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THE SECTION ANNUAL RALLY - THE RIBBLE VALLEY, LANCASHIRE
7-12 September 2003

This year's Rally of the Central Southern Section was centred in the Lancashire countryside in a hotel normally visited by members of the Civil Service Motoring Association, namely Eaves Hall, three miles from Clitheroe. We all arrived in the afternoon of the Sunday after having driven up from the South or continuing after a stopover the previous night. All arrived safely, the hotel being filled with all our party for the five nights. Dinner was served after a drinks party to welcome everyone. The food at the hotel was excellent, always well cooked and appetisingly served.

The morning of the first day was taken up with a visit to Skipton Castle over the border into good old Yorkshire! - some twenty miles drive. We were allowed to drive into the grounds and past the home of the Fattorini family who own and maintain the historic medieval building. The guides, three for our party, proved to be most interesting, with tales of a long siege during the Civil War, battles at the time of Cromwell and many more bits of history long gone.

As the schedule was fairly tight we had to leave about midday and drive a further eighteen miles on the A65 to Settle for lunch at Watershed Mill and visitor centre. After eating, there was time to have a little retail therapy where the prices seemed to me to be reasonable, before turning north to the head of the Ribble Valley and a view of the famous railway viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line (old LMS). Our next stop was at the Whit Scar Caves, near Ingleton. Although not everybody went into the caves the trip, wearing hard hats and accompanied by guides and taking some eighty minutes altogether, was most spectacular and worth the effort.

Tuesday morning and afternoon were devoted to learning about the cotton industry. The round trip of sixty miles or so took in the Helmshore Mill Museum where we were shown how the cotton was made into yarn, then on to Queen Street Mill Museum, Burnley, in the afternoon, where the cotton was woven into cloth. Both showed the looms working, recreating the horrifying conditions people had to work in for long hours and with very little reward, for generations of Lancashire mill folk. For the 'steam buffs' the engine driving the looms at the Queen Street Mill was an added bonus.

After a free morning we had an early lunch on the Wednesday in order to go by coach to Blackpool. The journey took some fifty minutes and the driver stopped outside the Tower where a cup of tea was waiting for us in the Tower Ballroom. The big Wurlitzer organ was being played for the afternoon dancers where anyone could and did join in to do the quickstep or waltz or foxtrot. I think it brought back happy memories for most of us. The trip up in the lift to the top was something that most members undertook with some trepidation but was well rewarded by the panoramic views of the sea and beyond to the Lake District and Isle of Man.

After a meal in the Carvery we watched the Tower Circus - a good show (rather too noisy for me) with some spectacular acts by trapeze artists, jugglers etc, and no performing animals I am pleased to say! Finally we were taken in the coach to see 'the lights'. As you would expect a spectacular and not-to-be-forgotten bonanza of illuminations from one end of the front to the other, some seven miles, I was told.

The final day was a twelve mile drive in convoy to the town of Padiham for a lunch and tour of Gawthorpe Hall. After parking some of the cars in front of the Hall lunch was served in the restaurant followed by a glimpse of life of the Shuttleworth family, who owned the property from the early 1600s to 1970 when it was handed over to the National Trust. The opulent interiors are complemented by Jacobean and Victorian furnishings and a wonderful collection of paintings on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

At our final Gala Dinner we had invited the Chairman and his wife, Jack and Mary Anderson and the Secretary, Barbara Charlton and her husband, Cyril, of the Northern Section of the R-REC to join us. At the end of the meal I asked the staff of Eaves Hall to assemble for us to thank them for looking after us so well during the previous few days, and presented a small token of our appreciation to the manager. David Steel and I both said how much we had enjoyed organising the event and looked forward to seeing as many as possible at future rallies. Ted Meachem then very kindly produced two framed, coloured prints he had bought on behalf of the participants to thank us for the work we had done to make it all possible.

The weather had been kind to us all week, and so it was for our return journeys back to the South.

Tony Leach - Section Chairman


Skipton Castle  
The Settle Viaduct way out in the Yorkshire moors.
Rally participants
Skipton Castle. Photocall of CSS rally participants on the Eaves Hall steps, prior to the coach trip to Blackpool.
Eaves Hall   Gawthorpe Hall
Eaves Hall - our private country club for the week.   Gawthorpe Hall - to look at the Shuttleworth embroidery.
Queen Street Mill   Overnight break
Two Anns working at Queen Street Mill.   Overnight break on the way up to Lancashire.     Photos: David Steel