Wilpshire Through the Ages
Most of Wilpshire, Salesbury and Clayton-le-Dale came under the jurisdiction of Salesbury Manor Court. The only known surviving records are from 1641 to 1661. The court was held twice a year, in May and November, or April and September.
All the householders within the court’s jurisdiction had to attend or send a representative, if not they paid a fine. One duty was to record all changes of tenancy of the various properties, hence the term copyhold. The remainder of the court’s time was taken up by dealing with complaints such as blocked ditches, fences hedges and tiles out of repair, overflowing watercourses, overgrowing hedges and blocking rights of way.
Wilpshire remained a small, scattered farming district even when the new turnpike road linking Blackburn with Whalley and Clitheroe – Whalley Road – was opened in the early 19th century. It was the opening of the railway which led to its development as a dormitory suburb of Blackburn, initially for the wealthy millowners and business people of that town, who built villas and mansions along Whalley Road and Ribchester Road. They used the railway to travel to Manchester to do business there. In the 20th century the advent of the motor bus and motor car resulted in further housing being built for commuters wishing to live on the edge of the countryside.
Wilpshire was part of Blackburn Rural Council until 1974 when it became part of the newly formed Ribble Valley Borough Council.
Ribchester Road – once known as Long Lane and Vicarage Lane was Wilpshire Lane hence Wlpshire Lane Farm beyond the railway bridge on Vicarage Lane.
The Railway at Wilpshire
The Blackburn, Clitheroe and North Western Junction Railway act of 27 July 1846 granted powers for the construction of a line from Daisyfield Junction (Blackburn) to Clitheroe and onward to a junction with the proposed North Western Railway at Long Preston near Settle. The railway was only built as far as Chatburn and only when the Settle to Carlisle Railway opened in 1875 was the Ribble Valley Line extended to meet it at Hellifield.
On 21 June 1850 the line through Wilpshire opened although at this stage the line was single track only.
The station at Wilpshire was originally named Ribchester, it later became Wilpshire for Ribchester and finally Wilpshire. In the 1904 station hand book Wilpshire is entered as being equipped to deal with passenger, freight, cattle and horse box traffic. The spacious goods yard, with its cream and maroon wooden goods shed containing a 3 ton crane is now no more, long since demolished, the area it once occupied is covered with housing.
Oliver’s Bridge carrying Ribchester Road over the railway has a more unusual name in Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway bridge records. In this manual it is referred to as ‘Stiff Street’ Bridge. It is often believed that the reason for this rather irreverent name is that when fatalities occurred during the construction of the Wilpshire Tunnel, the deceased navvies were laid out in a room under the Wilpshire Hotel on Ribchester Road which then became know by railway servants as Stiff Street. In truth the junction of Ribchester Road and Hollowhead Lane was named Stiff Street on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey in 1844 before the railway was built. It probably got its name from the steep hill of Hollowhead Lane which was much steeper before the railway bridge was built.
The Ribble Valley Line lost its regular passenger service in 1962 at a time when many rural lines were closing throughout Britain.The passenger service was reopened in 1995 and a new station, Ramsgreave & Wilpshire, was built.
Wilpshire Golf Club
Wilpshire Golf Club is the oldest Golf Club in East Lancashire. An annual rent of £5.10.0 was paid to farmer Adam Craven for the use of land at the south side of Hollowhead Lane where the original nine hole course was situated.The formation of the Club took place on June 20th 1890, the first clubroom being situated in West View Terrace. Around 1900 the club acquired their own premises in a building now occupied by Right At Home. Due to increasing membership, it was proposed at a Council meeting in 1908, that a plot of land belonging to the Duke of Somerset be purchased for the purpose of erecting a new clubhouse. This proved to be successful and the building commenced and was completed by May 1910. A grand opening ceremony took place on June 8th. Members, guests and the Duke of Somerset attended the garden party, the Wilpshire Brass Band providing the entertainment.
The Blackburn Orphanage
Over 100 hundred years ago James Dixon and his wife Jane dedicated their lives to helping the orphans and destitute children of Blackburn.Some were sleeping rough on the streets and were in desperate need of care James Dixon set about raising funds and by 1891 had built an orphanage in Whalley Road Wilpshire.
Child Action North West now work from the buildings and over recent months, with the aid of a successful Heritage Lottery bid have put together a creative programme of community engagement, activities and events using their history as Blackburn Orphanage bringing life to the remarkable story of their founder, James Dixon and how their work has developed today. For more information visit their website on www.canw.org.uk .
Wilpshire Methodist Church, Ribchester Road, Wilpshire
In 1887 the first church on Ribchester Road was opened this is now known as the upper hall or the sports hall.The cost was £764 and it was all paid off within three years. The church flourished and by 1901 it was agreed that a larger church should be built. The new church was officially opened on 16 April 1903. When the new church was opened it had an interesting feature. The organ was powered by water. In 1982 the old and new churches were linked by the what is known as the Wesley Lounge.
‘The Wilpshire electrified tram service was created in 1902 as an extension from Blackburn cemetery at a cost of £15000.
This resulted in increased housing in Wilpshire and Brownhill and a ‘Country route’ escape for many, from the urban areas of Blackburn, to the open countryside of Wilpshire and beyond.
The packed trams carried people to the Wilpshire terminus near the top of Knowsley Road which also housed a parcels office and public toilets.
For a full history of Wilpshire visit: https://www.cottontown.org/Housing/Parish%20histories/Pages/History-of-Wilpshire-Area.aspx