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'.
I purchased this old photograph recently and assumed it was a view of the Noggin in Risley. However, when i compared the building with what is there today I realised that it couldn't be the same place.
Which Noggin Inn is Still Standing?
I know from past research that there have been two Noggins, but I had always assumed that the 'Old' Noggin Inn was long gone and the one we see today is the newer one.
Thanks to the available maps of the district I realised that the one still there is the original 'Noggin Inn'. The 'New Noggin' was across the road on the corner of Cross Lane (Now Cross Lane South).
Map of Risley in 1849
Map of Risley in 1907
Which Noggin Inn is on the Old Photo?
The photograph is from between 1900 and 1910 (estimated). I went through all of the maps with enough detail through the years to find something that hasn't changed.
If you look to the right of the photo, you can just make out a wooden fingerpost or guide post. This is marked on every map with enough detail and is on the crossroads, to the left of the Old Noggin Inn, if you were stood facing it to take a picture.
I realised that if you were to stand at Cross Lane Farm looking at the New Noggin, the post would be on the right as it is in the photo. Therefore, I believe the photo is of the New Noggin, which no longer stands. The below newspaper extract confirms further details on the two Inns.
Warrington Examiner - Saturday 13th July 1872
Valuable Freehold Estate at Risley and Rixton-with-Glazebrook, in the County of Lancaster.
A Valuable FREEHOLD ESTATE, commonly known as the Risley Estate, late the property of Richard Watson Marshall Dewhurt, Esq., deceased, consisting of the manor or reputed manor of Risley, with numerous farms, a licensed inn or public-house, a beerhouse, and several cottages and gardens, comprising in the whole 1,274a. 0r. 25p. statute measure, or thereabouts, nearly all in a ring fence, situate in Risley, in the township of Culcheth, parish of Newchurch, and county of Lancaster, except the part described as lot 9, which, with the exception of one field, is situate in the adjoining township of Rixton-with-Glazebrook.
The whole estate will in the first instance be offered in one lot, but if not sold the same will immediately afterwards be put up in the following or such other lots as may then be determined, namely:-
Lot 1. All that Old and Well-accustomed PUBLIC HOUSE, known as the Noggin Inn, with the Farm Building and excellent Farm Land adjoining thereto; together with a Public Weighing Machine, comprising in the whole 17a. 3r. 36p. in the occupation of Mr. John Sankey, as tenant thereof. The house is situate at the junction of the highways from Warrington and Winwick to Leigh, and with the land is enclosed within a ring defence. The house possesses the only spirit license within a considerable distance.
Lot 2. TWO COTTAGES and GARDENS, with additional land allotted thereto, adjoining the highway from Warrington to Leigh, and near to the Risley schools, in the occupation of Mr. Richard Bate and Catherine Ryley, respectively, containing 30 perches.
Lot 3. All that PUBLIC BEERHOUSE known as the New Noggin Inn, with the Shop, Bakehouse, Shippon, Piggeries, Garden, Orchard, and Pasture Land adjoining, situate at the junction of the roads from Warrington to Leigh with that to Winwick, in the occupation of Mr. Hamblet Jackson, and containing in the whole 2a. 2r. 33p.
When Did the New Noggin Open and Close?
The simple answer is that I don't know for sure. The earliest detailed map is the one above from 1849, on which they are both present. There is a lovely older map from 1786 which refers to the whole area as 'Noggin Hillock'. Unfortunately, not many buildings are shown.
Map from 1786
There is a similar newspaper article to the one above in 1841. The whole estate is offered for sale, quoting slightly less acreage, but only mentions The Noggin Inn as a public house.
This makes it possible, though not certain, that the New Noggin opened between 1841 and 1849. I have not yet found any earlier references to the Noggin Inn (old or new) among newspaper articles.
The inns are referred to in the following years as 'The New Noggin' and either 'The Old Noggin Inn' or 'The Noggin Inn'. From around 1910, none of the articles mention the New Noggin. The building is still shown on maps, right up until the construction of the M62 in 1971, it just doesn't have the 'Inn' label.
Sadly, The Old Noggin Inn now too faces demolition.
Cheyvonne Bower is a local historian with a passion for the past. A member of Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society.