We didn’t have a lot to go on to find the farm where Nan, Edna Shields, spent her summers and weekends during the second world war. Edna was staying with us while she recovered from her eye operations, so we used the time to talk with her about her early life and relatives. A while ago she asked to visit Cliviger where her Step-Grandfather had a farm. So one fine day we set off there but with only a rough idea of where we were going.
Cliviger is an area south of Burnley, with a couple of villages, Walk Mill to Holme Chapel, on the Todmorden road. Parking up in the village she remembered that the farm was called Stonehouse. It was up a track on the side of a hill above a village where she used to go to the village shop. But we still didn’t know where to start. Driving through Cliviger didn’t bring back anymore precise memories. So we dropped into the village hall where some older ladies were gathering for a friendship meeting. Old Gladys was the most helpful, she knew that Stonehouse was up on the west side of the village, waving her arm at the small cliffs above the road and railway line. Gladys suggest we drive back to the traffic lights and take the sharp turn left and its somewhere up there!
Up there we did find a rough track, but with a sign – “No Unauthorised vehicles”. This track wasn’t recognised so we turned around and returned to a main road. Now she recalled getting off the bus at a pub on Bacup Road and walking down a lane to the farm.
Her step grand-father worked at the local coal mine, she recalled, making wagon wheels. We couldn’t find the right pub, many of the local inns on the road had recently closed down. But we did find the mine – Deerplay Mine, the last coalmine in Lancashire. We were narrowing the area down. It was unusual for me to be anywhere without a map, but my old map of Burnley had worn away a few years earlier, and we were now flying blind. A trip into Bacup to find one didn’t help, nothing in any of the miserable shops there. We did have a nice fish lunch there though.
Back in Cliviger we found another lane in the right area, but we ended up at the “No .. Vehicles” sign again. Convinced we were in the right place, the sign was ignored and we drove along the rough track. We soon came to Dyneley Farm, which Edna now recalled was the farm next to where she used to stay. So we were on the right track. A nice man living at the Dyneley Farm confirmed that Stonehouse Farm was further along the track, and yes it will be OK to drive up there.
Half a mile along the bumpy track took us to Stonehouse Fold, a small group of cottages. Edna sort of felt it was the right place, but recalled the place where she stayed as being in a building that was split into a few cottages. It faced onto another building, possibly a farm. As we looked around the man who lived in the farm building came out for a chat and confirmed that the cottage opposite used to be split into a couple of dwellings. There used to be trees in the courtyard of the farm where the fence was now. Although the current resident didn’t recognise the name of George Chadwick, we knew we were in the right place. We swapped stories of bad winters (1947) when the snow was up to the bedroom windows; keeping chickens and pigs there and evacuees staying there during the war.
Stonehouse was part of the estate of the Towneley family, originally of Towneley Hall just a mile and a half away on the outskirts of Burnley. Apparently this part of the estate was retained by the family when they gave the hall to the council. Some Towneley’s moved into Dyneley Hall just down the lane. Lady Mary Towneley and Sir Simon used to ride up to the farm. A current story is that our Princess Anne and Prince Charles one day came visiting, although this would be after the time Edna went visiting.
So here’s the memory we managed to piece together, using some further research and discussions.
Edna’s Grandmother Gertrude was known as the “Great One” to her family. When she was 18 she had a child out-of-wedlock, Alice, who became Edna’s mother. Alice was brought up by her grandmother and Aunt Beattie. Gertrude was a young skilled worker in the Burnley mills. When Alice was four her mother married Jimmy Walton. Not long afterwards he volunteered for the Army signing up as soon as war broke out in 1914. He saw service for the most part in Salonica, Greece where he caught Malaria and bronchitis. Jimmy never really recovered, being ill for the rest of his life. Jimmy and Gertrude didn’t have any children and it appears she left him to live with George Chadwick, a pit wheelwright at Deerplay Mine. They lived at the cottage at Stonehouse Farm, Cliviger. She even claimed on the 1939 national Register that she was married to George, but they didn’t actually get wed until after Jimmy died. The Chadwick family had lived in Stonehouse Fold for over a hundred years. Other family members living in the cottages along the lane in either direction; Stonehouse Cote; Cowside and Dyneley Farm. George lived at Stonehouse Farm before he married his first wife Susan Alice from Bacup in 1909. He and Susan lived in Walk Mill Cliviger and had at least a couple of children . Susan sadly died in 1932 and by the time Gertrude came along the children had moved out and he had returned to the farm.
Edna used to go up to the farm with her brother Alan. She would get the Bacup bus from Burnley, getting off at the Towneley Arms at the end of the lane to the farm. She has a treasured photo of the four of them at the farm. They played there and in a river at the bottom of a wooded valley, probably close to Towneley Hall. Alan sadly died in 1939, not long after the photo was taken.
During the war Edna’s father Fred would go up to the farm to butcher the pigs they kept there. She went along with him, sometimes staying there. When Colin, Edna’s other brother, came along in 1941 she had the job of pushing the pram along the lane to the farm. Gertrude and George took in three evacuees; Irene Eccles from Bradford, Irene Riddeal and Frank Timms. Frank was a bit of a scallywag, he once stole a horse from the farm and rode it hard down the lane until the horse dropped dead! Irene Riddel was 4 years older than Edna, who was remembered as being the “light Irene”.
As soon as Gertrude’s first husband Jimmy Walton died in 1943 she married George Chadwick. Gertrude and George were married for 7 years until he died in 1951. Gertrude returned to live in the terraces of Burnley, no doubt looking out for another husband. She worked as a cook, sometimes in a local cafe and at the grand UCP (tripe) restaurant.
Ten years after George died Gertrude married again. She married Ted Riley in March 1960 when she was 71. He was a couple of years older than her and a retired driver, who worked in the mines during the second world war. When Ted died five years later she moved to Lytham St Annes where she died in 1975 age 86.