A Monument to a Movement

Organisers from Clarion House in Pendle, Lancashire, have released more details of the building’s centenary celebrations on 11th & 12th August.

The Nelson ILP Clarion House is the sole survivor of the early socialist Clarion movement that existed to propagate views for a fairer, more humane society, and it will be marking its centenary by celebrating its survival as a monument to a once thriving part of the Labour movement.

Clarion House Centenary Poster

Over time, hundreds of Clarion Houses around the country have closed or become private buildings. In 2011 the last remnants of the Clarion at Chevin End above Menston was legally wound up.

But a dedicated group have kept the Nelson Clarion on Jinny Lane, Newchurch-in-Pendle open and serving refreshments every Sunday to passing ramblers and cyclists who meet with local socialists and relax in a setting that still openly supports socialist views.

There are many costs involved in keeping this unique ‘monument to a movement’ in good repair, but it is too important a part of our Labour history to lose.

The centenary activities will start on Saturday 11th August with a walk at 10.30am from the former Nelson Socialist Institute in Vernon Street (National Grid Reference SD861 373, approximate postcode BB9 9DE) to Clarion House. The walk, led by Sue Nike, the chair of the Land Society, will follow the path most ‘Nelsoners’ would have taken, via Carr Road, Carr Hall Road and Noggarth Top. The exact route will depend on the weather and prevailing ground conditions.

If you can’t make the start of the walk or you want a shorter walk, you can meet up with Sue along the way – at the car park adjacent to Victoria Park, or the cafe at ‘Noggarth Top’ (the view and bacon butties will make your wait worthwhile). Come properly equipped for the walk.

Former MP Ann Cryer will be present in the afternoon and will probably have a few words to say. Ann is the daughter of an ILP activist and the granddaughter of a leading suffragette. She was the Member of Parliament for Keighley from 1997 until 2010.

Organisers intend to stage a shorter walk too to visit the cottage at Thorneyholme Square which was the first Nelson Clarion House, known to be in use from 1899. They’ll also visit Nabs House, (the second Nelson Clarion House) in use from 1893 until the present Clarion House was opened.

On Sunday 12th August veteran cyclists, riding bikes from 1912, or thereabouts, will set off from Oakhill College in Whalley at 10.00am aiming to arrive at ILP Clarion House about noon. Hopefully, they’ll be joined there by members of Clarion Cycling Club groups, as well as other cyclists.

Others can arrive at Clarion House under their own steam, or by the local bus – try a web search for ‘Pendle Witch Hopper’.

If coming by car, note that parking facilities are limited and will be quickly occupied during open weekend, although there are car parking facilities for £1 (including toilets and cafe) close by at Barley (NGR SD825 404, approximate postcode BB12 9JX). There’ll be an escorted stroll from the car park at Barley to Clarion House at 10.30am on Sunday 12th.

Passengers with mobility issues should be set them down close to Clarion House, before cars are parked at Barley. There are a number of approximately one-mile routes which avoid roads.

There are also a few spaces by the river near the ‘Happy Valley’ crossroads (NGR SD836 399). It is half a mile to Clarion House from there.

There are also a couple of places on Jinney Lane, west of Clarion house towards Newchurch-in-Pendle, and east in the Roughlee direction. Please avoid blocking drives, farm gates and causing a problem to our neighbours and other road users.

A CD with further information about the early days of Nelson ILP and the Clarion House can be purchased from Clarion House and a limited number of Clarion House Centenary Badges will be on sale.


More information from the Clarion website: www.clarionhouse.org.uk

Click here to download a centenary poster.

Clarion House will feature on BBC’s Countryfile on Sunday 15 April 2012.