Welcome to the Cowling Moonrakers Website.

Announcement From Moonrakers …

September 30th, 2009


Thursday Dec. 5th , Jan.9th (changed from 2nd), Feb. 6th at the Bancroft Room, St Andrew’s Methodist Church, 7.30 – 9.15pm  Refreshments available. All welcome.


Some members plan to walk to investigate old building foundations on Moss. Watch for further details.

NEWS IN BRIEF: 2012/13

2012  – A local history booklet  introducing visitors and new parishoners to Cowling History has been worked on to go into B&Bs and other businesses. We thank the parish council for donating the printing costs. Work has stopped awaiting decisions about photographs and design.

June walk cancelled to concentrate on deciding which parish council old documents to keep.

June -Parish council documents have been sorted into categoriesand are being scanned and listed

June/July D Gulliver, Cononley historian/author  providing Moonrakers with new information (See June 2012 meeting report)

July – Work on council documents completed.

June/July/August – extreme wet weather hindered usual outside meetings – Only one short one at Cowling Hill (Head)

September – 10th year commemorative calendar planned.

November – 50 calendars sold in 4 days. A further 25 ordered and sold. No more orders to be taken. Thanks to those who have purchased our 10th year commemorative calendar.

November meeting – David Gulliver – local historian/author  – speaker re Cowling research findings

December – change of mind on calendar re-order due to demand – 10 more ordered – all sold

2013 January – ‘Thrang as Throp’s Wife’ – Cowling Hill(Head), Ickornshaw connection. Cowling Pinnacle building research begins, Research on early owners of Ickornshaw Mill begins. Decision to take advice re condition of Viscount Snowden Memorial.

2013 February  -Advice from English Heritage re Viscount Snowden Memeorial passed to parsh council. Research to be trialled at March meeting. 11th year as a local history group begins.

2013 March, April and May meetings group research new information on Ickornshaw Mill.

2013  July parish council refer us to District Councillor re improvements to Snowden Memorial.

2013 July 1st display of research at our Cowling gala stall

2013 September new information regarding dam flood in 19th century.

2013 September English Heritage say all of Snowden memorial should be pointed

2013 October wrapping commences of archives in special paper to stop deterioration. Cowling Parish Council to pay up to £300 to point around plaques on Snowden Memorial

Categories: Moonraker Updates

Welcome Cowling history lovers.

September 4th, 2009

A big welcome to our Moonrakers website.

This is our  second site, built after the first webmaster  was unable to maintain the old site due to pressure of work. Our thanks go to him for his hard work.


We therefore went for a new look site, which continues to  develop.  The intention is to keep you up to date with the latest Moonrakers local research, history stories and events. Our hope is to have various contributors  bringing energy and  a wealth of experience to our sharing of information and historic adventure. We hopefully might even give you a laugh on the way.

We have decided to run the two websites side by side. Therefore the information on the old website will stay there. Historic pictures of Cowling can be browsed in the old site’s gallery.

So its onward and upward and into the future – or should that be into the past? Enjoy your visit to Moonrakers and please keep returning to watch us progress.

Mark Barnes,  Chairman

Categories: Moonraker Updates

Archive Conservation Commences.Parish Council Praised.

December 13th, 2013

During our ten year existence as a local history group we have been fortunate to be given many original historic documents, such as the 19th
century proposed railway plans for Cowling.
We store these in an archive so that they are not lost to the village in a far off library or record office. At the November meeting we commenced wrapping these in special archive paper, that helps preserves the documents in storage.

This activity will continue next month and may be on going until the task is completed. During this time we could have less monthly news,
unless we come across a document that we consider extremely newsworthy.

Finally we’d like to complement Cowling Parish Council. At the November meeting they were discussing pointing around the plaques of the
Snowden Memorial. We hope that this is the first stage in a complete repair and conservation of the cairn, its base and path. Then Cowling Parishioners can be proud of the monument to their most famous son, who rose from a humble beginning to be Chancellor of the Exchequer
of his country.

Categories: Interesting Facts

English Heritage Support Memorial Conservation

December 13th, 2013

Some good news this month is that an English Heritage architect supports the view that all the Snowden Memorial requires pointing.
The reason for this being that a photo from the 1930’s clearly showed that it was a pointed structure. This information has been passed to the parish council.

Last month we reported that a member had been to Tom’s Well on the moor. It has been suggested that it possibly is a holy well. If anyone
has more information on this please contact us by phone or email.

Information is also required regarding the Atkinson family of Laneshaw House or Farm. Two members, with landowner permission, visited the
site of their house last month. They then found the Atkinson family on the 1841 census, farming there including parents, eight children and a grandchild. If anyone knows what happened to this family please contact us, as above.

Two decisions for 2014 were made at the October meeting. First the group will commence a record of historic building within the parish,
area by area. It was also decided to request visits to the various religious buildings within the parish in 2014.

Categories: Interesting Facts

Ickornshaw Moor 1848 Dam Burst – New Info.

December 13th, 2013

At the September meeting a member presented to the group new information about Ickornshaw Mill, following on from the group’s research
earlier in the year.

This related to the damage done in 1848 when the Ickornshaw Moor reservoir dam burst causing flooding damage. This new information listed
nineteen payments to landowners for damage to property from Cowloughton Farm on the moor edge to New Hall Farm at the eastern end of the parish. In a few instances details are given of damage caused to bridges, walls, railings and loss of life of stock. Payments were also made to compensate landowners for time taken to clear up the debris left and compensate them for crops and manure washed away, off fields. The total bill paid by Halstead’s, the Colne owners of Ickornshaw Mill came to over £263, a large sum of money in 1849.

The reservoir had been built in the 1820’s to supply water power for mill water wheels in Cowling and Sutton parishes in times of dry
weather. This was prior to Cowling village (New Roadside) and its mills being built.

Other items discussed were the location of Snowden and Tom’s Well, which a member had visited, an update on Snowden Memorial repair and
conservation information and some proposed new research into building foundations at Laneshaw in the west of the parish.

The meeting ended with a discussion about commencing conservation work on historic documents at the October meeting.

Categories: Interesting Facts

Gala Involvement and Memorial Efforts Continue

December 13th, 2013

First of all we must say some thank yous regarding the Cowling Gala. It was great to chat to so many parishioners at our stall and see
so many having fun playing our old skittle game. Thank you to the gala committee for putting on such a great day. Our thanks must also go to Cowling Village Hall for providing us with a display board and to St Andrew’s Methodist Church for the loan of two tables. It’s great to have village groups working together.

This month has seen further efforts to move forward on the repair and conservation of the Snowden Memorial. As advised by Cowling Parish
Council, we have been communicating with District Councillor Ady Green. He has been most helpful in contacting Craven District Council and clarifying the situation from their point of view. We are now in communication with English Heritage and Cowling Parish Council and are hopeful of a positive result to give Cowling a memorial to be proud of.

On this same subject we are sorry that parts of our last two news items have upset members of the Cowling Parish Council. There was no intention to attack the council, as they thought, regarding their dealing with the Snowden Monument repair and conservation. We were merely reporting matters from our point of view. We realise and have stated the constraints they are under on the matter.

Categories: Interesting Facts

Snowden Memorial – CDC Contact.

December 13th, 2013

You may remember us reporting in our June news  about our difficulties in informing Cowling Parish Council of our communications with English Heritage regarding the Snowden Monument’s repair and conservation. As a result one of our members, who is a parish councillor,
requested it to be a parish council agenda item at their July meeting.

At the meeting it was agreed that Cowling Parish Council cannot act to repair and conserve the monument until given permission by Craven
District Council, whom English Heritage have informed, that the repairs and conservation necessary are in order.

We had hoped that the parish council would be proactive in this matter and contact Craven District Council, as it is a parish asset, whose
maintenance is vested in them. However they have no such intention. Moonrakers have therefore taken on the responsibility of contacting Craven District Council about the matter and will keep parishioners informed of progress.

A proposed outside meeting at the Snowden Memorial Cairn, at the end of Pad Cote Lane, went ahead as scheduled, a few days after the parish
council meeting. Members who had not visited the monument for several years were able to see that it all needed pointing. The base needed much repair work and the path, also vested in the parish council, was virtually unseen, covered by decades of growth. Members were just left to hope that work would commence, to make this a monument Cowling parishioners could be proud of, especially as the signage to the monument was now much improved.

We hope to see parishioners at the Cowling Gala on 27th, when, as well as our usual traditional games, we will have news regarding our
recent parish local history research.

Categories: Interesting Facts

Memebers Express Concern about Continued State of Monument

July 1st, 2013

A proposed outside meeting at the Viscount Snowden Memorial Cairn lead to a keen discussion, at the June meeting, of its poor condition. Members were very concerned that the Cowling Parish Council clerk had been informed by Moonrakers, in February, that English Heritage had given the go ahead for full re-pointing of the monument and conservation work to the base and path. However through informal discussions with parish councillors it was discovered that they have not been informed.

The monument, at the end of Pad Cote Lane, is a parish asset and the maintenance of it is vested in Cowling Parish Council. It is their responsibility to maintain it on the behalf of the people of the parish.

Viscount Snowden was born at Middleton in 1864, the youngest son of a weaver. He rose by his own efforts, without a university degree, to
become an MP and then the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer and was chancellor on a further two occasions. Whether you agree with his politics or not, the parish at the time of his death in 1937, thought it fitting to erect a monument in his memory.

As the most famous son of Cowling Parish we consider that the monument to Viscount Snowden should be one the parish can be proud of. We
have worked now for over two years to improve the signs and improve the state of the long neglected monument.

We worked with the parish council and with their full knowledge, to improve the signs and the monument, until we were accused of damaging it by removing old pointing. This was because it was a listed building, which we and most of the parish council were unaware of.

Moonrakers understand that the parish council is busy and had set its budget previous to February, but this does not explain why councillors
have not been informed and a decision about its upkeep made. We have again sent the information to the clerk, in case it has been misplaced or forgotten.

Since writing the above, our member Councillor Benson has gained this as an agenda item for the Cowling Parish Council Meeting of 1st July.

Other items for discussion at the meeting were the gala stall display, a list of owners and tenants of Ickornshaw Mill and a letter of
1937 to the Craven Herald, from a member of the Dawson family, outlining their family’s role as engine tenters at the mill for over a century

Categories: Interesting Facts

Second Mill Fire of 1910 give more information.

June 30th, 2013

A second fire at Ickornshaw Mill in mid March 1910, was the subject of investigation for the group in May. This had happened exactly 26
years to the weekend after the previous fire, reported last month

From this we gained information that confirmed that the mill was now a two storey building. The warp-dressers room, where the fire began was on the second floor. There was a loading and unloading door on this floor, which burning material was thrown out of. Hose pipes were now available to turn onto the fire, down in the mill yard. The building was insured with Royal Insurance.

The fire was noticed by three young men returning at 1.30 am on a Sunday morning in March, from Colne Fair. They and neighbours, who they
raised, put out the fire. As the Fair was in mid March, this could possibly have been an Easter Fair. The three men were returning along the highway. As no mention of transport is made we can only presume that they had walked from Colne. How many people would do that these days and after a night out?!

More discussions were also held regarding a gala stall and a  visit to the Snowden Memorial.

Categories: Interesting Facts

Ickornshaw Mill Fire 1910 (Colne Times 18th March)

June 30th, 2013

Three young men who were returning along the highway to Cowling from Colne Fair at 1.30 am on Sunday Morning last, noticed a fire in the warp-dressers’ room of Ickornshaw Mill, (owned and occupied by Mr. Joseph Shuttleworth, Manufacturer.) (formerly in business at Colne.) They noticed the blaze was coming from the warp-dressers’ room of a two-storey building.

Giving the alarm to a few of the neighbours they then broke into the mill by using a wheelbarrow as a buttress against the door, to find a heap of about 40 warps a blaze on the second storey. They quickly set to work opening some doors at the end of the room and got out the burning material into the Mill Yard. They then poured water on to the floor, which had not been burned through, and turned a hose pipe onto the burning warps in the yard. The fire was completely out shortly after 2 o’clock. But for the timely and prompt action of these men, (whose clothing was considerably burnt,) the premises would have very soon been gutted.

It is not known how the fire had originated, because all the doors had been found locked and left secured on Saturday noon. The owner is unable to account for a broken pane of glass near the top of one of the windows furthest from the fire, the window being left intact on Saturday.

The estimated damage is found to be between £80 and £100, the premises being insured by the Royal Insurance Company.

It is a curious coincidence that the same building (then a four-storey one) owned and occupied by Messrs William Watson & Company (Manufacturers) was completely gutted, exactly 26 years ago on Sunday morning, despite all the strength of the Keighley Fire Brigade.

Researched by
Dennis Harker, typed out larger by Norman Binns 2013

Categories: Interesting Facts

Ickornshaw Mill Destroyed by Fire At Cowling (Craven Herald 22/03/1884)

June 6th, 2013

A disastrous fire, resulting in the destruction of Ickornshaw Mill, occurred on Sunday morning last

The mill, which is the property of The Craven Bank, and rented by Mr Thomas Watson,Worsted Manufacturer, was 4 storeys high and 40yards
long. The lower room was used as a store-room for weft and other stock; the second room was used for twisting; the third for weaving, and the top storey for dressing.

The fire occurred in the lower storey, and was discovered at about 6.30am by a mill hand named Jonas Shuttleworth, who resided near the premises. He promptly gave the alarm, and assistance having been procured water was then thrown by buckets on to the fire (the fire-extinguishing apparatus with the mill being useless) and a mounted messenger was despatched to Keighley for the fire brigade.

A manual engine from the town arrived at about half-past eight, followed in about a quarter of an hour by the borough steam fire-engine.
By this time, however, the flames had obtained a complete hold of the building and the roof had fallen in, so the brigade turned their attention to saving that portion of the mill where the engine is situated, and in this they were fortunately successful.

The building, however, was completely gutted, and a large number of machinery and stock was destroyed. There were 56 looms in the mill
and a large quantity of weft, but a considerable portion of the machinery had been removed to new premises only a short time previously; and workmen had been engaged in the task of removal until the late hours of Saturday night.

The flames were fortunately prevented from spreading to the weaving shed which adjoins the mill, or the damage done to the property would
not only have been much greater, but a large number of workpeople thrown out of employment, as the greater portion of them are employed in this part of the mill.

The damage is estimated at £2,500, and is covered by insurance in the Sun Fire Office.

A portion of the mill is sub-let by Mr Watson to Mr Robert Pickles, who had 26 looms in his department.

Part of the mill was worked by water and the other portion by steam and it is hoped that operations in the weaving shed will be resumed.

The fire, which burned for some hours with great brilliancy, and was observable from a great distance, is believed to have been caused by
the spontaneous combustion of weft.

Researched from the
CRAVEN HERALD dated 22 March 1884 by Dennis Harkeand typed out larger by Norman Binns.

For a summary of findings from this newspaper article read the article below.

1884 Mill Fire Gives Up New Information

June 6th, 2013

The research began at the March meeting was continued. This time however (April), the whole group examined a Craven Herald article from March 1884. This described “a disastrous fire, resulting in the destruction of Ickornshaw Mill”.

From this article members were able to discover new details about not only the fire but the ownership, use of and size of the mill at that
time and the usage of various rooms.
The difficulties of putting out a fire in a pre-motorised world were highlighted when a “mounted messenger was despatched to Keighley for
the fire brigade.” Both a manual and steam fire- engine were sent. These arrived two hours after the fire was discovered! Is it any wonder that the mill was destroyed?

The good news was that a “considerable portion of the machinery had been moved to new premises” the night before the fire. Also the
adjoining weaving sheds were saved. Members noted that the mill was insured and questions were immediately raised about how the fire started. One member, a textile specialist, questioned the reason given “spontaneous combustion of weft”. However, over one hundred years on, all our ideas and suspicions can only be conjecture.

Members quite rightly compared in their minds this article with present ones. Questions were therefore asked about the accuracy of the
facts contained here. Had the reporter ‘got it right’? Was the person giving the information accurate in what he or she said?

Members agreed that this was an interesting evening, in which all members present had been able to take part in a piece of research
that gave new historic  information, as well as leaving time for chat, banter and of course a cup of tea!

The full newspaper article can be viewed above. Paper copies can be provided on request.