R is for Roe Greave Road

April 21, 2014 at 8:34 am | Posted in Family History, History, Ways of Living | 11 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]


Roe Greave Rd 2014 Google Maps

Roe Greave Rd in 2014. From Google Maps

Roe Greave Road was originally an unpaved road at the south west corner of Oswaldtwistle that led from Union Rd, the main thoroughfare, to Rhoden Rd and the farms on the edge of town. It was later cobbled – possibly when the nearby cotton mills were built.

I cannot discover the meaning of Roe Greave, except that there was a Roe Grove I discovered on a 1848 map in that area. So perhaps it was the site of a grove of trees, and the name changed from grove to greave. The Roe part of the name may refer to the roe deer, a small forest deer that was once native to Britain, but had died out there by 1800. Oswaldtwistle certainly existed at least as far back as the 13th century, so perhaps the name originally referred to a small forest where roe deer could be found. This is all my own supposition.

Oswaldtwistle, about 1950

Oswaldtwistle, about 1950

A row of stone terrace house was built along Roe Greave Rd about 1870s or 1880s to house mill workers and their families at Rose Mill (later to be known as Houghton’s Mill). I believe it was there in the 1891 census.

Houghton’s was a large brick weaving mill that backed onto Roe Greave Rd and ran alongside the backs of many houses there. A laneway ran between the towering wall of the mill and the double-storey terraces.

The back wall of the tiny terrace house yards had access to the alley via gated chutes in the wall to the coal scuttle for each house. Coal would be delivered by cart (later truck). One day, when we were going out and I was wearing a new red coat (I was 2 or 3 at the time), I went missing. Mum & Dad found me eating coal in the coal scuttle.

Mum with her dog at the door of #139. 1940s

Mum with her dog at the door of #139. 1940s

Another small gate opened to a place where household rubbish was left. A contractor would come and shovel it out from the laneway side into the sanitary cart.

The toilet was also in the back yard, a brick outhouse in a corner that had a ‘tippler’ toilet. One day, Mum caught my brother trying to put the cat down the hole.

At some stage possibly in the second decade of the 20th century, and perhaps because the mill employed fewer workers, the homes in the row were sold to individuals who either lived in them or rented them out.

Agnes & Ernie Thompson in back yard at Roe Greave

Agnes & Ernie Thompson in back yard at Roe Greave, c.1946.

During WWII, in about 1943/44, my parents bought number 139 in the row of terraces. The house was a three-up-three-down. That is, there were three rooms upstairs and three downstairs. Between 1945 and 1950, my older brother & sister, myself and my younger sister were born there (no hospital for most then).

Me & my siblings, 1951

Me & my siblings, 1951

The front doors of the terrace houses opened directly onto the footpath that ran alongside the street. We would play on the pavement with our trike. We also had a sit-on horse with small wheels but no pedals. I remember pushing it along with my feet, but having to lift it up every time I came to a ‘nick’ in the flagstone pavement.

PaulineThompson &trike.at139 Abt.1950

My sister on our trike. Note flagstone pavement.

We lived at 139 until we left to come to Australia in early 1954. My mother’s brother took over payments on the house and lived there for some years, then sold it at a handsome profit.

Mum & her 3 girls on Roe Greave Rd, c.1952

Mum & her 3 girls on Roe Greave Rd, c.1952. Note the cobblestone street surface.

When I was researching my family history, I discovered that my great-grandfather Peter Thompson had rented the very same house during WWI and that my grandfather lived there before he joined up. Peter Thompson died at # 139 Roe Greave Rd in 1917. I found it satisfying to find that, unknown to my parents, we’d already had a connection to the house before they bought it, and that four of Peter’s descendants were born in the house where he died.

139 Roe Greave Rd 2014, Google maps

139 Roe Greave Rd (centre door) 2014, Google maps


Do you still remember the house where you were a child? Are any of your family members still there?


© Linda Visman  21.04.14  (702 words)


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