Graham Tennant queries the Rattan Clough disaster

The article "A River of Black Mud" (issue 4) brought back childhood memories of the excitement we felt as regular users of the Burnley to Hebden Bridge buses, when we heard on the radio news of the landslip at Rattan Clough.

However the geographical inaccuracy of the heading - "How Cornholme narrowly escaped disaster" - prompted me to look at the local papers of the day.

There never was any danger to Cornholme. The landslide occurred about half a mile beyond Portsmouth at 1.30pm on Friday, October 17 1947 (not the 16th).

During the afternoon the Mayor of Todmorden, Coun F.W. Knighton, the chairman of the Highways Committee, Ald P. Sutcliffe, and the borough surveyor visited the scene and, according to the Todmorden News and Advertiser (24.10.47) "found that the calamity was over the borough boundary and the responsibility of Lancashire County Council."

There seems to be little evidence that the "destructive flow" fanned across Cornholme Methodist Sunday School football club pitch, as stated. The mud was deliberately dumped there 24 hours later. It was recorded that one of two streams of sliding mud stopped a few feet from the football pitch (Burnley Express and News 25.10.47).

The main source for our article was a feature published 20 years after the incident, which stated that the Methodist Sunday School Football Club pitch - and Cornholme - were directly affected. The date given was October 16. Ironically, 1947 was also remembered locally as a year of severe drought!

Grahams' findings are published in full in Issue 5 of Milltown memories. If this or other stories stirs a memory, we'd be happy to know - send us your memories and comments.