GEOFF CRAMBIE: The human time machine that was Mr Colne

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This year sees the 50th anniversary of bestowing the honorary Freedom of the Borough of Colne upon none other than “Mr Colne” himself, Ebenezer William Folley.

Here, in this week’s column picture, we can see a proud Ebbie Folley (with his signature) alongside his freedom scroll and casket (made from the ancient yew tree in Alkincoates Park) in May, 1962.

He was born almost 140 years ago on Friday, May 10th, 1872, down Exchange Street and by the age of just 13, had become a teaching assistant for the sum of one shilling (5 pence) a week! Then at the year of 1887, a 15-year-old Ebbie was earning £10 a year! His 52-year academic career from 1885 to 1937 saw Ebbie teaching at Skipton and Brierfield, followed by the Colne schools of Lord Street (assistant headmaster), then the head of Primet, West Street and finally at Park school from 1925 to 1937.

His love of his native town saw him become a renowned local historian, writing the history of Colne for the very first official guide to the borough during the Edwardian era. Ebbie was a member of Colne Cricket Club for over 80 years and was instrumental in the founding of Colne Golf Club in 1901, as he was in the inception of the Luther Greenwood Memorial Festival in 1948.

My first encounter with the redoubtable Mr Folley came almost 60 years ago as we both stood watching the tragic demolition of Colne Cloth Hall. In later years, I would visit him at his home, “Red Bank” in Favordale Road, where he would become a wonderful human time-machine as he recalled his years growing up in a mid-Victorian Colne.

He was a huge influence on my interest in Colne’s past and, without doubt, a catalyst in my becoming a historian.

E.W. Folley (Mr Colne) died in his 96th year in 1968; his name will be forever inscribed in the Colne Hall of Fame.