THE STORY of how a whole community suddenly abandoned their homes in the hills above a Lancashire village has been uncovered by a former headteacher.

Hundreds of residents left more than 40 farms on Brinscall Moors, near Chorley, around 80 years ago after a decision by landowner Liverpool Corporation to protect their water supply.

All that is left of that community are piles of stone and names on maps, such as Solomon’s Temple and Calico Hall.

David Clayton, who was headteacher for 17 years at Habergham High School, and also taught at Burnley Grammar School, has brought the ruins of these former farms back to life in his book Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors.

Mr Clayton, 74, of Maple Avenue, Brinscall, has spent more than two years researching the book.

He said: “I’ve spent 40 years walking the hills around Brinscall and have always been fascinated by the many ruins and foundations.

“I started looking at old maps and was amazed to discover just how many farms had once been there, and I realised that no-one else had investigated what had happened.

“To me they weren’t just piles of old stones, but places where people were born and worked and died.”

He was originally going to present his research to the Record Office at Lancashire County Council.

But the project mushroomed into a book which also features five walks around the ruins and extracts from a journal kept for more than 40 years by a farmer’s wife.

“As I was writing the book I met many people in the village who had relatives who had lived on the farms,” said Mr Clayton.

“The most exciting thing was finding out that a journal existed from that time written by Elizabeth Jane Dixon.

“Her grandson, Harold Gomersall, who is in his eighties and still lives in Brinscall, allowed me to read it and to include extracts in the book.”

In the past few months he has organised a number of walks around the ruins.

Lost farms of Brinscall Moors costs £11.95 and is available from W H Smith and Waterstones or the book’s website below.