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Sabden was formed in 1904 from Heyhouses, which ceased to be a township, and parts of Pendleton, Higham, Wiswell, Read, Northtown (in Padiham) and Goldshaw Booth. Sabden probably derives its name from 'Sappe Dene', the valley of the spruces.
Looking down on Sabden
Sabden lies at the foot of the steep road which leads over the Nick o'Pendle to Clitheroe, and is situated alongside Sabden Brook between the Ribble and Calder rivers with Pendle Hill on the north side and Padiham Heights (Black Hill and White Hill) on the south side.
The oldest part of Sabden is Heyhouses, to the north-east. Mention of Heyhouses dates from 1342, when Richard de Radcliffe held 80 acres there. The landowners in 1787 were Le Gendre Starkie and William Assheton, the former holding apparently the estates of Nowell and Halliwell. Mr. Starkie in 1801 purchased the Assheton portion, so that the whole of Heyhouses was then included in the Huntroyde estate.
One of the oldest buildings is Sabden Old Hall, which even though it has been extensively rebuilt, parts of the house date from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Handloom weavers lived in the area in the 18th century, and then a cotton factory was established at Sabden about 1790, the purity of the water attracting the calico printer. In 1808 Miller, Burys & Co. had extensive works, nearly 2,000 persons being employed in printing calicoes by block work and hand-pencilling; the works were considered the most efficient in the county. In 1830 they were sold by the Forts to Richard Cobden, and in his hands, in association with the late Mr. George Foster, attained great prosperity. Richard Cobden encouraged his employees to read, and established a school and library in the village. The school on its website, describes this event:
On the 15th May 1837 our school, then known as Sabden British School, was opened. The school's founder was the eminent free trader and entrepreneur Richard Cobden who became involved with the Calico Printing Works in Sabden during the early part of the 19th century. Collaborating with him was George Foster, manager of the print works. In 1894 the school was taken under the wing of the Pendleton School Board and in 1896 William Pratt was appointed head teacher. At the same time the school was extended providing facilities such as cloakrooms. The plaque on the front of the school building, mounted on what was the newly built, girls' cloakroom, commemorates this event.
In 1838 Cobden became one of the seven founding members of the Anti-Corn-Law League in Manchester and he became an MP for Stockport in 1841. He was the only man ever to beat Peel in debate in parliament and in 1846 Peel acknowledged Cobden's role in the repeal of the Corn Laws.
Pendle Antiques Centre
Union Mill is the best preserved of Sabden's mills. It was set up in 1856 containing 208 looms powered by a single beam engine. Weaving came to an end in 1964 and in 1987 the mill was restored as Pendle Antique Centre, now a popular attraction with a variety of dealers offering antique furniture and bric-a-brac.
Victoria Mill opened in 1847 but was badly hit by fires in 1892 and 1912. The mill closed in 1964. Cobden Mill marked set up as a weaving shed in 1852. In 1867 the building was taken over by The Cobden Memorial Mills Company. This too suffered a fire in 1887, and after again being successful, slowly demised and closed in 1970.
There are four churches in Sabden. St. Nicholas's parish church was built in 1841 in connection with the Church of England and a district was assigned to it in 1849. It is built in the Norman style and consists of nave and chancel, with tower and spire. The Baptist Church was built in 1910 replacing the one on the hillside behind Step Row, which was demolished. The Roman Catholic church was built in the 1930s with stone from a demolished mill at Rochdale, at a total cost of £800. The Methodist church is on the site of a now demolished much older chapel that could seat 500 people, which was built in 1879, but eventually demolished in 1965 due to a second outbreak of dry rot rendering the building unsafe.
Entrance to St Mary's Catholic Church
St Nicholas Church
Sabden Baptist Church
Sabden Methodist Church
Pendle Cross stood on the top of the hill above Wellsprings Inn, on the roads out of Sabden over the Nick o'Pendle. On the 'Nick' next to the Wellsprings is Pendle Ski Club, where there is a public ski slope.
Pendle Ski Club
Also on the 'Nick' can also be found a grave of Jeppe, an outlaw from the 12th century. The grave can be found a short distance south west of the summit trig point on Wiswell Moor. Jeppe was killed, and as none of the local parishes would pay for his burial, his body was to be taken to where the parishes of Pendleton, Sabden and Wiswell met and interred there. The people from the villages, in their excitement and rushing to bury him, mistook a prehistoric burial mound for the summit cairn, and Jeppe was in fact laid to rest within an ancient long barrow rather than at the parish boundaries.
One other local tale is that of treacle mining, where it is said at a secret location on Pendle, carefully concealed by black pudding trees, are the entrances to the deep raw treacle mines. This ore is melted down and processed to produce the unique Sabden treacle, most of which is then woven into parkin. The tales of treacle mines were given a badge of identity called "blason populaire" by the Political Intelligence Executive in 1899, which was charged, by the Government at that time, with the task of creating an underground resistance movement in case of invasion from an enemy. The P.I.E. agents, known as the Treacle Miners, used the legend of the ancient treacle miners to establish a net work of defences that would act offensively, following an invasion of our country. As the enemy occupied an area, the Treacle Miners would emerge from their mines and carry out as much sabotage as they could to hamper the enemy's movements. These Treacle Miners sprung up around the country. More than just folklore, a business was made out of it for a while. Bill Dewhurst in the 1980s became the Managing Director of Sabden Treacle Mines Ltd. He created a tourist centre, attracting visitors from the UK and overseas to visit the 'mine' and see the parkin cake weavers, the black pudding benders as well as great treacle eating boggarts. It was these boggarts that first worked the mines, eating drips of treacle and keeping the floors tidy. Bill based his 'Treacle Mine' enterprise on an old legend that went back to medieval times when Pendle Hill was famous for its witches. Bill Dewhurst found that places where treacle mine traditions exist were also sites of holy wells. A children's T.V. series appeared on I.T.V. in 1996 which was based on the Sabden Treacle Mine, with voice-overs provided by Willy Rushton.
Besides the Wellsprings Inn (now a restaurant) there are two further pubs in Sabden, the Pendle Witch and The White Hart Inn.
The Pendle Witch
The White Hart Inn
First World War Memorial
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