Rawtenstall Things to Do
Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar
Temperance bars were popular in Lancashire before the war as an alternative to pubs, being encouraged by mill owners who didn't want a drunken workforce. Apparently this is the last remaining one in Britain.
A local who remebered this place from "the olden days" said (on a website) "In my day they also served ... black peas ladled from a pot that you ate with vinegar in Winter'". Mmm, this is Carlins, our absolute favourite "northern food" - it would have been lovely to have some there, but they don't do it now.
East Lancs Railway
The East Lancs Railway runs from Bury To Rawtenstall (with an extension to Heywood opening soon). It's the usual "enthusiasts railway" running a mix of old deisel engines and some steam engines. It runs a pretty full timetable though, and actually does serve as a proper transport facility for the Irwell valley rather than just as a tourist attraction. Some of the rolling stock that we saw was badly in need of repair, but I guess this will come with time, the railway has only been running since 1991.
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Station Buffet: Jam Sarnies & Tea
The Rawtenstall terminus of The East Lancs Railway is a station preserved as in "The Golden Age Of Steam". Even the ticket office, waiting room and buffet (cafe) are pretty authentic (=basic, but homely).
The buffet is great - they serve home made foods (remember this is a volunteer organisation) and this food consisted of tiny Jam or Cheese sandwiches, made with Blackpool Milk Roll bread. This is really our favourite, reminding us of childhood teas, and they were only 20p each. Wonderful.
Seating is limited so we took them into the waiting room to eat them, where there were a load of kids waiting for Thomas The Tank Engine to arrive. We felt about as old as old as them as we ate our little sandwiches.
Favorite Dish: Jam Sandwich on Blackpool Milk Roll and a cup of tea.
Thomas The Tank Engine
Every preserved railway line in the country runs "Thomas The Tank Engine" Days. When we were in Rawtenstall it was the turn of The East Lancs Railway to have theirs. You could travel their line between Bury & Rawtenstall on Thomas, which looked a good deal more appealing than the manky DMU (named "Daisy") that left 1/2 an hour ealier, with half of her carriages in a condemned state :-S
Fitzpatrick's: Home Made Herbal Drinks
See the "Must See" entry for more details about Fitzpatrick's Temperance Bar.
The place is now actually a health food/herbalist store selling all sorts of stuff, but the main draw for us is the drinks.
What to buy: "Sarsparilla", "Dandelion & Burdock" or "Black Beer" (not really a beer).
These come as very concentrated essences - you add your own boiling water and a ton of sugar to make up a cordial that you then bottle and further dilute to drink.
What to pay: Not cheap at first glance - £3.50 for a small jar. But like I said, you dilute this a lot and you end up with maybe a gallon of drink (that's 4.54L to our foreign friends) (or 7 pints to the yanks)
View From A Hill
Favorite thing: The view across the valley from the top of one of the terraces. It would have been better on a sunny day (must be quite lovely then). Some of the old mill chimneys can be seen in the picture.
Favorite thing: The church and churchyard at Rawtenstall are quite nice. In fact Rawtenstall had a few nice old buildings (not VERY old, but from the industrial past), and also a big park containing a museum.
On a sunny day we'd have spent more time, but it was a cold, wet, misty sort of day, and we only really came to see Fitzpatricks.
Fondest memory: Favourite memory? Well, when I was at University I had a friend Dave Wittaker who came from Rawtenstall. I didn't even know where the place was then.
He had a broad Lancashire accent and regaled me with tales of Rossendale United (the football club) and "The Bacup Air Disaster" (fictitious). We went to Punk Rock concerts and got mortally drunk on many an occasion, especially every Wednesday afternoon.
I didn't see him now for over 20 yaers, but I guess he's still my favourite memory of Rawtenstall.
Steep Terraced Streets
Favorite thing: Rawtenstall lies in a valley and many of its streets run down the hills into the valley bottom. In common with most "working class" housing of the era, the streets are terraces, and very fine they are too. The brickwork with its contrasting pointing makes a very attractive sight.
I love these terraces that run down hills, be they here or on North East coal villages.
Fondest memory: The streets of terraced houses.