THE 1885 newspaper had survived intact for almost 140 years. What had been so important? It was only a local newspaper costing just one penny. Once called the Craven Pioneer, it had its head office in the High Street in Skipton, and was to become the Craven Herald and Pioneer, writes Alan Roberts.

THE big story was still the passing away of local industrialist and philanthropist William ‘Billycock’ Bracewell. His death and funeral had been reported in these ‘Nostalgia’ pages almost a year ago. In the world of 1885, it was now more than a fortnight later. What had happened in the intervening two weeks?

The funeral cortege which had headed from Billycock’s home in Newfield Edge in Barnoldswick down to Bracewell Church had been three-quarters of a mile long.

The news this week was twofold. Billycock had been one of the area’s major employers: Butts Mill had twice been enlarged, there was Wellhouse Mill, the weaving sheds and engineering works at Burnley and collieries at Ingleton. And then there were the flour mills, the gasworks, the quarries and the farms. The Pioneer reported that according to his will his businesses would carry on as before.

Secondly, a memorial service was held on the previous Sunday night after all the other services had finished. The Wesleyan chapel in Barnoldswick was filled to its ‘utmost capacity’.

Mr Tyas, the preacher, delivered a very long sermon. He praised Billycock Bracewell’s charitable works. He had made substantial gifts to the Methodist movement in the town: the schools opposite the chapel were ‘largely his gift’, the chapel they worshipped in was ‘entirely the product of his kindness, and will stand as a lasting memorial of his generosity’. He also gave the land behind the chapel and the land on which the manse was built. Furthermore, he did not overlook the smaller cases of need which occurred in daily life: when a case of real distress was noted he was always ready to help.

The preacher addressed the issue of how Bracewell was able to become so rich so quickly: according to the preacher Bracewell’s desire was to deal favourably and honourably to all. His love of making a good deal may sometimes have led him to manifest great keenness in business transactions.

We can understand that, and we can also understand that some may have felt aggrieved by that. Quickness of thought, speed of action and attention to detail do not, he said, compromise one’s integrity. Wrongdoing occurs when deceit, fraud and oppression are brought into play, and that was never the case with Bracewell. Let integrity rule, the preacher declared.

In Sudan, General Gordon had failed to evacuate the city of Khartoum before being surrounded by rebel forces. After a long siege the city was overrun and its inhabitants and garrison were slaughtered. Sadly, a British relief force would arrive just two days too late. Gordon became an overnight hero. The nation’s adulation spread as far as Barnoldswick. At the Primitive Methodist chapel there had been a service of song, to remember the life (and death) of General Gordon. There had been a large attendance.

On Monday, Queen Victoria travelled by a special train to Portsmouth courtesy of the Great Western Railway. She then sailed to Cherbourg in France on board the royal yacht HMS Victoria and Albert. She would then spend three weeks at the lakeside spa town of Aix-les-Bains and return to Britain after a short visit to Darmstadt in Germany.

In Canada an insurrection of First Nations peoples said to number 1500 men armed with Remington rifles defeated a force of government troops and mounted police at Duck Lake in Manitoba. Thirteen policemen were reported killed, while the rebels were said to have suffered heavy losses. The leader of the native forces Louis Riel was later captured, convicted of treason and executed.

In football Burnley defeated Manchester ten-nil. This was before the days of the Football League and the Manchester clubs, United and City. It is believed Manchester were Manchester Association FC which played its last recorded match some three years later. Burnley on the other hand would thrive, and twice win the highest tier of league football in England, and the FA Cup against Liverpool in 1914.

At Earby the rebuilding of the railway station was nearing completion. On the Colne platform there was a booking office flanked by the general and ladies’ waiting rooms. A glass awning with an iron framework ran along the side of this building providing much better shelter. The large iron bridge across the line was not quite finished. The new signal box was clean and comfortable and fitted with all the latest improvements and contrivances.

And finally, the Wesleyan school buildings have become a mixed-purpose centre with the splendid aims of growing business, community and creativity. The chapel was demolished in the 1960s and St Andrew’s House, a nursing home was built in its place. The manse still stands to its left. A new church was recently constructed behind it. The large church hall appears to be no longer in use.

Thanks to Barnoldswick History Society for its help in the preparation of this article.