Emblematically Speaking - Nelson

Thu 28th December 2017 | Nelson
By Stewart Taylor

Nelson FC

For this investigation we re-visit the Local Government Act of 1972.

At this point I hesitate, as regular readers will know all about this instrument of local government reorganisation, or as much as they wish to know at least.

However, to boldly go on (to split an infinitive) we mention this again only in the context that the Act was the origin of the district and borough of Pendle, bringing together, as it did when the Act was enacted in 1974, a number of municipal boroughs and local districts, of which Nelson was one.

As such, the Coat of Arms of Pendle brought together elements of the Coats of Arms of these boroughs and districts. The Coat of Arms of Nelson Borough, of course, pre-dates 1974 and is used as the club emblem of Nelson FC, a club with a long and distinguished history.

If we have a look at the emblem we see something of a classic which has references to local industries and at least one local family of renown.

The predominantly blue shield (arms) has references to the local cotton and wool industries. The two sprigs of the cotton plant are clear in the upper part.

At first glance, the device to the base of the arms looks to depict some form of animal cruelty but fear not this is a representation of a golden fleece for the wool industry.

These two devices were used in the design of the Pendle Coat of Arms thus demonstrating again the significance of the textile industry not only to the town of Nelson but also the whole area of East Lancashire.

The two devices which occupy the white chevron are a pair of reed hooks. As with many professions, weaving developed its own terminology over the years.

If we were to say “sleying the reed” would we really know what this meant in practice? For most of us the answer to that would be no and as it is not the objective of this article to explain in detail the weaving process, we will leave it at that except to say that sleying the reed involves the use of reed hooks hence their inclusion in the Coat of Arms.

Above the arms lies a closed helm proper to civic arms and atop the helm we find the reference to a powerful local family in the shape of a cock.

The Tunstall family may well have their origins in North Lancashire and can trace their lineage back to the Domesday book. There were many distinguished members of the family down the centuries but the relevance for our story is that they were significant landowners in the locality of Nelson and, at the time, were considerably involved in the cotton industry.

The cock in the crest of the Nelson Coat of Arms is taken from the same device which forms the crest of the Coat of Arms of the Tunstall family. Note that the cock in the crest holds a sprig of a cotton plant so reflecting the significance of the cotton industry to the Tunstall family.

We have seen a number of mottos in Latin in this series but this week we have one in English - By Industry and Integrity seems to be a fine creed representing as it does a town which lives by industry and, thus, needs integrity in order to trade manufactured goods successfully.

It is perhaps of interest to note that at its formation in 1974 Pendle Borough Council which incorporates Nelson adopted the motto In Unitate Florescemus (In unity we shall grow in prosperity). Who said that Latin was a dead language?

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