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the Five Barred Gate
Originally published in the Chorley Guardian in 1966 and subsequently in book form in 1982
you take the road to Blackburn out of Higher Wheelton, you are bound to notice a
side road which runs into a hollow, almost parallel with the main road. This is,
in fact a part of the old turnpike road of the Finnington and Chorley Trust. One
of the old toll houses still stands at the junction with the Preston-Blackburn
Road, at Finnington.
hollow is now a cul-de-sac as a result of the road line being changed to get rid
of a dangerous bend. This has left in comparative seclusion, an interesting
stone building, which has buttressed walls strong enough for a castle. It was
however, a pub known as the Roundabout.
is also the first building in Withnell along this road. The boundary actually
runs through the front garden.
the banks of the brook nearby is a lot of old stone, probably the ruins of Scar
Hall, which is shown on a map of the area dated 1846.
map also shows Withnell Stocks further along the road to Blackburn. This looks
very much as if the stocks which used to be in the farmyard of Stocks Farm were
not the Wheelton ones after all.
were often situated on the main roads close to the boundary as a warning to
vagrants and felons entering the village. Opposite the old site of the stocks is
a building with the name Old Laws which may seem significant. Past Old Laws is a
lane to the Heights, which rise over 700 feet.
is a lane on the other side of the main road, which offers most promise,
however. The tourist does not need to be put off by the words 'Cul-de-sac' which
appear on the finger-post. On the other hand he must not expect a castle because
of the sign, nearby. This emblem is the trade mark of Wiggins, Teape 'Gateway'
is also the gateway to a village "out of this world." At least that is
how Withnell Fold struck me the first time I encountered it. I had seen the
paper mill chimney poking among the trees and expected to find the usual
buildings and perhaps a row of houses.
I went down a leafy lane until I came to a lodge entrance with a church in the
grounds of what appeared in the distance to be a manorial hall. Then as I
followed the road, the well laid out houses gave way to a square formed of rows
of stone built cottages, a co-op and a school.
a moment or two, I could have sworn I was back in the South of England where
many a village owes it beauty to a local lord, who did not see much sense in
building a fine mansion if the rest of the estate was a shambles. He was so to
speak his own planning authority.
the same thing had happened here, I suppose at Withnell Fold. But it was the
millowner, Mr. T. B. Parke, who had created this village.
built 27 cottages to house the workpeople. These were arranged in what is now
known as The Square. The old map to which I have referred, described them as
Spring Vale. This is because the paper works which Mr. Parke founded needed
specialised labour and most of it was obtained from Spring Vale in Darwen.
are now 35 cottages and a number of semi-detached houses, a bungalow and the
Co-op shop. The Methodist Church and day school were opened in 1852 and in 1898
a new day school was opened, the one in The Square.
may well be that the Methodist connections were the reason why this village has
no pub. It has this in common with White Coppice.
the other hand there was no shortage of recreational facilities. A reading room
was built in 1890 by Mr. H. T. Parke and this provided for billiards and other
activities besides reading. It is still a busy community centre, catering for
Women's Institutes, drama, dressmaking, art, craft and classes for the local
education authority as well as the county library. Dances, concerts and meetings
are also held there.
for out-of-doors, Withnell Fold cricket field, opened in 1904, is one of the
most picturesque in the county. The donor, Mr. H. T. Parke, engaged Mr. G.
Sutton, an ex-Yorkshire professional as groundsman and coach.
team joined Chorley and District Amateur Cricket League the same year and won
the championship. They have won it on a number of occasions since.
cricket field used to be the scene of Withnell Fold sports which draw the crowds
from miles around. It was when I went to report one of the meetings many years
ago that I made my first acquaintance with this village.
bowling greens, made by members of old Withnell Fold Sports Club, were opened in
1912, and the tennis courts in 1948.
only activity to fail seems to have been the prize band. This was due to the
first world war and when one looks at the record that is hardly surprising. No
less than 83 employees joined up, and one, James Miller, was awarded the V.C.
posthumously. His memorial with the citation of his bravery stands in Bury Lane,
near St. Paul's Church, Withnell.
the second world war the record of the mill was also outstanding, with three
Military Medals awarded to employees.
memorial garden is a fitting tribute to those who made the sacrifice and all who
have already referred to the hall. It has four black and white gables on either
side of the turreted tower, which give an appearance that is almost fairylike.
The large grounds with sweeping lawns were ideal for garden parties and such
like events, which I used to attend when Mr. T. L. Parke was the squire.
don't know whether it was the surroundings or just plain coincidence but the
weather always seemed favourable for these events. That is why in my mind
Withnell Fold is a village where the sun always shines!
hall is now a hostel for the elderly, and I can think of no pleasanter spot for
such a purpose.
paper mill opened in January 1844. Five years later it began making white tissue
papers and in 1856 coloured tissues. Writing papers were produced in 1863,
cartridge papers in 1878. The mill also supplied newsprint for the newspapers at
Preston, Bolton and Liverpool.
first association with Wiggins Teape and Company, who were then an old
established firm of stationers, was in 1847, when Mr. T. B. Parke recorded that
his mill was making 'double cap' ordered by Messrs. Wiggins and Teape. The
orders became so numerous that in 1890, the two firms combined.
doubt one consideration which made Withnell Fold particularly suitable for paper
making was the adequacy of the water supply from the hills. The proximity of a
canal also must have been an asset.
a matter of fact, Withnell Urban District Council, which must have been one of
the smallest local authorities to have such an undertaking, had its gasworks
near to the paper mill. The barges used to bring all the coal.
remember during the war, when a Spitfire was cavorting over head, a bargeman
said to the manager, Mr. Alker: "That's a Gerry. It's followed me all the
way from Wigan!"
so much for digression, even over a 'five bar gate!'
Withnell Fold is an industrial village, Mr. William Bashall Parke who lived at
Ollerton Hall, was in fact, a Lord of the Manor. He and John Parke owned almost
the whole of the township.
he died in 1906, the estate of Ollerton of 226 acres was bought by Mr. Herbert
James Parke of Withnell Fold, the owner of Withnell Hall and Withnell House
surname Parke occurs earlier in the history of Withnell. It is recorded that
when the Talbot family held the manor, one James Talbot, married Mary Parke.
Mary Parke was Protestant, but the Talbots were Catholic.
1783 William Talbot, son of John Talbot is shown as paying double land tax
because of his faith. Two other sons educated at English College, Rome, served
as priests in the Mission in England, one becoming a Jesuit.
Talbot, however, lived in Preston and died at the age of 80 in 1813., He was
succeeded by his son William, the founder of the Talbot Schools at St.
Walburge's, Preston. He died in 1848 leaving several daughters of whom Dorothy,
wife of James Sidgreaves, ultimately became sole heir.
Lords of the Manor included. Henry Suddell, Robert Bickerstaffe, Robert Parke
and John Parke.
a hamlet which is almost inseparable from Withnell Fold, belonged to Richard
Anderton of Chorley, who was one of the registered Papists in 1717.
name Ollerton goes back much further, for in 1282, Edmund Fitton sold to Henry
de Lea, a rent 4s. 3d. due to him from Ollerton. Richard de Ollerton, the
immediate lord, in the thirteenth century, granted to Adam de Hoghton, a portion
of his land for the rent of a pair of gloves or a penny.
1269, Richard son of Richard de Ollerton gave two ox-gangs of land in Withnell
to Henry, son of Henry de Tyldesley, together with the homage of Henry de
Withnell and Henry de Broomhurst.
would appear therefore, that this end of Withnell was anciently important, and a
suitable place for the siting of the stocks, even before the village figured so
prominently among the 'Best Kept in Lancashire'!
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