A member of The Federation of Family History Societies
St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall


Rossendale Branch Newsletter February 2002


6th February Research Workshop.

6th March A Postal History. John Winter.

1901 Census Update

As widely reported, overwhelming public interest in the 1901 Census Online service resulted in hits which exceeded capacity by a factor of 20. In order to improve access, the 1901 Census will now have its own dedicated access to the Internet, which will allow greater control to the site. Work is also underway to bring a number of centres online at a local level.

An additional, more powerful, database server is also being brought online, which will enable more searches to be dealt with concurrently. This is a major task which will take time to test and implement. Even with these improvements the site will not be able to cope with the levels of demand encountered in the first few days, users are asked to be patient.

Please Help during the first few days of operations by not making continual attempts to access the site, by using the browser "Refresh" button as this only serves to compound the problems of site access.

Volunteers Needed

Rawtenstall Library has acquried the 1901 census on microfilm for most of the Rossendale area. A street index has been compiled and a name index has been started. The latter will be a long process and branch members are urged to do their bit. Volunteers are needed to transcribe, check, and type up the results. Please speak to me, if you are able to help in any of the above capacities.

Lately Dead

It is with great regret that I have to report the death (in early January) of both Hazel Taylor and Jessie Holden. Hazel was a regular at our branch meetings for about 20 years. At one time she was on the committee. Her death on January 3rd at the age of 67, was a great shock to all her friends,

Jesse Holden was also a long time member who attended both Bury and Rossendale meetings. She had never recovered from a stroke. She was 79.

Rossendale Ancestry:


Lynn Trillo is seeking information on George Townend who was living at the Mason’s Arms, St. James Street, Newchurch in 1881. George was listed as a Beerseller, aged 42, born Bacup. His wife Selina was aged 42,born Halifax. They had one son George Henry, aged 15, born Bacup. I have found George Henry in 1891 at 1 Esther Place, Bacup, aged 25. He is a tinplate worker. His wife is Elizabeth, aged 25, also born Bacup.

Lynn wonders if anyone could check the earlier censuses for her. e-mail Msrwlb@fs1.ec.man.ac.uk


Judith Smetherham is asking for some help. Her grandmother Hannah Gaskell was born about 1868 in Bacup. In 1881 she was living at Woodleigh Bank, Newchurch with her father Benjamin Gaskell (51) a soap boiler and his 3rd wife Mary Dearden (50) Benjamin was born in Bramhall, Cheshire and Mary in Preston.

According to Judith, the family had a soap manufacturing business supplying the government.

His second marriage to Anne Barrett (Hannah’s mother) took place in the March Quarter of 1859, Haslingden Registration area. There was a child Sarah J. born at Gatley, Cheshire in 1860 and another Alfred T. also born in Gatley in 1863. His second marriage also took place in the Haslingden Registration area in the June Quarter 1870. It is these two marriages which Judith would like to track down. The family went to Southern Australia about 1884. email judith1@iinet.net.au


Vincent Simonetti would like to make contact with anyone researching the Finney Family. Joseph Finney married Ellen McPartland 25th June 1887. They lived at Reid Street, Crawshawbooth for the rest of their lives.

I have given him the 1881 and 1891 census entries which show that Joseph was the son of Charles Finney. The family came to Rossendale from Belper in Derbyshire. Ellen was born in Rosscommon, Ireland. email simonetti84@hotmail.com


Mrs Jean Imeson, 16 Hallcliffe Grove, Horbury, Wakefield, WF4 6DE is researching William Haslam of Longholme. His father Jonathan Haslam was born in 1807. email michaelandjean@talk21.com


Phil Lea writes "I was born in Rossendale to Alfred and Myra Lea (nee Pickup) although I now live in Cambs".

I am particularly interested in the following names: Lea - came from Ormskirk to Rossendale circa 1915. Pickup - well known local surname. Cropper - well known Lancastrian name Nuttall - my line goes back to the Rev. John Nuttall of Deign, Layrocks/Goodshaw Baptist fame. Jennings - Yorkshire heritage, my line coming to Rossendale circa 1900.

I have mapped out most of my lines to circa 1750 using the usual genealogy techniques including online IGI, microfilm census 1841 - 1891, CD -ROM 1881 census for UK etc etc. and have posted my GEDCOM file at Rootsweb. I also have my own genealogy website/chatclub called ‘The Family Way’ and anyone is welcome to join. http://communities.msn.co.uk/TheFamilyWay

However in addition to my own direct lines I have now branched out to one-name studies for Pickup & Cropper in the Rossendale area and a number of your members may be interested in this aspect.

You can email Phil at phil_lea1954@hotmail.com


We have just had a visit from Lester Hunt, East Wing, The Old Hall, South Grove, London N6 6BP. Lester is researching the family of his wife Sandra (Smith). We have found that he is related to our Branch Treasurer, Maureen Hodgkinson through their mutual great grandfather, Edward Pizer Smith. Edward was born in Ewood Bridge in 1857. He was the son of another Edward Pizer Smith who came to Haslingden from Nottingham. Edward, junior was married to Sarah Jane Duckworth whose father Samuel died in the Helmshore Railway Accident in 1860. (see our Gravestone of the month).

Sandra’s paternal grandmother was Rhoda Gowers born in Rawtenstall. Her father Miles Gowers came from Fakenham in Norfolk. Rhoda married John William Smith in 1912 at Edenfield Paris Church. Sandra’s mother, Dorothy Isherwood was daughter of Thomas Isherwood who came to Haslingden from Slaidburn. Her mother was Maud Olivia Clitheroe of Bury.

Maud’s father Henry Clitheroe is proving to be something of a mystery. Legend says he was a coachman who ran off with Sarah Ann Cowpe of Haslingden about 1880. They are living in Brierley Street, Bury in 1881. Lester cannot find a marriage, so he is stuck on this line. Email: Lester.Hunt@care4free.net

The Helmshore Railway Accident

On September 4th 1860, three special trains had taken thousands of East Lancashire people to Belle Vue in Manchester. Returning late in the evening the second train carrying about 1000 passengers was moving out of Helmshore Station, when a coupling snapped.

Fifteen carriages broke loose from the train, they ran backwards, down a steep incline, colliding with another train which was approaching from Ramsbottom. Three of the carriages were thrown in the air and fell onto the embankment. Nine doctors from the neighbourhood rushed to the scene. The dead and injured were carried to the nearby Turner’s Arms. Ten people were killed, estimates of the injured ranged from 50 - 100.

Most of those who died were from Accrington, Burnley, Barrowford and Colne. An Ewood Bridge man and a Haslingden woman were also killed.

In view of Lester Hunt and Maureen Hodgkinson’s connection with Samuel Duckworth. I have chosen this for my "Gravestone of the month".

Gravestone of the Month from St. James Churchyard, Haslingden

In Memory of SAMUEL DUCKWORTH of Ewood Bridge who was killed in the HELMSHORE RAILWAY ACCIDENT Sept. 4th 1860 in his 50th year. Sudden and awful was the stroke. By which lives thread was broke. O haste to Christ make no delay. As no one knows his dying day.

Also of SARAH his widow who died April 19th 1887 aged 76 years.

Also of their son in law ROBERT COLLINGE of Ashen Bottom Nr. Edenfield who died January 8th 1907 in his 74th year. Also of ALICE COLLINGE his wife who died March 21st 1919 aged 82 years.

The Haslingden woman who died in the accident was MARY HEYS. She was the daughter of James and Mary Heys of Mangholes, late of Top o’ the Bank. She is buried in the family grave at Haslingden which reads:

.... Mary their daughter was killed at the HELMSHORE RAILWAY ACCIDENT Sept. 4th 1860 aged 51 years....

Oh death I little thought of thee, when I set out from home. But thy commission was for me. Oh what a sudden doom.