A horse with a barrel stuck over its head is just one of the amusing tales told in a republished book depicting the history of Euxton.
Lancashire dialect historian Sid Calderbank has become so fascinated with the original Cracks from a Cobbler's Seat, written by Robert Rowe, that he has republished it and recorded it for new audiences, with the help of Leyland Historical Society.
The book, which carried anecdotal tales of people in places such as Dawber’s Lane, the Red Lion, and Wheatsheaf at Croston, was published at Christmas 1887 by John Arkwright, at The Olde Booke Shoppe, Lune Street, Preston. It ran to eight editions between 1887 and 1925, the last one printed by Sandiford’s in Chorley.
Sid, 65, says: “When it was first published, the book was massively popular and it had eight editions, which is remarkable.
“It seems the author was born in either Brinscall or Wheelton in 1832 and in the 1851 census he was a cobbler in Cleveland Street, Chorley. By the 1861 census, he was in Glover Street, Preston, as a master bootmaker. In the 1881 census he was married with a five-year-old old son, but in 1891 his wife, Alice, was listed as a widow.
“The book has daft tales about real people in real places, in the late 1880s, such as St Andrew’s Parish Church, the Bay Horse at Leyland Cross, Wheatsheaf in Croston and The Red Lion, in Euxton.
“I thought they needed telling again. It is in broad dialect and so not many people would be able to read that but I can so I recorded a double CD.
“The daftest story is when one of the chaps got a horse from a horse fair in Preston. This horse was misshaped and had a big head. The man had got so fed up of trying to sell it that he abandoned it.
“This one guy takes it and rides it back to Euxton, where his wife fell out with him for bringing it back.
“The horse found a barrel with barley and as his head was that big, it got stuck in the barrel. The horse wandered to Chorley with this barrel stuck on its head and had got to the cattle market. There were men from a travelling fair there who gave the horse a polish and sold tickets, saying it was an extremely rare horse.
“The lad finds his horse again and said the fair could have the horse for five shillings for the day and then give it back.
“It was a completely different world then and it all happened, here in Euxton. It is living history and I can bring it back to life.”
The father-of-one, who has one grandchild, has been a dialect historian enthusiast for the last 30 years.
He adds: “This is our heritage written by ordinary men and women who were there in the middle of it. They were writing for their own entertainment and for their friends, rather than historians. This is a direct link into the past.”
Cracks from a Cobbler's Seat will be relaunched at a special event at St Mary’s Social Centre, Wigan Road, Euxton, on Friday December 29 from 2pm until 4pm, which will be the 130th anniversary of the book’s publication and on the site of the old Red Lion pub, where many of the tales are set. Admission is £3.
Sid adds: “Cracks was first advertised in the Lancashire Evening Post, December 29 1887 for sixpence. We are now selling the book and double CD for £10 each or £15 the pair. “
Other launch events will be held at Brinscall Methodist Church, Parke Road, Brinscall on January 13, 2pm until 4pm and Leyland Civic Centre on February 5 at 7.30pm.