Billington Shops 1800-1950

In the years between the two world wars, there were far more shops than there are today. Beginning at the Parish Boundary.


In the late 1920's and early 30's there was a small 'pleasure beach' known as 'Jazz-Land' occupying the riverbank near The Marjorie. There were swings and swingboats, a helter-skelter and roundabout as well as a cafe and boats on the river. There was even dirt track for motor cycle racing. This was a popular place with the young folk but not with local residents and this combined with the deaths of two young boys in a boating accident led to its closure.

A poster at the bridge corner would direct you onto the lower field of the Marjorie Farm where a large wooden tower was erected as a slide.

After having fun on the rides people used to venture down to the River Calder for a swim. (At that time the river was clean!!!)

Ducks were fed and picnickers laughed at the activities.


This was situated on the Nab and parents would take their children to picnic at the swings and sample home made Sarsaparilla and delicious ice cream.


In the 1920's this business was run by Miss Annie Brooks and her sister Mrs Exton, who's husband Oliver was the mainstay of the business. He was up each morning by 5.30am and wheeling his hand cart to Whalley train station to meet the paper train just after 6am.

Back at the shop assisted by his sister in law, they sorted out the news sheets ready for the paperboys, but Oliver delivered most of them himself. At 4pm he was back at the railway station to collect the evening papers, this time using his bike with a very large basket on the front.

M. BROOKS NEWSAGENTS was the sign above the shop window. 'M' was for Methusala, who was the father of the sisters, and he is worth a mention because he was an inventor. He created a model of a steam ship. It was about 4ft. long and it was a scale model of ships of that time. He sailed the fully working model on the River Calder and it worked perfectly.


Across the road from the newsagents in the small stone buildings, Ted Wallbank repaired boots, shoes and clogs. Later he moved over the river into Whalley.


In a cellar under the Monkey Rack (the old local name for the boardwalk to Terrace Row), Charlie Almond had his barbers shop.


The wooden building at the end of the row opposite was erected about 1930 by Harvey Stant, the joiner, who's father built Sydney Avenue in Whalley. Harvey was in business there for a few years before leaving the area.


After Harvey Stant, the joiner, left the area Sally & Walter Pickin changed the hut into the above. She also served pie and peas to passers by and had four tables and chairs outside the hut. She did so well that she eventually moved into Whalley and opened a cafe in a cottage next to The Whalley Arms, the cafe has now been demolished.


When Sally Pickin left the hut, it was taken over by Frank Thistlethwaite an electrician. He used it as a workshop and store. When the business took off, he started to sell hardware.


Frank Thistlethwaite moved away and it was turned into a shop selling second hand motorbikes and a few cars, name of shop owner unknown.


Harry Drinkwater carried on his trade at the hut for a short time whilst the motorbike shop was still trading.


The Judge Walmsley was built in 1748.

The pub hasn't changed outwardly, being a protective building, but expensive changes have been made inside. To begin with the doorstep and entrance hall have been paved in stone. This was tragic and should never have been allowed, as beneath the paving is an original Italian Mosaic floor, and there is a beautiful picture of a Judge in his wig, worked in the pattern of the mosiac.

Opening the door and immediately in front of you was the bar, which was enclosed with windows, which were pulled down as the landlord called time.

On the right was the best room known as The Snug. It was small and cosy with a bench seat all around the walls. A few chairs and small marble topped tables were in here with cast iron legs. A small black leaded fire grate was lit on a Saturday night in the winter. A blue and red carpet square covered the middle of the flagged floor.

The first room on the right of the front door, was the piano room. The piano room had a pianola and the landlord would bring out the roll of music and put it in the roll, sat there and pedalled. Mostly it was used as a piano and there was always somebody in who could play and great sing songs where enjoyed most weekends. Fifty or sixty people would cram into the room.

Behind the little snug, its only access being through the bar, was a little room known as Holy Of Holy's. This room was only open on a Sunday, and as the only entrance was through the bar it meant that the landlord controlled who came in. The room was small, seating no more than a dozen to twenty people and it was an honour to be allowed in. You had to be invited to join this exclusive club.

The Tap Room was and still is to the left of the front door. Six white wood tables where placed in front of bench seats that ran all around the room. The fireplace at the far end has a window on the left and the wall to the right holds the dart board. There was four tables, each with a set of dominoes on them, the fifth table had a shove halfpenny board and the remaining table was used for pints, the game of Tippet and talking. Farmers, weavers, tacklers, labourmen and tradesmen used this room most evenings of the week. Farmers bought and sold live stock, hen and pigeon keepers showed and sold there prize winning birds. Farm dogs lay under the bench seats watching and growling and the occasional dog fight took place unnoticed by the domino players.

Rent Day at the Judge Walmsley was a traditional farmers holiday. The Judge Walmsley and The Petre Arms in Langho are both owned by the Petre Family of the Dunkenhalgh Estate, and rent days were held at both venues alternately. The Snug was converted to an Estate Agents office for the day. At 11.30am, the farmers dressed in their Sunday best began to arrive to pay their earned rent. Free ale was allowed to all who paid, until the special barrel was empty. At 12.30pm a free lunch was served potato pie, apple pie with cheese to follow and more free beer!!! The party would go on until 3pm when the pub closed for the afternoon. As more farmers began to use cheque books and due to the war, the day was stopped much to the relief of some wives!!!!

The 'JUDGE' was typical of country pubs at that time it was a business and social centre. Sales of property, farms and houses were made by public auction regularly.

On the riverbank immediately behind the pub, was a Bowling Green. All Summer, daily except Sunday, from the pub opening at 11.30am until dusk, the green was in full use being very well used. Beer was carried down in gallon jugs and sold on the green. The war and the high cost of maintainance brought the closure of the green and the surface deteriorated, but it can still be seen, although the site is now part of a farm.

As The Judge Walmsley is a protected building, no alterations can be made to its outside appearance.


This society originated in a small cottage on Painter Wood during the month of March 1871. A few weavers and other workers got together and started buying essential food stuffs wholesale, and in the evenings volunteers sold and distributed goods to members at a small profit. The business was a great success from the outset and larger premises were needed.

In its' first years trading from its 58 members came £1550.00. It dominated a large slice of the trade available in the area but in spite of this the other small businesses managed to survive.

The society built the four cottages in Co-Op Terrace. Number four had a large shop window and this was the first shop run by a full time staff member. A couple of years after, the shop was moved to the end of the terrace and the former shop became a dwelling. The Billington shop had a manager and two assistants, plus an errand boy who delivered orders on a bike.


In Longworth Road, there are two stone houses and in the early 1930's Nurse Exton, who had been a district nurse opened a small maternity home and was quite successful, three beds where available.


Beyond the arches at the corner of Longworth Road, there was a shop called 'NOBBIES'. Mr Taylor owned the shop and acquired the nickname whilst in the army. He sold groceries, toffee, chocolate, pop, fresh bread and cigarettes. At lunchtimes he sold hot and cold meats, sandwiches, as well as meat and potato pies with peas.

The shop began life as a Reading Room and Bath House. This is now the Billington & Whalley Brass Band Club.


This shop is now the site of The Billington & Whalley Brass Band Club. It was originally called Abbey View and was a row of two cottages and a shop with living accommodation.


After the shoe repair shop closed down on Abbey View, it became a chip shop for a while, before being acquired by The Billington & Whalley Brass Band Club.


This was formed 1869 and still is a licensed club. Drinking was done downstairs and music practice upstairs. This was the beginning and the end for the brass band as more drinking took place. The drinks business flourished and the band faded away. The club bought the cottages on Abbey View and occupies the whole row today. Becoming more known as The Band Club they dropped the address Abbey View. Residents of Co-Op Terrace then applied to change its name back to Abbey View and this was granted in 1985.


Opposite Billington & Whalley Brass Band Club was a wood yard in Pleasant View. There was a coal merchant and light lorries for transport.


No. 4 Ebenezer Terrace was a shop until the beginning of the Second World War. It was a very small business selling groceries and vegetables, but it struggled against competition from the Co-Op and other shops and had to close.


Opposite Ebenezer Terrace in 1927 Manchester Corporation erected a long wooden building. The address was Old Manchester Offices which is still retained today. They were the offices for the surveyors, architects and civil engineers, who were responsible for the work of laying the pipeline to carry the water from Thirlmere to Manchester. The surveying and planning of this project was completed in 1933 and the offices became unused.


After the water board offices remained empty for quite some time, they were purchased by Mr. Bertram Wilkinson, a joiner, wheelwright and vehicle body builder. He used to carry out all kinds of wood work for houses, farms, vehicles and carts. As time moved on he turned his skills to flat lorries, fitting them with pneumatic tyres, hand building wheelbarrows, wooden slurry tanks, milking stools, five barred gates and gates for gardens or drive ways. He was also a very accomplished undertaker. Later on he started work on van bodies, electric driven milk floats and as more and more farmers acquired cars he built trailers to pull behind them. After retirement he enjoyed a revival of his skill of a wheelwright, with the growing past time and sport of horse and carriage driving. He was the last local man who could build a wooden spoked wheel and hoop it with an iron tyre.

The long wooden building was used by the Wilkinson Family for their Commercial Vehicle Body Building and Coachpainting business but has now been sold for building houses.


Bank Cottages are 'L' shaped and on the corner of the 'L' was the doorway to 'WHITTIES'. This was the shop run by Enoch Hargreaves and his wife. The shop was dark as he continued to use oil lamps and candles long after gas had arrived in the village. The shop sold sacks of potatoes, chopped fire wood, fire lights, hand shovels, fire drawers, small hand brushes, everything to do with fire lighting and the hearth. On the counter in the shop was a beautifully polished brass beam scale with weights. Another brass scale was used for weighing sweets and tobacco. Two shelves standing on the counter held rolls of bacon, boiled ham and tongue. He also sold biscuits, sauces, beer, candles, rope, tobacco, sugar, flour, wax tapers, rice, dried peas, vegetables, toys, pills and ointments.

Mrs Hargreaves used to carefully wipe a scoop clean and lined it with a specially kept blanket upon which she carefully and lovingly weighed all the babies in the village who came to the shop with their proud mums. She kept a book of records of their progress and in later years embarrassed them as teenagers saying 'Look at thee puniest little brat I ever weighed, you are nearly too wide to get through the shop door!!!'

The owner was sometimes thought of as mean. he expected people to pay their bills, but if a family were suffering hardship, especially during the depression he would write off their debts. he glued a counterfeit florin to his counter to remind the person who had passed it over what they had done. He knew who the person was but said nothing.


In the early 1920's Fred Ormerod put up the large wooden building near the Railway Bridge. An engineer, he set himself up to repair motor vehicles. A couple of petrol pumps and a cabinet of motor oil stood on the road side and he was quite successful. As he got older he had to give up the repair side and turned the workshop into a hardware business. He sold the first radios, which in those days were run from batteries. A large part of the business was to supply new and recharged batteries. Fred built and sold his own bicycles, under the brand name of 'PRIDE ON THE ROAD'. You could also buy paint, wallpaper, brushes for all purposes, flashlights and hire them. For a few pence more you could hire an orange shredder for the day to make your own marmalade. This service was so popular he extended to the hire of a carpet sweeper.


In 1937 Charlie Whittaker converted No. 1 Railway View into a Bakery, which was run by his two daughters. They baked bread and confectionery until a few years after the war. His daughters married and then the building reverted back to a dwelling.


After the completion of Calder Avenue in 1921, a man who's name was Teddy Whitehead turned the front room of his house (No. 7 Railway View) into a Grocers Shop. This little shop eventually became the Post Office in the early 1930's and remained so until September 2003. The property has now reverted back to a house.


No. 11 Railway View was a Fish & Chip Shop in the 1920's. The property has now reverted back to a dwelling.


The next shop was situated at No. 5 or No. 6 May Terrace and was run by Polly Aspden but was more affectionately known as Aunt Polly. Although her shop was small it carried similar stocks as Enoch's but in smaller quantities. She died in the mid 1930's but the business survived her for many years under three different owners. It finally closed down in the early 1970's.


No. 1 Bonnygrass Terrace was the next shop. A purpose built premises for the sale of groceries etc. Edwin & Sarah Jones had an excellent business here. Sarah being a good a good baker made meat and potato pies to sell to the workers at the mill opposite. The business flourished and Edwin acquired a small van and delivered fresh baked pies, bread and confectionery around the village, and out to Brockhall and Dinckley. Sarah, who was left a widow in 1942 carried on the business until the mid 1970's, when she sold out. Different ownership continued the business but as with most businesses of its time, went into a steady decline. In 1988 it ceased to exist.


In the front room of No. 1 Industrial Terrace (renamed Fells View in 1985), Miss Mary Heyworth kept a very useful little shop selling drapery, such as underwear, handkerchiefs, table cloths, hosiery, sewing cotton, elastics, buttons, pins and needles. Miss Heyworth retired before 1960 and the business was then acquired by Mrs Ruth Robinson who transferred the shop to the end house on May Terrace. The little shop was one of the most useful in the village and has been greatly missed since the last owner Mrs Woodhead retired and left the area.


A policeman was housed at No. 12 Industrial Terrace (Fells View) and a metal plate was put over the door saying Police Station. This has now reverted back to a dwelling.


This was at No. 13 Industrial Terrace (Fells View) and has now reverted back to a house.


In the 1950's, the above used to be a long log cabin with a jukebox and refreshments. It was demolished and a hotel was built on the site and named The Foxfields. Due to a company changeover the premises is now The Clarion Hotel.


Milk was delivered daily door to door, twice a day during the summer months of May to September. Several farm producers were Robert and Joshua Saul of Painter Wood, William Holgate of Butler Clough, Richard Carr of Hodge Field Farm, George Fowler of Hillcocks Farm, Mrs Nellie Pye and Nab Side Farm. Several people collected their own milk from the back door of Neddy (Edward) Mercerís at Whittam Farm.


The above was hawked from door to door by Bert Lang of Langho and Allan Aspden. The vehicles they used were a Dodge and Essex (american cars). The bodies of the vehicles were cut off behind the front seats and the rear end made into a small flat lorry. All varieties of fruit and vegetables, rabbits, poultry and holly wreaths at Christmas were displayed on the back of the lorry. Hanging from the roof of the vehicle was a lidded box containing fish.


The above travelled around the village twice a week. Ralph Holgate and Sons of Whalley, John Varley of Whalley, Billington & Whalley Co-Op Butchery Department and even two others from Blackburn delivered meat.


The postman delivered and collected twice daily and porters delivered rail carried goods from both Whalley and Langho stations.


Bus services were always reliable with 15 minute services to Blackburn on both Wednesday and Saturday. Way back in the 1920's there were several companies operating routes through the village, such as Calder, Pendle, Claremont and later Ribble.


Nurse Aspin followed by Lytle, Ormerod and Queens District Nurses, pedalled around delivering babies and caring for the old and sick.


Farmers in the area were also involved in collecting ash from the dust bins and closet buckets. The ash was taken to a tip at Higher Elker Farm.