Death of Ribble Valley historian who made a huge contribution to the local community

Jenny Bradley.
Jenny Bradley.

A local historian who has left a lasting legacy in the village where she was born has died at the aged of 89.

Jenny Bradley, nee Mason, who died at home earlier this month, was born in Slaidburn in 1928, one of six children.

Slaidburn has been an important part of Jenny’s life and the Slaidburn Silver Band was one of her earliest memories along with the May Queen, picnics on the green and dancing round the maypole. The outside world was summer holidays in Blackpool.

However, the war changed everything and Jenny went off to do work of national importance as a nurse in Liverpool. When the war was over she returned to Slaidburn, but she had changed. Jenny married Donald, a teacher, and moved away and travelled the world seeing new sights and experiencing different cultures.

Jenny, who became a mother-of-two and a grandmother-to-two, studied as a mature student to become a teacher, bringing her magic to many young children. After early retirement she and Donald returned to Clitheroe.

She had never lost her sense of belonging to Slaidburn and it fuelled her passion to record the local history as much of the word-of-mouth culture was disappearing. Jenny wanted to give something back to the village that had provided for her all those years ago and, from starting as an archivist for Hodder Valley Show, she set up a village archive with money from the local WI plus grants and donations. This archive is now housed in the Slaidburn village heritage centre and is part of the national collection.

With a great capacity for work, Jenny was always tirelessly researching, writing booklets, compiling and setting up exhibitions, recording farm history, raising money for the bell tower, church band and archive alike.

She learned to ring the church bells and rang for about 20 years, joining the tower ringers at home and on trips away.

One of Jenny’s greatest passions though was Slaidburn Silver band. At the age of nine having been told “we don’t take girls” she vowed in her typical determined manner that one day she would join and would be part of that sound – which she did at the age of 67! She played with the band for 20 years, her last concert being in 2015 at the Hark to Bounty attended by her husband, daughter, brother and sister-in-law. In 1999 she very proudly received the honour of becoming Bandsman of the Year and was made a lifetime member in December 2015.

Jenny had a great sense of mischief although she took her work very seriously. She was determined, focussed and with the support of her husband Donald she generated a great and lasting legacy for the village she loved so much.

A private cremation followed by a service celebrating Jenny’s life will be held on Saturday at St Andrew’s Church, Slaidburn, at 2pm.