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A brief history
The Rossendale branch is the founder member of The Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society, being formed in 1973 as The Rossendale Society for Genealogy & Heraldry and holding its inaugural meeting on Saturday 28th April 1973 at The Trevalyan Club, Broad Street, Bury, Lancashire. Monthly meetings were also held at The Bishop Blaize Hotel, Burnley Road, Rawtenstall. When the Society adopted its present title on 1st January 1985 it was decided that the Rawtenstall group should become the Rossendale Branch and the Rawtenstall meeting transferred to its present meeting place - Longholme Methodist Church, Bacup Road, Rawtenstall, were it meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7-30pm.
The Area covered
The area as a whole is called the Forest of Rossendale and is situated in north east Lancashire, eighteen mile north of Manchester. For many hundreds of years the area was a Royal hunting forest until in 1507 King Henry VII decreed that the area should be deforested (opened up for settlements and cultivation). The three towns which sprang up are, from west to east, Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Bacup.
The three towns themselves had many small districts within them and these included areas such as Higher and Lower Booths, Newchurch, Lumb, Waterfoot and Cowpe in Rawtenstall - Helmshore, Musbury, Grane Valley, Stonefold, Ewood Bridge and Irwell Vale in Haslingden - Stacksteads, Tunstead, Sharnyford, Britannia, Brandwood and Weir in Bacup. Until 1974 the three towns had their own Municipal Borough Councils. In the local government reorganization of 1974 they merged together along with Whitworth and the Edenfield and Stubbins parts of Ramsbottom to form the Borough of Rossendale.
With the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837 the three towns came under the Haslingden Registration District with sub-offices at Rawtenstall and Bacup. In 1974 the registration district was changed to the Hyndburn & Rossendale Registration District with the Superintendent Registrars Office located at Willow Street, Accrington and all the early records were kept at Accrington until May 2005, when all the local registration districts were merged to create The Lancashire Registration District. All records are now located at the Lancashire Registration District office at Preston.
Extract from History of the Forest of Rossendale
Rossendale has, from time immemorial, been a favourite hunting-ground; and there are doubtless, still to be found in the Forest sportsmen as stout of heart and lithe of limb as ever cleared dyke or ditch in the blythe days of yore; but alas, the quality of the sportsman's game has woefully degenerated from its pristine excellence. Gone from within its bounds is that right royal brute, the stag; the wild boar, the badger and the wolf have given place to civilization which tolerates not their existance; even the wily fox has disappeared from its hill-sides, and no thrifty housewife now laments her spoliated hen roost.