What the locals really think of Whalley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 July 2015 | UPDATED: 19:19 23 May 2016
Meet the locals who make Whalley a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Emma Mayoh reports
You can’t keep a vibrant community like Whalley down. Plans for new sporting and leisure facilities for young people have been on the cards since the 1990s. But for various reasons, they never got off the ground. But this month work will finally start on the new Whalley Sports Community Park.
The exciting plan for the village was inspired by an idea from Jon Smith, a villager who also runs Whalley Warm and Dry. He first came up with it after realising there weren’t any dedicated places for young people to spend their time and that included his own five children.
‘For a long time there were different groups using the playing fields but no one was really working together. Now, we are and that means we’re ready to make this a success,’ he said.
‘This ground was the home to the first ever Roses cricket match and we have several successful sports teams here now but the facilities are just not good enough. We need to create something that will benefit everyone in the community.’ The project, which is costing over £1.2 million, is making great strides.
Despite having the huge task of raising money themselves, members of the Whalley Sports Community Park group are undeterred. They have already received some funding from Whalley Parish Council, Sports England and other community groups. Ground work to improve drainage will start this month before the construction of a youth shelter, a green gym and a multi-use games area. Once more money is raised a new community building will be erected.
Jon, chair of Whalley Sports Community Park, said: ‘It feels good that things are starting to happen now. I’m frustrated I didn’t get to this point sooner but it is fantastic that we’re there now and everyone is on board.
‘I suppose I do feel proud. My children weren’t able to benefit but my grandchildren will be able to as well as many others.’
One of the groups helping to fund raise is the newly formed Whalley and District Lions Club. The previous group was disbanded ten years ago but Gillian Darbyshire, the club’s president, has helped to reinstate it.
Whalley in Bloom’s Lavender Ladies; Penny Robinson-Kerr, Christine Hulland, Janet Duckworth, Jean Lord, Anne-Marie Watson and Rose Dykes
Andy Butcher, chef and Katie Makey, day time supervisor at Bradys Wine Bar
Gillian Darbyshire, president of Whalley Lions
Jean Lord, who is researching the history of Whalleys unsung heroes
Whalley in Bloom’s Lavender Ladies, Rose Dykes, Penny Robinson-Kerr, Christine Hulland, Janet Duckworth, Jean Lord, and Anne-Marie Watson with the head gardener at Whalley Abbey, Roy Fishwick
Whalley in Blooms Lavender Ladies, Rose Dykes, Penny Robinson-Kerr, Christine Hulland, Janet Duckworth, Jean Lord, and Anne-Marie Watson with the head gardener at Whalley Abbey, Roy Fishwick
A chartered accountant who has dedicated much of her time to the village including being the former chair of the Whalley Chamber of Trade, she said: ‘As well as being a part of the business community I also want to be able to help local people and causes. A Lions group is ideal for this. People know that we are an organisation that helps and that we can be approached.
‘We’ve helped several people in Whalley already, including Whalley Community First Responders. I want to really focus on establishing the group and making it a success.’
Another group making their home village shine is Whalley in Bloom. Despite only forming in 2011 they have already won several awards including a Gold award for Best Small Town, Best Newcomer and a Neighbourhood Award for Vale House gardens at the North West in Bloom competition in 2012.
Last year they again won a Gold award for Best Small Town, a special Best Commercial Effort award as well as the opportunity to compete in the RHS Britain in Bloom National Finals.
They will be going for the national accolade in September as well as for another title at North West in Bloom in July.
Whalley in Bloom members dedicate their time to making many different parts of the village look beautiful, including planters in the main shopping streets. They also help care for some of the gardens at Whalley Abbey with head gardener Roy Fishwick.
Penny Robinson-Kerr, volunteer co-ordinator, said: ‘It’s going to be a busy year for us but we’re really hoping to do well. We are proud to fly the flag for Whalley.
‘It is really satisfying because you are doing something that makes people happy. We always get comments of support and encouragement and we are really pleased to help the community. We’ve all also had the opportunity to meet people and make some really good friends.’
Raising the bar
It was a light bulb moment for Maggie Hughes. The former probation officer and social worker had recently bought the old Whalley Conservative Club when she went on holiday with partner, Simon Leach, to Boston. She had originally planned to turn the building into a centre for young people or a homeless shelter but it was visiting bars in the American city that caused her to have a change of heart.
‘I saw these amazing places and it really got me thinking we could do it. My brother, Hugh, also has bars in London. He has encouraged me and advised me,’ she said.
The old club in Queen Street is now Brady’s Wine Bar. It was built 1892 and has undergone a dramatic transformation. Margaret and Simon, with help from friends, gutted and rebuilt the venue saving features including the original beams and the old Whalley Conservative Club window.
The once dated building, which was forced to close because it was not making enough money, is now a sophisticated and contemporary space filled with quirky interiors from The Coach House in Accrington and Tetrad in Preston.
Since opening in April, locals and visitors to the area have poured through the doors in their droves. Former Freemasons at Wiswell and Breda Murphy chef, Ben Dearden and Andy Butcher, who has worked at The Angel at Hetton are at the helm in the kitchen and Maggie has big plans for the future.
She said: ‘We want to carry on making it the best it can be. I can’t believe how much of a success it has been. It’s been incredible. ‘The Whalley community has been fantastic in supporting me and I want to continue to bring people here. I love the village and I am proud to be running my own place here.’
Hero of the Antarctic
A hobby has turned into a passion for Jean Lord. She has always loved exploring local history but it was when she volunteered to help Whalley Old Grammar School get back on its feet that it became a full time pursuit.
The 73-year-old has helped piece together different parts of the village’s past including details about King Street. But she is now also trying to uncover the tales of Whalley’s unsung heroes. She has visited many people in the village to talk to them about their memories and unearth tales. She also discovered an old corn mill that would have dated back to when Whalley Abbey was in use by the monks.
She said the village had many notable people who had been forgotten over time.
‘It’s a real shame and I wanted to do something about it. I’ve found out so much by talking to people. Just at The Croft, which is now a care home, there were once doctors living with a fascinating story.
‘A Thompson Thornton Macklin had four sons. One of them, Alex Macklin, was a chief medical officer and actually went to the Antarctic with Shackleton. He was the medical officer on the Endurance and was with Shackleton when he died. He had also received the Military Cross. Stories like this must be shared and I want to try to help make that happen.’