Old letter stirs up memories of Whittle Springs

FORGOTTEN HISTORY: Eric and Marion Hodgkinson with the poem
FORGOTTEN HISTORY: Eric and Marion Hodgkinson with the poem

A couple have unearthed a fascinating history from anold letter which has links to Chorley.

Eric Hodgkinson and his wife Marion found the dated poem whilst clearing out the home of Eric’s late cousin, Alfred Hodgkinson.

The work, titled ‘Whittle Springs – A Reminiscence’, was written by J. Stansfield of the former Howard Arms Hotel on Dark Lane, Whittle-le-Woods.

Eric, who now lives in Carnforth, said: “The poem, which I think was written prior to the 1900s, tells of a walk around the springs and gives a picture of what it was like, but I can’t find any reference to it on a map now.”

The 81-year-old added: “When I was a young boy, my family lived in Blackburn and we used to catch the train to Heapey and make a day of it in Chorley.

“We used to come to Astley Park, and my cousin’s mum Hilda, who used to be a Stansfield, also came with us. I remember when I was trying to find a job, my Aunt Hilda was always very against me getting work in a brewery, and I wonder if she had a connection to the Howard Arms – maybe the man who wrote the poem was her father.”

Research shows that a man called John Heyes discovered the spring on Lower Lane in Whittle in 1836, which has since become Dark Lane.

People would visit it for the water’s healing qualities, and the location became so popular that Mr Heyes built a hotel at which visitors could stay, called The Heyes Arms.

After both he and his brother Henry died, the hotel was taken over and renamed The Howard Arms in 1874.

The spring water became popular amongst breweries, pubs in Whittle and Leyland boasted that they sold ‘Whittle Springs Noted Ales and stout’.