Following the “Peek at the Co-op” two weeks ago, were return to the theme today and the fact that it was 80 years ago, in 1933, that the Longridge Co-operative Society built on to the main store on Berry Lane (pictured).
A final extension in the 1970s completed premises which, at their start in 1879, contained just one of the many societies and organisations which sprang up in that half of the 19th century.
According to historian Tom Smith’s records, outlined in “A History of Longridge and its People”’ by JM Till, the Longridge Weavers Association, started in 1878 and was one of the last to be formed in that era.
The political organisations then already formed were the Longridge Liberal Association followed by the Conservative Association, with its new club “a plain but very commodious building on Berry Lane... handsomely furnished.”
There were several friendly societies as well as the Co-op, the oldest one being the Independent Order of Oddfellows, followed by the United Order of Catholic Brethren, the Longridge Independent Sick and Funeral Society, the Ancient Order of Druids Lodge 349, the Mechanics Club Pride of the Village Lodge, the Independent Order of Rechabites, the Floral Society, the Independent Church’s Mutual Improvement Society, plus the Longridge Debating Society, the Longridge Amateur Christy Minstrels and a “promising theatrical society” at St Wilfrid’s Church.
These groups must have catered for those – and others – who ran the 2,300 looms during the 100 years when the town’s four mills were the principal employers.
These were George Whittle’s at Stone Bridge, Hayhurst and Marsden’s Crumpax Mill, Robert Smith’s Victoria Mill and Longridge Manufacturing Co Ltd’s premises. Their employees were in “very good standard housing, certainly superior to those which gave the large mill towns such a bad name,” wrote Till.
“Dickens may have based ‘Hard Times’ on Preston, but he could not have applied that title to conditions in Longridge.”
Longridge has always been famous for its pubs, but their spread along its roads began prior to the mill era, along the linear village from the Old Oak, passing the Duke William, the Wheatsheaf, the Dog Inn, the White Bull to the Quarryman’s Arms at Tootle Heights.
Then, the Towneley Arms was “outside the village, built to serve the newly-opened steam railway. Newtown also had a beerhouse, the Grey Horse,” wrote Till.
And there’s more – to that list in 1861 were added the Mason’s Arms, the Weavers Arms, the Swarbrick Arms (Empire Hotel), Red Lion, Spencers Arms, and the Crown Hotel (replacing the Quarryman’s Arms), the Durham Ox, Forrest Arms, Bull and Royal and the Stone Bridge Inn.
However, Smith was pleased to state in 1888 that “drunkenness is almost unknown in Longridge.”
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Weather for Longridge
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 28 mph
Wind direction: North west