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Empress Café, Rufford, c1920s.

Built c1920-22 by James Stock, it would become a thriving cafe and entertainment centre over the following years (Tango Cafe / Oasis mini-supermarket). It was knocked down c1985. The area is now Oasis Close.

The front part was a veranda with balustrade where there were tables and chairs, inside the café at the back was a ballroom. It was sold to people called the Meldrums and it carried on the same way. It was sold again and bought by the Leadbetters from Liverpool and renamed it the Tango Café (or Merry Road House). The Leadbetters went to town on the place and placed neon signs around, also sunk petrol tanks at the front and added fairy lights to the ballroom. There were side alcoves to sit out for a drink by the bar and wedding parties were also hosted.

Dancing took place every evening and the local football and cricket clubs held their dances at the café. The theatricals and stars came around after the second house at the Garrick Theatre in Southport, to drink and dance until morning - it was known far and wide.

The Leadbetters moved back to Liverpool and the Cafe was taken over by South West African Shipping Company for offices (around WW2). When they moved out after WW2 it then became a thriving mini market. The Forshaw Brothers took it over and was a great success for the village with a petrol filling station and mechanics and known as the Oasis Café / garage. When the brothers dissolved their partnership that was the end for the Empress Cafe, vandals got in and after a few years it was sold to a builder and was demolished along with house, and a row of semi-detached houses built.

The Empress Cafe was also used as a site for training youths in agriculture and another time it had a wonderful transport cafe attached which was run by Miss Betty Coulton, which served the transport industry well.


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Walter Southworth of Rufford, a well known local businessman who was a keen cyclist, c1910/20s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter)


'Old Yen', Rufford New Hall, c1930/40s.

He was the Gamekeeper for Lord Hesketh. He lived in a house in what is now Meresands Woods, known back then as 'Ald Yen's Wood'. The photo was taken just prior to a shoot.

(Photo courtesy - Pauline Smith)


St Mary the Virgin Church, Rufford, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Colin Williams, Alfapostcards)


The Smithy, Rufford, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Pauline Smith)

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Hesketh Arms Inn, Rufford, early 1900s.

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Rufford Post Office, early 1900s.

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Rufford New Hall, c1880.

Drawn by J F Neale and engraved by T Matthews.

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Church Road, Rufford, c1955.

(Photo courtesy - Debra Baldwin)

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Grey Gutter Farm, Rufford, early 1900s.

Built in 1676 and demolished in 1967 to make way for the new bit of the A59 through Rufford.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter)

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Grey Gutter Farm, Rufford, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter)

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Grey Gutter Farm, Rufford, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter)

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Hesketh Arms Inn, Rufford, c1960s.

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Coach party outside the Hesketh Arms Inn, Rufford, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).

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Church Lane, Rufford, early 1900s. William Deacons Bank can be seen to the right.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).

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William Deacons Bank, Church Lane, Rufford.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).


Aerial view of Rufford, 1970.

(Photo courtesy - Pauline Smith)

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Walking Day in Brick Kiln Lane, Rufford, 1950s/60s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).

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Rufford C of E Primary School, c1940s. The young girl is Pearl Watkinson.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).

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Rufford C of E Primary School, early 1900s.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter).

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A motorized charabanc outside the Hesketh Arms Inn, Rufford, 1920s.

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Walter Southworth wagon (TF-4565), c1930's. (This photo was taken on the approach to the bridge over the Ribble at Penwortham Holme).

Stood next to the wagon are, Harry Hague (left) and Phillip Dobson.

(Photo courtesy - David and Pat Allen)

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Rufford Special Constables during WW2.

Back row left - right: Mr Porter, unknown 1, William Holcroft, unknown 2.

Front row left - right: Sgt. Richard 'Dick' Sephton, unknown 3, unknown 4, Harrold Sephton, unknown 5.

(Photo courtesy - Brian Porter)

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Rufford Old Hall, 2nd November 2013.

The ghost of the “Grey Lady”, as she has come to be known, is believed to have been spotted on many a misty evening by West Lancashire's twilight motorists. But who is she?

According to the owners of Rufford Old Hall, the Grey Lady is the ghost of Elizabeth Hesketh, a member of the great Hesketh dynasty who resided at the great hall for over 400 years.

Legend has it that Elizabeth had become betrothed to an unnamed soldier at the time of the Scottish wars. During a grand celebration in the Great Hall to celebrate the engagement, word came that a fire had been lit at nearby Ashurst Beacon. This signified that the Scots had crossed the border and all the soldiers at the feast had to leave for battle. Elizabeth shed many tears that night and watched the dawn break as she awaited the return of her loved one. After news came of victory, rumours that her loved one was on his return home gradually became lost in the distant gunshot smoke.

As the months passed she watched the driveway for his return, but he never came home. Elizabeth was heartbroken and refused to eat or drink, and eventually she withered away and died. But her sad spirit is said to live on.



Rufford Old Hall, c1960s.

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Rufford Old Hall, c1960s.


Rufford Old Hall, The Great Hall, c1950s.

The 16th century Great Hall with its magnificent hammer beam roof.


Rufford Old Hall, The Moveable Screen, c1950s.

The carved oak 'moveable' screen, still in its original position, incorporating three great ram's horn finials. This is a unique survival from the Tudor period.


Rufford Old Hall, c1970s.


Rufford Old Hall, The Great Hall, c1950s.


Rufford Old Hall, The Drawing Room, c1970s.

The Drawing Room, showing the 16th century roof timbers and the 1820s bay window. The room is furnished in a late Victorian style.


Rufford Old Hall, c1970s.

(Photo courtesy - Neil MacFarlane)


Rufford Old Hall, The Study, c1980s.

The study as used in the 1920s by Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, afterwards 1st Lord Hesketh, who gave Rufford Old Hall to the National trust in 1936.


Rufford Old Hall, The Dining Room, c1970s.

The dining room is furnished in oak and mahogany. In front of the 17th century Brussels tapestry can be seen a rare leathered covered settee from c1660, with adjustable wings.