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THE HISTORIC HORNS DAM
Over the centuries The Horns Dam was also known as Higher Dam, Horns Reservoir and Mill Pond because it fed Goosnargh’s (water-powered) Corn Mill by a weir which passed under the road to Mill Lane. Records indicate an earlier mill (now demolished) whose location was closer to the Dam. Lancashire County Council Monument Report lists Goosnargh Corn Mill as a (pre) ‘Medieval Monument’ first mentioned in 1273 when Alan Caterell leased the Mill to Sir Adam de Hocton (Knight) for twenty seven years at the cost of £20. The grade 1 listed building known as Hoghton Towers, Hoghton, Preston was the ancesteral home of Sir Adam de Hocton (Hoghton).
Unfortunately, there are so few records before William the Conqueror commissioned the registration of land and property, it is difficult to find anything prior to 1273, but, further transactions are listed on the report up to 1789. All the Horns Dam deeds since then are in the possession of the Fletcher family. So, until further evidence appears, the Medieval Monument report confirms that the Horns Dam is at least seven hundred and forty six years old. However, corroborating evidence suggests it could even be thousands of years old.
In the late 1890’s the Sluice Gate Valve (which was manufactured at Glenfield Iron Co Kilmarnock Scotland) was installed at Horns Dam and because this innovative design has much more cast iron below the water level than can be seen above it, one can imagine its arrival would attract much attention in those days. Prior to the invention of hydro-electrical power, this type of gate was designed for the control of large volumes of water and in this particular case, a steady water supply to the corn mill. Sadly, the valve is no longer in operation, but even today, so many years later, this fine antique structure still attracts much interest.
In 1901 John Proctor was living at Goosnargh Corn Mill with his wife Nancy and unmarried
brother Timothy (Charles Fletcher’s grandfather). The Proctor family continued at the Mill for almost three generations until it was sold in 1974. However, the Mill stopped being powered by water in 1926 when a flood demolished the road bridge. It was then powered by a gas or coal ‘turbine’ until the installation of electricity in 1937. In 1953 the Council of the Urban District of Fulwood sold Horns Dam to Mr Jonathan Longton who developed it as a fishery. Following Mr Longton’s early death, Mrs Kathleen Longton continued to keep the fishery for private use and occasional weekend matches until 1999 when she sold it to the Fletchers who became the first proprietors to open it up for the enjoyment of the general public.
In 2006, Peter Lillie and Daniel Johnson of Clayton-le-wood caught more than they bargained for when they unearthed an ancient animal jaw bone. On further examination, Dr S Stallibrass (English Heritage Science Advisor) thought the bone to be that of a wild (pre) medieval cow, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age before cattle started to become domesticated. As an Oxford Archaeology document explains, animal bones found at ancient human settlements are important indicators of past lifestyles.
In this particular case, the unworn condition of the teeth suggest this animal died prematurely
and could therefore have been the victim of a ritual sacrifice, typical of the culture at that time. Later in the Medieval period controlled breeding made considerable changes to the size and conformation of cattle, thus giving rise to modern breeds such as Charolais and Friesian.
Because in ancient times survival depended on residing near water, it is not difficult to
imagine various communities dwelling at Horns Dam over the centuries, not too dissimilar from today’s scene with many tourists enjoying the camping and fishing experience. Indeed, items recently recovered by metal-detecting enthusiasts suggest much human activity in the area stretching back thousands of years.