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There are 3 main types of housing in Rishton, these are the terrace, the semi-detached and the detached.

Terraced

A typical block of terrace houses on School Street July 2001

These are the main type of housing in Rishton, they are constructed mainly from local stone, but there are also the odd one of two blocks of houses which are built of other material, such as Accrington Brick and concrete blocks.

The terrace house was built for the mill workers, many of them were built by the mill owners as the mills themselves were being built. The terrace house took over from the cottage, which are mainly to be seen in the hamlet of Tottleworth, although even these were built in the same format as a terrace house but smaller.

The construction of these buildings typically suited the street layout as laid down by Robert Petre, the then lord of the Dunkenhalgh manor, who had specified streets were to be built in a grid formation.

A typical block consists of about 10 houses, and were known as 2 up 2 down, due to there being 2 downstairs rooms and 2 upstairs. The toilet or privy was built in the back yard of the properties.

The roofs were constructed in grey welsh slate, with the chimney pots sitting on the opposite wall to the entrance door. For example if the front door is on the left hand side of the house, the chimneys would be on the right hand side. There were originally 4 fire places, one in each room, which along with the mill chimneys made for a bit of a smoky town!

The terraces were first built around 1880 onwards, over a period spanning 40 years or so.

A typical Terrace Backyard in 1962. This footage still has the coits standing and shows the old flag yard with random built walls. The film is showing the birds feeding.

Inside a cottage

A TYPICAL TERRACED HOUSE of pre- 1914 date had a living kitchen. In the small annexe was a slop stone, the precursor of the sink. A single tap delivered cold water to the slop stone, and underneath was an earthen mug used for washing up and other tasks. Hot water was obtained by putting a pan on the fire or, if a family was lucky, from a side burner.

Such a fireplace was, at the recollection of a Burnley man, "a great big exhibition of iron, with a fire in the middle and, underneath the fire itself, which was supported on irons, was the ass-oil, or ash hole. The oven occupied one side of the fireplace, with the side-boiler on the other. The set-boiler was a large tank covered with a heavy lid which was lifted by pressure from the thumb."

A tap that protruded from the wall on the right-hand side of the fireplace was available for filling the boiler, a task often given to one of the children. "Every now and again, some kid would forget he’d turned on the tap, and he’d go out and play for a minute in the yard. The house was flooded. There was a rare old row!"

The floors of the oldest houses were flagged. A pegged or "bit" rug occupied a place before the fireside. A Colne woman remembers that her father was fond of making pegged rugs in the winter evenings; "he would have us cutting the material from old clothes into strips. We always had a new rug at the hearth on Christmas morning. The old one was taken to the floor near the slop stone, and we stood on it while washing up. A pegged rug kept your feet warm."

The wood commonly used for furnishings in a living room was beech. Some poor families made do with a dresser that had a white wood top and consisted of a central cupboard, with drawers on either side. A sideboard of the time had drawers with little brass handles and supported a number of mirrors. The top surface of the sideboard was covered by a "runner" and by fancy mats; a small shelf held cheap ornaments which, none the less, were valued, for they were trinkets brought back by the family or friends from the annual seaside holiday. A draw- leaf table at the centre of the room had a top of pine which was kept scrubbed; the legs were polished. At weekends, the table was usually covered with a velvet cloth, with "bobbles" round the edge.

Set against a wall in the typical living kitchen was a sofa — not a couch, which has two end pieces. Recalls a Burnley man: "I never knew a sofa that was new. On our sofa, the springs were capable of cutting you into two if you didn’t cover them with cushions." A Nelson man remembers the horsehair sofa as something that "pricked little lad’s bare legs".

Front of a terraced House

The front room of a terraced house, the "parlour", was used on special occasions, such as for a funeral or when the vicar called. On the window ledge, or a table just inside the window, stood the cherished aspidistra, held in an ornate bowl that stood on a lace "runner". The room was not "lobbied off’, it was simply known as "front place". People using the main door stepped directly into it. A Colne woman says: "I used to clean the front place on Thursday night. I tidied the table, the couch and six chairs, I black-leaded the fireplace. There was a lot of brass to clean: fire irons, ornaments and also a copper kettle."

Bedrooms were spartan. Says a Burnley man: "If your dad was on six looms, you might have oilcloth on the floor. Most people walked on bare boards that had been put in about 1890 and had shrunk over the years. As you walked, you were conscious of going up and down, and from one board to the next there might be a quarter of an inch crack. What we called ‘down’ from the bedding collected in the nicks. When mother cleaned up on a Friday, she had to get a skewer or something like that and probe every nick to get out the down."

The old ‘uns talked of the days when a poor family slept five to a bed, arranged tops and tails, the coverings including a piece of brown paper that crinkled all night. The bed frames were of iron, painted black, and the uprights held little brass knobs.

At Colne it was related: "Someone gave us a bed. I’d always wanted a bed that was black, with brass knobs. This bed had been painted green. We had a straw mattress given. It had a lot of fleas. I helped my mother to bray camphor balls, and we sprinkled them in the mattress. Mother spent her holidays doing special jobs about the house. One year, I remember, she white washed the bedroom walls. There was wallpaper on them when we went there. We hadn’t enough money to redecorate properly."

In the era of privy/middens, which were in outbuildings, summertime was characterised by the vast number of houseflies that buzzed around the houses. Long, sticky "fly papers" adorned the gas-brackets indoors. The early privy, which was also known as "closet" or "petty", was simply a large container that was periodically emptied by the "night soil men". Later came the tippler; when this filled with liquid it tipped over and the contents descended direct into the sewer.

Semi Detached

a semi detached house in July 2001.

These are the newer houses in the town, continuing to be built were the terraces ended.

Most of these type of houses are found on the South side of Rishton where construction started after 1970, or along Blackburn Road where building  commenced in the 1920's.

The properties have gardens back and front, and have concrete interlocking tiles on the roof. There are no chimneys, gas vents being provided in the main.

The properties have red brick frontages and rendered cement upper stories and side.

It is also possible to find these properties built as bungalows in Rishton, although normally these would be fully detached. Newer houses built after 1970 are of this type, replacing the terraced houses found in the district. As these terraces are demolished mainly due to age, it is the semi-detached which are replacing them.

Detached

Most of the detached houses in Rishton started life off as the homes built for the Mill owners. Most of these are based around the parish church, at the start of Blackburn Road.

Built after the 1920s in the main, the top end of Rishton is still a growth area of the town, more new houses were built in the area in the 1990s, and being next to green land has more area to grow to yet.

Bungalows are also built as detached houses. Some of these can be found on Blackburn Road, others can be sited anywhere around town, usually were there has only been enough space to build a single property. An example of this is two semidetached bungalows situated on Danvers Street.

Below is a table of how the housing in Rishton was split in 2001.

Total Homes 2974
Owned 2331 (78.38%)
-Owned outright 1000 (42.9%)
-Owned with a mortgage or loan 1320 (56.63%)
-Shared ownership 11 (0.47%)
Social rented 247 (8.31%)
-Rented from Council (Local Authority) 149 (60.32%)
Other social rented 98 (39.68%)
Privatly rented 354 (11.90%)
-Private landlord or letting agency 320 (90.4%)
-Employer of a household member 0 (0%)
-Relative or friend of a household member 31 (8.76%)
-Other 3 (0.85%)
Living rent free 42 (1.41%)

References

Life In The Lancashire Mill Towns by W. R. Mitchell, Dalesman Books 1982, ISBN 0 85206 704 6