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Up till now Thomas is still the last Rag n Bone chap to have called the back streets of Rishton…..

This clip was first published in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph on Saturday 10th April 1999 under the headline:

Rag and bone 'Basil' goes out in style

POPULAR former rag and bone man Thomas Brierley was taken to his last resting place by a horse-drawn glass hearse.

Mr Brierley, of Meadowside Avenue, Clayton-le-Moors, died in hospital aged 82 and was laid to rest in Dill Hall Lane Cemetery, Church, yesterday. (Friday 9th April 1999).

The procession, organised by Hyndburn Funeral Services, began at his home before mourners moved to St Mary's RC Church, Clayton-le-Moors.

Mr Brierley, known as Basil, was a familiar figure in Hyndburn as he trotted through the streets with his beloved horse, Tommy.

He first took up the reins as a rag and bone man in the 1950s and carried on the trade until the early 1980s.

Previously, he had an amazing escape during the Second World War when he was taken captive by Japanese soldiers in Singapore.

An American torpedo destroyed the ship he was on and Mr Brierley was rescued by a US submarine after spending five days clinging to a piece of wood in the sea. Mr Brierley's wife Sara, known locally as Sally, died in 1991.

The couple had four children – sons Anthony, Christopher and Stephen, and daughter Christine.

Mr Brierley's youngest son, Stephen, said: "We think my dad was the last rag and bone man in Hyndburn, because it's something society doesn't need any more.

"He had a number of horses and started off with one called Flash, but Tommy was the best known.

"Dad went all over the place, from Rishton to Baxenden and he was well known. I used to see him come past my school, Holy Family, which is now Mount Carmel, in Oswaldtwistle.

"The carriage which carried dad's coffin came from Cambridgeshire. It wasn't a normal funeral, we had a garage full of flowers - and we'd like to thank everyone."

As a child I remember the rag n chap well. You would hear him coming from miles away, hollering in the back street what sounded like a man in pain – “Ragbo, Ragbo”. My grandma, Eva, would give me a couple of old jumpers or cardigans and send me out in the back alley.

I would hand my items over and get a couple of balloons in exchange, what joy! I would play with them for the rest of the day after that.

Of course you would always go and stroke the horse – what child could resist!

As I grew older the items which I noticed on the back of the cart grew bigger and bigger. I suppose it was a way for people to get rid of large rubbish items like sofas and washing machines without having to call the council and wait in for them.

All I say is long may they be remembered for they certainly put a smile on me and my Grans faces when I was a kid………….


Lancashire Evening Telegraph