A FORMER East Lancashire headteacher who turned his hand to historical writing has now published the first in a series of historical guides to the Rossendale Valley.

Stephen Oldfield, 51 of Broadclough, Bacup, now works as a freelance writer and hopes his new book The Forgotten Forest will act as a guide to anyone interested in the area’s history, heritage and landscapes, but particularly walkers and cyclists who also want to see the landscapes for themselves.

The book marks the culmination of 18 months of research writing and photography and focuses on the Limy, Whitewell and Irwell valleys.

Mr Oldfield said: “I was very lucky reall. I had parents and relatives pointing me in the right direction and making the past a fascinating place.

“The book really is a culmination of all that encouragement as well as my own natural curiosity.”

The former St John’s Stonefold Church of England Primary, Accrington, headteacher said he hoped his new guide will fill a gap where histories on the area are concerned.

He said: “As a teenager I used to long for a modern guide to what there is to see in the Rossendale Valley.

“There were some great 19th century books and brilliant focused studies by Chris Aspin as well as a number of books of old photographs that were fascinating in themselves – but there was no modern guide to what could be seen.

“Hopefully, at last, we can now fill a gap with The Forgotten Forest.”

The book has nearly 400 photographs taken by Mr Oldfield and is filled with stories behind local buildings ranging from ghost stories to murder mysteries, with snippets of family history adding both humour and tragedy.

Acknowledging the help received in publishing the book from local history enthusiast Peter Fishwick, Mr Oldfield added: “Without Peter’s help we would have had a few colour pictures and many in black and white.

“I wanted to do the place justice and make a highly visual impression, and Peter has been enthusiastic and supportive with every stage of the book’s production."

The Forgotten Forest will be the first in a planned series of five volumes. To order a copy, email Stephen Oldfield at weathercote44@gmail.com or visit the Forgotten Forest Facebook page.