Every now and then me and the bro have a nostalgic ramble around the environs of Earby where we wander about remembering things. Today was the day to do it. The bro brought June with him. I went to Infants and Junior school with June…
We started by the cricket ground in Thornton-in-Craven. We sort of got permission from one of the cricketers. Anyway, Thornton’s cricket ground is right next to where the railway station used to be, The platforms are still there, although covered in grass and wild flowers. It seems that the old railway line is walkable, which is a Good Thing. I seem to remember my mum telling me about one of her friends and his girlfriend having a nasty and doubly-fatal accident at this spot with their motor-bike and sidecar and the train to Burnley, but I can;t find any information about this at all.
We walked up the hill into the village, remembering where the parties used to be and the unfortunate incident at the Youth Club with the village postmaster’s Christmas whisky supply shared between several teenage boys, one of whom ended up in hospital with a head injury. We got banned from the village hall for this and ended up building a new youth club in Dr Morrison’s stables… We Can Work It Out was a hit at the time, which must date this…
Onwards through the fields to Earby where we passed the site of the Empire flicks and the air-raid shelter, and the co-op and James’s Butchers to the library. This has not moved since echty-blob, except it used to be upstairs. Then a slightly odd incident. There was a little woman with a friendly dog, whom she was berating for “jumping up”. It made no difference to the dog, but we started chatting to her and it was during this conflab that she revealed that her name was “Amy”. I won;t reveal her full name but I will say that I had a very brief (probably a week, not more) teenage fling with either her or her best pal round about the time we were getting banned from Thornton Village Hall. I seem to remember entering and leaving a terraced house by an open window, for reasons that are no longer clear.
Inside the library, we found that the Earby Historical Society had a display with pictures from our schools roundabout the time we were there. We were also reminded of the “Earby Firebug” who had destroyed our school and went on a bit of an arson rampage for a while and who, we think, was never caught, despite the £50 reward.
Through the cemetary where we noted the names of the long-standing Earby families, including a few school friends who had found there way in there, and an auntie and uncle… and on, up through the fields to The Mount. Here, we located the exact position of a camping spot we’d used. The routine was this: Mick, who lived next door, seemed to have the skill of forming lumps of raw, cream-coloured cotton straight off the looms into perfectly serviceable tents. On hot sunny days (we used to have these during school holidays in what we used to call “The Summer”. Older readers may remember summers fondly…) – on hot sunny days we would beg sheets of cotton from the maintenance staff at Spring Mill, who would gather on the gantry for their morning tea break. They always gave us huge great sheets of newly woven cotton. Maybe it was faulty. Maybe it didn’t have much value. They also used to give us bobbins and ball bearings, all of which could be put to nefarious use of the type that would have people calling the police nowadays, but sometimes, instead, would result in a minor but painful assault on the lug-oils (ears) and a report to the parents where a further assault on the backside might well take place. This had little effect other than short-lived remorse, I have to say but maybe restricted anti-social behaviour to levels which could be managed in a society where people called you by your mother’s maiden name if you were in trouble, revealing that not only did they know who you were, but also who your mother’s family were and their history for several generations past, and, whether or not, you were from a “bad lot” or were just temporarily a bit mischievous. I don’t believe that police were ever involved.
The point I eventually arrive at is that, there is a little neck of land between two small streams , right bang next to the Pennine Way where these little tents were erected and, where we played hide and seek and Germans and English and Cowboys and Injuns, or whatever, along with the farmer’s son from the farm across the fields.
We progressed and, at a farm I’d never been to before, we were approached by the farmer since we’d gone a bit astray. The conversation revealed that the chap was a contemporary and that we all knew the farmers from the 1950’s and 60’s , most of whom were now dead, bit almost all of who’s families were still farming the same farms. There’s a remarkable bit of continuity going on here.
We passed Fiddling Clough, a large 17th century (at least) farmstead now derelict and about to fall down, but the top of the field was the site of family picnics and the site of a first “wild” camp. We had taken only cornflakes to eat…. But, in high summer and with no watches, we had no idea of time and went home to still sleeping households with locked doors.
Down to the Waterfalls aka the Burley Playing Fields. This is where wayward females would steal your trunks if you entered the wrong field. This is where early courting took place, the site of the scattering of ashes, the place where adventures happened. Its not changed much. The playground equipment is new and the cavalry-fort perimeter fence has gone; there are more trees and the hills and the beck are all smaller somehow. I managed a paddle in the paddling pool. It was just over knee-deep and with a fierce current at the top end.
On to Mill Lane and Green End and the Twirly Beck. Twirly Beck used to have sticklebacks We couldn’t find any today, but the underneath of stones was full of wriggly life.
We walked the length of Wentcliffe Drive, noting the names of 1960’s occupants and what had happened to some of them.
Somehow we were drawn into the bar of the White Lion. (well, you have to , for completeness) and back down Water Street where the shops used to be and back to Thornton Cricket Club along the railway line, accompanied by an energetic and very noisy and wet thunderstorm.
We did about 8 miles.
I’m not doing a map cos it would only really make sense to a Knipe or Penman, such was the apparent randomness of the thing.
Good fun, though. And Amy still has the same surname that she had in 1967 but appears to have shrunk, somehow… and the trouble she had with her new front denture seems to have resolved itself. Some Earbyites who knew her in the 1960’s will now know who she is. The rest of the world doesn’t really need to know.
Its remarkably green and beautiful around there, too. You don’t notice this when you live there, y’know.