Arnold Barlow was born in Westhoughton on the 8th December 1914 the ninth child of
Richard Barlow (a collier) and Mary Ann Heald who were living in cottages at Barrel
Rock, Westhoughton with their six surviving children (two of his brothers Harold
and Titus had already died in infancy). where he continued to live throughout his
childhood and teenage years. His mother Mary Ann died of pneumonia at home in the
winter of 1928 and soon after, Arnold left school aged 14, to start work as a labourer.
On 17th December 1938, he married Elizabeth Bullough, from Dickinson Street Horwich.
He was working as a Quarry Labourer. It is not clear how he met Elizabeth, but her
brothers Harold and Frank were working at the Klondyke, a pipeworks with a quarry
After their marriage, they lived with Elizabeth’s Uncle Robert Robinson in a house
he rented at 16 Mary Street East in Horwich.
He started work in the pit and as a collier worker, he was not conscripted to serve
in World War 2 and his first child, a son, Harold was born in autumn 1940 , when
Arnold was 27 years old, Throughout the war years, he was part of the Horwich Home
Guard, patrolling the streets after dark.
In the summer of 1942 his daughter Margaret Ann was born, followed by son Leonard,
daughter Mavis and son David by 1947.
He had few friends, due to unsociably long working hours (in comparison to modern
standards), as he worked all day Monday to Saturday plus Sunday morning.
Arnold kept chickens in the back yard of the house in Mary Street, which his children
used to chase up and down the back street; he would often complain the hens had ‘stopped
laying’ – no wonder! Robert Robinson used to sit at the kitchen table and if any
of Arnold’s children went near the sink, he used to smack their bottoms and say they
‘mustn’t waste water'.
Robert died in the summer of 1947 and the family moved to 41 Fearnhead Avenue.
Arnold had two allotments and grew vegetables, gladioli and dahlia’s. He used to
show Dahlia’s at local horticultural events.
He wasn’t a big ‘church-goer’ and every other Sunday, after the children had returned
from Sunday School, Arnold and all the children got on the number 16 bus to see his
father Richard at Barrel Rock. He also used to visit his brother Dick at the Gas
Works Yard, and his sister Ellen used to come and visit. Occasionally they would
visit his sister Alice Ann in Knowsley street, but the family only saw Bill and Ted
and their families at weddings and funerals.
After work, he used to bath the children in a tin bath in front of the fire and
played darts at home or worked on the allotment.
Though Elizabeth, and later Margaret did the cooking, Arnold always sliced the bread,
and when anyone was ill, it was said that he ‘cut the bread so thin you could see
through it’. When the family cooked and pressed an ox tongue, he used to stand it
up, slice it horizontally and the slices were so perfect they looked like they had
been cur by a machine.
In his teenage years, his son Harold acquired a cross-bred dog called Kim. The dog
appeared untrainable, but Arnold took on the dog and it became a faithful companion.
He was a large man, bordering on twenty stone, but was always light on his feet.
He always wore clogs to work, and wore the same ‘best’ shoes he got married in for
the next 25 years. When his boots were worn out, he cut the leather tops off and
put clog soles on the bottom.
Over the years he worked at several collieries including Westhoughton, Ellerbeck
and Chisnal Hall both below ground and above as a welder and electrician.
His wife Elizabeth died in 1960, leaving him with five children, eldest son Harold
was working as bookbinder and daughter Margaret was working in the office of Victoria
Mill. Leonard went to work at the Klondyke and the younger two children were still
His son Harold got married in 1961, followed soon after by daughter Margaret in 1962,
and Mavis in the summer of 1965.
Arnold continued to work at Ellerbeck colliery in Coppull, until he became ill and
died on the 28th October 1965 at Bolton Royal Infirmary. He was buried with his wife
Elizabeth in Ridgemont Cemetery in Horwich.
When he died, his dog Kim howled all night, and then ran away. Every time the dog
was brought home, it ran away again and eventually disappeared.