Richard Barlow 1877-1956


Richard Barlow was born on the 12th July 1877 in Fourgates, Westhoughton , the eighth child of Titus Barlow (a coal miner) and his wife Ann, nee Morris.


His elder siblings  Mary Jane, John,  William, Alice, Christianna, James and Ann were all born in Westhoughton and he was followed by two further children Titus and Betsy.


In the 1881 and 1891 census, the family were living at 17 Smithy Row, round the corner from Barrel Rock in Wingates.


On 14th May 1898, Richard married Mary Ann Heald, from Aspull, at St John’s Parish Church in Wingates. Their witnesses were William Johns and Ann Barlow (his sister, and her husband). They had met some years previously and already had a daughter together named Alice Ann Heald. Though they had wished to marry before Alice Ann was born, they had been prevented by lack of parental consent, as they were both not of ‘full age’.


Their next child, a boy William, was born in 1900, soon followed by Wilfred, Edward, Titus, Richard, Ellen, Harold and Arnold. In 1901, the family were living at 398 Chorley Road, very close to his father. His father Titus died in 1903 at 358 Chorley Road. Sadly both Titus and Harold died as infants. Titus was buried at St Bartholemews (ceremony performed at St John’s on 21st December 1906) aged 15 months after measles and pneumonia. Harold was also buried at St Bartholemews (ceremony performed at St John’s on5th February 1913) aged just 14 days.


Richard and Mary Ann moved to live at Barrel Rock, a small group of five or six small stone cottages with flagged floors. The downstairs was one main room with a pantry, the grandchildren were never allowed up the stairs. The toilets were ‘out the back’ and were ‘middens’, holes in the floor which were emptied (by a man in a van) once a week. There was a pond at the front of the cottages, in a field which is believed to have belonged to Richard, (some years later, his grandchildren used to play there).  


His wife Mary Ann died at their home in Barrel Rock in January 1928. She was rumoured to have burned all photographs of herself before she died but fortunately, at least one still exists.

Alice Ann, William, Wilfrid and Edward got married and left home. His son Wilfred died soon after, at the age of 29 of multiple injuries, after a roof collapse at the colliery 10th July 1931, leaving a widow Lizzie, down the road at 559 Chorley Road.


His remaining children left home, and he continued to live in his cottage at 5 Barrel Rock, Fourgates and in his spare time, Richard used to enjoy mending clocks and watches and in later life, reading the Newspapers. He always wore a flat cap, even in the house, and sat in an old rocking chair. He had a small dog, a terrier named Peggy.


His grandchildren also remember lots of ‘stuffed’ birds in glass domes on a big dresser suggesting he also had a love of birds..


He was interviewed by ‘The Journal’ a local Newspaper in 1956, when the compulsory demolition of the cottages at Barrel Rock was announced. When he left Barrel Rock, he briefly lived with his son Richard and family at their home in Westhoughton, before he died a few months later on the 23rd September 1956 of stomach cancer aged 79 years, at 42 Bolton Road Westhoughton. His son Dick was with him.

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