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Monday, 19 February 2018

The Smithy

My Grandfather, Thomas Miller-Crook b 1st June 1894, was Hoghton's wheelwright/blacksmith and joiner/undertaker.

Thomas volunteered to enlist in the army joining the R.A.O.C. (Royal Army Ordanance Corps) at Heaton Park, Manchester - aged 20. He served in France as a  wheelwright and blacksmith during  WWI based at Abbeville in Picardy on the bay of the Somme. He was based there for three years helping to repair and fit wheels on the large horse drawn gun carriages.

In 1919 he transferred to the Army Reserve and returned to civilian life. After working for his uncle at the Boatyard, Riley Green for several months and then at J Waring, Feniscowles for three years he decided to become self-employed in 1923.

He took over the Smithy from Mr Thomas Sharples . He married Mabel Evelyn Windle of N° 13 The Barracks, Chapel Lane, on Christmas Eve 1924 at Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton and the couple lived on Gib Lane at 5 Bell Villas. It was therefore only a short journey for Thomas to travel to work at the Smithy. (Note : Tim Grimshaw informs me "Thomas Sharples lived at 10 Gib Lane with wife Pamela and three children, he died in 1933. His only son George lived there until he died in 1984. ")

No doubt Hoghton Smithy used to be very busy.  Ideally situated on the edge of Blackburn Old Road (corner of Chapel Lane) to capt the passing trade, it was also in the centre of the village.  The Post Office used to be 100 yards from the Smithy down Chapel Lane, run by the Southworth family. The hamlet of Hoghton Bottoms was thriving with the two cotton mills. There was also a corner shop down on the corner of Valley Road.

Next door, the Boar's Head Inn would also have brought potential customers - not forgetting the local farming community which also needed repairs to the farm equipment and shodding of the horses.

Plenty of work therefore for a blacksmith and wheelwright!

Herbert was their first child, born 16th November 1925, followed by Eric, my father, 13th October 1929. This photo shows my grandmother, Mabel, visiting the yard with her young boys.  Both children attended Hoghton School, and Blakey Moor Secondary Modern in Blackburn and started work at the Smithy and joiner's shop as soon as they were of suitable age.

The photo is of my father, Eric, next to the joiner's shop door showing two children his goats. The farmhouse gable end behind is Barrack's farm, which now lies derelict, - belongs to the De Hoghton estate..

Here we see Eric and my Grandfather Thomas, heating the bands of iron to fit over the cart wheels.

The yard with Chapel Lane running along the hedge side. Notice the motorbike with side box!
Photos and information courtesy of Herbert Miller-Crook


  1. Thomas Sharples lived at 10 Gib Lane with wife Pamela and their three children.He died in 1933.George, his only son, died in 1984 and the house was sold to Phil Collins.

  2. We lived at no 10 Tim, one of the airey houses.