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Marriages carried out at the church between 1893 and 1911 can be found <<here>>.

The full index for the marriages can be found <<here>>.

Church with no tower 1904

In 1389 the parish church of Great Harwood was built and dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. It was rebuilt in 1507. The first protestant curate was “Sir” Richard Dean – the title being commonly given by courtesy to the clergy at that time.

In the 18th and early part of the 19th century, Rishton being an outlying part of the parish of Great Harwood, it was to the church of St. Bartholomew that the farmers and cottagers went on Sabbath days for religious services, and, before the time of cheap newspapers, to hear public announcements and learn something of the doings of the outer world. Here also they went for funerals, christenings and weddings. Carriages were not commonly used in these early times, and mourners and wedding guests walked in procession with, in the latter case, a fiddler, who was always a welcome figure on festive occasions, leading the way. “Harrod Oratory” was a great day. From hill and dale for miles round streams of people converged on Harwood Old Church and, after the service, partook of the hospitality of their Harwood friends. It was from the sale of refreshments in the churchyards to worshippers who came long distances to service on the day of the Patron Saint of their church that fairs originated. St. Bartholomew’s Day, the 24th of August, and Harwood fair fall, if not exactly on, near the same date.

Tower complete

(From 1819 to 1861 the Rev Robert Dobson was vicar of Great Harwood. His death was preceded by a long illness, during which the Rev Blamyre had charge of the parish. He was succeeded by the Rev W. M. Hazlewood, who was remembered by many of the older residents of Great Harwood and Rishton for some time after, and whose son was Coroner for N. E. Lancashire.

The Harwood clergy, with local help, kept alive Church work in Rishton. We hear of Sunday Schools, in which were taught reading and writing, being held in a room at the Flats – a group of cottages in a hollow formed by the Spaw Brook below Parker Street perhaps in the Card Hole, which was behind Rishton Mill, and in a room over a smithy near the junction of Blackburn and Harwood Roads. A temporary building was erected at the rear of the Harwood Road school, both men and women, so we are told, to save expense, acting as carriers of building materials.

Christmas BookmarkServices were held and addresses given in cottages, notably in that of Mr Charles Greenwood, and in one at Norden, which was recently pulled down because of its dangerous condition. Prominent among the lay helpers were Mssrs. Wm Riley and Thos Edmundson. Mr Hazlewood frequently took an evening service when the service at Harwood was held in the afternoon.

In 1861 the population reached 1,196, and though the cotton famine was casting its gloom over Lancashire, it was decided in 1863 to build a school church on the east side of Harwood Road. A committee was formed consisting of the Rev W M Hazlewood, Messrs C Parker, Ed Duckworth, John Anderson, Jas Haworth, Richard Grimshaw, John Duckworth, Thos Edmondson, Wm Riley, Jos Haydock, Lawrence Noble, and Dr Pilkington.

Inside the church 1906

The instrumental part of the music was supplied by Mr Chris Boardman (cello), whose son and grandson became choirmaster and organist and Mr John Riding (violin). When a harmonium was installed the accompanist was Miss Grimshaw, who afterwards married the Rev Robert Whitehead MA, for many years the vicar of Ince. Mr John Heys, a cotton manufacturer at Spring mill, took great interest in the choir for many years, and was untiring in his efforts to maintain its efficiency.

What are now known as the boys rooms were built later by the voluntary labour of members of the Sunday School and Congregation. In Connection with this, the Rev George Steele, His Majesties Inspector of Schools, reports in 1870:-

“I am bound to mention the great zealous liberality which the inhabitants of the parish continue to show towards the school. New rooms for girls and infants are nearly completed. There are no rich people in the Parish, and the contributions in many instances have been time and labour given by stone masons and other workmen.”

In 1863 Mr Allott succeeded Mr Stocks, and efforts were soon set on foot for the building of a new church, for which a site had been secured. Mr Allott raised over £3,000, which included £1,000 given by F W Grafton of Broadoak Print works, Accrington, and of Heysham Hall, and at one time MP for the NE Division of Lancashire. The building committee consisted of Mssrs John Heys, Jas Hanson, Robert Bateson, John Bradley, Ed Eccles, Rich Grimshaw, John Mercer, and Robert Whitehead.

The Screed in the church in 2001.

The foundation stone was laid on the 16th May, 1864, by Mr W H Taylor of Clayton Le Moors. The school was licensed for divine service in 1866, and the Rev Wm Stocks was the first curate in charge.

(conflicting information found at this point, see next paragraph as well).

The Parish church foundation stone was laid on 24th May 1873 by F. W. Grafton, and was built by William Ramsbottom of Accrington, and designed by Taylor and Froggett, architects of Blackburn. The church was consecrated on the 14th June 1877, by Bishop Fraser, and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Other sources seem to indicate that the contractors were Christopher Parker and Christopher Boardman, both of Rishton.

The church was built with 574 seats, costing £8,000, which were all donated to the church.

In 1866 the Church was licensed for divine worship. Stone from the local quarries was used to build the church but much of the labour involved was voluntary.

The Church roof was finished 9ft short of the intended height, giving the nave a stunted look. After 4 years the building was consecrated, and dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the 14th June 1877.

The tower at this time was only 45 ft tall. The final piece of the tower was added in 1904. This has taken it to its existing height of about 100ft.

1905 Postcard

Meanwhile Mr Allott had been succeeded by the Rev T. G. Horwood MA. In 1879 the Rev AS Prior B. D., became vicar, and during his residence a new infant school and vicarage were erected – the vicarage till this time being the house adjoining the school in Harwood Road.

Rishton Parish Church Damatic Society

Mr Prior resigned, and the Rev Henry West B. A., became vicar in 1885. Mr West gave to the Church the new communion plate now in use, and on another occasion a handsome brass eagle lectern.

In 1888 an excellent three manual organ was built by Foster and Andrews, of Hull, at a cost of £600.00. The large East window was put in in memory of Thomas Haworth, of Manor House Farm, Tottleworth, whose brother, James Haworth, left money for this purpose. The church was also beautified throughout. Services during the alterations were held in Harwood Road school. Other stained windows have since been put in place in the church; one in memory of Richard and Alice Grimshaw, was given by their daughters, the subject of the design being the resurrection. Another window was given in memory of Henry and Grace Parker, and their daughter Ann, by their daughter Margaret, the subject being Christ blessing little children.

The Church bells

During Mr West’s vicariate the tower was completed at a cost of £1,400, IN 1905 but not in accordance with the original design. A fine peal of bells was hung and a clock placed in the tower. The clock has 3 faces, which can be lighted, and besides striking the hours, chimes the quarters with the Westminster chimes. It occupies an excellent position for public usefulness, and has proved an excellent timekeeper. It was given by Mr Robert Clayton J. P., C. C., to commemorate the coming of age of his son, Lieu Jonathon Maurice Clayton.

The bells were given by Miss Anderson, Mr James Hanson, Mr Thomas Haworth, Mr John Mawdsley (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his marriage), the children of Mr Charles Bracewell (in his memory), Mrs J. E. Haworth (in memory of her brother, Mr Peter Wright Pickup), and Mr George Riley gave two in memory of his brothers. Mr Riley also left in his will £530.00 to be invested for the payment of the bell ringers. The bells and clock were dedicated on the 9th December 1905, by the Right Reverend Samuel Thornton, D. D., Assistant Bishop to the Diocese.

Mr West resigned the living in October 1906?, owing to the infirmities of age, after 21 years strenuous methodical work. On the 19th April, 1906, the Reverend Henry West retired after 50 years service, 21 of them at Rishton.

Completed Tower

He was succeeded by the Rev Charles Harpur M. A., who was inducted on the 5th January 1907. In 1908 the church was beautifully redecorated by Mssrs. Cunliffe, of Blackburn. A “Girls Society” was formed by Mrs. Harpur, and a mothers class was instituted, in which are many earnest workers for the church, and to which we are indebted for the beautiful brass communion rail.

In 1911, Mr Robert Clayton gave a hydraulic engine, to make the organ independent of band blowing.

In 1913 the hand of death removed from among its many prominent members of our congregation –

  • Mr. H. Halstead (choirmaster),
  • Mrs. Harpur,
  • Mr. Wm. Haworth,
  • Mr. W. H. Parker (choirmaster),
  • Mr. W. T. Croft,
  • and others.

On the 21st December a beautiful stained window, in memory of Mrs Harpur, and subscribed for by the congregation, was unveiled by Mrs. T. Clayton. It is a representation of Dorcas, the woman who was full of good deeds and almsgiving.

On the same occasion a brass tablet, the gift of the clergy, Church officials, and past and present members of the choir, in memory of Mr. Halstead, who had been choirmaster for 18 years, was unveiled by the vicar.

Bell Chamber and Church

A Surpliced choir which has added to the reverence and impressiveness of the service, was introduced on the 17th August 1913, and has made necessary the building of a choir vestry, which may also be used for the smaller meetings in connection with parish work, and towards which a considerable sum has already been promised, so that the work of erection will commence early this year (1914).

After the first World War, the South Transept was transformed into a memorial Chapel to commemorate the loss of those who gave their lives for the freedom of mankind.

The Council resolved that a letter should be addressed to the Parochial Church Council requesting the trimming of the trees around the Church tower which at present obscure the clock, on the 12th August 1943.

On the 17th November 1944, Rev W. I. Brown died age 60. He was the vicar at Rishton till 1943.

The proportion of the account rendered to the Parish Church Council, amounting to £7 7s. 0d., be written off, on the 22nd February 1945, as this sum refers to the felling of the tree which had obscured the Church clock and concerning which representations had been made by this Council in September 1943. Councillor Bridge was to inspect the timber which was removed in connection with the above work, in view of the apparently high cost.

The Church in 1909.

After the Second World War, a second memorial Tablet was dedicated in the Church.

The Council Clerk was instructed to write to the Parochial Church Council intimating that a tender had been received from Mr. J. A. Dobson for the electrical installation at the Parish Church Clock, which had been accepted by the Council on the 9th October 1947, for the sum of £21 10s. 0d., and requesting permission to proceed with the installation.

It was decided to consider the installation of additional lights behind the clock face on the 10th December 1953, by the Urban District Council, when the Estimates for 1954/5 are being prepared.

A tender of £7 7s. 0d. from the North Western Electricity Board for the installation of additional lighting was accepted on the 11th March 1954, the work to be proceeded with in the ensuing financial year.

On the 6th June 1972, Canon Ernest Southcott was appointed vicar of the church. Canon Southcott was the pioneer of the house/church system of worship. Those who remember Canon Southcott will remember his loud booming voice! A voice that once heard, is not easily forgotten, and he was very capable of being able to get any message across. He was a familiar figure on the streets on Rishton, always prepared to stop and talk to anyone from any demoniation.

In 1980 the vestry was extended to create a parish hall on the East Side of the church.

THE sound of bells rang out from the church for the first time in a decade on Sunday 4th October 1998.

Text for Newspaper cutting

The bell tower at St Peter and St Paul's Church on Blackburn Road, which was condemned as unsafe in 1988, was restored following a £18,000 fund-raising appeal.

Now the church, commonly known as Rishton Parish Church, started searching for people to form a regular band of bell ringers.

Church and Organ

The bells were silenced in 1988 after an inspection revealed the framework which supported them was unsafe and a new roof was needed on the bell tower.

The church was keen to repair the tower - but was forced to delay the work after dry rot was found in another part of the building.

An appeal for the bell work was launched in February 1997 and over 12 months the £18,000 was raised through donations and sponsored events, including a walk from Blackpool Tower to the church tower.

The vicar, Rev Paul Smith, said: "We got a firm in to do the professional work but quite a lot of people have done the donkey work which reduced the cost considerably." He added that without the efforts of parishioners the project would not have been possible.

"A group of people have put a great deal of enthusiasm and effort into it and it is because of that we have been able to do it. I would like to congratulate them for all they have done."

On the Sunday 5th October, the Bishop of Blackburn attended a special service to celebrate the restoration of the bells and members of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers rang the bells afterwards.

The next step was for the church to build a bell-ringing team of its own.

Mr Smith said: "We really need our own regular band of ringers. It is an art and it needs practice and they need to be getting going now if they are to be ready for the millennium celebrations, when church bells across the country will be rung."

The Clock has also been restored to its former glory, and the tones can be heard throughout Rishton once more.

Church Interior 1924

Curates in Charge

Vicars Dates in Charge Died Curates
Rev. Wm. Stocks 1866 to    
Rev. J. G. Harwood, M. A.
(Might be T. G. Horwood)
1877 to 1879  
Rev. A. S. Prior, B. D. 1879 to 1885   Rev. P. E. N. Sowerby

Rev. W. W. Jones

Rev. Henry West, B. A. 1885 to 1907   Rev. W. W. Jones, Rev. R. Tebbs

Rev. N. Birkett. (1887 to 1894)

Rev. J. F. French

Rev. O. F. Williams

Rev. F. W. Boumphrey

Rev. Charles Harpur, M. A. 1907 to 1924   Rev. F. W. Boumphrey

Rev. W. R. Jones, L. D.

Rev. W. Ira Brown 1924 to 1943 17th November 1944
Rev. R. Kirkham 1943 to  


Rev. John Hoban      
Canon Ernest Southcott 7th June 1972 to    
Rev Paul Andrew Smith 1986 - April 2006    
Michael Woods April 2006    

Church Wardens till 1914

Mr. Robert. Bateson Mr. Wm. Pickup
Mr. Chris. Parker Mr. John Whittaker
Mr. W. R. Walmsley Mr. George Blackburn
Mr. R. H. Catterall Mr. Thos. Clayton
Mr. Rich. Grimshaw Mr. Wm. Boardman
Dr. John Barr, J. P.

Sunday School Superintendents

Messrs. Wm. Riley, Wm. Blakey, John Bradley, Ed. Pilkington, Jas. Bradshaw, John Whittaker (senior), Thos. Cottam, Peter Boardman, J. R. Fletcher, Jas. Hill, E. M. Harrison, Henry Rhodes.

Sides men

Mr. Jas. Hanson Mr. George Blackburn
Mr. Wm. Houghton Mr. Jas. Thomlinson
Mr. John Whittaker (senior) Mr. R. T. Kenyon
Mr. T. Holden Mr. Hy. Whiteside
Mr. C. Parker Mr. John Proctor
Mr. John Slater Mr. John Pilkington
Mr. John Pickup Mr. A. E. Roberts
Mr. Wm. Boardman Mr. George Harper
Mr. J. T. Boardman Mr. E. M. Harrison
Mr. Robert Pilkington

Organists and Choirmasters

Mr. John Heys Mr. T. Clayton
Mr. Ed. Broughton Mr. George Parker
Mr. Jas. Ainsworth Mr. W. H. Parker
Mr. H. Halstead Mr. J. W. Boardman
Mr. J. A. Boardman Mr. J. A. Boardman


SMITH, Rev Paul Andrew

Vicar (RISHTON St Peter and St Paul WHA-13), The Vicarage, Somerset Road, Rishton, Blackburn, BB1 4BP 01254 886 191
Born: 1955 ; 1976 St Chad's Coll Dur BA ; 1978 Chich Th Coll ; 1980 d ; 1981 p ; 1980-83 C St Matthew & Holy Trinity Burnley ; 1983-86 C St Mary Ribbleton (in c St Anne Moor Nook) ; 1986- April 2005 St Peter & St Paul Rishton .


Rishton remembered Kathleen Broderick.

Rishton Jubilee Year 1927 - Noble.

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Saturday 03 October 1998.

A Brief History of Rishton - H. H. Cormack, 1914.

A Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Lanham.

A Chronology of Accrington and Men of Mark, by R. S. Crossley, Published 1924.

Council Minutes

Rishton On Record, the Festival of Britain 1951.

Picture used courtesy of Ron Grenier (Carolina, USA.)