Rishton in World War II

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Further information about Rishton in World War One can be found by following this LINK.

Entries for this page, be it fact or memories of the War would be welcomed. Simply email me your recollections of things that happened to you as a child perhaps? Or maybe your Mum started working in the mills and told you a funny story? Let me know, Email Me

On 1st September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. The British Government issued an ultimatum asking the German forces to leave by 11 am on 3rd September. This was ignored and Britain immediately declared war on Germany. Hitler was apparently taken by surprise. He had not expected Britain to react in this way. He did not understand that once the British government had made a promise, it was duty bound to keep it.

This was the outbreak of the 2nd World War, but it was some 3 years before this that Rishton Urban District Council had started making precautions.

A letter was read from the County Council with regard to the Air Raid Precautions (A. R. P.) on the 10th September 1936, informing us that a Conference would be arranged for this portion of the County.

The Council Clerk read a letter from Mr. Ingham, of Great Harwood, on the 7th January 1937, inviting us to appoint six Councillors to a Conference along with the Clayton-le-Moors Urban District Council to deal with the question of Air-Raid Precautions. Councillors Trengove, Ainsworth, Booth, Leeming, Tattersall and Wilson were appointed. The Chairman reported the result of the Meeting of Representatives of the Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood and Rishton Urban District Councils, held at Great Harwood on Tuesday 14th January 1937, with regard to the Anti-Air Raid Precautions and the Clerk presented a list of the Precautionary Services which, according to the Home Office Circular, a Local Authority is expected to make provision for; also a copy of the letter from the Chief Constable of the Lancashire Constabulary, together with a summary of his observations and suggestions. Resolved that this Council agree to full co-operation with the Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors Urban District Councils with regard to Anti-Air Raid Precautions and that the Sub-Committee meet to go fully into same and to report to the Council.

On the 16th February 1939, A resolution was received from Ashington Urban District Council, which  was forwarded to the local member of Parliament. The council was to urge the Government to take immediate action to provide adequate bomb proof shelters for the protection of the civil population in danger zones against aerial attack in the event of hostilities, and to direct that the cost of providing such shelters should be a national charge.

By the time the War had started, on the 1st September 1939, Rishton had stored 6,000 respirator masks, and had made accommodation for 6,500 adult refugees, and another 1,500 children.

Rishton had been busy.

Air raid wardens were fully trained, some travelling to Preston for gas lessons, then returning to town to pass their knowledge on to others. Even this was being done 12 months before the outbreak of war began.

In 1937, Rishton turned down the opportunity to join Accrington's Air Raid Defence Precautions, rather instead opting to coheres with Clayton Le Moors and Great Harwood. That was, until they found that Great Harwood and Clayton had both joined Accrington! Rishton swiftly did a U-Turn, and joined with Accrington by the end of the year.

Noel Halliwell was appointed Chief Air Raid Warden, and offices were set up for them on Church Street. Perhaps these were the former Council Offices at number 4? Mr. Halliwell took much time recruiting men to be air raid wardens for the town, but there were several men who refused, much to their regret! The air raid wardens would be based in the office, while those who opted instead to join the home brigade would find themselves out in all weather, on the top of Close Brow mainly carrying out manoeuvres!

Where the barrage balloon was situated in Tottleworth was about 30 yards passed the end of the houses numbered 5 & 6. It was just in the field on the left hand side as you walk towards Hermitage Street, the bench to my recollection was just at the top of the hill (slope) as you left Threlfall's farm. (there were actually two benches, one was at the top of the hill, overlooking Holt Farm, and the other was as you entered Tottleworth from Rishton, the bench looking towards the canal.)

A letter was read from Hindley Urban District Council on the 16th March 1939, by Rishton Urban District Council at one of their meetings, submitting the following resolution: "That this council deplore the suggestion in certain newspapers of the Governments intention to force the unemployed youths of this Country, under a penalty of forfeiting the whole or part of their unemployment benefits, to enter training camps provided by the Government, and to impress upon them the Government the desirability and necessity of utilising by some means such expenditure proposed to be incurred in providing work for the unfortunate persons whom the alleged proposed scheme is likely to concern". The council supported the above resolution.

All this reminds me of the smoke screens that they had lined up in the main street and on certain nights the chaps in the army used to come and light them with a flint gun, when lit they would produce a smelly black smoke, which would probably have covered most of Rishton. I expect this was some sort of protection from enemy aircraft.

These oil drums filled with oil were placed down Hermitage Street and along Lee lane and were used to smoke screen the English Electric which at that time was producing aircraft parts for the war effort. The Germans did try to bomb the factory on several occasions, the closest they ever got was on Whalley Road at Altham, next to the current Greyhound Ford Garage, were a house was destroyed.

I have heard many references to these oil drums and how they stunk the place out, covering the local villages in thick black oily smoke.

Other barrage balloon were also located at the Park bottoms, next to the river Hyndburn, and on land to the rear of the Baptist Church, which was empty land, later becoming the Sands Council Estate.

On the 2nd March 1939, The clerk to the council submitted several reports about the Air Raid Precautions. One survey of available accommodation carried out under the Governments Evacuation scheme had been completed, and showed that accommodation was available for 2,672 persons. House holders had expressed their willingness to accept a total of 1,774 unaccompanied children.

And so War broke out, and many good men gave their life's defending their Country, including a number of men from Rishton. A full list of their names can be found on the War memorial cenotaph found on Blackburn Road.

The Clerk submitted a report on civil defence matters, including letters from the home office which he had received on the 27th April 1939, requesting that priority should be given to these matters over the next 3 months. Two further training pumps were to be delivered, and a black out exercise was to be held on the night of the 15th to 16th May.

Mickey Mouse Gas Mask

The children who received a gas mask found they were Mickey Mouse masks! Sadly there was not enough to go round, and there were several tears shed from the smallest children who didn't get a Mickey mask, and had to make do with the plain grey ones.

Gas attacks had been common place during the first World War, some of the people who had survived had to live the rest of their days unable to smell pear drops or mustard without being reminded of the gas.

By 1937, war becoming more and more imminent, the gas mask was being produced at the rate of 150,000 a week, by the time of the Munich Crisis in September 1938, every man, woman, and child in Britain had one.

The mask were manufactured in three styles, and for the children, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck. For babies a complete helmet was supplied with bellows to pump the oxygen into it.

As more and more drills, both in schools and everyday civilian life became common place, so people got used to their masks, and became confident enough to complain about the discomforts of them, Shops began to sell luxury and superior gas masks.

As the War raged on and the threat of gas attacks receded, fewer people carried their masks with them, and by the end of the conflict most had been consigned to the attic.

During the war, Noel Hellewell J. P. was chief warden, and the air raid wardens office was based on Church Street, possibly the same one which became council offices, or were council offices. Anyway, at the time there were very few telephones installed, telephone numbers only being in double figures on the Great Harwood exchange.

One day, George Thomlinson was home visiting his mother and family and was expecting a phone call. He called into the Wardens Office and explained to Noel that he was expecting this call, and he hoped he didn't mind but he had given this number. Noel said it was fine, and George said when the phone rang Noel should answer it, as it may be a nice surprise for him.

The phone duly rang and Noel answered, asking if he could help. The caller responded by asking to speak to Mr. Thomlinson, so Noel asks who the caller was. "This is Winston Churchill" came the voice, to which Noel replied, "Aye, n' if your Winston Churchill, I'm Montgomery", and was about to put the phone down when George snapped it from his hand!

The clerk to the council submitted a report on the air raid precautions on the 6th July 1939, with the following recommendations of the Air Raid Precautions Sub-Committee:-

  • The linings in the trenches at Cutt Wood park with pre-cast concrete was approved.

  • An underground shelter and report centre in the Council Store yard and the transferral of the emergency telephone lines was approved.

  • A direct telephone line to the exchange be installed in the fire station.

  • Objections were should be made to the Lancashire County Council against the proposal to establish at Great Harwood the decontamination and cleansing depot in respect of this district.

  • The suggestion to man the report centre only for the blackout exercise on July 13 - 14th was approved, and thanks of the committee were extended to the volunteers who took part.

During the 2nd World War the British Legion Club on Walmsley Street, paid out 5/- a month (25 pence) and an extra 10/- (50 pence) at July and Christmas. Theses came from the Comfort fund which the club was running for its War members. The comfort club was wound up in September 1945, with each member receiving £6 each. Because of the difficulty found with contacting members the "comforts" were not always paid and in some cases arrears up to £16 were paid out.

The club was very fortunate during the War, only having 2 fatalities to members, 1 of these was still unclear in January 1946, as the soldier had been missing for two years, and there was still hope of him turning up. (Rumour had it there was a pint waiting for him on the bar, and if he knew he would be there like a shot!).

The Council also resolved on the 3rd of September 1939, that notices should be placed at the boundaries of the district urging motorist to drive carefully in view of the fact that Rishton was a reception area for evacuates.

All went well until the 2nd November 1939, when the Clerk reported at a Council meeting, on the Ministry of Health's Circular number 1897, concerning compensation for damage done by evacuated children. The following claims were paid by the Council;

  • Mrs Duckworth, 22 Blackburn Road, Mattress cleaning - 7/6

  • Mrs. Smith, 69 Harwood Road, Mattress cleaning - 5/6

  • Mrs. Halliwell, 105 Harwood Road, Cleaning and Repairing Box Mattress - £2 6s

  • Mr. Dugdale, 56 Harwood Road, Supplying and fixing new washbasin - £2 1s

During September 1939, The surveyor was instructed to have lamp standards, telegraph poles and similar obstacles painted in accordance with instructions received in the circular "Aids to Movement of Traffic" The Steam roller shed was to be converted into A. R. P. store, and The surveyor was instructed to carry out the necessary alterations in the fire station to the existing partitions.

The Council clerk reported to the Higher Education Committee on the 7th September 1939, that all evening classes were to be closed immediately, with the exception of classes in first aid and Home Nursing. Arrangements for reopening would be made at a later date.

1946 Clothing Coupon Book

During the War, Schooling hours were cut to 3 1/2 days per week. There were 2 mornings and one afternoon. You ask any one who schooled during this time if they are a little thick, and you will be told that they don't feel it did them any harm harm at all, so why are we having school days 5 days a week?

The council clerk reported on the provisions of the Fuel and Lighting Order 1939 on the 14th September 1939. Mr. R. W. Renshaw was appointed Local Fuel Overseer and Mr. J. Lord was appointed as Clerk on his staff. Remunerations were to be decided later by the council. The Advisory Committee appointed under the Fuel and Lighting Order 1939, was as follows; 5 members of the local council, 2 representatives of the coal merchants in the district, 1 representative of the Electricity Undertaking, 1 of the Gas Undertaking, and 1 of the Co-operative Society. The councils representatives were to be Councillors Sturzaker, Sutcliffe, Trengrove, Worsley, and Leeming.

1946 Clothing Coupons book inside

The council Clerk read correspondence from the Food Executive, of which he appointed the Clerk Deputy Food Officer for the district for some of the functions to be carried out for Food Control. The Council also approved the clerks recommendation to rent the shop at Number 39 High Street, for food control purposes at 9/- per week excluding rates. On the 12th October, the clerk reported that further clerical work was required for the Food Control Work. A list of persons registered at the Labour Exchange was submitted and it was decided that Mr. H. Barratt should be appointed at 58/- per week, to commence straight away. If further labour was required then a shortlist was drawn up consisting of Miss Bridge, Mr. Roberts and Miss Horrocks who would be employed in that order.

The Council Surveyor reported that he had received instructions from the County Surveyor to arrange to provide a squad of volunteers for special duty under the direction of the bank ranger for the protection of the Leeds & Liverpool canal in case of emergency in October 1939.

The council clerk outlined the provisions of Home Office Circular number 70/1939 concerning the Auxiliary Fire Service on the 5th October 1939. The Council Resolved that the Auxiliary Fire Service should be reduced to 9 firemen in place of the 17 now serving, in accordance with the provisions of this circular, and that the selection of these 9 should be deferred one week. It is proposed to keep 1 pumping unit for the first line ready for action. On the 12th October, the following auxiliary firemen received one weeks notice; B. Tattersall, J. Heyburn, H. Ormerod, A. Sykes, J. Cheetham, T. Keenan, Hanson Smith, and C. Hammersley.

On the 2nd November 1939, the Clerk received a letter from the Home Office in pursuance of Fire Brigade Circular Number 70 concerning the further reduction of the whole-time Auxiliary Fire Service Personnel. It was decided that the four men to be retained should be J. L. Smith, J. Calvert, J. Wilkinson, and J. R. Aspden, and that one weeks notice should be given to A. Cheetham, J. C. Slater, W. Carbery, H. Smith, and D. Ackers. It was further resolved that in view of the reduced personnel that the four ton vehicle belonging to Messrs. J. W. Hopwood (Rishton) Ltd., at present on whole-time duty, should be released and in future be on call.

The Council surveyor referred to the scheme for the provision of Air Raid Shelters, on the 5th October 1939, and made recommendations regarding the same. The Surveyor was instructed to include in the scheme the provision of Public Shelters as follows:-

  • Cutt Wood (trenches)

  • Holt Street Recreation Ground (trenches)

  • Harwood Road Recreation Ground (trenches)

  • Surface shelters to accommodate a total of 250 people in 5 separate shelters on sites to be selected by the surveyor in the area on the south side of High Street and Hermitage and between Station Road and Butler Street.

I am told that there was an air raid shelter on Edward Street as well.

The Clerk received a letter back from the County Council, on the 19th October, intimating that the Rishton scheme had been agreed to in principal. Following further consultations with the County officials, a price of £135 per shelter for semi-sunk shelters had been fixed, the work on the 8 shelters was to be allocated by the surveyor according to the abilities of each contractor respectively.

The council surveyor reported that he had taken steps to recruit and arrange the training of reserve squads to assist the existing Rescue, Repair, Demolition, and Decontamination Squads.

The council clerk reported upon Circular L. A. 5 from the petroleum Department concerning petrol supplies. Private cars owned by officials and other persons  used in connection with emergency services should be issued with petrol upon the following basis:-

  • 8 to 9 Horse power cars                30 miles per gallon.

  • 10 to 11 Horse power cars            27 miles per gallon

  • 12 to 13 Horse power cars            24 miles per gallon

  • 14 to 15 Horse power cars            21 miles per gallon

The Sanitary Inspector for the Council, gave an account of his training at Preston, to the health committee, on 12th October 1939, when he was successful in obtaining the L. A. R. P. S. Certificate for Instructors. The clerk was to obtain the sanction of the County Council to Purchase the necessary equipment for training and demonstration purposes.

The clerk reported that Great Harwood Urban District Council had stated that they had no one suitable to act as Gas Identification Officer on the 12th October 1939. It was resolved that Mr. J. Pickup of "Lynwood", Blackburn Road, should be recommended for the post for the three urban districts of Clayton Le Moors, Rishton, and great Harwood.

The surveyor, in accordance with instructions from the council, had obtained a quotation from the Blackburn Corporation Electricity Undertaking for the provision of an electric lighting installation in the trenches in Cutt wood on the 19th October 1939.

A Ford V8, registered number AOC 580, for auxiliary fire service purposes, was purchased at a cost of £30, inclusive of alterations was bought by the Rishton urban District Council on the 14th December 1939.

More claims for compensation caused by evacuated children were approved for payment on the 14th December 1939 by the Council. These were:-

  • Mrs. Mellor, 5 Norfolk Street, dry-cleaning mattress - 5/6

  • Mrs. Pelling, 50 Station Road, repairing window - 7/6

  • Mrs. Harwood, 49 Stourton Street, supplying and fixing new wash basin - £1 18s 0

Sanction was given by the Minister of Home Security on the 14th December 1939, for the payment of compensation to Air Raid Precaution Volunteers who lost wages by attending for duty during working hours, to a maximum in respect of a working day of 10/- for men and 7/- for women.

On the 14th December 1939, the Council clerk reported upon correspondence from the Minister of Home Security, to the Urban District Council, concerning the use of factory Sirens. It was recommended that the arrangements with Rishton Colliery be terminated and that an electrically operated siren be installed at the Council Offices.

The Auxiliary Fire Service was permitted to make haversacks for Service respirators on the 21st December 1939, by Rishton urban District Council, for use until supplies were forthcoming from the Ministry of Home Security.

The Council Surveyor presented quotations received for the supply of an Air Raid Warning Syren on the 18th January 1940.

  • The committee recommended that the quotation of Messrs. Carter & Co. (Nelson) Ltd., be accepted, and

  • that the surveyor was instructed to consider alternative methods of fixing the Syren, including the erection of a mast.

The Council clerk reported receipt of the Fire Brigades Divisional Circular no 76, on the 18th January 1940, concerning the purchase of waterproof coats for Auxiliary Fire Service Personnel. The clerk was instructed to obtain prices. On the 8th February, 28 waterproof coats were purchased in accordance with Fire Brigade Circular number 76, for the Auxiliary Fire Service Volunteers. Strange then that on the 14th March, Tenders for the supply of 28 water proof coats for the use of the Auxiliary Fire Services were submitted to the council. The quote of Messrs. Geo. Angus & Co. Ltd., 71 Bridge Street Deansgate, Manchester, 3, was accepted at 17/6 each, less 2 1/2& discount.

Street collections, although often used in Rishton, suddenly changed. No longer were people collecting for the deaf and blind, now it was the Royal British Legion, and other war related organisations. The number of collections being allowed on the streets of Rishton was increasing also.

The war effort was on, and times were getting harder. Cut backs now started to appear to try and save money, such as the report which was given upon the re-organisation of the Food Control staff by the Accrington Area Joint Food Control Committee. The services of the present assistant at Rishton was to terminate on the 9th March 1940 (two days time). From that date the Food Office was open from 9 am till 12 noon on Tuesdays, and 2 pm till 6 pm on Fridays. The clerk was to request the Food Executive Officer to consider the greater needs of this District and to reconsider the personnel to be employed at the office.

Having failed once, the evacuation scheme was relaunched by the Government, but to major disapproval of the local councils who responded thus. On the 9th March 1940, Correspondence was read from the Great Harwood Urban District Council, and it was resolved to support them. The letter read:-

"That this Council, having heard the correspondence relating to the new evacuation scheme, on the same lines as the last one, is strongly opposed to the proposals. Our experience of evacuation has proved the system to be unsound, and, in our opinion, is certain to fail for the same reasons as it did before. We are convinced that hosts for the children to be allotted to this district will be impossible to find voluntarily, and suggest that the only evacuation scheme likely to succeed would be one where school units were transferred to suitable premises where they could be maintained on the lines of a boarding establishment such as a permanent school camp."

The Council clerk wrote to Manchester Education Committee on the 11th April 1940, requesting information as to the district from which evacuees would be sent from, in the event of the new scheme coming into operation.

The War was doing some good things as well! Unemployment in the town had dropped dramatically, ending the slump of the 1930s, this brought some minor problems of its own, It was reported by Rishton Urban District Council, on the 14th March 1940, that Information was given that the Rishton Labour Exchange would be open in the near future part - time only, on account of the greatly decreased number of persons attending. It was also reported that correspondence was read from the Great Harwood Urban District Council concerning the assessment of cotton mills. Support was given to the intention to hold an early meeting at which consideration was given to the increase of assessments in view of the improvements of trade.

The Clerk reported on the provision of the A. R. P. ((Air Raid Precautions) Storage and Loan of Equipment) Regulations 1940, on the 28th March 1940, and reported that the County Council had given sanction for the employment of 1 person to carry out the work under these regulations. Resolved that Mr. B. Ainsworth be appointed to the position.

Regal Cinema Advert from 1940.

Reply was received from the Food Executive Officer, on the 28th March, concerning representations made by the council regarding the limitations of the opening times of the Rishton Food Office, and the clerk was instructed to reply further stating that the council are still dissatisfied with the Food Control Organisation in Rishton.

A letter from the County Council on the 28th March 1940 to Rishton Urban District Council, intimated that the one person employed as a whole-time volunteer on the Rescue and Demolition Squad since the outbreak of hostilities should be discharged. Mr. W. Clough was given one weeks notice. to terminate his duties. One can only assume that by now they realised we weren't going to bombed very often, and there wasn't enough work for the full time man.

Correspondence was read to the Council Committee on the 11th April 1940, about the proposed building of an Air Raid Wardens Post on land in Cutt Wood. Approval was not given for this by the Council.

The Council clerk sought sanction, on the 11th April 1940, from the Home Office (Fire Brigades Division), to create two section officers in Auxiliary Fire Service, to be remunerated at £3 10s 0d per week, and that J. R. Aspden and J. Smith be promoted to these positions. It was further reported that the tyres of the Auxiliary Fire Brigade Car were in bad condition. This was to be investigated further.

Correspondence had been received by the Council, on the 16th May 1940, stating that the evacuee children to this area were to come from Alfred Street School, now known as Harper Mount Primary School, and Saint Margaret Mary's Roman Catholic School, both of which were in Manchester.

Over the bridge in the bottom end of Rishton, the air raid shelters were placed on Chapel Street, and Fielding Street. The Chapel Street one was actually sited on Wharf Street, next to the Master Barn Farm. There is a house built on the land now. Fielding Streets was also at the top of the street, but this time in the middle of the road. There is a garage plot on the right and allotments on the left as you go up the street, and the shelter was between these. At first the shelter was further down, but due to public pressure (one of Rishtons Councillors lived on Fielding Street, and people went across and knocked on the door to complain) the shelter was moved. Kenneth Wolstenholme, a ten year old at the time, and lived at number 4 Derby Street, was round when a red brick chimney for the fire in the shelter was erected by a local builder. All the kids from the street used to go in and play in the shelter, the only the Police knew there was anyone in there was because of the smoke pouring out of the chimney!

The trenches and shelter in Cut Wood Park were situated next to the main road, in the middle of the trees that are still there. It was about half way between the main gates to the park, and the smaller entrance further down Blackburn Road. The trenches and shelter were eventually covered over, but it may not have been till the 70's till they were filled in.

The Chairman of Rishton Urban District Council outlined the arrangements for conducting a series of Classes on Food Economy and Food Education on the 13th June 1940.

The Council clerk reported upon the provision of the Government Evacuation Scheme concerning the establishment of hostels for 5% of the children to be received. A scheme was outlined for co-operation with Great Harwood Urban District Council for the use of "Allsprings". The council adopted this course of action on the 13th June 1940.

The Clerk reported upon the shortage of mortuary accommodation on the 13th June 1940, and intimated that should it become necessary he would requisition, under the Defence Regulations, the disused portion of the Co-operative Slaughterhouse.

The subscription to the National Playing Fields Association was suspended for the duration of the war on the 11th July 1940 by the Urban District Council.

The Council surveyor reported upon the continual damage done to Air Raid Shelters and Trenches by Youths on the 11th July 1940, and prosecution was to be proceeded with in these cases.

The Council Surveyor reported on the semi-sunk shelters still to be erected under the Councils scheme for the provision of shelters for persons caught in the streets on the 11th July 1940, and explained the difficulties which had arisen with regard to materials and labour. The Council Committee agreed for the surveyor to proceed with the erection of the shelters by direct labour, using such materials as are available. At the same meeting, The Officials of the Ministry of Home Security had interviewed the Clerk regarding the forming of an additional squad in connection with Civil Defence, and also the clerk was to obtain information from Mr. R. Worsley with regard to the County Councils intentions concerning Air Raid Shelters for Schools. It was said that if the information obtained was not satisfactory then the expressions of the Council's feelings were to be sent to surrounding districts requesting some concerted representation to the County Council for immediate action to be taken.

The clerk drew attention to the Fire Brigade Circular number 59, issued on the 11th July 1940, and stated that in accordance with the recommendations thereon, the hayloft had been adapted as a dormitory for the use of the part - time personnel who had undertaken to do regular night duties, and that also small alterations had been made in the kitchen for its use as a canteen.

11th July 1940. The Council Chairman read correspondence concerning the recent air raid at Clayton Le Moors.

18th July 1940 - and Lancashire County Council corresponded with Rishton Urban District Council concerning the supply of sand for protection against incendiary bombs. 10 tons of sand was to be purchased and delivered to the council yard, ands arrangements made for each household to collect one bucketful each. The County Council also wrote about Air Raid Shelter Marshals, and the action to be taken. The Council clerk reported on the damage caused to the Air Raid Shelters caused by children. The Police were requested to issue notices calling the children and parents to the police station and "to give them a stern warning". The clerk was to write to the County Council expressing this councils concern in the lack of Air Raid Shelters at schools in Rishton, and a copy of this resolution should also be sent to other authorities in the Number 9 Area Lancashire Education Committee requesting them to make similar representations to the county council for some immediate action to be taken in respect of air raid shelters for elementary school children.

The Ministry of Supply, Iron and Steel Control wrote to the Council on the 8th August 1940, concerning the removal of all superfluous Iron Railings and Bollards and Refuge Posts etc., No action was taken in the matter as the Council felt they had no materials falling within the classes outlined. The Sanitary Inspector suggested that the Council should remove the iron doors and fittings to Ashpits. The Council said that willingness should be expressed to collect and dispose of all material offered by individuals, but no responsibility should be taken for removing such fittings.

The surveyor reported on the 8th August 1940, that damage was still being done to the trenches in Cutt Wood and the Harwood Road and Holt Street Recreation Grounds. The Council requested regular police patrols from Sergeant Pagett, to be in the park and both Recreation Grounds.

The Council Clerk reported on various matters concerning the Auxiliary Fire Brigade at a council meeting held on the 8th August 1940;

  • That sanction be sought from the Home Office for the appointment of one Section Officer at £3 15s per week and one Leading Fireman at £3 10s per week, and these positions should be occupied by J. R. Aspden and J. L. Smith.

  • that four leading firemen be appointed from the part time personnel, and these positions should be occupied by T. Jennings, W. Carbery, J. J. Duckworth, and W. Flegg.

  • six beds should be purchased in accordance with the provisions of Fire Brigade Circular number 81, 1939.

  • Part time personnel who undertake stand by duty for a period of not less than 4 hours be provided with light refreshment at a cost not exceeding 6d per head.

The Council Clerk also reported upon delay in the answering of the telephone by the operator of the Air Raid Warning Syren. Sanction was to be obtained to remedy this matter by fixing an external bell by the Post Office authorities at a cost of 6/- per quarter.

Correspondence was read from Westhoughton U. D. C. on the 15th September 1940, concerning the formation of an Urban Districts of Lancashire Spitfire Aeroplane Fund. The Council agreed to give their whole-hearted support to this scheme.

The Council Clerk received a report that the Accrington and District Central Committee for Air Raid Precautions was to be disbanded forthwith, and R. Milburn was to attend the Regional School at Manchester for a training course as a Rescue Party Leader, and he was paid his normal weeks wage together with the travelling expenses and subsistence allowance as laid down by the County Council.

The Council was to co-operate in the National Safety First Association Campaign against black-out accidents on the road from the 15th September 1940.

The 19th September 1940 saw Rishton opening A bank account for the Rishton Urban District Council Spitfire Fund which was opened with the Midland Bank, at their Rishton branch.

Police were instructed to institute prosecution in a case of damage to the air raid shelters on the 19th September 1940.

Arrangements were made with various contractors on the 10th October 1940, for the provision of shelters below the area of the canal bridge. The surveyor was ordered to prepare a scheme to provide accommodation for 70% of the population of Rishton in accordance with instructions received from the Clerk of the County Surveyor regarding the Domestic Shelters programme. The County Air Raid Precautions Emergency Committee authorised and approved of the temporary appointment of Mr. T. R. Moyle as a Technical Assistant in connection with the shelter programme for a period of 3 months, and was to commence his duties on Wednesday the 9th October 1940.

The Council clerk was instructed to write to Major Proctor, M. P., Councillor Thomlinson, M. P., and the Ministry of Home Security, on the 10th October 1940, drawing attention to the unnecessary danger caused to this area by the light emitted from Altham Colliery.

On the 10th October 1940, The chairman of the Rishton Urban District Council reported on the position of the fixing of an electric siren to the Police Station. The clerk was instructed to communicate with the chief constable informing him that it is the opinion of the council that the matter of erection and maintenance were entirely a police matter. The Chief Constable replied the following week, requesting the order be placed for the installation of the Electric Air Raid Warning Siren on the Police Station.

Front cover of the Cookery Book.

The Council surveyor made a report on the erection of Surface Shelters, on the 14th November 1940, and referred to arrangements made with the Regional Works Advisor regarding the extension of the scheme in the district on the West Side of the canal (over the canal bridge). The Surveyor also read a letter from the County Architect regarding the erection of Air Raid Shelters at the Elementary Schools in Rishton. The Council resolved that the surveyor was instructed to inform the County Architect that he was prepared to arrange for the erection of the shelters on behalf of the Lancashire Education Committee, and also that he was instructed to give priority to the erection of the school shelters.

Permission was refused for an air raid wardens post in Cutt Wood Park on the 14th November 1940 by the Urban Council, but a site in Woodside Avenue was granted.

During 1940 the Rishtons Women Voluntary Service produced a cookery book full of recipes supplied by the townsfolk of Rishton. The book was compiled for the benefit of the Comfort Fund, and was sold at one shilling a copy. The front cover is shown here.

The book was partly paid for by local companies placing adverts within the book.

The End of the War letter to Children.

At the end of the Second World War all of the School children in the Country were sent a letter from King George, setting out the hopes and visions of the Country and hoping that the effect of War does not effect them after the hardships and dangers that they had lived through.

A copy of the letter, both the front and the back of it, can be seen here.

The rear of the letter listed the important dates that had occurred during the war, some of these have been used throughout the construction of this page.

The Council surveyor reported receipt of a letter from the County Surveyor dated November the 27th, 1940, regarding the re-organisation of the Canal Protection Squad, and explained the new proposals. The Surveyor also reported that in the circumstances he had already advertised, inviting applications for the personnel of the squad.

A letter was received from the Clerk of the County Council, and received by Rishton Urban District Council, on the 12th December 1940, regarding addition protection of the First Aid Post, and that the letter would receive attention.

On the 19th December 1940, 2,500 War time advice cards were to be obtained by Rishton Urban District Council, following guide lines submitted by the Council clerk, and a card was to be distributed to each house in the district.

The Back of a letter sent to all the children in the Country at the end of the War.

Correspondence was read from the Ministry of Home Security regarding comforts for the civil defence services, received by Rishton Urban District Council on the 19th December 1940. The Council resolved that in view of the excellent organisation already established for this purpose by the woman's Voluntary Service, that the matter should be left in their hands and that the Council would give all possible assistance authorised under the circular.

The clerk reported that consignment notes had been received on the 9th January 1941, for 200 tons of the coal to be stored in this district under the Government Coal Stocking Scheme.

It was resolved by Rishton Urban District Council on the 9th January 1941, that an Auxiliary Fire Service Action Station should be established in the garage belonging to the Victoria Mill in Parker Street, and that a private telephone line between the Fire Station and the garage should be installed.

A grant was made of £1 10s 0d from the Urban District Council prize fund, on the 9th January 1941, towards the cost of the Christmas Party organised for Children evacuated to the District.

At an Ordinary meeting of the Urban District Council of Rishton on the 16th January 1941, the following companies were given the Council Seal of Approval for 12 months.

  • Contract for the Provision of Air Raid Shelters with F. & E. Eccles

  • Contract for the Provision of Air Raid Shelters with J. & J. Butler

  • Contract for the Provision of Air Raid Shelters with Cross & Lawson

  • Contract for the Provision of Air Raid Shelters with H. Ramsbottom & Sons

  • Contract for the Provision of Air Raid Shelters with F. T. Fairchild & Sons

The chairman of the Rishton Urban District Council, on the same day, gave a résumé of a correspondence received from Lord Derby concerning the formation of funds to relieve Air Raid Distress. It was resolved that a local fund should be inaugurated in support of the Lords Mayors National Air Raid Distress Fund.

The surveyor reported that members of the Home Guard had volunteered on the 13th February 1941, to assist in clearing the roads following the snowfall on Saturday 18th January. The surveyor was instructed to convey to the Officer Commanding the Home Guard the Councils appreciation of the services rendered in the emergency.

The Council surveyor reported, on the 16th January 1941, on the position regarding Domestic Surface Shelters already erected and the results of the interview with the representatives of the Regional Technical Advisor in which instructions were given for the demolition of the Type Two shelters and the rebuilding of the same to the new design. The surveyor was to make arrangements for this work to be carried out. The clerk was instructed, at the same time, to communicate the councils dissatisfaction with the shelter design specified by the Ministry of Home Security Drawing DS. 13/40 Type Two Shelter, to the Lancashire Urban District Council's Association.

Correspondence was received from the Area Public Assistance Officer on the 14th February 1941, concerning the rest centre in the district. Application was made by the Council to the Conservative Club for the use of part of the club premises as an Emergency Rest Centre.

On the 20th February 1941, A petition was read from the residents of Tottleworth concerning the provision of Air Raid Shelters and instruction in Incendiary Bomb Control. Arrangements were made by the Council to give a fire fighting demonstration.

The question of communal feeding was raised at a Council meeting on the same date, and a subcommittee formed to consider it. The sub committee were given plenary powers to submit a scheme to the Ministry of Food.

The Council surveyor reported on the 6th March 1941, that he had now got the personnel required for the Canal Protection Squad, and that the squad were now carrying out their duties in accordance with the instructions received from the County Surveyor.

The Chairman of the Urban District Council reported upon correspondence received on the 3rd April 1941, from the Ministry of Food and the county council concerning  the contamination of foodstuffs by gas, and upon a meeting held at Clayton-Le-Moors concerning the formation of a scheme  in this district.  The Council resolved that the proposal that the Urban Districts of Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood and Rishton form a joint scheme be approved, and that the Sanitary inspectors of the respective of the respective districts recommend premises for the treatment of foodstuffs. It was further resolved that a meeting of the grocers in the town be called for the purpose of forming a Food Treatment Squad.

At the same time, Correspondence was read from the Chief Warden concerning the organisation of the fire watching Scheme. The Chief was thanked for his work in the matter and the confidence expressed that the fire Wardens Service would continue to keep the Fire Watchers Scheme in a high state of Efficiency.

An application was made to the Ministry of Health, on the 11th December 1941, under Section 228 (1) of the Local Government Act, 1933, for sanction to the expenditure of an amount not exceeding 1/6d. per head on the organisation of a Christmas party for evacuated children.

On the 12th June 1942, The Council Surveyor reported that a Warden's Post was in course of erection on land adjoining the Esplanade, Blackburn Road.

Rooms at 23, High Street, owned by John Booth, were rented at 10/- per week on the 10th July 1942, by the Rishton Council, for the storage of Air Raid Precautions equipment, and an application was made to the County Council for sanction to expenditure for the decoration of a room at W. F. C. Schaefer's shop for the use of the Street Fire Watchers.

Correspondence was read from the Ministry of Supply concerning the removal of railings for iron scrap on the 14th August 1942. It was Resolved that the Ministry be informed that the Council had no railings that were not essential.

The Council Clerk reported that notice had been received from the Ministry of Works and Planning, on the 10th December 1942,  stating that it is proposed to commence the work of removal of iron railings in this district on or after 12th December 1942.

Arrangements were made on the 14th October 1943, to show the new training films issued by the Ministry of Home Security at the Regal Cinema on a Sunday evening in the near future. At the same time, Correspondence was read from the County Civil Defence Department concerning the allocation to Rishton district of an American Ford 3-ton Rescue Truck. The vehicle was not accepted and a communication was addressed to the County Emergency Committee expressing the opinion that a more rigid economy should be exercised in the Civil Defence Services. The Council Clerk read correspondence from the County Council on the 11th November, concerning the allocation of a 3-ton American Ford Lorry, and reported that the vehicle had already been delivered. In the circumstances this vehicle was retained.

An application was made on the 11th November 1943, for permission to remove the Belisha Beacons at Harwood Road corner so as to reduce the number of obstructions which prove a source of danger in the black-out.

Approval was given on the 14th January 1944, to the purchase of nine dozen whistles for the Fire Guard Organisation at a total cost of £3 18s. 1d.

Government Evacuation Scheme, 14th September 1944. The Council Clerk reported receipt of correspondence allocating to this district one hundred evacuees. The Clerk also reported correspondence from the Office of the Regional Commissioner stating that 99, High Street and 2a, Eachill Road, Rishton, were being transferred from the National Fire Service for use in connection with the Government Evacuation Scheme. The Regional Commissioner was informed that in the changed circumstances it now wished to release these premises.

The Council Clerk reported correspondence from the City of Manchester Education Committee, on the 12th February 1945, expressing appreciation of the manner in which evacuated Manchester children had been cared for in this area. A copy of the letter was sent to Miss Holden, who had given so much assistance in connection with the administration of the scheme.

On the 12th October 1944, the blast wall at the entrance to the Council Offices was removed and an application was made to the County Civil Defence Department for the removal of the blast wall at the entrance to the First-Aid Post in High Street.

A letter of thanks was addressed to Mr. J. Walsh in appreciation of his making the premises, 45, High Street available without charge for the storage of evacuation furniture from the beginning of the War.

The Council Surveyor made an application to have the blast walls removed in front of the First Aid Post, Clinic, High Street and the Report Centre, Brook Street, and also the Air Raid Shelters and Road Blocks on the 10th May 1945.

A letter was read from Mr. Herbert Morrison thanking all personnel for their services during the war on the 10th May 1945. A copy of the letter was sent to the heads of each service.

A letter was read from the County Civil Defence Department regarding the Disbandment of War Organisations on the 17th May 1945. The heads of each service were to be notified to make their own arrangements for the disbandment of their own service.

A letter was submitted to the Council on the 19th July 1945, on behalf of a person who was evacuated to this district from Manchester in 1939 and who wished anonymously to donate £25 for the purchase of bulbs to be planted in Cutt Wood. The gift was accepted and a letter of thanks was forwarded to the person concerned.

Victory Celebrations.

It was decided by the Council on the 4th May 1945, that If possible, the Surveyor make arrangements to floodlight the Cenotaph on Victory Day and the day following. Consideration was given on the 16th August 1945, to the form which the celebrations should take and it was Resolved - That a Public Meeting should be called to obtain the views of the public and that the following Sub-Committee should formulate suggestions for consideration at that meeting: Councillors Booth, Hoyle and Longland. It was further suggested that the 15th September be the appointed date for the celebrations. It was further Resolved - That, as the total cost could not be accurately ascertained, a sum of £200 should be allocated to cover the cost and that if this is exceeded a further reasonable sum be voted to cover the expenses. On the 27th September, The Chairman thanked all those who had in any way assisted in the successful celebrations held on the 15th September 1945, and the Clerk submitted a provisional amount of £228 as the cost up to date. Further accounts were expected to be received. On the 8th November, The Clerk submitted details of the cost of the celebrations, which amounted to £244 1s. 8d. The amount provisionally voted was increased from £200 to £244 1s. 8d. and that all the accounts totalling this amount were paid by the Council.

Air Raid Shelter Demolition. Seven tenders were received on the 15th February 1946, and opened by the Chairman and Officials. Resolved - That the tender of Messrs. Horrocks & Son for £944 10s. 0d. be accepted for submission to and approval by the Lancashire County Council. It was decided by the Council on the 15th April 1946, that the Wardens' Posts on the Sands Site and on the Esplanade were to be demolished by the Contractor.

Victory Celebrations. The Clerk submitted a communication from the Home Office on the 21st February 1946, recommending that June 8th be regarded as a Public Holiday and that Victory Celebrations should be arranged for the residents where deemed necessary by the Local Authority. Resolved - That as the celebrations were held in this district on the occasion of the V. J. Day no celebrations be held on the 8th June, but that arrangements be made as previously decided for an Old People's Treat to be held at a convenient time. A letter was submitted from the Whitley Council on the 9th May, recommending this Council to grant the work-men a day holiday with pay on Saturday, June 8th, on the occasion of the Victory Celebrations, whether held locally or otherwise.

On the 8th November 1951, the Clerk submitted correspondence with the County Council Civil Defence Department regarding the provision of two sirens in the District, one of which would be sited near the King's Hall and the other in the vicinity of the West End of the Esplanade. The Clerk was instructed to draw the attention of the County Authority to arrangements suggested for the latter siren.

The Council Clerk submitted a letter from the Ministry of Food on the 8th October 1953, stating that in view of the possibility-of the termination of Food rationing during the coming year, It was recommended that the existing Food Control Committee should continue in office until such event. Resolved That the Ministry of Food be informed that this Council are in agreement with the views expressed.

On the 18th September 1952, Consideration was given to a report by the Clerk on his meeting with representatives of the County Council, who recommended that one siren was sufficient for this district provided the situation was similar to that in the last war. After considerable discussion it was Resolved That, one siren only be erected in the district subject to the police authorities approving the erection on the Police Station in Station Road.

The Council Clerk reported that the new Air Raid Warning Siren had been erected and wired on the 4th March 1954, and that remote control apparatus was still required to be installed by the G.P.O.


Anderson ShelterBuild your own Anderson shelter.
Dig For VictoryGrowing your own fruit and vegatables in WW2.
EvacueesSome of the evacuees that made it to Rishton.
Gas ChambersBuild your own Gas chamber.
War RestaurantsHow we got British restaurants.
Warship WeekDonate to the cause and help to buy a warship for your town.
Admiralty ReportAdmiralty Fleet report for the 12th March 1942, showing the adoption of HMS Man O War for Rishton.
Wings Over BritainDonate to help buy a aeroplane for your town.


Rishton U. D. C. Council Minutes

Esther Sharp (Harwood Road)

Frank Watson (via Email)

The Rishtonian Newspaper, January 1946, Volume 1, Issue 13.

Ann Wilkinson (Hermitage Street)

William Leyland (Cliff Street)

Do You Remember - Memories of our Yesterdays. Published by Readers Digest 1989.