Mid Pennine Arts is Lancashire's unique creative arts charity, developing high quality cultural projects through collaborations with strategic and community partner organisations. MPA projects explore what is distinctive about Lancashire's many special places, our shared heritage and our diverse local communities. We work in some of the poorest communities in the UK, but we deliver ambitious, challenging work that has won national and international awards and achieves profound and lasting social and economic outcomes. Our work brings art, people and places together, to transform perceptions and sometimes change lives. Based in Burnley, MPA works throughout Lancashire and beyond. With five decades of experience, MPA’s longevity is testament to the soundness of our vision and our belief that art can play a major role in developing, nurturing and completing sustainable communities.
We are delighted to be welcoming this award-winning women’s project from Norwich, coming to Clarion House in July as first stop of their Covid-delayed national tour. Shonagh Ingram explains the inspiration for this fantastic project, and the challenge that it gives us… Which extraordinary but unsung, radical women to celebrate? There are so, so many to choose from!
In 1867 the very first blue plaque was unveiled to mark the London birthplace of Lord Byron. These iconic heritage plaques can now be found on buildings across the UK, celebrating ‘great figures of the past from all walks of life who have contributed to society’ . But do they tell the whole story?
In 2018, while researching their show All Mouth No Trousers, The Common Lot theatre discovered that of 300 heritage plaques in Norwich, only 25 celebrated women. Outraged by this shocking imbalance, they instigated a guerrilla art project, creating their own plaques to commemorate the women of Norwich that history has forgotten or erased.
Under cover of darkness, and dressed as Rosie the Riveter, we carefully erected alternative blue plaques on significant buildings in the city. Then we waited to see what would happen. 
The project was such a runaway success that the team of Rosies decided to take it on a national tour, seeking out stories that deserve to be heard, of extraordinary women who changed the world. And as anyone who has been following the progress of the Pendle Radicals programme will know, there is a long and proud history of extraordinary women in the communities around Pendle Hill. We just had to invite them to Lancashire!
Of course, this presents the Radicals Research Team with a challenge – with the Plaque Shack only in town for one weekend, whose story should we tell?
Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, the first working class woman to have a novel published and a tireless campaigner for the mill workers of Lancashire? This powerhouse, prolific, radical writer lived in three Pendle towns during her adult life, but how would anyone know?
Mary Winter, the Burnley bus driver sacked for wearing a Lesbian Liberation badge to work in 1978, who went on to lead a local campaign for LGBT rights?
The Nelson Women’s Peace Crusade, who led passionate demonstrations against the continued slaughter of World War I?
How about Bessie Dickinson, fined for ‘watching and besetting’ knobsticks (ie scabs) in the More Looms disputes of the 1930’s?
Or Maud Davies, champion swimmer, who beat all her male competitors to swim across Morecambe bay in a record time that might still stand today?
With such a wealth of stories of suffragettes and socialists, wise women and female firebrands, we are expecting a heated debate to narrow down the list, but it is such a privilege to find out more about the women who have shaped Lancashire and the world, each and every one of them deserving of their own blue plaque.
To see Rosie’s Plaques x Pendle Radicals in action, find us and the Plaque Shack at Clarion House, Newchurch, in July 2021. On Saturday 3rd, join the workshop session fabricating our series of new plaques. Or on Sunday 4th July, when Clarion should be open to the public, come for a brew and a first look at the end results!
March 2021… The pandemic still ruling our lives, and stopping us getting together with the Radicals’ team. Except on Zoom! During March we presented two packed events for the Pendle Hill online programme. And it was lovely to see so many Radicals’ contributors.
The first, on International Women’s Day, celebrated the magnificent Ethel Carnie Holdsworth with an in-conversation event focused on the making of our podcast which is about her and her novel, This Slavery, a radical feminist and socialist tale of love, loss, poverty and politics.
Jules Gibb and Liz Robertson, creators of the podcast series, offered a unique insight into why and how the podcast came about, the importance of the text and the impact that the extraordinary Ethel herself had on the world. They were joined by Dr Nicola Wilson, whose academic study of Ethel has brought about the republication of some of her novels.
It was a well attended and lively event much enjoyed by those that took part…
Great talk, really engaging and making Ethel very current at this time.
Brilliant evening thank you!
If you’d like to listen to the event you can find a recording on SOUNDCLOUD. You can find the podcast links HERE.
Later in the month we had a full house for an event to Meet the Radicals… On this evening we introduced some of the nonconformists, reformers and change makers researched by the volunteers of the Pendle Radicals project, and introduced The Radicals Trail, a new way of exploring our rural communities around Pendle Hill.
There must have been something in the air, because radical history is all around us. You just need to know where to look… The event looked at some Pendle Hill people who changed the world! Including the first Quaker, a Higham boy who became a beacon of the Enlightenment, the pioneers of the Independent Labour Party, and campaigners for women’s suffrage and for the right to roam. We shared information about themed Radicals walks and about future plans to grow and extend The Radicals Trail. As well as our own team we were joined by a current member of the Quaker community, a film maker working with Clarion House on a project to celebrate Selina Cooper, and two of our Radicals volunteers talking about the series of walks being created, including the Two Toms and the Wonder Women!
It was a packed event, with so much to say that we overran by 20 minutes! Nobody seemed to mind though…
Pendle Radicals, what a great way to bring the past to the present. Thank you. Tonight’s presentation has been excellent.
I’ve been enthralled with this presentation. Thank you for all the information. Going to get my walking boots back on real soon!
If you’d like to listen to the event you can find a recording on SOUNDCLOUD. Two film clips were shown as part of the event. You can hear the sound on the recording but if you would like to see the films you can find the links in the document below. This PDF document also has details of all websites and other resources mentioned on the night.
In this blog we hear from the team commissioned to create our first podcast series for Pendle Radicals. Over the past two years they, plus the Pendle Radicals volunteers and the Clarion Choir, have worked with us on a series of sharing events based around Ethel Carnie Holdsworth’s life and works. All the research was intended for a final performance piece, which may still happen in the future, but wasn’t possible in 2020. However, that gave us the opportunity to concentrate on our long held ambition to create some original audio, and so the podcast idea was born! It was a new adventure for them too, so what did Jules, Liz and Scott make of the experience…
What a joy it has been for us creating the This Slavery podcast series.
From a small professional studio in the Ribble Valley, we have been honoured to bring Ethel to life through music, writing and soundscape.
Also, hearing the amazing voices of the Clarion Choir and the crowd scenes created by the Radicals volunteers – intertwined through the podcasts – we have tried to demonstrate how much Ethel means to all our creative community.
We have had such wonderful reactions from across the spectrum of listeners – smiles, tears, laughter and an outpouring of love. What more can we possibly ask for?
This Slavery is such a cracking book that when we got the chance to do something in-depth about it I jumped at it. I’m a big fan of Ethel Carnie Holdworth, she seems to represent all the things I think are important and coming from Lancashire and a weaving heritage, it’s no wonder we want to shout about her from the rooftops. It’s been inspiring working with Liz and Scott. They are so skilled, and we work together really well, sparking ideas off each other. I’m really proud of the end product. It feels like we are lifting Ethel up and running around the streets with her, trying to tell everyone how fabulous she was.
It was so important to me, to make sure the rhythm of the Lancashire Looms provided the beating heart of this podcast. Yes, there was darkness in the mills but the beat of the rhythm of the looms – when owned by the mill workers in their singing, became a thing of sheer beauty. My piece of music, Looming, took its rhythm and timing from the Lancashire Loom’s punch cards, which look so much like my 2021 Pro Tools digital production screen – bizarre!
I am so pleased I had the opportunity to capture much of the soundscape from Queen Street Mill and our live performances with the Radicals volunteers and the Clarion Choir, before we went into Lockdown. Who would have thought that our production would have been punctuated by temperature checks and Covid tests… but, just like the mill workers in This Slavery… ‘we’re not downhearted no…‘. We took a bit of Ethel’s spirit, overcame obstacles and found a way to enable those magic hours of creativity to take Ethel’s work forward to new generations, post Corona!
Working collaboratively has made this happen, not just us (Jules, Scott & Liz), but all the contributions from the Radicals volunteers, the Clarion Choir, the teams at Mid Pennine Arts and Lancashire Libraries – it’s been like the best ‘virtual’ Pie & Chips Supper Ever!
You can now listen to the first episode of the podcast, created in partnership with Lancashire Libraries and Libraries Connected. The three part series is entitled This Slavery, and you’ll find the first episode, Pies, Chips & Politics, on Our Podcasts page.
You can also hear more about the process of making the podcast, and about Ethel, at a FREE online event for International Women’s Day on the 8th March 2021. Find all the details HERE.
MPA is very grateful for the support we have received through COVID-19 emergency funds, from sources including Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, CAF, Burnley Borough Council and HM Government Cultural Recovery Fund. This support continues to be vital in helping us survive the pandemic and carry on developing some very special projects. Thank you!
It is two years now since our Radicals team embarked on an enquiry into the singular life and work of the extraordinary Ethel Carnie Holdsworth. Now Janet Swan reports on two exciting developments in swift succession, which give a wonderful new impetus to our ongoing research into Ethel.
Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, mill girl turned literary celebrity, was the first subject chosen in an ever expanding cast list of Pendle Radicals. Ethel was always likely to surprise us as we uncovered more and more about her. And now, through our project, her work and her story are to be the focus of further regional and national attention, thanks to two separate but equally welcome initiatives.
For an introduction to Ethel, her working class and socialist roots and her writing, please search for her name in the drop-down list of categories on this blog. Previous entries include a report on our first artefact, the new audio recordings we commissioned of some of her poetry, now uploaded in recognition of her importance by the national Poetry Archive.
Since then, we have created an original performance for Great Harwood Library, commissioned by Spot On, and inspired by that, a group of us* started to work towards the idea of a podcast… an audio retelling of the part of Ethel’s story that relates to her writing.
While we were in the process of musing how best to portray Ethel, while at the same time portray some of the thinking that went into her novels, serendipity struck! We were approached by a partnership of the BBC Novels project, Lancashire Library Service and Libraries Connected (a national body that aims to maximise the offer from libraries). A podcast on Ethel would suit them very well…
Thanks to this exciting collaboration, it will soon be possible to download and to hear the first of a three part podcast series, focusing on Ethel’s most important novel, This Slavery, which will also be available to borrow from Lancashire Libraries.
This Slavery deserves this attention. It is the story of a family of women including two sisters – Rachael and Hester – who are living through a time of great hardship. The novel is a love story, because Ethel knew that this is what women like her were most likely to read at this time, but it also helps portray two views about how working class women could lift themselves out of the hardships of being mill girls.
Because of the importance of this novel – i.e. that it is considered one of the most important early novels by a working class woman – it is hoped that we will have commentary on the podcast by Dr Nicola Wilson – associate professor at the University of Reading with specialist interests in feminism, class and publishing. Nicola has been involved with our project before – giving a talk about Ethel at Great Harwood Library in 2017 and again in 2019.
And it is because of our links with Dr Nicola Wilson that we have a new academic collaboration to report, and a PhD about Ethel! Now being advertised as a fully funded collaborative doctorate, the PhD is entitled ‘Songs of a Factory Girl: Ethel Carnie Holdsworth and radical working-class women’s writing’. Alongside Nicola Wilson, the team supervising the study will include MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt (with our team of Radicals researchers) and Dr Simon Rennie – Senior Lecturer in Victorian Poetry at the University of Exeter and creator of a database of poetry in response to the Lancashire Cotton Famine.
The first part of the doctorate will focus on cataloguing Ethel’s disparate writings. As we ourselves have discovered, Ethel wrote extensively in newspapers, and these can only be found with special study and tools such as the Digital Humanities Lab at Exeter University. The impact of these writings on her novels will be explored and also the student will be able to assess Ethel’s legacy and creative impact. Some of this impact has been stimulated by the Pendle Radicals project and accordingly the student will be located with Mid Pennine Arts at times, and make their own creative contribution to the Radicals project.
Ethel, who was successful because she was certain of herself and her cast and who knew how to boldly portray her people, has once again inspired others. This funding from the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Programme is extremely important and will help inspire a national reassessment of her work.
*The group working on the podcast includes Jules Gibb who is writing the script, Liz and Scott Robertson who will be producing, directing and adding sound effects, and Janet Swan, project coordinator. We’re delighted also to welcome Geoff Bird, Radio 4/World Service/freelance producer, as our mentor/production adviser.
It’s just a nondescript one chord teenage angstism.
40 years later, and catalysed by Mid Pennine Arts (no hyphen), who were there right at the start, the idea of a celebration of the local punk scene is born. It slots neatly into Mid Pennine’s Pendle Radicalsproject. We’re close to Pendle (I have a splendid view from the ranch) and by jove we’re radical.
It’s Boff’s idea and Casey and I complete the working party. We’re soon meeting regularly with Nick and colleagues at Mid Pennine.
It’s not just an old farts’ revival party – it’s a multi-dimensional, cross-generational thing.
There’ll be a gig + an exhibition of then and now pics of some of the main protagonists + a fanzine-like publication with interviews with aforementioned by me and Boff. Casey (a photographer) takes the pics. There’ll also be a film of the night, then the exhibition and associated talks and giglets will tour Pendle. Neat.
It gathers interest and momentum. What shall we call it? Sick of Being Normal? Why not? It somehow captures the then-and-now anti-establishment irreverence.
What’s important is to feature how the punk movement has moved into and influenced the current generation. We find MeLeona rapper and the house band for the night is half oldies and half youngies.
Like any big project, it’s not without hitches. We thought we’d found the perfect venue – the old Kippax factory in Colne, now a skating rink. It falls through and we have to find somewhere else at short notice.
Coincidentally, Jamie Cunningham, another local muso mover and shaker is putting on events upstairs at the Burnley library. He uses one of the large majestic rooms. The mirror-image one across the way is empty. It was originally the children’s library. The atmosphere is amazing and the architecture is stunning. Bingo.
It’s not all plain sailing. Is it Pendle enough? Is it big enough? Can we stay late enough?
Coincidentally there’s a cool new bar in town The Gallery at Creative Arts.It all clicks into place. We can have the gig at the library and an after-party with DJs at the bar. Cool.
The last minute preps are frantic. It sells out and suddenly everyone want to come.
Can you get me a ticket?
It’s alright on the night. It’s more than alright. It’s an astonishing success. Khany comes from America and people travel from all over. The after-party is a blast.
Originally we were aiming for the end of the year (2019) but realised that was over-ambitious, so we went for early 2020. January is a non-starter. We discussed waiting until spring, but opted for early Feb. Was it insight? Was it intuition? Probably not. Any later, and it would have been another Covid victim.
Then Lock-down comes and for me, it really is lock-down. I work in a f’ing hospital innit!
Music goes out of the window, but the seeds are sewn and the project has its own quiet momentum. Now the film is finished and off we go again. We’re doing the digital online shit which isn’t my bag but it’s still punk and we’re still sick of being normal.
Stephen ‘Sage’ Hartley is the guitarist in cult East Lancs band Notsensibles, an A & E consultant, author, record label owner, printmaker and small scale organic farmer! Read more musings from Sage on his blog – Hartley’s Plot.
On Saturday 8 February 2020 we had a wonderful evening of music, photography, words and print as the Sick of Being Normal exhibition and event looked back at the punk explosion in the Pendle Hill area in 1979-80, and its legacy. It was the launch of Casey Orr’s exhibition, which was due to be at Burnley Central Library until Easter and then travel on to other venues in Pendle. Of course, Covid-19 meant that plans changed!
At that February event was Feona Hadcroft, a Master of Fine Art student at UcLAN in Preston. As part of her MA Feona wrote a review of the exhibition, which we are excited to share with you.
Feona says that through her studies she has… discovered a love of print and delving into the realms of memory! It has been such good timing for the punk exhibition as I am linked in many ways to each of the ‘old’ rockers within the Pendle punk scene. I was young at the time, but my brother used to take me along ‘occasionally’. Their attitudes affect my way of thinking and doing to this day!
If only I had realized how monumental
‘that day’ way back in the late 70’s was to be!
The day I helped my brother fashion
a necklace out of a slice of toast and string…
SICK OF BEING NORMAL
Pendle Punk Forty Years On
Photography exhibition – Casey Orr
Photo-zine writings – Boff Whalley and Stephen Hartley
Part of the Pendle Radicals project, led by Mid Pennine Arts
That 0282 Place – Burnley Central Library – 8th February to 18th April 2020
Renowned documentary photographer, Casey Orr (b.1968 Pennsylvania), has lived in England for 14 years, working as a freelance photographer and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University. Orr’s work is about systems of power and breaking down barriers, so fits beautifully within this exhibition. Sick of being Normal is an exhibition celebrating what was and what developed from the way the ‘then’ younger generation felt. Casey’s colour photographs document twelve of the notable people, perhaps, the better-known radicals of yesteryear. Images and interviews in the large-scale photo-zine publication fig:1, part of the exhibition, help to shed light on how lives were changed by the local and national events of 1970/80’s. The publication also includes writings from internationally famous Chumbawamba songwriter Boff Whalley and Stephen Hartley, original member of Pendle’s well known ‘local’ punk band the Notsensibles.
TAPE THAT LEAVES A STICKY RESIDUE WHEN REMOVED
Casey’s poster sized prints are predominantly grouped on two adjacent walls, displayed as they would have been on my bedroom wall back in the late 70’s – 80’s, conjuring up a nostalgic feeling of my own youth and probably that of many who view this exhibition. The way the photographs were fastened to the wall by short strips of brightly coloured fluorescent duct tape, signifies the strong colourful bunch who were ready to fight the world, and say how about we do it a little different! It seems fitting that the photographs have been exhibited in such a way, simple yet very effective. In this exhibition, we take a time travelling journey exploring the explosion of the Pendle Punk scene in 1979-80. Through the exhibition and publication, we can gain an understanding of Pendle Punks legacy.
One thing I note as I look at Casey Orr’s images, is each of these people have lived their lives by pushing boundaries, they have lived their lives wanting to challenge things that are not how they should be. These people are Generation PUNK, you can see the battle scars on every one of the people photographed by Casey. Casey’s images are displayed amongst several spunky old black and white photographs, each capturing fuzzy moments in time, snap shots of the ‘then’ and Casey’s ‘now’. This juxtapositioning allows me to shed light on the injustice, inequality and the sidelined aspects of society, that each of the documented have probably endured over time. Showing me the reality of the forty-year gap.
ROCK BOTTOM IS THE FIRE IN ROCK AND ROLL
Newspaper cuttings, black and white photographs and the occasional album cover, artifacts of the yester-youth in this exhibition show me there was hope. It was the late 1970’s and the people of the United Kingdom were ready for change. Britain had just experienced ‘the winter of discontent’, the pound had plummeted, and inflation rates soared. Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Conservative party had now been newly elected the UK’s Prime Minister – Thatcherism was happening and change was inevitable, people had nothing, jobs were in short supply. Many of the younger generation were now unemployed or on a government funded Youth Opportunity Programme. The wage of a YOP was £19.50 per week, this was apparently to encourage the younger generation to find employment. The average weekly wage in the UK (1979) – for men £101.30 and women £63 … why were women paid so much less than men? Anyway, the younger generation felt robbed, they were being used as cheap labour, it was depressing times for all. Punk reacted against 1970’s authoritarianism; when you hit rock bottom it ignites a yearning for change.
A powerful sense of creativity added fuel to the new beginning, people were coming back from visiting the Big Cities, such as London and New York with tales of Anarchy and protest. The massive Punk explosion of these big cities took a few years to fully filter through to the Northern villages and small towns. The voice of prominent punk bands such as The Clash and Sex Pistols were being heard, it was time for change. The punk scene had not fizzled out, and the death of Sid Vicious from a heroin overdose – New York (1979) had not been the end, the blue touch paper had been ignited. Creative ripples had been set in motion; PUNK was indeed not dead. It was just about to ‘go off’ big time, in a colourful display of Lancashire creativity, a fast-paced and hard-edged urgency was picking up speed UP North.
THEY COULDN’T BE NORMAL – EVEN IF THEY TRIED
Stephen Hartley, founder member of the self-acclaimed ‘first’ Pendle Punk band The Notsensiblesfig:2, had helped to record the time with his camera, his black and white images are excellent artifacts. Without the likes of Stephen Hartley, much of the Pendle Punk scene would have not happened, he was one of the privileged few. Thankfully, amongst the punk scene there were teenagers who came from stable backgrounds, ones who had parents who believed in them, ones who had access to transport and instruments, and then there were the families like mine, the ones who couldn’t have begun to pretend to be normal even if they tried.
I am eternally grateful to the privileged ones, for this is where the story developed. Young creatives who were able to get there, energetic do’ers, the go getters, youths from the small towns and villages in and around Pendle, catalyst for Pendle Punk. Ones who fought adolescentboredom and now adultness.
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE – FAST FORWARD 40 YEARS
The dust has settled, it seems fitting that the gallery space of Burnley Central Library’s old children’s library, is once again a place for quiet contemplation. I spoke to Jamie Cunningham at That 0282 Place he was there on the opening night; he told me about the buzz he had felt, people dipping in and out all night. The gallery was filled with many who were just teenagers at the time, familiar faces, who had been part of the Pendle punk scene. Joined in unity once again, sharing memories together. The reunion was an equitable part of the exhibition, in equal measure to the music, writings and photography. Creatives had travelled great distances to get there for the opening night, some from as far afield as Australia. One of the musicians had even traveled all the way over from America, just to perform on the opening night. But for some the distance needed to travel was a far greater challenge, it was a journey they ‘maybe’ had to conquer in their own minds. Rock-n-roll people came to the opening ‘whom’ only had a few road miles to travel yet, they had to overcome the barriers of self, the greatest distance of all to trek. Thankfully these creatives were able to push forward and leave the confides of their homes and join the unity, the powerful draw of creativity. Unfortunately, for some of the important Pendle punk participants it was impossible to arrive at all, these were there simply in the memories shared.
A SLICE OF NECKLACE
One of the notorious punks Pepe Bona lead singer out of Walter Mitty’s Head, a better-known energetic band of the time, was unfortunately unable to make the opening night. Boff Whalley in his writings, mentions a moment shared with Pepe and others at a gig some forty years ago.
Unforgettably, Pepe turned up at a punk gig at the Lowerhouse cricket club wearing a piece of toast around his neck. As the night wore on, people took bites out of it.
Boff Whalley (SOBN photo-zine 2020)
I was thrilled to read this in Boff’s writings, as Pepe is my older brother. I had stood with Pepe in our kitchen, when he was making this necklace. Boff’s memory transported me back in time so vividly, I can even smell the aroma of bread, toasting. We had laughed so much, and I can knowledgeably inform you that the bread was not just any old bread, it was a ‘Warburtons’ thick sliced, toasty white. What a fantastic point in time to have been swept back to. Such a shame I don’t have an actual photograph of this moment, although in my memory I do!
I found Pepe ‘captured in time’, on one of the grainy enlarged photographs fig:3 taken by Stephen Hartley or Sage as Stephen likes to be called. Pepe looks so very young in the black and white photograph, they all do. Standing on the right of the picture, leaning backwards into the group of creatives, wearing a sharp white edged blazer, the piping sewn on to the jacket by his own design. The carrier bag slung over his wrist is pre–brand advertising, a simple white carrier bag, I am confident the bag contains records, records bought in London. He was celebrated there too!
HE UNDERSTANDS THE PASSING OF TIME
As I walk around the exhibition, I am instantly drawn to Ticker Le Punkfig:4, one of the largest posters in the set – does this scale in size define his importance within the Pendle Punk scene. Ticker looks cocky, he seems to exude a deeply rooted attitude, In the loveliest of ways! You can tell he has ‘seen stuff’. It’s not about how Casey executed the photograph i.e. which shutter speed she uses, but instead the true representation of the human and their inner most experiences. You can feel Tickers unease at having a camera pointed in his direction, a little awkward, yet exuding a certain air of Rock and roll, you can see he meant to do it … all of it. ‘It’s life you see, and I want to do it my way’, I imagine him say from the confides of the photograph. He looks shy and yet exudes confidence in himself.
Ticker Le Punk – he’s stood there in a Stetson hat, like the one Bono won back in a legal battle (2005) worn on his Joshua Tree tour… YET, Tickers looks cool, much cooler than Bono. Ticker wears his leopard print Stetson with a pure rock and roll attitude a deep-seated air of pride – Like he knows stuff.
THE OLDER YOU – LIKELY YOU
Casey enables us to see into his world and better understand it, the world of the punk lives through photographic portraiture. It is easy to see from the emotions she managed to capture that Ticker is indeed rock-n-roll and everything that the punkrock movement stands for. I am intrigued by the flash of red neatly tucked under Tickers lapel fig:5, what are these slightly obscured writings upon a bright red patch. Is this simple language of the handwritten message, peeking out from behind the pinstriped suit jacket, partially hidden on purpose like his emotions? The uppercase sentence boldly fashioned with tippex, each word yelling. Capital letters emphasizing his message, is he expressing profound truths! Just enough showing to create interest, enticing you in, to work it out yourself if you want to spend the time.
I do want to spend the time, but so we are all on the same page, I decided to give Ticker Le Punk a call and ask him to discuss the rest of the concealed wordage. He was happy to reveal the hidden message and highlight the shirt’s origin too …
THE OLDER YOU ARE THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO BE WRONG… THE YOUNGER YOU ARE… BE REASONABLE AND DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE
The fusion of these two sayings and the striped design were all hand painted in a totally punk DIY fashion, it reminds me of Dame Vivienne Westwood’s creations. Prominent British fashion designer Westwood was largely responsible for bringing modern punk fashions into the mainstream.
DIFFERENCE IS NORMALITY
The opening night saw a live performance from the long-standing post punk group Screech Rock, singing songs with titles such as Baby You’re a Scab. One of the singers Lindsey Walsh, a beautiful creature, looks and acts so differently when not onstage. Lindsey Walsh artist, DJ and singer (top left fig:6) has been a close friend for many years. She is one of the people who helped me to understand, at a young age, normality is in your own head. It seems fitting seeing her stuck to the gallery wall in such a DIY fashion, on a slight slant encapsulating the era.
In the photograph, Lindsey stands in front of her trailer, her home based at Prospect Farm, Colne. She is slight and so wears two coats, a leather bomber jacket under a blue mac, the clothing and lighting suggest a brisk winter’s day. Her eyes shielded yet, at the same time magnified by her oversize ClarkKent style spectacles, appearing most humble. Lindsey is well recognized by her trademark dreadlocks, and the shortest of rebellious fringes I have ever known. Casey has caught Lindsey outside her everyday groove, she is captured in a moment of contemplation, pausing in her thinking. Her expression at odds with the atmosphere of what is going on around her, out of shot, creating a certain sense of warmth in her eyes. She says that she has kept all her values from punk… “friends, feelings and the vibe, everything. Simple.”
CREATIVITY – ANYONE CAN DO IT
Documentary photography is often used to aid the bettering of society, this wasn’t necessary, many of the people in the photographs had already done that. These people are punk rockers, key protagonists in their ‘normal’ daily lives. Importantly, Casey and Stephen’s photographs and the broad sheet photo-zine facilitate a better understanding, a reflection of the world of punk through the exhibition of photographic portraiture, recollections and time. It’s clear to see the people who experienced the Pendle Punk wave convey a very simple message, beautifully. These people have carried the punk ethos forward into their lives, acceptance of others; the fortunate ones that survived are the ‘punk’ pensioners of today, ‘almost’. So much has happened in the last forty years, I wonder what the story will be of these radical thinking non-conformist revolutionaries, ‘eighty years’ on? Hopefully, I will witness the next celebration, proud to have experienced the initial outer ripples of the punk revolution, in Pendle.
ARE WE HUMAN OR ARE WE DANCER?
In the light of COVID-19: are we ready for a relapse of the happenings of 40 years ago? Can the ‘world’ accommodate the explosion that should ensue, when people ‘en masse’ are given time to find their ‘self’?
If ‘collectively’ there are more protagonists, holding PUNK values … ‘non-conformity, anti-authoritarianism, anti-corporatism, a DIY ethic, anti-consumerist, anti-corporate greed, direct action and not ‘selling out’, … anarchy could catch-on on a scale that is incomprehensible, worldwide! Given time to stop and think, will ‘the 20/20 visionaries’ see that ‘together we go further’ and fight for an anti-establishment world and individual freedom, cutting free from the strings of automata – OR – just simply sit ‘bored’ on the naughty step and await ‘Normality’!?
If only I could teleport back
to the time when it all seemed less complicated
and shake the ones who went out and forgot to go home
Contributors to Pendle Radicals are developing a series of themed Radicals walks. After the Two Toms, celebrating two pioneers of the countryside movement, comes this homage to two inspirational campaigning women. Bob Sproule gives a preview of this urban/rural trek linking historic locations in Nelson and Earby.
Barbara, Ruth and I left Nelson bus station and headed up Railway Street under the railway bridge and crossing. Passing a number of streets we came shortly to Vernon Street. Here we arrived at Unity Hall, formerly the Nelson Independent Labour Party’s Socialist Institute. The foundation stones for the Institute were laid by our two subjects, Selina Cooper and Katharine Bruce Glasier, in 1907. This was pre-lockdown, and the Revive Café was open, so we could go inside, marvel at the ILP (Independent Labour Party) mosaic in the entrance hall as well as photos of Selina, Katharine and the people in whose honour the stones were laid.
Watch for latest news of post-Covid opening and Nelson Town Council’s exciting Selina Cooper project on their website.
We left Vernon Street and made our way through Nelson’s terraced streets to St Mary Street, where at number 59 we found the plaque on Selina’s former home. The plaque told of some of the campaigns Selina was involved in, but obviously could not give all the detail of an extraordinary life, that included being the first woman to represent the ILP when in 1901 she was elected as a poor law guardian. Despite being a full time worker from age 13 and with scant formal education, she became one of the four women selected to present the case for women’s suffrage to then Prime Minister Asquith in 1910 because of her skills at oratory and debate.
Leaving St Mary Street, we soon arrived at the Leeds Liverpool Canal which then provided a delightful 1:8 mile walk to Barrowford Locks. The Reverend Thomas Leonard officiated at Selina’s marriage, and here we cross the Two Toms Walk, as our emerging network of Radicals’ walks seems to mirror the network connections made by some of our Pendle Radicals!
A further 1:4 miles of glorious canal walking took us to the mouth of that wonder of engineering, the Foulridge Tunnel. Here we walked past Slipper Hill Reservoir, complete with hunting heron, past Sand Hall uphill in a tunnel of trees providing shade on a hot day and arrived at the road from Standing Stone Lane down to Foulridge.
Footpaths and lanes took us through Hey, Hey Fold and to a mill which is on a way marked Historic Waterways Circular Walk. We crossed the canal at Mill Hill Bridge and headed off across fields to Kelbrook. In Kelbrook we admired the village hall, a former old National School, as we walked up to Heads Lane to meet the Pendle Way.
A wonderful walk along a section of the Pendle Way with great views north meant we eventually arrived at Birch Hall Lane where Katharine lived from 1922 until her death in 1950.
A full information board tells you that in 1893, upon the birth of the ILP, Katharine was the only woman on its administrative council. She led campaigns for pit head baths, nursery education and school meals and in 1919 was involved in the founding of the Save the Children Fund.
Following her death, discussion took place on how Katharine’s life could be commemorated. It was decided the house would be converted into a Youth Hostel and among the many organisations donating were the National Union of Miners. The Earby Youth Hostel opened in 1958. It is worth remembering that on the first board of the Youth Hostel Association was that other Pendle Radical, the Rev Thomas Arthur Leonard.
A night’s stay at the now independent Earby Hostel is highly recommended.Please note that after lockdown, the Hostel has been temporarily converted to offer single occupancy for summer 2020.
Then the following day, particularly if you have tried out the Two Toms Trail, you might be inspired to walk the half mile or so up to the Pennine Way, first mooted back in 1935 in Tom Criddle Stephenson’s article in the Daily Herald, and follow the acorn-marked route, all the way to Scotland.
Bob Sproule’s detailed route directions are available on request. The Radicals research team will continue to develop this emerging series of Walks with Radicals, which we hope to make available as downloads from the forthcoming Pendle Radicals website.
Last Sunday, 13 June, should have been a big day in the calendar for Clarion House. For 125 years, on Clarion Sunday, riders from Clarion cycling clubs across the north have converged on this historic location, but this year the virus intervened. Artist Alan Ward will be celebrating Clarion Sunday 2021 with a multimedia project for Pendle Radicals. In the meanwhile, he marked the Clarion Sunday that wasn’t with this introductory missive to the cycling clubs, and the gift of a virtual ride to the one and only Clarion House.
Clarion Sunday 2021 Sunday 13 June The Fellowship of the Wheel (working title)
An artist’s project by Alan Ward to celebrate this unique and historic event.
We are looking forward to seeing you next year, it is disappointing that Clarion Sunday hasn’t been able to happen this year, as I’d been looking forward to working alongside MPA, to create an artist engagement with your cycling community. By way of a small homage to the rides you would have made, I have created a little lock down virtual ride to Clarion House from my home in South Manchester.
Clarion Sunday Virtual Ride 14.06.20 from Alan J Ward on Vimeo.
Just prior to the shutdown, I’d purchased a gravel bike to begin to explore a little more off tarmac. My ride encompasses some of those surfaces, as I make my way through Greater Manchester. The film was made using a mapmyride plotted route, which was imported into the wonders of the Google Earth app. It’s a little bit of fun and references the fly-throughs of TDF stage previews and dreaded spin classes.
For Clarion Sunday 2021, we want to make your day a bit more special, and offer you something to remember it by.
I am an artist, photographer and designer, but also a devotee of cycling culture. I would like to document your club rides to Clarion House next year, using the data provided by tools like Strava and Garmin, and include photographs and notes from the journey to Jinny Lane. Between now and then I will be seeking your help with planning this. On Clarion Sunday 2021, I will be present to take a formal portrait of each rider with their mount, using a pop-up studio, and MPA will thank participants with a small one-off memento of Clarion Sunday to take away. Afterwards, I will assemble and interpret all the material gathered into a limited edition publication, and each participant will be sent a copy, with MPA’s compliments.
If you are interested in taking part you can contact me by email
Clarion Sunday is already a very special event. Through this project, we want to capture some of that, and give your members something unique to remember it by. We hope you will be willing to help, because we can’t do it without your participation. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you next year!
Alan Ward is our designer for Pendle Radicals and the Radicals Trail, but also a practising artist and a devotee of cycling culture. Read more about his projects on his website , including the extraordinary Photographs from Another Place.
Writer/composer/musician/fell runner Boff Whalley is one third of the creative powerhouse behind Sick of Being Normal. Back in the punk moment, he was a stalwart of Chimp Eats Banana. Boff considers how that unruly creative flowering has stayed with so many contributors through their later lives, and how punk in Pennine Lancashire has contributed to a longer story of nonconformism, independence and dissent.
History is a slippery, shape-shifting thing. I found out long after I’d left school that all the history I’d learnt had been filtered through someone’s opinion and that it could be changed to suit whoever was doing the telling. In my case, at school it came via a few dog-eared standard textbooks that, judging by the roll-call of pupils’ names listed inside the front cover, had been around for decades. It also usually came via a boring teacher who was clearly bored stiff of teaching bored kids about the boring stuff in the boring books.
Years later I realised that history could be relevant, exciting and crucial to the way we understand the world. Which didn’t make it any less of a shape-shifting thing – the same event could still be re-told in completely different ways, and time itself could shape our opinions: over a period of many years, the things that initially seemed outrageous and anti-social could be accepted as innovative, crusading and essential to the way we lived.
Reading old newspapers from the time of the suffragettes you’d never believe that these pioneering women would one day be championed and celebrated. (The Guardian at the time declared that the actions of the suffragettes were “such as one was accustomed to attribute to women from the slums” while a Daily Mirror editorial was simply titled ‘Let The Hunger Strikers Die!’).
Fortunately the chosen Pendle Radicals that are being celebrated in the ongoing MPA series are old enough (and, frankly, dead enough) to have come through being pilloried and criticised and we can now collectively agree on how the suffragettes and suffragists, along with the trades union organisers, nonconformists, pacifists, Chartists, Clarion clubbers and more, are remembered as inspiring trail-blazers.
I was wondering about all this history stuff a couple of years ago, realising that a lot of the firebrands and rebels who I’d looked up to were still dotted around the world, working away and still passionate and driven in their radical ideas. Pacifists, theatre-makers, poets and anarchists, demonstrators, feminists, writers and activists. And it dawned on me that it would be good to try to weave into our local and regional histories of radical subversives and free-thinkers those people who I’d grown up with, ordinary kids who made their own little history in the Pendle area, fired up by punk and by opposition to Thatcher’s ‘no such thing as society’ ideology to create their own social community.
This is how Sage, Casey and me first came together to talk about the Pendle Punk exhibition – not as a nostalgic look back, not as a sort of school reunion with hair dye, but as a way of incorporating those strange and inspiring times into ‘proper’ history, a history that’s survived the ridiculous headlines and cliches (as the Burnley Express headline said at the time, ‘MP Slams Obscene Punk Magazine’) and become a small part of the story of the Pendle Radicals. Maybe it was also a way of rescuing that little slice of history from being shape-shifted by London-centric cultural commentators, a way of saying that we can tell our own history in the way we want it to be told.
And the way we wanted it to be told was with large-scale portraits of those punks as they are now, with a newspaper to give them space to talk about the way their lives were altered by those times. By holding an opening event that partly reflected the music of those days but could be mixed up with what’s happening now, how that punk aesthetic still resonates with a young grime artist. By filming interviews with people and giving them the chance to think and talk about what that punk culture meant historically and what it can mean personally, now. And by holding this exhibition the hope was that we could situate the East Lancashire punk explosion within the history of the infamous Pendle Radicals – even if only as a nagging, sleeve-tugging footnote.
When the opening of the exhibition was held at Burnley Library I was worried about it turning into simply an excuse for nostalgia; and though I love the idea of meeting up with a lot of those folks who I haven’t seen for decades, this had to feel like more than that. Even digging through my old badge collection for them to be photographed for the exhibition reminded me how loudly political the punk movement in the area was – and at the Library, talking to people who’d travelled from all over the place to be there, I was told constantly how those few years had changed and shaped people’s lives, made them socially aware, responsible, questioning, radical.
History will always be ‘up for grabs’, available to be twisted and distorted by people. Which is why it’s essential and inspiring that local people can re-tell the stories of the folk from their area – whether it’s ancient or recent history – so that they aren’t forgotten, dismissed or just written out.
Sick of Being Normal will continue after the lockdown, with further showings of the exhibition by Casey Orr, and additional special events. Watch out too for a short film captured at the February event, and further blog posts.
Fresh air and green space are precious commodities at present. Our Radicals researchers want to honour the pioneers who gave working class people a chance of sharing those bounties. Walking guide author and Pendle Radicals volunteer Nick Burton writes about T A Leonard and the collective joys of rambling and singing.
I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler, from Manchester way,
I get all my pleasure the hard moorland way,
I may be a wage slave on Monday,
But I am a free man on Sunday.
These words are the familiar chorus from Ewan McColl’s celebrated hiking song, The Manchester Rambler. It was a song written soon after and inspired by the Kinder Trespass of 1932 which has become synonymous with rambling. But what ramblers’ songs came before it? After all, rambling and singing were popular with the working classes of the industrial north in the 19th century and the two free communal pursuits went together so naturally. The story of our own Pendle Radical, Thomas Arthur Leonard, provides an interesting insight into how rambling and singing became dovetailed in perfect harmony.
T.A. Leonard (1864-1948) was a London born Congregational Minister who accepted the post as pastor at the Dockray Square Congregational Church in 1890. This church stood on the current Colne Library site and Leonard and his family took up lodgings in Keighley Road. Leonard himself described Colne as a, ‘bleakuplandtownship’ but it was here that he quickly put into practice his own philosophy of holiday-making: cheap, educational holidays in the countryside for the working class, a departure from the typical boozy and frivolous Wakes Week holidays most mill workers spent in crowded seaside resorts.
Like many other non-conformist churches, the activities at Dockray Square church were organised through a social guild. The guild organised pastimes to improve the lives of their church members with educational evening classes, musical recitals, choir singing and, of course, a rambling club set up by T.A. Leonard himself. The rambling club enjoyed the local delights and fresh air of the Pennines and Ribblesdale until in June 1891, T.A. Leonard organised the first club holiday to Ambleside.
Leonard took a group of 32 Colne mill workers to stay at Smallwood House in Ambleside – this is still a guest house today. The cost of the holiday was 21 shillings including the rail fare. Days were spent on rigorous fell walks. Evenings were spent in communal fellowship with scientific lectures. The singing of songs was an integral part of both the walks in the day and the social gatherings in the evening.
The author Douglas George Hope, in his book Thomas Arthur Leonard and the Co-operativeHolidays Association, reveals that ‘a simple broadsheet’ of songs had been used in Leonard’s early walking holidays from Colne. We know that Auld Lang Syne was one of the songs included as Hope notes that this was traditionally sung at the social evening on the last day of Leonard’s holidays. After Leonard’s formation of the Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA) in 1893, Hope also notes that by 1897 the ‘simple broadsheet’ with popular hymns like Jerusalem had expanded into a CHA booklet of 38 songs – made up of ‘hymns and traditional songs such as John Peel and Strawberry Fair’.
Leonard’s successful Colne experiment led to him forming the national organisation of the CHA with affordable and educational walking holidays for both men and women. The earliest accommodation centres were in locations such as Ambleside, Keswick, Edinburgh, Barmouth, Whitby, Buxton and Conwy. It is interesting to note that another of our Pendle Radicals, Selina Cooper, the suffragist campaigner from Barnoldswick, helped run a CHA centre in Keld with her husband for a year.
The immediate success of CHA holidays is also reflected in the need for a bigger songbook. As Hope notes, the booklet of 38 songs produced in 1897 was replaced only a year later by a song book of 60 songs. This was known as Songs of Faith, Nature and Comradeship and was expanded in the early years of the 1900’s to include French and German songs as the CHA began to offer affordable international walking holidays in Europe in the years leading up to the First World War. The song book included La Marseillaise, Der Gute Kamerad (The Good Comrade) and the carol O Tannenbaum. Holidaying in France or Germany, the importance of these songs in cementing international friendships should not be underestimated.
T.A. Leonard with his pioneering spirit never rested upon his laurels. He parted company from the CHA in 1913 to form the Holiday Fellowship (HF). He felt the CHA was becoming rather middle class and conservative in its outlook and the HF was intended to return to that original philosophy of providing cheap, simple holidays for the working class. Yet he made sure he took his songbook with him and both the CHA and the HF used the Songs of Faith, Nature and Comradeship, the communal singing being as much a part of HF holidays as they were at CHA holiday centres. In 1922 the HF produced its own songbook, Songs by The Way which by 1929 had morphed into the booklet known as Songs of Faith, Nature and Fellowship. The HF singalongs cut out the traditional hymns and concentrated more on rousing folk songs. I am sure the likes of Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at was in there somewhere.
Leonard’s songbook, which had started as a simple broadsheet in Colne, lasted into the post-war days of the CHA and HF. Inevitably, the social and cultural changes in British holiday-making in the 1960’s led to the demise of communal singing both on walks and at the holiday centres. Increasingly, people used the CHA and HF centres to do their own individual thing, even go to the local pub in the evening (which would have been frowned upon by Leonard) or watch TV in the lounge. The CHA and HF had to survive in a world that had more choice for holidaymakers and they adapted by offering specialist activity and themed holidays.
Perhaps as a tribute to the Congregational minister who helped improve the lives of many East Lancashire mill workers, we can celebrate by singing his songs once again. The revival of interest in local choirs around Pendle Hill reflects the importance of singing – and rambling – as a free communal activity that is good for social interaction and, ultimately, for mental well being. We need to grasp the Songs of Faith, Nature and Fellowship and walk across the hill again in communal song. It will be a fitting tribute to the work of Thomas Arthur Leonard, the undoubted father of the British open-air movement which began in the shadow of Pendle Hill.
As the popular 1950’s rambling song, The Happy Wanderer, goes:
I love to go a-wandering
Along the mountain track
And as I go, I love to sing
My knapsack on my back
Nick will be back leading a series of Bowland history walks in autumn 2020. Read more on his own website. With other Radicals volunteers, he is also working on themed walks for the Pendle Radicals programme, including a Two Toms walk linking Leonard with Tom Criddle Stephenson. Watch out for details!
Thomas Arthur Leonard and the Co-operative Holidays Association by Douglas George Hope (2017)
Adventures In Holiday-Making by T.A. Leonard (1934)