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Appley Bridge (Interesting Old News)

Published by Brian on Sunday 7th August 2022

I've read about the meteorite landing in Appley Bridge before, but have never seen the original newspaper article from the time. Other interesting snippets too...

Appley Lane, Appley Bridge (Photo: Rev David Long)
Appley Lane, Appley Bridge (Photo: Rev David Long)

Chorley Standard and District Advertiser 16 September 1876


On Monday an inquest was held at the Appley Bridge Inn, Wrightington, before Mr. Gilbertson, coroner, touching the death of Thos. Marshall, 21 years of age, porter at the Appley Bridge Station on the Wigan and Southport Railway. - Charles Brightmore identified the body, and said the the deceased had been engaged as porter at the station since last April. - Edward Jones, engine driver, said that on Friday last he was in charge of the 2 30 goods train from Southport, and on his way he stopped at Appley Bridge to take up some wagons. There he was shunted into the siding by the deceased, who was standing by the points at the east end of the station. Before the train got clear of the points Marshall left the lever and went across the line. The fireman shouted out to the deceased, telling him to "look out," and just then a train from Wigan went past at full speed. After it had passed he found the deceased lying in the six-foot, quite dead. Witness did not hear the Wigan train until it passed him. A verdict of "accidental death" was returned.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 25 May 1878


At the Chorley Petty Sessions, on Tuesday, a young man named James Ranicar was charged with assaulting his mother, Mary Ranicar, a widow, who keeps the Appley Bridge public-house. On the night of the 17th inst. complainant, after closing the house at ten o'clock, retired to her bedroom. Her son broke open the door, took it from its hinges, and threw it at her, inflicting a slight wound on the head, and giving her a black eye. Defendant was in liquor at the time. On the following morning a man was supplied with a glass of gin, and because the stranger would not pay for one for the defendant he drank the man's gin. His mother remonstrated with him when he pushed her down on the floor. - Mr. Superintendent Beetham stated that defendant had been drinking heavily for some time, and was suffering from delirium tremens. The constable informed him that defendant sometimes took a gun to shoot the moon, and at other times a pitchfork to get the moon out of the canal. - The bench said it was a serious case to assault a mother, and they sent defendant to gaol for a month with hard labour.

Glasgow Evening Citizen 15 January 1883


A strange affair (says the Wigan Examiner) has happened at Appley Bridge. On Monday, the 18th December, a labourer named Edward Stopforth, aged 62, residing with his sister at Appley Bridge, spent the evening with some friends at the Alison's Arms. At closing time he left to go to his home, which adjoins the public-house, but not making his appearance that night or during the remainder of the week speculation became rife in the village as to the cause. He was reported to have been seen in distant towns in Lancashire, but no substantiation of these reports being forthcoming, they were dismissed as groundless. The interest in the case now became intensified, and his friends began to look upon his disappearance as a mystery. On the Tuesday, Dec. 26, succeeding the week in which he was last seen in the Alison's Arms, some person had occasion to enter the barn in the farmyard occupied by Mr. J. Stopford, of Appley Bridge, a nephew of the missing man, and heard moans proceeding from behind a large quantity of hay. On investigation, Stopforth was discovered lying on the floor in a very exhausted state. He was at once extricated from his imprisonment and removed home will all possible speed. The services of Dr. Molyneux, of Upholland, were subsequently obtained, and everything done to revive him, but this was a matter of considerable difficulty, as Stopforth, being without food or drink for eight days was, as might be expected, in a very prostate condition. It was, however, ascertained from him that on Monday night, the 18th December, being somewhat under the influence of drink, instead of going home when he left the Alison's Arms, he wandered along in the direction of his nephew's farm. He entered the barn, and ascending into the loft got upon the top of the hay, for what reason it seems at present inexplicable, unless it was to pass the night there, and slipping down between the hay and the wall was unable to regain his feet. During the night he says he was seized with cramp, which deprived him of the use of his limbs and took away his voice. During his dreary imprisonment on of the persons employed upon the farm approached close to where he was lying and actually threw a bundle of hay upon him. Stopforth was, however, unable to call for assistance or make known his presence. Stopforth lies in a very precarious state.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 04 January 1890


A sad drowning fatality happened in the locality of Appley Bridge on Thursday, the victims being Wm. Edward Mawdesley, 11 years of age, son of Edward Mawdesley, of 11, Appley-lane, Upholland, and a boy named Wm. Lamb, also 11 years old, whose home is in Wrightington. It appears that Mawdesley and his parents and Lamb and some others were holding a party at a relative's house near Appley Bridge, and about one o'clock the lads left the house to have a ride on a donkey. Half an hour later the donkey was found swimming in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Appley Lock, Wrightington, and the boys caps being the water search was made, with the result that the dead bodies were found in the canal.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 03 January 1900


An inquest was held at the Infirmary, on Friday, by Mr. H. Millighan, on the body of Thomas Jas. Wilding, twenty-one years of age, a blacksmith, of Appley Bridge, who died at the institution on Thursday, the result of being shot on the 16th inst., at Appley Bridge.
Margaret Parkinson, an aunt, of Blacksmith's House, Appley Bridge, said deceased lived with her. She was at Wigan when the accident happened, and had just got home when they brought him home shot. He had had a gun for a few weeks, and they had brought it home with deceased, and it was burst. The gun was an old one, and he got it for shooting rats. Hart and Ashcroft helped to carry her nephew home. Deceased was the only one who had a gun. He told witness he was going down by the River Douglas, and slipped, and the gun went off. He was getting out of the way of the keeper. Dr. Graham attended him up to last Tuesday.
William Hart, of Appley Bridge, said he went with deceased on the 16th inst., to watch him shoot rats. He fired the gun twice at a rat and a blackbird, and loaded it again. About twenty minutes to three he turned round and saw the keeper. They were getting across the Douglas, and the witness heard a shot between them. He thought deceased had fired it off purposely, but afterwards he said he was shot. They had to carry him home. The gun was an old muzzle-loader.
Thomas Ashcroft gave corroborative evidence. He said deceased walked about 15 yards, and then they carried him afterwards. About an inch and a half of the gun had burst. It was remarked that there was snow on the ground.
A juryman said he had seem snow burst the barrel of a gun before. A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 23 September 1909


An extraordinary story was told at Chorley Police Court, on Monday, when Philip Thornton (36), of no fixed abode, was committed for trial on a charge of attempting to commit an assault on a seventeen-year-old girl.
The prosecutrix stated that about eight o'clock on Sunday morning she was returning along a footpath from Boarsden Farm to Parbold in the direction of home when prisoner came up to her. He had a handkerchief on his wrist, which he said he had sprained, and he asked witness if she would bind it up for him. Prisoner then grabbed hold of her round the waist, and put his hand over her mouth, saying, "I have watched for you many a time, and now I have caught you." A violent struggle took place, but the girl managed to get away to an adjoining farm, where she told her story.
Police-constable Smith spoke to the prisoner coming up to him on New-lane, Eccleston, and making a statement. He was then taken into custody.
Prisoner told the magistrates that he was very sorry for what had happened. He had been drinking beer and whisky the previous night, and he was not right in his head.
The magistrates committed prisoner for trial at the next Preston Sessions.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 19 February 1910


About two o'clock in the afternoon of Friday, last week, immense volumes of smoke were seen arising from the farm buildings at Ayrefield Farm, Appley Bridge. It appears that the farmer (Mr. Rd. Valentine) had been burning some potato tops and other rubbish, and sparks from these were carried by the wind to some straw, which was deposited in a large Dutch barn near the premises. Although the flames leaped to a considerable height, and were seen for some miles round no very great amount of damage was done as prompt assistance and assiduous efforts prevented the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings.

Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 24 October 1914


The airship mystery which caused such a sensation throughout Lancashire and Cheshire last week has been cleared up by the finding of a meteorite in a field in the Wigan district. There was great agitation in the Wigan district on Tuesday night, last week, when the luminous body was seen by many people. Next morning, and for days afterwards, there was talk about a mysterious airship, and all sorts of rumours got abroad. It was generally noticed that the moving body in its swift transmit across the heavens emitted what seemed to be explosions, and Professor Jenkins, of the Manchester Corporation's Godlee Observatory came forward the next day with the suggestion that the brilliant visitor of the atmosphere was a stray object from space, which had come within the range of the earth's sphere of gravitation, and he gave a scientific explanation of exploding meteors. The brilliance of the mysterious object was especially noted in the Douglas Valley, and this was explained next day by the finding of the remnants of a meteor on the land of Mr. Eric Lyon, of Halliwell Farm, Appley Bridge. An employee on the farm was out shooting on the after the travelling light had been seen when he noticed what seemed to be a newly-turned-up mound in a field about three minutes' walk from the farm buildings. Thinking the rabbits had been more than usually industrious he went and examined the place, and was surprised to find a reddish mass of strange looking matter some two feet in diameter embedded in the ground. He reported his find to Mr. Lyon, who dug a piece of it out of its bed. He found the piece very heavy for its size, and noticed that it had the appearance of iron which had been much burned, and small fragments of it taken between the fingers and rubbed would crumble. On rubbing the outer soft crust off veins of mineral gold and silver in colour were seen. News got abroad of the discovery, and Superintendent Kelly, of the Wigan County Police Force, went over to the farm, and took possession of the body on behalf of Mr. H. H. Lane, the Chief Constable of Lancashire County. Afterwards a small fragment, which had been detached from the larger mass, was put on view in the shop window of Mr. James Rigby at Appley Bridge, and was viewed by visitors under a microscope.
Superintendent Kelly, of the Wigan County Police, who took possession of the meteorite, explains in an interview with a representative that the find entirely dispels the idea of an airship passing over the district. The fallen body, he says, weighs some 30lbs., and is heavier than it looks. On the outside it is dark brown in colour like rusty iron, and covered with a sort of burnt powder. Inside the colour is light grey with spots of gold and bright coloured metals. There is no doubt, the Superintendent adds, that it is a genuine meteorite, and it was taken to Preston to the County Police Headquarters for investigation and examination.
Dr. J. H. Wilson, the medical officer for the district, who had seen the meteorite, told a representative that everybody who saw it during its fall to the earth thought it was an airship, and many people seeing the exploding matter would have it that it was a German Zeppelin carrying guns and discharging them during its nightly passage. The meteorite in its descent lighted up all the neighbourhood, and Dr. Wilson, who has spoken to many residents in Appley Bridge, says that many of them used the expression that although it was night they could see to pick up a pin by the light given out. "It is rather remarkable," the doctor says, "that an object of such comparatively small dimensions should give out such a great light, because everybody is agreed as to the amount of light that it did give out." Dr. Wilson, who examined the meteorite, describes it as being like a large stone, irregular in shape, end externally of a reddish colour similar to the appearance of rusty iron, or of iron drawn from a fire. It is also very friable, he says, and pieces can be broken from it by the fingers alone. Internally the prevailing colour is that of French grey, the material being of varying hardness, and some parts having the resemblance of lead.
It is stated that the body had dug itself into the earth in a slanting direction, and this may help to explain why in falling it should give the impression of an airship travelling along. The meteorite was also broken in two pieces when found in the ground.
Dr. Wilson, of Standish, had been corresponding with Professor Jenkins, in Manchester, in regard to the discovery.
"We never know where these things drop," said Professor Jenkins, to a press representative. "There have been several instances of similar masses reaching earth and being found. Many cases are on record where the mass weighed more than the one found at Appley Bridge. The largest known in recent years was at Antrim about 12 years ago. It fell during the harvest time, and weighed about three times more than the present one. I have no knowledge of one having previously dropped in Lancashire. This mass was no doubt the main portion of the meteor which gave the visible flash, and was the largest remnant which survived the explosion. It would be interesting to know if portions had been found in any other parts of the country."

Liverpool Echo 18 January 1918


Elias Ashcroft (38), married, who resided at 2, Heyes-street, Appley Bridge, near Wigan, died to-day in Wigan Infirmary, following shocking scalding injuries.
He was employed at the linoleum manufacturing works of Messrs. T. Witter and Co., Ltd., at Appley Bridge. On Monday afternoon he was doing some plumbing work over a vat containing linseed oil, said to be at a heat of some 500 degrees, when he slipped and fell into the vessel. He was badly scalded about the lower parts of the body. He had a torch or lamp with him, and it is said that this fell in and set the oil on fire.
He was, however, exceedingly fortunate even to get out of the vat alive. He was attended to by a medical man and at once removed to Wigan Infirmary.

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