History

Barrowford has a long and fascinating history that occupies a number of enthusiastic local historians. This section gives a brief history of Barrowford extracted from the Barrowford Parish Plan of June 2008.

Barrowford's Political Roots

Barrowford's first glimpses of self determination in a political sense began with the formation of the Barrowford and Brogden with Admergill Local School Board formed in December 1874 which consisted of seven members and had three schools under its control. During the first fifteen years the number of children receiving an education doubled and in 1896 they spent £9000, a considerable sum in those days, on the building of Rushton Street School. This local Board ran until September 1903 when it was taken over by the Education Authority.
The next step in the local political scene was the Formation of Barrowford Urban District Council in 1897. The Urban District Council ran for nearly eighty years and was both a blessing and a curse with the provision of affordable social housing but at the cost of some of the oldest and most historically interesting parts of the village. The creation and layout of the park jointly with benefactors and the local people will be their everlasting epitaph.
Big is beautiful was the catchword of the early seventies when countless small towns and villages were brought together to form new faceless local authorities. Barrowford was swallowed up by Pendle in 1974 and an era of very local services ended. But the Urban District Council was not forgotten by older villagers and when the chance to have a Neighbourhood Watch Group came in the late seventies and early eighties it was grasped and indirectly led to the formation of the Parish Council in 1988.
The Parish Council started life meeting at the Civic Hall and their only asset was allotments which the Local Authority had an obligation to hand over and were willing and eager to do so as by and large allotment sites, although an essential service, are a drain on resources. 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Barrowford Parish Council and its impact on local life and decision making is growing year by year. One day they may have the powers returned that were stripped from the old Urban District Council and the political life of Barrowford will have come full circle.

Barrowford's Social History

Barrowford's social past can be traced back to the middle ages when the village was a farming hamlet reliant on hand loom weaving of woollen type cloth. Traces of one of these earlier phase houses dating to this period have been discovered under part of the Heritage Centre during renovations. The first textile water mill in the village was mentioned in court depositions in 1541 and was described as a cloth or fulling mill when sold to Christopher & Abraham Hargreaves for £233 in 1783. This mill stood on the site where the children's play area now stands in the park with the park lake being used as the lodge with the wheel race running along the line of the footpath at the bottom of the cemetery steps.
The change from farming to industrialisation and the cotton industry started with the Grimshaw family building Higherford Mill in 1824 as a water mill then because of lack of power it was converted to steam. This was followed by Bogmoriles Mill situated on David Street in 1832, Barrowclough Mill in 1850, and the original Berry's Mill. This pace of change gathered momentum through the later part of the nineteenth century and continued into the 20th century. Holmefield Mill affectionately known locally as Sam Holden's was one of the last mills built (1908) and the new warehouse complex added in the late 1970's was the last textile building built in Barrowford.
The textile industry saw its zenith just prior to the First World War and by the mid 1920's had started to slip into a slump with many long established firms disappearing altogether during the depression of the 1930's. The Second World War saw a temporary reprieve but by the 1950's a terminal decline had set in. Most textiles manufacturing concerns either amalgamated or were taken over by large conglomerates and with the globalisation of trade most firms closed British factories as production moved overseas. The last large employer, Coates Viyella (Sam Holden's) closed their Barrowford Mill in the 1980's whilst the smaller Vale Weavers Mill soldiered on into the new millennium.

Population & Housing

Barrowford Booth which included Blacko was second only to Colne in population during the first half of the nineteenth century having 2875 people living within the Booth in 1851 whilst Nelson was a sleepy hamlet. Population grew steadily through the second half of the nineteenth century due to the ever increasing size of mills being built in the village and by 1891 had reached 4776 including Blacko and by 1911 this had reached 5527 exclusive of Blacko.
This led to a housing boom with most of the new terraced houses being built either by the mill owners or private enterprise to satisfy the accommodation needs of the mill workers. These new houses were mostly 'two up two down' properties with back yards and a great improvement on the 'one up one down' back-to-back houses built in the first half of the nineteenth century. Some of the back to back properties housed families of over 10 in just two rooms.
Following on the modernisation and improvement of living accommodation Barrowford Urban District Council acquired land at Oaklands Farm for a new council housing estate. Building was begun in the late 1940's and completed by mid 1950's this provided affordable larger properties to rent in the village. Again during the 1960's a large scale slum clearance programme was undertaken, which saw the demolition of all of the older part of the village known as 'the square' these small back-to-back terraces were replaced with modern flats built in blocks with open areas between.
This phase of the village's development has been called council vandalism as this wholesale clearance deprived the village of a large swathe of old historic property. With hindsight modern design and building techniques could have turned these dwellings into small affordable properties with the bonus of being an asset as a tourist attraction of modern Barrowford.

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