Stephen Caunce promised us a different perspective on the Industrial Revolution and that’s exactly what we got. Stephen started by asking us to look at the area from Preston in the West to Wakefield in the East as one area with hills in the middle. Missed by glacial changes as seen in the Yorkshire or Derbyshire Dales the land is poor, traditionally used for raising cattle in the West and sheep in the East.

Domestic Spinner. Courtesy S Caumce

Sparsely populated and without a true feudal system, the people were independent, eking a living from the land and from spinning and weaving wool. However, they did have plentiful streams and rivers with a regular flow thanks to the huge peat covered uplands acting as reservoirs to power the water mills.

With the invention of the steam engine, the huge reserves of coal provided abundant fuel to allow industry to develop mass production on a scale never seen before.

Factory Children. Courtesy S. Caunce

Populations grew and towns and villages covered the landscape where life was actually better, with regular employment, food grown by local farms and delivered fresh by local farmers. Life in the very few cities may have been inhuman in small pockets of slums but for many it would have been possible to turn around and see open countryside.

The rapid development of the railways together with new seaside resorts like Blackpool brought a new concept to the masses – annual holidays or Wakes Weeks.  A different viewpoint indeed.

The Friends had another excellent speaker in Dave Joy who excelled at unpicking the social history and changes in cowkeeping in Liverpool. As he said it was a play in three acts, firstly the shifting of the farmers from the Yorkshire Dales – Hebden, in the case of Dave’s family who re located in the mid 1800’s attracted by the booming mill towns.   Secondly there is the development of cowkeeping and the the milk industry and thirdly the mid 1900’s and the shifting of their roles to  suburban milkmen.

Dave’s family history is interwoven with all these stories.   The mass exodus from the dales not only led to Liverpool and other northern cities and towns but to new lives in parts of Europe, Africa, Canada and the US.   Populations grew exponentially in the mid to late 1800’s in these northern towns and especially in the busy port of Liverpool.  Although the railways brought in food, milk did not travel well and soured before reaching the customer.

Cow portrait. Norway. Attribution: Ernst Vikner

One bright Yorkshire spark had the idea of taking the cows to the city.  Six to eight cows in full lactation would be brought from the home farm in the dales and rotated or sold on for beef as and when necessary.  City herds were in a constant flux and were known as the ‘flying herds’.    Their home was a byre however this wasn’t at a traditional long house farm but at the end of the row of terraced houses.  The forms of some of these cow keeping  houses can still be seen today  for example ‘Battys Dairy’,  however town planners eventually realised that purpose built cow houses were needed.  People still remember the cows being driven on the highway to nearby fields and I can remember occasions when cows were herded through Burnley to the railway station.

Herding cows near Thoralby. Not quite Garston Liverpool. Attribution Malcolm Street

Dave recounted the work that the three generations of his family and others had to do to keep the cows in good condition and provide clean safe milk. In the dairy surfaces were cleaned and scrubbed, utensils sterilised. Cows were fed, watered, mucked out and then the milk had to be delivered. Before milk bottles, milk was dispensed from ‘kits’ straight into a jug also know as ‘kitting out’,  something my Nana was used to as an adult she would buy  ‘a quart o’ milk’.  Rounds were sometimes twice daily.

You might ask how did the cows survive as opportunities for good grazing were few and far between?.  There was access to fields for some cows however these canny Yorkshire farmers gleaned grass from the used grass cuttings in the park and verges.  The port warehouses and factories were useful for spent grain from the brewers, molasses from the sugar refineries and oilseed cake which provided proven.  The city saw mills were useful for sawdust for the byre floor and in the Old Haymarket, still there today, hay was exchanged for cow muck to the tune of £16K – in today’s money. Where there’s muck there’s brass indeed!   This would have been a welcome bonus for the cities cowkeeping families.

Cowkeeping became an established part of the city economy and as other towns did Liverpool developed its own Cowkeeper Association.  Social activities and outings for example to New Brighton beach meant that the next generation also married into similar farming families from the dales, which helped to keep the community alive.   Quite often when they returned to visit the dales they told their relatives to ‘get themselves to Liverpool’.

Apparently there were ‘Cow Friday’s’ from Lime St. Station as cows from the countryside were herded through the streets and sold off along the way to the cowkeepers.  It is to be imagined that if you were nearest the station you were able to select the choicest beasts. The railways also enabled competition to set up in the form of Corporate Dairies who collected milk from the countryside and were in direct competition with the cowkeepers. In 1881 37% of milk was corporate and there was dirty in-fighting, with the cowkeepers adopting marketing strategies such as “Fresh from the Cow”. Liverpool was the first place to develop ‘Cow keeping licences’ which their owners proudly displayed in their windows. They were keen to invite and welcome inspections by the public to demonstrate the quality of their milk.  ‘Inspection invited’ became a cowkeeping mantra.  At the annual shows there was fierce competition for the ‘Best kept dairy’, ‘Best kept Shippon’, Best Turn Out for Horse and Cart. Dave’s grandfather and father enjoyed turning out for these. The shows attracted thousands.

Dave recounted that the Joys came in two waves to Liverpool. First were Orlando, Hanna and George who stayed in the Penny Lane area.  Daniel arrived from the Devonshire Arms Inn after being left a widower with five young children to bring up after the tragic death of his young wife. The dales folk brought with them a rural skills and a way of life that would have been useful in dealing with shippons that contained 20-30 cows.    Garston became a useful place to live because of its proximity to the newly built canals.

The Joy’s celebrate 100 years in the Dairy Industry. Attribution: Dave Joy

World War 1 meant that the women were left to keep the cow keeping business running and they recruited help from their families in the dales. Business was affected as there was no good quality hay to be had. People had to adapt to survive and owners of any arable land including golf courses, parks, verges were asked to allow cows to graze or for the grass cuttings to be used for the cows.  In WW11 dairies were sometimes mistaken for factories by the Luftwaffe and suffered accordingly.

In the interwar years and despite the Depression the Joys were relatively prosperous. The whole business of producing, bottling and delivering milk ensured that the money stayed in the family. A succession of Anthony Joy’s meant that the name of the shop didn’t have to be changed.  Again a keen eye for a marketing opportunity led to one Joy advertising ‘Have you had the joy of Joy’s sausages?’.

Gradual changes, the building of housing estates which lessened opportunities for grazing and the introduction  refrigeration which extended the shelf life of milk especially on the road and the creation of the Milk Marketing Board led to the third chapter in the working life of the Joy’s.  They became suburban milkmen and after the last hay crop which meant that they had no horse and cart the business came to an end and so did the family involvement in cowkeeping, a way of life that had lasted from 1863 to 1963.  One of the last families to be involved in cowkeeping were the Capsticks who continued until 1975.

Dairy Crest Milk Float.
Attribution: Brian Snelson

We are grateful to Dave for his exceptionally  informative and enlightening talk without which many of us would have been totally unaware of the contribution of these families from the Dales to our great grandparents and grandparents daily life and health!   If you want to know more read his books Liverpool Cowkeepers and My Family and other Scousers.

The front cover of Cowkeepers. Attribution: Dave Joy

And did you know?

Liverpool was the first city to experience cowkeepers, it also had the highest number – 6K  and  the longest running cowkeeping industry in England.

Other cities also had cowkeepers and in large numbers too, Burnley had around 700.

If you are interested in reading more about cowkeeping see also:,

This was a most fascinating exhibition which was too late for some people who were the concubines and slaves of the early Chinese Emporers.  Unfortunately they were victims of ‘retainer sacrifice’ being put to death to serve their leader in the afterlife.

Part of the Terracotta Army. Word Museum Liverpool

The Emporer Qin Shi Huang must have thought he would have had no fear of being attacked by enemies when he buried a terracotta warrior army to accompany him in the afterlife.     The figures date from 210-209 BCE (Before Common Era) and vary in height according to their rank. Also included are chariots and horses. An estimated 8,000 soldiers 130 chariots and 670 horses are included in the pits, which also contain officials, musicians and acrobats.

It was also interesting to see from depictions and models how the army was created, of course the work force must have been enormous. Differentiation between the ranks and occupations eg swords man or use of bows and arrows was intriguing also.

Terracotta Army exhibition at Gydnia Poland 2006. Attribution: Tomasz Sienicki

The Project began when the Emperor ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and the work involved 700,000 workers.  Qin Shi Huang was also buried with wondrous objects and artefacts near land that was rich with gold and jade and a hundred flowing rivers of mercury. No health and safety there then……

After the visiting the exhibition some people visited other floors of the Museum and some people got as far as the Docks. Other people visited the Walker Art Gallery and a few of us visited St George’s Hall where the enormous stone slabs at the top of the steps do indeed look larger than the one outside the Town Hall in Colne. (Thankyou Kevin, however, we forgot to take the tape measure!)

Despite a few hiccups, coach breaking down on the way there and  traffic hold ups on the way back, we reached home safe and sound having enjoyed a good day out.


This was another excellent talk by Maggie Simms which again fascinated and enthralled the Friends at the start of the 2018/19 season.

Iraq is where the evidence for the worlds’ oldest cities lies.  A succession of groups of people have competed to own it and each has left its mark.   The ziggurat at Ur, of the Chaldeans, was built around four thousand years ago and surprisingly was recently ‘preserved’ by Saddam Hussein, he also instigated the use of a cable car at Babylon. It seems amazing that those last four words would ever appear in the same sentence.

Ziggarat at Ur Attibution: Maggie Simms

The land between the Tigris and Euphrates is also known as the ‘fertile crescent’ it is a vital piece of land that also glues the three continents of Africa, India and Europe together. As people shifted across the area there was also a shifting of ideas and practices.  In the reign of the Ottoman Empire this area became known as Mesopotamia.. (Meso – middle, potus – water horse). This vast landscape is covered in archaeology, the ruins and artefacts are a great legacy of the people who lived there over thousands of years.   Hill shaped mounds are sometimes evidence of a Tel, the Arabic word for hill. These were formed when the mud bricks crumbled and were stamped down in order for a rebuild to take place.

A looming question then and now is who owned the oil. It is indeed ‘black gold’, the Mesopotamians used bitumen, a product of oil. The pitch or tar held buildings together as reed mats were soaked in tar which would harden between the layer of bricks and it was also used in boat building.   Pitch was also highly valued in Mediaeval times by apothecaries. Some of us can remember that when the streets in Lancashire were repaired, coal tar was put between the cobbles and parents would urge children with coughs and colds to breathe in the fumes to ‘clear the lungs’. Do you also remember Coal Tar Soap?

One nugget that emerged was that the Persian city of Ctesiphon built over 2,000 years ago, was the largest city in the world in the sixth and seventh centuries and held the biggest brick built arched structure in the world until the middle ages, the arch of Chosroes in the royal palace. Miraculously and without the intervention of trained architects it is still standing today. Will we be able to say the same of todays contemporary structures?

Arch of Ctesiphon. Atrribution: Sgt Rebecca Schwab, 2nd Brigade. 10th Mountain Div. USD- C

Of course as Maggy reminded us, it is debatable when considering whose history is the right and proper history and whose past is the right and proper past. Isn’t it said that history is written by the victors?

Societies in the fertile crescent were based along rivers, marshes and coastal areas.   The reed boats they used for transport have not been found, however depictions of them on images and models do exist. They were leaf shaped boats that traversed the Persian Gulf.


Maggy revealed that it was due to the efforts of Austin Henry Leyard a British ‘toff’ that established that Nineveh existed, it is said to be one of the greatest and oldest cities in antiquity.   Leyard made friends with the locals and brought home cartloads of statues including dozens of carved slabs depicting the famed winged bulls and other sculputures. Some of which can be seen in the British Museum today in the fabulous galleries dedicated to Assyrian culture. ( An unmissable experience).

It would seem that the world also owes a debt to Geoffrey Smith, an autodidact, who worked for free for the British Museum and in 1872 transcribed the complex and hugely difficult Flood Tablet. This wedge shaped block written in cuneiform around 1800 BCE caused a sensation when transcribed, Smith ran round the British Library when he discovered the key! This discovery was apparently responsible for stimulating a surge of interest in the Middle East. It is very intriguing how the same  story  appears in the Jewish Bible – Old Testament in 800BCE.   The tablet, in the British Museum, which was excavated by Hormuzd Rassam is from the Library of Ashurbanipal II at Nineveh, northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. It is apparently very small and innocuous looking for such a famed and far reaching story. Might it be the first written indication of climate change?.

Tablet X1 of the Epic of Gilmagesh AKA ‘The Flood Tablet’. Attribution: Osama Skukir Muhammed Amin.

Another fascinating nugget was the story of the reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon by German archaeologists. They seemed to be amongst the first archaeologists to take the job seriously, making site plans before excavating. Apparently they found that the cobalt blue tiles lay in heaps as the mud bricks which they faced had turned to dust. Their painstaking work resulted in the stunning architectural panels in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Another must see. See also the banner image.

Maggy informed us that Ur was occupied from 5,000 BCE until around 500 BCE. Obviously over these 4,000 years geological and natural forces of deposition have shifted the courses of rivers and pushed what were coastal areas sometimes as far as 7,300m inland.

Archaeologists also owe a debt to Leonard Woolley, when he was excavating at Ur he looked at the soil strata in the walls of the pits and discerned discoloration, he was one of the first to discover this, archaeologists routinely look for strata discoloration today. He is also famed for his discovery of the artefacts in the huge royal death pits. Puabi’s grave surrendered fabulously rich Sumerian headgear and necklaces that were fitted for a Queen. (Again in the BM and stunning to look at). A gruesome feature of these burials was the ‘retainer sacrifice’.   Skeletons of servants were posed after death, which may have been from blunt force trauma to the back of the skull, let’s hope they were sedated first! Ur also gave up what is known as the Standard of Ur, demonstrating peace and plenty on one side and warfare on the other side.

Found at Ur. Queen Puabi’s elaborate headdress. Leonard Woolley

This was a most illuminating evening with someone who is clearly in command of her subject and who transferred her enthusiasm and delight to her audience, the supporting visual imagery also helped us to envisage the area  and those times even further.

And did you know?

That there are still huge amounts of archaeological artefacts strewn over this vast landscape, thousands of years of history waiting to be picked up and identified…

That Elam an area in the Persian Gulf still retains the same name as in biblical times…

That the Epic of Gilmagesh is one of the worlds most continuous narrated stories, it was already ancient when it was written down as one of the Old Babylonian tablets as was the Flood (or Deluge) Story aforementioned which is part of the Epic.

That if you visit the Louvre you will be able to see the The Stele of the Vultures which among the first panels that depicts the first evidence of organized warfare along with the Royal Standard mentioned above.

Banner Image: Part of the Ishtar Gate, Pergamonn Museum, Berlin. Date approximately 575 BCE. The 8th of 8 gates of the Inner City of Babylon. Erected by Nebuchadrezzar 605-575 BCE. Attribution:Etrick.

Ee by gum, who would have thought that the Friends would be flying through the air, without the aid of a broomstick?  No need to panic, we were ascending on the Anderton Boat Lift near Northwich.  This is an amazing feat of ingenious engineering that lifts boats and barges from the River Weaver 50 feet up to the Trent and Mersey Canal or vice versa.  Of course as the public purse is in dire straits this is run by a charity the Canals and River Trust.

The Anderton Boat Lift.

The boat lift is known as the Cathedral of the Canals, well,  you are in a hollow structure with amazing iron struts and caissons and you do hear a medley of noises, however it isn’t angels calling or carols but the shuzz of the hydraulic systems transferring one boat up and the other down albeit in a relatively quiet way.

Of course it wouldn’t be an outing without coffee on arrival and lunch in the cafe before leaving or a cup of tea and a scone at the end of the afternoon after visiting Staircase House in Stockport.

Staircase House, Stockport

The innocuous frontage makes the house look like a shop and it is indeed next door but one to Blackshaws cafe and opposite the Victorian Market Hall.  It is however a hidden architectural mediaeval gem of a house.  It is the oldest town house in Stockport and is famous for its lovely and rare Jacobean newel- cage staircase.  One of three surviving in the country.

A fine example of a Newel Cage staircase. Staircase House

It’s an interesting study as it has been curated to reveal  how people used to live in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. How people worked, slept, played and passed their time is illuminating.   Tallow room, Dowry room and Counting house, its all there to peruse.

The viewing gallery enables the viewer to see what the areas that haven’t been restored reveal to us today. Wattle and daub and brick infills with hand made bricks are evident, it paints an amazing picture of house construction. The oldest timber in this building dates from winter 1459/60 and the house although rebuilt at times and in places remained a dwelling until the 1940’s.  It underwent a long period of restoration after falling into disrepair, not helped by a fire.  Stockport Heritage Trust helped to secure funding from various sources.

There are excellent free audio guides.  It is very accessible – a good lift.

Both these places are well worth a visit, the mediaevalists among you will be delighted by Staircase House and for those of you who may not be keen on industrial history the boat lift is fascinating.    All in all a good time was had by all.


NB No Witches – North or Middle were harmed during the making of this trip.

No clogs or shawls were required for our visit to historic Higherford Mill.

Higherford Mill, Barrowford, featured in BBC ‘Restoration 2006’. Attribution: Alexander P Knapp

Over 40 people enjoyed a powerpoint presentation by our own, Frank Walsh, in the 15th century Cruck Barn, at the Pendle Heritage Centre; followed by a riverside walk up to Higherford Mill led by Anthony Pilling ,a descendant of Pilling and son, Loom Makers, of Colne. He then gave us a detailed guided tour of the mill itself.

Higherford Mill wheel chamber. Attribution Alan Longbottom

Donations on the day raised £66 for The Friends of Pendle Heritage. A great effort all round.


Banner Image: Higherford Mill, Northern light roofing of weaving shed. Attribution: Alan Longbottom.


Our current Prehistoric dig has revealed a surface studded with fragments of abraded and worked chert under 5mm, many under 2mm, suggesting it was where someone sat up to 10.000 years ago making stone tools.

Probable Mesolithic surface detail
All Rights Reserved – Alex Whitlock

If you look at the photo, the material we are interested in is the small black bits of stone. Many of the sharply angled bits are debitage while the more rounded pieces have been abraded or worn by natural processes, like being rolled in the water or soil. Debitage is the stone left over from making stone tools – a sort of lithic sawdust.

Unsurprisingly, these tiny fragments of stone are often missed in excavations. One of the benefits of the dry weather, and not rushing, is that we have been fortunate enough to spot these micro finds and change our approach to the excavation accordingly. End result – we are now mixing it with the Mesolithic.

Alex Whitlock, August 2018


Please note – this is a closed dig and not open to members of the public.

Sunny, fine weather welcomed the final day of digging in Trench 4.

Trench 4




Work on Trench 4 was continued in order to ascertain the nature of the possible road surface. Context 3 was excavated in the north-west of the trench.  This area of the trench was excavated firstly by light mattocking, then by trowel. The dark brown soil of Context 3 was removed to a layer of pink clay. There were a variety of finds (see below).


A little light mattocking!

A further sondage in the south-east of the trench showed the edge of the possible road, found just before time had been reached to back-fill the trench. Part of the road edge seems to have been damaged, possibly by ploughing. The surface was made of compacted pink clay with 5% stone inclusion (Context 4). Any ditch relating to the road was not identified due to time constraints.




It would seem that the edge of the possible road feature identified by the magnetometry survey has been found. Since the finds in Context 3 above the road surface seem to be 19th century in origin, the road is earlier than this date.

A nail
Clay pipe and glass
Brown Glaze pottery


Further excavation and survey will be required to

  • find any relating ditches
  • determine the width of the possible road
  • find dating evidence for the road
  • identify the relationship between the road, bank feature, cobbled surface between the banks and possible early settlement.

A return to Calf Hill in the rain was arranged as a result of questions raised by the magnetometry survey completed by Mike Woods on 13/8/2018.


Test Pit 1 was opened between the banks to ascertain if the cobbled surface found in Trench 2/3 continues between the banks. Test Pit 1 (1m2) was opened to the west of a (now fallen) large stone which may have been a path marker.

A similar cobbled surface to that found in Trench 2 was found at a depth of 50cm. The eastern side of the test pit suggested that the path crossing the bank feature had been reinforced with stones, perhaps to reduce the amount of mud in this area. The last layer of these was at a depth of 11cm below the turf. This feature seems to be on top of, and therefore later than, the cobbled surface. Finds in the test pit were mainly pieces of chert.



Trench 4 (2mx4m) was opened over the possible road feature identified in the magnetometry survey. The turf and top soil were relatively easy to remove in the north-west section of the trench. The turf and top soil were harder to remove in the south-east section of the trench.


A sondage in the south-east of the trench showed a layer of pink clay with 5% stone inclusions (Context 4) 20cm below the level of the turf. Further investigation revealed a layer of orange clay with 5% stone inclusions (Context 5) 35cm below the level of the turf. This layer continued with alternating wet and dry clay. Flecks of charcoal could be seen in Context 5, suggesting that the layers could be manmade. A darker area in the south-west side of the sondage was also identified, perhaps containing charcoal.





Opening Trench 8
Clay Pipe


Although the weather was mixed, the group enjoyed learning about, and having a go at, magnetometry with Mike Woods. Magnetometry is the technique of measuring and mapping patterns of magnetism in the soil.


Calibrating the Equipment
Measuring Out







Having a Go



Area surveyed (not to scale)


Extending the Area

An area of Calf Hill including the banks feature was surveyed. Initial results look interesting…more information about this to follow…

Thanks to Mike Woods for an enjoyable and instructive day.