The Preston Riots

Summer 1842.

Entrance to Horrock’s Mill, Preston.

Preston was a hotbed of industrial unrest in the early 19th century along with its association with radical politics due the towns rapidly growing working class. In the summer of 1842 a general strike by Staffordshire miners spread throughout the country. On 12th August several hundred Preston mill workers went on strike and gathered at Chadwick’s Orchard, now the site of the covered market, to listen to John Aitken, a mill worker from Manchester who was campaigning for better working conditions and demanding acceptance of the People’s Charter.

The Chartists.

Chartism was a working class movement for political reform that existed between 1838 to 1857. It was a national protest movement and took its name from the People’s Charter 1838 and over three million people signed a petition for more rights for the workers. In 1848 it was rejected by the government. Only 15 MP’s supported the motion to adopt the Charter.

The Riots.

Early the following morning a large crowd of 3,000 striking workers again assembled at Chadwick’s Orchard. News spread that some mills had resumed work, so between 7am – 8am the crowd started moving from factory to factory, ordering the workers to join the strike. Several mills were attacked and the plugs were pulled from the huge industrial boilers driving the looms, bringing work to a standstill (This became known as the Plug Plot Riots).

The striking mill workers regrouped on Lune Street, outside the Corn Exchange. A detachment of the 72nd Highlanders were stationed nearby at the Pitt Street barracks and their officers by coincidence where billeted at The Corporation Arms on Lune Street.

72nd Highlanders in Regimental Dress in the 1840’s.

The Confrontation.

The police were unable to deal with the unrest and requested the 72nd Highlanders be deployed to assist quell the riots. The rioters confronted 30 armed Highlanders, together with police officers from the county and borough constabularies outside the Corn Exchange on Lune Street. The crowd, including men, women and boys began throwing stones at the police and military lines of Redcoats.

Corn Exchange/Public Hall circa 1910.

Reading of the Riot Act.

The town Mayor Samuel Horrocks was also present and read out the Riot Act of 1714. This gave the authorities the right to use force to disperse unlawful assemblies and stop riots.

The Order to Fire.

The crowd refused to disperse, the violence escalated and the order to fire was given and at least eight men were shot, four fatally. The rioters fled in panic and the injured were taken to the House of Recovery.

Contemporary Drawing of the Riot.

It is not known who gave the order to fire, but during a trial of chartist leader Feargus O’Connor, police superintendent Bannister said Samuel Horrocks had given the order.

Article from The Preston Chronicle.

At about eight o’ clock, as the mob were proceeding up Lune-street, near the New Market, they were met by a body of policemen and the military.  The crowed commenced shouting and throwing stones.  On Captain Woodford making towards them, as if to arrest one of the parties, he was knocked down.  One of the constables in endeavouring to assist was struck a violent blow on the arm with a stick, and on the chest and in the face with stones.  An attempt was made to reason with the parties, and they were informed that if they did not disperse, and cease their riotous conduct, orders would be given to fire upon them.  The Riot Act was read, and the police having been beaten back, the order to ‘fire’ was given, and several were wounded… We hear that eight have been wounded – five mortally.  Notice has been posted on the walls that the Riot Act has been read.

Many believed the Mayor Samuel Horrocks should be tried for wilful murder.

Those Killed.

John Mercer, aged 27 of Ribbleton Lane, a handloom weaver.
William Lancaster, aged 25 of Blackburn.
George Sowerbutts, aged 19 of Chandler Street, a weaver.
Bernard McNamara, aged 17 of Birk Street, a cotton stripper.


Inquests into the deaths by a local jury were held at Preston County Court, and all four were ruled to be ‘justified homicide’.
Twelve men were put on trial for their part in the riots. All were found guilty and received prison sentences from nine months to two years.

The Preston Martyrs’ Memorial.

A permanent memorial to the cotton workers was unveiled on Lune Street, outside the Corn Exchange on 13th August 1992, the 150th anniversary of the shooting. The memorial was designed and produced by the British sculptor Gordon Young.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.


Lancashire Dialect

To Lancastrians learning English as a second language.

Forward from Fred Holcroft’s book, Lancashire English by Abson Books 1997:

The ‘Lankyshire dialect’ encompasses several different sub-dialects which peacefully co-exist between the River Mersey and the sands of the Lune. To the north of the region Lakeland and Northumbrian influences predominate, while to the South the posh people of Cheshire speak standard English. At one time or another Lancashire has been home to Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans, all of whom have left their stamp on the language, even if the accent does change from St. Helens through Wigan and Bolton to Preston, Burnley, Oldham, Rochdale and Manchester. Although the Scousers of Liverpool are historically and geographically part of Lancashire, they have evolved an accent, dialect and culture all of their own.

The nineteenth century and throughout the Victorian era and well into the twentieth century, was the golden age of the Lancashire dialect. Where some regional dialects have only survived in a rural atmosphere, the ‘Lankyshire dialect’ thrived during the industrialisation of the county. In fact the industries themselves were a rich source of new dialect words.

The ‘Lankyshire dialect’ survived almost untouched until after the Second World War, as can be seen from the 1930s and 1940s films of George Forby, Gracie Fields and Frank Randle, but first the eleven plus, then the comprehensive system and finally the gentrification of the working classes dealt it a series of body blows.

Yet the dialect lives on, kept alive not only by the grit of the people but by the efforts of the Lancashire Dialect Society.

‘Lankyshire Dialect’ Verse.

Love’s A Funny Game.

Our Bill’s started coo-erting
Young Nell fro’ o’er way
He rushes whoam fro’ wark each neet
And gollops down his tay.

An’ time he teks i’washin’
It fairly meks mi sick
An’ he will keep wearin’ his best shirt
Aa’ve washed it twice this wik.

He’s bowt some stuff cawed Brilliantine
He plasters on his yed,
Tha could a saved this brass, A sed,
Bi using lard i’stead.

He’s used up all mi blackin’
His boots they shine like glass
He even scrubs his fingernails
To try and plaise yon lass.

Aaa can’t get near mi slopstone
To do mi weashin’ up,
An’ if I sey owt to him
He sey, “Oh ma shurrop.”

He’s awmost fawin’ o’ er’isel
Aaa’ve towd him as clock’s fast
One mo’er glance i’ looking glass
By Heck, he’s off at last.

Aaa bet if I could see o’er way
Young Nellie’s doin’ same
Dollin’ up ta plaize aar Bill,
Eee, Loves a funny game.

Aaa guess we mun a bin the same
Afore we gotten wed
But my owd mon needs no lard neaw
He’s geet a reet bawd yed.

An’ me, Aam grey an’ stouter
But he sey he loves me same
Then he gets a kiss reet on t’bawd spot,
Eee, Loves a funny game.

Th’owd Mon’s Cup.

‘Ee’s bin an’ gone an dunnit
‘Ee’s tried for mony a yer,
‘Ee’s goin abeawt as preaud as Punch
Wi’ a smile from yer to yer.

“Ee’s allus loved ‘is bowlin’,
He belongs ta Pitmoor Club.
Yerl see ‘im a’most every neet
On’t green at back o’ pub.

They have a competition
Fer a luverly silver cup
But th’owd mon, ee’s unlucky
‘Ee’s bin allus runner up.

This afternoon ‘twert’ finals
So I went ta watch ‘im play.
I durn’t goo theer so often
It’s noan my cup o’ tay.

Bill un Nell un grandchilt
Went ta egg ‘im on a bit
Un I sat theer in’t sunshien
Wi’ a pur o’ socks to knit.

Bur I geet reet deawn excited
As th’ afternoon wore on,
Thi were gooin’ it neck un neck
Bur at last mi owd mon wun.

Then ‘ee ‘ad ‘is photo takken
Takin’ cup fro Councillor Day,
I ‘ad ter wipe a tear from mi een
Aa’m rayther daft that way.

An’ neaw it stons ont’ dresser
Thoowd mon’s joy and pride,
An’ I smiles when I see ‘im tirn it reawnd
To where ‘is name’s inscribed.

Both poems by Louisa Bearman born in Halliwell, Bolton 1899.

Louisa Bearman started work at thirteen in a Bolton cotton mill, getting up at 5.15am to be at her looms for 6am. Subsequently she was a shop assistant, working 8.30am to 8.30pm and 11pm on Saturdays; drove a horse-drawn bread delivery van during the 1914 – 18 war; worked on the land then moved to Birmingham to start an estate agency business with her husband. This flourished, but after being bombed out three times during the 1939 – 45 war she returned to Bolton, taking over an empty shop and producing forty meat and potato pies a day for a local mill.
In 1968 she went into hospital for an eye operation. “I wrote a poem about going blind. The sister found it in the waste-paper bin, where I’d thrown it. She showed it to a doctor, who said I ought to write more and perhaps have them published. I laughed – I’d been writing poems and throwing them away for much of my life.”
Now a widow, a great-grandmother and virtually blind (she dictates her verses to a friend), she has appeared on ITV’s Opportunity Knocks, broadcast with Radio Blackburn, and has one of her poems set to music by the BBC. A long playing record of her reciting her verse is to be released this year by Tangent on their Big Ben label.

This short biography is from a collection of dialect verse by different poets called Just Sithabod and published by Whitethorn Press in 1975.
Louisa Bearman died in 1985.

Louisa Bearman’s books are still in print and available.


Dad’s Medals.

It were smashin’ when eawr dad come whoam
After two – three pints at t’local,
He’d sit in th’armcheer next t’fire
Aw eloquent an’ vocal,
Then talk fer hours on t’Fost World War,
Of Tommies dead an’ gone

We’d duck wi’ him as shells whizzed past,
Rejoice at battles won,
An walk through trenches thick wi’ mud,
Learn words like ‘Kammerad’,
So on most Sundays came the cry
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

He’d geet five on ’em in a box,
He’d hand one to each son
Five pairs of hands caressed ’em
As he described each one.
“That’s when me leg geet done,” he’d say,
“Them flamin’ Gerry snipers!
Jackie Ball geet killed same day
In a place as we cawd ‘Wipers’
He were nobbut seventeen,” he’d sigh,
“A strappin’ Billinge lad.”
We was often sadder after sayin’
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Mind yo, his humour were a treat,
It weren’t aw death an’ shells,
He towd us beltin’ yarns abeawt
Yon famous Dardanelles.
One cowd day he copped a German,
“Ach! Gott Mit Uns,” he cried.
“Tha lucky – Ah’ve no gloves nor nowt!”
Eawr shiverin’ dad replied.
“Ah thowt as he said “mittens!”
Dad explained, we laughed like mad!
He towd it every time we said,
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Him an’ Harry Waterworth
Pinched a pig one neet.
“We geet fed up wi’ eytin rats,
It’s time we hed a treat!”
An’ we’d gasp “Rats?” an’ he’d say “Aye –
Get thissen a bet on,
We chased it aw reawnd Flanders fields,
Until it geet a sweat on,
An’ t’ Battalion dipped their bread in it,
It didn’t taste so bad!”
Aye, tears an’ laughter allus followed
“Show us thi medals, dad!”

Th’owd chap died a few months back,
T’lads didn’t skrike – we thowt
He’ll be back wi’ Jack an’ Harry
Talkin’ Army days no doubt.
Eawr mam give us a medal each,
We cherished ’em wi’ pride,
By God, when she bequeathed ’em
That’s when we really cried.
Tha reads o’ medals auctioned neaw
For paltry sums, it’s sad,
Tha cawn’t go sellin’ memories – nay,
We’ll keep these medals dad.

By Cliff Gerrard, born St. Helens in 1926, one of seven children – five boys and two girls. He died in 2000. A selection of Cliff Gerrard poems are included in Just Sithabod.

Priest Town.

Christ Sam wi ‘ave t’find this maniac an’ soon.”
Now that Meadowbank was alone with Huggins, he suddenly looked weary. Unshaven between his side-burns that ended at his jaw-line added to his appearance of fatigue.
  “Albert, get yersel’ to bed an’ ‘ave a kip. Yer can’t go on like this. If t’lads get a break through yer’ll need t’ bi wi’ it, not fit fer t’knackers yard. Phoebe Tanner wer reet, yer ‘aven’t bin in that bed o’ yers fer a couple a days. Anyway yer won’t listen t’ mi so I’m off t’ ‘ospital shortly an’ ‘opefully speak wi some doctors oo may or may not know abaht t’lucrative business o’ body-snatchin’ an’ t’illegal dissection o’ corpses. So what d’ yer think mi chances are o’ sortin’ this one owt?”
  “Put it this way Sam mi ol’ mate, I’d rather bi lookin’ fer yer four missin’ cadavers than this bloody lunatic that’s stalkin’ t’ streets. I know ‘e’ll kill again an’ again till ‘e’s stopped…”

A conversation in local dialect, between Detective Inspector Albert Meadowbank and Detective Sergeant Sam Huggins in Chapter Five of Priest Town.


Priest Town is again available as a free ebook download via the link at the top of the page and is also available as a paperback on Amazon.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.


Preston’s Miracle Cures

St. Walburge’s.

St. Walburge, the English daughter of a Saxon king, died in Germany in 779 and her remains were placed in a bronze shrine at the monastery of St. Walburge, built in her memory at Eichstatt, Bavaria and has been a place of pilgrimage since the middle ages.

Above, St. Walburge’s Shrine at Eichstatt.

Above, St. Walburge’s church and monastery at Eichstatt.

Every year between the 12th October, the anniversary of St Walburge’s death and the 25th February, a transparent liquid is mysteriously secreted from the shrine and to this day is still collected in a silver vase and known as St. Walburge’s oil. This liquid is said to have healing properties and over the centuries there are many claims of physical injuries being cured worldwide by the application of this liquid and plaques line the shrine wall in testament to this.

The Preston Miracles.

Above, Preston’s St Walburge’s steeple at 309 feet is the third highest in the UK, behind Salisbury and Norwich Cathedrals.

In 1853, Alice Holderness, working as a housemaid at St. Wilfred’s presbytery in Preston, fell and fractured a kneecap. The break did not heal and over time her doctor pronounced it incurable. A Jesuit priest heard about this and having a phial of St Walburge’s Oil visited the housemaid and applied a drop of the oil to the injured knee. According to witnesses, ‘the bones immediately snapped together and she was perfectly cured, having no longer the slightest weakness in the broken limb’.

News of the miraculous cure was met with scepticism and derision, but the Catholic priests, believing a miracle had happened, dedicated the new church to St Walburge.

In 1854 another cure was attributed to the oil. A Preston girl, Mary Meagre suffered from fits and convulsions causing severe injuries to the inside of her mouth. A local priest applied the mysterious oil to the girl and by next morning had been completely healed and remained free of the debilatating affliction for the rest of her life.

In 1858, a Preston nun named Sister Walburga Bradley was bedridden with a chronic stomach disorder, described by her doctor as terminal. A parish priest placed a thread soaked in St Walburge’s Oil on to the Sister Walburga’s tongue. Her recovery was instant to the astonishment of her doctor and nurses.

There have been no further recorded cures attributed to St. Walburge’s Oil in Preston.


In Fernyhalgh Lane near the village of Broughton on the outskirts of Preston, within hearing of the traffic noise from the busy M6, is an ancient Holy Well or Sacred Spring.

The Legend.

Legend has it, centuries ago a wealthy and religious Irish merchant survived a terrific storm crossing the Irish Sea. He found safety on the Lancashire coast and was commanded in a vision to erect a chapel to the Virgin Mary at a well called Fernyhalgh to show his devotion and gratitude.

The merchant eventually found the location and built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the natural spring has since been known as Ladyewell ( Ladye Well or Ladywell) and has had miraculous healing powers attributed to it.

The Shrine.

The natural spring at Fernyhalgh, as a place of worship goes back to the 11th century, to the time of pagan Anglo Saxons. There has never been a reported apparition or visitation here, but Christian prayer and devotion has continued at Fernyhalgh for over 800 years.

The shrine surrounded by ancient and protected woodland is a serene and reflective setting in the grounds of Ladyewell House, built in 1685 and St. Mary’s Catholic church built in 1794, and continues to attract many pilgrims.

There are a number of Christian relics at the shrine, the most important from Thomas Beckett, who was murdered in 1170  in Canterbury Cathedral on instructions of King Henry11. These relics have been authenticated.

‘Murder of Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral’ Painted by John Opie (1761 – 1807).

St. Ann’s Well, Inglewhite.

The small village of Inglewhite in the parish of Goosnargh is seven miles from the city of Preston.

Village Green, 16c Market Cross and Green Man Pub.

In a field in the grounds of Longley Hall Estate is the healing spring water of St. Ann’s Well. During the 19th century the well, horseshoe shaped, measuring 9′ x 7.5′ had stone steps leading down to the 3′ deep basin. There was once a stone at the site of the well with the inscribed Latin words: ‘FON SANCTA ANNAE’  which translates to ‘Saint Anne Spring’. Some of the spa stones were used in building a bridge at Goosnargh.

There is not much to see today, a neglected spring in a muddy cattle trodden field and little evidence of the stone built spa, popular for hundreds of years with pilgrims flocking to drink and bathe in the sulphur and iron rich healing water. A record of the well, written in 1700 states ‘the water had a sulphureous smell as strong as that of Harrogate … but contains little or no salt, which is the reason it is not purgative’.  A further record from 1740 states, ‘a strong sulphur and chalybeate (contains iron) water but purges not except drunk with salts”.

Reference source: Lancashire Legends by Kathleen Eyre Published by Dalesman.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

Preston’s Ghost Centurions

Roman Preston.

Where the rivers Ribble and Darwen meet at Walton Flats is the Capitol Centre, a large modern retail park. This site, on the outskirts of the city centre was once a Roman military supply depot, chosen for its access to the sea and their settlements throughout Lancashire. Excavations have shown that the Roman road from Wigan to Lancaster is under the retail centre car parks and crossed the Ribble near to where Walton Bridge is today.

Spectral Centurions.

Over the years there have been reported sightings of a Roman legion marching along the avenue in Avenham Park, following the River Ribble. This would have been the route to the Roman fort at Kirkham. The Roman soldiers have been described as walking ‘in the ground’ as if on a different level of land.

Avenham Park Where the Roman Legion Have Been Seen Marching.

The Ghosts of Fulwood Barracks.

Main entrance to Fulwood Barracks on Watling Street Road.

Around 2,000 years ago, a road ran from the Roman fort and settlement at Ribchester on the River Ribble to supply their port further down river at Lytham. The line of it has been preserved over the centuries and Watling Street Road in Fulwood follows the course to this day.

Like all Roman roads, it was arrow straight, until Fulwood Barracks was built squarely across it in 1892 and the road runs through the middle of what is the main parade square.

There have been sightings of a ghostly squad of Roman legionnaires tramping the path of the original Watling Street across the parade square and similar to the Avenham Park sightings, they are only seen from the waist up as the ground has risen over the past 2,000 years.

Roman Ribchester.

‘It is written on a wall in Rome that Ribchester was as rich as any town in Christendom.” This is an ancient saying whose origins have been lost in time, but may refer to a rough translation of the Latin inscribed on some artefact long since discovered and lost again!

The Roman settlement at Ribchester, called Bremetennacum Veteranorum meaning ‘the hilltop settlement of the veterans’ dates from AD 78 in the reign of the Emperor Vespasian when Britain was under the governorship of Julius Agricola. The Romans occupied Ribchester for over 300 hundred years and the soldiers were mostly cavalry, including Asturians from Spain and Samaritians from what is now Hungary.

Remains of Roman bath house at Ribchester.

The site of the fort is roughly where the church and churchyard now stand, although part of it is under the River Ribble as the flow of the river has altered over the centuries. Next to the fort was a Roman village where the civilians lived and the remains of this lie under the modern village.

Present day Ribchester.


Below is a reconstruction of the fort and settlement.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

Extracts from The Roman Riches of Ribchester by Elizabeth Ashworth via; the Lancashire Infantry Museum website & Preston’s Haunted Heritage by Jason Karl & Adele Yeomans published by Palatine Books.

Grave Cages

Keep the Dead Buried!


There are claims that heavy metal cages used in Victorian times to cover graves were to prevent  zombies and vampires from escaping their coffins should they rise from the dead.


The Victorians lived in God-fearing and superstitious times, terrified that the dead would walk again. It was a time of Gothic literature, of Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and stories of the macarbe, seances and table rapping, but it was not just the dead the Victorians feared, they feared for the dead.

Medical Research and Cadavers.

In 18th and 19th century England and Scotland, there was a high demand for human corpses for dissection by medical students.

Medical schools could only legally receive the bodies of executed criminals and unidentified corpses for dissection and anatomical lectures. By the early 1800’s there was not enough cadavers being provided to the medical profession to meet demand and medical schools began unlawfully paying for bodies from anywhere, no questions asked.


To meet the growing need for cadavers by medical and anatomical schools, grave robbing became a profitable trade, where the recently buried would be dug up and removed from their coffins then sold on to unscrupulous medical schools and universities. The fresher the bodies the more they were worth. These body snatchers became known as Resurrection Men or Resurrectionists.

Public Outrage.

It did not take long for the bereaved to realise that their dear departed were no longer safe from being exhumed in the churchyard or cemetery.

In an effort to protect the dead, the wealthy placed heavy stone tablets on top of the grave or secured the coffin inside a mausoleum. The poor organised vigils to guard the graveside and night watchmen were posted in cemeteries.  Body snatchers were resourceful and learned to dig around the protected graves and break into vaults and watchmen were easily paid off.

Some authorities, particularly in parts of Scotland where grave robbing was more common, built watch towers in cemeteries to protect the recently interred.

Watchtower Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Plaque at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Watchtower Dalkeith Cemetery, Mid-Lothian.

The Mortsafe.

To frustrate the Resurrectionist’s,  metal cages where placed over new graves and these were known as ‘Mortsafes’ (Mort being French for death).

First used in 1816 the iron mortsafes  were made of interlocking pieces of metal to form a cage which was partially buried within the grave, surrounding the coffin and making exhumation of the body nearly impossible.

After approximately six weeks, once the body had decomposed enough to make it no longer a saleable commodity for dissection/medical research, the cages were removed and reused, usually hired out to protect another vulnerable grave. As mortsafes were expensive to buy, families could rent them from the church or cemetery and were extremely effective in protecting the recently interred.

Burke and Hare.

The infamous William Burke and William Hare moved from Ireland to Scotland to work on the Union Canal in 1827. Hare ran a boarding house in Edinburgh and one of his tenants died. With the help of Burke they took the body to Edinburgh University and sold it to the medical school.

Encouraged by the easy method of making money, the pair went on a killing spree, suffocating their victims so to leave the body unmarked and free of wounds for the medical students.

They were arrested twelve months later, suspected of murdering at least sixteen people and selling their bodies on for medical research.  Hare was offered immunity in return for testifying against Burke.

William Burke was hanged at Lawnmarket in 1829 and after being put on public display, his body was donated to medical science.

After the trial Hare moved to London to start a new life, but was recognised and chased by an angry mob who threw him into a lime quarry. He is said to have lived out his days as a blind beggar on the streets of the capital.

Priest Town.

The following is an extract from Priest Town as the grave digger and grave robber, Titus Moon negotiates the sale of a body he has recently dug up:

A noise caught everyones attention, and a shaft of light briefly flashed deep in the passageway as a door opened. 

    Assertive footsteps echoed along the walls and then a tall man appeared from the darkness. He wore a long black apron over his waistcoat and matching black trousers. The sleeves of his crisp white shirt were secured by cufflinks.

He approached the cart, now resting at an angle on front legs, and put a hand on the tarpaulin.

  “So what have we got here Titus?’

  “A young boy sir. Passed away yesterday an’ buried less than twelve hour ago”. Titus sounded pleased.

  “An cause of death?” It was cultured voice of a man who knew what he wanted.

  “Vomitin’ an’ …” he paused for the word that eluded him. “Shittin’ sir”.

  “Ah! Dysentery. A resulting infection with the colonic epithelium. Hmm. I suppose I could still use the cadaver for tomorrow’s dissection class”.

  Professor Daniel Bailey was a very experienced surgeon and a tutor in human anatomy. His dissection and anatomy demonstrations were in constant demand by medical students from wealthy families and they paid handsomely for private tution in his laboratory at the rear of the medical college.

  Demand outstripped the supply of corpses legally supplied to the hospital by the authorities for medical research. This inadequacy forced the professor, with the full knowledge and support of two of his doctors, to obtain cadavers from elsewhere.

  How Professor Bailey and Titus Moon met is something that will be speculated about long after both men are dead. Suffice to say, both were corrupt, loathsome and incapable of comprehending the wretchedness of their horrific trade.

   “I shall take the corpse at reduced rate, mind you. A corpse putrefying with dysentery has limited use”. He turned away, as if receiving a whiff of the putrefaction he had referred to. “And you’ll get half my usual fee and be grateful for a guinea”. With a wave of his hand, indicating that Titus should follow, Professor Bailey turned, about to disappear into the dark passageway.

  “One minute Professor, that’s not enough”. Titus said quietly. The surgeon stopped and turned to face Titus, displaying an offensive smile of self importance.

  “Not enough? My dear Titus I think you’ll find it is more than enough”.

  “Nowhere near enough sir. I want ten pounds an’ I think you’ll be payin’ mi ten pounds an all”.

Ol’ Joe watched his friend closely, trying to work out what was going on. Even he knew ten pounds was an outrageous request.

  “Now why would I give you ten pounds for a piece of rotting meat?” It wasn’t really a question, but a prelude to a final dismissal.


Priest Town is available as a free ebook download via the above link.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

The Haunting of Miley Tunnel


The underground route of Miley Tunnel.

Early History.

The Preston and Longridge Railway Company was set up in 1836 to build a line from the newly opened Tootle Heights Quarry in Longridge to transport ashlar sandstone the six and a half miles to Preston via Miley Tunnel running under the north of Preston.

The line originally formed part of an ambitious plan to create a link between Yorkshire and the Lancashire coastal resorts. This idea was abandoned in 1852 with the collapse of Fleetwood, Preston & West Riding Railway  Company and the route remained a branch line, opening to passengers in 1856.

By 1930 the popularity of bus travel caused the line to close to passengers and closed completely to all traffic in 1967.

The Tunnel.

The tunnel actually consists of three tunnels, collectively called Miley,  separated by ventilation gaps and all together are 862 yards (788.2 metres) long running from Maudland Bank to Deepdale Street.


Maudland entrance running under Fylde Road.

Deepdale No. 1 Tunnel is 160 yards (146.3 metres) long, separated by a vertically sided cutting, supported by timber braces from No. 2 Tunnel, 272 yards (248.7 metres) long curving north followed by a short ventilation gap to No.3 Tunnel which is the longest at 383 yards (350.2 metres).

The Hauntings.

The ghost of a young girl named Margaret Banks aged 15 years fell from a train carriage when passing through Deepdale Station in 1866 and was dragged to her death. She is said to still haunt the tunnels with her blood curdling screams echoing   beneath the busy streets above.

There have been numerous sightings of a Grey Lady,  who stalks the tunnels and would appear and walk towards approaching visitors to ‘welcome’ them.

Whether these spirits do wander the rusting railway tracks, the tunnels do provide a daunting and claustrophobic atmosphere, as shafts of light filter the gloom and darkness, water drips from the Victorian brickwork and climbing weeds and undergrowth cling to walls that catch sunlight and in parts as the tunnels curve, rats scurry in the total darkness.


Above is the Deepdale opening.

The tunnels have been closed to the public for over fifty years now. A few years ago there were plans to run a modern tramline from Preston railway station to Redscar Industrial Estate at Ribbleton, using the Miley tunnel but would seem still to be in the early planning stage.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.


Lost Village of Singleton Thorpe

Lancashire’s flat coastline, lacking the protection of high cliffs has always been at the mercy of the raging sea.

Maps from before the late 1500’s indicate the North West coastline from south Lancashire up to Carlisle near to the Scottish border extended into the Irish Sea up to two miles further than it does today.

Along this coastline stood numerous small villages, hamlets and cottages built in the wattle and daub method (thin branches weaved between upright stakes and daubed with mud or clay).

Below are maps of ‘modern’ day Fylde coast.


The Tsunami.

On the 29th July 1555, during the reign of Queen Mary 1,  a catastrophic tidal surge, believed to have been caused by volcanic activity in the Irish Sea, washed in land for several miles, destroying twenty-six villages between Southport and Carlisle, including three on the Fylde coast. These were Kilgrimol at St. Annes, where the Old Links golf course is now, Waddam Thorpe at Squires Gate, Blackpool and Singleton Thorpe.

All three villages were swept away together with the great Forest of Amounderness, and numerous villagers lost their lives in the tidal waves which permanently altered the coastline boundary.

Singleton Thorpe.

Singleton Thorpe, situated on what is now a tidal beach between Cleveleys and Rossall was linked by road to the River Wyre estuary, near to present day Fleetwood. The villagers made their living through farming and fishing and the local pub, The Penny Stone Inn, famous for its penny pints of ale was situated a mile or so further south. The inn derived its name from the huge rock, close to the public house known as the Penny Stone, part of a stone circle called the Carlin and the Colts, which were shattered during the storm surge, leaving only the Penny Stone rocks standing.

The Penny Stone rocks can be seen at low tide across from the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool.

Petrified Forest Remains.

At low tide the tree stumps of Amounderness Forest can often be seen on Cleveleys beach.

Sand movement through the tide may cover or uncover these tree remains and over the years, especially after a storm many tree stumps and tree trunks have been exposed until the following tide.

There have been numerous expeditions to uncover the remains of Singleton Thorpe.  In 1893 the Blackpool Times organised a search to find the village, taking advantage of the lowest tide of the year. They found much evidence of the buried forest, rubble wall foundations of cottages, trenches filled with rough lime and cobblestones, manufactured pieces of timber, one measuring 17ft long and 13in wide and described ‘as plain as could be, the rafter of a large room’.

It was reported that nearer the sea the expedition searched the more was found.

The survivors from Singleton Thorpe moved inland and set up a new village called Singleton, which is still a thriving community.


Below is the sign at Singleton crossroads.

Sources of reference include: Lancashire Magic & Mystery by Kenneth Fields, published by Sigma Leisure, &

Photos courtesy of Google Images.