Thursday, 13 September 2012

Thursday Tour of NW England - Trawden

Trawden is a village in East Lancashire. In medieval times, the area of Trawden Forest belonged to the King, and only he and his retainers were allowed to hunt there.

There were probably scattered homesteads, and some area were converted to ‘vaccaries’ where the ordinary people were allowed to graze their cattle.

From the beginning of the 16th century, more clearings were made, and small hamlets started to form, with a few homes. Most people were agricultural labourers while others worked as trades such as blacksmiths or carpenters.

The big change came in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the labourers started to supplement their income with handloom weaving in their own homes. After the invention of spinning and weaving machines, cotton mills were built. More houses were needed for the mill workers, and the area between the hamlets was gradually filled by these houses.

Trawden had several mills, but most have now been demolished or converted into apartments.

My interest in Trawden stems from the fact that my mother’s maternal ancestors originated in this area. I’ve been able to trace them back to the 17th century, when William Waddington was born at Winewall (part of Trawden) in 1685. This was about a mile from where my grandmother, Lucy Waddington, was born just 200 years later. She worked in one of the cotton mills from the age of 12, as did all her siblings, and also many of her ancestors, who all lived in the Trawden area.

This was my grandmother’s home in the 1890’s, in one of the small houses built by mill owner for his workers. Two of her father’s brothers and his sister also lived in other houses in this terrace, most with 8 or 9 children each! The houses had two small rooms downstairs, and three upstairs (but no bathrooms, just an outbuilding at the back of the house)
And here, just to show how little the area has changed, is a postcard sent to my grandmother in 1937, followed by my own photo of the same road in 2001. The main difference is that the cotton mill on the 1937 photo has now been demolished.


  1. Gosh Paula, I am from Lancashire and I reluctantly have to confess that I have no idea where Trawden is. I have never heard of it, but it looks an interesting place and so typical of many a small Lancashire village-cum-little town.


  2. It's near Colne, Margaret - and not far from Wycollar, which I'm sure you know!

  3. Wow! Paula, I love these posts. I feel like I'm getting a mini-vacation each time I drop by!

  4. Thanks, Libby, so glad you're enjoying this peek at my home county!

  5. I love family history and finding out about the place my family have lived.

    It's amazing to think that our ancestors could come back and still recognise the places they lived. Well maybe a small part.

    Though having said that a couple of places I have live I wouldn't recognise if I hadn't seen the changes for myself.

    A great posting.

  6. Thank you, Paula. I do know Wycoller and its significance but I have never been there either. It seems incredible really.

  7. Another interesting post, Paula - I'd never heard of Trawden before now! Amazing to see the similarities between the two photos.