Bob Sproule tells us about a walk he, and other Radicals volunteers, went on in May, retracing the steps of the Two Toms…
Whalley to Colne – A Radical Route
Today, Nick Burton, Barbara Sanders and I left Whalley via the railway station, passing the old corn mill; Whalley Abbey and then walked on Princess Street, where Tom Stephenson lived as a 13 year old worker when he walked on to Pendle and dreamt of long distance footpaths and access to the countryside.
We passed his house and proceeded towards Spring Wood past the Police Station he had to attend for failing to answer his call up papers in the First World War, he was sent to Clitheroe magistrates’ court and sentenced to prison.
From Spring Wood we climbed steadily past interesting buildings until we eventually arrived at the Nick O’Pendle. We headed off towards Apronful Hill planning to get to Deerstones via Badger Wells Hill, however a minor detour to the hustings place of the Sabden Chartists and on to the Chartists Well prove both irresistible and worthwhile.
Back on track we went via Deerstones, on to the back of Fell Woods and dropped down into the lovely village of Newchurch. After visiting St. Mary’s Church we exited through the back gate and heading down to Spen Brook, we turned left here to walk past the second Clarion House run by Nelson ILP, (Independent Labour Party) at Nabs Farm before heading past Dimperly Farm to the current ILP Clarion for a lunch break.
The afternoon consisted of the ascent to Nogarth End and a delightful ridge walk to pick up the Pendle Way above Barrowford, where we dropped down into the village and walked through the park to the Pendle Heritage Centre, up Barrowford Road to take a canal towpath under the M65 and pick up a cycle route into Colne.
We walked to Dockray Street, but couldn’t work out where Dockray Square and the chapel Thomas Leonard preached in, and took his parishioners from, on trips to the Lake District, was. Fortunately, Brendan in the town library explained that the library (rear portion) covered the site of the congregational church and there was a plaque to the church in the library entrance, he also checked the 1891 census and told us that Leonard was living at 128 Keighley Road, Colne at the time of the census.
Like Stephenson, Leonard was a pacifist and in later life became a Quaker, both did practical things to make access to the countryside available to working people, they campaigned together as well as separately for the rights of ramblers and I feel they are owed a huge debt of gratitude by modern day walkers and are undervalued radicals who deserve recognition for their achievements.
Nick Burton will lead a circular 5 mile walk to this area as part of the 2019 Pendle Walking Festival, on Saturday 17 August – walk number 47 Chartist Walk.
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