Clitheroe Civic Society

Caring for the future of Clitheroe

Monday 14th September 2015 - Annual General Meeting
followed by a talk on Booth's Cheeses


1. Apologies: Janet Clegg, Steve Burke, John and Sally Goodman, Janice Tolson


2. Minutes of AGM 2014. It was unanimously carried that these minutes were a true record of the meeting.


3. Matters arising: Pinnacle Project and Bellman Quarry project reports will follow the Treasurer’s report.


4. Chairman’s Report                  

 Chairman’s Report. September 2015.  AGM

Looking back over a full year, I am always amazed at how much has gone on in Clitheroe Civic Society.

Our monthly meetings have been well attended, and members and visitors alike have enjoyed such a variety of topics__James Dixon’s work at Blackburn orphanage; the rebuilding of Ypres; the Padiham to Whalley turnpike and the huge audience for Gordon’s History of Littlemoor Corn Mill.

Everything is reported on our website and Alan Dixon does an amazing amount of hard work keeping the website up-to-date and it now links with the Pinnacle Project and blog. I find it invaluable and I hope you all use it too.


This year has been extremely busy for the committee and I sincerely thank each committee member. Fantastic work and never daunted by challenges.

Fundraising for the pinnacle project meant months of planning. The Cheese and Wine evening at Downham Hall will long be remembered as a highlight of the year. Dorothy Falshaw, Shirley Penman and Olwyn Claydon were responsible for the meticulous attention to details which culminated in a perfect evening. I kept my beautiful ticket as a memento. Thank you ladies, and for raising £1200.

Steve Burke organised a concert at The Grand which was a great relaxed evening and raised £750.


A combination of patience, tenacity and courtesy is fairly rare in a person. Yet Alan Dixon manages this. His Town Trail booklet needed large doses of each before it was finally printed and now  STOP PRESS___Alan has today (with John Rowley’s help) brought back to Clitheroe, from Burnley, all the past bound copies of Clitheroe Advertiser and Times dating back to the 1870s. When they have been archived, they will be available at Clitheroe Town Council office where special shelves have been built. What a marvellous resource! Alan, you have done such a wonderful job which has taken so long to achieve. Thank you.

Sadly we are losing Olwyn Claydon, John Goodman, Dorothy Falshaw and Shirley Penman from the committee. Each of them has worked so hard for the society. John and Olwyn have given long term support, going way back to the fight to save the frontage of the old hospital and before. Thank you all four. Your contribution will be greatly missed.

Thank you to the two poster distributors, Eileen Clegg and Kath Duckworth. Every month the posters are out in good time and bring in visitors to the talks. It is a vital job. As I mentioned in the bidding letter, Tony Goodbody has produced 100 posters for meetings. That is about 12 years! What fantastic dedication. Tony has always taken such trouble to get the right image. Thank you, Tony. I would also like to mention Tony’s latest book on the Postal History of Clitheroe. There are some available this evening so see Tony afterwards.

On planning and development, we are now mainly powerless. With increasing control from central government and constant changes in planning regulations, we have little chance of being heard. The Core Strategy has been accepted.

Thank you to John and John for providing the refreshments at meetings. They are most welcome.

I think it is fair to say that this past year has been an exceptionally busy, fruitful and enjoyable year. Finally, I hope that many members will volunteer to take on some job to spread the workload.

I now call on Tony Goodbody to give the Treasurer’s Report. When Tony volunteered to be treasurer for a year only, he did not envisage all the extra work of dealing with the pinnacle project. Thankfully he has agreed to stay as Treasurer until the project is finished. Thank you, Tony. You are doing a wonderful job.


5.  Treasurer’s Report

Tony Goodbody declared that moneys in the society account and the pinnacle fund were adequate to meet needs. However, he proposed that the subscription be raised to £18 from January 2016. This was accepted by members.


6. Report on Bellman Park Quarry

Gordon Taylor reported that great progress had been made especially in clearing trees and in lowering the water level. English Heritage did a scan of the building and are pressing the need for more conservation work. Meetings have been held between Hanson’s and English Heritage but nothing further has happened.


7. Report on Pinnacle

The contractors are ahead of schedule and have completely dismantled the pinnacle.


8. Election of Offices and Committee Members

Chairman Pauline Wood NB Pauline stressed that she would not be available as chairman from August 2016 but would stay on the committee if needed.

Steve Burke volunteered to join the committee and Ruth Thompson volunteered to write up some press releases after speakers. Dorothy Jackson has agreed to contact speakers.

 This event happened at a committee meeting after the AGM: Steve Burke volunteered to be Vice Chairman for this coming year. His offer was accepted unanimously by the committee.  

Also Olwyn Claydon has agreed to be Assistant Treasurer to help Tony at the desk and she will also continue to update membership lists and membership cards.

Thanks to all volunteers.


Following the meeting, members were treated to a talk by Susan Walmesley on the cheeses sold by Booth's Supermarket

Susan Walmesley

Susan Walmsley, Specialist Supervisor from Booths in Clitheroe certainly had the Civic Society eating out of her hand!

We heard how Booths as we know it today started with one man, Edwin Booth, working hard to learn all he could before, aged 19, he opened The China House in Blackpool in June 1847, having borrowed £80 in goods from the Preston grocer who had taught him his trade. Only three months later, he had repaid the debt, and made a profit of £50.

Over her 15 years at Booths, Susan has amassed a great knowledge of cheese, cheese makers and their origins, many, right here in the Ribble Valley. In fact to start with, we learnt about Whey Butter, as in the nursery rhyme, which takes many pounds of whey to make one pound of way butter. It was delicious. Susan had brought samples!

Taste buds wetted, Susan then moved on to tempt us with stories of a whole range of cheeses, all different, all with a different story to tell. This included Dewlay Cheese, with over 40 years of traditional handmade Lancashire Cheese using cheese making techniques handed down the generations.

When Edwin Booth set out, he reportedly had one simple aim, "To sell the best goods he could buy in shops staffed with first class assistants". The Civic Society were definitely served with a first class talk which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Mon 12th October - Cromwell's Northern Journey from Yorkshire to Lancashire - a talk by Nick Barton

How often do we visit a place of interest, only to drive away again? Recently Nick Burton shared his own way of exploring local history with the Clitheroe Civic Society, as he took us on Oliver Cromwell’s Northern Journey through Yorkshire and Lancashire. Through a series of old maps, so different from those of today, and “best guesses”, Nick showed the Society how he had walked in the footsteps of Cromwell over four days which were to change the course of history.

Soon we were gripped by the atmosphere of 13 August 1648, with Royalist and Parliamentarians battling for power. Cromwell and his “New Model Army” looked out from Otley, not at a modern road system, but across land which had yet to be enclosed, land where geographical features, and church spires and towers were the only guides. Rivers such as the Wharfe were followed, but bridges were not in abundance! Stepping stones were often the order of the day!

Paths, often old Roman roads, took Cromwell’s army, often drenched by “typical” August weather, to Ilkley, Addingham and on to Skipton. The following day’s March saw the army arrive at Gisburn (then spelt with an “e” – blame the railway companies for the change in later years!).

Cromwell then made one of the most decisive decisions of the second civil war; where to intercept and fight the Royalists. Having crossed the river at Edisford Bridge, and breaking their journey at the then named “Stoneyhurst Hall”, Cromwell set out on the last 14 miles to Preston. Following the line of Longridge Fell, through Grimsargh, Ribbleton and Fishwick to the River Ribble they arrived at the area now known as Walton le Dale, where the Battle of Preston ensued. It was the most decisive battle of the second civil war.

Sadly, Nick’s footsteps finished near where the battle took place, ironically in the car park of the Capital Trade Park in Preston! Still, the message was clear, leave the car at home for a change, and discover the history on foot!


Mon 2nd November 2015 - Great Days Out Around Clitheroe by Ken Parkinson


Ken Parkinson 

Do you remember Betty’s bus and her local tours? Ken Parkinson went one better and brought the Ribble Valley to us in a wonderful series of films he had made of various events and places round the area. Clitheroe Civic Society started the journey at Clitheroe Castle as it was before the Atrium was built. Simon Entwistle on a ghost hunt, discovered one there which showed a new twist to the word “spirit”!

Three old churches at Mitten, Slaidburn and Dalehead were beautifully captured in exquisite detail lingering on the stained glass windows, hammer-beam roofs and ancient treasures such as fonts and screens. Then it was off to the scenic Hodder Valley and Trough of Bowland with a glimpse of the 100,000th payphone box to be installed in the UK. Waddington’s Scarecrow Festival and the Chipping Steam Fair recaptured sunny fun days in contrast to the fire in Duck Street which was horrific.

The pride of the Lancashire Regiment’s parade through the town on their return from Afghanistan was captured from a window at The White Lion.

The sites of Lidl and Homebase were remembered before, throughout and after the new buildings were up. “What is your opinion of panopticons?” we were asked. Clitheroe refused one but Wycoller, Burnley and Blackburn have them. The Haslingden Halo is certainly spectacular at night.

Finally, Crazy Golf_ a literally unbelievable but hilarious game using a snooker cue on the golf green and a mini golf putter. What a challenge! Fast and furious _ a great note to finish on.

Ken’s background commentary throughout provided a wealth of background information. Ken’s presentation highlighted so many events and so much almost forgotten as we become used to changes, but thankfully these have been captured by Ken. The audience warmly showed appreciation, with a resolve to have Ken back again when he has 14 more films to show! Everyone enjoyed the evening.


Mon 7th December 2015 - Christmas for Betsy the Scullery Maid


Joan Halliwell 

The Civic Society were recently transported back in time to Christmas “below stairs” by Betsy the Scullery Maid, also known as the author and performer Joan Halliwell. In authentic costume, and with tales a-many, we sat enthralled as her story unfolded. With wide eyes and a wonderful twist and turn of language, we heard of coals being washed before being burnt on the fires of the gentry, so as not to cause too much dust to fall on precious Christmas Tree baubles. Indeed, the amazement of the servants as a tree was brought into the house, following in the fashion of Prince Albert, was recounted! Amidst the humorous manner in which Betsy recounted tale after tale, we were all acutely aware of what a hard life it was for those in service. Even the joys of Christmas “below stairs” were small, in comparison with what they were expected to do, in order that all “above stairs” was perfect.

The entertainment was rounded off when Betsy invited, then insisted, that members of the Civic Society join her Choir! With knees trembling (well, at least those of this member!) the brave and terrified joined Betsy in the singing of an eventful tongue twisting “Twelve Days of Christmas”!

Mon 4th January 2016 - Vikings at Waterloo - Wartime work on the Whittle jet engine - by David Brooks

A packed audience sat enthralled from the first moment when renowned speaker, historian and author, David Brooks took us back, not to a long ago battle with the French, but to game changing history right here in Clitheroe!

Many of you will have seen the Blue Plaque on the wall of the Swan and Royal, commemorating a meeting concerning Frank Whittle and the Jet Engine. There is so much more to the story! We were left in no doubt that Whittle was indeed a genius, and his pioneering work with the jet engine a testament to his skill and vision. However, without the dedicated team at Waterloo Mill in Clitheroe, history might have been very different.

David brought alive the story with pictures of those involved, many faces being known to members of the audience. By 1940 the Air Ministry was using car manufacturers to take on vital war time work.  Rover Cars, (who had an advert involving Vikings!) were commissioned to undertaken vital work on the jet engine. Their Midlands factories were already busy with other war work, and it was thought they needed to keep the work as secret as possible. Hence, the testing and development took place right here in Clitheroe! The noise from the testing of the engines must have been so hard to live with for those living in close proximity to the Mill.

In 1942 Rolls Royce were then brought in to resolve ongoing problems, while Rover moved onto work on tanks. A great deal of work was undertaken to move the project on, and the famous meeting at the Swan and Royal was just a small part of a fascinating chapter of Clitheroe’s role in changing history. Waterloo Mill continued to be used as a test centre for Rolls for many years. Photographs of the 1948 Torchlight Procession showed a float from the Mill with its team of people, at the forefront of engineering developments. The Mill is no longer, but it has left its mark on Clitheroe’s proud history.

The next meeting of the Civic Society is at 7.30 pm on Monday 1 February 2016, when we welcome Gordon Taylor with an illustrated talk on the Boundary Stones in the Ribble Valley. Held at the Ribble Valley Borough Council Chamber in Church Street, it is open to all, with just a small charge for non-members and this includes tea or coffee and biscuits.


Mon 1st February 2016 - Boundary Stones in the Ribble Valley - by Gordon Taylor

Gordon Taylor

Leave No Stone Unturned . . .

. . . to find your local history! Clitheroe Civic Society recently sat down to enjoy an in-depth tour of what is right here on our doorstep, yet so easily missed! Gordon Taylor, with his immense knowledge of the local area, guided us from the comfort of our seats, around the Boundary Stones of Clitheroe. How many we must have passed by, unknowingly!

In the days before the garish, tinny signs which seem to litter our landscape, anything of importance was carved into stone. Every time you cross the local stone bridges, such as the one at Brungerley or Edisford, take a moment to see the work of long ago stonemasons. Directions, mileage, which County we are in (is it Lancashire or….Yorkshire?!) are there, weathered by time, but still clear to see.

Definitely not so clear to see are the few remaining Boundary Stones which mark the boundary of Clitheroe! Many with a number, some are still to be found, on fence lines and paths. Another was salvaged and reinstated to ensure it didn’t fall prey to building works. Others are in fields. Look across the river from the Recycling Depot at the end of Henthorn Road, and see if you can spot Number 20!

Writing on the stones varies. Indeed, as Gordon expanded on the many clues to our past, we heard of the illiterate but skilled stonemasons, trying to follow the marks made by those commissioning the signs. Larger stones, used to sign information, hold more text, and often more interesting spellings!

The area is also a treasure of stone crosses, many with inscriptions alighting to a story, a history, a place in time. Gordon also brought us up to date with more recent stones which follow the time honoured tradition of stonemasons marking important events. Let us hope it continues!

Pauline Woods, the Chair of the Civic Society, warmly thanked Gordon for a talk which literally left no stone unturned in our rich local history.  

Mon 7th March 2016 - Tunnels and Railways, a talk by Ken Geddes

 Recently the Clitheroe Civic Society welcomed Ken Geddes with his illustrated talk on which touched on all things to do with tunnels! From the Ribble Valley Railway, to canals, railways, tramways to rocksalt, we “crawled around in tunnels all evening!

With today’s technology, making a tunnel is relatively easy. Go back to the 1840s in Preston, as they had to route a tramway to link the Lancaster Canal under Fishergate, things were very different. Possibly the world’s first railway tunnel, it is now under a carpark!

We learnt of more tunnelling for canals, and to make shafts for ventilation, like the one in Padiham. (Now covered by a roundabout!)

We learnt that with the coming of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, not everyone was as enthusiastic about modern travel as the railways pioneers of the day. The excitement of tunnels did nothing to help. Indeed, the Elders of the Liverpool stated that steam was too dangerous for the City. The steam engine was taken off the train for the last part of the journey into Liverpool, and the carriages pulled unceremoniously by cable into Liverpool Station!

So finally to rock salt. Next time we see the gritters out on those icy evenings, cast a thought that there will have been a tunnel involved somewhere, as it was mined, ready to help keep us all safe and on the move.

Mon 11th April 2016 - Time Travelling Through the Ribble Valley

 Jamie Quartermaine

Clitheroe Civic Society were treated to the most amazing evening with Jamie Quartermaine, as he took us back to the very origins of the formation of the Ribble Valley. Along the way he shared the very latest technologies used to uncover our past. We learnt that the drainage system in the Valley is a product of glaciation, and the erosion caused by glacial meltwaters. We “flew” with the LiDAR team, scanning the ground to then build a 3D model of the valley.  The story moved from ice to much warmer times! Along the way, we heard of the hyenas, bears, lions, tigers and elephants that roamed here, evidenced by deposits found near Settle.

We were intrigued by Horace the Elk in Poulton-le-Fylde in 11,500BC, and evidence of man being in the Valley! From wild animals we were fascinated by the changes that impacted on our Valley. 4,000 BC saw the Neolithic period change everything, with axe production! Men were able to control more of the environment, and the population increased as the ground made over to agriculture grew. People could trade, across the country, and on to the Continent. Skilled men made tools, and on a mass production scale.  This had arguably a bigger impact than the Industrial Revolution!

We moved on to through the Bronze Age, and to Circles! Why are they there?! From the Bleasdale Timber Circle onwards we saw how arguably they were first and foremost meeting places, for rituals, trading, politics. Climate change impacted again at the end of the Bronze Age, with the population retreating to more coastal areas as the temperatures fell, and conflict reared its head as there was less land available to produce food. The Iron Age saw swords made, not for butchering animals for food, but to use against fellow humans. The Romans period saw massive changes in the Valley. The climate improved. Massive tree felling for agriculture changed the landscape dramatically. The strategic importance of the River Ribble is reflected in the position of three important Roman sites along its way, Walton-le-Dale, Kirkham and Ribchester. Finally we travelled through the relatively “modern” days of the Anglo Saxons, the evidence of early Christianity through Crosses and Churches, to the Norse raiders. The wonderful Cuerdale Silver Hoard shows just what a time of conflict this was!   Through the Norman Conquest, the building of Clitheroe Castle, Medieval times and onto the cotton industry, the Valley changed and developed, with lime kilns and railways impacting most recently! 125,000BC to now, all in just over an hour!!  A truly wonderful story.