How to make the best of a sunny afternoon whilst I’m not able to climb the fells?
I have had in mind for some time a walk around my home town of Longridge visiting the buildings bestowed with a blue plaque. A quick piece of research of Longridge Heritage Committee information told me they had placed 15 in total – so off I went, camera in hand.
I intend to let the plaques give you the history whilst they are legible …
No 1. CRAMPOAKS MILL.
At the bottom of the main street, Berry Lane, is Booths Supermarket. From the front it could be any retail outlet but viewed from the side the telltale ‘saw tooth’ north-facing roof lights marks it out as an old mill, there were many such cotton mills in Longridge, spinning and weaving.
No 2. Youth centre.
Across the road on the corner is an undistinguished building housing a community and youth centre with several notable past uses including the Bond Minicar developed in town.
No 3. The Towneley Arms.
A popular local pub situated next to the old station. An adjacent level crossing was used on Berry Lane where the line crossed to sidings for the mills and on its way up to the quarries.
No 4. The Old Station.
The station has been sympathetically restored as a Heritage Facility and a popular central cafe utilising the platform space as well as the station building. There is always a wealth of local information available in the heritage centre. Searches on the internet will soon provide more history on the Preston – Longridge railway and its unique branch to Whittingham Hospital which in its heyday was one of the largest Mental Institutions in Europe.
No 5. The Co-operative Building.
On the next block up is another imposing stone building previously holding our co-op. When I first arrived in town I would shop in the various departments of the large store. The plaque mentions the ballroom upstairs but I mainly remember the Polash Indian Restaurant up the stairs when the space had been divided – good old Ronnie was an excellent chef and I still have contact with his family in Burnley. The present co-op store has moved to a new building next door and the lower floor shops are now charity and betting – a sign of the times. The rest of the building is however used as semi affordable flats. Shame they didn’t restore the clock which is visible from most of the lane.
No 6. Methodist Church.
This Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is now in private ownership having been sold off and the congregation incorporated into the United Reform Church down the road – now the thriving Christ Church. Needs must. I have never been inside it.
No 7. The Stone Quarries.
I hit a problem here – I couldn’t find the blue plaque! I presumed it was by the tunnel linking the railway to the quarries. In the past the railway line continued from the town centre through what is now John Smith’s Park and connected with a horse drawn incline up into the extensive quarries, Tootle Heights, producing high quality stone for many construction projects in the NW. Liverpool and Preston docks and many public buildings in Preston. The raison d’ètre of the line.
Tootle Heights Quarry in its heyday.
No 8. The Quarryman’s Arms,
Just below the quarries is this old pub building – now my favourite Thai restaurant.
No 9. Club Row.
Walking back down Higher Road you come to a row of cottages on the left. They have an interesting history.
No 10. Cinema.
Unfortunately the cinema is under scaffolding at present, undergoing refurbishment with new owners who hope to continue operating it as private cinema. It has been a unique experience with ice cream usherettes, tea and coffee in mugs and the National Anthem, lets hope it continues to be.
Its noticeable how many properties in the old parts of town were previously involved with hand-looming.
No 11. Fell End.
Continuing down the hill there is an old building, now a funeral parlour, on the corner bearing the plaque. The Duke William pub opposite is now private housing.
No 12. St. Lawrence’s Church.
Opposite across the main road is the parish church in a prominent position approaching the town.
No 13. New Town.
Round the corner on the busy Preston Road is an area known as New Town which is now a conservation area. The water pump has been restored. As a bonus here we get a Red plaque.
As it was…
No 14. Stone Bridge.
The busy roundabout at the end of Preston Rd is built on Stone Bridge where the railway entered town. Not the most salubrious environment – don’t hang around.
No 15. St. Wilfred’s Church.
The prominent church further along Derby Rd is Roman Catholic, an important religion in the town.
So a walk of about 3 miles has included all the plaques but there are so many more interesting stone buildings in town that I feel I could produce another circuit.