The author in no way condones or endorses the information laid out on this page, and can take no responsibility for any similar acts which may take place in future times. The penalty for these pranks can be found at the foot of the page.
Devil Up The Spout
This involved pushing newspaper up the old metal downspouts (drainpipes) and setting fire to it.
The drawing in of air would cause a howling sound which would fetch several people out to investigate to the delight of the children involved.
Nic - Nak
Nic-Nakin is when a group of children would choose a house, and an individual person would knock and run, while the others ran or hid. This was also known as Knock-A-Door-Run.
There were various ways to get caught doing this, neighbours walking down the street who saw you, or the door being opened as you were about to knock, or worse still, when the owner of the house saw you running and went looking for you round the streets.
An alternative to just knocking on the door and running away was to place a glass milk bottle of the handle, so that when the door was opened the bottle would fall to the ground and smash!
Scrumpin - pinching the apples out of the trees! But watch out if you got caught, or worse still, if the apple was bad when you ate it. Stomach ache for a couple of days because of a bad apple was certainly payback.
An email sent to me reminds me of childhood fun. It would seem most children have walked the canal when it has been frozen over (me included), but a missive from a former Rishtoner now living in New Zealand (name withheld for privacy) tells a story of barge hopping.
Now, for those of you not in the know, barge hopping was conducted by children (probably all along the canals) and consisted of jumping off the canal bridge at one point, and jumping off the barge at the next bridge!
The only thing my correspondent didn’t tell me was if the barge owner knew, and what they though! Perhaps if any one knows they could Email me.
The above question has now been answered, thanks to Kath Eccleston. The kids would ask the barge owner if they could jump on board for a ride, the barges were so high in the water that the leap wasn’t that great, and the kids would travel to the power station at Whitebirk normally were the barge would unload the coal.
Kath tells me that the problem was getting back to Rishton as most of the barges travelling that way were empty and so were high in the water but the vessels were like a bottomless pit. It was a massive leap to make, and some of the barge owners objected to the kids jumping on.
Many a child had a problem getting a lift back, and many ended up walking!
Were do you start?
Well, if you were unlucky enough to get caught, or one of your mates got caught, who would squeal? (tell who was responsible). Was your best pal trustworthy enough to keep his mouth shut under the threat of the police being called and being dragged round to your mothers?
That was the second one, being caught by the local bobby. A swift crack round the backside, or a clip round the ear, sent back to your parents with the words "I'll be having words with your Mam and Dad later" ringing in your ears! Would he? Should you tell your parents first what you have been caught doing by the local P. C. and risk another clip round the ear off your Mum and the belt off your Dad?
Even worse than both of these was being caught by a relative, your Mum, Dad, Aunty or Uncle, it didn't matter which, the punishment was always going to hard!
In more modern times the police are called for and HASBOs issued keeping offenders under curfew at their homes.