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 Post subject: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:43 am 
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I have just come across the following article in the Blackpool Gazette & Herald of the 4th September 1928, which may be of interest:-

The discovery of a Roman road leading into Kirkham has aroused much interest in the Fylde.
The discovery is the result of excavations which have been going on under the direction of Coun. H. Burrows, the chairman of Poulton Council, the Fylde archaeologist. It was made at the Mill Hill on the Preston side of Kirkham by the old ruined windmill.
To a “Gazette & Herald” representative Coun. Burrows stated that the road runs either from Ribchester or Walton-le-Dale, where there were Roman camps, and it may be found that it goes to Lytham.
The foundations of the road, which are about 28 feet wide, consist of extremely hard concrete, over which are laid successive strata of rammed gravel to a total thickness of 14 to 18 inches.
“It is quite equal to anything we have at present,” said Coun. Burrows. “The concrete foundation after nearly 2,000 years, during which time, low-lying as it is, it has been exposed to the water, is still so hard that a pick is necessary to make an impression on it.”
He stated that the old channel of the River Dow, over which the road had been carried by a wooden bridge, was discovered. Alongside it a pathway of heavy cobbles had been formed for horse and wheeled traffic.
Coun. Burrows stated that fragments of Roman and Romano British pottery were found lying in a ditch by the roadside, and these, a Roman nail, Roman brick, tiles and glass and a fragment of wood off the bridge he showed to the “Gazette & Herald” man.
He hoped to have the old river bed cleared out as it was almost certain that a number of interesting objects would be found in the mud.
“The hill,” he states, “has been traditionally thought to have been a Roman settlement. Previous investigations by the late Mr. H. W. Clemesha, the County Court Registrar, and myself some three years ago, failed to disclose any sign of the road, but working on fresh evidence, which recently came to my notice, the present discovery was made.
“Dr. R. Shaw, of Poulton, himself a well-known archaeologist, also inspected the site and was satisfied that the road dated back to the Roman period.”
A special meeting of the Kirkham Urban District Council was called by the Rev. C. Strange, the chairman, said Coun. Burrows, and as a result he, Coun. Burrows, was encouraged to continue his explorations under the auspices of the Kirkham Urban District Council.
At the present time the excavations have been suspended temporarily but it is hoped to resume them shortly and completely clear the site to permit of photographs being taken.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:48 pm 
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Ted, that's an interesting article, in many ways. I have read somewhere that the Dowbrook was diverted sometime in the 18th century, but I cant find any indication of where it was before the change. The mention of Dr Shaw also probably means it is noted in Kirkham in Amounderness, but I can't recall a road near the windmill being written about.I will have to have another read of that. I don't suppose any photos are with the article?

Just re read the article and something isn't right, first the road is near the windmill, which is top of the hill, then he says the road base has been in low lying watery ground for two thousand years?

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:01 am 
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I wonder if it is just that the Gazette reporter didn't have a good sense of geography. The description seems to tie in with the sketch reproduced opposite page 204 of Watkin's book "Roman Lancashire", which I seem to recall came from an article by Thornber and which I may be able to dig out. In the meantime, here is Burrows' sketch of the bridge from the newspaper article. Does anything look familiar, Frank?
Attachment:
Roman Bridge over Dow by Burrows 1928.jpg
Roman Bridge over Dow by Burrows 1928.jpg [ 503.15 KiB | Viewed 4425 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:38 am 
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Frank, you will probably be aware that the late Frank Singleton mentioned both Burrows’ investigations and Thornber’s account in his history of Kirkham. There is apparently a description of what Burrows discovered in volume 18 of the Journal of Roman Studies, 1928, and, for anyone prepared to pay £20 for the article (by Collingwood and Taylor), it can be accessed at:-

http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_ ... 5800041952.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:30 pm 
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Does anything look familiar, Frank?


I don't recognise those trees Ted, but the hills in the background could be Bleasdale. :wink:
You're right with the sketch of Thornbers which I have, and I also have a copy of Frank Singletons book somewhere, must see if I can find it.
A report I have on a dig by LUAU notes the fact that Burrows was, "at that time much more concerned to discredit the existance of the Roman road from Ribchester into the Fylde via Kirkham than to prove the existance of a fort"
Has the journal enough about Kirkham in to justify me shelling out £20?

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:24 am 
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I’ve been looking at Frank Singleton’s book, and also Cunliffe Shaw’s tome on Kirkham, as you suggested. Shaw gives quite a comprehensive account of what was known about Roman Kirkham up to the 1940s and, I think, enough about Burrow’s report to eschew paying £20 for it (I haven’t seen it, myself).
I think it is totally unfair of the LUAU to have said that about Burrows. I think it is important when discussing the Roman Road into the Fylde to differentiate between the road east of the fort at Kirkham and the alleged road to the west of it, the notorious Danes’ Pad. Burrows was only casting doubt on the latter, about which Burrows himself said “My finds at Kirkham have no relevance”.
I hope in this thread that we will just concern ourselves with the fort and the road to the east of it, for which there is overwhelming evidence in Cunliffe Shaw’s book on Kirkham.
I’ve scanned Thornber’s account of 1851 and can post it, along with the map, if it would be of interest.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:15 pm 
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I've no idea where LUAU found that information about Burrows, but they must have based it on something. The quote 'the Roman road from Ribchester into the Fylde via Kirkham' makes it clear it is west of Kirkham he is concerned about so I don't think we need to worry about that.
I found a quote in the Lancashire Historic Towns Survey, from Fishwick 1874, attributed to a John Just in1850- "near Kirkham Windmill the Roman road forms an angle and thence joins the public road in a long continuous straight line forwads towards Kirkham. Numerous Roman remains may be detected in walking along the side of the modern road." I can't picture that bit.
In the same survey it also states-"the fort appears to have been abandoned by the middle of the second century AD. It is likely (my italics) that there were remains of the fort visible in the town fields into the early nineteenth century, providing a quarry of building stone for Kirkham." This is atributed to Buxton and Howard Davis's report on the excavation in 1992. What they actualy wrote in that was-"Thornber, writing in the early nineteenth century (Singleton 1980) implies (my italics) that some, at least, of the fort was still visible above ground at that time. I find that hard to believe.
Now in Watkins 'Roman Lancashire', Thornber is quoted as saying he was told by Mr Willacy, (the finder of the shield boss in the British Museum), that he (Mr Willacy) had seen, during drainage excavations, the ruins, or foundations of a square fortress, which were of "massy chiselled red sandstone", and were at the time when laid open,(my italics) pronounced Roman by judges. So were they dug up or on the surface? What does massy mean? Massive, or if it's mossy, they could have been on the surface.
I think the strongest argument for no visible remains within the last three hundred years is the fact that no mention of it was shown by Gregory King on his map of the road from Preston to Poulton in 1685. He would have passed directly by, or through the remains.

If you can post Thornber's map Ted please do.

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:36 am 
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Frank, googling the meaning of “massy” produces “Adjective – Consisting of a large mass; bulky; massive.”

I notice that Howard and Davis Buxton say that Edward Baines first deduced the existence of a Roman fort at Kirkham, but, oddly, they quote Harland’s revised 1868 edition as the source. I have been unable to check whether there is reference to it in Baines’s original 1836 edition. If so, it would be interesting to know if it is mentioned in Edwin Butterworth’s field notes for Baines.

Reading Thornber’s account of 1851 (not 1840 as stated by Howard-Davis/Buxton) I have the impression that he then regarded the existence of the fort as obvious or common knowledge. I haven’t seen the Kirkham section of the 17th century road map, but I am not sure that visible features on the ground would have been then thought worth representing on it in the same way as houses and windmills.

Here is what Thornber said of Kirkham and the road to the east in his paper read to the Historic Society of Lancs. & Ches. in 1851:-

The town of Kirkham stands on four, what Fylde folk call, high hills ; the first on the east being Dowbridge Hill ; the next, the largest and the highest, being that on which was the encamp¬ment called Mill Hill ; and on the last stands the Workhouse. These run almost due east and west. Look at Mill Hill—on the north a steep bank washed by the Dow ; on the south a gentle declivity, where in winter the garrison of about 500 men could enjoy the warmth of the sun, and the area, occupied by the camp, fortified naturally on the west, east, and north by the Dow, a steep bank and a swampy broad morass ; and if I might add to these advantages that there was an Observatory, neighbouring, as it is said, on a high hill to the north-east—Mowbrick—I would ask what more suitable spot could there have been for a station of protection ?
Attachment:
Thornber's plan of Roman Kirkham 1851d.jpg
Thornber's plan of Roman Kirkham 1851d.jpg [ 372.54 KiB | Viewed 4303 times ]


1. Deep narrow lane. 7. The spot where pavement of tiles found.
2. The mill. 8. The spring where the umbo was found.
3. The ruins of the fort. 9 The square mound.
4. The morass. 10. Urns found, &c.
5. The east the steep bank of the station. 11. The remains of an agger.
6. The Dow. 12. Loxham's house.
The site of the encampment having been levelled for agricultural pur¬poses, no mounds, &c., are distinguishable ; but I never put a spade down in any part of the area that it did not disclose burnt earth, charred wood, pottery, bricks, and bones. The river, you perceive, flows on the east and north, and has made a precipice especially on the side of the former. At No. 8, near New England spring, was found the umbo of a shield. I will not describe it, as any one may see a representation of it in Whitaker's Rich¬mondshire, although he tells us by mistake that it was found at Garstang.
He calls it a votive shield, and I cannot but think that it was dedicated to Minerva, who, under the name of Regina or Minerva Belisama, the queen of heaven, had a temple dedicated to her at Ribchester, at the head of Belisama, of which she was the presiding deity. But this is wandering ; yet if you ask, was there ever an altar found dedicated to Minerva Belisama, I answer, read Bochart.Geog. sac. 663. However this may be, this shield was found by Mr. Willacy in 1800, squeezed up, near the spring. He intrusted it to a Scotchman, who sold it for X1 10s. to Dr. Hunter, and it was ultimately deposited by Mr. Townly in the British Museum. This Mr. Willacy told me himself. The same person also described to me the ruins of a square fortress, No. 3, the foundations of which he said were of massy chiselled red sandstone : they were pronounced Roman by judges, but the country people accounted for them by relating a tradition that in old times the Saxon church of Kirkham stood there. At No. 7 also there must have been some erection, for here I saw dug up a pavement of thick rude red brick tiles, and, twice over with the officers of the Ordnance Survey, threw out a surprising quantity of broken tiles, paterae, burnt bones, &c. Here, too, the drainage of the encampment had its outlet into the Dow, where Mr. Loxham picked up the bone needle, and Mr. Willacy two coins of Adrian. You will perceive where the agger enters the encampment stretching to the top of the hill behind Mr. Loxham's house, and this appears to have been the burial-place of the station. At No. 9 some years ago I inspected a square area which was surrounded with a trench one yard deep, similar to that formerly on the Maudlands at Preston. It rose into a mound with four sides. At No. 10, in 1840, Mr. Loxham discovered an urn filled with portions of large sized bones, a piece of a skull, and an amulet or something of the kind, which I cannot describe better than likening it to a string of pipe stoppers. It was of iron, but much corroded and injured with the action of fire. We could see, however, that it was perforated with three-cornered holes, by which its links had been attached by a thong. The corpse had been burnt on the spot, for much charcoal and ashes lay around. Not far from this spot the same gentleman in preparing for brick in 1849 dis¬covered seven more urns, all well made, but plain, without ornament, and not one entire ; also a small lachrymatory. Here, too, on this hill was found an iron securis. I wonder whether it were the instrument used in sacrificing the Seghs, whose heads were discovered in the peaty matter near the Dow. But of all the relics found here the most singular and curious is a druid's egg or amulet in excellent preservation. I give you the exact size of it. It is a ring of light green glass, roped by a cord of blue, which cord is wrapped thus by a thread of white.
From its having been much worn in the centre rim it must have been suspended from the neck by a chain. Did the legionaries adopt the superstition of their conquered foe, or shall I say that it belonged to a Briton ? I cannot but think, from the number of celts, &c., found between Kirkham and the Wyre, especially in the mosses, that the Fylde had many inhabitants before, or at least an early period of, the Roman invasion.
But we are on the spot, where Mr. Loxham exposed for me a beautiful section of the agger, so we will commence our search eastward to Preston. I was astonished not to find one road, but two running side by side, per¬fectly distinct; the one on the left, being three yards wide, consisted of a pretty deep layer of shingle ; the other ten yards of the coarse red sand of the neighbourhood : the first hard enough for horses, in which shoes are found ; and the latter for foot soldiers. Care had been taken to render both lines perfectly dry by cutting trenches between, and on each side of them. The gravel one was lower, as if worn. Was one of these of British formation ? . . .
. . . But I must march forward. From the top of Loxham's hill even yet there is no difficulty in tracing the agger to Preston. To Highgate—mark the word gate, and there are others in this vicinity—we meet with it in the ditches, and in some of the fields, but near Highgate it is very observable, as it crosses an occupation lane ; then in Gregson's garden ; next in Newton, near which place an old gentleman, Mr. Hornby, told me he cut through it when sinking a marl pit. From Newton it stretches to Lund Hill, and going through the garden on the summit it makes an angle, and runs down the hill over the brook Savig through Deepdale wood, and at Lea we have the most perfect section on the line. Even its very surface a few years ago was untouched. I need follow it no further. . . . On this line of road from Kirkham to Preston I have been told that there are some tumuli near Salwick, but I never saw them. In the month of July, 1820, however, a copper coin of Vespasian was dug up near to Woodplumpton.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:31 pm 
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Sorry that the above plan is so large, and the text too small when viewed full column width. It’s probably better pasted into a Word doc.
Today I looked at the 1836 edition of Edward Baines’s “History of Lancashire” in Blackpool Central Library and there is no mention of a fort at Kirkham in it. Howard-Davis/Buxton quote the revised edition of Baines, “(Harland 1868-70, 482).” Page 482 appears in Volume 2 of that edition, which was revised by Brooke Herford. Not only was Baines dead by then, but so was Harland. In the introduction to volume 2, Herford writes “I have been able to make many thousands of corrections; many parts of the history . . . I have almost entirely re-written; I have added a large amount of new matter.”
However, all it actually says on page 482 of the 1870 volume in connection with the fort is “ . . . the Rev. W. Thornber, B.A, who also finds . . . traces of previous British occupation, from Kirkham – which he shows to have been, most probably, a small Roman station . . .” Thornber’s paper in vol. 3 of the Transactions of the Hist. Soc. of Lancs. & Ches. (1851) is quoted as the source.
On the face of it, then, we have Thornber to thank for the first intimation of the existence of a Roman fort at Kirkham.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:32 pm 
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On the face of it, then, we have Thornber to thank for the first intimation of the existence of a Roman fort at Kirkham.


Well spotted Ted, I must admit to initially believing most of Thornber's work was dreaming or hearsay, but I have re read Watkins and your research
shows my eroneous thinking. I must pay another visit to the LRO.
Having said that I still believe there would not have been any standing structure such as walls of the fort when King surveyed the road in the 1680s.
or I'm sure it would have been indicated due to its direct proximity to the road.

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:55 pm 
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I haven’t seen the Kirkham section of the 17th century road map


I thought I had posted it previously sometime in the past, Ted, but I couldn't find it, so here it is.

Image
Image

As we can see, there is no mention of any feature between Kirkham windmill and the Dow bridge. What I do find
interesting, and relevant here, is that it shows at the center of Kirkham, opposite the road to Freckleton, a road
indicated to Rossacre. This road no longer exists, Church Street as it is now is a cul-de-sac, but the road would
have passed by Mowbreck. Now where did Thornber get the notion of an observatory, or station at Mowbreck.
As far as I can asertain, there have been no Roman finds in the vicinity of Mowbreck, but Jim Plummer told me that
he had found evidence of a Roman road by Mowbreck Hall. He said it went directly north from Kirkham to Kirkham-in-the-Fields.
I am hoping to get Jim's notes and records to go through so there may be more of interest.

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:06 am 
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Reading Thornber's trail of the road from the position of the fort, on Mill Hill, (Carr Hill as we know it now), west through Kirkham, it appears that he may have been north of the main street of the time. He states that he crossed 'rather nearer the church,(my italics) a stream at that time, now a deep channel called the Skipbourne'. Frank Singleton says the Skipbourne flowed through Town End down what is now (was) Mill Street, (under Morrisons) into the Dow. If he (Thornber) crossed this stream nearer the church than the main road, Poulton Street, that would put him in Barnfield, next to Birleys Flax Mill. However, he next comes to the site of the Poorhouse, where as Thornber states he knows the road was discovered. This was also quoted as a sighting of the road by Cunliffe Shaw. If a straight line is taken from the fort to the Poorhouse, it is south of the main street and passes through the Town End, where Frank Singleton says there was a wooden bridge. Coincidentally, or not, on the 1893 Ordnance Survey maps, that straight line is carried on from the Poorhouse to the junction of the Blackpool Road and Ribby Road, where the roundabout is now.
Thornber then goes on to mention the Wrangway Bridge. I was confused by the passage quoted in ‘A Roman Road to Nowhere’ until I read the original and realised that splitting it into separate pieces could alter what Thornber meant. He states ‘crossing – a stream – called the Skipbourne – to the present Poorhouse, where you know it was discovered. Before I was aware of its being here’, (the road at the Poorhouse), ‘the name of Wrangway-bridge – had led me to expect to find the agger near it.’
Wrangway brook, over which the bridge went before it was culverted, as any true Kirkhamer,(or Weshamer) will tell you, is so called because it flows the ‘wrang way’, as they used to say, west to east, away from the coast. (It is Wrongway Brook on the later maps)
As a matter of interest, the Childrens Homes, which were built on the site of the Poorhouse in 1914, are currently being demolished to make way for an extension to the Pear Tree School. I had a look at the planning documents and I found no reference to an archaeological watching brief when they clear the site and dig new foundations. I find that disappointing. Maybe Mr. Iles can explain.

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:17 am 
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I ommited to say the straight line on the 1893 Ordnance survey map carried on from the Poorhouse is indicated by field boundaries, which can sometimes be ancient.

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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:55 am 
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Frank, I take your point on the forum about splitting Thornber's text (Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancs & Ches.,1851)), so here in full is the Kirkham bit to the west of the fort in full:-
“I had many a weary travel to find traces of the agger near the town. It is astonishing what pavements are discovered branching towards the north-west, some of them sunk very deep in the ground. My investigations were successful. Not only can I give some corroboration to the tradition, that there was a vicinal road to Elswick* [* lengthy footnote including a tradition that Elswick was a city destroyed by sea pirates!], where there is a spot called the Danes’ Hills, in fact tumuli, but it is now ascertained that the Causeway ran from the Roman Station at Kirkham, nearly down the present street, crossing rather nearer the church, a stream at that time, now a deep channel called the Skipbourne, to the site on which stands the present Poorhouse, where you know it was discovered. Before I was aware of it being here, the name of Wrangway bridge, which is thrown over the Dow in its vicinity, had led me to expect to find the agger near it. A little farther a section of it is to be seen in the stunted oak field, the property of a Mrs. Moon: the tree grows upon it. I cannot tell how we missed the spot when I pointed out the line of road to Mr. Just and the officers of the Survey. From this field stretching up Ribby Brow, anciently written Rigeby, the town on the ridge, I discovered it from the circumstance of a farmer carting away a coarse red sand opposite Tarn-brick-farm-yard gate.”
You give the impression that Thornber refers to Wrangway bridge being over the Skipbourne, but he in fact says it was over the Dow, which is shown on maps way to the north. It would make more sense if he had meant a bridge over the Skipbourne, which I take to be a stream shown on the first 6 inch OS map (attached)
Attachment:
Kirkham OS Map1845 detail.jpg
Kirkham OS Map1845 detail.jpg [ 541.89 KiB | Viewed 2261 times ]
running north and crossing Mill Street, much nearer to Kirkham. I do find all this a bit difficult as I’m not very familiar with Kirkham. I don't know which is Barnfield is and I would still like to know where Mrs. Moon lived.
I sometimes find myself an apologist for Thornber. I think his susceptibility to alcohol has been overplayed and, while he is at times erratic and vague, he is all we have got for so much of our history. He can’t have been wrong all the time, but his writings do call for caution and careful interpretation. Notice from above that, rightly or wrongly, we have Thornber to thank for the double-lined section of the “Danes Pad” being shown on the OS map along what is now the A583 towards Westby Mills.


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 Post subject: Re: The discovery of a Roman Road at Kirkham in 1928
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:52 am 
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Ted, I dd not realise it apeared that way, as I'm sure Thornber was talking about Wrangway bridge as he said it was over the Dow.
He did not mention a bridge when crossing the Skipbourn, but Frank Singleton states there was one, at Townend,which was one of four bridges
on the roads into Kirkham, which all would have been of wooden construction in Thornbers time. They were Dowbridge and Carr Lane,
both over the Dow to the east, the Skipbourn at Townend and Wrangway bridge over the wrangway brook to the north west.
Thornber says this latter crosses over the Dow because Wrangway brook becomes the Dow just north of the church and carries on flowing east
until it meets Spen brook and starts to head south. This is in the area where the railway cut a small portion of Kirkham off, as can be seen by
the boundary, Dow brook, (dotted), going north of the line for a few hundred yards before returning to the south of the line.
A bridge was put under the line here as it was the track to Roseacre noted on the 1684 map. The Kirkham/Wesham boundary was changed from
the Wrangway/Dowbrook to the raiway line in 1935.

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