The May meeting of Cowling Moonrakers, at Cowling Hill Baptist Chapel, was the first off-site one of the year. It proved to be a wonderful experience. Two members made us extremely welcome. They began by showing the baptistery that took the place of baptisms outside, in Surgill Beck pool. Members were shown old records, photos, Bibles and crockery used for teas. Many questions were answered and rich conversation about the chapel and Cowling Hill went on for two hours. The group was told that 1724 was the date when a minister, from Bacup, Lancs, commenced serving the population of Cowling Hill, riding between the two townships. This is about 200 years before the commencement of the modern village of Cowling. Cowling Hill would then have been a thriving village, with shops, cottages, one or two inns, farms, possibly a handloom weaving workshop, a windmill, other workshops and a green. It was served by stage coaches going between Yorkshire and Lancashire. The road was known as the York Road and there was possibly a set of cottages of the same name. In January 1753 Hugh Tillotson leased land to the Baptists for the building of their chapel (Gulliver 2011). Members were given a copy of the letter from Cowling Hill Baptists to the church at Bacup, in 1756, requesting their independence because of “the distance we live from one another and the inconvenience of our ministerial supplies.” So commenced the independent Cowling Hill Baptists. This year they will be able to celebrate 290 years of ministry and in 2016, 260 years of independence. The next meeting is on June 5, at the Bancroft Room, St Andrew’s Methodist Church, 7.30-9.15pm. Contact Moonrakers at or (01535) 637352.