Contributors: Geoff and Pat Garnet, Margaret Taylor, Doreen Prescott, Elizabeth Edward, Peter Hargreaves, Janis Livesey, June Colebridge, Colin Banyard and Brian Smith.
Stanhill Village is famous for its industrial heritage as the place where James Hargreaves kick-started the Industrial Revolution with the invention of the Spinning Jenny. It is also famous for other former residents including the Victorian novelist William Bury Westall and ‘Tar Billy’ Metcalf. It is a beautiful village set at the edge of the West Pennines where Stanhill Hall, the historic Methodist Chapel and Hargreaves-themed Stanhill Pub and Kitchen and former weavers cottages blend effortlessly with newer developments.
Above it has an enthusiastic and hardworking committee that promotes community spirit and involvement and activities that help preserve and reinforces a local identity. This is particularly true of the annual Stanhill Village Fete which each year attracts up to 1000 visitors and raises much needed funds for local charities and deserving causes.
The very traditional fete has been in existence for nearly 70 years and responsibility for its continuation has been ensured through generations of residents and volunteers.
Below are some recollections by older residents of the early days of the fete. Additionally there is an account of growing up in Stanhill Village in the 1930s and 1940s. We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane.
Richard Hooper – Stanhill Village Heritage Project
FETE MEMORIES – GEOFF AND PAT GARNET
My wife Pat and I bought Stanhill Hall in 1980 from Bob and June Woods. They had done quite a lot of work on the house and garden to save it from almost dereliction. We continued the good work. Bedrooms in the attic and re-roofing the out-buidings etc.etc.
When we took over the hope was expressed that we would continue the tradition of holding the Annual Fete in the garden!
Bob Woods came from a large well known family in Oswaldtwistle. His identical twin sisters lived in the new houses that were back to back with the Hall and were married to the two Dereks ie Derek Shaw and Derek Smith. They with help from Keith Ramsden ( who lived for several years in Stanhill Cottage) and other committee members put on the Fete while we were resident in the Hall for the next 20 years.
We moved away from Stanhill when we retired to live on the Fell above Newton-in- Bowland until 2019. We enjoyed living there very much but have now for convenience sake moved to be near our son in Northenden, Manchester.
FETE MEMORIES – JANIS LIVESEY
My Aunty Irene Neville was a member of the original fete committee along with a Ms Broughton who lived in one of the semis as you are going toward the moor.
I remember the fancy dress parades. Sometimes we walked up from York Street and sometimes we would travel back to Stanhill on floats. The fete field was owned by Clarence Best and was adjacent to his farm [behind the road leading to the moors]. The entrance to the field was by the side of the Stanhill Working Men’s Club.
FETE MEMORIES – MARGARET TAYLOR
The fete at Stanhill Village came about in around 1960. It was and idea suggested by Major Hunter who lived down Aspden Lane and several farmers in the area.
Clarence Best allowed them to use one of his fields next to his farm. The field was owned by the Co-op and all around that area knew it as Co-op Fields.
Many people joined in to help and were very enthusiastic about it. I was only fifteen years old at the time so I don’t recall if they had an official fete committee then but there was great excitement about it all. We had a fancy dress competition with three different groups: children, teenagers and adults. There were many entrants in it especially in the children and teenager groups. My friend Anita Taylor entered it as the Good Old Days - Anita in a long drab sort of dress with a shawl over her head and wrapped round her shoulders. I wore a pair of baggy mens’ trousers and an old jacket, a flat cap and a clay pipe all borrowed from the Crowcrofts who lived in a cottage next to the mill. We won first prize at the very first fete and were truly happy.
The farmers put horses on display with ribbons in their well-groomed manes. It was a farming community and a lot of it showed in the fetes we held in that field. They also put a pole up and young lads had pillow fights on it and tried to show their prowess. Two of the village boys were very hard to beat.
There was always music. Everyone loved bands in those days. We always had a lovely get together on those afternoons. There were loads of people turned up. Anita and I entered the Fancy Dress in the second year. We were a fine old English lady and gentleman. I again had to be the man. Luckily for me the boss at Jacob Wards Funeral Parlour lived across the road from us. He was called Arnold Ward. So I went and asked him if he would lend me his funeral suit and top hat. I never expected him to say yes but he did and his wife Vi even helped me to adjust it to fit me better.
Anita begged some material from the village mill where we both worked. They obliged too and it was lovely what they gave her: black with gold lurex thread running through it. She made a long skirt, wore a frilly blouse, a straw hat trimmed with ribbons and flowers and made her umbrella into a parasol.
We walked in the procession through the village up to the field with great pride. We won first prize again and again and even got our picture in the Accrington Observer. My sister and her friend Valerie Goode also entered the children’s group dressed as The Bisto Kids and they won second prize.
All us children grew up with the aftermath of the Second World War. Rationing lasted ‘till the late fifties so the Fete was an amazing treat for us all.
FETE MEMORIES DOREEN PRESCOTT
It was always held on the first Saturday in August. The procession started from what was the then York Street Methodist Church accompanied by a band. The fete itself was held on what then was Clarence Best’s farm. A few weeks before the fete, on the field at the back of the pub, there were eliminating rounds for 5 a side football culminating in the final teams playing on fete day in the field.
There was also ladies netball. A large marquee for refreshments and sweets etc. There was also an obstacle race, clay pigeon shooting and probably some other events going on but I can’t remember.
FETE MEMORIES – PETER HARGREAVES
The first fetes used to be held in Farmer Best’s field. When I lived at Quarry Bank we used to store all the side stalls in the garage. Beside all the usual stalls there was a 5- a-side football competition that became quite famous, drawing teams from far and wide.
There was a cricket net with half a crown on each of the three wickets which the bowler had to knock off to win.
The carnival started off at the Black Dog and there were always half a dozen waggons with a band and majorettes.
My two boys won first prizes at the fancy dress competition [dressed as] Bill and Ben The Flower Pot Men and also The Dulux Boys as my wife kept Old English Sheepdogs.
FETE MEMORIES – ELIZABETH EDWARD [nee McMYN]
I'm not sure when exactly it started but my father( Fred McMyn) was the on the first committee,as treasurer.It was definitely going in 1960 as I have a picture of me winning the fancy dress as Red Rose of Lancashire with Eileen and Billy Higham as 2nd and 3rd prize winners and I think the photo may have been in the Telegraph.
I thought it was started to raise money for the Jenny Gardens but I may be wrong. I know my father was involved with that along with Major Hunter.
The fete was held at a later date than the present one, August I think as we used the field behind the houses just above yours which was Clarence Best's farm field. We had to wait for the hay to be collected before the field could be used
It was quite a big affair. We gathered at York Street (near The Black Dog where the judging was done) and processed all the way up to the field with a band and floats. There were a lot of sideshows, five a side football competitions, tug of war and pillow fights. I particularly loved the swing boats.
I spent a lot of the time helping my Dad who had his own little tent. I helped running to the stalls with change and collecting and then counting the takings. My Mum helped on the refreshments.
My Mum was good at making fancy dress costumes and I remember winning at least three times
FETE MEMORIES – JUNE COLEBRIDGE
This was the idea of a group of men who lived up in village - Arthur Hargreaves, Mr. Greenhalgh, William Metcalf, Ronnie Gorton, and maybe one or two more to
enable the villagers to have a Christmas Party and if enough was raised, a Christmas Tree in the Gardens.
Women had to be 60yrs and men 65yrs. That was the pension age then.
They were named the Stanhill Fete Committee. It was held in a field at Higher Stanhill Farm.
The procession started at York Street, so anyone in Oswaldtwistle could join in the Fancy Dress Procession. They walked up through the village and Mr. Metcalf was the judge of different age groups. There was the usual amenities and it was always well attended. The lunch was at the Stanhill Publican House, and it was strictly locals !
FETE MEMORIES – COLIN BANYARD
Stanhill Village Fete was formed in the late fifties. The committee was Arthur Hargreaves, Loui Greenhalgh, Harold Turner, Jim Yates, Ronnie Gorton,
Tom Wilkinson, Colin Banyard, Tom Ward, John Hargreaves, Harry Walsh, Tom Neville and others.
Arthur Hargreaves was the chairman.
Tom Wilkinson, Colin Banyard and Tom Ward were in charge of the Procession, all the others had other duties. Harry Walsh was secretary. Later John Hargreaves took the job on.
There was a Fancy Dress Competition which assembled at York Street (near the Black Dog pub). It then walked up Stanhill Lane in procession up to Clarence Best’s field, which is behind the bungalows at Higher Stanhill. Leading the procession was always Tom Ward, you never saw him otherwise !
The contestants were judged by various personalities. One year it was Adam Blacklow, who was the Burnley goalkeeper at the time.
On the field we had a marquee, which Louie Greenhalgh and loaned from the Boy Scouts at Padiham – he had been a Boy Scout leader.
There were various side shows, including coconut shys, crockery that you could smash with a woodball, and others.
There was a 5 aside football competition. Teams came from far and wide to enter.
The first rounds were played on the field behind the Stanhill Pub. The final was played on the Fete Field. We also had cricket matches between members of the committee.
For the children we had races including three -legged, and sack races.
The side shows were supported by Harold Turner, his brother was manager at Cocker Chemicals, and they were made there. In winter the side stalls were stored in Joe Aspinall’s barn at the side of the Stanhill Methodist Church.
Yes, the Stanhill Village Fete was a grand day, with people coming from Blackburn, Burnley and all over. Hard work for the committee but well worth it !