view from the tower

After leaving the bells behind, it was up to the roof of the tower, one of the highest points in the town and a great place to take in (or try to) everything from the immediate surroundings to the distant horizon, in all directions.

From the top of St Bartholomew’s church tower, Colne:

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the bells, the bells

I got quite excited today at the unexpected chance to explore the bell tower of St Bartholomew’s Church. The bell above, one of eight, was made in London and installed in 1814 along with 5 others. The other two date from some time later.

I had a go at ringing a couple of the smaller ones. It was much harder than I thought it would be and the whole business of ringing bells properly was explained to us by a few of the current ringers. It is a very complicated business!

After leaving the ringing room, it was up more spiralling steps to the bells above.

They are loud. This is the smallest one:

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Colne from the air

This image, of Colne railway station and the surrounding area in 1925, is one of 95000 on the Britain from Above project website. The photographs were all taken by Aerofilms Ltd, a pioneering aerial surveying company established in 1919, and have been digitised with the support of Heritage Lottery funding. They can be downloaded for free (for non-commercial use) at:

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alehouses in Colne 1655

“A list of all the Alehouses in every Townshipp within the hundred of Blackburn as followeth”

[rather a list of alehouse keepers]

Coulne Towne

X John Emott

X Arthur Blacoe

X Abraham Sutliffe

O Geoffrey Shacklton

O Michaell Doughtie

O Rob[er]t Fawlkener

X George Fairebancke

O Henry Holgate

O Henry Stanworth

O John Heartley

O John Holgate

X Widdowe Duxbury

O Mr Chris[to]fer Banbrigge

O William Greene

X Rob[er]t Swayne

X John Blakey

O Widdowe Hargreaves

a O Rob[er]t Baron

O William Risheton

O James Hudson

X Steephen Tillotson

O Widdowe Blakey

X Richard Craven

Counstable Danyell Leacocke

X Richard Dobson

Notes: from Lancashire Archives reference QDV 29

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dam buster

John Fort

John Fort was the bomb-aimer on the Lancaster Bomber AJ-J, one of 18 aircraft taking part in Operation Chastise, 16-17 May, 1943. Operation Chastise is better known as the Dam Busters raid.

John was born at the Shooters Arms in Nelson on 4 July 1912 and references are made online to him having attended Christ Church School in Colne. Whilst no conclusive proof has been found in the school records – the admission registers do not survive for the period and no mention is made of him in the log book – it seems very likely: his brother Robert certainly attended and the school was across the road from Bents Brewery, the Fort family business and home. John’s aunt Annie was a teacher at the school, starting as a pupil there before becoming a pupil teacher. She eventually became head teacher at Lord Street School in the town.

John joined the RAF in 1929 and went on to serve as a member of the ground crew on the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious. When the Second World War came, he volunteered for air crew training during which John was selected as a specialist bomb-aimer. For his role in Operation Chastise John was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Image result for distinguished flying cross

He did not survive the war though. John died in a plane crashed only a few months later, on 15 Sep 1943. He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial,  as well as the main Colne war memorial…

…and the Christ Church memorial.

In 2015, the specially-made sight used by John to aim the “bouncing bomb” on the approach to Mohne dam was sold for over £41000. Read more.


Christ Church School records are at Lancashire Archives, reference SMCO/11

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leaving a note

front cover.jpgI found this pamphlet recently on a secondhand book stall, my eye caught by the wonderful cover design. It’s a really interesting brief history of the Nelson Weavers’ Association published in 1922 to mark its 50th anniversary.

You can read in full here.

It’s the note written on the back that makes it for me though. The grandiose image on the front contrasts wonderfully with the everyday, gritty request to “.. clean those 2 hens in coal shed” and the equally prosaic “Can you leave a key if you’re out at 5 Dad Please..”

back cover.jpg

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going underground

Bronze Age flint knife found in Laneshawbridge

There’s a website where you can see archaeological finds made across the country by membrs of the public, including many discovered in Pendle. These include some of the oldest evidence of human activity in the area, thousands of years ago, and many other accidental survivals, remarkable hints at past lives from more recent centuries.

Cast copper alloy axe (probably dating to the Middle Bronze Age 1300 to 1150BC) found in Laneshawbridge

TheseCopper alloy whistle, probably for hawking (post-medieval, 1500 to 1800 AD) found in Laneshawbridge

These discoveries, along with over a million others nationwide, have been recorded as part of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. Find out more, and search the database here.




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