The construction of the water powered mills and the hand loom weavers cottages, at the end of the 18th century and in the early years of the 19th century led to more people living and working in the area than ever before.
Preaching to meet their spiritual needs began in 1814 in Lum Mills (Dilworth Bottoms) but then discontinued. However, in 1822 William Bond acquired Knowle Green Higher and Lower (Bridge) mills. Shortly afterwards he advertised for a missionary to work as a warper in his Higher Mill during the week and also to act as missionary to the people of Knowle Green who had no place of worship nearer than Longridge or Ribchester. William Hayhurst a young man from Blackburn with energy and vision was appointed by Bond. He started by holding prayer meetings in an upper room at the mill. He found that “the morals of the people of Knowle Green were at that time very low: drunkenness, prize- fighting swearing and football matches being regularly practised on the Lord’s Day”. Mr Hayhurst’s ministry was successful for by 1831 a church had been built on the site of the present graveyard, at a cost of £100, the people doing most of the work themselves. (The first Free Church in Longridge was not built until 1836 when a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was erected).
William Hayhurst died in 1858 at a time when the congregation was outgrowing the church. By 1860 appeals were going out to raise money for a new church. A large new building intended as a public house had been started only 100 yards away across the road from the original Chapel. Fortunately the owner, finding that he did not have the finance to finish the building was glad to sell to the Knowle Green congregation. It was a struggle to raise the money but under the energetic leadership of the new minister, Giles Scott, they succeeded and the present Church building was opened in November 1867. The energetic Giles Scott was also holding cottage meetings in Longridge until they too built a Congregational Chapel on Berry Lane in 1865.
There was a Charity School at Dutton Lee mentioned in an 1848 Directory. This may have been the one established under the will of John Dewhurst which got into financial difficulties as there is no mention of it later. There was also a Sunday school for scholars of all ages presumably held in the chapel after 1831. But for most children there was no day school education available locally until 1872.
After the new Chapel came into use, a great deal of effort was put into converting the old chapel into a day school. It opened in April 1872 as “Knowle Green British School” and was put under Government inspection. This meant that if it was found to be efficient by H.M.I. they would be allowed an additional grant for the purchase of materials. The school logbook frequently records visits of the inspectors. Their reports on the progress and regular attendance of the children determined the grants received. It also records the visits of Rev Giles Scott, the minister, to check that the register was being kept correctly.
Entries in the Log books 1872 - 1895 give a glimpse of village school life, as it was over 100 years ago:
10 May 1872 - ‘Attendance this week very irregular”.
Reasons for low attendance were given at various times in the Log Book as children having to walk long distances in poor weather; outbreaks of illnesses; and being required to work on the farms especially at hay time.
October 1872 -
“HM Inspector visited with regard to part-timers”
(Some pupils were presumably working part time in the mills).
1874 Inspectors Report
“The children are timid and slow in answering questions. The mistress works energetically but she would do well to cultivate a quieter manner”.
1876 Inspectors report
“Good order is maintained but the School shows a decided falling off in elementary attainment. Out of 37 children presented only 2 passed in arithmetic and in writing and spelling”
In 1878 Mrs Hesmondhalgh (the former Miss Robertson though her marriage is not recorded), left the school, and Mr Allanson took charge.
February 1878 Mr Allanson records “Fees of scholars have been raised. Now all scholars above 7 years of age pay 3d a week and all under 2d a week. Cautioned scholars against running before carts which pass the school. Cautioned children against running up the lodge banks” (Higher mill lodge).
By 1883 Mr Herbert Thomas had replaced Mr Allanson.
Mr Herbert Thomas “Severely punished J Counsell, WDuxbury, J S Edelston, R Wa/ne, W
W Watson for going on the lodge (on ice?) after I had forbidden it. R Hal/got in and might
6 November 1885
“Last night one of my cleverest and best boys, James Forrest had his eye shot out with a pistol”.
17 November 1885
“Poor James Forrest died last night after suffering great agony from lock-jaw.
5 August 1886
‘Measles has broke out. I have only 39 here. The doctor called and advised closing the school”.
19 August 1886
“One of my dear girls,Mary Slater, in standard 5 has died. (from measles?) aged 11.
“School closed for a week for Queen Victoria's Jubilee. Children who live in Dilworth given a treat by R Smith JP”. (Mr Smith was a mill owner in Longridge).
Mr Thomas left and Nathan Leigh became headmaster. During his time at Knowle Green Mr Leigh started the first school garden in the County on the site of the present Chapel car park. After Mr Leigh moved on to a head ship in Longridge, Mr William Clitheroe was appointed and remained at the school for over 30 years.
In their limited leisure time the people of Knowle Green made the most of the social life offered by the Chapel, the School and the Pubs.
At Christmas time there were parties in the day school room. On the 31st December 1879 tea was on the table at 4:00pm. “Two hundred sat down which increased to four hundred. Ladies presided at the trays. Mr W Duxbury was in the Chair and also played the harmonium”. In March 1880 there was an entertainment in the Knowle Green School which was full to overflowing. “The Misses Fenton of Dutton Manor gave vocal and instrumental duets and Mr Thomas Hesmondhalgh accompanied on the pianoforte.”
Summer was the time for picnics. In 1900 members of the “Knowle Green Reading Room” had ‘a very pleasant outing driving to Accrington in brakes (horse drawn buses) and returning via Whalley and Hurst Green'. The children too had their days out. In August 1895, thirty scholars left at 6-30 am in two brakes for Lancaster, calling in Garstang on the way. At Lancaster some went on to the seaside and boarded the train for Morecambe. It must have been a long day! There was the annual Knowle Green field day to enjoy when coffee and buns were served in the school followed by games on the field.
In 1898 220 scholars and friends attended the Knowle Green school treat. After coffee and buns in the schoolroom, a procession formed and with Knowle Green band leading proceeded up to Loft Shay and left into a field lent by Mr Robert Bradley. Club Days were important events in the social calendar. In those days there was no Welfare State to help out in hard times. There was a Knowle Green Sickness and Funeral Society, which held a club day. In 1880 it celebrated with a procession led by Longridge Brass Band. Knowle Green Foresters also held their club day. In 1900 they assembled in the Lodge Room at the Halls Arms. “Brother Bond who had taken part in forming the Lodge headed the procession via Loft Shay to the Manse where they met Rev T Davis. Members returned by way of Moor Nook to Fir Cottage the residence of Mr J Greenall.”
Knowle Green had its own Brass band. It had originally been formed by young men working at White Carr Mill in 1872. The Band used the schoolroom for practices from 1889 and in 1891 requested a reduction in the rent, which was 1/- per week. The Church meeting decided that if the band became a temperance band they could use the room free, if not they would have to continue to pay 30/- a year. The decision was not recorded but years later in reports of school treats and annual field days the Preston Guardian was still referring to Knowle Green Brass Band so presumably it did not change. In 1902 the Preston Guardian reported it as playing at a Knowle Green social which raised £10 towards the cost of a piano. In June 1911 they played in Longridge for the Coronation celebrations (George V and Queen Mary).
After 1913 there seems to be no further mention of the band - perhaps the outbreak of the 1st World War put and end to such activities.
During the years 1914 - 1918 the records of social events hint at the mood of the time. In December 1914 a Knowle Green social ended with the playing of the British and Russian national anthems. By June 1915 at the Congregational Church field day Ribchester band played the national anthems of France, Belgium, Russia and Great Britain.
In 1915 many men left the district to serve with the armed forces. The local volunteers had their last leave in early April before being despatched to the front and at a recruiting meeting held at Tootal Heights (Longridge) on the 20 May over 100 men volunteered. No doubt there were those from Knowle Green among them. In December at Knowle Green Congregational Church social after tea a choir sang “Comrades in Arms” and “Soldiers Farewell
G Seed, T Keighley, T J Keighley, Alfred Kerfoot, Roger Seed,
T Hesmondhalgh, Ernest Counsell ,Ezra Anderton, J J Wilkinson,
Alfred Riding, ? Ogden, Jack Anderton, Willy Duxbury, Herbert Forrest.