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Community Events



Jessica McClurg (marketing) and Nick Carter at the end of the process. Picture: Peter Jones

Last August, I spoke to Nick Carter of Rosslee Construction about the building works his company had undertaken at the top end of Rhyddings Park, renovating the original coach house and adding a big two storey extension. They also demolished the single storey building that was used to house the the Park Keeper’s tools and created a brand new workshop in its stead. The two million pound project took around eleven months to complete. The work started in October 2017 and the finished building was opened to the pubic in week-long series of events, starting on August 26 2018.

The project was an open public tender - tendered through Hyndburn Council (advertised on the OJEU website). The appointed architects were SPA (Sunderland Peacock Architects Surveyors)

Nick told me that the project on completion would be run jointly by Bootstrap Enterprise and the Friends of Rhyddings Park (FORP) and that FORP and Hyndburn Borough Council had been working towards this funding for the past twenty years.

The project was by no means plain sailing though. There is no suitable access for plant at that end of the park, so a compound had to be established at the inside the front gates of the park, where everything was delivered and stored and then all the components needed for the building work had to be painstakingly carried to the site at the top of the park. Quite a logistical nightmare for Rosslee.

“We had to endure ‘The Beast from the East’ parts one, two and three, and we never stopped, but it certainly challenged us.”

Outside the new buildings there is an extensive garden area, including greenhouses and the intention is to grow as much of the produce there that they can to service the new café within the coach house. Now that the work is completed, the coach house has rooms upstairs and down for local groups to meet and also for functions to be catered for.

When you set this against the backdrop of a beautiful park, the whole concept comes to life. From now and through the summer, weather permitting, this promises to be a lovely and popular venue and once all the spring and summer colours come to fruition, it should be pretty special.

In the course of the project, Nick has found out quite a lot about the history of the park. Apparently in the grounds stood a magnificent manor house that was owned by a factory owner, and the park was his garden. This disappeared many years ago and the only remnants that remain are balustrades.

Nick also told me that the original coach-house was built in 1853 to house the owner’s coaches and horses.

It is wonderful to know that a public park with so much history has been given a new lease of life so that people, young and old can appreciate the new build and its beautiful surroundings for many years to come.

Footnote: Rhyddings Park is having an official re-opening on May 19th 2019 to mark the 110th Anniversary.

© Peter Jones 2019: Pictures courtesy of Rosslee Construction

Two pictures above: Peter Jones Taken April 2019

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Jason Hencher was born 2 months early, weighing only 2lb 14oz. He progressed really well, spending 4 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), before coming home.

At about 8 weeks old, Jason became ill with Pneumonia and was very lucky to survive. The aftermath of this then left a weakness in his chest causing breathing difficulties, which meant he was back in hospital on a weekly basis.

Things just weren’t progressing as they should, so tests were done when Jason was around 6 months old. The results were a massive blow to his family, as Jason was diagnosed with a Chromosome Translocation between his 8th and 13th pair.

His family were informed that this was unique. Consequently, there was no way of knowing what the future held for Jason. The Translocation had caused Jason’s brain to develop abnormally, and even more worryingly, his prognosis was only to live until he was a young adult, and have very limited function.

Good News was on the horizon, however, as after three very scary years, Jason was proving them wrong. He started to get stronger and increasingly became aware of his surroundings. With a few more years of intense therapy Jason was beginning to use his hands, able to sit up, and even able to master a few steps.

Jason who is now 13 years old is severely delayed, and has no form of verbal communication, but he has a massive character, and just wants to do everything that his brothers and sisters can do.

The family raised funds to buy the bicycle seen in the pictures and would like to raise money to help others.

They now hope that their fundraising efforts help other children, with additional needs, who need an adapted cycle, to be able to access one. The family have seen the difference Jason’s cycle has made to him. The charity’s motto is: “every child should have a bike.”

Recently, Specsavers in Accrington have promised to add their support by sponsoring “Jason’s Wheels.”

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Haworth Art Gallery hosted a gathering to mark the opening of the newly named Joseph Briggs Tiffany Room on December 12th 2018. Amongst invited guests were Hyndburn Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Mohammad Ayub and  Mrs. Noreen Ayub.

Also present was author Douglas Jackson, writer of the book Mosaic which outlines the history of Tiffany Glass and the part Joseph Briggs played in it. Other guests included David Townend, who is the Great Nephew of Joseph Briggs and Misba Khan who came along to support Douglas. Misba recently completed and expedition to the North Pole. Misba and Douglas are both associates of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, a group which funded their respective research areas.  David brought along the only piece of Tiffany Glass still owned by the family and possibly the smallest example in the world.

After the initial speeches the audience and speakers moved on to the new room to view the exhibits.

Haworth Art Gallery curator, Gillian Berry provided us with the following article, extracted from her dissertation on the subject.

Peter Jones

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Joseph Briggs, a working class man from Accrington, was destined for a life as a third generation engraver creating designs to be printed onto cotton. Like his grandfather, father and brothers, Joseph began an apprenticeship at F. Steiner and Co. Church, who were renowned worldwide for their fine printed cottons. Alongside the practical training gained at the factory, Joseph went to the Mechanics Institute in Accrington to study and he gained a first class pass in art learning skills such as geometry, drawing and colour layering. However, at age 17 in 1891, he decided to cross the ocean to America to see what life had to offer there. After a short spell working in the Wild West Shows, he decided he wanted to make use of the skills and qualifications he earned in his home town and applied for a job at Tiffany Studios, New York.

After several attempts at gaining employment Joseph was taken on as an errand boy. He soon became an apprentice in the mosaic and stained glass department using the skills he learned in the cotton trade and transferred them to mosaic making eventually becoming the foreman of the department. When Louis Comfort Tiffany retired in 1919 Joseph was entrusted to run the business, but perhaps the highest honour Joseph could receive was that after Tiffany passed away, Joseph carried on running the business and Tiffany Studios closed when Joseph passed away.

During the Great Depression Tiffany Studios went into administration leaving Joseph to dispose of large amounts of Tiffany glass for the highest price he could obtain. At this time Joseph selected around 140 objects of Tiffany glass to send back to his home town. Between 1932-33 three consignments of American Tiffany glass were sent to the Museum in Oak Hill Park. The collection consisted of mosaic designs and samplers, pressed glass tiles, vases, ceramics, and designs for mosaics. During World War II the collection was moved to Haworth Art Gallery.

Thanks to Joseph, Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington now boasts one of the best collections of Tiffany glass outside of America. One of the Tiffany rooms has been transformed to tell Joseph’s story making sense of an American collection of glass in the North West of England. Joseph’s story is inspiring and shows that the skills you learn in your home town can take you across the world and earn you the job of your dreams.

© Gillian Berry 2019

Pictures Peter Jones 2019

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The morning rain, which had dampened the Accrington Commemoration at Oak Hill Park, had thankfully cleared by the time we assembled at 2 p.m. for the Oswaldtwistle Parade and Service.  Though always well attended, today’s event had a very special meaning as we were commemorating the Armistice at the end of the First World War, when the guns fell silent at 11-11-11 – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  It seemed fitting that this year, Remembrance Sunday fell on actual Armistice Day – 11th November.

I had to put a spurt on to reach the bottom of New Lane in time for the start of the Parade.  The buses had already stopped running up Union Road in anticipation of large crowds lining the route down to the Cenotaph.  I joined members of the Royal British Legion, fellow-Councillors and local clergy to begin the march down Union Road.

Emma Kearney, landlady of the ‘Black Dog’ pub, is a fairly new arrival to the town but has already made her mark on community life in Oswaldtwistle.  The railings of the pub were decked with ceramic poppies, each with a label bearing the name of a local soldier who had died in the First World War.  At the side of the pub on Bury Street was the Thwaites Brewery Dray, resplendent with its magnificent shire horses.   Former Mayor and Mayoress Paul and Sarah Barton, local funeral directors, who had been involved in the arrangements for the Dray, stood proudly at its side.  The horses were there for a particular reason.  During the First World War, when motorized transport was still in its infancy, many animals were ‘conscripted’ into service.  According to the Imperial War Museums’ website, horses, donkeys, mules and camels carried food, water, ammunition and medical supplies to men at the front, and dogs and pigeons carried messages.  Canaries were used to detect poisonous gas, and cats and dogs were trained to hunt rats in the trenches.  Altogether, over 16 million animals served in the First World War.  I think the film ‘War Horse’ will have brought home to many of us the role played by horses during that conflict.  In 2016 a ‘purple poppy’ was introduced to pay tribute to the many animals lost in service, and to those who serve us today.  It was only when I saw photos on Facebook afterwards that I found out that a number of local horse-riders had also taken part in the Parade, thus paying their own personal respects to the fallen animals.   

The whole length of Union Road was lined on both sides by Oswaldtwistle residents old and young, many taking photos of the event.  On approaching the Cenotaph we saw a huge crowd already gathered there.  The Parade ‘fell out’ and we all took our places for the Act of Remembrance.  We are fortunate – if that is the right word – that our Cenotaph is in the town centre rather than in some remote Park, in that it’s so much easier for people to access, including elderly people, those with disabilities and those with babies/young children.  

Hyndburn Borough Council had co-ordinated the arrangements for the day and in this context I would particularly like to thank Susan Gardner from Democratic Services for her time and attention.  She had managed to secure us a band and a bugler – both in short supply/big demand this year, with so many commemorations taking place at the same time.  We greatly appreciated the music provided by the members of the Darwen Brass Band - including some young people – for both the Parade marching and later for the hymn-singing.

As I took my place next to the clergy – Rev. Capt. Martin Joss (Church Army) and colleagues – I looked to my left and saw a large group of Beavers with their Leaders; behind them were Cubs and Scouts.  I saw from photos later that there were also many Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, plus I think members of the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades.  When I was Mayor of Hyndburn a few years ago I soon began to appreciate what a vital role such uniformed organizations – including Army, Air, Sea and Police Cadets – play in our community in training young people to acquire a range of skills, work together as a team in an enjoyable environment and most of all learn to put the needs of others before their own.  The Leaders of these organizations have sometimes carried out their voluntary roles not just for years but for decades and should be commended as ‘unsung heroes’, helping to shape the lives of our future adult citizens.  Some of the children present were as young as five, having just started school.  In my speech at the end on behalf of the Church and Oswaldtwistle Branch of the Royal British Legion I said that I hoped these children never had to experience war in their own lifetimes.  I can’t really imagine how difficult it must be for school teachers and youth leaders to convey to children and teenagers what war is all about and help them to pay their respects to those from their own town who were killed in the First and Second World Wars and other conflicts since.  Even my generation (around age 70) has never had to experience war for themselves. 

Many people and organizations came forward to lay wreaths, crosses and other tributes.  I went to look at them and photograph them the following day.  Among them was an oblong panel from St. Mary’s R.C. Primary School headed ‘Thank-You’, on which the children had placed stickers with their own individual messages. 

The Oswaldtwistle Cenotaph is a very distinctive landmark in our town.  It’s designated as a Listed Building, Grade II*, by Historic England, formerly English Heritage and was designed in 1921 by L. F. Roslyn.  On the top is a statue of a winged figure representing Victory and at the base of the obelisk is a statue of a soldier protecting a comrade.  The War Memorial commemorates Oswaldtwistle citizens who gave their lives in the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War and in Northern Ireland.

A few years ago, a freestanding marble monument was erected nearby showing the names of the fallen.  Perhaps, like me, you have a family member whose name is listed there?  The young man from my family was a first cousin of my Dad’s.  His name was Private Varlow Addison and he lived with his parents and siblings firstly on Richmond Hill Street, Accrington and later at Biggins Farm, Green Haworth.  Prior to the War he carried on a light carting business.  Aged 21, he enlisted in the South Staffordshire Regiment, along with his brother James.  He was killed the following year in the ‘big advance’ at the Battle of Loos which took place from 25th September to 8th October 1915 in Northern France.  It was the biggest British attack of 1915, the first time that the British used poison gas and the first mass engagement of New Army units.  Varlow doesn’t have his own grave but is listed on one of the wall plaques in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Loos-en-Gohelle.  I’ve visited twice and laid a wreath in his honour.  The first time I went I asked our group leader – Steve Williams from Chorley – if I could read out on site the ‘Accrington Observer’ cutting which had enabled me to identify the photo of the soldier, found in an old tin of my Dad’s.  The letter sent to Varlow’s parents, John and Margaret Addison, by his friend, Private M. Edwards, reads as follows –

‘I am writing to tell you that your son Varlow was killed in action on Saturday, September 25th.  Before we went into the charge he gave me the address, and asked me to write should anything happen to him.  He was my chum, and I can tell you that I have never missed anyone more than I miss him.  When he was hit he tried to speak, but failed.  All the chaps in the platoon miss him, and wish me to express their sorrow ….. He was a clean soldier, good-natured, obedient, and had never a wrong word to say of anyone.’

The British Legion was formed on 15th May 1921, from four organizations of ex-servicemen, established after the First World War.  It was granted ‘Royal’ status in 1971.  Today it continues its work of helping veterans and their families all year round, raising much of its funding through the annual Poppy Appeal.  Anybody can become a member and help to support this vital work.  See www.britishlegion.org.uk

The epitaph on Oswaldtwistle Cenotaph reads, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’

© Judith Addison 2018 Pictures by Peter Jones


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Local Events

Accrington Library

Weekly events

Monday 10:15 – 10:45    Storytime. This group is aimed at preschool children and involves both singing and an interactive story. Free for everyone, just turn up on the day

Monday 10:30-12:00       Beginners computer courses.  Know somebody who still hasn't joined the digital age? We hold learn My Way courses every Monday morning to help people get online, no previous experience is required.  For more details or to book a place please call in or phone 0300 123 6703

Tuesday 1:30 – 3:00         Knit and Natter. A social knitting group who join up to swap patterns and have a natter over a cup of tea, also help people who are learning wool crafts including crochet and knitting.  Free for everyone with donations for refreshments, just turn up on the day.

Friday 10:15-10:45            Baby Bounce and Rhyme. Aimed as babies and small children, packed full of sing along songs and great fun had by all. Free event for all, just turn up on the day. 

Fortnightly events

Saturday 1:00-3:00           Teen Xtreme. A social group aimed at 12 year olds plus who want to get involved with other library projects, or just meet up with likeminded teens to get involved with reading and craft activities.  Special events and visits also planned.  Next meetings are as follows:

13th July, 27th July, 10th August, 24th August


Writers group - 2nd and 4th Friday of each month at 2 p.m. 

Upcoming events

14th July 12:30-2:20       Poetry workshop with special guest Nicola May.  Nicole is a poet and member of Young Identity, a Manchester spoken word collective. Attendees will be able to work with one of the North West's best up and coming spoken word artists to create their own poetry in a fun and interactive workshop.  This event is free, no booking required.


Art Exhibitions


If you would like to exhibition you work at Accrington Library then please contact branch manager Katherine Walsh via email at Katherine.walsh@lancashire.gov.uk bookings are currently being taken from Spring/Summer 2019


Accrington Library Opening times

Monday               9:00-5:00

Tuesday               9:00-5:00

Wednesday        9:00-7:00

Thursday             9:00-5:00

Friday                    9:00-5:00

Saturday              9:00-5:00

  Oswaldtwistle Library

Weekly events

Mondays 10.30am-11am - Story time – pre-school age children, term time only

Tuesdays 10.30am-12pm – Learn My Way (Computer course), booking essential

Wednesdays 11am-12pm – Up n Active session, delivered by Hyndburn Sports Centre Staff, optional weigh-in, healthy eating advice, free, no booking required (this is not an exercise class)

Fridays 10.30am-11am – Baby Bounce n Rhyme – pre-school age children, term time only 

Monthly events

1st Monday 10.30am-12pm – Family History session, booking preferred but drop-ins welcome

2nd Tuesday 2pm-3pm – Reading Group, no booking required

2nd Tuesday 4pm-5pm – Character Storytime, delivered by the Civic Theatre, booking preferred, £1 per child (February's session is on 5th Feb not the 2nd Tuesday of the month) 

Bi-monthly events

2nd and 4th Wednedays 2pm-4pm – Writers Group, no booking required 

One-off events

Tuesday 26th February 10am-12pm – Introduction to Mindfulness (free taster session delivered by Lancashire Adult Learning, booking essential at the Library or via www.eventbrite.co.uk) 

Library Volunteers required

Various opportunities advertised at Lancashire Volunteer Partnership - https://lancsvp.org.uk/opportunities/


Great Harwood Library


Knit and natter every Monday (except 3rd in the month) 2.00-3.30 p.m. all abilities welcome.

Reading Group 3rd Monday in the month 2.00-3.30.


Scrabble Club (alternate weeks) next games 13th May, 27th May, 10th June. Etc.


Baby Rhyme Time every Thursday (except 2nd of each month) 10.45-11.30.

Coffee Morning with guest speaker every 2nd Thursday in the month 10.30-11.30. 14th May, 11th June, 9th July, 10th September, 8th October, 12th November.


Shared Reading 1.30-3.00, join in reading together or just sit back and relax and be read to, very informal.


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