Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Stubbins - a short WW2 history

Stubbins on the edge of Ramsbottom and close to Edenfield suffered bomb damage on May 3rd 1941. Two land mines were dropped by parachute causing extensive damage but thankfully no deaths.

 

It may seem a strange thing to drop landmines in this way, but it is possible that it was in order to use them as blast bombs - therefore affecting a larger area and causing more damage.

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Left: What a parachute mine looked like.

 

By Lockeyear W T (Lt), War Office official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Above: the scene of devastation. Below: the site today

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Today a Memorial Garden is in place at the site where one of the bombs landed, on the bank of the River Irwell - that took much of its impact. Having wondered for some time where these bombs landed, I have to express my thanks to John Simpson, his book 'Edenfield Through Time' (link at the bottom of the page) located both sites.

Above: Three photos of the Memorial Garden

Several reports mention the Warwick family who miraculously escaped their bungalow unharmed despite it suffering much of the impact.

Today (Left) and in 1941 (Right).

The Ramsbottom War News - Issue 3 produced by the Ramsbottom Heritage Society (Purchase your copies HERE) has several eyewitness accounts of the event. One account is from Marion Beech (nee Poole) of 249 Bolton Road North (see photo LEFT) who lived roughly opposite the Chip Shop (see photo RIGHT). She describes how her family all escaped without a scratch despite their close proximity to where the first bomb was dropped. The original wooden Chip Shop was rebuilt in stone. The Memorial Garden is seen to the right of it on this photo.

A Ghost Sign on this gatepost (LEFT) says "ARP post" with an arrow pointing down an alleyway (see photo RIGHT) to the back of Bolton Road North. According to John Simpson's excellent book 'A History of Edenfield and District' the ARP post was in a wash house on Dale Street. His book has a much clearer photo of the sign (page 286).

 

This book also has an excellent account of life in World War Two in the area, including Stubbins, Irwell Vale and Ramsbottom. It even mentions one Dirk Bogarde, who was stationed in Stubbins Vale for a short time during the Second World War. See his quote below left.

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A second Landmine was dropped nearby on the land of Stubbins Vale House (Left) it was demolishred in the 1950's having been badly damaged and its site is currently vacant (Right).

 

BELOW LEFT: There are some large stones on the site still in situ showing where some of the buildings were.

BELOW RIGHT: After its demolition, its masonry was used for new offices at the mill according to John Simpson's book 'Edenfield Through Time'. Which also states that During the First World War, more than 600 wounded soldiers passed through the house when it was a Military Hospital.

The current mill has a very nice memorial set out to workers who died in the two wars -

CLICK on a photo above to see a larger version of the photo.

Actor Dirk Bogarde later described Stubbins Vale thus: "From the terrace of the house, grimed with soot and wind, one looked down into a grey, fogged landscape of endless slate roofed "back-to-backers" and soaring mills throbbing with trundling looms, glistening with acres of lighted windows (dark in the black out after 3.30 in the afternoon) and huge chimneys trailing and belching smoke endlessly into the curdled air, which loitered out over the spoiled valleys until, eventually, it was dispersed across the distant moors. Not a very attractive vista. I have known better views from happier terraces. It was sad, cobbled, drab, poor."

Derek Holt, on Francis Frith's website gives his recollections of Edenfield and has this to say about Stubbins during WW2: "During the earlier part of the Second World War, troops were stationed at Cuba Mill, Stubbins, and carried out training exercises in Edenwood and fields adjoining Sheep Hey Farm. Earlier exercises seemed to involve the use of oil drums to make a smoke screen, a little basic considering the size of the drums involved. Later on we noticed that mortar bombs that gave off smoke were used, these could be found burnt out but intact and were very collectable!

 

Later on an assault course was built in Edenwood with the usual tunnels and rope ladders etc. The main hazard on this course was the placing of a Bren Gun just over the fence on Edenwood Road about 50/70 yards from the mill. This was pointed across the brook and fired into a pile of sandbags on the other side. Although I never witnessed this, the idea was for the troops to pass under the bullets as they were fired. When this was in progress Red Flags were placed around the area, these were usually being taken down as we arrived home from school so our first job was to race down to Edenwood in search of spent bullet cases and sometimes a live bullet. The actual bullets could be found in the target area amongst the sand bags". READ MORE HERE

Above is the only remaining building from the Cuba Mill complex. Now an industrial estate. In the Second World War Cuba Mill housed troops.

 

Fred Entwistle, D Company, Ramsbottom Home Guard told the Ramsbottom Heritage Society News Magazine issue 10:

"The Queen's Regiment were probably here the longest and they often sent down to the Drill Hall experts in all sorts of army training to give us lectures and demonstrations of various kinds. They had built an assault course in Eden Wood and they invited some of the younger ones to come and have a go at it. We were told to expect live ammunition being fired just over our head while we were going round. It started off crossing the stream on a rope bridge - anyone falling off had to go back again - going through pipes with smoke bombs going off, over high walls helping one another all the time then we ended up wading through a pond nearly shoulder deep all the time in full kit with rifle and bayonet. We were young and reasonably fit but it was hard work. We all got through without injury, we were lucky. It amused some of the troops watching us struggle they had to do it before breakfast".

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE in Issue No. 10 - Winter 1994

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RIGHT: Edenwood Mill today.

Above: At Edenwood Mill there are two surviving air raid shelters. One is more accessible than the other.

CLICK on a photo to enlarge it.