Saturday 5th May 2018


I went into the centre of Manchester to collect Masa. I was meeting him at 11.30 but was in way early as the weather was so nice and the sky was blue. I parked right by Masa’s hotel The Holiday in and walked to the centre. The Town Hall was closed for refurbishment.

I spent the whole day with Masa and we did as many BJH things as we could.
A boiling hot day and we went first to Doverstones Reservoir a destination North to Saddleworth Moor through Oldham. Here at Doverstones was Wooly’s commemorative bench. What a shock when we got there.

There was a queue of traffic to get in and not a car parking space to be had. It was full to bursting and cars parked on yellow lines waiting for free spaces when people left. Only they were not leaving. It was Saturday on a bank holiday and it was hot. Maybe 28 degrees? I dumped Masa out of the car and he went to leave the flowers I had bought earlier to leave on Wooly’s bench.


Dobcross is located at an ancient crossing point of the River Tame which was formerly used by trans-Pennine packhorses as they travelled east from Lancashire into Yorkshire. Thus the name meaning the place where horses cross.

At this crossing point of the River Tame lies the site of Walk Mill, which derives its name from the way the wool was ‘walked’ or trodden to ‘full’ the cloth before the introduction of mechanical stocks by which the cloth was beaten with fulling hammers to felt and thicken it. Probably the earliest fulling mill in Saddleworth, Walk Mill would have been a common meeting place for the local clothiers.


Beginning with Richard, the Lawton family ran the mill from at least the late 16th century, if not earlier, and their later wealth in buildings, land and money probably came from the monopoly held by the fulling mill in finishing locally made cloth. From wool to the innkeeping business, the Lawton family continued to be a prominent family in Dobcross through to the early 19th century.

On the morning of Whit Friday, the traditional Whit Walks, a church procession followed by a service, take place in Saddleworth parish. Saddleworth and District Whit Friday Brass Band contests take place every year on the afternoon and evening of Whit Friday.

The playwright Henry Livings (1929–1998) lived in the village and a Henry Livings Memorial Prize is open to bands who have played on any of the morning’s walks.


Delph (Old English (ge)delf a quarry) is a village in the Saddleworth civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England. Historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies amongst the Pennines on the River Tame.

On Friday 7 April 1780 John Wesley visited the village and preached in a house owned by one of the trustees of the Independent Church. Sadly for him, the locals were not ready to turn their backs on the old Pagan ways, and an angry mob chased John Wesley from the parish with pitchforks, and flaming torches. He retreated with his tail between his legs and declared Delph to have been “forsaken by God”, and that there was “no hope for those feral heathens”.

The centre of the village has barely changed from the 19th century when a number of small textile mills provided employment for the local community.

The etymology of Delph is derived from the Old English word ‘Delf’, meaning a quarry and refers to the bakestone quarries which lay at the lower end of the Castleshaw Valley just north of the village. There is a significant first century AD Roman fort at Castleshaw.

Bakestones were quarried as tiles up to three quarters of an inch thick and used to bake oatcakes and muffins. The industry was in existence well before 1330 and only died out in 1930.


Mill Boys

Barclay James Harvest

John wrote this song specifically about the Lancashire cotton mills, and therefore includes very local references to such places as Tandle Hills (“Tangle ‘ills” in the local dialect) and Shaw Road, a street in Oldham.

Sky was black, Lord, rain came pouring down
Number 12 bus shuffling down Shaw Road way
Mules keep spinning, black-faced lifers peck the ground
Sun comes up like lightning over Tandle Hills grey
We are mill boys, stuck on the hill boys
Stuck in the mill boys, ’till our dying day
Cotton mill will get you, boy, she’ll take you to your grave
Tell you boy to use your head, apprentice out your days
You’ll end up a nothing, boy, with cotton as your trade
Sun comes up like lightning over Tandle Hills grey

We are mill boys, stuck on the hill boys
Stuck in the mill boys, ’till our dying day
We are mill boys, stuck on the hill boys
Stuck in the mill boys, ’till our dying day
It’s easy to see a poor boy’s blues
When he’s working every day
It’s harder to be there in his shoes
He was born to be that way



St Chads Saddleworth

There has been a place of Christian worship on the Parish Church site since 1215 AD, when the first Saddleworth Church was established as a chapel of ease as part of the Rochdale Parish, but in time became the possession of Whalley Abbey. Under the suppression of the churches by Henry VIII, the Abbey had to submit Quick Chapel, as it was then called, to the jurisdiction of Rochdale and more recently in 1866, patronage was transferred to the Bishop of Manchester.

The current grade 2* listed re-build, which stands in its own conservation area, is late Georgian. The interior, which includes the original gallery, has a pleasant warmth to it emanating a surprising light and colour. The stained glass tells the tale of the wildness of the weather in this area and the church does possess a fine Capronier depiction of the Visit of the Magi.


The Pots and Pans

The Pots and Pans cenotaph towers over the valleys and villages.

But a bitter debate back in 1919 questioned whether the iconic memorial would actually get off the ground…

The First World War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, and the rest of that year saw local Saddleworth communities commemorate the fathers, sons and brothers who never returned.

But the idea of erecting a permanent memorial for the district transpired into a heated dispute. There was a massive divide between those advocating a cenotaph and those who wanted something more practical – with the idea of a cottage infirmary a strong alternative.

There was a lack of local medical facilities so the ensuing peace was seen as the opportunity to provide a hospital.

This view was supported by many former soldiers, and local scientist and historian Brandon Brierley claimed a hospital would be ‘a far worthier tribute to our noble dead than a useless obelisk’.

The controversy continued into the 1920s but Saddleworth Council finally pledged their support to building a memorial on Pots and Pans and a design was revealed by Gilbert Howcroft in 1920, with a proposed cost of around £2,000.

Despite growing unemployment and industrial decline, the plan went ahead and the memorial was finally complete in October 1923 after five months of construction.

The names of 259 men were inscribed on the original plaques which loosely faced the village they were representing.

A ceremony was arranged to unveil the new memorial and large crowds battled the Saddleworth rain and wind to listen to speeches from servicemen and a rendition of the Last Post.

Although Pots and Pans cenotaph still stands strong, the ceremony did raise concern over potential damage that ‘outsiders’ could inflict.

Changes were made to the monument following the Second World War when it was decided that Howcroft’s memorial should include names of those who died in the later conflict.

Their inclusion coincided with the addition of Springhead’s fallen servicemen for both World Wars – Springhead possessed their own memorial so were originally excluded from the Pots and Pans obelisk.

The memorial still stands to serve the people of Saddleworth and the annual Remembrance Day celebration is just as poignant and respectful as the original unveiling ceremony of 1923.


North BJH

A joint composition written in an attempt to come to terms with Woolly’s suicide, it’s more of an observation about his illness and the effect that it had, not only on him but on all those around him, than a straightforward tribute. Musical references to the Mellotron Cowboy abound, and the “chanted” second half, written on a flight to Japan in August, 2012, comprises the band members’ own very personal recollections of Woolly’s deeds and utterances.

Jez’s piano sound is “Alicia’s keys” by Native Instruments, the ‘Hammond’ is played on the Kronos, then there are Memotron flutes and strings. The synth solo plus one or two finale string parts and a few tinkly sounds are from Native Instruments on the Mac Book, and most of the orchestral part of the finale is done on a Roland Fantom.

On Leave

First you turn your back
Then you walk away
A moth drawn to a flame
Night without a day
Someone calls your name
There’s no sign you hear
No comfort for the sane
No sunshine in your rain

Love is an emotion so strong
It hurts the way you feel
Love is an emotion so strong
You can’t see what’s real
Locked in your devotion
Never finding answers
Guilty of no crime
Just sentence without ending
Now you choose to fly

Haunted by the old, hounded by the new
Thoughts you couldn’t share
Darkness found you there
Just a quip goodbye
Like we didn’t care
And no one there to hold
You falling in despair

Love is an emotion so strong
It hurts the way you feel
Love is an emotion so strong
You can’t see what’s real
Locked in your devotion
Never finding answers
Guilty of no crime
Just sentence without ending
Now you choose to fly

Hide from the sunlight, live in a drama
Unseen moments locked in a camera
Mahleresque singing, beautiful simplicity
Polarised emotions longing synchronicity
It’s not the damage, it’s the deception
Chords that offend like perfect imperfection
Flight times are a-changing
Veiled is the signpost
Rapidly descending
Devil takes the hindmost
Season’s greetings shrouded in sorrow
Postscripted farewells
Hopeless tomorrow
Not for the first time but for the last time
Ball of confusion trying to walk a straight line once again.

RIP, Woolly.



Preston House

The Barclay James Harvest story begins in the early sixties in the Oldham area of North-West England. John Lees and Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme met at Oldham Art School, and formed a band called The Sorcerers, which evolved into The Keepers. Meanwhile Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard were playing in another local outfit rejoicing in the name of Heart And Soul And The Wickeds. In 1966 a new band was formed from a fusion of the two and performed live shows on a semi-professional basis as The Blues Keepers. The resulting six-piece gradually dwindled to a stable quartet comprising Holroyd, Pritchard, Lees and Wolstenholme, and in the summer of 1967 they turned professional with a new name selected by putting names into a hat, and Barclay James Harvest was born.

Under the patronage of John Crowther, a local businessman and their first manager, they moved into an 18th Century farmhouse called Preston House to write and rehearse, and their spartan lifestyle was captured in a short documentary film made for Granada TV. A one-off single deal was negotiated with EMI’s Parlophone label, and “Early Morning” appeared in April 1968, attracting acclaim and the opportunity to record radio sessions for John Peel. This in turn led to a contract with EMI as the band became one of the first signings to the legendary Harvest label, releasing “Brother Thrush” as their second single in June 1969.


West Brom 1 Spurs 0

West Brom hit us with a late sucker punch to take maximum points at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Fighting for survival, The Baggies set up to defend deep and soak up pressure and did exactly that. We had almost 75 per cent possession and the shot count was 18-9 in our favour but we only opened up the massed defence twice – Harry Kane was denied by Ben Foster in the first half and the best move of the game presented Erik Lamela with a chance in front of goal after the break but a heavy touch allowed Foster to gather.


The goalkeeper also saved well as Victor Wanyama and Christian Eriksen tried their luck from distance and clawed away Fernando Llorente’s late header.

West Brom rarely ventured into our half – especially in the first half – but were always a threat from set-pieces.


Just about every chance they created was from a set-piece delivery and they finally found a way through in the second minute of added time when Matt Phillips’ corner was turned home by former Spur Jake Livermore.


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