A plaque erected in the 1833 Church building and later transferred to the porch of the 1965 building reads “Tockholes Church – Built A.D. 640; Rebuilt 1494; Restored 1620; Rebuilt 1833” and goes on to list the known Incumbents and Vicars from 1292, the earliest being Adam de Tockholes.  Why the date of 640 was assumed is a mystery and is probably a myth, the date being extremely early in terms of the history of the Church in England.

The present Church building was erected in 1965 and dedicated by the Bishop of Blackburn, Dr. C. R. Claxton on the 26th March 1966.  The Church is a modern structure built partly in brick and partly in cedar wood.  The porch from the 1833 Church was retained and incorporated into the present building. The building was intended to be temporary and was only meant to last for 12 to 15 years, but apart from the addition of a metal ‘barn’ roof covering in the 1980’s to cure a raining-in problem, it has lasted well and remains unaltered.

The area originally covered by the 1833 Church is still visible and some of the buttresses are incorporated into the present foundations.  Many of the fittings from the old Church were lost or destroyed but amongst those preserved are the pulpit, the gift of the relatives of the Rev. & Mrs. Thomason, and dated July 1883, an old oak chest in which the church records were once kept, the Lectern Bible and the communion table acquired as a memorial to those church members who gave their lives in the First World War and inscribed at the base “To the Glory of God and in Memory of the following who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 – Arthur Catterall, Charles Lloyd, Arthur Worthington (Sidesman), Henry Shaw, John Turner, William Kitchen, John Nelson, James Turner, George Yates.  And was provided by general subscription and dedicated by the Venerable Archdeacon Allen on 12thSeptember 1920.


Rev. Allan Livesey became Vicar of Tockholes in 1964 just after the decision had been made to demolish the 1833 Church and build the present one.  The new plans had been drawn and demolition had just begun when he took up office.  A couple of months later the Church minutes record his words of encouragement to the P.C.C. when he stated “I have stood among the ruins of the Church and I have felt very much like Nehemiah of old when he stood among the ruins of the Temple in the City of Jerusalem.  Nevertheless by

The old school with the orginal Church in background

The old school taken 2015

Old School with external pulpit is built on land adjoining St. Stephen’s Churchyard. The School, dated 1834 on the plaque beside door, is a very simple rectangular single-storey structure with a plain doorway offset to the left and one 2-light window to the left of the door.  At the right the only opening in an otherwise long blind wall is an arched raised doorway enclosed at the base by a stone pulpit on a pedestal.  Above and to the right of the entrance is a square plaque inscribed “St. Stephen’s School, Tockholes, was erected A.D. 1834 upon the Glebe Land by voluntary subscription, aided with a Grant of £150 from the National Society, London.  Gilmour Robinson, Int.”

The sundial is 10 metres west of the Old School.  It has an octagonal base with short spear-headed railings surrounding the pedestal of 4 clustered colonnettes supporting a circular table, but the plate and gnomon are missing.

 

The base is lettered “G. Thornber sculpt.” 

The Sundial was the gift of Rev. Gilmour Robinson, Vicar of this Parish from 1830 – 1856.  The missing brass plaque was engraved by Richard Dugdale of Blackburn and read :-  

“Contemplate when the sun declines,

Thy death with due reflection;

And when again his rising shines,

Thy day of resurrection.”

1933 Centenary Celebrations 

work and faith and prayer he saw it rise again”.  Mr. Livesey retired in 1974 and died in 1982 aged 72.  He is buried in the Churchyard.

 

From the early 1950's the Parish Church was constantly under threat of closure due to falling church attendances and the decline in the number of clergy, but in 1980 a merger took place with St. Cuthbert's Church, Darwen, whereby the two churches became a joint benefice called St. Cuthbert with St. Stephen and the Curate of the newly formed amalgamation became Priest-In-Charge of Tockholes and resided in the Village.  However, in 2001 the P.C.C. was persuaded that St. Stephen’s should become a united benefice with the parish of St. Cuthbert and in October 2001 a Commission, appointed by the Bishop, finally recommended the closure of the Church at Tockholes and the renovation of St. Cuthbert’s Church.  At the time of writing services are still being held in St. Stephen’s twice a month and it is hoped provision will be made for worship to continue elsewhere in the Village should the building be demolished.

St. Stephen's Church - A Brief History

(previously called St. Michael’s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mention has been made at various times that a church existed on thepresent site as long ago as the 1450’s but no evidence has been found to date.   Further accounts state that a Chapel was built there in 1486, another states 1494, and another says it was built during the reign of Henry the VIII (1509-1547).  It is not named in the Valor of 1534 and has no pre-Reformation endowment.  Little is known of its history but it was probably built as a Chapel of Ease by the Radcliffe's, Lords of the Manor of Tockholes.  By 1610 it was served by a ‘Reader’, John Shawcross, who was paid by the inhabitants of the area.

 

In 1620 St. Michael's Church was either re-built or restored and the date 1620 appeared over the main door of the church and on some of the stained glass.  It is thought that a bell tower was added at this time.  The structure was a diminutive building, low in elevation, about 52 feet long by 22 feet wide.  It seated 170 people.  Over the east window was a stone with the initials of Sir John Radcliffe, Knt.  Some years after the 1620 rebuilding or restoration, presumably when funds permitted, a 20” bell was hung in the tower.  It was inscribed Gloria In Excelsus Deo and dated 1633.  It was from the foundry at Wellington, Shropshire, held from 1605–1642 by William Clibury.  In 1833 the bell was moved from St. Michael’s and hung in the south-west turret of St. Stephen’s.

 

On 23rd February 1832 the foundation stone of the new Church was laid by Lawrence Brock-Hollinshead Esq., Lord of the Manor, and the building was completed the following year and consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on the 26th November.  The new Church was dedicated to St. Stephen and was built on a new site just to the North of St. Michael’s at a cost of £2400.  This was defrayed by private subscription aided by a grant of £1200.  St. Michael’s Church was not demolished until the new building was completed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built in the early English style, St. Stephen’s Church was about 74 feet long and 45 feet wide. Its plan consisted of a nave, chancel, porch on the south side, and a square projection at the west end in place of a tower, surmounted by angle turrets, each with four pinnacles, one of which contained the old bell dated 1633, from the old St. Michael's Church.  The windows were of lancet shape.  The beautiful east window depicted the life of St. Stephen, and was erected by John Pickop Esq., J.P. in memory of his parents, Banister and Mary Pickop.  A news report of July 1903 states that in the mid 1890’s a Miss Kate Pickop bequeathed the sum of £100 for the re-decoration of the sacred edifice.  The walls were treated in salmon pink, the roof painted white and the chancel walls were pale green, which enhanced the effect of the East Window.  The two lancet windows in the chancel were the gift of L. B. Hollinshead Esq., and the two windows on each side of the body of the church nearest the chancel end were ornamented with escutcheons in stained glass of the arms of the Rev. Dr. Whittaker, the Rev. G Robinson, the Rev. R. Hornby, W. Pickering Esq., W. Feilden, Esq. M.P., Joseph Feilden Esq., L. B. Hollinshead Esq. and ? Ratcliffe Esq.   Inside there was a gallery and sittings for 804 persons.  Also in the Church was a pedestal upon which was placed a cannon ball.  This was thought to have been fired at St. Michael’s Church during the Civil War and had been discovered in the Churchyard many years later, probably whilst digging the foundations of the 1833 church.

 

A great deal of correspondence took place between Rev. Gilmour Robinson – Curate in Charge of Tockholes, the architect, Thomas Rickman, and the Rev. Dr. John Whittaker, Vicar of Blackburn, concerning the building of the new Church.  Thomas Rickman was a Birmingham man with a considerable reputation in his field, but from the very outset there were problems, many of them apparently caused by the shortcomings of the builder, Thomas Walsh, according to Rickman.  In March 1833 Rickman wrote to Dr. Whittaker “I begin to wish I had never seen Walsh…..I wish thee could possibly impress him by any means with the mischief he is doing to his own character by his continual trifling with me …. I do not know what to do but take the job entirely out of his hands, which would be incurring useless expense and endless trouble”.  Correspondence continued for several years both during and after completion of the building.  Robinson’s letters appear to have been considered petulant and a nuisance, and the tone of Whittaker’s replies, though courteous, were often scathing in content.

 

 

Amongst the many letters written by Gilmour Robinson were complaints that the heating system proved to be faulty and on being used nearly burned the building down.  On at least one occasion it was impossible to sit in the gallery because of the smoke seeping through the wood-work and masonry.  Robinson also considered the roof to be inferior and the slates not suitable for the weather conditions experienced in Tockholes.  Rain often penetrated through the roof in several places causing damage to carpets and decorations etc. and also through a window.  The bell tower had been designed too small to allow the bell to swing or ring properly, but Rickman replied insisting that the bell be hung as “there was no intention that the bell should be swung, but that the clapper must be pulled against it to produce the ringing”!  He finally lost patience in one of his letters and concluded angrily to Robinson “Mind thee thy sermons and I will mind thy church”!  

 

Even the consecration ceremony brought difficulties.  The Bishop of Chester, the Rt. Rev. John Sumner Bird (later Archbishop of Canterbury) had planned to attend in October 1833 but this proposal brought hasty letters from Rev. G. Robinson and Walsh to Dr. Whittaker saying that the church could not possibly be ready in time and so it was finally arranged that the Bishop should come in the November instead.  It was respectfully pointed out that the roads to the Village were not suitable for the usual type of coach and ultimately the Bishop chose to ride on post-horses.  He later sent a bill to the Vicar for the sum of £19.4s. 6d. to cover this cost!

 

Some 50 years after the opening, plans were underway to raise money to replace the floor ‘so injured by dry rot’, and also to re-arrange the aisles and remove the organ from its cold position in the west gallery to the body of the church.  A new heating apparatus was also required.  Gilmour Robinson was eventually proved right on all counts as the church had to be demolished in 1964 due to extensive rot in the roof, the roots of which rot had also penetrated into the rubble filling of the walls.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the earliest building had been renovated in 1833 instead of being rebuilt, it is understood the parish wouldhave been saved because it would have had a building of historic importance.  A sad end, therefore, to one of the oldest parishes in the district.

 

Rev. Gilmour Robinson – Vicar 1830-1856

Gilmour Robinson was described as “a man of considerable medical skill, tall in stature and of military bearing; a Freemason, Constable, and one who had served his country in the Battle of Waterloo.”  He was born in January 1796 into a military family and educated at the Royal Military College at Marlow, which later became Sandhurst.  He was gazetted to the 59th Regiment of Foot in July 1813 as an Ensign, but by September 1814 had become a Lieutenant.  He fought in the Peninsular Wars as well as at Waterloo and presumably learnt his medical skills in the army, skills he readily used to minister to his parishioners free of charge.  In 1826 he became a curate at Kirkham and four years later was offered and accepted the position of Incumbent of Tockholes, a job he held until his death at the age of 61 in December 1856.

After several bequests in his Will the residue of his estate was invested and the income divided and paid to “the deserving poor, resident in Tockholes, and members of the Church of England.”  This bequest became known as ‘the Robinson Dole’ and was paid out on the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist every year for almost 130 years.  Eventually the dole was considered so small as to be insignificant and the money was simply added to the general funds of the Church.

Robinson was a Free Mason and had risen to high rank in the movement.  At the date of his death he held the office of D.G.M. for the district of West Lancashire and his funeral was attended by over 100 members of the movement from Lodges in Liverpool, Southport, Lancaster, Preston, Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington and many other towns in West Lancashire.  He was buried with Masonic form and ceremony and the mourners were led by a parade of brethren in full Masonic costume.  Several local dignitaries also attended, including Sir W. H. Feilden Bart., H. B. Hollinshead Esq., Thomas Dutton, Esq. and Jonathan Morley Esq., as well as numerous friends and members of his congregation.  He is buried in St. Stephen’s churchyard.

 

 

Rev. Ashley T. Corfield – Vicar 1889-1911

Mr. Corfield came to Tockholes in November 1889.  He was formerly curate of St. James' Ashton under Lyne, 1884, and Balderstone from 1885 to 1889.  In June 1889 he married Clara Mary Pughe, the second daughter of the Vicar of Mellor.  He was educated at Trent College and at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge and was the 5th son of the Rev Frederick Corfield.

An athletic man, Corfield possessed cups for rowing and running during his time at Cambridge and is considered to be the ‘father’ of Darwen Golf Club, the Committee bestowing on him the honour of life membership in recognition of his services.  He also served as Chairman of the Parish Council from its inception in 1894 until his removal in 1910 and held a seat on the Blackburn Board of Guardians.  He was President of the Village Club, Chairman of the Tockholes Polling District of the Darwen Conservative Association and Chaplain of the 1st V.B. East Lancashire Regiment.

He appears to have been a very popular vicar, and gained great respect and loyalty from his parishioners.  He was not averse to rolling up his sleeves and lending a helping hand, and indeed was responsible for building the present outside pulpit and toches stone.  He also taught religion in the day school and helped out on many occasions when the school masterwas ill.  On the last day of every term he was known to deliver sweets to each child in the school.  He remained at Tockholes for 21 years, but in 1910 he accepted the living at Bamber Bridge.  Twelve months later he moved to Heanor in Derbyshire, his father’s old parish.

 

Corfield was a keen historian and was responsible for the preservation of several antiquities in the Village.  Just before he moved to his new parish of Bamber Bridge, after serving at Tockholes for 21 years, he rescued many stones from the demolition of Gerstain Hall and, as previously mentioned, used them to erect the present outside pulpit built against the old school in the churchyard, the Norman arch over the trough in Rock Lane and also the gateway, just above the well, leading to the old Vicarage.

 

The Public Well was built into the wall surrounding the Vicarage and fronting Rock Lane, and was opened with even greater ceremony than the pulpit.  As Chaplain to the 1st V.B. East Lancashire Regiment, Rev. Corfield obviously used his influence and arranged for the Church parade of the 4th Battalion, under the command of Col. Johnston V.D. to attend atTockholes for the Opening Ceremony.  A long report of the event, and of the sermon preached, appeared in the Blackburn Gazette of the 10th August 1910 which also reported on the dreadful weather.  The Darwen section of the Battalion started from the barracks in ‘threatening’ weather and shortly afterwards the rain ‘poured down’, but they were not deterred.  The Blackburn section, however, started for Tockholes, marched a portion of the distance, and owing to the heavy downpour by which they were drenched, they were ordered to return, so that only the officers of the Darwen Section, together with Boy Scouts from Darwen and Withnell, were present at the Church.  When they eventually reached their destination, Col. Johnston declared the well open: “Residents of Tockholes.  It is my great pleasure to dedicate this well to the glory of God for the use of man and beast for now and evermore.”  The service, which had been planned as an open-air service using the new pulpit, then took place in Church due to the inclement weather.

 

 

The Rev. William Hodgkin, B.A. – Vicar 1911-1951

Mr. Hodgkin was the longest serving vicar of this parish, being here for 40 years.  Born in 1870 he was the son of Joseph Hodgkin, Vicar of Treales, and his wife, Hannah.  He attended Kirkham Grammar School and later earned his B.A. degree at Keble College, Oxford.  After Oxford he attended Edinburgh Theological College and later, in 1906, obtained his L.Mus.  Mr. Hodgkin first came to Tockholes in 1911 after several short curacies in the Manchester area.  He married Beatrice Blake and had two children, William Blake Hodgkin, who also became a Vicar, and a daughter, Meg.  He was a much respected and well-liked man, parishioners still recalling him with fondness long after his death.

 

 

During his incumbency he saw his parishioners through the tremendous difficulties of the First World War and considered the effects as having revolutionised the entire structure and framework of society.  He saw the introduction of the telephone, the development of the bus services from Darwen and Blackburn, (an event he thought had, to some extent, destroyed the sense of "ruralness") the installation of electricity in the Village and the Church and the change from hand-blowing the organ to electric blowing.  He witnessed the surrender of Episcopal jurisdiction by the See of Manchester to that of the new See of Blackburn and he struggled with fallingcongregations due to "an indifference to things religious which had swept over the Country (like a plague of locusts) since the Second World War".  He retired in 1951 and died in 1955.  He is buried in the churchyard alongside his wife.

Thanks to Mrs. W. Hodgkins Jnr. and her daughter for much of the above information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Row Left to Right: Frank Entwistle; William Hodgkin Jnr.; Harry Crompton (Caretaker); Milton Rossall; Mrs. Polly Outhwaite; Miss. Annie Bailey; Miss Isobel Rossall; Molly Holdsworth; Miss Dorothy Crompton

2nd Row:  Mrs. Lang; Miss Polly Turner; Mrs. Mary Holden; Miss Meg Hodgkin (Vicar’s daughter); Miss Betty Rossall; Mrs. Alice Turner; Miss Mary Ellen Coar; Mrs. M. Rossall; Miss Mary Rossall (later Whittle); Jim Hutchinson; Harry Catterall (Organist); Jack Outhwaite

Front Row: Bob Myerscough; Richard Thistlethwaite; William Worthington, Rev. W. Hodgkin; Albert Lang; Jack Coar; Sam Roberts.

 

Features of Interest in the Churchyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The present building is what remains of a once much larger school.  On the 1894 OS Map the school is shown as being over twice the size of that remaining today.  The 1906 photograph taken outside the school clearly shows that the front, lower edge of the roof-line is built several inches above the edge of the lower tiles, like a parapet.  This is probably the capped-off remains of the demolished section.  The outside pulpit was built from mullion windows rescued by the Rev. Ashley T. Corfield from the demolition of Gerstain Hall and replaced an old wooden pulpit, purchased from Mellor Church, which originally stood to the left of the door.  The door into the present pulpit was once a window and is accessed from inside the building via a couple of stone steps.  The structure was opened with due ceremony at the Anniversary Service on the 3rd July 1910 by the Bishop of Manchester and was dedicated to the late Mr. John Pickop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1926 the building was re-roofed in order to preserve it and in 1978 renovation work was carried out again, this time to enable the building to be used as a Youth Club and Sunday School.  The inside dividing wall was taken down to make one large room and a large, old square fire place with a copper dish set in the top was removed from the front right hand corner to give more space.  A concrete floor was laid and an internal breeze block wall built to create a cavity wall.  Bottled gas heating was installed, electricity laid on and the building was re-roofed, but sadly it was still dark and dank and is now only used for storage purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He was known to have spent a great deal of time in the company of a man called James Bullough discussing his invention and explaining the operation at length, but it was James Bullough who eventually patented the invention in 1841 and who was subsequently accused of having stolen the idea.  This offence rankled with Osbaldeston for the rest of his life.  He also accused others of “being fattened and those still fattening” from the product of his exertions.

 

As well as losing a potential fortune from patent rights, he also lost a great deal of money investing in a public house at Four Lane Ends, Blackburn and eventually died in the Workhouse, penniless, at the age of 84.  Some years before his death, a number of local cotton manufacturers agreed to contribute to a pension fund for his benefit, but as a result of his threats to commence legal action for the restitution of his patent rights, patrons withdrew their support.  Towards the end of his life he even devised his own epitaph, but this was never used – “Here lies John Osbaldeston, an humble inventor, who raised many to wealth and fortune, but himself lived in poverty and died in obscurity, the dupe of false friends, and the victim of misplaced confidence.”

 

He was spared the indignity of a parish funeral thanks to three benefactors and the gift of a grave-space donated by the sympathetic vicar of Tockholes.  A suitable monument was erected some years later and states simply “John Osbaldeston.  Inventor of the Weft Fork”.

 

The other monument is the Toches Stone, situated on the left at the top of the main pathway.  The inscription reads “The upper portion of this monument is supposed to be a remnant of the old parish preaching cross probably dating from 684.  The lower portion is probably a part of the ancient Toches stone from which the parish takes its name”.  With so many suppositions its authenticity is very much in doubt.  However, Baines History of Lancashire of 1870 does refer to a ‘perforated stone lying in the Churchyard which was supposed to be the remnant of an ancient cross’.  No doubt the perforated stone now forming part of the monument is in fact that ancient stone, but there is no evidence to suggest the Village ever had a ‘preaching’ cross.  According to the daughter of the Sexton the monument was built by her father and Rev. A. Corfield about 1909, the same time as the stone pulpit and the Rock Lane Well were erected.  They used some old stones that had been lying around in the churchyard for many years.  It is suspected Baines’ reference to an ‘ancient’ cross was then used, to suggest it had been a ‘preaching’ cross.

 

Nightingale does not mention the monument in his book of 1888, but one of his many theories as to how the Village may have got its name could have been borne in mind when the wording of the inscription was under consideration.  He referred to the Whalley Coucher Book in which occurred a reference to a ‘bek under the Toghes Stone, 1457’, but this particular reference related to a place in Great Harwood.  Nevertheless, bearing in mind the area was once under control of the Danes, Toghes was thought to mean Tókis, a old Danish personal name, and an old Norse word, hóll, meant a hill or mound.  String the two together and it is not too difficult to relate this same information to the name of Tockholes and its surroundings.

The Lych Gate was erected in 1906 in memory of John Pickop J.P. a native of Tockholes, who rose to prosperity and became Mayor of Blackburn.  Both his father and grandfather before him had been staunch supporters of the church.  He had left the village as a young boy to make his living in Blackburn and had become one of the richest men in the town, one of the most respected magistrates, a leading lawyer, and Mayor in 1873-4.  Whilst becoming a great benefactor to religious and philanthropic institutions throughout the district, he never forgot the place of his birth and was an eminent benefactor to Tockholes.

 

The Gateway was designed and erected by Mr. Walter Stirrup of Blackburn and was built to be in keeping with the porch of the Church.  The stone for the building was obtained from the ruins of the old Hollinshead Mill and the cost of £260 was donated almost exclusively by Tockholes people.  The original inscription read “This gateway was erected to the Glory of God and in grateful memory of John Pickop, Esq., J.P. Born at Tockholes 1832.  Died atBlackburn 1903.  He was a generous benefactor of his native place”.  The present inscription reads “In Memory of John Pickop Esq. J.P. died 1903”.  The Front of the arch is lettered “I Am The Resurrection And The Life”.  At the rear gable is a plaque with the names of the Vicar and Churchwardens, dated 1906.  A more recent addition has been the plaque on the inside erected in 1987 to the memory of Mr. John (Jack) Coar, Church Warden and Treasurer for many years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opening ceremony was on Saturday the 1st August 1906 and was performed by Mrs. Thornton, wife of the Bishop.  A procession of children and scholars from the School, headed by the Darwen Borough Band, led the way to the Gateway, where several speeches were delivered to numerous visitors.  The procession then reformed and proceeded to a field where a gala was held. 

 

The following extracts from a newspaper report of the 5th August 1906 described the much more impressive military parade and unveiling ceremony which took place the next day:

 

“The following Sunday’s ceremony was of far greater grandeur than that of the previous day.  Everything was idyllic.  Overhead there was a cloudless blue sky and the sun shot forth his rays with quite unaccustomed radiance.  The landscape was picturesque.  And what a vast concourse there was!  Seldom – if ever – has the pretty little village of Tockholes been so largely invaded.  There would be quite 5000 people present, all drawn together to witness the unveiling and dedication of the lych-gateway with all those solemn and sacred rites which are attached in a combined ceremonial of the English Church and the military.  The men of the 1st V.B.E.I. Regiment turned out in large numbers for the ceremony.  The Blackburn men, under the commander, Col. Johnston, V.D., came with the men by the Livesey route.  The other officers present were Captains T. Robinson, Dixon, Bailey and Elliott, and Adjutant Ackroyd.  The Darwen men journeyed by way of Earnsdale and Sunnyhurst Wood and were under the command of Captain C. St. John Broadbent.  The two sections joined arms at the head of Rock Lane.  Here they were met by Col. H. J. Robinson, V.D., late commander of the Battalion, and the Vicar (Chaplain the Rev. A. T. Corfield) and a large procession was formed.  The past and present scholars of Tockholes Schools, to the number of 150, headed the march and following them came the Vicar and Church officers, the wardens, Mr. John Coar and Mr. George Barker carrying their halberde.  Then came the regimental band playing a martial air, with Lt. Norwood wielding the baton at their head.  Behind were the Volunteers with their Colonel, mounted, leading them onwards. 

 

No more suitable spot could have been chosen for an al-fresco service, for it had been wisely decided to have the whole of the service in the open air.  The gateway, the central object, nestled in the hollow, and whilst large numbers kept to the churchyard behind, the most impressive scene lay in front.  Across the road the field rose up like the half of an amphitheatre.  Here were the sons of Mars drawn up.  What a pretty scene it was!  Hosts of dainty ladies, all tastefully attired in light summery costumes, commingled with the scarlet tunics of the volunteers to make a perfect spectacle.  And as the band, in perfect harmony, and with that sweetness peculiar to a military band, struck up an overture, no one present could but be impressed by the solemnity of the occasion.  Quietness, save for the strains of music – even in that vast crowd, reigned supreme.  A volume of sound poured forth a moment later, however, when the majestic old time favourite the “Old Hundredth” was rendered.  Prayers were afterwards said by the Vicar and following on another hymn the chief ceremony of the afternoon took place. 

 

During the ceremony Colonel Johnson removed a large white ensign which had been covering the dedication to Mr. Pickop and a trumpeter played the “Last Post”.  Col. Johnson then made a valiant and successful effort to be heard by all when addressing the assembly.  He paid tribute to Mr. Pickop’s excellent service and generosity to the Volunteers.  His name had been the sixth on the roll of volunteers when the company was originally formed in Blackburn, and during the Boer War he defrayed certain heavy expenses of the two active-service contingents who went out to South Africa from the East Lancashire Regiment.  Colonel Robinson V.D., the veteran commander, on behalf of the subscribers formally handed the gateway over the charge of the Vicar and Church officers.  The Vicar brought the ceremony to a close and the congregation sang “Onward Christian Soldiers”.  Refreshments were served to the men in a field near the school and the officers were entertained at the Vicarage by the Chaplain and Mrs. Corfield.  The return march was commenced shortly after 6 p.m.”

John Osbaldeston:  Not far from the Vestry door, stands the spindle shaped monument on Osbaldeston’s grave.  He was born at Snig Brook, Blackburn about 1777 and after some schooling he began work as a handloom weaver.  He saw the power loom drive out the hand loom and the factory replace the cottage loom shop and it was this evolution which turned his active and inventive mind towards the problems of speeding up the various processes of cotton manufacture in the factories.  He worked long hours and spent his spare cash working on his inventions, the most famous one being the Weft Fork.  This was a device that brought the loom to a halt when the weft broke.  Previously, the loom would have continued running without weft, leaving a gap and so spoiling the cloth.

Pre 1906

Copyright © 2015 The Parish of Darwen St. Cuthbert with Tockholes St. Stephen

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