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Published on Nov 19, 2011
Dalehead Chapel, near Stocks Reservoir in the Gisburn Forest Dalehead Chapel is set in an isolated spot near Stocks Reservoir in the Forest of Bowland near Slaidburn and alongside Gisburn Forest in Lancashire in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The valley of Dalehead and the village of Stocks-in-Bowland are no longer to be found on maps of the Forest of Bowland. Sadly the village, Chapel and farms were demolished and the people rehoused, as much of the area was flooded by the construction of a dam in the 1920s and early 1930s to create Stocks Reservoir. The reservoir was built to provide drinking water for the people of Blackpool. The tiny Dalehead Church was essentially built as a mortuary Chapel in 1936. The Fylde Water Board ensured that the original St. James Church together with the graves and the 180 or so bodies within them, were all moved to the new Chapel. The last service took place in the old church on the 24th May 1936. The new Chapel was rebuilt, in a similar but much smaller size, using material from the original Parish Church (I'm not sure if that applies to the attractive stained glass windows though). Surprisingly to many people, the original church site was never actually flooded by the reservoir waters (it remains today as the car park at the bottom of "School Lane" near the various bird watching hides). Dalehead has to be one of Lancashire's most isolated chapels and seems to rely largely on the many visitors, walkers and cyclists who pass by the splendid little building. The building is exposed to every natural element going, so the Diocese have employed their own wind turbine to try to keep the place warm and well provided for. The turbine stands proudly on the land at the rear of the church. Despite the repetitive swish of the turbine blades on windy days, the church still seems like a good place to recharge your spiritual batteries, especially if you believe in the whole Christianity thing. Dalehead Chapel normally seems to be left open for the regular stream of visitors, and fortunately the church appears to have escaped the dreadful attentions of those mindless thieves who seem to think unattended churches are a source of income. As well as some church history, the chapel also includes details of the construction of Stocks Reservoir, so it's well worth a trip irrespective of your religious beliefs. The Chapel contains a sort of mini-heritage centre of local history. And, it is still actually used for occasional church services. However, after several decades, the Chapel began to suffer from weather-related damage; so the parish of Tosside, which is responsible for the church, raised £115,000 for major renovation and refurbishment and for the installation of a wind turbine. The turbine generates electrical power which is stored in a series of huge batteries - these being used as a power source for the lighting and some of the heating. The inside walls are covered with lime plaster - this ancient material provides a light-coloured surface which allows water to permeate in and out, mitigating the effects of damp penetration. The graveyard does include a number of graves, but it is also classed as a biological heritage site, including over 130 different species of upland meadow plants - especially common spotted orchids and various wild flowers. The old black and white photograph at the start of the video is from the late May Jackson collection, used by kind permission of Mrs. J. Cowking.
With many thanks Simon Flory Badger Specialist www.badgerland.co.uk