Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Sep 2021

Tue 14 Sep 2021
From Steam Engine Land to Windmill Land – Shirley Clarke Matthews.


This was the first meeting for the society since March 2020. The September meeting is the annual general meeting, but at short notice, Shirley, who was booked for August, was happy to re-schedule and give her talk following proceedings.
Shirley’s interesting and engaging talk centred around the life of her paternal grandfather, Charles Allen Clarke, who was born in Bolton in 1863. He became a popular, author, poet and journalist, writing about the condition of the working class.
His experiences came from a childhood working in terrible conditions in the cotton mills that frequently left the children with life changing injuries and, in many cases, death.

Shirley Clarke Matthews

Teddy Ashton's Journal. A Gradely Paper for Gradely Folk.
The Tip-Top Twopenno'th. Now Ready. Teddy Ashton's Annual. 76 Pages. Price 2d.

It was during his childhood that he went on a very rare, day trip on the train to the Fylde coast. After the utter bleakness of a mill town, the sight of green fields, the sea, and a windmill, left him with an overwhelming urge to return when older.
After surviving those working conditions, he was able to build on a basic education and found employment in a Bolton based publisher. This gave him the basis to start to produce his own material that had a strong message regarding the condition and treatment of the working class.
He wrote under many pseudonyms, with Teddy Ashton becoming one of his most popular. This success and popularity led him to meet famous individuals, such as Thomas Hardy and King George V.
He was known as ‘A Champion of the Worker’ and ‘Poet of the Poor’s. His involvement with the Bolton Clarion cyclists, Blackpool Ramble Club, the ‘Daisy Colony’, and Little Marton windmill, Blackpool, reinforced his commitment to improving the lives of the working class.
Shirley’s excellent presentation brought to life a, now little known, very popular social writer and activist.

Charles Allen Clarke (1863–1935),
widely known as C. Allen Clarke

Allen Clarke and Mrs Clarke. 

The Effects of the Factory System.
Allen Clarke.

Teddy Ashton's Lancashire Annual.

Teddy Ashton and Tom Hughes on road to Wembley 9th Aug 1924.
Teddy Ashton died 12th Dec 1935 age 72.

Charles Allen Clarke (1863–1935) on Wikipedia.
Peter Robinson