A WEAVER’S DAUGHTER said: "Many a time, if it was getting near pay day and mother had only one warp in, there’d be a slice of bread each for us — nothing for her. I remember her cutting a single piece of bread and handing out the pieces with the words: ‘Go to your auntie, and ask her to put some margarine on it.’ It was always like that just before pay day."
A Colne woman, recalling the late 1920s, mentioned being sent into the centre of town late on Saturday night to visit a fish shop whose owner, wishing to clear his stock, would shout: "Any fish you like for a tanner." The same woman recalls that "we did not always have enough to eat. Mam sometimes used up all the food, or she may just have enough bread to cut us three children a thick slice each at dinnertime. Then she’d say to us: ‘Go to your grandma, and ask her to put you some marg. on it. I’ll pay her back-when I get my wage after work tonight’."
The aunt of a Burnley man who did not earn £1 a week in her long working life — in a full week, when she was not "coving" she drew 19s. — told me his father was on 26s. a week, "and if he’d had a row with the boss there wasn’t a week. I’ve had many a tin of beans for supper. It was called pork and beans in those days. There was a piece of pork about half the size of your thumb in it."
Having spoke of chip shop food elsewhere on this web site, my mind turned to other great Lancashire fayres.
Bread and Dripping
Dripping could be bought straight from your local butchers, and in a lot of cases freshly made that day. What is dripping? It is the fat from inside the cows stomach lining, which when seen is pure white and clean. It is melted down and packaged.
The dripping was taken home and served with bread for tea, the dripping being spread on the bread like we spread butter or margarine on now. Lightly salted the butties were eaten.
Tripe and Onions
Another very popular dish, Tripe was bought from the local tripe shop, at one time George Monk, a tripe dealer from Blackburn had several tripe shops in Rishton, some of these can be seen in the photo's of High Street.
The tripe is the cows stomach lining and again is off white in colour, knowing this information has been enough to put many people off tasting it! The tripe has a honeycomb effect on one side and vinegar was great fun to fill these in!
The tripe was cooked in milk with the onions being sliced, and eventually making onion rings as they came apart.
Tripe and Trotters
This dish was served cold. The tripe and trotters were doused in salt and vinegar and ate straight from the plate!
The trotter is exactly what you think it is, a pigs trotter. These were sold in the local tripe shops.
Tripe was good for drinkers, as tripe would put a lining on your stomach before going for a beer!
If you are looking for a comparison, jellied eels sold in London would be somewhere near.
A market stall supplied a pennyworth of tripe bits, to which salt and vinegar were added. The tripe was served on a plate, with a piece of bread and butter added,
Tripe had the merit of being a cheap dish and was nourishing. Easily digested, it was reputed to "clean the stomach". A thin form of tripe came from sheep. "Black tripe", from a cow’s belly, resembled a dish-dart (cloth). When displayed for sale, efforts were made to impart attractiveness by setting it on a white marble slab with other varieties of tripe, the whole display being adorned with tomatoes and lettuce.
Pigs’ trotters have had a special association with Bolton, the local football team being known as "Trotters". The dish consists of the edible parts of a pig’s foot, boiled at the tripe works, the cleaves being torn away with the use of a special hook. When boiled, it resembled a mass of transparent jelly, slightly yellow in hue. It was eaten with salt. Cow heel, similar to pig’s trotter, came, of course. from the cow.
This video footage was originally shown on Channel 4 in August 2007, and shows a popular UK chef finding a new way to cook tripe.
Sugar was sprinkled on top of a slice of bread, another slice atop of this and bingo! A sweet sugar butty!
A traditional Lancashire Fayre that is still eaten and bought throughout Lancashire today.
Long before the Industrial Revolution, the pig figured largely in the Lancashire man's diet. Pork products were popular in the mill towns. Black puddings have been prepared in Bury on a commercial basis since at least 1818.
Black puddings are made from parts of the pigs belly, again nothing was ever left to waste. If bought from the local chip shops the puddings are deep fried, and sometimes covered in batter. To cook yourself, you can grill, shallow fry, or oven bake them today.
When a pig was slain, its blood was collected in a bucket and stirred — traditionally with the arm up to the elbow — until it coagulated and darkened. To it were added groats and pieces of fat about the size of dice. Herbs gave added flavouring. Black puddings were made using skins from pig intestines: they first resembled fat sausages, but by the time the ends had been drawn together and tied, the general appearance was spherical.
A black pudding stall at an old time market was simply a trestle table, with a boiler standing on the ground at one end. The gas supply came via underground pipe, the end of which was exposed when the stallholder removed a selected sett. The trestle held salt, pepper and vinegar.
If a family purchased some boiled puddings for later consumption, these would be sliced, then fried in fat.
Meat and Potato Pies
A staple food in many working class homes was the meat and potato pie; the meat was usually beef. Corner shops had such pies for sale to textile operatives at dinnertime. The Lancashire Hot Pot was traditionally 0 mutton chops, or bones and scraps left over from the Sunday meat dish, covered with thin, sliced potatoes. It was not mash. The sliced potatoes remained flat and distinctive. A few vegetables, such as peas, lentils and sliced carrots, might be added.
Evaporated Milk Butties
The problem with these butties was that once you had dipped your finger in the tin, in was hard to stop!
Because the milk is so thick, it was easy to spread on a butty, and because of the sweetness of the milk, kids loved them!
In the meanest of homes, meals were always "scratch" and the table never seemed to be cleared. "They couldn’t afford cow’s milk as a rule. Nestlé's milk was the commonest kind. Bread and jam were the staples. In the most poverty-stricken homes, it was mainly bread."
Hot Pea Saloons
Lancashire towns once had their "pay ‘oils", or pea holes, known primly as Hot Pea Saloons. Two or three cauldrons were to be seen, and in them were various types of pea, which were sold in small white basins, about 3 inches deep. Salt and vinegar were available. Children usually took quick "swigs" from the vinegar bottle if no one was looking! A helping of peas cost a halfpenny; one ate the peas and then drank off the liquid. Alternatives to the main dish of green peas were "greys" and "pigeon peas". The latter actually rattled in the mouth. A penny meat pie was available. If gravy was added, the customer watched the retailer make a hole in the top of the pie with his thumb to admit the gravy!
Many poor families breakfasted on bread and butter. Marmalade, somewhat cheaper to buy than jam, was contained in a large pot jar. When empty, this pot was partly filled with tap water, which was then swilled round by the children, who drank a faintly flavoured liquid called "sipings". Rice puddings were a general standby throughout the year. Plum duff, served in winter, was known as "stick-in-the-ribs".
Tuesdays and Fridays were "fish days". Plaice was the choice of those with money to spare, but the poorer families selected "garnets", or "gurnards" — large, ugly fish notable for their incredible number of bones. If, during the meal, someone spluttered as a bone stuck in his throat, a piece of dry bread was gulped on the theory that "if yon bone won’t come up, it’ll go down!"
Tinned salmon was kept until weekend, and the arrival of "comp’ny" for tea. For the family, salmon was mixed with bread crumbs, forming a paste, and liquid margarine was poured on to it.
Iris's Pie and Pea's
Based in a little corner shop at 14 Parker Street, Iris Presho became renown locally for her pie n pea's. Lunchtimes saw the workers from Wheatfield mill queuing at the door, pies, sandwiches, and fancies were all sold here. Iris went on to do buffets for parties and functions, most people ordering a pie and pea's supper, and rarely was there anything left, people taking any leftovers home to be warmed up the next day for lunch!
Any more to add? You can see what kind of information I am after from the above, so if you know something you used to eat when you lived in Rishton, drop me a Email Me.
Life In The Lancashire Mill Towns by W. R. Mitchell, Dalesman Books 1982, ISBN 0 85206 704 6