Tales of Victorian Billington and Whalley

MARCH 1872
A number of friends contributed a sufficient sum, in the New Year's gifts to purchase a new complete uniform for William Hargreaves, the Whalley and Langho postman, with which he was presented.

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AUGUST 1872
Recent thunderstorms were reported. Damage occured between 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning of the 24th August. The tall chimney of Messrs. Clayton's mill was struck and a stone knocked from the top. slight damage was caused in the boiler house and a workman was struck by lightening as he worked at his loom, but recovered before the end of the day.

The body of a Padiham boy was found in the river near Brockhall Farm. It was reported that he had been playing by the side of the Calder, when he was carried away. This was published as a warning to local parents not to allow their children to play, during the prevalence of floods, in the bed of the Calder near to Whalley Bridge, a favourite spot for local children.

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MARCH 1874
On the 16th February the new line of rails were opened between Langho and Clitheroe, making more trains available.

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JANUARY 1875
The working men of the Billington and Langho parish were invited to a meeting to consider the forming of a society and of opening a newsroom two or three nights a week.

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APRIL 1876
Scarlet Fever had been prevalant in the parish of Billington and Langho for some months and there had been some fatal cases. Householders were informed that free disinfecting powder was available from the grocers shop belonging to Mr. Thomas Hargreaves of Preston Row (now Bank Cottages). The householders were reminded the powder should be freely used about all drains, slop stones, outhouses and ash pits.

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NOVEMBER 1877
The News Room has been opened in Factory Row (now Longworth Road). A number of workmen combined together to find a place where they could meet. Mr. Solomon Longworth had agreed to let one of his cottages at a moderate rent. There were already 30 members and it was hoped that access to such a meeting place would be beneficial. The weekly subscription is three pennies. A number of daily and weekly newspapers were taken in and it was hoped to establish a library also. It was hoped to open a similar club elsewhere in the parish.

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JUNE 1878
The operatives at the cotton mills had been on strike for six weeks they were unwilling to accept a reduction in their wages and the masters say that they could not pay anymore as trade was bad. Financial relief was given by the Parish Church to some families, to prevent destitution. The Vicar asked for contributions from anyone who could help. He thanked those who had supplied milk to the children attending school, where they had been given free school dinners. He pointed out this could not continue without more financial help. He also thanked the operatives for their good behaviour during this period.

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JANUARY 1879
The year started with the news that the mills were back working full time, but trade was generally poor and the workers were advised to be careful and to save what they could against worse time.

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FEBRUARY 1879
A report was given that the Society of Billington Reading Rooms was now flourishing. Thanks were expressed to Mr. Solomon Longworth for the free use of the rooms, and to Rev. M. Hedley for supplying useful books. Mr. A. Longworth was also thanked for the daily papers he gave them. There were now 33 members and any man could become a member by paying an entrance fee of six pennies a year and two pence weekly.

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JUNE 1879
The annual Summer Tea Party was announced. A procession would leave from the Vicarage, headed by Whalley and Billington Brass Band. This event was always reported as a popular event for the parish.

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MARCH 1882
The annual report confirmed that Billington Working Men's Club, Factory Row was flourishing with over 40 members.

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FEBRUARY 1884
It was reported that the gales of the last two months have been more violent and destructive than known for the past 19 years.

A strike at two of the cotton mills in the parish, against a reduction of wages of 5%, which the masters insisted upon, had now lasted over seven weeks. This amounted to over 12% of the earnings for a year. The cotton mills didn't reopen until March, the weavers returning at a wage reduction of 5%. It was hoped that as trade was good, they would have the 5% back by May. Credit was due to operatives in this parish and Whalley for the quiet and orderly way they had conducted themselves during the strike.

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JUNE 1884
The outbreak of fever was causing concern in the parishes. Typhoid fever, gastric fever and scarlet fever were reported. Disinfectants were available at school and free to anyone who could collect them. The medical officers were firmly of the opinion that the lack of pure water was the cause. It was reported there was no proper supply to the houses, though abundance in the hillside above.

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JULY 1884
No progress had been made in arranging for a supply of water and unless something could be moved quickly, the state of things must be reported to the Local Government Board in London and a proper provision of water enforced or the houses closed.

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JANUARY 1885
Billington Working Men's Club had now been established for seven successful years.

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APRIL 1885
The Annual Township Meeting was held and a resolution was passed that the Rural Sanitary Authority of the District of the Blackburn Union be urged to take the necessary steps to enforce the provision of a sufficient supply of pure water for the use of the occupiers of houses.

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JANUARY 1886
Billington Working Men's Club held their 8th Annual Meeting. Thanks were expressed to Mr. Solomon Longworth for the constant free use of their rooms and to the Vicar for his interest.

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APRIL 1887
Disinfectant powders and liquids were again freely available to help stop the spread of measles and other infectious fevers.

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JULY 1887
The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria were well reported. Commemorative trees were planted at St. Leonard's Church. All scholars at the school were presented with Jubilee medals, attached to Royal Blue ribbon to wear at the tree planting service and for the rest of the week. The children were served buns and lemon water and over sixty residents all aged over 60, were given a meal of beef and a dessert of plum pudding. Mr. Beardsworth's string band, composed of young men who lived nearby entertained the party. Two fire balloons were sent up.

The following night a large bonfire was lit at Cronshaw Chair shortly after 10pm and composed of coal, wood, tar and petrol. Fireworks were also lit. Festivities were held for the rest of the week around the parish at which the Billington and Whalley Brass Band played. This culminated with a procession from the vicarage in Billington to York Village and then onto St. Leonard's School for fun and games. New Jubliee coins were given as prizes to the adults who took part in the events. The day finished with a splendid display of fireworks and a procession with 220 children carrying lighted chinese lanterns. The day concluded at 11pm with the National Anthem.

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JANUARY 1888
A new post box was placed at Mr. Hargreaves' shop on Bank Cottages, Billington and emptied twice daily on week days.

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JULY 1888
The scarcity of water was causing concern. Several blocks of houses in Billington and Langho were still without piped water.

Local landowners and builders were asked to promote larger houses. This was considered to be more beneficial to the health of the larger families, as at present there is overcrowding in small cottages.

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OCTOBER 1888
The epidemic of measles caused St. Leonard's School to be closed and sadly, the death of three young children. By 17th November the death toll rose to 10.

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MARCH 1889
Billington Working Men's Club held their 11th Annual Meeting. They now had 28 members and bought a bagatelle table from Langho Club.

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JUNE 1889
Violent storms were reported. Hailstones as large as marbles fell and roads were so flooded that the axles of carriages were underwater. Many houses were flooded and the ballast was washed off the railway from opposite the St. Leonard's School to the Vicarage at Billington.

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DECEMBER 1889
A capital reservoir was constructed by Mr. Fletcher, the agent for Henry Petre, on land near the railway. It was supplied with water from springs on the grounds above and was expected to hold 340,000 gallons. Good sized pipes were laid and water was now supplied to Warwick House, Whittams Farm, Railway View, Bank Cottages and May Terrace.

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APRIL 1890
A letter box was fixed outside the Abbey Mill and Mr. Andrew Nelson was able to sell postage stamps at his shop opposite (1 Bonnygrass Terrace).

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1892
It was sad to note that Billington now had 20 members in its club and was not as successful, due to the falling off of some members and others not paying their subscriptions.

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SEPTEMBER 1892
It was reported that because of an outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia in the neighbourhood, 354 cattle had to be slaughtered to help prevent it spreading further. This was a great loss to many farmers.

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FEBRUARY 1893
A concert had to be cancelled because of bad times, as one mill was closed and the other two were running on short time. This continued for weeks and many families had to be aided by charity. This was caused by a dispute between the spinners and employers.

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JULY 1893
The Royal Wedding of the Duke of York to Princess Mary of Teck took place on 6th July and a celebration was held on Cronshaw Chair. There were fireworks and a giant bonfire. The fire was made from 100 trees saturated with petrol. it was enjoyed by the hundreds of people present, including the children from Wilpshire Orphanage with their drum band.

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AUGUST 1893
A terrible thunderstorm on 10th August caused the death of four cattle on the nab and five sheep in fields nearby. Damage occured to the tall chimney at Abbey Mill. Many trees were damaged. The rain was torrential, floods were widespread and hailstones covered the ground until white.

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