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Settlement, Population, and Housing

The Saxons first settled the on the Holt estate, a good site which was halfway up a hill so well drained and easily defended. The area was wooded so many trees had to be cleared. Then Tottleworth, Sidebeet, and Cowhill were settled in that order.

Little else is known of Rishton until 1200 when a Latin deed shows that Rodger De Rishton gave one quarter of his land to Adam his eldest son.

During Norman times, one estate became more important that the rest – this was the Holt. “Commonly each village was a manor, growing its own food, building its own houses, spinning and weaving its own wool and making its own clothes. Salt and iron were brought through Whalley and Great Harwood to Tottleworth and Rishton.”

At this time a family called Talbot held Rishton till 1551. There were constant feuds between them and the De Rishtons. During the war of the roses, a Thomas Talbot helped in the capture of Henry VI. In 1581, the manor was sold to Thomas Walmsley, the grandfather of Judge Walmsley.

During the civil war, the Dunkenhalgh, which was and still is the house of the lords of the manor, was occupied by parliamentary troops.

The Walmsleys held Rishton until 1711, when Catherine Walmsley married Baron Petre. The Petre family, who own all the land in Rishton and collect all ground rents from the town, has held the village ever since.

In the 18th Century, Rishton consisted of narrow unlit muddy lanes and field tracks, cottages in all varieties of position, sometimes isolated, sometimes in a little group clustered round a farm, notably the Holt, Tottleworth, and Cowhill.

The centre of the village in 1800 was the Holt and the population then was 1,051.

Gradually houses began to spring up round the mills, outside the cluster of houses that formed the village. Hermitage Street was the earliest of all the streets, but in 1820, so small was the village that this street was known as Holt Mill Brow.

Green fields stretched on both sides of the narrow road that ran through the village to Blackburn. Another road, really a field track, ran across this more important road. At Spring mill was then a deep well known to all as Billy Well. A road from this well followed the early packhorse track to Tottleworth and Great Harwood. In the opposite direction a road ran to Accrington.

During the 19th Century there was a considerable rise in the population of Rishton.

Table 1 - To show the increase in the population of Rishton on the 19th Century.

Year

Population

1801

1,051

1821

1,171

1831

919

1841

917

1851

800

1861

1,196

1871

2,577

1881

4,056

1891

6,010

1911

7,441

1921

7,016

After the erection of Rishton mill, the first power loom mill of any importance in the village, houses were built beyond the canal bridge. Soon after the completion of the Rishton to Blackburn section of the canal, a bank ranger was appointed, and the house built for him is still standing today just at the side of the bridge.

By 1861 the population of Rishton had increased to 1,196, and in 1873 work began on building the parish church.

Of the houses standing today, most of the houses were built in the late 19th Century and early 20th century. There are no slum areas and no back-to-back houses. The houses were built to house cotton workers and consequently were built round the mills, to the east of the canal bridge

Then as more mills were built housing spread along the main road west of the canal bridge, and around the later cotton mills.

There are about 1,012 terraced houses that are made from the stone brought from the local quarries. They are neat and tidy in appearance.

During the period 1930 to 1939, more development of housing occurred. Semi detached houses were built in the west end of Rishton, along the main Blackburn road. There are about 200 of these houses, which are no longer made of stone from the local quarries, but have been built with Accrington brick. This area became the select end of Rishton, so replacing the houses on the main road to Great Harwood.

After the Second World War, a council estate was built on the sands. This is an attractively built estate with grass areas and crescents. Again these houses are built of Accrington brick.

In the west end of Rishton there has been an extensive building programme since 1960 for 320 private houses and bungalows. These houses and bungalows are modern in appearance with no local character. Most of these new houses are built behind the pre war semi detached houses and they have meant large reductions in the farming land, especially to Cut Farm. Most of these new houses commute to the larger towns of the area.

Settlement in the 19th century was centred on the old centre of the village, the Holt, and has gradually moved westward towards Blackburn.

There is correlation between population and industry in Rishton as can be seen from the graph of population.

Figure 3 - Population in Rishton 1801 to 1966.

There was a decrease in the population in the 19th century until Rishton mill was erected in 1959. The figure of 1851 which was 800 shows that many people left Rishton to find work elsewhere.

The decline in population figures from 1939 to 1946 reflects reduction in cotton supplies, unemployment, war, and the closure of Daisy Hill mill.

From 1950, the population figures show a marked decline until 1961 when the figures once again begin to climb. This is because of large private building projects, and the influx of people into Rishton who work elsewhere.

The present pattern for residential development is following the present trend of the town dying from east to west. The development in the west end gives opportunity to promote higher quality residential properties. With the present trend in building the population of the town should increase. This is possible because the urban district itself is large and there are sites available for housing if not for industry. Unfortunately present and future building programmes are and will be at the expense of the farmers, and the farms are gradually being cut away and reduced in size.

At the present time Rishton is developing into a dormitory town for the larger surrounding towns of Accrington, Blackburn and Burnley. People come to live in quiet Rishton that is in pleasant surroundings and it is often hard to realise that it is in the heart of the industrial area of North East Lancashire.

Conclusion

North East Lancashire is in a declining area with regard to industry and population, and with reference to industry, Rishton is no exception. The cotton industry, which brought prosperity to the area, has almost disappeared from Rishton, and not enough industry has been developed to take its place completely. The older members of the population have been brought up in the cotton tradition, and many of them have been reluctant to seek other work. Although conditions could have been better in the mills, many people regret the passing of the cotton era because of the hardship it has caused, especially if both husband and wife were employed in the cotton industry.

Today, there are very few attractions for young people to come and live in Rishton, if they do not want to travel long distances to work.

The west end of Rishton is attracting private housing, and physically, Rishton is almost linked with Blackburn. Recently Blackburn corporation has been making strong claims for absorbing Rishton within its borough. Should this occur, the narrow green belt round Rishton would be developed. To be absorbed by Blackburn would be of no direct value to Rishton as even less attention would be paid to the amenities.

The increasing development of residential property and the lack of any true industry development on a large scale, have created the concept that Rishton is becoming a dormitory town for Accrington and Blackburn and there is no valid reason to dispute this fact.

Table 2 - To summarise the cotton industry in Rishton, and the present use of the former cotton mills.

Mills

Date Erected

Water Supply

Number of Looms

Cloth Woven

Date of Closure

Present Owners

Products and Use

RISHTON MILL

1859

Canal

600

Plains, sateen's

1926

Broadloom carpets Ltd

WHEATFIELD MILL

1860

Canal

1,012

Plains, Poplins, sateen's, twills.

1929

Broadloom carpets ltd (1949)

Axminister carpets and rugs

VICTORIA MILL

1862

Canal

1,200

Calico, Sheetings, sail cloth, twills.

1958

F Briggs ltd

Textiles machinery renovation

SPRING MILL

1867

Canal

480

Dhoons, Plains.

1922

Richard Houghton ltd

Cast iron pipes and rough fire grate castings

DAISY HILL MILL

1870

Canal

500

Fine plains, Dhoons

1942

Davidson's ltd (1960)

Shoes and slippers

BRIDGEFIELD MILL

1887

Canal

1,012

Dress goods, Plains, Poplins, Cambric's.

-----

J & E Marsden

Spun silks, fibrils, plains, double cloth

BRITANNIA MILL

1887

Canal

580

Dress goods, Sateen's, satins, twills, poplins.

----

Rishton Fabrics ltd

Grey cloth

WELLINGTON MILL

1895

Canal

1,050

Fine plains, sateen's.

1930

Grimshaw's

Wholesale building goods, and poultry appliances

YORK MILL

1910

Lodge

700

Limbrics, tracing cloth, sateen's, poplins, cambric's.

1955

Walsh's Pet Foods (1963)

Pet foods

ALBERT MILL

1912

Lodge

700

Fine plains, sateen's, dress goods, cambric's.

1952

Textilose ltd (1954)

Cable insulation yarns