Shed sign mystery deepens

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FOLLOWING last week’s investigation into an old mystery sign on a shed at Barley, people have come up with an amazing range of different ideas of what it was about!

We reported last week how Mr Arthur Bickerstaffe photographed the signs on the building in Barley New Road, between Barley and Roughlee, and was intrigued to find out what they mean.

Colne historian Jill Pengelly said she believes the symbols are marks of a master mason. Stone masons used to indent the stones they had prepared with special marks, to show the orientation and position of the stone within a building and a personal mark to identify the person who prepared it.

She said the marks are commonly seen in buildings and above doorways but said she has never before come across them on a shed!

“A stone mason could have lived there and it’s possible that the symbol is his own personal mark,” she said.

However, Mrs Hilary Greenwood said her father - Mr Ted Willians from Barley who worked on waterworks - marked the level of heavy snow which hit Barley in 1947 by putting the signs on the side of the shed. It suggests the S stands for snow, of course. Mr Williams used to write material for the Nelson Leader then.

Mr Keith Jackson emailed his thoughts on it. He said: “The signs could also have been intended to advise that doors opened horizontally and not vertically - side-hinged, for example.” And he suggested that if they are 50 years old the signs were leaders in Health and Safety signage!

Jean Christian said: “I am almost certain that these marks are to show the location of stand pipes which were used when there were water shortages or cut-offs in the 1950s when I was a child and probably date from the Second World War.

“In Nelson, the location of stand pipes was shown by the letters EWS being written on a wall and the same sign as shown on the shed was etched into the pavement below the EWS.”

Mr Robert Peel also came up with a different idea. He said: “These letters represent the position of underground service valves on the water main.”

But another idea was made by a man who asked not to be named but says he was involved with the signs. He says they were put up by a group called “Kropnicks”, which was made up of students from Burnley Art School in around 1958/9. It was a K on its side with an S on top.

He said the group was determined to make sure the students could have their say on issues, including haircuts. They were keen to have long hair, and that was in a pre-Beatles period! And he added: “Signs were put up throughout the area, not just there.”