from 'The History of the Parish of Newchurch' by Rev. Oscar Plant, first published 1928
Among the discoveries which were made was a pew out of the ancient Church, which the Rector has hadfixed in the Church porch. It had, presumably, been removed fromthe gallery of the old Church before it was destroyed by fire and beenused as a garden seat.
A number of old name plates from the pewswere also found in a cupboard at the Rectory. The old Churchcontained a number of square box-like sittings or pews, dating from1717 onwards, and the name plates indicate various old families whooccupied them. These have been mounted and placed on an oakpanel in the clergy vestry.
Other relies of past centuries found at theRectory were the old keys, used when the Rev. Thomas Wilson, whobecame Bishop of Sodor and Man, was in charge. These, too, have been mounted on brass discs and dated 1663.
Bishop Wilson (Colourised Image)
A set of six old prints, going back to 1721, were also discovered, and these have been suitably framed in oak by Mr. Plant and are interesting to look upon in the clergy vestry.
There is a colour in the prints which cannot be matched to-day. They represent: The Birth of Christ; the Wise Men; the Sermon on the Mount; Mary and Martha; Martyrdom of Stephen; Elijah carried up to Heaven. There is also a rare photo-print of the Archbishop of York, Dr. Cosmo Gordon Lang, D.D ., who has now been translated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and is now the Primate of all England.
PRE- REFORMATION CHALICE
Newchurch has one of the most interesting histories, which architecture has preserved, and possesses Communion plate of great value.
The silver Communion cup of peculiar design was given by Dr. Richard Sherlock, Rector of Winwick, to his nephew, Bishop Wilson. The vessel stands six and a half inches high and measures four and a half inches across the top, as well as across the base. It is of the wineglass shape, and bears traces of gilding on the outside. The cup has been hammered out by a local smith from a pre-Reformation chalice.
Examination by a magnifying glass reveals distinct signs of a cross, which frequently occurs on one side of the bowl of such chalices. The cup is somewhat roughly fashioned and bears no hallmark. It holds the most honoured place in the list of local church plate, and is one of the very few known examples of pre-Reformation chalices in the world.
It is a connecting link, both in material and in features of design, between the typical pre-Reformation chalice and the post-Reformation Communion cup.
Besides the ancient Communion cup, the paten in use is of a very quaint type, and is slightly bent and out of shape. The handsome silver flagon is a magnificent specimen of church plate, bearing the date of 1763, though probably much older. It was bequeathed to the Church by Edward Leech in his will dated 13th November, 1760, and proved at Chester on February 23rd, three years later.
The two ancient collecting boxes, dated 1663, were usedin the Parish Church by the wardens. In thosedays the boxes were only handed to the squire, thedoctor and one or two other leading members of the parish and congregation, and gold coins were nearly always contributed.
Three piecesof gold in those days were more than sufficient to meet the Churchexpenses for a month, money going much further in spending valuethan it does to-day. Collections in Church were monthly, or as required. The wardens knew how much they wanted, and before the offerings were presented at the Holy Table, they would tilt the boxes and look at the coins to ascertain if there was sufficient. If the amount was notenough for their purposes they would proceed to collect from otherworshippers in Church.
CONSTABLES' TRUNCHEONS AND HAND-GRIPS
Three constables' truncheons and hand-grips were discovered in the old parish chest, which in 1909 had not been opened for 20 years, owing to the loss of the keys. They belong to the reigns of King George IV. (1820), King William IV. (1830), and Queen Victoria (1837).
These truncheons were assigned by the ruling monarchs to the High Sheriff of the county, who was entrusted with the execution of the law. The High Sheriff then handed over the truncheons to the squires of the villages, who, in turn, sought out some worthy villager to act as constable and keep order, presenting him with a truncheon, hand-grip and a key as aids to carrying out his duties.
The earliest constable's account book in the village chest at Newchurch is dated 1813.* *there is a list of the village constables available at Culcheth Library, dated 1665 - 1776
REGULAR "BOBBIES" AND "PEELERS"
It was Sir Robert Peel who introduced the improved system of police-first into Ireland as Secretary, by the institution of the regular Irish Constabulary, nick-named after him "Peelers", for the protectionof life and property, and later, both during the reign of Queen Victoria,he introduced a Bill in Parliament establishing the Metropolitan Police,followed in due course by the extension of the principle to the provinces- by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 to boroughs, and by Actsof 1839 and 1840 the formation of a paid county police force waspermitted by the Justices, and made compulsory after an interval of15 years by the Police Act of 1856.
Originally intended maybe as acompliment to Sir Robert Peel, police officers are still occasionallyspoken of as "Bobbies". It was not, however, until 1909 that thethree old truncheons and hand-grips which had been previously used inthe village, were presented to the Rector and Wardens by the ParishCouncil of Culcheth for safe keeping in the vestry of the Parish Church.
As we know, Ellen lost both of her parents, James and Margaret Yates, within a few weeks of each other, in early 1870. The next we know of Ellen is the April 1871 Census, where she is still at home with her brother James as the head of household.
She must have been in a state of distress and confusion during the time of the census, as just four months later, she gave birth to a baby girl. The girl was born at Hop Yard Farm, Croft and was named Margaret. No father is on the birth certificate, thus no baptism is registered.
Birth Certificate of Margaret Yates
Margaret had been born prematurely and sadly only lived for one month. Ellen's brother James registered the death.
Death certificate of Margaret Yates
James registered the death on 9th September, stating it had happened that day, but the burial register for Croft Unitarian Chapel says that she died on 7th and was buried on 8th September. I can only assume that she was buried in the family grave, though the name is not on the stone - perhaps because she was illegitimate.
Three Years Later
Somehow, Ellen struggled through the next three years, but must have been overwhelmed with emotion on the weekend that would have been her daughters third birthday. After work on Saturday 8th August 1874, she drowned herself in a marl pit and was found the next day.
Extracts from 'The Buildings of England South Lancashire' by Nikolaus Pevsner
The Buildings of England is an unrivalled series of comprehensive architectural guides covering every English county all periods from prehistoric times to the present day. The South Lancashire volume was first published in 1969.
UNITARIAN CHURCH, Bolton Old Road. Built in 1721 as a Presbyterian chapel. Enlarged in 1901. Brick with arched windows in two tiers. Nice open cupola. Bulgy stone gatepiers.
ST MARY, Liverpool Road. 1891 by J. Lowe. No tower. The W end is incomplete.
WESLEYAN CHAPEL, Liverpool Road. 1873-4. Red brick with a pedimental gable. Italianate, if anything.
On the W side of the road is one three-bay Georgian house with a column-porch.
CHRIST CHURCH, Lady Lane. 1832-3 by Blore, a Commissioners’ church. It cost £1457. Red sandstone, S W steeple with wholly incorrect spire of quite an enterprising design. Lancet windows and short chancel. The galleries have been removed.
ST LEWIS (R.C.), Little Town. 1826-7. Brick, to the E the church, to the W and flush with it the priest’s house. The latter has a chequer front and a doorway with recessed columns, the former arched windows and a W pediment and pedimented W porch. The E wall inside is distinguished by pilasters, as the Catholics liked it.
HOLY TRINITY, Newchurch. 1904-5 by Travers & Ramsden. Incredibly retardataire. This brand of neo-Norman might be 1850. – BRASS. A brass inscription to Elizabeth Egerton 1646 is signed John Sale sculpsit – an oddity of the first order.
LITTLE WOOLDEN HALL, 1 ½ m. WSW. Brick, c.1800. A seven bay front with the three middle bays a little recessed. Niches l. and r. of the doorway.
Glazebrook STATION. With gables with divers patterns to the bargeboards. The water basin with dock leaf is dated 1872.
HURST HALL. Mr Jeffrey Howarth allowed me to mention the barn, which must have been the hall of a house and seems to date from the C15. It has heavy timbers: tie-beams on arched braces, cusped kingposts and cusped raking queenposts, and three tiers of quatrefoiled wind-braces.
LIGHT OAKS HALL. The E side is spectacular, evidently possible only if the house was originally much larger. It consists of a five-plus-five-light transomed window on the ground floor with the doorway close to it, a window of the same size above the other, and five-light windows with transoms further on on the r. There is a date 1657 inside and that suits the façade fragment. See image above.
ST HELEN. 1735 the body of the church, and perhaps the cupola. All other detail 1882.
ST JOHN BAPTIST. Liverpool Road, Jenny Green, Higher Irlam. 1865-6 by J. Medland Taylor. Small, with a crossing tower with broach spire, very short transepts, and an apse. The W wall has a most unorthodox rose-window. Internally the Taylor touch is the crossing arches of voussoirs of alternating thickness – just as in certain Georgian door surrounds. And whereas this motif is used simply and straightforwardly in the arches of the S windows, in the crossing arches it is done in two orders. Inside the roof timbers start very low, and the church is made lighter by dormers in the roof.
ST TERESA (R.C.), Liverpool and Astley Roads. 1903 by Oswald Hill.
ATOMIC ENERGY AUTHORITY SITE. A Large area with a number of big blocks with curtain walls. 1956 etc. They are by T. L. Viney and R. S. Brocklesby. Two large, six-storeyed office blocks plus laboratories and a reactor.
MYDDLETON HALL, 1m. E. Dated 1658, but the gables evidently C19. Brick. The front is symmetrical, with one recessed bay between two projecting bays. Mullioned-and-transomed windows. MYDDLETON HALL FARMHOUSE (Or Delph House). Dated 1657. Not symmetrical, with a little raised brick decoration.
On the 13th instant, one William Higginson, of Culcheth, near Leigh, having charg’d a Gun with an intent to shoot at some Crows, sat down at his Door with the Gun upon his Knees, in order to do something at the Flint, when it accidentally went off, and by recoiling against his Groin, bruised him so much that he died the next Morning.
Leigh Chronicle & Weekly District Advertiser Friday 21st September 1900
TRAP ACCIDENT AT CULCHETH – A horse and trap belonging to the late Mr. Whiston, of Croft, was standing in the goodsyard at Culcheth Station on Saturday afternoon when the horse got startled by an engine, and it suddenly set off down the yard and got on to the main line, down which it ran to Lowton St Mary’s Station before it was stopped. Fortunately no trains were running at the time, The trap was smashed and the horse cut.
Kendal Mercury Saturday 7th December 1839
FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT - WARRINGTON Monday Night - A sad scene took place at the Railway station, in this town, this afternoon. The Birmingham train from Manchester brought a young woman, to all appearance in a dying state, who had been run over by the train as it passed the Kenyon Junction, on the Liverpool and Manchester line.
Her left leg was hanging sadly mutilated from her body, one of her shoulders was dislocated, and her head considerably injured. The shrieks she uttered on being lifted out of the carriage will not be readily forgotten by those who heard them; she was evidently suffering the most intense agony.
The moment the train stopped, every assistance was rendered by Mr Rutter, the agent at the station, and the other persons employed there. The sufferer was conveyed to the Patten Arms Hotel, which adjoins the station, and by the time she was got up stairs, Mr Hunt, surgeon, and Mr. Robson, the house-surgeon to the Warrington dispensary, were in attendance.
On examination, it was found that the wheels of the engine had passed along the left leg from the centre of the thigh down to the foot, and that the limb was crushed to a complete mummy.
Amputation was immediately resorted to. The operation was performed by Dr Hunt. The poor woman was insensible during the greater part of the operation; she gradually sunk, and did not survive longer than a quarter of an hour after it had been performed...
From inquiries made since the accident, I learn that the deceased was a hand loom weaver, named Johanna Sankey, of Croft, in this county. She was an interesting, good-looking girl, in the 23d year of her age.
The engineer in charge of the train states that the deceased ran across the rails at the Kenyon Junction just as the train was passing, when it was not more than a few yards from her; that the engine knocked her down, and the whole train passed over her. He stopped the engine immediately, and no medical assistance being at hand, it was deemed advisable to bring her on to Warrington, after a ligature had been applied by a passenger to the bleeding and fractured limb.
She had been to Liverpool to nurse a sick brother, filling the situation of porter at Blezard's liquor vaults. Her brother, it seems, had sufficiently recovered to permit of his removal to Croft, and accordingly they both came to the Kenyon Junction by the first train, leaving Liverpool at a quarter before twelve o'clock.
A spring cart was waiting to convey them to Croft from the station, and just after her brother and his luggage had been got into it, she found that he had left his stick on the opposite side of the rails. This led to her untimely death. She ran towards the stick but had scarcely advanced five yards when the Birmingham train came up and killed her, as a'ready described.
A Colourised image of Croft Unitarian Chapel around 1900
The image above shows just how neatly the burial ground was kept whilst the chapel was open. If you look at the gentleman walking down the path, you can see the two original yew trees next to him. All of the trees, plants and grass are immaculate in the few images available from over the years. The last 30 years are where you can really see the difference. In 1993, you can still see the two trees, though they seem to be growing bigger.
Croft Unitarian Chapel in 1993
By 2006, the two yew trees now look like one and have grown out in every direction.
Croft Unitarian Chapel in 2006
By September 2021, the two trees have fully merged into one and have brambles and ivy growing between the branches. They are damaging the graves and the path.
Croft Unitarian Chapel Yew Trees in 2021
Time for Change
The maintenance of the graveyard is the legal responsibility of Warrington Borough Council, but as you probably know, they do little more than cut the grass every six weeks or so. Despite bringing this to their attention, they have done nothing different.
Thankfully, Croft Parish Council were willing to listen and to help. They have agreed to pay for a specialist landscaping team to cut back the yew trees to two individual trees at a managable size and also to clear the remaining weeds and overgrowth around the grounds.
Work is due to begin soon. Thankyou, Croft Parish Council!
How did Ellen Yates travel to work in Birkenhead from her home in Croft?
Those who have read the sad story of Ellen Yates will know that she was employed as a mill hand in Birkenhead, according to her death certificate. I had assumed she must have travelled there by horseback, or even walking. Somebody else suggested that she may have had lodgings in Birkenhead, which is also possible.
It is unlikely we will ever know for certain how she travelled to work and how often, but I wanted to look further into it.
I came across an advertisement in a copy of the Leigh Chronicle from 1856 showing train times and prices.
Article from Leigh Chronicle, 1856
Leigh would probably still have been too far out for her to walk, though she did have family in Leigh at the time.
Culcheth Station wasn’t opened until 1884, after her death, which ruled out her travelling from there. I then found that another local station, Kenyon Junction Station, had been open to the public from 1831.
An estimate of the distance from where she lived (Hop Pole Farm) to Kenyon Junction is about two and a half miles, which she could have easily walked. The train journey took one hour and forty minutes, meaning a long day for her if this was the method she used. The Kenyon Junction Station was on the Liverpool to Manchester Line and there were many routes to Birkenhead mills available from Liverpool Crown Street Station.
Kenyon Junction Station. Photograph courtesy of Lowton Websites.
1850 September 11th, at Croft, near Warrington, Mrs. ELLEN YATES, wife ofMr. Samuel Yates, farmer, of thatplace.
The death of Mrs. Yates demands more than a passing notice inour obituary. She was born in Warrington, on the 5th April, 1778. Hermaiden name was Urmston, and herparents were working people in thattown. At the early age of nine yearsshe went to service in the house of thelate Rev. Aspinall, minister of thethen Risley congregation. On the deathof Mrs. Aspinall, which took place afew years after, such was the care,foresight, prudence and industry manifested by the young servant, that Mr.Aspinall continued her in his serviceas housekeeper until her marriage withMr. Yates, which took place at Flixton,on the 13th February, 1803. She wasthe mother of ten children, six of whomsurvive her. In 1838, the Independents, amongst other of their nefarious attempts to wrest our chapels from thedescendants of those who built them,succeeded in the case of Risley chapel,though they failed in their efforts toconnect it with their own body, as theScotch Presbyterians eventually got aminister of their own appointed to it.
On this event, Mr. and Mrs. Yates, withthat zeal which so eminently characterized their lives, opened their housefor divine worship on Sundays; andfor nearly a year service was carried on by supplies, chiefly from Warrington, but occasionally from other neighbouring places.
Mrs. Yates, movedwith a holy zeal on behalf of the Unitarian cause, determined in her ownmind that a chapel should be built forthe dispossessed congregation of which she was a member; and, disclosing herintentions to some of her more immediate friends, received such encouragement as to induce her to proceed in thework with vigour.
With no other influence than the native eloquence of adevoted heart, and strengthened by herfaith in God's providence, she successively visited Warrington, Manchester,Dukinfield, Bolton, Bury, Walmsley,Liverpool, Hindley, Rivington andChowbent-her husband assisting herin Manchester, Gorton and Hyde - andsucceeded in raising upwards of £500for the purpose.
To save expense, shefrequently walked great distances in these journeys, not unfrequently returning home through the dark and dirty lanes of the country, tired and wet, at nine, ten, eleven, and even twelve o'clock at night. Her zeal, combined with great simplicity and moderation,roused a public feeling in her favour. The late Holbrook Gaskell Esq. of Warrington, when he saw her determined earnestness in the work, consented to become the Treasurer of thefund.The late Mr. Blackburne, ofRhyl, who had an estate in Croft, atownship adjoining Risley, and conveniently situated for the purpose, gavethe land, which also supplied clay forthe bricks.
Workmen were employed,many of the congregation helping asopportunity served, and in less than ayear a very neat and suitable building, with school-rooms attached, waserected; and the opening services, onSeptember 27th and 29th 1839, were conducted by the Rev. J. Martineau and the Rev. J. H. Thom, of Liverpool; and very handsome collections made,which, with the balance of subscriptions collected by Mr. and Mrs. Yates,produced an endowment of £200, to aid in carrying on the permanent services of the chapel.
The delight sheexperienced in joining with her fellow Christians in the worship of God,made her a constant attendant at the chapel as long as health and strengthremained to her.
Croft Unitarian Chapel
On one occasion,after spending a Saturday in Manchester, collecting money for the buildingof the chapel, she arrived at the railway station just after the last train hadstarted; but rather than not be in heraccustomed place in the Sunday meetings that were then held in her ownhouse, she resolutely determined to walk the whole distance, about 18miles, and reached home about twoo'clock in the morning. She tookgreat interest in the Sunday schools and taught there till her growing infirmities kept her at home. First hereyesight declined, till she became quite blind; and then she was afflictedwith a painful cancer in her back,which at length brought her useful andvaluable life to a close.
Patience andresignation to the Divine Will ever accompanied her sufferings. Her interestin the welfare of her fellow creaturesremained with all the force her declining faculties would allow, until at lengthshe fell asleep in Jesus, on September 11th, 1850, aged 72 years. The Croft congregation, desirous of commemoratingher zeal and usefulness, commenced asubscription for a plain marble tablet, and, with the assistance of a numerousbody of friends in Warrington, Liverpool, Manchester, Bury, Dukinfield, Knutsford and other places have nearlysucceeded in their object. It will be aplain marble slab, fixed in the wall above the pew she usually occupiedin the chapel, and will bear the following inscription:
IN MEMORY OF ELLEN, THE WIFE OF SAMUEL YATES OF CROFT. SHE WAS BORN IN WARRINGTON ON THE 5TH DAY OF APRIL 1778 WAS MARRIED AT FLIXTON, THE 13TH FEBRUARY 1803 AND AFTER A LONG AND PAINFUL ILLNESS BORNE WITH MUCH PATIENCE SHE DIED THE 11TH SEPTEMBER 1850, AGED 72 YEARS
HER GREAT AND UNWEARIED EXERTIONS AIDED BY THOSE OF HER HUSBAND UNDER THE BLESSING OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE THE CROFT CONGREGATION OF UNITARIAN CHRISTIANS ARE CHIEFLY INDEBTED FOR THEIR HOUSE OF PRAYER AND THE ENDOWMENT CONNECTED WITH IT HER MEMORY AS A WIFE AND MOTHER TREASURED IN THE HEARTS OF HER SORROWING HUSBAND AND CHILDREN HER READY KINDNESS ENDEARED HER TO HER NEIGHBOURS WHILE HER CONSISTENT EXAMPLE THROUGH A LONG LIFE OF ZEAL WITHOUT BIGOTRY, OF EARNESTNESS WITHOUT PRESUMPTION, OF UNDOUBTING FAITH AND CHEERFUL TRUST IN GOD WAS SUCH AS TO ADORN AND EVIDENCE THE DEEP SINCERITY OF HER CHRISTIAN PROFESSION. TO COMMEMORATE HER ZEALOUS LABOUR AND THEIR OWN SENSE OF HER GREAT CHRISTIAN WORTH HER FELLOW WORSHIPERS JOINED BY A NUMEROUS BODY OF DISTANT FRIENDS CAUSED THIS TABLET TO BE ERECTED
Listing marks and celebrates a building's special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system, so that it can be protected for future generations.
The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to be listed.
Historic England makes recommendations to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and they make the final decision as to whether a building should be listed or not.
Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I
Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
Grade II buildings are of special interest; 91.7% of all listed buildings are in this class
As well as listed buildings, there are Local Listings and Local Heritage Assets and Historic Environment Records.
Local listing helps to raise the profile of local heritage by identifying heritage assets that are of greatest importance to local people. Local heritage assets can range from buildings, designed landscapes, archaeology and elements of the natural environment.
The Historic Environment Record (HER)is the record of all known designated and non-designated archaeological sites and historic landscapes.It includes sites dating from prehistory through to the military remains of the more recent past.
Croft Listed Buildings
There are 13 listed buildings in Croft, all of these are Grade II.
Christ Church, Croft
Eaves Brow Farmhouse
Church of St. Lewis
St. Lewis Presbytery
Barn at Hope Farm
Milestone opposite Rowe Farm
Newchurch Old Rectory
Walls/Gates and Gate Piers to front of Kenyon Hall
Little Town Well
Little Town Well, Mustard Lane
Croft Historic Environment Records
There are 7 Historic Monument records in Croft, 3 of these being the sites of the accomodation for the Royal Ordnance Factory at Risley. These are now the Emerald Drive estate, Taylor Business Park and HMP Risley. The site of HMS Ariel is another listing. The former Croft Unitarian Chapel and its burial ground are both listed. The final one is a ditched enclosure at Southworth Hall Farm.
On Sunday week thousands of people assembled in Risley and Croft to witness a military funeral in the graveyard attached to the local Unitarian Chapel. The people had come from many miles around, scores on bicycles and motor cycles, others in motor car, carriages, cabs and wagonettes, to say nothing of hundreds of pedestrians from Glazebury and the surrounding districts. The fallen soldier - Rifleman Harold Houghton came of a well-known Risley family, Mr. and Mrs. Houghton, the parents, having for a number of years kept the Noggin Inn. Mr. Houghton, the father, like his father before him, was an ironworker, who used to walk daily some five miles to work at the Vulcan Works, Earlestown. Mr. Houghton had a family of eight boys and girls.
ENLISTED WITH A BROTHER.
After the war broke out, two of the boys, Harold, who was 24 years of age, and Fred, who is 15 years old, and who were both mechanics, determined to do what they could to help their country, so enlisted seven months ago, in the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, and in due course, after receiving training, were drafted away to France together, and ultimately fought together in the same trench, in the historic battle of Neuve Chapelle. All went well with them until a week ago last Thursday, March 18th, when Rifleman Harold was shot in the head and his skull fractured. His brother assisted in his removal from the trench.
SHOT IN THE HEAD IN A BAYONET CHARGE.
He received his hurt when taking part in a bayonet charge levelled at the German advance trenches. After being taken to hospital he was sent to England, arriving in Norwich Military Hospital on Friday night, March 19th. He never complained of pain, and had nothing but praise to utter concerning the hospital arrangements He said that nothing more could be done for him than was actually done. It was apparent, however, that he was dangerously hurt. Since their sons enlisted Mr. and Mrs. Houghton had removed to Rochdale. Mrs. Houghton, on hearing of her son's misfortune, went to the hospital at Norwich to visit him, and remained at his bedside until death took place on Wednesday, March 24th.
WELL-KNOWN LOCAL FOOTBALLER.
Rifleman Harold Houghton was an Oddfellow. The members of the lodge to which he belonged held their meetings at the Noggin Inn. He was also a footballer, and played in the Leigh and District Sunday Schools League, and more recently in the Warrington and District League. He was also a popular member of the Risley Institute.
The body was removed from Norwich on Thursday, and arrived at the house of his eldest brother. Herbert, at Risley, on Friday. Mr. James Henshaw, a local undertaker, carried out the funeral arrangements. The gallant Rifleman was buried with military honours.
AN IMPRESSIVE FUNERAL.
The military authorities sent a detachment of nine soldiers belonging to the 6th Manchester Regiment, now stationed at the Leigh Camp, acting a guard over the prisoners of war interned there, and also twelve men and two non-commissioned officers of another regiment to make up a firing party. A bugler and a drummer were also in attendance.
The funeral cortege, which formed up shortly after three o'clock, reached the burial ground about 4:30, and was headed by the Glazebury Brass Band, who played funeral music en route. Beside the family mourners, the members of the Oddfellows Lodge to which the deceased belonged, and many old friends followed the remains to the grave. The coffin was met at the chapel by the Rev. J. J. Wright, of Atherton. The service in the chapel began with the singing of the hymn " Oh, God, our help in ages past."
After reading the Unitarian funeral service - for the deceased and all the members of his family were members of this denomination – the Rev. Wright said that 'courage' and 'comfort' were the two passwords for them that day. Comrades and relatives, to whom the deceased was most dear, had gathered together to perform the last offices to one they know and loved.
As a boy, Harold Houghton was a prize taker in the Sunday school and a regular attendant at the chapel. When the call came for young men to serve their country he and his brother heard it, and obeyed, and they were fighting together in the same trench when the first notes of a still higher call reached the ears of him whose loss they, that day, deplored. He had passed from them, but they believed that all was well with him-he had gone to receive the Great Prize, the reward for duty faithfully done. Those who remained behind prized the honour of having known him; of having been acquainted with one who had made the greatest sacrifice that a man could make for his country. As he lay dying, he said to his mother "I am not afraid!" He had done his duty and he had no fear of the hereafter, and be now lived with God.
CLOSING SCENES AT THE GRAVESIDE.
As the coffin was being removed from the chapel to its last resting place, Mr. T. Whittle played the voluntary " For ever with the Lord." Three volleys were fired over the grave, and the buglers sounded "The Last Post" after which the band played "The Penticost." Some beautiful floral tributes were placed on the coffin, which was covered with the Union Jack for a pall. The breastplate bore the simple inscription: "Rifleman Harold Houghton. aged 24; 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade."
Floral tributes were sent by: The Father, Mother and family, the wreath bearing the inscription "He died a hero”, Sister Jane, Jim and Dick, his brother Tom, the Risley Institute Football Club, His fellow workers, A few friends at the Horseshoe, Mr. and Mrs. Collier and family, Herbert and Lizzie, the members of the Risley Institute and the Risley Ladies' Sewing Class and Vulcan Foundry.
Many thanks to Rita Pilling for the picture and information on Harold.
Ellen Yates was born on 24th April 1852 in Culcheth, Lancashire. In 1874 she was a dye worker at a factory in Birkenhead and she lived with her brother James and his wife Mary Ann at Hop Pole Farm, Croft.
In January 1870, her parents had died within weeks of one another, her mother from Bronchitis and her father from Insanity and atrophy of the liver.
In 1871, Ellen was a witness at the wedding of her brother James to her friend and cousin Mary Ann Whittle. This wedding was held at Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel and not Croft, possibly because they were cousins.
Marriage Certificate of James and Mary Ann Yates 1871
We know nothing more about Ellen's life after that apart from the fact that she must have been desperately unhappy. She felt so low that on this day, 8th August in 1874, she decided to take her own life.
Her body wasn't discovered until the next day, Sunday 9th August in a Marl Pit in Croft where she had drowned herself.
Death Certificate of Ellen Yates
An Inquest was held on 13th August and a verdict of 'suicide due to temporary insanity' was given as the cause of death.
Ellen was buried at Croft Unitarian Chapel in grave C6 with her parents and her younger sister Hannah, who had passed away before Ellen was born.
The gravestone reads 'In the midst of life we are in death'.