Gambleside - A Vanished Village


The following article appeared in the Rossendale Free Press, and was written by Phillip Adkinson, Clowbridge.

"It was on Christmas Day 1839 that the officials of the Baptist Church in Clowbridge met and arranged to rent an old house in Gambleside, overlooking the fields where the Clowbridge reservoir is now, as a meeting place for preaching and worship.

No official meeting place or church had existed prior to that date and the meetings had been held in the homes of the people.

On the first day of January 1840, when it was bitterly cold with the snow falling, the first meeting in the new building was held. There was no heating in the room and the only seating was on wooden planks covered by sacks provided by the farmer from whom the house was rented.

The first congregation consisted of a few farmers, miners and mill operatives. A Sunday school for the children was started at the same place on the same day.

It speaks well for the fervour and devotion of these early Baptists that the church grew and prospered in spite of these hardships and in 1843 an old brewhouse was taken over and converted into a chapel.

During these years many baptisms were carried out in a baptismal pit by the chapel.

Baptisms were carried out in hot weather when hundreds of people could be seen dotting the hillside leading up from the water.

Others were held in winter when the water was icy and those who had been baptised were doubtless glad to change back into their clothes at one of the neighbouring farms.

The death knell of Gambleside as a community was sounded in 1866 with the completion of the Clowbridge reservoir and the consequent restrictions on farming.

It is significant that in November of the same year a schoolroom and dwelling house were opened at Clowbridge "nearer the population" by the Baptists. This building in time took over the functions of Gambleside Chapel.

Today, however, there is no longer a chapel at Clowbridge, and apart from a Sunday school which is still held, the building is used as a primary school.

And there is little to show where Gambleside once stood except a few heaps of stones and half dead sycamore trees lining Limey Lane which ran through the hamlet. Yet the fervour displayed there should inspire us all."