Features - War Records of Local Towns: Walton-le-Dale and Bamber Bridge.
War Records of Local Towns: Walton-le-Dale and Bamber Bridge
THE PRESTON GUARDIAN, Saturday, March 8, 1919.
Immediately prior to the outbreak of war the cotton mills in the district of Walton-le-Dale and Bamber Bridge were experiencing a period of dull trade, and within a period of 14 days from the commencement of hostilities 3,000 of the 5,600 looms in Bamber Bridge were idle, and nearly 600 workers were out of employment. This state of affairs, in a greater or lesser degree, prevailed for some months, and early in October, 1914, a relief fund was established and distributions made from the Council Offices. Mr. J. Robinson acted as chairman of the committee appointed to take charge of affairs, and Mr. F. Haworth carried out the secretarial duties. Generous gifts were made to the fund by the employers, and the workers who had retained their employment gave all possible assistance. The unity of effort, which overcame those serious obstacles of the early days of the war, has been maintained throughout.
At one time the Fund Committee were disbursing nearly £50 per week to 89 persons, but after the month of November had lapsed matters improved, and the necessity for the committee’s activities gradually ceased, and the district enjoyed its share of the general prosperity. During the period of depression notable assistance was given by Mrs. Cuthbert Pyke, of Lostock Hall. Mrs. Pyke had organised a Ladies’ Working Party, which in its initial constitution forwarded thousands of articles to the forces and needy Belgians. When distress made its appearance Mrs. Pyke reorganised the scheme, and out of work women were employed to make the comforts for the troops, and were paid, thus being kept off the books of the relief fund.
In all her work Mrs. Pyke had the invaluable help, as secretary, of Mrs. W. S. Woodcock, Bamber Bridge. Later Mrs. Pyke founded and controlled the L.N.L. Regiment Prisoners of War Depot, one of the most appreciated war organisations in Preston. Mrs. Woodcock interested herself in the formation of the Station Buffet at Preston, and acted as hon. secretary of the institution from 1916 to date. The work accomplished by these two ladies will not soon be forgotten.
In the records of voluntary recruiting the district holds one of the proudest positions. Even before Earl Kitchener’s appeal for his first one hundred thousand recruits the young manhood of Bamber Bridge were offering their services to the country, and in the autumn of 1914 several hundred local men were with the forces. A remarkable record was established in May, 1915, when an appeal was made on behalf of the West Lancashire R.F.A. In two days 200 recruits were obtained, and were followed by many others. The “Derby” scheme was also enthusiastically received, and when the groups had been called up the only men of military age left were those having business or domestic responsibilities and rejected men, a fact disclosed when the local tribunal came into being.
It is, of course, impossible to give definite figures of the numbers of men who have gone from the various townships, but approximately Bamber Bridge must have been represented in the war by nearly 1,000 men; Walton-le-Dale, 250; and Higher Walton, 370 which give an average figure well above the usual. Unfortunately, the death roll is also very heavy – tribute to the fighting valour of the local troops. Military honours have been secured in large numbers, and probably no other similar district in the country can boast such a number of distinctions. The highest honour of all was brought to Bamber Bridge by Corpl. John McNamara, who after gaining the Victoria Cross fell in action. The D.C.M. was secured by local men on five occasions, and the Military Medallists constitute a very large body. Decorations from various Allied nations have also been secured in fair numbers.
Lieut.-Colonel Trimble, C.B., C.M.G., prior to going to France as major and second in command of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital at Etaples in August, 1915, acted as medical officer of health under the local Council. In 1916 he was promoted to his present rank, and was in charge of the hospital until it was closed at the beginning of this year. He was awarded the gold life-saving medal of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England for his conspicuous gallantry when the hospital was wrecked by enemy air attacks. This great distinction – the award is but the ninth of its kind – followed previous recognition of his labours by the country, being invested as the Companion of the Bath and Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. His daughters, who have been nurses at the hospital, have also had their services recognised.
Another well-merited distinction came to Mr. W. S. Woodcock, clerk to the Walton-le-Dale Council and Executive Officer to the local Food Control Committee. In his capacity of Acting Deputy Commissioner of No. 4 District of the St. John Ambulance Brigade he arranged the voluntary enlistment of over 10,000 St. John men in the R.A.M.C., and the award of M.B.E. in the birthday honours list last year gave great satisfaction in the district.
At the time of writing this article the complete list of Bamber Bridge men who had fallen in action was not available, but the following is the record from the St. Saviour’s parish:-
Joseph Flannigan, John Bennett, Harry Gibson, James Fairclough, Robert Dewhurst, Wilfrid Watson, Joseph Hardman, John Morris, John Henry Park, Arthur Cowley, Fred Buck, Arthur Bleasdale, Richard Lancaster, Ernest Starziker, William Kellett, Henry Thomas, Richard Morris, Robert Hough, Fred Hunt, Richard Billsborough, Edward Barnish, John Shuttleworth, Fred Sholloker, William Rose, John Joseph Youd, John Halshaw, James Caton, Thurston Holland, Jos. Fowler, Thos. Warner, Erza Yates, Harry Helm, James Sharples, Joe Wiseman, Harry Halsall, James Carr, Alfred Gidlow, Edward Monarch Jamieson, John Joyce, Thomas Matthew Stainton, Harry Eastham Cornell, William Albert Hardman, Charlie Nutter, William Henry Halpin, Ellis Dixon, John Waterhouse, Thomas Bamber, Tom Sanderson, Wm. Durham, Herbert Smalley, William Yates, James Harold Woods, Ernest Barker, James Buck, James Bradshaw, James Barton, John William Gorst, Robert Mercer, Henry Mercer, John Emmerson Newman, Charles Battersby, William Rothwell, Alfred Snape, Norman Allison, George Buck, Fred Durham, George Arthur Raby, Harold Poole, John Cowley, Charlie Ratcliffe, Fred Baldwin, Edward Gregson, William Riding, Norman Grime, George Spencer, William Molyneaux, Frank Hicklin, John Green, Robert Alstead, Ralph Cheetham, Henry Fazackersly, John Moss, Harry Watson, James H. Flannagan, Cornelius Seed, Jasper Shovel, Edward Hough, Robert Croskell, Wm. N. Preston, Richard Howcroft, Walter Higham, John Marsden, and John Ryland.
The members of St. Mary’s Church who have made the supreme sacrifice are:-
Wilfrid Joseph Walker, Robert Dewhurst, Thomas Coupe, William Henry Hilton, John Shuttleworth, John Halshaw, Thomas Mansfield, William Thurstan Holland, Robert Halshaw, James Hardacre Sharples, John G. Parkinson, John Nelson, Joseph Balshaw, J. Edward Jamieson, Joseph Bamford, George Fellowes, Matthew Livesey, William Henry Halpin, William Henry Rainford, Richard Ditchfield, Thomas Woods, William Delaney, James Barton, Robert Mercer, James Doolan, Jospeh Knight, Charles Naylor, Thomas Slater, Wilfrid Holland, Thomas Henry Mercer, Thomas Almond, Wm. Turner, Walter Gaahagan, Peter Stirrup, James Knight, Thomas Massam, Robert Darwen, John Riley, John William Woodcock, Thomas Benedict, Melling, Robert Henry Law, Joseph Pearson, Matthew Brierley, George Whalley, Henry Watson, Robert Stott, Wilfrid Green, Robert Clifton, James Rimmer, James Anselm Darwen, John Reid, James Waterhouse, John MacNamara, V.C., William Parkinson, Joseph Nagle, R. Waterhouse, A. Holland, and R. Wilson.
The Walton-le-Dale roll of honour contains the following names:- Edward Ainsworth, James Balshaw, Arthur Prescott Balshaw, Thomas Ewart Beckett, Albert Brierley, James Banks, William Henry Brown, Vivian Wilfred Bennett, Cyril Crozier, Stafford Crozier, Leonard Crozier, Harry Cook, Richard Coates, John Considine, John Caffetie, Joseph Doran, Herbert Foster, John Gregson, Reginald Green, Richard Hodson, William Hill, Richard Hesmondhalgh, Stanley R. Iddon, Matthew Livesey, Cornelius Moon, William Martin, Frederick Martin, John G. Moore, Thomas Moss, John Parkinson, F. Sharples, Stephen Sharples, C. Sharples, Robin Smith, John Smith, John Slater, Robert Wilson, William Whiteside, Thomas Walmsley, Thomas Jones Wilder, George Woods, and ----. Park.
At Higher Walton those who have fallen include:- Lawrence Crook, Geo. Wilding, Arthur Houghton, John Wynne, Wm. Furness, Wm. Gardner, Wm. Walsh, John Coupe, Robert Brindle, John Reed, John Livesey, Arthur Lyon, Hy. Walmsley, Jos. Horrocks, Arthur Gregson, Peter Crook, Hy. Smillie, Ed. Bamber, Levi Woods, J. Hardacre, I. Harrison, John W. Winrow, Hy. Ward, F. Woodward, T. Widdowson, J. Houghton, Jas. Waring, Wm. Parker, John Witherington, Hy. Hindle, Wm. Crook, Robert Dixon, Jos. Coupe, Peter Atkinson, Leonard Till, Thos. Eastham, Jos. Furness, John Atherton, John Parker, James C. Richmond, and Jos. Burscough.
As ungrudgingly as the men who offered their all for the country’s cause so did those at home give freely of their time and money in an endeavour to mitigate the hardships of soldiers on active service. In few townships has there been greater or more harmonious collaboration in the work of providing gifts for the forces than in Bamber Bridge. In the early days the churches worked hard to meet the requirements of their own members, and in 1917 the whole of the denominations joined together, and the Bamber Bridge War Gifts Association was founded. The Rev. Father J. Turner, rector of St. Mary’s Mission, Brownedge, was elected president, and the vice-presidents were Rev. W. F. Cook, vicar of St. Saviour’s; Rev. T. Mullineaux, vicar of St. Aidan’s; and the Rev. T. G. Shovel, Wesleyan minister, who, it will be remembered went to France early in 1918 as chaplain to the forces, and fell in action not many months ago. Mr. J. W. Cotton was the energetic leader of a hardworking committee, and he was ably supported by Messrs. A. Woodburn and A. Pullen, who acted as joint hon. secretaries; and Mr. A. J. Robinson, who acted as treasurer in succession to Mr. J. L. Coleman, who left the district in the early part of 1918. The committee was equally representative of the various churches, and constituted as follows: St. Saviour’s: Mesdames H. Cottom and C. Preston, Misses E. Bradshaw and B. Siddle, and Messrs. J. Billington and R. D. Elleray. St. Aiden’s: Mesdames Webster, Whiteside, and T. Harrison, Misses Whittle and Baron, And Messrs. J. Walker, J. Stones, F. Stirrup, J. Wilkinson, and J. Birkenhead. St. Mary’s: Mesdames Murray, Houghton, Dowbakin, and Heatley, and Messrs. Livesey, Davies, and Ainsworth. Wesleyans: Mrs. Baron, Misses Ratcliffe, Smith and Rostron, and Messrs. J. T. Brown, J. Dickinson, and C. Seed.
In 1917 the committee set itself the task of raising £400, and by means of subscriptions and the holding of various entertainments and a garden fete the object was realised. It was thus possible to send to 880 men a gift of 7s. 6d. each, and in addition the prisoners of war were forwarded a parcel value 15s. through the Red Cross Society.
In September last year a similar method of procedure was adopted, and in spite of the fact that weather conditions interfered with a garden fete promoted by the association a similar sum to that secured in 1917 was again raised, and the money was distributed as before, the men who were home on leave or released prisoners of war also receiving their quota. In the event of a man being reported killed in action the sum that would have gone to him has been taken to the wife or parents by one of the clergy, who also tendered the sympathy of the association, an action that has been greatly appreciated. It is interesting to note that during the working life of the association not a single discordant note has been struck.
It must not be presumed that the whole of the war work has been left to the association, for the various churches have each had their working parties of ladies who have made many hundreds of comforts for the men serving with the forces. The oldest perhaps, is the St. Saviour’s Knitting Class, which is formed of members of the Young Ladies’ Class. This organisation was founded immediately after the outbreak of hostilities. The wife of the vicar, Mrs. Cook, is the controller, and the committee – small, but energetic and enthusiastic – consists of Mrs. C. B. Preston, Miss M. Battersby, and Mrs. Tattersall, Every Sunday since the war a collection has been taken on behalf of the class and the armistice has not retarded its activities. A rousing reception for the returned soldiers is being arranged for the very near future. The work of the class may be gauged by the fact that 170 garments have been given to soldiers’ wives and dependents, 39 garments forwarded to wounded soldiers, and there have been made 1,520 pairs of socks, 3,500 pairs of mittens, 376 scarves, 180 helmets, 12 body belts, and 30 pairs of gloves. The work has been carried out on pandenominational lines, but benefits have been confined to soldiers who before enlistment were resident in the parish.
Another useful organisation has been the knitting circle connected with the Wesleyan body. Though formed so late as 1917 excellent results have been accomplished. Much of the credit is merited by Mrs. M. A. Bibby the president, who has devoted herself wholeheartedly to the work, and Mrs. Margaret Lee, the secretary, who recently left the district. The Committee of Management were Miss S. A. Seed, E. H. Seed, E. Broadley, M. Lowe, A. Carter, A. Barrow, and Weightman. The 43 soldiers who were associated with the church have certainly been well looked after in the matter of comforts. In addition, the Wesleyans have raised well over £100 by means of concerts, lectures, &&c., on behalf of various war funds.
The district as a whole has done something above its share in the “adoption” of prisoners of war by private individuals, subscribing to county and national efforts, and in succouring the Belgian refugees. Mr. and Mrs. Tatton provided for 12 of the latter at Cuerden Hall, and later a great portion of the hall was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers.
In spite of the numerous calls made upon them, when it became known that a local man had secured the Victoria Cross steps were taken to pay recognition to his bravery, and accordingly a fund was opened for the benefit of Corpl. McNamara’s widow and children. The Council took charge of the arrangements, and a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Mr. R. Hopwood, who had the assistance of Mr. W. S. Woodcock as secretary and Mr. F. Haworth treasurer. The fund was opened with a £100 subscription by McNamara’s former employers, Messrs. A. and S. Orr, Ltd., and it is hoped that before the list is closed a total of £600 will have been secured. Already £500 has been invested, and little doubt is felt that the object aimed at will be realised.
In the matter of war savings, too, the position held is distinctly meritorious, and much of the success that has attended the efforts of the committee is due to the efforts of Mr. J. Wilkinson, the hon. secretary.
At Higher Walton the provision of comforts was the work of a joint committee of the various denominations, but later on an agreement was arrived at whereby the churches looked after their own members. It is stated that over £1,000 has been raised and spent in the village in this and other war work – a truly remarkable sum considering the size and population of the parish – and in addition to the provision of comforts, each soldier from the parish was presented with a gift of 10s. at Christmas. The original committee was formed in 1914, as the result of an appeal by the Vicar, The Rev. H. E. Burgess. The ladies of the parish have performed wonders, and the maintenance of interest in the movement even to-day is indicative of the interest taken by all classes. Particular mention might be given to Mrs. Welch, Rydal Mount, to whom the work has been a labour of love. The present constitution of the committee is as follows: Rev. H. E. Burgess (chairman), Mesdames Lomas, Hodson, Welch, Kay, and Lawson; Misses Burgess, B. Hull, and M. Hunt; and Messrs. R. Welch, R. Ward, and J. J. Morgan (hon secretary and treasurer).
Co-operative effort among church workers has also been resultant of excellent work being carried out on behalf of the soldiers and sailors from the Walton-le-Dale Parish. Young ladies from the Wesleyan and Catholic Chapels, and the members of St. Leonard’s Young Women’s Bible Class, have each Friday evening made a tour of the district and collected from house to house. This year each Walton soldier abroad received a gift of 10s., and those in the training centres at home were the recipients of a postal order, value 3s. 6d. Many hundreds of comforts have been despatched also, and an approximate estimate of the total amount of money raised is £500. The chairman of the association is Mrs. H. Parker, and the secretarial duties are carried out by Mrs. Tomlinson. Both these ladies were responsible for the founding of the organisation, and it is due solely to their indefatigable efforts and the self-sacrifice of their helpers that success has been attained in such large measure.
The various churches have all-had under consideration the question of the establishment of permanent memorials to those members who have fallen in the war. Nothing definite has yet been decided in a number of cases. The Catholics at Bamber Bridge propose to erect a cross or some other form of monument on a triangular piece of ground near the church, known as Brownedge Green, and a committee was appointed as early as 1917 to carry out the necessary arrangements. In the St. Aiden’s parish it has been decided to adopt a suggestion made by the church officers that the most appropriate thing to commemorate the cessation of hostilities would be to remove the debt of £630 on the church building, to erect a handsome bronze tablet, and to set up a permanent roll of honour. The Wesleyans have also a scheme on hand for a memorial to the fallen and to the minister, the Rev. T. J. Shovel.
In many directions the suggestion that a memorial be erected finds favour, and it is possible that this may find a place among the matters of the future to be considered by the Council.
A housing scheme, which provides for the erection of a first instalment of 40 dwellings, has already been decided upon, and future improvements that might be made are the widening of the Ribble Bridge and Camm Bridge, and the provision of a recreation ground in the Bamber Bridge township. It is possible that the Fire Brigade will be reorganised, and the number of mills situate in the area would more than justify this step. Another matter which vitally concerns the area is that the refuse tips are getting filled up, and the time cannot be far distant when the question of the erection of a destructor will have to be considered.
The future prosperity of the district depends upon the condition of the cotton trade, and this fact makes prophecy an unwise proceeding.
Transcribed by Charles O'Donnell 2018