Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Before YouTube There Really Were Tubes

I sneaked in a 35 mile ride over the weekend to top up miles for the short month of February. I had an errand to do so started off via Rishton and Clayton-le-Moors before dropping down the Calder valley to Altham and Simonstone and cutting back to the Ribble Valley via Read. It was interesting to go through Simonstone as this was where my father worked at the Mullard's factory. It was a large manufacturing plant, part of the Philips Electronics group, and a major employer in the area. The factory at Simonstone made television tubes. On one side of Simonstone Lane was the glass factory where screens were made. Dad was responsible for the production department in the late 60's and early 70's.

The glass factory buildings have all been demolished and most of the site stands empty. There is a new building on the front part of the site bounded by the old perimeter walls and gate house.

The other side of the road was the tube factory. The tubes and screens came together and received an electron gun before being shipped off to become televisions. Most of the buildings on that side still exist as part of a business park.

Just behind the Mullard's site, the line of the old railway can be seen. It closed in 1957 and the bridge dismantled.

This is a line that used to run from Padiham to Great Harwood. There was a station and goods yard for coal and wood. It is earmarked for an future cycleway as part of the Sustrans Connect2 programme. The initial development phase is in progress at the moment but stops in Padiham but hopefully, in future, the route will link up with Great Harwood.

From Read, I ended up following the route I did two weeks ago, through Wiswell and Pendleton coming out on Pendle Road.

I'd checked a map and seen the bridleway past Pendleton Hall and Mearley Hall looked like it was all tarmac so I crossed the lane going up to the Nick O' Pendle and enjoyed the peaceful tranquility of this excellent tarmac bridleway, but as I found, only as far as Little Mearley Hall. Here cyclocross skills were needed as the bridleway became muddy grass and stones.

I unclipped to pedal this bit as the greasy mud made lubricant for the stone metalling of the path and the skinny road tyres were very jittery. Thankfully that section was fairly short and I soon encountered tarmac again before skirting round Worsaw Hill and continuing to Downham.

From Downham, I crossed the Ribble Valley to follow the villages route back to Whalley. Refreshing rain cooled me off before the climb back out of the valley toward Blackburn. It felt like a climb as well. I haven't regained the stamina I had last summer when we were covering a lot more miles at the weekend and on tour. That's part of the downside to a short commute. It's little use as a training ride other than short sprints and general fitness. For stamina, there's no substitute for hours in the saddle. Spring is coming...

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