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Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.


Post by Stanley »


If you were patient enough to bear with me last week you have seen the evidence that at least as early as the 13th century Barlick was a source of large timbers and had people living here who were skilled woodsmen, carpenters and capable of transporting heavy loads at least as far as Bolton Priory and Colne. This must have been wheeled transport and almost certainly hauled by oxen. This alone is impressive given what we know about the bad state of the roads in those days. However there is more, we must have had a good source of these timbers because the account books of Bolton Priory refer to 'bosco de Bernolwyk', Barnoldswick Wood. The fact that we were used as a source infers that we had the best timber in an area of at least 20 miles radius.
The first question I have is where Barnoldswick Wood was. There are some clues in the place names like Wood End near Whitemoor Reservoir. There are large trees in sheltered locations like Prospect Farm but the main part of the wood would have been lower down the slope. My best guess is that almost all of what was the Manor of Barnoldswick apart from areas that had been cleared for farming or building was heavily wooded and there must have been some big old trees. Apart from John Turner and his carpentry business in 1300 we have later evidence of sawyers working in the town with saw pits at Monk House, on Sagin Hill going up to the croft and even a water-powered sawmill at Ouzledale in 1853. Hey Farm was a wheelwright's shop. So we can be sure that the local timber was being exploited.
If it wasn't for all this evidence I wouldn't have thought of the town as being heavily wooded so the question arises, what happened to the wood? Apart from clearance for farming the most usual reason for deforestation is felling trees for fuel, both domestic and industrial. We know that there was charcoal burning because that's the origin of the name 'Stew Mill' for County Brook Mill. We also know that there were numerous lime kilns which would have used a lot of wood for fuel. We even know that in the General Strike of 1926 you couldn't buy a saw or axe in the town because they had all been snapped up by people desperate for heating and cooking fuel because coal was scarce.
Our conclusion must be that over the years the woods must have been thinned out to the point where as in my picture this week there wasn't a big tree in sight. Some would survive of course but not enough for any part of the town to be regarded as 'Barnoldswick Wood'. From the evidence of old pictures of the town I think we can date the low point of large trees in Barlick to the late 19th century. Next week I shall take the story a bit further.....



Tubber Hill in 1900, not a big tree in sight!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!
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