Survey of the Age & Structure of the Houses in Crow Lane

Surprisingly detailed information is available from maps, building plans, valuation surveys, the memories of local people and from the structure of the houses themselves



        a) Basic Construction 

        b) Houses built in the first half of the 19th Century  ( nos. 40-44, 27 and 11)

        c) All the other houses in Crow Lane (built from 1861 to 1874)

        d) Detailed survey of 9  typical houses  (click here)-  Descriptions and hand drawn plans show what these houses were like in the 1950s and 60s. At this time some of the houses had had very little renovation and so indicate what they must have been like originally. 

       e) Changes and renovations of the houses in Crow Lane (click here)


STREET PLAN OF CROW LANE showing buildings and their ages. (Click here)



Crow Lane is an interesting street to study because the houses, although probably all  19 th century, are of several different designs and ages. The buildings were made of local stone and were in general typical of a Lancashire mill town. Whilst the majority of the houses were built in the1860s and 70s there are a few houses which were built in the first half of the 19th century

These houses were made almost entirely of stone and this included not only their walls and gutters, but also most, or all, of the floors on the ground floor. Houses built before the 1860s also had stone roofs and these can be seen on nos.11 and 40-44 although no. 27 now has a slate roof. The rest of houses, which were built later, had roofs of blue slate but this was only possible after the railway was installed and the slate could be brought from North Wales up the valley by train. The type of stone work on the front wall of the houses was usually coursed stone which was of better quality and finishing than the side and back walls. Here lobbed stone or random stone or rubble was used.

Plumbing would have been very primitive and none of the houses would originally  have had inside toilets or piped water upstairs. Their outside toilets were at the end of the yard, a few yards from the house. The older houses would initially have had ash pit closets rather than water closets as these required sewers. We don’t yet know when Crow Lane first had sewers but the plans drawn up in 1924  for new WCs at the back of nos. 15 –21 refers to the new sewer. It is not certain where this was the original, an extension or a replacement sewer. Tippler toilets which were common in some parts of Lancashire from the second half of the 19th cent and were certainly found in Crow Lane required a sewer.

Few of the houses had a basement and this may well be because the lower end of Crow Lane is subject to flooding. The basement in no 27 has been filled in and a lower level room behind the shop at no. 45 has now also been concreted for this reason

Although some of the houses were very small, they were not the poorest type of houses in the district, as there was some back to back houses in Return Street only a few hundred yards away. Many of the houses had a front room, a living room and an out-kitchen down stairs and whilst many were occupied by mill workers, some of these were overlookers. No 11 is a large house that was once occupied by Joseph Heap a farmer and quarry owner. 

Some of the buildings changed their function over time as two of the houses had purpose built shops attached to them and some other houses opened shop in their front rooms for a while.

Most of the houses were built on land belonging to the Ashton family who built and ran Ramsbottom Mill. However most of the information about the date of build of these houses comes from the Grant Lawson Estate documents as the Grant  Lawsons bought much of the land previously owned by the  Ashtons in 1867




40 – 44 CROW LANE  are probably the oldest houses and were built around 1805, just after the Ramsbottom Mill. This terrace of 3 houses formed the end of a complex of large buildings, which belonged to the mill. These houses may have been lived in by the Ashtons at some time, however when the business failed the mill and all the houses there were sold at auction in 1867. It is believed that these cottages may for sometime have been the Officers Mess to the Drill Hall which was built in 1896, and that a first floor gallery ran through them. Certainly there is evidence that such a corridor may have existed in nos. 40 and 42. 

No. 27 CROW LANE   appears on a map published in 1842 (Click for map)  Whilst it looks like a fairly normal double fronted house, this was originally 2 one-up, one-down dwellings and has a fascinating history   (Click here for description)

11 CROW LANE   next to the site of  St Paul’s School, is thought to have been built between 1840 and 1845, It was presumably towards the end of that period since it does not appear on the map of 1842


c)  Houses which were built after 1860


The oldest terrace nos 33-45 were built in 1861 and were small two up- two down cottages. The rooms downstairs consisted of a front room in which was a large cast iorn cooking range and a back room with no fire, one side of which was partitioned off to form the pantry. It was under the stairs, inside the pantry that the coal was often kept. Unlike all the later houses in Crow Lane these little cottages had no out-kitchen.  They had no front gardens with the front doors opening straight onto the street. Neither did they have individual back yards, we know that the closets (toilets) were in a communal back yard. 

They were many houses of this type in the district and some with a communal back yard can still be found in St Paul's St which runs parallel to Crow lane.

For descriptions of three of these houses click n the house number

33 Crow Lane - memories of the house in 1965 - with no renovation except that a bath had been put in the kitchen..

37 Crow Lane - memories of the house in the 1940s, again with no renovation

43 & 45 Crow Lane  -  valuation plans from 1964 by which time a bathroom with a low level toilet had been installed



Only 2 years later than the houses described above, another terrace of 8 houses was built at the other end of street, on the same side as the church.. These were  in the style of the remaining houses in the street which were built in1873 and 1874 and so although they were no all built at the same time, they will be described together.

These houses were bigger than than nos. 33-45 in that they had a hall, a front room, a living room at the back in which would have been the cooking range and an out-kitchen which was probably for the laundry. They all had a small front garden and their own yard with outbuildings at the back.. They all had stone floors down stairs although those built in the 1870s had a wooden floor in the front room.

No 2 Crow Lane was a little different from the others. Because of the shape of the land it was wider in front than at the back. it had a wide hall in which a fireplace has recently been found and unlike all the houses it had three bedrooms. This was was unusual in many was and had a fascinating history. (click here for  the history of No. 2 and to see the valuation plans of 1955

These houses all had a back yard and the houses on the same side as the church all had a small front garden, with iron railings. These were taken away during the war for their metal content, although it is believed they were never used, they were just scrapped.

Then houses on the same side as St Paul's School were a little different in that they did not have a front garden. Other descriptions of these houses can be accessed from the Quick Reference Guide for Houses and other buildings

The other feature of the houses in Crow Lane is that there were shops amongst them. Nos 17 & 19 and nos. 43 & 45 were each built as a house and shop combined. However other houses used their front room as a shop at some time in their history and these were, 21 a green grocers, 25 a milliners and 20 a bakers.



Click here for the valuation surveys which include detailed descriptions of  nos. 2,6,8,22, 25,26,28,43/5      

Very detailed descriptions from the mid 20th century 

In the 1950s and 60s it was very difficult to get a mortgage on older properties and this applied to these houses in Crow Lane which were then 80 – 100 years old. People could however apply to the council who surveyed the houses and offered a mortgage. Nine of these houses had Valuation surveys which gave very detailed information and a hand drawn plan. At this time some of the houses had had very little renovation and so indicate what they must have been like originally. The amount of up-dating of the properties does not seem to be related either to it's age or the date of the survey.