It is easy to forget the reach of the British Empire in the 19th century.
But I was reminded recently when I revisited the parish church yard.
Amongst the few remaining tomb stones is that of the Dean family, which is all the more remarkable given that the Dean’s were not rich or famous but by an accident theirs was one of the headstones saved when the church yard was landscaped at the beginning of the 1980s.
In their way they tell the story of the township. Old Henry Dean had farmed an acre of land in the 1840s on what is now St Clements Road just north of the Horse & Jockey for which he paid the Lloyd estate £10 a year.He and his wife had been born here in the 1820s.
For whatever reason later in the following decade they had moved down to Brownhills Buildings on what is now Sandy Lane and he described himself as an agricultural labourer, later they were living in what were then the new terraced houses on Stanley Grove, close again to the green. His sons played in the brass band and are recorded on the 1893 photograph when the band played at Barlow Hall.
But what caught my attention was the entry on the family headstone recording Henry’s second son,
James Dean late 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who died and was interred at Quetta Afghanistan August 23d 1886 aged 27 years.
Now Quetta had been captured by the British during the second Afghan war and leased to the British from 1883. Today it is in Pakistan. Now a lot more research needs to be done to reveal the full story of James Dean but I think a start has been made. The family headstone is just south of the lych gate against the wall and is just a short distance from its original resting ground opposite the entrance to the old church
Picture; detail of the Dean headstone, from the collection of Andrew Simpson