Foot and Mouth 2001 (pdf)

he Horse Well

The two troughs in the wall on Nelson Road, near the playing field gate, are named  The Horse Well on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1849. The water in the troughs comes from the stream that runs down the croft between the A682 Nelson Road and the School. In the past, this stream seems to have been an important part of Gisburn's water supply. The Horse Well is one of the few bits of that system still visible above ground.

The Court Rolls of the Manor of Gisburne of the seventeenth century, record cases where people were ordered to keep water supply channels clear, and to correct the flow of water where it had been diverted without permission. One ruling of the Manor Court states:-
Occupiers of the Acre in the Rakes shall take in water to runn in the accustomed current downe George Close dich upon paine of every default.
This is an order to the people cultivating the land between Westby and Gisburn, to ensure a sufficient supply of water in the channel running down through the area now occupied by the School, the B.T. building and the Engine House, an area once known as Old George Meadow. The order very probably refers to the stream from which the Horse Well still draws its supply. The fine for each failure was three shillings and fourpence (about 17p, but a large sum 350 years ago).

The Horse Well's fine old troughs can each hold about 42 gallons. Made of local stone, they have four inch thick walls and smooth inner surfaces. Each trough has a drainage hole (now blocked up) in the near right hand corner. A channel is cut in the adjoining walls to let water run from the left upper trough into its twin. The front walls of the troughs have been worn down about two inches over the years of use, and a broad iron strip has been fixed to the left trough's front wall to protect it. A lead-lined channel lets water overflow through the road wall to rejoin the main stream under Lyndale Terrace.

Although seldom now supplying water to horses, this Well still runs as it has done for at least 200 years, and probably longer, and it usefully supplies the Memorial Garden.

Dr R Henderson

Gisburn Morris Dancers,

Gisburn Morris Dancers performed at local village functions as far back as 1916 (possibly even earlier). Morris Dancers should, strictly speaking, always be male, but because Gisburn was a remote village it managed to get away with female Morris Dancers as well. In 1935 during a May Day procession, Bob Capstick's horse and lorry was used to carry "BRITANNIA" and her retinue through the streets of Gisburn. The 8 strong Gisburn Morris team danced GISBURN PROCESSIONAL MORRIS, which, as the name suggests is one which is danced in a procession. The annual May Day celebrations ceased when the second world war began. GISBURN PROCESSIONAL MORRIS is still well known and danced by Morris Dancers today.

Gisburn Gala and Gala Queen

In 1951 (Festival of Britain Year), fund-raising for the proposed extension of Gisburn village hall began with a week of activities. At Gisburn's Festival, Ann Wilkinson was crowned 'Festival Queen'.

Gisburn held a Carnival in 1952, when Jean Taylor was 'Carnival Queen', Mary Precious was 'Carnival Queen 'the following year.

The annual event, raising funds for the upkeep of the hall, became known as "GISBURN GALA" in 1964. A procession of floats was led by a band from the Auction Mart to the Commercial Hotel (now Traveller's Court) and back to the playing field (Georges Croft) where fancy dress and floats were judged. The last procession through the village was held in 1991. Side-shows, Stalls and Competitions are held at the Gala. Teas, Ice-cream and barbecued sausages (supplied by Gisburn's local butcher) are served, and a barrel organ plays.

The tradition of selecting a queen was revived in 1991. A 'Gala Queen' was selected by a draw from class 4 at Gisburn School. Two attendants were selected from classes 3 and 4. After being crowned and leading the procession around the playing field, The Queen, wearing the original "cloak" (dating back to 1951) and her retinue were invited to attend village functions throughout their "year of office". They were, also invited to the May Queen celebrations at Slaidburn.


The railway at Gisburn was opened in 1885. As well as passenger trains, many animals were transported to and from Gisburn Market by rail, and milk from surrounding farms was transported by rail to dairies in towns and cities as far away as Liverpool.

The railway at Gisburn closed in 1960 at the time of the "Beeching cuts". The Clitheroe to Hellifield line is still used for goods and occasional passenger services, but they do not stop at Gisburn.

The former Station House is situated on Mill Lane and there is a small signal box to the west, both of which are privately owned.

To the east of the former Gisburn Station is a railway tunnel with ornamental stone portals which was built at the insistence of Lord Ribblesdale who would not allow the railway to pass through the grounds of Gisburne Park unless underground. Further east along the line is the tall eight-span Stock Beck Viaduct.

The spelling of Gisburne changed to Gisburn when the Railway Company argued that many hours each year could be saved by so doing. The railway opened in 1885.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways

Blackburn to Clitheroe opened 1850
Clitheroe to Chatburn opened 1860
Chatburn to Gisburn opened 1885
Gisburn to Hellifield opened 1892


Being dissected by the A59 Gisburn has always had a love hate relationship with traffic.

These are a few of many incidents which have occurred along with requests and measures introduced to slow down traffic and prevent accidents over the past 80 years....

 In 1915 the gateway across the road leading to the school was kept locked to "restrict the rush of school children onto Burnley road", children would then have to pass through the turnstile and "lessen the risk of accidents from motors and other fast moving vehicles".

In 1915 the Bowland Rural District Council were requested to erect 3 boards warning of the danger existing where Stockbeck Road joins at a right-angle the Clitheroe and Skipton highway as several accidents had occurred.

 In 1919. the question of a speed limit for motor car's passing through the village of Gisburne was raised. Parishioners urgently requested the Parish Council to try, if possible, to get a speed limit fixed at 10 miles per hour to the dangerous comers at Station Road Top, Post Office Comer and Stock Beck Road.

On Sunday 11th July 1920 at 10.50 am, P.C. Thompson saw a Bradford motor cyclist at Burnley Road end driving towards Skipton, he was crouched over the handle-bars and travelling at such a great speed when near the Ribblesdale Arms Hotel that the machine leaned over on its side "like a track racer". He signalled to him to stop and the rear wheel locked-up and skidded several times before he stopped. There was a lot of traffic at the time and the motor cyclist was going too quickly for his own and the publics safety.

Ernest O. Robinson, Postmaster at Gisburn, said the motor cyclist was "taking all he possibly could out of the engine and was going much too quickly for an ordinary road, never mind a village". The motor cyclist denied going anything like 30mph or crouching over the handlebars, he said he had been driving for two years without receiving a caution. He was fined £5 and costs.

 In 1973 the West Riding Constabulary were asked what could be done to reduce the speed of motorists travelling through the village, They replied that provision had been made to 'step up 'the enforcement of the speed limit in Gisburn.

 On Sunday 30th Nov 1980, a car hit the gate post at the entry to the Playing Field destroying part of the wall and the Parish notice board.

In 1984 barrier was erected to the exit from the playing field following a fatal accident at the A682/A59 junction.

In 1987 A speed survey revealed the average speed of 32 mph with 15% going faster than 38 mph.

 In 1991 a traffic survey by the L.C.C./M.O.T. showed daily traffic rate through the village as 10,000 vehicles, 23% being heavy goods, which was twice the national average.

 In 1992 the Ministry of Transport requested that the L.C.C. Surveyor consider traffic calming measures to slow down the speed of traffic through our village to make it safer.

Spring 1993, traffic calming measures were introduced to the village.


In 1914, 9 acetylene street lamps were obtained by Gisburn Parish Council to replace Gas-Oil lamps. The new lamps were more efficient and the services of a lamp lighter were no longer required. Electric street lighting was installed in Gisburn in 1934. The Parish Council borrowed £l00 from The Rev; J. Heslop, (who later became Canon Heslop) Vicar of Gisburn. Consent for the loan had to be obtained from both the Ministry of Health and the West Riding County Council. The loan was repaid between January 1935 and January 1944 at the rate of £l0 per year. In 1963, the divisional road engineers were consulted when the police drew attention to the inadequate lighting system for the amount of traffic passing through the village. In July 1966 The Ministry of Transport took over the lighting systems on all trunk roads, lighting on other roads is the responsibility of the local authority highways department.


Prior to public refuse collection, Gisburn had an "Ashpit" where residents could take their ashes. This was situated by the archway on Church View, and was emptied every 6 or 8 weeks. Other rubbish had to be disposed of elsewhere by residents and was usually either burned, or buried in the garden.


A primary sub - station was installed at Bolton by Bowland by 'Norweb' in 1993. Previously, Gisburn had suffered low voltage and from faults on the line. Underground cables were treble the cost of overhead ones, so were not considered.

In 1958 N.W.E.B. were contacted when several households in the village complained of the electric current fading at the weekend making it nearly impossible to read, and TV. reception was poor. The cause of the problem was discovered to be the new electric boiler installed in the Church for heating purposes!


At the beginning of the century Lord Ribblesdale endeavoured to improve the health of the community by seeing that the scheme for sewering the village was efficiently carried out, and provided, at his own cost a good supply of water.


Around 200 years ago, 24% of men in Gisburn were employed as weavers. The decline of the cottage weaving industry during the industrial revolution almost certainly accounted for the sharp drop in the population in the 'I 9th century as weavers and their families left the Parish to seek employment in mills in the towns. The railway in Gisburn provided employment for 12% of residents 100 years ago and 15% were employed as housekeepers or domestic servants. 29% were employed in agriculture.

Mechanisation has had a significant impact on labour requirements in the agricultural industry and today only 20% are now employed in this industry.

In the past, a large number of trades and craftsmen relied on agriculture for their business. Much of the work undertaken by Blacksmiths, Wheelwrights and Millers was directly related to farming or processing of agricultural products. In the 1891 census return, all four Innkeepers in the village were also listed as farmers.

Gisburn Mill was a working corn mill until 1903. The mill was built using materials brought from the ruins of Sawley Abbey. It had an eighteen h.p. water wheel, the mill was last used as a saw mill for the estate during the 1950's.

Stable Close was built on the site of former stables used by racehorse trainers Mr Anthony E.Dickinson, his wife Monica and their son Michael.

The following are a list of typical entries in Gisburn school log book regarding employment of children at the end of the last century:

27th June 1898 Attendance this morning is 74, several boys were employed in the Cattle Market.
19th Sept 1898 Attendance today has been bad owing to many of the boys being engaged in the Cattle Market.
14th Dee: 1898 Nearly all the boys in the first class are absent owing to being engaged as "Beaters" for a party of shooters.
7th July 1899 Attendance fallen due to Hay Harvest.
11th Sept 1899 Many boys away from school, employed by a party of shooters. 


In 1822 letters arrived at Gisburn Post Office from Skipton at 9am and departed at 11am. Gisburn had its own carrier - Henry Leach - who left for Blackburn on Mondays at 4am and returned at 10pm Thursdays and Saturdays the carrier departed to Skipton at 8am returning at l0pm.

A Post Chaise service (horse drawn carriage for hire) was run from the 'Old George' public house in Gisburn (now the Ribblesdale Arms Hotel) this would probably have been used to carry mail to and from the village.

In the early part of this century, the quickest, most accurate and discreet means of communication available in the village was by telegram via Gisburn Post Office. Whilst the pre-war service was good, this deteriorated during the first world war and complaints were received about great delays, inaccuracy and lack of secrecy due to the system of despatch and receipt of telegrams by telephone, which was used in Gisburn at that time.

The Post Office has moved several times over the century. Originally in its present location, it moved to No 3 Park View, then temporarily to the National Westminster Bank premises (now' The Old Bank Shop') on the main street before moving to Snowhill Studio and then back to 9 Park View (now referred to as' The Corner Shop').

In 1974 Gisburn was in danger of losing its branch Post Office because neither premises nor postmaster could be found to replace retired army major Mr Ralph Kitney of 3, Park View, who retired on February 13th after taking over from his father-in-law Mr Bertram Bentley 10 years earlier.

At that time around 100 people each week were drawing their pensions and allowances from Gisburn Post Office and approximately 270 telegrams per year were received, (despatch figures not available). The position of postmaster carried a salary of more than £1000 p.a Mr Kitney said at the time, "One person just can't run the Post Office because Gisburn is the telegram centre of the area. A steady stream of customers have to be served at the counter whilst the telegram business has to go on in another room to maintain privacy".

With the closure of the business, the sweets side of the business also closed because Mr Kitney said "Basically there are too many shops in the village, it would not pay to stay open just as a sweet shop".

The National Westminster Bank offered to help by leasing its premises on a temporary basis on Friday mornings from February 18th between 9.15am and 12.15pm. This was run by a permanent officer of the Post Office until the business was taken over by Mrs Mann at Snowhill Studio.


At the start of the 19th century, goods were often supplied by packmen, peddlers and carts. In 1821 Gisburn had in its population, 4 Butchers, 4 Grocers, 7 Tailors, 7 Boot and Shoemakers (people needed more footwear as they walked everywhere) 3 Victuallers, a Tea Dealer, a Linen Draper, a Milliner and Dressmaker and a Spirit Merchant.


On January 7th an alarming catastrophe struck Gisburne, Rimington, Newsholme and Paythorne. A hurricane hit the whole area, and as it happened during the night, people were unable to prevent great damage to their property or to save the materials. Slates were broken, straw was blown away. This was a serious problem as both were scarce and expensive to replace.

Havoc and destruction were also caused to matured timber, young plantations and especially to the "beautiful and majestic larches near to the mansion house (Gisburne Park), which are known to be the largest in England", wrote J Croasdale (see tablet on east wall of the Church. Five were torn up and other great ornamental trees in the Park were destroyed, particularly in the area nearest the Lodge gateway.

Great suffering must have been caused tor the people of Gisburne, as James Croasdale recorded damage to 20 slated houses, 8 thatched houses and 10 barns. In total, 41 houses were damaged in the four villages and over 30 barns. What a dramatic change this must have brought to the property across the whole parish.


In Robert Smith's book entitled 'Ye Chronicales of Craven', there is an interesting story of Richard Simpson, Priest, Schoolmaster and Martyr. Richard vas, at one time, a Protestant Minister and a Schoolmaster. He became a Roman Catholic member and, for this, he was imprisoned in York. In 1577, he became a Roman Catholic Priest, after his imprisonment at York. He was hounded by the Protestants and, though doing missionary work in various parts of Lancashire, he appeared to go into hiding from time to time. Whilst at Gisburne as School Master, he was known by the nickname 'Guile'. In l582 he was captured whilst on the run and, after a time in prison, he was banished, but returned and was captured again and condemned in 1588. He was reprieved for a few months but was later caught, so he, repenting of his mistake, punished himself by fasting, watching and wearing hair cloth next to his skin. In July 1588, he met his end. He was executed near Derby with two other men. 'Their heads and quarters were set on poles in divers places'. Later, these were stolen by night and given a decent burial.


Pendle area which is well known for its stories on witches, has its connections here in Gisburn. Peter Wightman in his 'Pennine Panorana' writes:

'In 1912 was printed in London a pamphlet on the Arraignment and Trial of Jennet Preston of Gisburn in Craven. Jennet had free access to the house of Westby, had kind respect and entertainment and nothing denied her. But she began to work mischief according to the course of all witches, in spite of having been indicted for murder of a child. Within four days of her release from York Castle on this charge, she was present at the great assembly of witches at Malkin Tower, where she sought help for the murder of Martin Lister, who was her prosecutor at York Assizes. Shortly afterwards Martin Lister was dead. Witnesses at her second trial swore on oath that Martin Lister on his death bed

'cried out unto them that stood about him that Jennet Preston was in the house, look where she is, take hold on her, for God's sake shut the doors and take her, so she cannot escape away'- When Jennet was brought to Martin Lister, 'after he was dead and laid out to be wound up in his winding sheet', she touched the dead corpse and it bled fresh blood. Based on this conclusive evidence, Jennet was found guilty. The bleeding of a dead corpse could only occur at the touch of a murderer. At the gallows she died, 'impenitent and void of all fear and grace'. At the execution was her husband, 'who cried out and went away fully satisfied his wife had justice and was worthy of death.'


Mr Winston S. Churchill, MP for Oldham, was present as guest of Lord Ribblesdale at Gisburne Park.

100 years ago Wilfrid Allison and Joseph Hartley were fined for "furiously riding their bicycles" in Gisburn. PC Firth told the court that the boys had been unable to turn into
Skipton Road from Raikes Hill and had to go a considerable distance down the drive to Gisburn Park before they could pull up.