Leyland Historical Society

To begin the 46th season, the seventh in the Civic Centre, we started this year with a view of Leyland from a new angle. When the Wright Brothers took to the air in 1903, little did they think that the airplane could have so many useful applications (apps), though the one we were interested in started during World War One, namely aerial photography initially used to spy on the enemy as opposed to bombing them.  

            The members were treated to the earliest aerial photographs of Leyland which were mainly around the Cross and Hough Lane and taken on 27th April 1929 as confirmed by Aerofilms from the reference number on the back. Using the computer to zoom into the details on some of the photos enabled to members to see views of Leyland from a different angle.

After the break, the photos were taken from older high points of the town, the Parish Church Tower and St Ambrose’s Church Tower with the final set from the rebuilt / landscaped hill that used to hold the Leyland Windmill. I have included a few of the photos in an article later in the Chronicle.

            This year’s Mikron Theatre production, Don’t Shoot the Messenger, in October told the story of the Postal Service. When a gun-toting hoodlum holds up a sleepy village Post office he gets more than he bargains for as postmasters Mr and Mrs Pertwee embark on some restorative justice - enlightening the reprobate about the institution he’s been messing with.

It was a comical journey through five centuries of postal history from the days of the stage mail coach with the Pertwees' telling the history as they went with the usual songs and professional acting as its best.  

            In November we were due to welcome David Clayton who was going to talk about the lost farms of Brinscall Moor, however, he had been taken ill so super sub, Colin Dickinson, gave us the story of the Highways of Lancashire in his usual style.  

            In her first visit as a speaker on 2nd December, Lizzie Jones, told us about Blunders and Bloomers, the subtitle of 17th Century Historical Cock ups, with many stories of the Stuarts and their families that were so unusual to be true.

            For the first talk of the New Year in January, we again welcomed Robert Poole who talked about the Peterloo Massacre, which was timely as the soldiers barracks is currently being excavated by Salford University under Dr Grimsditch. With Robert’s usual background on the story, we learnt about the current situation in Manchester at that time, the living conditions and the main players in the drama that unfolded on St Peters Fields on that day. After the event, the reporting of the day’s activities were shown to be biased depending on who was telling the story.

            Keeping the Archaeology theme, February saw a visit from Chris Wild of Oxford Archaeology, who talked about the excavations at Angel Meadow, Manchester. The excavations at the site of the new Co Operative Headquarters uncovered an area that started as a respectable area outside the city boundary with few houses, then becoming a suburb for the nearby new mill until it became a heavy populated area with back to back housing with whole families living in one room basements, while other buildings became lodging houses with over twenty people sharing a room and sometimes a bed, mixed of course.

            The size of the accommodation was brought home to the members, when Chris showed a photo of an articulated lorry which was longer that the four rooms that used to house four families in the basement alongside.  

            In March, Sid Calderbank concentrated on the story of one song that started as a call to arms for the Napoleonic wars for the villages of Lancashire. However “Jone O’Grinfilt” continued to develop with over twenty different variations charting the history of the 19th Century, from the Reform Bill, the American Civil War and the Cotton Famine to the Crimean War.

            April was a surprise to most of the members as we heard the story and descriptions of the site of Brindle Workhouse. Bernard Fleming told us about the building that was on Top O’Th Lane, Brindle which was not a workhouse for the village as anyone would have imagined.  However, it was a business that brought in paupers usually with mental issues from all over the county of Lancashire, including Liverpool and Manchester, the inmates totalling over 200. It only closed when forced to do so by the Chorley Workhouse trustees who ran the then new building on Eaves Lane which later became the hospital.  

 This year’s trip saw a reduced number head over the Pennines along the M62 to the people’s republic of Kingston upon Hull or just Hull. Okay it was not the most exciting of venues (or so it sounded,) but when we arrived we were all pleasantly surprised. When Paul Schofield, the tour guide, took us on the coach around the city he pointed out the many museums, churches and statues. The reuse of old buildings such as the Dock Office into the Maritime Museum while the original docks had become sunken gardens and shopping centres. 

As we left the coach and Paul, we all dispersed around the town, so after lunch a group of us went to Hull and East Riding Museum.  Here we walked through an Iron Age village, entered a Roman bath house and looked at the stunning mosaics.

We then had a guided tour aboard Hull’s last sidewinder trawler the Arctic Corsair, where the crew took the group from the bridge down to the fish store down in the depths of the ship, with the crews quarters in-between. We heard all about life at sea and the dangers deep sea trawlermen faced in the Icelandic fishing grounds.

In the Streetlife Museum, we looked at locomotives, trams, cycles, stage coaches and carriages together with a good horsey smell. The final museum of the day, was Wilberforce House which is the birthplace of William Wilberforce, famous campaigner against the slave trade. The museum tells the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its abolition, as well as dealing with contemporary slavery.  The displays at Wilberforce House include journals and items that belonged to William Wilberforce. There were many significant items linked to slavery and the campaign to abolish it.

 For the June lecture, Peter Cunliffe gave us the background of the people, aircraft and missions that made up the story of Bomber Command, whose story has been played down for various reasons in the past but Peter showed what their commitment to the fight against the Nazis cost in both aircraft and lives of the flight crew.

As a change, following a short AGM with your chairman being absent, there was a member’s night where the members present were treated to a variety of short talks on various subjects by Joan Langford, Edward Almond and one of our latest members, William Harrison.

The website continues to grow since its inception in December 1999 to a point that up to today the number of visitors to the site was over 64,000. Enquires have continued to flood in with over thirty requiring the committees attention in the last twelve months especially from the Facebook group “Leyland Memories”.

For the start of the 47th season on 1st September, we returned to the subject of Leyland from another different angle, this time with a talk on the Mapping of Leyland with some maps that had not been seen before. I am aiming to include a few in a short article for this Chronicle so from the Leyland Hundred of Speeds map, through the varying tithe maps, town plans, transport maps, the first Ordnance Survey Map of 1844 and all the subsequent editions which can now be free on the internet curtesy of the National Library of Scotland. I brought the story up to date with the Land Registry to Google Maps, Earth and Streetview.

Peter Houghton

SOCIETY REVIEW 2013 - 2014.