, six heads of families or households of the name of Yates, and in 1662 four in Yate and Pickup Bank. There were Yates's at Windy Bank, Bankfold, Woodhead, Waterside,Jackhouse and Duckworth Hall. Windy Bank was rebuilt by William and Mary Yates in 1718. The first of this branch we can distinctly trace was John Yates 1588, Robert Yates 1602, William Yates 1617, James Yates 1641. The Bell Thorn Inn was built by Robert Yates in 1791. Pedigrees of several branches are given in Abram's "History of Blackburn". Bankfold was built or rebuilt by Robert Yates in 1765. John Yates was living at Woodhead, Belthorn, in 1810. From him was descended the late Oliver Yates, who died recently at Southport. Another Oliver Yates, an ancestor of the above gentleman, one day in Blackburn noticed an advertisement in a shop window for a salesman in Manchester. Oliver applied for the post and was engaged. Eventually he married the employer's daughter, succeeded to the business, and when he died left a fortune of £160,000. He was born at Woodhead, and afterward's rebuilt the house, in which he resided. His nephew, the late Oliver, resided here until his removal to Southport. A charming story is that attached to another old homestead that of Jackson Houses. Here was born Nellie Yates, who married the first Sir Robert Peel, and became the mother of the second Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Her father, William Yates, had entered in partnership with the first Sir Robert's father. Young Peel resided for a time with the Yates's, whose young daughter he often nursed. He often asked her if she would marry him when she became a woman, to which she would answer in the affirmative. When she became 17 and he 33 their early pledge was redeemed. The Presbyterians had a licence for preaching at John Dinden's house at Yate Bank in 1672. There were Holdens at Eccleshill and Pickup Bank. The Holdings of Broadfield are descended from the Holdings of this district. The Holdens were residing at Eccles Fold in 1602. Then there were the Pickups mentioned several times during the 16th century and Hargreaves's, who figure in the Court Rolls.


The two quaint little Quaker burial grounds at Quaker Fold and Red Earth in Yate and Pickup Bank are interesting, especially to those who delight to visit out of the way and curious places. The first named is marked on the Ordnance survey map, but no name is given, reference only being made to Quaker Fold, near by, and now a ruin. Its position is best indicated by looking up the farm locally known as Daub Hall, but which now exists under the name of New Inn, and is marked as such on the ordnance survey map. There are two tombstones in the Daub Hall enclosure. The earliest, a flat slab against the wall, records the following epitaph: "Agnes, Wife of Robert Yates. Buried here, April third, 1768, Aged 46 years." The other is a flat table tomb-stone erected on four short rectangular supports - "Underneath T.H.I.S. stone was interred the body of Richard Ratcliffe, who died May 8, 1803, Aged 73 years. Also Ellen, his wife who died July 14, 1793, Aged 66 years. Also Ellen, their daughter, the wife of George Hargreaves, died January 24, 1813, Aged 51 years". It is not surprising that many of the inhabitants of this district, the extreme south-eastern portion of the Parish of Blackburn, should have accepted the tenets and become members of the Society of Friends during the 17th century. Isolated as they were by bad roads and lack of good communication cutting them off from their Parish Church, condemned to a life-long toil to wrest from the poor soil a scanty living, eked out by home spinning and weaving, it was only from the unorthodox divines and recusant priests, driven by persecution among these hillside communities, that they received any religious consolation whatsoever. Red Earth enclosure, near by the farm of the same name, contains the remains of a family of Scholes. It is situated in the meadow, near one end of the farm. It is similar in form and size to the one at Daub Hall, and has four trees, one at each corner. A narrow entrance is now walled up. This burial ground contains only one flat tombstone resting on the ground, which bears the following epitaph: "Here resteth the body of John Scholes, of Yate Bank, who departed this life June 9, 1812, aged 53 years. Also Mary Scholes, wife of John Scholes, who departed this life December 5, 1815, in the 63rd year of her age". Evidently these inscriptions did not conform to the strict Quaker injunctions which only allowed the name and the numerical for the month. It seems that these family grave-plots were a distinctive feature of this district and must have been quite common. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the outlying districts in Lancashire, apart from the towns, were wild and almost inaccessible places, with notoriously bad roads, which made travelling a troublesome and oft-time dangerous proceeding.


We cannot speak of Belthorn, without referring to that well known dialect poem, Belthorn Charity, by Fent Dick. Richard Crawshaw, who wrote under the pen-name of "Fent Dick", kept a fent shop in Abbet Street, Accrington, next to the Oak Tree. His works have never been collected from the local Press, but the poem that will keep his name alive is Belthorn Charity. It is full of fun and humour in its description of Belthorn Charity, for which "Fent Dick" was said not to have been forgiven by the then inhabitants of Belthorn. The scene is in the old Congregational chapel, which at the time the late Rev. E. H. Apperley came in 1873, was used both as chapel and school. It was a plain, square, stone structure, with plaster ceiling and ancient windows, and the pews were of the old straight back type. The pulpit was placed against one of the end walls. There was a gallery at the opposite end and the space underneath was used for both day and Sunday schools. Old fashioned coke stoves stood in the aisles, and green was the colour on both the walls and pews. The original chapel was built in 1818, rebuilt 1848, 1884-5. We are introduced in this dialect poem to a number of Belthorn worthies: "Un owd Fat Grace and Betty Brawn, Sung trible like a lark; One sung up and tother deawn, When they sung th' Vital Spark. "Winther Peg sung alto part, While Harishorn Jack and Stuttin Ned sung tenor; Deeaf Kit reared 't nook like an owd clockcase, Wi his nooase t' music book, singin' bottom base." The fun begins after these "dab hands" had been out to get their gill of refreshments. They were watched by one who was out for a spree. He pushed snuff in the flute and put resin were Bill sat. "Bass horn he filled with soot, and corked up Bill's clarnet." Sam blew the soot all over the place. Bill blew the cork out of his clarionet, and hit Winther Peg on the nose, and felled him like a Scot. He fell against Betty Brown, who "tupped" against Fat Grace, and all three knocked down owd Kit. Owd Dick blew the snuff out of his Jarman flute, so what with all the soot and what with snuff everybody sneezed. It caused the parson to sneeze so much that he fell into the singing pew, and alighting on owd Tum, both fell inside owd Bob's bass fiddle, Bob jumped up, but the resin stuck true, and ripped the coat laps off his back "and out o' th' hole he flew".


I was speaking recently to an old inhabitant of the district, Jeremiah Yates, who told me of the hard strugglethe people had to undergo during the transition from the hand-loom to the power-loom. In the old hand-loom days each old the old homesteads were a busy hive of industry, and the people were not confined to mills and workshops. He said he was named from old Jeremy Hunt, a noted character of bygone days. He was a Nonconformist worthy who taught a class in the cottage school by candle light at 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning, afterwards crossing the hill to Darwen for morning service. In 1834 regular service was held at Pickup Bank. After providing the furniture for a chapel, the people had 5s. 3d. over which was given to Jeremy Hunt to build a school, and it was built.


There is a curious muddling of townships here, for Belthorn is for the most part on Oswaldtwistle, St. Michaels church school being in Immanuel parish. St. Michael's Church-school was built in 1863, during the time of the late Rev. Boulby Haslewood, who was vicar of Oswaldtwistle for 40 years. He died in 1897. The New Inn (Daub Hall) was the meeting place for business of the overseers and officials for the township of Yate-cum-Pickup Bank. The district was formerly an outlying portion of the Forest of Rossendale. On September 15, 1863 the district outside Belthorn (Oswaldtwistle township portion) was formed into the separate parish of Hoddlesden, carved out of the ancient parishes of Whalley and Blackburn.

[edit] BELTHORN VILLAGE Hyndburn Historical Society



Belthorn is an isolated community lying partially within the boundary of Hyndburn. Although farming has been carried on in the area for hundreds of years the village itself is almost certainly a creation of the upsurge in handloom weaving which occurred towards the close of the eighteenth century.

Pack Horse Area, Belthorn Village

Kendal Row lower three cottages are an obvious indication of handloom weaving, notice the separated windows, round headed doorways and watershot coursing, a style suggesting an early 19th century date. The higher dwellings later developed as a small mining community. Pack Horse Hotel public house probably dating from c1820; the Bury and Eltom Turnpike Road was constructed in 1809. Belthorn Colliery (Lower Mountain Mine): working of seam began at beginning of 19th century by Tattersall and Yates families. There is evidence of child labour at this period. Simpson and Young took over in 1853. Operations ended 1884. Heeden Pit shaft marked by concrete cap and drained lodge. Coke ovens were situated just north of the shaft. Bye Pit sited further along road, the large buttressed plinth marks the site. Belthorn Co-operative Mill Remains of a small weaving shed of 1861 built by weavers and residents of Belthorn. The Co-operative Company failed to raise enough capital to equip the mill and manufacturing operations did not begin until the 1880s. 288 looms by 1900. Whittaker and Duerden ran shed from 1908 until closure of 1933. Some ruins can be seen south of the Pack Horse. Daisy Green Site of a community of handloom weavers which was cleared following the construction of Daisy Green reservoir by Blackburn Water Board. The hamlet had its own school and at least one beer house, the Collier's Arms. There was a toll house at Linnswithins below the Grey Mare.

Belthorn Village

St. Michael's C.E. School/Chapel Built in 1861 to replace the old Daisy Green School. Peel family gave the land. Following the opening of Belthorn County Primary School in the 1960s the school closed although the mission continued until a recent date. Belthorn Quarry an old sandstone quarry, abandoned by the 1840s. The stone from these workings may have been used for building many of the houses in the village. Ratten Row (Tower View) Cottages of an early date probably used for handloom weaving. The cottage on the corner of Belthorn Road has off-set windows. Belthorn Colliery Staithe W.H. Shaw and Co. had a coal staithe at Ratten Row until 1901. Coal and fireclay was brought by tramroad (from Bank Fold) to the staithe and then carried by aerial ropeway to the glazed brickworks at Whitebirk. Derby Arms (123-21 Belthorn Road) One of a number of former beerhouses which now survive as cottages in the village. Bell i'Thorn Inn Thought to have been built in 1792 by Robert Yates. Closed after World War 1. The inn has attached stabling and a paved forecourt. Spring Hill Farm An example of a local farm built on the 17th century long house plan with barn, dwelling and other buildings under one roof. Congregational School Erected 1872, closed as a day school when the County Primary School was opened. Taylor's Buildings (opposite new school) formerly the "Old Pack Horse Inn". Congregational Chapel Rebuilt in 1882 to replace an older building dating from 1818. The chapel is constructed in the classical style. Chapel Street handloom weavers' cottages with ground floor loomshops. 182 Belthorn Road built as the "British Queen", by the end of the nineteenth century has become the Conservative Club. Now earmarked as a community centre. 180-156 Belthorn Road more examples of handloom weavers' cottages, separated windoews can be seen on the ground floors of a number. West View two handloom weavers' cottages in an excellent state of preservation. Dog Inn, Belthorn Road dating from before 1840's. North gable end may indicate earlier use as a cotton warehouse. Holden Street Cottages built during 1770's with probable rear loomshops. 29 Belthorn Road local tradition suggests that the last handloom weaver of the village worked in the cellar of this house during the 1870s. West Street, Belthorn Road Notice the round-headed doorway and the date stone of 1817. Higher Fold - Lower Fold further examples of handloom weaver's dwellings, some dating from 1780's. The two terraces facing Waterside date from the mid-19th century. Former Victoria Inn, 1A Belthorn Road Dating from 1780's, possibly the house of a master handloom manufacturer, converted into a public house in 19th century, later became Belthorn Working Men's Club. Opposite is Rann Farm. The Manse a most attractive detached house built in 1860 for the Minister of Belthorn Chapel. Converted to a private residence in 1954. War Memorial commemorates the residents of the village who lost their lives during the great war. Syke Mill, Rann Building commenced in 1855 but Mill was not successful until 1870's when John Oddie of Blackburn took over. Major reconstruction in 1882. Products included checks, plain cloths and fancies, weaving ceased in 1958-59, later used as felt works. Note roadside offices, brick chimney, engine house with round headed window and reservoir.

Notes and Research by Mike Rothwell, April 1979

The society would like to thank Miss Bury, Mr. and Mrs. Holden, and Messrs. Houghton and Whittle, all of Belthorn, for the help they have provided in compiling these notes.

Further Reading A History of Church and Oswaldtwistle, D. Hogg. Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Oswaldtwistle, M. Rothwell. Handloom Weaver's Cottages in Central Lancashire, J.G. Timmins. The Oswaldtwistle Cotton Industry (Ms in Accrington Library), M. Rothwell.

[edit] References

BELTHORN Mike Rothwell Caxton Printing Co. 1987

BELTHORN VILLAGE Hyndburn Historical Society Summer Walk 1979 Private Printing

(Source: Wikipedia)
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