Hall Genealogy A 19th Century Autobiography
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Updated Wed, 19-Sep-2012

The Biography of Miles Nightingale, 277 Accrington Road, Blackburn, Lancashire

This was transcribed by Jane Hansen and is spelled and punctuated as in the original

I was born at Wilderwood Horwich near Bolton Lancashire. The date of my birth is not known but I was Baptized at Blackrod church January 29th 1826.

When I was a baby Mother was holding me between her knees when she let me slip and I fell against the fire grate which caused me to cry very much. Mother did the best she could to get me quite and at last I ceased to cry and fell asleep and Mother put me in the cradle. But when she undressed me at night she was horrified to find that a cinder or bass had imbedded itself at the right side of neck having burnt to the bone the mark of which I shall carried to the grave. A few years after this I used to sit in my little chair in the yard singing

Here we suffer grief and pain
Here we meet to part again
In Heaven we shall part no more
O that will be joyful joyful joyful joyful.
O that will be joyful when we meet to part no more

Another incident I remember very well which was very near proving fatal to me. I was bent drinking from a very deep well which was at the bottom of a lane called Moorflat when my brother Jim who was older than I was came behind me and pushed me into the well. When he saw what he had done and that he could not get me out he cried for help and a woman who lived near to named Mrs Fisher came and got me out after, as they said I had gone down the third time. Another time I and some more boys had been on the hay-mower of one of the farmers in the neigborhood and he gave us a gill of beer among the lot of us and we pretended to be drunk. We had to go through a field were there were a number cows one lying near the footpath. I tumbled over her and she jumped up and got her horns between my legs and sent me a few yards and she was coming at me a second time when the other boys drove her away or otherwise it might have been very serious for me.

I have always had a great love for the Sunday School. I do not remember going there the first time but I do remember going with a blue Shambury (?) Frock and check Brat on and a pair of clogs on of which I was very proud. I attended Horwich Church School as scholar and Teacher until 1848 when I went to Liverpool.

I went to work in the Mill when I was very young and was engaged by a spinner as his Creeler the spinning mules were rights and lefts. The handle which the spinner had to used in putting up the Mule had not a rim on the same as they have now. One day I went to sweep the Wheel house as it was then called and I went to near the handle mention above, and it hit me on the left side of my face and knocked me very near to the handle of the other mule. I was taken to the doctor who stitch it up in three places and he said that if the cut had been higher it would have killed me. The mark of that cut I bear today. The man by whom I was engaged as his Creeler was a very cruel man if I made the least mistake in my work he used to beat me without any mercy, with a rope the same as was used for squaring bands, with a nott tied at the end which was hard as a piece of iron. Many a time have I gone home with lumps on my head as big as marbles.

My Mother died when I was very young leaving eight children. My Father was a very good singer and the publicans did all they could to get him into their houses in order that he might sing for them to draw custom.

Wages were very small and provisions very dear, so that we were almost reduced to starvation. It was when things was so bad and Father going to the public house that I made two vows. 1st that I would never do as Father did. I am sorry to say that I did not cary that out for I did for a few years take drink and made a beast of myself more than once.

The second vow was that I would go through Walkingames Arithmatic (that is) that I would work out all the sums contained in that Book. The plan that I adopted was to study and work out as many sums as I could at the Mill. I used to work them out on the piller in the wheel house and then copy them on paper and when I went home to copy them in a book I had for that purpose. And in a few years I had accomplish the work I had sett myself to do. Withe the ecception of Menceration (?) which I could not do for want of funds to buy the instrument required. I never went to a day school I had it all to fight out myself of which I have found the benefit of in my later days. I always attended the Sunday School and made such progress in reading that I was very soon put into the young men's class when I was only a mere lad, or boy. The Teacher of the young men's class who's name was William Heaton Head Bookeeper at Ridgeway Walksuches Bleeching Works. We used to go to his house on a Friday night. We paid one half penny per week which he put into the Missionary Box. He used to teach us on various subjects. One night I remember he took us outside the house to view the Heavens it was a splendid Moonlight night. He pointed out to us the Milky Way the Seven Stars and Waggon and Horse. And then he began to speak to us about the Moon, and ask us if we thought there was a new Moon every month. One big young fellow said that he did believe that there was a new moon every month. Then the Teacher ask him what did they do with old ones, he answered that they cut them up into stars.

1844,5,6, and 7 were years of great distress misery and unrest in the country, and the government was forced to do something to pacify the people for they had almost got to a point of Revelution so that in 1846 Sir Robert Peel the prime minister who was a Conservative brought in a Bill to repeal the Corn Laws. A few of his party who was of the same mind as himself with the aid of the Liberals the Bill was passed, which was evident a sign of the good time coming, which was talked and sung about so much at that time. But 1848 was a bad year for the Mill hands at Horwich. The two William Bennets, Uncle and Nephew who owned and runed the spinning at Horwich disagreed about something, but the result was the Mill was locked up and we were all thrown out of work. A few men along with myself were picked out to go on a begging expidition, being furnish with a book by our Master to go to the various works in Bolton and district, and all that we got had to be distributed among the rest of the Mill hands. This we did for about 15 weeks and we did very well.

In August of the same year we heard that the Authorities of Liverpool were about to raise their police force to 1000 men, and that they wanted young men from the country. So at once James and John Moss along with myself went to Liverpool to try our luck. When we got to Liverpool we went to the Central office in high street and present ourselves to the authorities who ask us for our Characters. We told them we had not got any. They said we should have to go and get them before they could do anything for us. So we had to go back again to Horwich to our Masters to get a written Character from them. And the gave us a very good Character. We went back to Liverpool the day following and presented ourselves once more to the authorities who examined us and the Character we had brought and then sent us to the Doctor to be examined by him. We all passed and were taken on as 3 policemen of Liverpool. My first night's duty was at Kirkdale jail. The policeman who had to show me the extent of my Beat (I think) saw that I was a little timid for when we got to a certain part of the jail Wall he told me that I must keep my eye on that place as a man had attempted to escape about a fortnight ago. This increase my timidity very much, for I had to go past that place every half hour and having come from the Country and never having been out all night before it nearly knocked all the courage out of me. And I believe that if the man had made his second appearance I should have been missing. But of course I soon got over this timidity and got as bold as the other policemen.

After the night spent at Kirkdale Jail my principle place of night duty was on the Northside of London road from Soho Street to Shaw Street. After a little time I found that I was required to do things which was contrary to my nature, that was in regard to the Boys and Girls and young Women, who had to get their living by selling things in the streets. Who were not allowed to stand still or near the footpath. These persons were generally without shoes and stockings Winter and Summer alike. I did not deal hard with them if they would do as they were required when the Sergeant or Inspector were about. So that they used to call me the little good policeman. Mrs Moss the Mother of James and John Moss came with her daughter to reside in Liverpool and I lodged with them so that we were comfortable and happy.

In 1849 the Cholera raged in Liverpool and thousands were its victims. One morning when I came off duty at six o clock and got to lodgings I found Mrs Moss down with the Cholera and her daughter waiting on her. I thought it would not be wise to sleep in the house that day, so that I went to a neighbors house. I went to bed about eight o clock and got up at two in the afternoon when to my horror I found that both Mrs Moss and her daughter who was about 25 years of age were dead. The daughter was not quite sharp. I have often heard the Mother wish that she might die when she did, so that she got what she wish for. We buried them in Horwich Church yard. This was a great blow to us for we had to break up our home and go into lodgings.

In 1851 I left the police force and went to work at the Albert Docks, but work there became so irregular that I & John Moss took a shop in Prince Edward Street and commence the grocery business but this did not prove a success and I became weary of living in Liverpool and I resolved to leave and seek my fortune elsewhere. So on Whitmonday morning 1852 I knelt me down in my bed room and prayed to the Lord and said that if he would lead me to a place where I could get an honest livelyhood I would work and support his Cause as long as I lived. So I left Liverpool very early on Whitmonday morning not knowing where to go but I commited myself into the hands of the Lord and I believed that he would lead me to the right place. I had about six shillings in my pocket. I cannot tell the villages and towns that went through but I arrived in King Street Blackburn about six pm having been walking the whole of the day. I stayed at a common lodging house during the night paying 4d for my bed. On the Tuesday morning I went to seek for work but were unsuccessful. On the Tuesday night I went to the same lodging house in King Street I stayed the night before. I was told by someone in the house that they were in want of Spinners and Peicers at a mill called Stone Bridge in Oswaldtwistle. So on the Wednesday morning I went to Church parish as they called it and when I got to Knuzden I called at the mill, but they were not in want of any hands, so I continued my journey to Church parish and as I was going along Accrington road the country was so beautiful that I thought I should like to live in this part. I continue my journey until I got to the Stone Bridge Mill and as I got to the end of the street leading to the Mill gate I saw some men standing higher up the road. When they saw me they came runing towards me they ask me what I was after. I told them I was seeking for work they told me there was a strike on there and they asked to go a little higher up and they would give me something to eat and drink as well as relief. I told them I did not want anything to eat or drink the only thing I wanted was work, but as there was a strike there I would leave the place thanking them for their offered hospitality. I went down to the mill called Whiteash. I sent for the spinning Master who told me he could find me work for sick to mind a pair of Self acting Mules. I told him I would much rather get peicing for a time as I had been out of the Mill for 4 years and I had never worked on a pair of Self acting Mules. But he pressed me very much to try so I agreed to try, and I thought I did very well. I worked one day and a half when the man came back. During that the strike at Stone Bridge was settled. So I went there again and got on for sick as Side Peicer at 9 Shillings per week. I do not remember how long I was working sick this time but it was not very long when he came back. I was out of work again but as I was going out of the mill, Walter Watson the Manager was in the Watch house and he called out to me and asked me were I was going. I told him I had been working for sick but peicer had come back. He said stop here and he sent for James Lord, the Spinning Master, who when he came he told him he must find me something to do until there was a vacancy as he wanted to keep me at the Mill. I really could not understand all this but as I had asked the Lord to guide me I believed he was working in a way though I could not see it that would be for the best and so it turned out to be, for I very soon got minding and got more money. But things was as they had been in a very unsettle state. We were constantly going down to the Club at Blackburn to have Cops wraped and whenever there was a dispute in the Mill about the wrapting I had to go and see them wrapted so I was the only person in the spinning room who could wrap. In 1854 our Spinning Master left and Tobias Savage the under man was promoted to be the head Spinning Master and a young man one of the Spinners was made under man, but things continue to remain much the same, for we had to go down to the club at Blackburn almost every week to have our Cops wraped. The authorities of the Club got tired of this kind of work, and they decided to buy a new Wrap Reel which was to be kept at Church Parish for the use of the Mills in the district. Walter Watson got to know this and was so exaspirated about it that I got my Notice. At one week end I do not remember the date Tobias Savage our Spinning Master sent for me down into his Cabin. When I got down I asked him what he wanted me for. But he could not speak, for he was a good religious man, and we were on the best of terms, and no doubt he thought that an unjust thing was being done to me. But I saw on the Bench a paper. I took it up and found that it was my Notice paper. I ask him what it was for he said he did not know but he advised me to going away quitely for I would certainly have to go. I said nay I must know what I had got my Notice for, so I went after the Under Manager who I found in the Card room. I ask him what I had got my Notice for, he said he did not know anything about it. I thought well, but I'll know before I leave the place. So I went up into the Top Office where I found Walter. I told him I had got my Notice and neither the Spinning Master nor the Under Manager could not tell me what it was for. He said well I do not know. I said this is a very strange thing. I have got my Notice and neither the Spinning Master the under manager or the head Manager dose not know what it is for. But I said I'll know before I leave this office. So he began to say perhaps you have been spoiling your work or not getting enough off. Now I said Walter it was only the other day that you were heard to say on the steps in the Mill that I was one of the best spinners in the Mill, so after a while when he saw that I meant what I said he began to tell me why I had got my Notice. He said he had heard that the Spinners Club in Blackburn had bought a Wrap Reel, and I had to have the charge of it and therefore I would not do for them. I said they had bought a wrap reel and it had come to Church Parish for the use of the Mills in the district. But as for me having the charge of it I have not heard a word. He said that he had heard so and that I would not do for them. I said it appears to me that if a man has a little learning and has his eyes open so as to see that he gets his rights along with his coworkers they will not do for you, and I left him. There was a Meeting at the Club in Blackburn that night so I went down with a few others and laid my case before them. The Meeting became very eccited and many oaths were uttered against the firm. They put me on the club to receive 10 shillings per week so long as I was out of work - which was about six weeks. I then got work at George Walmsbys Moscow Mill I had worked there a few week, when on a Friday Walter Watson was seen in the office. On the Monday morning following when I went to start at my work the Spinning Master came and told me that I had not start work. I thought it would be best to leave the neighbourhood altogether so I went to Baxendens to seek for work but they were full so I traveled to Clowbridge where there was a new Mill and I started the first pair of Mules in that mill, but I was only there a fortnight for they sent for me to come to Knuzden Brook Mill. I came in December 1854 where I worked until the mill was burn down February 19th 1885 being the Spinning Master 18 years, which is rather remarkable that a man should get to that position who had never been to a day school. Had I not carried out that which I had set myself to do when a mere boy, spending all my spare time in trying to improve myself. I also when very young commenced to learn the Violin in which I have made great progress.

[ facing page: I went to a place called Clowbridge were I started the first pair of Mules. I was only there a fortnight for they sent for me to come to Knuzden. But is was an event in my life that I can never forget for I never felt a greater loss than I did in being able to attend the means of grace that I had been in the habit of attending. I went down the road a little were stood a little Chapel called Providence Chapel every night to see if I could see a light but I never saw one. It is rather singular that after more than 40 years I should have the Minister of that Chapel dining at my house 277 Accrington Road. The Minister coming from that district we naturally began to talk about the neighbourhood over 40 years ago. The Minister name was the Rev Micklethwaite.]

When I came to Church Parish on Wednesday in Whit week 1852 after I had got work, I began to look after lodgings which I got at an aged woman named Peggy Crosby living in Union road. She was a good old Primitive Methodist. She had a young man living with her named Thomas Howarth who attended the Weslyan Association Sunday School and Chapel. I went with him to the school and chapel. I soon found out I had got among the right sort of people, and I began to work in God's Cause as I had promised him I would. I became a Teacher in the Sunday School and a member of Mr Walker Openshaw's class where we use to have lively and inspiring meetings. I bought a Bass Cella as soon as I was able and began to play it in the Chapel. At that time music was very scarce and I began to write music for the choir. During that year we established aTemperance Band of Hope in connection with the school and on the 5th November 1852 we had a Teaparty to inagurate it which was a great success. William Walker Openshaw was elected President and I was Secretary and nearly all the Teachers and Scholars in the school became members. I also commenced a night school two nights

[facing page possibly added later]
When I came to reside at Knuzden in the later end of 1855 we had not place where we could assemble for worship. So we looked about in the neighbourhood see if we could find a place that would be suitable for us to meet in. We found an upperroom at Knuzden Brook the entrance into which was up some stone steps from the road. It was a little room that was used by a few persons as a news room. Henry Anderson the Spinning Master at the Mill was the secretary and we could not tell how the thing would go with him and I working under him. As we had Mr Thomas Pickering the Manager of the Mill and who went to Paradise Chapel at Blackburn with us we took courage and went to James Pilkington to whom the property belonged and asked him if he would kindly let us have the little room at Knuzden to hold services in on a Sunday in connection with the Weslyan Methodist association. He at once consented. We thanked him very heartily for consenting. But it was not so agreeable to the persons connected with the News room for they soon gave it up altogether and left us in possession of it both Sunday and week days.]

in the week when I taught the Boys and Girls and the Youths of our school in writing and the Arithmatic. I generally had from 40 to 50 present. I also had a Grammer Class for the young men I taught out of Linny(?) Grammer. The class that I taught in the Sunday School were youths about 16 or 17 years of age. They along with myself signed the Temperance Pledge. And as far as I know they all kept it with the exception of one and were very successful in life. In 1854 and 5 I was elected one of the Superintendent of the School and which I held until I came and commence a School at Knuzden. But it was really a very hard task to sever myself from the Church and School at Foxhill Bank were I had worked and had such happy times and undergone the second Birth. But I felt it was my duty to do so. So that on the 23rd of March 1856 we opened our School at Knuzden in an upper room at Knuzden Brook. A great deal of work devolved upon me. I had to Superintend, teach the young men play the cello and lead the singing. Joseph Crawshaw who ought to have been a great help to us was of a rambling disposision, was very often away. Not only going away himself but taking some of our young men with him which made a great gap in our school. We only being few in number this used to cause him and I to disagree.

We had our prayer Meetings at 7 o clock on the Sunday morning, our Band Meetings on a Saturday night, our Class meetings during the week as well as cottage meetings which were held in different houses in the neighbourhood, so that we soon got a firm footing in the Neighbourhood. The little room soon became too small for us. There was an old Barn and Stables near to which belonged to Mr James Pilkington and which had not been used for some time. This we thought could be made into a very nice Chapel. So we went to see Mr James Pilkington if he would let us have it to make in to a Sunday School and Chapel. He was rather surprised at our request for he thought we would never make it fit for the purpose we ask for it for. But we told him we thought we could if he would give us the liberty to do so. He gave us what we asked for. We thank him and came away greatly overjoyed at our success and we sett to work in right earnest and we soon had all the inside out : plastered the walls put new windows in built up the big doors way at the back and a wall round the front. This we did ourselves at night when we had done our work, but the joiners work in the windows door and pulpit we had to pay for, which we subscribed for among ourselves.

We had not been in our new school (made out of the old barn) long when the young men of our school thought fit to make me a presentation for the labour I had bestowed upon them which consisted of Rollin's Ancient History in three well bound volumes and the Young Man's Companion. Mr Bilsbury Aspin of Blackburn one of our local preachers came to make the presentation which came as a great suprise, not having heard a word about is until they were brought to me at the top end of the School, for which I thank them very much.

As time went on I began to feel weary in living in lodgings and I felt that I wanted to make a home of my own. So I prayed to the Lord to guide me in the selection of a good parner for life, and that she might be one that would not hinder me in working for him having full faith that as he had guided me hitherto, he would guide me in this, which I believe he did. For in 1858 a man and his wife came from Rosendale to Knuzden to seek for work for himself and their family which consisted of 16 persons. Mr Pickering the manager of the Mill could find them work at the Mill but there was no house in the neighbourhood suitable for such a large family. At that time I was living in the house which stood by itself in the new row. Mr Pickering sent for me down, while the man and woman stood at a distance, he asked me if I would let them come and live with me till they could get a house. He said they were a large family and they were Primitive Methodists and that they would be a great help to us in the school (Mr Pickering was one of us and a great suport to the place.)

I hesitated for a time for I had never seen them before and I could not tell what sort of a family they were. But at last I consented to take them on trial for one month but during that month great changes took place for I saw in that family one who I believed would make me a good parner for life. They came from Rosendale on Whitmonday 1858 just 6 years after I had left Liverpool, and we were maried at the parish church, Blackburn on the 7th of April 1859. We lived a happy life together for nearly 33 years having 5 sons and 5 daughters. She died January 25th 1892. She was a great help to me in my church and school works attending to the means of grace as often as she could. This gave me great encouragement.

In 1858 two local preachers came to reside in the neighbourhood whom we invited to our school, and they accepted our invitation. At this time we had no teachers in our school but those we had been able to pick up in the neighbourhood. The people in the neighbourhood had been very much neglected and were difficent in learning. But I thought we were getting on very nicely, but after a while our two local preachers were dissatisfied with some of the Teachers, and one of them said they might as well have a donkey in the class. This of course hurt my feelings very much as well as the feelings of those referred too. For they had served our purposes (and a good purpose too) when we could not get any who were better learn'd. I who stood by those Teachers, fell in the estimation of the two local preachers. And they seemed (in my opinion) to do all they could to lessen my influence in the school and if possible to bring me into disgrace, and to blast my character. At this time I was one of the Superintendents of the school, and was a leader of a class in my own house. The number of members on my class book were 47.

In 1859 before I was married one of the local preachers told one of my member to come to my house as often as he could to see if he cold hear or see anything that was wrong. When the member told me what he had been instructed to do I told him I would relieve him of that duty as soon as I could. For I would get married as soon as possible which was on the 7th of April 1859 at the Parish Church Blackburn. I invited the Teachers and Senior Scholars, and also the two local preachers to Tea. The former came to the number of about 60 but the two locals did not come but said that I had only made the Tea and invited the Teachers and Senior Scholars to increase my influence in the school. A thought which never entered my head. One of the local preachers said that my class was not a Methodist class because I did not used the Methodist hymn Book. Well the reason was that it would have been very expensive to have bought Hymn books for such a large class. For the convenience of the class I bought a number of small Hymn Books called the Lancashire Hymn Book published for use of Home and Sunday Schools, the same Books that we used in the school for a time. The other local preacher got two or three men from Paradise Chapel to come and lecture me for allowing the Teachers and Senior Scholars to play games in the school after our second Tea party and joining in with them but it came to naught for they continued to have their games from that time to the present. Things went on from bad to worse till they became unbearable. And on Sunday in 1863 I do not remember the date (footnote: According to the class Book I was teaching the young men's class on April 23rs 1863) I resolved to leave the school and church I loved and had laboured to establish at Knuzden. But I remembered my vow I had made to the Lord at Liverpool and I felt that if I could not work at one place I must at another. The Lord had blest and prospered me more than I had expected so on the Monday morning following the Sunday I left the school and church I had loved and laboured to establish at Knuzden for so many years, I went to John Braithwaite the Superintendent at St Oswald Church Sunday School. I asked him if they would accept of me into their school. He said they would reeived me very gladly. I told him I could not work with any comfort at the other school. I went the Sunday following when I was gladly received by the Teachers and the Vicar. They put me to teach the young men's class and I felt very comfortable and happy considering the great changes that had taken place.

During the time that I went to St Oswald School there were many changes. We had several fresh(?) curates but none of them seemed to be favourable to establish a Temperance Band of Hope in connection with our school. Untill one came a Mr Pattison and he was quite willing to have one established if I would be the secretary. I said I would if he would be the President. He said he was not a Teetotaler. I said well but you can sign the pledge but he hesitated for some months. But at last he gave in and said he would be the President so we sett to work in down right earnest. We called a teacher meeting to ascertain their views we talked the matter over for some time and a motion was made that we establish a Temperance Band of Hope which was carried unanimously. A committee was picked out. Our minister was elected the President and I was elected Secretary. It was also agreed that we have a Teaparty to inaugirate the Establishment of the Temperance Band of Hope. 19 young men scholars in my class who had signed the pledge got up a Temperance piece called the Chairman in a Fix(?). Programmes were printed and all arrangements made for the Teaparty when some one met Mr Haslewood the vicar at Knuzden and gave him a programme when he got into a passion and rent the programme up and said that it should never take place in my school. Mr Pattison our Curate and a few Teachers came to me and asked me to go and see Mr Haslewood but I objected. I said Mr Pattison is our Minister, and I could not see what Mr Haslewood had to do with it. But I agreed to see Mr Baynes when he came to the Mill. Mr Edward Howarth and I saw him and told him how matters stood. He said that Mr Haslewood was the Vicar of the parish and he could prevent us for having the school for any other purpose except Sunday School work and he strongly advised us to go and see and try to prevail upon him to allow the thing to go on. I for some time objected to go and see him at all as I looked upon Mr Pattison who was our Minister to be the Master. But Mr Baynes pressed me very much to go with Edward Howarth as a deputation to Mr Haslewood. He said we could go in his time ie during Mill hours. At the last we agreed to go. When we got to Mr Haslewood he was engaged for a while and we were shown into a parlor. When he came down to us he enquired our business. I told him we had come to see about having a Teaparty in our school at Knuzden to inaugurate the establishment of a Temperance Band of Hope in connection with our school. He said that he objected to it and it should never take place in his school. He said the Church of England had never recognized the Temperance Band of Hope but I pulled out a number of pledge cards that I had received from gentlemen who were connected with the Church of England and had Bands of Hope in connection with their schools. O he said but it had never been recognized by the Convocation but he said I object to the name Band of Hope. I asked why but he hesitated to speak. But I pressed for answer. He said because it had sprung from dissent. Again he said suppose I allowed you to commence a Band of Hope I suppose you would be having your meetings and you were to invited a Primitive Methodist Minister to speak. I could not go on the platform with him. We discuss the question for a long time. At last we left him not having received any satisfaction but I told him before we left him that if we must not have the Tea and Meeting in our school we should be oblige to have them in the old National School which Mr Baynes had fit up for us as a news room. The day following Mr Haslewood sent us word that we might have the Tea and Meeting in the school, but he would come and be the chairman. Whether he had spent a restless night or he had been disturbed by dreams about what he had done I do not know, but it seemed that time had made change in him for the better. We all thought he would be glad for the thing we were doing, that he would be the last man to oppose anything of the kind. After all the Teaparty and Meeting came off which was a great success. About 200 sat down to tea. Mr Haslewood came as he said and took the chair. Mr Gordon the curate of Daisy Green was on his right and Mr Pattison our Minister on the left. The Chairman opened the Meeting by reading a long speech against Teetotalers during the delivery of which he was often interrupted. After the chairman had made his speech and a few songs and rescitations had been gone through Mr Haslewood left the meeting. Mr T Duxbury the Secretary of the Blackburn Band of Hope Union came to me and asked me if I could get the chairman speech. I said I did not know, but I said I would try. I ran after Mr Haslewood and overtook him at Kitchen row I ask him if he would kindly let us have his speech he replied O yes and gave it to me without asking any questions. I brought it and gave it to Mr Duxbury he and a few other young men who had comed with him from Blackburn took the speech with them they copied if off and got a great many fly leafs printed and circulated them in the neighbourhood. I went into the vestry to make arrangements for the Diologues. Mr Gordon the Chairman's right hand man came and ask me if every I had heard such a trashy speech before. I said I had not. Though the Teaparty and Meeting was a success, the speech of Mr Haslewood seemed to have made a change in the minds of a portion of our female Teachers for they said that Mr Haslewood must be right and I must be wrong and if I continued in the School they would leave, but I strongly advised them to keep to their School and I would leave. I never went after. The above Teaparty and meeting was held on the 27th November 1869.

As soon as it became known that I had left St Oswald School, a deputation from my old school waited upon me to see if I would come back again. One of the local preachers had left the neighbourhood but one was still there. I said that I could not see how that could be unless the local preacher who was still with them made an apology for the part he took in driving me away from the school. The deputation left me and in a few days I got a letter from the local preacher regretting the part he took in driving me away from the school laying most of the blame on the one that had left saying that he led him into the lurch and then left him. I went back again to my old school and we worked very harmoniously together for many years until the time of his death.

On the 24th January 1892 my wife and I went to the Chapel at night together. I little thought that it was the last time I had to do so. For she seemed to be in her usual health but when the Minister had been preaching about 10 minutes she began to show symptoms of being sick. I got hold of her and got her into the portch when I saw she was in a fit. I at once sent off for a doctor, and got a conveyance and got her home and to bed. The Doctor came but he had little hope of her coming round. She never regained consciousness but quietly passed at three o clock the following morning the 25th of January 1892 which was a great shock to me and my family.

Knuzden Brook Cooperative Society Limited had a very successful Tea party on the 27th of Febuary 1892 when they presented me with a beautiful time peice for the valuable service I had rendered to them as their Secretary for the last 28 years. I am still holding the same office November 3rd 1898.

In June 1893 I commenced at String Band, to be called the String Band of the United Methodist Free Church Knuzden. The following persons joined the band. John Bradly, Peter Brindle Junior, Daniel Hall, Daniel Dutton, William Vokin, Thomas Sharnet(?), George William Naisby and John Thomas Naisby, John Holland, William Hall, Harry Marsden, William Hacking, John Brindle, Robert Walton, George William Tattersal and Benjamin Holde. 16 in all. Which has made rapid progress.

My object in commencing the string band was to find our young men something to do and to keep them to the school. And I am pleased to say that up to the present it has not only been the means of keeping our young men to the school who were attending at the time of the formation of the Band, but has been the means of bring others to the school who did not attend before its formation. And their parents seems to have more interest in the place.

I have written over 100 pieces of music for the different Instrument of the Band. The first violin 5 times over 2nd violin twice, for I was anxious to give them all the encouragement I could. I have written 1451 Hymn Tunes into Books which I have present to the Trustees for the use of the Band and Choir. These tunes have been written several times over so has to give sufficient copies for the players and singers.

Our church and school seems to be anxious to confer upon me all the honours that the can for I am now holding the following offices. A Leader Superintendent of the Sunday School, teacher of the Young Women's class every other Sunday, President of the Band of Hope, President of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Class and the Corresponding Secretary to the Church. I am glad to say that we work very harmoniously together and we have many precious seasons in our class Meetings and other means of grace.

From a newspaper article:-

"Fatal Fire at Knuzden Brook Mill,
Blackburn, February 19th, 1885."


On the morning of February 19th, 1885 at 05:30 am approx., a 19-year-old weaver, a certain James Nightingale [son of Miles in the above autobiography] had the job of lighting up the gas lamps in the mill. The mill was a six storeys high and Nightingale was on the 4th floor. As he went to light a lamp some cotton 'fly' on a gas pipe ignited and soon spread rapidly, with the greatest piece dropping on to a machine called a mule. Nightingale and 4 men poured 12 buckets of water into the machine but could not put the fire out. Luckily most of the workforce were just arriving or were just setting off for home so the building was evacuated quickly by shouts of 'fire'.

The manager of the mill arrived at approx. 05:45 am to see smoke appearing from a window. For some reason he telephoned a sister mill at Cicely Bridge and told them what was happening. Due to a misunderstanding nothing else was done at the time. From the outbreak of the fire to the fire brigade being alerted was all of 45 minutes.

A young girl had some sense and ran to the fire station on Clayton Street and there informed the duty fireman of the terrible incident. Some four minutes later at 06:15 am a further call came via the police station. All the police/firemen and volunteer firemen were alerted by an electric bell system and by telephone.

That morning four firemen were on duty, so both steam engines were already hitched up as the firemen arrived. The early morning weather was extremely foggy with an unexpected sharp frost. Because the horses' shoes had not been 'sharpened' the horses struggled to pull the engines, especially on the steep hill from Salford Bridge up to Copy Nook which took all of 20 minutes to climb, but still the horses galloped the next two miles. On the way people who did not know why they had been so late responding abused the brigade. In hindsight they could not have got to the fire any sooner. The mill had oil soaked wooden floors, joists and pillars and was highly flammable. When the fire brigade arrived at 06:45 am the roof had already fallen in so it was a matter of applying water on to undamaged parts and protecting surrounding buildings, which was done to some success.

At one end of the mill and separated from the main fire only by iron doors, was a ground floor cotton store. At some stage a decision was made to enter this to try to move some of the stock, and save what they could. Three firemen, PCs Dawson, Clayton and Hitchen put a protecting stream of water on to the iron doors just in case the fire broke through.

Suddenly at approx. 07:40 am the gable end of the mill collapsed without warning and seven people perished. PC Hitchen escaped with a severely damaged shoulder and arm. He was the lucky one who had not been through the doorway and inside the cotton store, unlike his fellow PCs and other workers.

PC Dawson was found 3 hours later severely injured, knocked by the force of the collapse into the cellar. He was breathing but unconscious and died 10 minutes later. No other bodies were found until Saturday 21st Feb, at 06:30 hrs in close proximity to each other, all were identified by clothing that they were wearing on that day. It is thought that PC Clayton left PC Dawson to help move some of the cotton explaining why he was found with the others.

List of the dead

PC 1st Class, 41. James Dawson aged 33, married with 4 children. Five years service, a drill instructor.
PC 3rd Class, 50. William Clayton aged 25, married. Twelve months service.
James Hall aged 36, a painter at the mill.
Edward Bell aged 35, a spinner at the mill.
William Thomas aged 17, office boy at the mill.
John Heaton aged 47, a watchman at Ordnance Mill.
Henry Marsden aged 27, a farmer from Livesey.

The Mayor set up a fund for the bereaved and was immediately given £100 from the mill owners and £25 from the MP at the time. Other donations came pouring in for those brave people.

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