St John the Evangelist, Crawshawbooth - Centenary Booklet 1892 - 1992

Crawshawbooth — the Eden of the valley !

J. M. Mather, Rambles round Rossendale, 1888.

Rossendale was a Royal Forest until 1507, so development before then was very limited. Crawshawbooth, the 'booth' by the crow-wood, was amongst the few early settlements, being one of the eleven areas of summer pasturage granted for use of the monks of Whalley Abbey in the early 14th century. The first buildings would have been small, of wood and thatch, huddled in the bend of the river under thr sheltering rise on which the church now stands.

With the opening up of the forest in Tudor days, the already established hamlet became a calling place for cattle drovers and travellers before tackling the steep hills northwards to Burnley or the 'rake' south to Bolton, where the main cattle market was then. The network of routes grew as sheep farming and the cottage based woollen industry developed in the 17th century and was serviced by pack horses.

The small church, a landmark on the hill top at Morrell Heights, Goodshaw, served the community from 1542 as a chapel of ease to Whalley, but its application for parish status in 1650 revealed that it had only '70 families in the area, with no means of support but a messuage and a backside, value 10/-'.

The area continued to grow, and buildings became more substantial. The 17th century Mansion House remains in name only, but the Friends' Meeting House still stands at the junction of the old lanes by the bridge. One of the 'Friends', John Marriott, was wealthy enough in 1757 to build the fine house at Sunnyside, away from the growing clutter of the village.

As communications developed during the Industrial Revolution, the old, steep lanes were superseded by the turnpike road from Burnley to Bury and Manchester, the growing centre of the textile industry, wheeled vehicles taking the place of pack animals. By 1815, Goodshaw had been left isolated on its hill, but Crawshawbooth was rising to the occasion. Houses, shops and weavers' lofts crowded along the line of the new road, which, skirting older buildings, was never very wide to begin with, and something of its narrow format can still be seen today. The 'Black Dog', which along with the 'White Bull' became a coaching inn, was demolished and rebuilt during a major road widening scheme in 1926.

Cotton had taken over from woollens by the mid 19th century, mills being built with names such as 'Victoria', 'Alexandra', 'Britannia' and 'Bold Venture'. It was calico printing and stone quarrying, however, that provided most employment in the village, and these created the wealth of the Brooks family.

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Reproduced by kind permission of St John's P.C.C. 1992