I first came to the Ribble valley in 1955, when I was seven years old. My father, Richard Fort, had been elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for Clitheroe in 1950. He was not the first Fort to have represented the constituency. Forts had been appearing on the benches at Westminster off and on since 1832.
Like other families in the area, my forebears had made a good deal of money from cotton, and like other families too, as soon as they had made their pile, distanced themselves from the trade that had made them rich and took up the less lucrative business of being country gentlefolk, living in some style at Read Hall, a handsome nineteenth-century house between Whalley and Padiham.