A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Rowtonstall, Cunstabellegh, 1323.
Hokenhevedd, c. 1300; Okenheved, 1305.
Lower Booths is another district taken from Rossendale Forest, lying mainly in the lower land near the Irwell and along the stream which flows south through Higher Booths; but it has three detached portions to the north-west on the border of Accrington and other three to the east in the middle of Newchurch. The three principal divisions of Lower Booths are Rawtenstall, Constable Lee or Constablee, and Oakenhead Wood, with areas of 110, 403½ and 643 acres respectively. The modern town of Rawtenstall is built on both sides of the stream abovementioned and extends to the Irwell; it occupies portions of each of the above three divisions of this township and part of Newchurch also. The total area of the township is 1,600 acres, and in 1901 there was a population of 7,931, chiefly in Rawtenstall.
The roads naturally follow the streams. One road leads eastwards from Haslingden through the south end of Rawtenstall along the Irwell to Bacup. This is crossed by one coming south from Bury and passing through Rawtenstall, Constable Lee, Launds and Reeds Holme to Goodshaw and Burnley. From the centre of Rawtenstall other roads go east to Newchurch and west to Haslingden. The Bury and Bacup branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway passes through the township along the Irwell Valley, and has a station called Rawtenstall. The line was opened as far as this place in 1846.
The township ceased to exist in 1894, being then absorbed in the new townships of Rawtenstall and Haslingden.
A fair is held by custom on 21 June at Rawtenstall, in which town are the principal buildings, including a Liberal club, co-operative stores and theatre. A Mechanics' Institute was opened in 1846.
The people are chiefly employed in the cotton and woollen factories. The agricultural land of the neighbourhood is mostly in pasture, the returns giving under Rawtenstall (Haslingden portion)— permanent grass 4,275 acres, woods and plantations 18, arable ½ (fn. 1)
The Territorials are represented by the East Lancashire Brigade Transport and Supply Column of the Army Service Corps.
There are two weekly newspapers issued from the same office, the Rossendale Free Press and the Echo.
The accounts of the king's ministers for 1323–4 show the stocks at the booths or vaccaries of Rawtenstall and Constable Lee, (fn. 2) while a summer lodge at Oakenhead existed in 1305. (fn. 3) William Leyland in 1464 paid £10 a year for the vaccary of Rawtenstall and £10 for Constable Lee and the close called Oakenhead Wood. (fn. 4) The survey of 1507 records that the vaccary of Rawtenstall had been demised by copy of Court Roll to Thomas and John Pickup, Peter Crossley and Robert Heap for £3 16s. 8d., as against 53s. 4d. the old rent; while Constable Lee and Oakenhead Wood, formerly let together at £10 13s. 4d., had been divided, the former having been demised to Lawrence Holt, Reynold Ingham, Ottiwell and Charles Haworth for £5, and Oakenhead having been divided into two parts, each demised at £4 6s. 8d., to Ottiwell and Charles Haworth and to Richard Hey, Edmund and Oliver Ramsbottom. (fn. 5) There are references to various tenements in the pleadings of the latter half of the 16th century. (fn. 6)
The family of Townley of Oakenhead, an offshoot of that of Barnside, recorded a pedigree in 1664. (fn. 7)
A local board was formed at RAWTENSTALL in 1874, (fn. 8) and in 1883 its district was extended to include parts of Lower Booths, Higher Booths, Newchurch and Haslingden; also the township of Cowpe and Lenches with part of Tottington. (fn. 9) The district was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1891, and in 1894 was formed into a township, the old townships being obliterated. (fn. 10) This completed the process by which the chapelries of Haslingden and Newchurch were divided into three new borough-townships —Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Bacup. The council consists of a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors, who are chosen by six wards named North, Central North, Central South, West, East, and South-east. Gas is supplied by a private company and water by the Bury Corporation; the sewerage of the district is controlled by the Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Bacup Outfall Sewerage Board. The cemetery, formed in 1877–83, is managed by a burial board. A free library given by Mr. Carnegie was opened in 1907.
The places of worship at Rawtenstall are with one exception of comparatively recent origin. For the Church of England St. Mary's in Oakenhead was built in 1837; the patronage is vested in five trustees. (fn. 11) At Constable Lee a chapel of ease was consecrated in 1903.
Methodism is represented by the churches of the Wesleyan Methodists at Rawtenstall (1843) (fn. 12) and Rising Bridge, the Primitive Methodists (Jubilee) and the United Free Methodists at Rawtenstall (1851) and Oakenhead (1857).
The Baptists have a church, formed in 1872.
The Independents built a meeting-house in 1760, but about thirty years later the congregation became Unitarian. (fn. 13) It was afterwards used as a joiners' shop, the Unitarians building in 1853 a new chapel, which thus represents the first one built there. (fn. 14)
The Roman Catholic Mission was begun in 1828 in a small building lent for a chapel; the church of St. James the Less, Oakenhead, was opened in 1845.