New books shed light on town history

St. John the Divine, Holme-in-Cliviger
St. John the Divine, Holme-in-Cliviger
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With this column I try to keep you informed about what is happening in local history and heritage, writes local historian ROGER FROST.

Two new books have been published recently and, as there is a current offer on a long-established historical publication, now is a good time to let you know what is going on.

The History of Burnley. W. Bennett

The History of Burnley. W. Bennett

The first of the new books is a new guide to Cliviger Parish Church. The publication, at almost 40 pages, might not be entitled to be called a book but Ramon Collinge’s “St John the Divine: Holme-in-Cliviger” is the most comprehensive guide to the church that has been published.

The booklet tells the story of St John’s since it was founded approaching 500 years ago. In those days it was a Chantry Chapel built near Holme, the home of the Whitakers of Cliviger. Though, in its early days, the chapel was not served, by priests, as regularly as it might have been, St John’s came into its own in the late 18th Century when it was rebuilt, at his own expense, by Dr Thomas Dunham Whitaker, the great local historian.

His church is essentially the building which survives today. It is an interesting Anglican building in that it is not designed in the Gothic style more usual for Anglican churches. St John’s was built in the period when Classical designs reigned supreme, only one of two such buildings in North East Lancashire – the other is St John’s in Blackburn.

Ramon’s book not only includes an account of the history of the church there is also a guide to the interior of the building and its furniture some of which originated in the abbeys at Whalley and Kirkstall, near Leeds. Then there is a guide to the graveyard and some of those who are buried there. These include Lady O’Hagan, the last of the Towneley family to live in Towneley Hall; James Green, the prominent local architect and Jerry Dawson, the legendary former Burnley and England goalkeeper.

Burnley, The Town's Twentieth Century Buildings

Burnley, The Town's Twentieth Century Buildings

The book contains many excellent photographs by Geoff Ashworth, Peter Seavers, Beryl Crook and Eric Lamb. The present Vicar, the Rev. John-Paul Sanderson, has contributed an interesting foreword and the booklet has been beautifully printed by Philip Creegan as Nu-Age Print and Copy here in Burnley. The booklet is available only from the church at £5 per copy.

By the time you read this article the book will have been launched. This will have taken place at the Heritage Open Day event at St John’s. Unfortunately, the author, because of other commitments, will not have been there but Ramon, and the Church, can be very proud of what they have achieved.

They say that there is nothing like blowing one’s own trumpet! The case in point today is that the next book, “Burnley: The Town’s Twentieth Century Buildings”, was written by myself!

The book has been a long time in the writing, approaching 10 years, in fact. Some time ago, the Twentieth Century Society contacted Burnley Civic Trust asking if we could undertake a conducted tour of the town’s 20th Century buildings. They had in mind, especially, Padiham Town Hall, the Prestige building and the Castle, an interesting house on Manchester Road in Burnley.

The tour was successfully arranged and the idea to publish something on the subject was formulated. In fact, members of the Civic Trust were grateful that the Twentieth Century Society had drawn attention to Burnley’s largely forgotten 20th Century built heritage. This booklet claims to be little more than a starting point for further studies but we hope that it is, nonetheless, a useful contribution to the story of Burnley’s built heritage.

The responsibility for the end product is not only my own. Edward Walton has made use of both his photographic and computer skills in putting the book together and the two of us have to thank Peter Seavers and Geoff Ashworth for taking the specially commissioned images which have been successfully given the Walton treatment. The book is available at the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre shop on Manchester Road and at New-Age Print and Copy, which is on Padiham Road. Otherwise contact me on 453863 for a copy. The booklet sells for £3 each.

The remaining publication is in the form of an offer from the Burnley and District Historical Society. I think that the Society has some storage problems so they are making available Walter Bennett’s four-volume “History of Burnley” at only £1 per volume when the books usually sell at £8 each.

In fact the offer is better than that because the original books, one and two, have been put into a single volume so, if you order all four volumes you will get three books at £1 each with no postal charges if you live in the Burnley area! If you live outside the Burnley area postage will cost you an extra £1.90p per volume.

Mr Bennett’s History of Burnley was published in the years immediately after the Second World War. We Frosts have a connection with the initial publications in that my father, Walter Frost, who had just returned from over three years in a Prisoner of War Camp, was on light duties at Burnley Town Hall and it was he who helped Mr Bennett to bring the books to publication. They were printed by the Burnley Express Printing Co. and, though there have been several reprints, Bennett’s “History of Burnley” has never been out of print since the appearance, in 1946, of the first volume.

I am sure that the Burnley and District Historical Society will be aware of this but it is just 70 years since Mr Bennett’s “History” was first published so, for that reason alone, it is opportune that this offer has been made.

Orders can be placed with Stephen Child (the Secretary of the Society) 66, Langdale Road, Blackburn, BB2 5DW; telephone 01254 201162 or email martinchild66@yahoo.co.uk