Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Rivington At War - The village and its surrounding moors and their role in WW2

SAM_4648 (640x480) Lever Park Avenue SAM_4995 (640x480) WP_20160203_14_34_34_Pro (640x341) Winter Hill Scrapbook - tank WP_20160203_12_29_09_Pro (640x360)

Further Interesting Links:

 

A great page about Rivington myths and WW2 stories:

http://www.angelfire.com/in/rivington/rivington_folk_tales.html

 

"How War Came To Bolton, 1938 -1940" by G. J. Bryant is available on an on line pdf here:

https://www.hslc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/146-6-Bryant.pdf

 

Horwich Heritage

www.horwichheritage.co.uk/index.php

 

You can buy Finders book HERE

Anglezarke bomber memorial Flinders drawing of Rivington troops (640x471)

ABOVE: One of the Scandanavian style barns at Rivington which during WW2 were used to store supplies, some for the American troops billeted all around the area.

BELOW: Some bullets, a drinks can and shell fins dug up after the war on Anglezarke Moor. More evidence of the American troops, these are now on display in the Rivington Information Centre.

Rivington, a very small village on the outskirts of Horwich and Bolton is better known for its ancient history than its recent history. But like many isolated areas in Lancashire with great expanses of moorland nearby it had its role to play in the Second World War. Nothing very exciting, nothing unique, but as most traces are now gone or forgotten, it is important to record what we do know, and dispel the odd myth.

 

Our first knowledge that the area was used during World War Two was when we read The Winter Hill Scrapbook by Dave Lane. A wonderful book about the general history of the area

(It can be both bought and downloaded as a pdf HERE).

Then we found 'Flinders' memoir 'Schoolboy Memories of World War II - A remarkable time to be growing up in Horwich' published by Horwich Heritage.

 

These books tied in our wider understanding about the area, such as Horwich Locomotive Works, with the story of Rivington itself.

A sad piece of Second World War history local to Rivington was the crash of a Wellington Bomber in 1943 on Anglezarke Moor. The bomber (no. Z 8799) was on a night exercise and had flown from its base at Wymeswold in Leicestershire. The cause of the crash is unknown, but could of been due to mechanical failure due to cold temperatures.

 

The Anglezarke Crash site memorial (SEE PHOTO LEFT)

has a plaque that reads: "To the memory of F/S J.B. Timperon, Sgt E.R. Barnes, Sgt J.B. Hayton, Sgt R.S. Jackson, Sgt G.E. Murray, Sgt M. Mouncey. Killed when a Wellington bomber crashed on these moors on Nov. 12th 1943. Erected by Rotary Club of Worwich, June 1955"

 

Source for above: About Anglezarke, M.D. Smith, 2002, Wyre Publishing

 

There is some dispute about the date of the crash. See this excellent little article:

 

http://www.anglezarke.net/history/bomber-zulu/

 

Other local air crash sites:

http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-crash-sites-5/hurricane-pg472-near-bolton-lancs-2/

 

http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-crash-sites-5/airspeed-oxford-bm837-on-winter-hill/

ABOVE LEFT: Taken from the excellent on-line pdf 'Winter Hill Scrapbook' by Dave Lane. We believe nothing is visible of the tank today.

ABOVE: The entrance to Lever Park Avenue is at Scholes Bank in Horwich.

ABOVE RIGHT: The entrance today.

ABOVE LEFT: as drawn by Flinders as a boy. His drawing shows the schoolchildren stood on anti-tank blocks by the gates, waving to the American soldiers going off to D-Day.

Further references found that mention Rivington's war use we have found:

'About Rivington' by John Rawlinson: "After crossing the old road here our road slopes down, passing the site of Ainsworth's Farm, previously described, and reaches the spot where the War Department had storage huts during the 1939-1945 war". This area described is close to The Barns: Great House Barn and Hall Barn. These Scandanavian style buildings were used for storage during World War Two. The age of the barns is much debated but most of what we see today is from the 1700s and they have been much altered and rebuilt over time. According to 'The History of Rivington - The Barns' leaflet (see reference at bottom of the page): "During the Second World War rationed sugar was stored at Great Barn House". No doubt guarded closely by the soldiers on site.

 

Flinders adds to this: "Rivington was completely out of bounds to the general public. All of Rivington each side of the road, the two Barns and Anglezarke moors were under the control of the US Army. Hundreds of 'Yankee' soldiers were billeted on both sides of Rivington Lane and around the Bungalow grounds. The old abandoned farmstaeds around Anglezarke, left derelict by Liverpool Corporation Waterworks, were still intact until the Army used them for tank target practice and blew them into the 'rubble' you see today".

In his book, "Flinders", describes the scene: "As the invasion of Europe approached, Army divisions all over the country started to prepare and assemble on the South coast ready for D-Day (6th June 1944). Our teacher, Mrs Hart, somehow found out that all the Americans were moving out of Rivington on a particular day. She told us to go and wave them goodbye, to remember they were going to fight for our freedom and that many were Dads with little children back in America who would be killed and never see their families again. This made it a very sombre occasion for us and most of the class went to the entrance of Lever Park near the Crown. We sat on the concrete road blocks as truck load after truck load of smiling, waving soldiers rumbled past. They threw us chocolate and chewing gum and I looked anxiously into their faces and wondered which of them would be killed. It was a very moving and special moment in history and I was quite sad and upset. I will never forget that day and have always been eternally grateful that Mrs Hart had encouraged us to witness this event. I was only 9 years old at the time."

 

As mentioned on the page above, the american troops were billeted all around the Rivington area. According to 'Leverhulme's Rivington' by M.D. Smith: "During the war years 'The Bungalow' was used as a billet for troops. There was a dormitory in the ballroom and the movement of beds etc. resulted in many of the parquetry blocks being ripped up during this occupation and much wanton damage was caused generally."

"The Barns incidentally were used for the storage of sugar and a series of 'nissen-huts' were erected on either side of the driveway leading to Rivington Hall, which was also used for storage purposes."

Few bombs were dropped in the area, surprising really, as the Yorkshire & Lancashire Railway Works at Horwich were building tanks and the de Havilland factory was making planes. One bomb that did land nearby was on Lever Park Avenue. ABOVE LEFT: A photo of the bomb damage and some of the remains of the bomb is on display in Horwich Heritage Centre. ABOVE RIGHT: The site today

Interestingly, there are several myths and untruths on the web about the Rivington area during WW2. For instance, there is the story that "Rockhaven Castle was demolished as it was used by German bombers as a marker point". This myth is similarly trotted out about other local sites either demolished during the war or that were considered for demolition. We have heard such stories about Peel Tower, Holcombe and Blackpool Tower and Darwen Tower. There are, no doubt, lots of these stories around the country. One would think it would be very difficult to spot towers on hills at night in a blackout. Much easier to see rivers, coastlines and railways. This particular myth is dealt with here: http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/bolton/15463424.Mystery_of_what_happened_to_castle_on_hill_revealed/

 

Bolton Evening News also mention troops at The Bungalow, Rivington here: http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/5863597.WW2_troops_billeted_at_Rivington/