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Before the time when proper records and maps were kept of a district’s boundaries, it was the custom for the parish priest, the officials of a parish and as many boys who cared to go with them, to go on a tour of the district’s boundary. The object of the tour was twofold, to bless the fields and the growing crops and to see that no encroachments had been made and that landmarks and boundary stones were in their proper place.
The reason for taking boys of the parish along with the officials was in order that they should be impressed with the importance of guarding the boundaries when they became responsible adults.
As the party went along, the boys, armed with branches, would, on the instruction of the officials, beat the stones and places of importance and those that were to be remembered. Hence the name, "Beating the Bounds".
Here’s a beautiful map that was given to the Library at Rishton, Many thanks to them for allowing its use.
"Beating the Bounds of Great Harwood on the 4th and 5th November, 1803 was a special tour of the boundary designed to thrash out the responsibilities of Rishton and Great Harwood as their boundaries met, and to make quite sure that there were no encroachments on and belonging to the Lord of the Manor of Great Harwood, Mr Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh.
The boundaries of Great Harwood and Rishton, where possible, followed the natural divisions made by the rivers and streams.
Having crossed Billington Moor, they recorded: — We then came to the turnpike road leading from Blackburn to Clitheroe (York Road) and to a piece of land adjoining, about which several disputes had arisen.
These disputes had been settled by Lieutenant Samuel Cable on the 29 November 1788, who awarded land on the west side of the road to Wilpshire, and the other part of the land on the east side to Great Harwood. This was a small triangle of land on the other side of the highway, which is still part of Great Harwood.
A small watercourse running south was the boundary and as the road was crossed, a fence had been erected across the field to Blackburn Old Road (Harwood Road on the Rishton side). Here on the wall was a boundary stone marked HR. The boundary continued downhill in an easterly direction and the writer observed:—
We crossed a bridle road from Belthorn to Clitheroe which each township repairs what lies in its township.
This bridle road came over Whalley Banks. Strings of pack horses carrying lime to Belthorn brought coal back to Clitheroe. They were Galloway ponies and were known as the "Lime Gals".
The watercourse, which became Lidgett Stream, had its source in the hillside, and there were two weir pools on it before it reached the bridge at the Lidgett.
Before the road to Rishton and Blackburn via Lee Lane was made, the lane out of Great Harwood to Rishton passed by the old cottages at Lidgett, crossing the Lidgett stream by a bridge. It was at this bridge which spanned the stream that a group of people gathered together on November, 1803. The group consisted of important habitants and officials of Great Harwood and Rishton including the Surveyors of the Highway, Mr. Wilson, steward to Sir T. D. Hesketh and a party of youths.
The bridge over the stream is in part fallen in and in great want of repair, and it appearing to us that several persons are desirous to provoke a lawsuit as to the repairs thereof and also to create doubts how far each township extends — we the Jurors in the presence of inhabitants of both townships do say that it appears to us that the inhabitants of Great Harwood and Rishton were at joint and equal expense of repairing the same for ever after. It did further appear to us that Rishton side of the bridge being in want of repair, the same was repaired by William Mercer of Great Harwood, but the expenses were repaid to Great Harwood by Robert Pickles, Surveyor of the Highway of Rishton.
Having dealt with the bridge to the satisfaction of both parties, the group passed through a foot stile (made and repaired by Rishton), following the Lidgett Stream on its journey to Norden Brook. At the junction, there were two bridges, one over the Lidgett Stream and the other over Norden Brook, leading to Tottleworth. The jurors decided that the bridge over Norden Brook was the responsibility of Rishton and the repair of the bridge over Lidgett Stream was a joint obligation.
Three roods of land at the meeting of the streams belonged to Mr. R. G. Lomax and to quote the words of the scribe:— There is a clow or weir there, tied to a piece of land to turn the water wheel of Mr. Lomax, heretofore Mr. Nowell, former owner of the Lower Town of Great Harwood.
The Norden Brook was the boundary between Great Harwood and Rishton, but as the centuries have passed the brook has meandered and sometimes small areas of land within the boundary of Great Harwood are on the other side of the brook. Along the length of the brook, it is recorded that there were two weir pools, two gravel beds and one stone bed, the latter belonging to Rishton. Stone and gravel from the rivers were put to good use on the roads in the township.
As the walk progressed, a note was made:— A footbridge has been made for the convenience of a print works in Rishton into the land of Sir T. D. Hesketh, where no road was before and this was made without Sir Thomas’s consent. This footbridge is the track leading to Clayton from Great Harwood, which crosses the upper Northern part of Rishton land. Known locally as Clayton fields (even though they aren't!)
Nothing was allowed to pass the eagle eyes of the jurors and just before Norden Brook joined the Hyndburn there was a dingle where coal was near the surface. The inhabitants of Great Harwood had been helping themselves and a special observation was made.
N.B. Here, coal comes 5 feet thick today which Sir Thomas’s tenants get without his consent.
At this point Norden Brook joined the Hyndburn.
On the 1st April 1934 part of the land was transferred into Blackburn and the boundary moved. This was carried out under the 1934 Review Order, which Rishton was compensated for by Blackburn Borough Council.
There were several boundaries in use over the years, Rishton's own U. D. C. was one, but Rishton was also part of the County Borough of Blackburn and Clitheroe. It was because of this that Rishton was allowed use of the hospital at Queens park in Blackburn.
The boundary takes the route of the River Hyndburn to the East, before branching off on the South East section towards Blackburn. This is White Ash Brook and then Willsden Syke which leads to Knuzden Brook at Intack.
The boundary then runs along this stream to Whitebirk, when the boundary crosses the road at the railway bridge and heads off North over the hill.
Dropping down the hill towards Wilpshire the Boundary once again links up with a stream, which is now part of Parsonage Reservoir. It crosses the bottom of the hill heading toward Great Harwood and then veering South behind the New Inns to link up to the Lidgett Brook. This brook courses down the hill through Star Delph quarry site, before veering South East towards Great Harwood again across open fields. It rounds the back of the Lidgett public house and runs South to Tottleworth.
In Tottleworth it meets Norden Brook which runs at a 90 degree angle, heading West towards Clayton Le Moors. Here the Brook meets the river Hyndburn thus completing the circular route of the boundary.
The total distance of the boundary is 19.5 miles, compare this to the slightly bigger township of our neighbours Great Harwood which is 11 1/2 miles and you get some idea of the amount of green fields that are within Rishton.
Boundary Commission. Full consideration was given to the Accrington proposals for the formation of a County Borough on the 20th June 1946, and also to the question of an amalgamation of the 3 Urban Districts of Great Harwood, Clayton-le-Moors and Rishton. It was Resolved -
(a) That the Accrington Corporation be informed that this Urban District Council do not desire to participate in the formation of a County Borough by joining with that Borough and others in the vicinity.
(b) That the Urban District Councils of Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors be informed that this Council does not desire to amalgamate with these two Urban Districts in the formation either of a large Urban District or a potential Non-County Borough.
(c) That all steps possible be taken to retain the identity of Rishton as a separate Urban District.
(a) Proposals received from the Blackburn Corporation. 11th July 1946. The Clerk submitted a letter dated 24th June, received from the Town Clerk of Blackburn, together with a map setting forth the proposals for an extension of boundary of the County Borough of Blackburn, including inter alia, the absorption of the Urban District of Rishton. It was Resolved - That in accordance with a request incorporated in the letter from the Town Clerk of Blackburn that this Council meet the Blackburn Corporation at a date to be arranged.
(b) The Clerk submitted a letter received from the Lancashire County Council asking for representatives to be, appointed to attend a meeting at Preston on the 16th July. Resolved - That as many Councillors as possible attend the meeting, together with the officials.
Re-distribution of Seats Act 1946. The Clerk submitted a letter received on the 7th November 1946, from the Town Clerk of Accrington enclosing copy of a notice to be placed on deposit at the office for the period mentioned in the notice. The Clerk reported that the Boundary Commission's proposals transferred from the Accrington constituency to the Blackburn constituency the area in Rishton situate in the north-west corner around Parsonage Road and brought the area into conformity with the area transferred to Blackburn under the review of County Districts. Resolved - That no action be taken in the matter.
Boundary Commission. The Clerk submitted a letter received from the Clerk of the County Council enclosing a copy of the County Council's observations to the Boundary Commission when they met during October. Also enclosed were statements showing the effect of the various County Borough proposals on the Administrative County. The Clerk of the County Council further stated that he would communicate with each County District in the near future. Resolved - That, so far as the Blackburn proposals affecting this district are concerned, this Council adheres to its previous decision to take all steps possible to retain the identity of the district. Further resolved - That Councillors Banks, Sturzaker and Sutcliffe cooperate in the forming of the Council's case.
Barrett's Directory of 1935 Blackburn and Out townships.
1935 -36 Council Minutes
Great Harwood Gleaning, By Louie Pollard, Published by Lancashire County Council Library & Leisure Committee 1978.