We’d planned to have two or three hours this morning, taking us through Accrington and Church to moor 4 or 5 miles this side of Blackburn. Although windy, the rain wasn’t due till early afternoon. So we thought we might get through the three swing bridges, which would need Mags on the tiller, before the worst of it.
But it started soon after Meg and I got back from a walk, and the wind was very gusty. We decided to give it a miss. Whether it was the right decision or not we don’t know; the rain did ease again but the wind would have made Mags job, holding off while I struggled with the bridges, that much harder.
We’ll see what it’s doing tomorrow, although we’re not confident. A bit of weather lore I always though quite accurate “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb” is thrown out of the window this year!
I had a walk up along Hapton’s high street this morning to get a paper. It’s a typical Lancashire mill village, rows of stone built terraces face each other across the main street…
…backed by the sanitary lanes at the rear.
Prior to the arrival of the canal around 1800 the local economy was mostly rural, although coal was extracted in the area and a spinning mill was operating at the edge of the settlement. But the arrival of the waterway brought rapid expansion, and there were at least four cotton mills operating at one time.
The final canal connection from Clayton-le-Moors to Liverpool was not completed till 1816 (bicentenary this year) which saw a massive increase of traffic as Lancashire coal went west and all sorts of goods, from raw cotton to exotic fruits, tallow to lumber, came east from the docks.
The railway station, on a branch line of the East Lancashire Railway, opened in 1860, and the M65 in the early 1980s, all following roughly the same line.
Interestingly, the original route of the canal wasn’t through here; it was supposed to be a couple of miles further north, running from Barrowford to Padiham and Read, crossing the Calder on a high aqueduct, before heading towards Preston and the River Ribble. A branch would connect to Parbold, and thence to Wigan and Liverpool. But the cost of American War of Independence put a crimp on investment, and the construction was mothballed for 10 years. All good for the rapidly expanding mill towns, though. Burnley, Blackburn and Accrington, bypassed by the planned route, were now to be linked by the canal when construction restarted. And Hapton, of course.
There’s a mural painted on a brick wall on Simpson Street. It depicts a railway engine, early Alldays motorcycle and a steam traction engine.
The connection with the railway I’ve mentioned, but I can find no local reference to the bike or traction engine. Preston was home to several agricultural machine manufacturers, and Alldays and Onions seem to have been based in Birmingham. But nothing from either in Hapton, as far as I can find out.
It’s chucking it down now and the wind is bouncing us around. Good old Bank Holiday weather…
Thanks Carol. Mid-April's much too early for us to be there!