Notes of the history of Chorley Historical and
Archaeological Society by Doreen Jolly
In early 1918 two
men decided to see if anyone would be interested in forming an
historical society in Chorley.
These men were Ernest ash ton
& rev. Thomas Crudas Porteus.
Ernest Ashton was born at White
Coppice in 1862 and later moved to 167 Eaves Lane. He had
various jobs – worked in the Bleachworks, a Commission’s agent,
Temperance Society agent and a Commercial Traveller, selling
sweets. He was also he was a councillor and in 1927 to 1930 was
the mayor of Chorley, Mr Ashton was very proud of his native
town of Chorley. When he attended public functions he always
recalled some interesting events of the past so that he might
awaken in others a desire to know more about the history of
Rev Porteus had lived in Lancashire for many
years, but was born in Netherton, Worcestershire in 1866. He
studied at Manchester and was ordained as a minister in 1909 at
Manchester Cathedral, he was minister at St Wilfrids, Standish,
St Johns, Coppull & St Georges, Chorley, becoming a cannon
in1942. As well as being a church minister he had a notable
research, recording, cataloguing and writing career, he gave
lectures & wrote much on local history including a history of
Standish, a biography on Captain Myles Standish and much more.
He also won prizes for English verse.
was held on 14th April 1918 at 3pm to decide if a society was
wanted - We don’t know who attended this meeting - but the
answer was yes.
Rev Porteus was elected Chairman & Ernest
It was said at the meeting –
intention of the society was to collect purely local
information, folklore, tradition, deeds, and documents etc.
It was stated that in many houses interesting documents are
lying useless to their present owners but would be valuable if
they could be handed into the society’.
It was decided only
two or three meetings a year would be held.
official meeting was held on Saturday 27th April 1918 at the
workers educational association college in Hollinshead St.
Mr Henry Brierley president of the Lancashire parish registers
society gave a talk. Lots of people attended.
At the next
meeting on Saturday 18th may 1918 many members handed in
information, they had been out & about getting dates off old
buildings - these included eagle tower, Heapey, White Coppice
Farm, Heskin Hall, Canal Farm, Heath Charnock, Gorse Hall,
Whittle and many more.
Due to the First World War it
wasn’t until 1921 that the society really got going.
the years many meetings were held, more than the 2 or 3 per year
suggested originally. They were always advertised in the Chorley
Guardian & then a full report of the lecture appeared the
From a sheet of headed notepaper found
at find at Lancashire record office the following information
that gives an insight into the society in 1926.
top of the sheet it said -
‘Chorley and District Historical
‘The society is instituted to examine, preserve
and illustrate ancient monuments and records and to promote the
study of history, literature, arts, customs and traditions, with
particular reference to the antiquities of Chorley and
The society can be traced as
holding meetings up to
8th April 1933 then nothing else could
be found reported in the Chorley Guardian.
There could be
Firstly - in 1934 Rev Porteus was appointed
Vicar at St Georges, so he would be very busy in his new parish.
On reading the obituary of the Ernest Ashton in 1937
it says that ‘Mr Ashton had been responsible for starting the
society, but for the greater part he had to bear the burden of
running it single handed, unfortunately he had to give it up due
to his multifarious duties’.
So it would appear the two men
who started the society didn’t have the time to devote to it. So
these could be the reasons why we could find no further reports
in the Chorley Guardian.
There is now a gap until 1946
– (but obviously world war 2 was being fought from 1939 to 1945)
On 14th October 1946 Rev Cannon Porteus gave a lecture on old
Chorley - held in the St Georges Street Institute.
nine days later on 23rd October 1946 a meeting was held to
reconstitute the Historical Society.
Rev Porteus is involved
And also Mr R.H. Blackburn (Head Librarian of Chorley
They both spoke on the purpose of such a society
and its usefulness to the town and district.
The Mayor gave
his personal support and expressed the opinion that later
meetings would certainly attract good audiences.
is President and Mr Blackburn is Secretary.
meeting was held on Wednesday 13th November 1946 in the Town
Hall and Mr R. Sharp-France from the County Record Office gave
the lecture – he brought documents along about Chorley.
The meetings again were advertised in the Chorley Guardian & a
report appeared afterwards.
November 1946 – (only 2
months after society started) was last report that could be
found in the Chorley Guardian of the History Society meetings.
But meetings must have continued because details exist of the
AGM held on 22nd October 1948.
Subs still 5/-(25p),
think everyone paid this amount men & women
23 paid members
Some financial information-
Income of £5/15/-
£5/5/4 (– 18/2 advertising in Chorley Guardian / 2/6 for
Now as in 1933 things go quiet and as yet we do
not know why
In Feb 1947 Rev Porteus was seriously ill
and he died in 1948 -- maybe he was the driving force of the
society and without him things didn’t happen.
In Rev Porteus
obituary it said ‘with the help of some friends Rev Porteus
founded the Chorley and District Historical Society in 1918 and
to that he contributed a good many lectures’.
was at the Library until Jan 1969 and died in 1975.
after the late 1940s we have another gap until 3rd July 1953
when Chorley Archaeological Society was founded - this society
was for archaeology only, but by 1968 membership numbers and
attendance at meetings had fallen so it was decided historical
activities should be included,
So in early 1970 the first
meeting of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society was
From this date onwards we know the society has
continued to meet with no gaps a period of 48years.
There are hardly any records of meetings held – other than about
the lectures but we do know something about the annual general
meeting of 1919 –
14 people attended – Ernest Ashton
(Town Cllr) / Rev Porteus / Robert Smith (Cllr) / John Baxendale
(Cllr) / E.V. Fairweather (editor of Chorley Guardian) / Herbert
Rwcliffe / H.A. Howarth / Arthur Leach / A.E. Gregory (Cllr) /
Miss M.E. Leigh / John Sharples (Mayor) / Sir Henry Hibbert /
Eli Bibby (Head of the Workers Educational College) / James
From the *notes & queries* mentioned in that
*people sent questions about local history to
Chorley Guardian or the Chorley Advertiser then the following
week an answer was published.
At the first AGM of
the Chorley Historical Society in 1919
The secretary Mr
Ernest Ashton said –
We have now completed the first year
of the society.
We have been enabled to see the need for our
We have had many letters of appreciation from
persons interested in Chorley but now live away.
The *notes &
queries* we inspired in the local newspapers have been
interesting and the committee realise that the society owes a
debt of gratitude to the Chorley newspapers for their full and
interesting reports of our proceedings.
We have had
(information) notes from several of our members who have
conducted (investigations) notably about the (worked) stones on
As time goes by and we become stronger we
shall be able to do more to collect pieces of valuable local
Places meetings held
College, Hollinshead St
Chorley Town Hall
9 Cunlife St, Chorley
St Georges street Institute, Chorley