stony broke

Four years earlier than the Reverend Watkin’s visit to Colne in 1846, William Cooke Taylor  gave the following account of the town:

“Returning to the road, we resumed our journey to Colne. The town is romantically situated on the summit of an eminence, surrounded by ranges of hills. The intervening valleys are richly cultivated, and contain some fine wood, which is probably a remnant of old Pendle Forest. The gentleman to whom I was furnished with a letter of introduction, requesting that he would aid me in my investigations, was unfortunately absent from home, and I was therefore compelled to devise a course of investigation for myself. The plan which I adopted here I have since invariably followed, and I am persuaded that it is the best mode of arriving at the truth. I went to the market-place, and addressed myself to the most intelligent-looking of the many idle operatives by whom it was crowded. I asked him to guide me to the streets where the unemployed workpeople resided, that I might see with my own eyes the condition to which they had been reduced. As I had never been in this part of the country before, it was impossible for me to select specimens, and I took care that my guide should not, for, though he led to the streets, I took the houses at random. In all I visited eighty-three dwellings, selected at hazard. They were destitute of furniture, save old boxes for tables, and stools, Ot even large stones, for chairs; the beds were composed of straw and shavings, sometimes with torn pieces of carpet or packing canvass for a covering, and sometimes without any kind of covering whatever. The food was oatmeal and water for breakfast; flour and water, with a little skimmed milk, for dinner; oatmeal and water again for a third supply, with those who went through the form of eating three meals a-day. I was informed in fifteen families that their children went without the ” blue milk,” or milk from which the cream had been taken, on alternate days. I was an eye-witness to children appeasing the cravings of the stomach by the refuse of decayed vegetables in the root-market. I saw a woman in the very last stage of extenuation suckling an infant, which could scarcely draw a single drop of nutriment from her exhausted breast. I inquired the child’s age ?—Fifteen months. Why was it not weaned ?—Another mouth would be added to the number of those for whom the present supply of oatmeal was insufficient. I was told that there had been several instances of death by sheer starvation. On asking why application had not heen made to the parish for relief, I was informed that they were persons from agricultural districts, who, on committing an act of vagrancy, would be sent to their parishes, and that they had rather endure anything, in the hope of some manufacturing revival, than return to the condition of farm-labourers, from which they had emerged. This was a fact perfectly new to me, and at the first blush utterly incredible; but I asked the neighbours in two of the instances quoted, in the absence of my guide, and without their having a suspicion of my having had any previous conversation on the subject, and they not only confirmed the story, but seemed to consider any appearance of scepticism a mark of prejudice or ignorance.”

Source:  Notes of a Tour in the Manufacturing Districts of Lancashire in a series of letters to His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, W Cooke Talyor, London, 1842 pp 74-75
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