Torched house sparks wealth of memories for our readers

Former glory: Drybones Cottage was torched by arsonists
Former glory: Drybones Cottage was torched by arsonists
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A photograph of a well-known Chorley cottage severely damaged in an arson attack has stirred memories for Guardian readers who hope that the residence can be restored to its former glory.

Drybones Cottage in Yarrow Valley Park in Birkacre was set on fire in February last year and has remained untouched ever since.

The cottage, which was both a bolt-hole and a family residence in years past, is still privately owned but remains in a state of disrepair since the blaze.

The house was unoccupied at the time of the attack but the fire caused extensive damage to the property which it is believed dates back to the 1800s.

Chorley Guardian reader Margaret France is the neice of the late Polly Green who owned Drybones Cottage during, she believes, the 1950s and 1960s. Margaret used to visit the cottage as a youngster with her family and loved the surrounding countryside, the fruit bushes in the garden and the fresh-water well that was used by the occupants.

Margaret said: “I thought the house was lovely, it was unusual but always a very happy place to be. I vividly remember a ‘Tippler’ toilet that was outside of the main house as they were in those days - I didn’t like that at all! I loved to walk into the woods from the house and I think a path nearby led all the way to Coppull.

“I visited the house once or twice a year with my own children, to see how it was getting on and about three years ago I was surprised to see smoke coming from the chimney which meant that someone was living there.

“I think a couple with two young children bought it and had renovated it but I’m not sure what happened to the family as there’s no one in it now.

“It was wonderful to see it being looked after and I was shocked to see it in such a state after the fire, as it had been done up so nicely. I’d love to see it modernised and restored to its former glory.”

Another reader, who asked not to be named, said he was a regular visitor to Drybones Cottage in the 1970s when he was a teenager and an acquaintance of the Monks family who lived there at then time.

He described the property as a beautiful cottage that was originally used as a rural retreat by the owner, Joan Monks and her husband and daughter. He believes that Mrs Monks used to have a doll repair business near the ‘Big Lamp’ in Chorley.

He said: “I remember a staircase with a grandfather clock on it and there was a piano in the living room, with a table and chairs and a coal fire. It was small and quite cosy, with two bedrooms upstairs. A bit further in was the kitchen which was quite modern but the fridge was powered by gas from bottles. It was a typical cottage and had a lovely atmosphere, I remember the garden being full of fruit bushes and there was a lean-to greenhouse at the back. The river ran nearby and in the summer it was idyllic.”

Coun John Walker, who is responsible for the parks for Chorley Council has previously said that the authority has received complaints that the cottage is an eyesore in an area of great natural beauty. He added that officers are doing what they can to encourage the owners to do something about it.