- D.I.Y. hurdles
The NameGAWMLESS (or Gormless) END can be seen perched on the hillside high above the Rochdale Road in Shawforth (part of Whitworth), almost at the parish boundary with Britannia (part of Bacup). The odd name is supposed to derive from the nineteenth century, when an owner had the gable end rebuilt after damage to the roof at the windswept site. They say the tenant commented "That's a gawmless end to put on a house!" and the name stuck.
For many generations it was a tenanted property and had fallen into some disrepair. One of the first refurbishments required was to have the renowned castle-shaped gable end repointed. This involved a partial rebuild of the "turrets", the old lime mortar having largely been lost entirely from the joints over the years.
A newspaper article from the nineteen-sixties has the then owner of the
building (newly-designated by the Department of the Environment as a Grade
II "Listed Building") bemoaning the fact that he was now expected to
maintain a species of national treasure at his own expense, no grant
monies being available to help him out. Many years later, and work is
The BuildingGawmless End is a typical "laithe" house, originally with living accommodation at the top of the sloping site with attached barn on the "down" side. The land slopes so steeply that there is a "shippon", or cowshed for tying cattle, underneath the barn. The main house-part of the property originally had south-east facing mullioned windows banked across both stories: typical "weavers'" windows, designed to admit maximum light to those working on hand looms within. The middle part of the upstairs one is now blocked in.
The porch is a recent addition. The part of the house at the northern end of the site was put up in the fifties, partly on old (sixteenth century) foundations, and brought out forward of the building line in an attempt to hold up the badly bulging main front of the house, which has since been completely taken down and rebuilt straight.
The distinctive "arched" window to the left of the porch is quite recent. The opening is actually a barn entrance, in use when carts could bring hay straight into the barn from the haymeadow to the front of the property, now in other ownership. The farms' access track now cuts across the front of the site and it is thought this entrance would have necessarily fallen out of use when the estate was split up, because it would have been necessary to cut into the slope to even out the gradient for access to the higher property.
During the nineteenth century, around the time the castellated gable wall was built, this part of the barn was converted into a worker's cottage and windows created upstairs. The downstairs floor level here is much lower than in the main part of the house, and there are indications that a "landing" or loft floor was already in place upstairs, perhaps used for storing wool bales. The existing landing at the top of the stone stairs is at an odd level as though some sort of taking-in door or existing access was already present at this point.
recent chimney restoration works, the opportunity was taken to photograph
the gable wall from the BACK! Click on the picture below to enlarge
it - you've never seen Gawmless End from THIS angle before!