From Darwen to see the world recorded on gravestones

Burial ground as an excellent source for local history as every gravestone has a story to tell. Some stories are more interesting and fascinating than others. Two such gravestone that tell of deaths in foreign parts can be found in Darwen’s Western Cemetery.

Joseph Eccles Grave

Joseph Eccles was born in Darwen in 1841, the son of Andrew and Martha Eccles, and by the time he was 20 he was working as a millwright. In 1868 he married Margaret Ann Catterall and they had had three children, Joseph Ernest, Lilly Hetty and Mary – all born in Darwen. Shortly after Mary’s birth in 1870 he learnt that they required millwrights in Russia and along with his family he left his hometown.

Joseph Eccles Grave

He first arrived in St Petersburgh where a son – Edgar Ethelbert was born in 1877. A further two children were born in Russia before Joseph died in 1887 at Uglitch some 650Km (400 miles) east of St Petersburg.

His wife and children returned to Darwen. Edgar went on to serve his King and Country in WW1 with the 1st/8th London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) and he lost his life October 7, 1916. Edgar is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

The other gravestone is the of Robert Critchley Haworth who died April 9, 1923 at Hermosillo, Mexico. But what is hard to believe is that his body was brought back to Darwen for burial in the town’s cemetery.

Robert Critchley Haworth

Robert was born in 1868 and he married Jane Roberts in 1894 and they had three children.

By 1923 he was a successful businessman associated with a number Darwen and Blackburn cotton businesses – partner of Haworth & Smith Ltd, cotton waste merchants of Cotton Hall Mill, Darwen; Director and Chairman of James Halliwell (Darwen) Ltd of George Street Mill, Darwen.

He was also associated with T Kenyon & Co, Blackburn and the Albert Spinning Co, Darwen.

Robert Critchley Haworth Grave

On March 10, 1923 he sailed from Liverpool of the SS Celtic with his business John Thomas Lonsdale, of Southport, and they arrived in New York nine days later.

They were on a two-month commercial venture and from New York they made their way to Nogales, Arizona where they stayed with their friend, Mr Sidebottom. From Arizona both Robert and John spent sometime in Mexico. Whilst in Mexico Robert eat something food that was “off” which resulting in his death.

The family wanted his body returned to his hometown and it arrived in Darwen, accompanied by Mr Sidebottom, on Saturday April 28, 1923 (a distance of nearly 6,000 miles), and he was buried on the following Monday. Over 100 people attend the funeral.

These are just two stories uncovered by the Friends of Darwen Cemetery
Tony Foster FODC May 2019