Cautiously we crossed the road, busy! With a rest halfway. We arrive outside ‘Boots’, turn right past the Credit Union and the flower shop. Keep to the left (Like our politics?!) We pass two abandoned banks and with our opticians to the right, the zebra crossing will deliver us to our target; Bank St.

“Let me take you there, ‘coz I’m going to…” 

We ascend; ahead glorious restored houses, a fine row. But there’s more, round the corner, and their well-chosen view is an extensive, high, depressing brick wall. Courtesy’ of B__ Developments.  Where’s Banksy when you need him! 

So just what are B__ planning to develop? Could it be its glorious, sad, splendid , neglected ‘Cathedral to Commerce’, the ‘old’ reformed, market place we are forbidden to enter; ‘Keep out ; Trespassers will be prosecuted! Again, who are the trespassers? Who are the developers? We retreat down Bank St and face the front of our building: windows are boarded up or missing, more warnings, more neglect: Just one, high round, coloured glass reminder, high up, unbroken … yet. Dispiriting. 

Oh well, we don’t give up, there’s Lord St to explore, the one side of the market we can examine. Opposite several fashion able dwellings attached to the shops on the main road, alongside the actual market wall, there’s a silent plastic protest: Wheelie bins, various colours, in a row, they partially hide the neglected doors where the traders entered, took deliveries, post , guests , buyers, sellers all long gone. 

Those doors: two were newest padlocks; were they broken into? There are boarded up completely, no comings or goings there. One still has an accessible letterbox; the cover’s broken though, just protrudes at ho5 at the end of Lord St.  We’d like to follow the wall around the back. We can’t? And the end of this particular investigation is most peculiar. The interface (not! A junction!) Between the puzzling chaos at Lord St’s end and the well laid well planned road that faces us past the charred up to ‘new’, expensive town dwelling’s above is curious, ill-planned, ramshackle. Four clear points of confusion confronts us :-

Now then, Lord St, is a cul-de-sac but three care-worn steps, next to the market all, will take us down into Bankhouse lane. Careful, there’s no handle; bit dodgy even on a dry, sunny, spring day. Road’s end is announced by three stone pillars, grooved to retain concrete slabs… Except that to the left of the central pillar the slabs (2) have gone AWOL; towards a patio perchance? Well, “ There’s more,” : Apology to Jimmy Cricket There’s a low retaining wall, right side of B.H lane. On it, along it , a series of rusty, irregularly ugly, dangerous spikes where railings were cut away… In WW1!” It referenced Frederick Engels,

“The Origin of the family, private property and the state,” Surely not? 

Our next task: torn right and continues round the back of the market. Here perhaps our greatest surprise and a challenge. For the agile, there’s a mass of high scaffolding to climb which could take us up and over. Hard hats and ‘permission’ certainty to be expected. 

We cannot but, admire new, fresh, confident, town houses at Pane’s end. Railings! With a gate, big windows with fine views and dogs to keep guard. But, hard to believe I know, but there dwellings appear to be conjoined! To the corner shop/ office of the market, so no way round? Odd, very odd.

The Roof

Ancient roofs have been under threat now for many a long year. Stripped bare and valuable, implacable (slabs mainly) resourced, sold on. Interiors damaged before the roof can be repaired/ replaced ; usually with less valuable, synthetic materials. Who buys there old slates from the thieves? They must know just what goes on and the damage it has caused; not to mention the huge lost ( to whom?) of repair or replacement. The market hall roof is in tatters, a report on the roof alone would suggest £100,000 to correct the damage. Therefore, total replacement might well be the only solution… meanwhile… 

The Interior

Oh what treasures lie within! Bacup’s ‘hidden gem’, hidden and forbidden! What a haunting setting; great performances beckon. Imagine: pillars, bricks, arches, windows/frames, the light, the shadows. These, and so much more are accessible- on line in Bacup library – admire. Is it too late already? Allan, a regular at Sue’s café on the (new?) market says flats are ready to replace this theatre of the mind; a virtual adventure, after years of neglect it seems B_ ‘developments’ really do have plans in ‘quel dommage’ (what a pity) .. Of course, hundreds of Bacup’s folk have wonderful memories of this busy, lively engaging market at its best. Go west to Rawtenstall or east to Todmordon to feel those market vibes still so inviting today. Study those ‘interior images again: do you really want to lose them? Find your handkerchief and big a sad farewell. 

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