Local historian, Mr John Lambert, says: “The strip of land between Lowergate and the Castle Rock was known as Kiln Garth Croft and had been part of the Rose and Crown Estate. The original building dates back to around 1842, when it was a stone yard belonging to Henry Briggs who had leased the land from the corporation.” Translated loosely Kiln Garth Croft means a small enclosed field associated with a kind of oven and enclosed yard.
The precise history of the building from then on is uncertain. It is thought that the horses which pulled the town’s fire appliance were stabled in the outbuildings at one time but a stone carved with the words “Fire Engine” is sadly long gone.
The building may have been used as a bobbin mill or one of several printworks which spread throughout the town. It is known that at one point the building was a private dwelling and former undertakers! The cobbled street leading directly to the modern-day Fern Court entrance was once the original main road through Clitheroe – today Moor Lane runs parallel, but at a lower level.
The entrance to the ginnel which leads to Fern Court can be seen on this old photograph, behind the head of the middle lady in the front row. The shops on either side are now La Tete et Tout and Amanda Eastwood Hair Salon.
Fern Court has been so named to keep the identity of its long association with the renowned local business J H Fern Joiners who occupied the building from the 1950s to 2006. Before the office refurbishment began, benches, jigs, sawdust and wood for every eventuality were removed and some interesting discoveries made. The walls of the lower floor, rather than being man-made, are actually the limestone rock upon which Clitheroe Castle sits. In addition, a curious ‘secret’ arched tunnel was uncovered behind the former outbuildings. It was thought to be the start of a passage running the length of Moor Lane. However, research reveals that it had probably been a domestic kiln to enable lime to be used for a number of domestic purposes, either for fertiliser or paint - a type of ancient recycling. Hence Kiln Garth?
Mr Norman and Mrs Jean Brown, are related to Mr Fern, of the joinery business and said: “Harry Fern moved to Clitheroe in the 1950s or 60s and set up his own business. Originally from Chesterfield, he met his wife in Derby and they were given the opportunity to come to Lancashire so he could work as a quantity surveyor. Then he decided to set up his own business so he would be known by a lot of local people. Local man, Ken Brass, was Harry’s business partner who took the business over when Harry retired”.
In October 2006 renovation of the former workshop began. Almost 12 months later, in September 2007 the first tenants officially move in to 10 modern workspace/offices.
Today Fern Court is a thriving business hub providing a professional working environment.