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Railway bridge in May 2002

There are eleven bridges within the borders of Rishton along the length of canal.

Travelling from Leeds toward Liverpool, you would enter Rishton from the South, round from Church and Oswaldtwistle. The first bridge from this direction is the railway bridge. Travelling over the canal straight after it has left the Aspden valley over Oswaldtwistle, the height of the bridge seems relatively low, but in reality it is possibly the highest bridge that we have in Rishton.

The canal is about 128 meters above sea level through Rishton, and most of the bridges are 3 meters taller than this.

The next bridge is at New Barn. This was the former site of New Barn farm, remains of which can be seen in the field on the right. There was once an area within the boundaries of Rishton, known as New Rishton, a pack horse bridge can still be found in the valley crossing the White Ash Brook, and a reservoir was once built here named New Rishton Reservoir.

In the background for this picture is Rishton golf club, and you know that you have arrived in Rishton when you are greeted with spectacular views across the Rossendale valley, through to Burnley 8 miles away, and Beyond to the Yorkshire Hills. Pendle hill, famous for its witches can be seen from here in full view. To prove this point it was announced early in 2004 that Prospects were to construct a viewing platform in this vicinity, pointing out all the

As you travel along the canal, whether it is on the old tow path or on a boat, you will pass over the M65 motorway.

Hermitage Bridge

After this you start to enter Rishton town. The first house you come to the bottom of the new South Side of Rishton, work started on these houses around 1971, and finally was completed in the mid 1990's.

Next to these are the backs of Meadowhead Gardens, which were formally pit houses.

You then pass behind Henry Street, and Daisy Field Mill before reaching the next bridge on the top of Hermitage Street.

This is bridge number 109.

The tall majestic building was the former Methodist Church and then School house, before it moved in 1974, and has since been converted into flats.

The bridge has been extensively strengthened and altered over the years due to the bridge holding the A678 road from Blackburn to Burnley, and the traffic has increased and become bigger. The original stone work is easily visible under the wider top section of the bridge, and the area has been revamped a little with stone seating and flower beds, which were provided by Prospects.

The announcements and advertisements from time to time posted on the Canal Bridge were to be removed and that no further posting were to be permitted from the 5th April 1945.

There was a stable on the North side of the bridge, big enough for housing two of the tow horses. This stable was converted into a garage in 1963, and was eventually removed all together, the flower bed planted by the prospects team now laying in its place next to the ramp which runs down to the canal side.

As you continue towards Liverpool and still heading North, you will pass practically all the old Mills in Rishton. The section from Hermitage Street to Spring Street, where the next bridge is, was surrounded by mills on both sides of the canal, and some were even on both sides of the canal.

Most of the textiles mills were built along this section, and without even taking a step away from the bridge you can see Spring mill on the left, and on the right is the site of the former Rishton Mill.

As you progress along this section, you will pass Wheatfield mill on the right, which still weaves to this day! Part of the new buildings are built on the site of the former Rishton mill. On the left most of the mill buildings have recently been demolished to make way for more housing.

Spring Street Bridge number 108 at Spring Street in December 2001.

There was Victoria Mill, which was on both sides of the canal. The weaving shed was immediately after Wheatfield Mill, with a bridge across for the warehouse. Scapa mouldings is now built on the original site after you have passed Wheatfield.

On the right hand side now stands Bridgefield Close, which are the new houses which have been built on the former site of Bridgefield Mill.

Passing the end of the mills on the right brings back beautiful scenery over the Pendle Valley again, and the next bridge comes into site ahead, number 108 at Spring Street. Meanwhile across the water is still visible all the original stone bankings were barges were loaded from the mills.

Britannia Mill still stands just before you reach the bridge at Spring Street. It has been used as a car battery manufacturing plant at the point were it meets the road, but by going up the canal bridge and walking to the back street of Spring Street, the original mill wall, and part of the structure are still standing.

Norden Bridge

Going back down towards the canal, and continuing your journey, brings you behind more new houses on the left. This was the former site of Wellington Mill, or Unity as it became which finished its life as a timber merchants before the land was turned into a scrap yard.

The land to the right opens up to reveal the Norden valley, which was once the home of the Great Harwood loop line and also an all weather pitch for Norden High School during the 1980's, which is slightly up the hill to the left.

This should then bring us upon Norden bridge, numbered 107. During the late 1920's the bridge was widened at Norden, as were many of the canals bridges, to allow more traffic to cross it. The bridge was built as a single track road originally.

This now holds the B6064 to Great Harwood and links to Lee Lane.

The old houses which are visible are known as Norden view.

Norden bridge
Norden Brickworks

Proceeding under the bridge, on the left is the location of Rishton Brickworks, note the arches next to the canal and the cut out for the barges to turn round. On the right the ground seems rough, but this was the location of Norden Drift.

The land opens up again along this stretch as we start towards Blackburn, and leave the town of Rishton behind.

Over on the right can be seen the old Great Harwood loop line, and beyond it the wooded area of Close Brow Quarry.

Before you get to Cutt Lane bridge  (number 106) you can see the reservoir, or rather the back of it, that feeds the canal. A huge wall of grass with a very level top. When the canal is drained this is were it is topped up from. Cutt farm sits to the side of this.

People think that this area is named after the canal, without realising that Cutt Lane was here before the canal was built! Cut is a word which is used locally to describe the canal, but Cutt Lane goes back to Saxon times.

Cutt Lane Bridge

Cut(t) Lane bridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was built c.1810 by the Engineers Robert Whitworth and Joseph Priestley. The bridge is constructed of Sandstone blocks and a coursed rubble parapet. An Elliptical arch with rusticated voussoirs, bands, parapets rising to a point in the centre with coping and pilastered ends.

It is at the side of the bridge that the canal is topped up with water when levels are low. The reservoir is away to the left, and the outlet from this can be seen directly next to the bridge.

Passing under the bridge, ahead on the right up the hill can be seen the remnants of Cunliffe Quarry, before you get to the bridge there are excellent examples of the tram tracks leading to the canal, from the quarries, and the built up brickwork for the barges to pull up to the banking for loading and unloading of their freight. The canal widens here for barges to turn round, and pass.

December 2001

Look out for the built up tow sections of Tow path after the next bridge, which carries Side Beet Lane. This was the site of Queens Brickworks, were the site has been filled, and the Whitebirk industrial estate built.

Side Beet Lane Bridge over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, was built c.1810, and the Engineers were Ralph Whitworth and Joseph Priestley. The bridge is coursed sandstone rubble, with a parapet of dressed stone. It has the usual elliptical arch with rusticated voussoirs, bands, parapets with ridged coping, curved and pilastered at the ends. The Bridge is in a shallow cutting and has a flat deck. This is canal bridge 106.

Strangely this is one of the few original bridges that doesn't have access off it to the track that it carries to the farms.

Rounding the 90 degree bend of the canal presents you with the Railway Bridge.

Railway Bridge 2001

From here the tow path deteriorates, as they have all been improved throughout most of Hyndburn, and particularly through Rishton. The path between side beet lane and the railway was widened and renewed in April 2003, making the walk along the canal side far more pleasurable.

Passing under the bridge the path can be seen with coal dust in places, again a cutting is visible on the right hand side for the barges to pull in and load and unload. This was the location of Rishton Power Station.

A new retail park stands on the site to the right, but the power cables and boxes still have a massive say in this development of this area.

As you turn 90 degrees to face towards Blackburn again, the canal narrows severely and this was the site of a bridge which no longer exists. One can only assume, until evidence turns up, that this was a bridge leading to the fields that once stood on this side of the canal before the power station was built, and the retail park which now stands in the same location.

Former site of Bridge at Whitebirk in December 2001.

The nearest farm to this is Whitebirk Hen Moss, which stands only a couple of hundred yards on the opposite side of the canal banking to the tow path.

Again, after this bend in the canal you are faced with the newest canal bridge in Rishton, number 104C, carrying the dual carriage way of Whitebirk Drive, which partly replaced part of the arterial road.

This is a massive concrete structure carrying almost 6 lanes, as the road above widens to meet the motorway roundabout. Underneath the bridge there is also a lot of room and a lot clearance area has been left behind. This type of modern bridge usually slopes back up to the land, but in this case the land remains flat as the bridge finishes.

104c at Whitebirk in December 2001. Whitebirk

Not far from here, perhaps only a hundred yards away, lie a whole batch of bridges over and under the canal.

Bridge over the boundary stream at Whitebirk in December 2001.

Firstly there is the bridge that crosses over the boundary stream, the  Knuzden Brook. The brook separates Blackburn and Rishton and runs from North to South. The stream can be seen running up the side of the pet food factory on the opposite side of the canal from here.

The next bridge as you leave Rishton is the old arterial road bridge, and next to it a new construction for the B & Q D. I. Y. superstore which are all over Rishtons boundary in Blackburn, but should be mentioned due to there previous uses. This is bridge 104B. All of the bridges here are numbered 104, all the way to AA, and even B such as this one. In all there are 4 bridges with this number.

Bridge 104B now only goes as far as the other side of the canal, being blocked off to traffic from Blackburn at the little roundabout here. Prior to the motorway and the construction of the roundabout the road formed part of the junction at Whitebirk, which traffic was controlled by traffic signals. The road on the bridge is now called Davis Road, but was formally part of the Arterial Road, Whitebirk Drive, before the road was rerouted for the construction of the duel carriageway.

Bridge 104B at whitebirk in December 2001.

Right next to this bridge is another bridge, constructed for the B and Q superstore in Blackburn. This road is a one way road from Whitebirk roundabout, to the superstore. I have no idea why the old bridge could not have continued in service, but it gives us these two bridges together.

 Across the way is Davis Pet foods which stands on the site of the former Morden works.

References

http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk

Jack Sanderson

Whitebirk Bridge November 2001.