A Cornucopia of Colners
by Geoff Crambie
COLNE HISTORIAN GEOFF CRAMBIE SHARES HIS THOUGHTS ON SOME OF COLNE'S MEMORABLE CHARACTERS
1 SIR WILLIAM PICKLES
Founder of the mighty Hartley’s Jam empire he was most proud to be a true-born Colner. His personal notepaper had the heading – Sir William Pickles Hartley J.P. Freeman of Colne and London. His name lives on today.
2 FREDDIE DEAN
Freddie was Colne’s last rag-and-bone man, his street cry of ‘rag-bone’ could be heard from the nearly the top of Tim Hill. In exchange for unwanted items, he would give out donkey stones or goldfish.
3 PETER BIRTWISTLE
He left his hometown of Colne at the age of 21 to become a famed diamond merchant in Canada. His Birtwistle Trust (not to be touched for 21 years) stood at £72,750 in 1927, by 1948 it stood at an incredible £229,000 (today this would be around eight and a half million pounds).
4 RICHARD CRAMBIE
(My dear dad) sold the world’s first £100 budgerigar in the year 1954 (today this would be around £2,850). It was a champion sky-blue prize bird, that won best in show 15 times, plus 4 champion silver trophies.
5 WALLACE HARTLEY
Born at number 92 Greenfield Hill in 1878, his first job at 14 was at Colne Craven Bank. In 1912 he was bandmaster on the R.M.S Titanic. His final words as the liner sank “Gentlemen, I bid you farewell.”
6 BOBBY THOMSON
Bobby became Colne’s very first ‘Teddy Boy’ circa 1954, he was a familiar face at all the local fairs working the mazy dodgem cars and full-tilt waltzers with superskill!
7 JOAN HODSON
A stunning beauty, she was the very first Colne Carnival beauty queen in 1958. At Primet School during the 1950s, she could so easily have been the one of the “Pink-Ladies” in the iconic grease.
8 EBBIE FOLLEY
Known to everyone as Mr Colne, he began as a teacher at 15 for one shilling a week and taught from 1885 to 1937. In 1962, he become a proud freeman of Colne at 90.
9 RAYMOND DOBSON
Raymond, who everyone knew as ‘lensless’ (he had no glass in his spectacles) was a wonderful character. He tried to commit suicide seven times but lived until he was 81.
10 FRANK WILSON J.P.
He served as a borough of Colne councillor from 1940 to 1974 and became a freeman, alderman, mayor and magistrate. In 1988 I asked him why he and his colleagues allowed so much demolition of old Colne. His reply was “Geoff, we knew no better!”
11 TICH MACRO
Titch was six foot, two inches tall! He was the bag carrier for Colne cricket club for over 50 years. In 1890 he wrestled Bruno, the Russian bear, to the ground down old Waterside to win a gold sovereign from the rich owner of the travelling fair which came to town for over 70 years.
ColneLife Spring 2022