Monday, 12 March 2018

Monday, 5 March 2018

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Life and Times of a Farrier

Enjoy Doug Bradbury's hilarious anecdotes as he tells his story of a life spent working with animals.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Murder At Furness Vale

A suspicious death with a hint of  murder at Furness Vale in 1879.
The circumstances of the untimely death of James Sparham,Gnat Hole, Bugsworth employed by Matthew Hall licensee of the Navigation Inn at Bugsworth was never satisfactorily explained. Sparham had worked for a number of years as the captain of Hall's narrowboat plying gritstone from Crist Quarry, Bugworth and limestone from Dove Holes over the Pennines to Huddersfield. The saga was reported in the High Peak News of the 8th August and 16th August 1879.

Keith Holford August 2017

Report in the High Peak News, August 19th 1879
A canal boat laden with stone, left Bugsworth Basin on Wednesday afternoon for Huddersfield, there were three men engaged for the trip, viz. James Sparham the captain, James Bennett, and a young man whose name we have not been able to ascertain. Sparham is a middle-aged man who has been in the employ of Matthew Hall, licensee of the Navigation Inn, Bugsworth for some 30 years.

The boat arrived at Furness Vale on Wednesday afternoon, when the three men appear to have gone to a publichouse where they remained until late in the evening. The first to leave were Sparham and the young man,  Bennett following on later, found the boat swinging in the middle of the canal, so he was unable to get aboard. He made his way to another boat where he slept all night.

On getting up early next morning, Bennett went, about half past seven, to his own boat and going into the cabin, he found old man Sparham dead. The young man who left with Sparham the previous night was seen on the Thursday morning, at about half past five making his way from Sparham's narrowboat. The night before it appears that this young man bought 6d worth of laudanum (a derivative of opium). This circumstance, coupled with his disappearance has caused suspicion against the young man.

The canal bridge in Furness Vale before it was rebuilt in 1925. The adjacent building was
the Traveller's Call beerhouse (often known as the Jolly Sailor) which closed in 1908

Report of the Inquest, High Peak News, August 16th 1879.
On Friday evening last an inquest was held before Mr. Lake, deputy -coroner, at the house of Samuel Hall, Station Hotel, Furness Vale, on the body of James Sparham, who came to his death in  mysterious  circumstances, as mentioned last week.

The first witness called was Ann Sparham of Stalybridge, who said: “ I am a single woman, I work as a weaver at Mr. John Leach's. The deceased is my father,his name is Sparham. He is a widower of 56 years of age, he has worked most of his life as a boatman. He lived at Gnat Hole, Bugsworth when he was at home. He worked for Matthew Hall, who keeps the Navigation Inn, Bugsworth. I last saw my father alive about eight or nine weeks ago. I saw him at Stalybridge. He was in his usual state of health, he was not a healthy man; he suffered from a very bad cough, indeed he was ill plagued with asthma. The only thing he used to a take for it was “cough mixture” not laudanum when I was with him. He was in the habit of getting cough mixture from a  druggist's shop in Bugsworth. I have seen him fetch it.. He used to take half a spoonful in a glass of water. He had liked to be chocked (choked ?) with it a time or two.  known as “Old Hod”his real name is John Clayton who worked with him at one time. The last time I saw my father was here dead at the Station Inn, Furness Vale.

Matthew Hall, Bugsworth said I am a carrier of lime and coal, the deceased worked for me as a  boatman. I last saw him alive on Wednesday at Bugsworth. He left Bugsworth between twelve and one o'clock in charge of a boat, which was full of lime. He was the captain and he had  two other men with him, who I knew by sight but not by name. I employed them to go to Huddersfield with a load of lime. I have known the deceased for some 20 years. He was in the usual health when he left last Wednesday; he suffered from asthma very badly at times. He was not a man who drank regularly; he used to take rum sometimes for his ailment. He was a steady man as a rule; I have seen him drunk but not for 2 months at least. I saw the deceased again on Thursday. He was dead.

The foreman. Before he set away from Bugsworth on Wednesday did he say anything about being indisposed. Witness. He did not. He had 4s 9d in his pocket when he left Bugsworth;it was to pay for stabling and wages. The Coroner : What money was found on him?  P.C. Bainbridge.* 11 pence and a half.

James Bennett,of Fairfield, Manchester, said: I am a boatman, and a I live in the boat. I started for Matthew Hall on Monday.. I have no settled address. I left Bugsworth on Wednesday last between  12 and 1 o'clock with the deceased and a young man I cannot tell you, he was a stranger to me. I do not know him. The first stopping place was Furness Vale and we got to Furness Vale about two o'clock.

The Coroner: You stopped then.  Bennett: The deceased did not complain about anything. We all three got out of the boat and went to the  Traveller's Call,* where we each had a glass of beer.  The three of us stopped drinking all afternoon at the public-house until half past seven o'clock.  At that time I took the deceased to the boat and on board, because I did not think that he could get there safely by himself. He was drunk so I took him into the cabin and left him with the other man and him in the cabin. The  deceased was leaning with his hands on the table, when I left him. I went to the beer-house again, and when came back again to the boat about 10 0'clock at night, I could not get on  board due to the boat swinging in the middle of the canal. I was drunk, but I could manage to walk. The boat was quite loose,not fastened at all. The wind was carrying the boat towards Bugsworth again. Somebody must have loosed the  boat. I slept on another boat which was close by. I went on board my own boat about nine  o'clock on Thursday morning. I went into the cabin and I found the deceased on the cabin floor, kneeling in the place where I had left him. His head was resting on the place where he was sitting when I had left him the previous evening. He was dead (cold) and alone. I did not notice any medicine bottles about. The man did not seem to have a cold, but he had “bad bouts”ever now and then. He did not ask me to fetch anything. I don't know why the other man went away. I have known Sparham for 2 years, but not to work with him. He used to have a bad cough which sometimes troubled him. He had nothing to drink, only beer, perhaps half a dozen glasses or more. I put him in the cabin about half past seven.
Foreman: What age is the  young man ?
Witness: I am not sure. I cannot tell . He looked about 18.
The Coroner: Were they on good terms /
Witness: Yes.
The Coroner: Who paid for the drinks ?
Witness: The young man and myself.
The Coroner  : Did the deceased pay ?
Witness : One  glass for me another for the youth.
The Coroner: Had he any money, did he show any ?
Witness: No he did not. He did not spend any money before we got there. He did not give me any money on account. I had money which I got in Manchester. I was not that drunk that I did not know what I was doing.
The Coroner: Do you mean to say that you paid for all the drink ?
Witness: Yes, the deceased only paid once. I never saw any money that the deceased had.
The Coroner:Then he was having his share at small cost. Did he ask for it ?
Witness: No, he kept having another glass when we paid for one. I only saw him pay three
halfpence the whole time.

The Foreman: Were you the first that found him dead ?
Witness: Yes. Directly I saw him I shouted to a man ( R. Ratcliffe ) in another boat which was passing. He promised to send a policeman and P. C. Bainbridge  came soon afterwards. I never heard any threats in he public-house. There was no quarrelling amongst us.

After some evidence given by P.C. Bainbridge, which the Coroner instructed the reporters not to publish, the jurors conferred together and on the recommendation of the latter the inquest was adjourned for the purpose of having post-mortem, and for the appearance of the young man who was left on board with the deceased and who has not been seen since half-past five o'clock on last Thursday morning by a man coming away from the canal where the boat was placed. It was decided that Dr. Allen should make the post-mortem examination and P. C. Bainbridge was instructed to bring forward what witnesses were necessary to elucidate the matter.

The Adjourned Inquest.
The adjourned inquest was held at the Station Hotel, Furness Vale, on Thursday evening. A chemist named Cheetham, residing in Furness Vale, gave evidence that on August 6th , between 4 and 5 o'clock, he sold half-an-ounce of laudanum to a young man who was connected with a boat. The  young man's name is Wood, and he belongs to Staffordshire. That quantity would not kill a  strong healthy man.

Dr. Allan said he made a post-mortem examination of the body of the deceased. There were no marks of violence on the body, nor nothing to indicate that the man had come to his death except by natural causes, or by excessive drinking. The pupils of his eyes were neither  dilated or contracted. He placed the stomach and its contents  in a sealed jar and sent them  to Dr. Raynor at Stockport. Dr. Raynor said there was no laudanum, or traces of laudanum or other poison in the stomach to cause death.

The  jury on  hearing this evidence, came to the conclusion that there was no necessity after hearing the evidence tom pursue the inquiry further and at once  brought in a verdict” that the death was caused by natural causes.”

The Coroner : said that in case the young man, who has disappeared was apprehended by the police, they could bring the man before the magistrates and get a dismissal.

Traveller Call. A publichouse along the Peak Forest Canal

**  There appears to be no explanation or further questioning as to where or how the 4s 9d  was according depleted to 11 and halfpence according to the evidence given of P. C. Bainbridge.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

In 1960, Marjorie Hobson, a local teacher presented her Pictorial History of  our village, at Furness Vale School.  

Our latest publication is a faithful reproduction of Miss Hobson's timeline, albeit in a smaller format. The many coloured illustrations were painted by Miss Hobson herself.

Available in paperback from Furness Vale History Society or from the Community Shop at £3.00.

An e-book edition is available from Amazon, Kindle at £1.99:

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Chapel-en-le-Frith Target Wall

Liz McCormick has written to us about her research into the target wall at Chapel-en-le-Frith.  This updates and corrects our original article which remains at the foot of this page and provides considerably more information about this interesting feature.

"The wall that was demolished in 1991 and is referred to as the target wall was not 200yrs old. All records and press items show the wall to be part of a 30 yard safety rifle range which was constructed mainly in 1910 with final adjustments in 1913. The old Volunteer Rifle Range that was built by the Volunteer Forces (which formed in 1859/60 and went on to become the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Sherwood Foresters) was closed by 1899 on the orders of the War Office. This earlier range had its target area in the same vicinity as the 30 yard safety range was to be built

The Chapel Volunteers of 1804 were disbanded in 1809 and became part of the local militia. William Braylesford Bunting covers the volunteer movement in reasonable detail in his book "CHAPEL-EN-LE-FRITH ITS HISTORY AND ITS PEOPLE" on pages 347 and 348.

From 1899 Chapel-en-le-Frith was without a rifle range until a Drill Hall was built. The Drill Hall with War Office approved miniature rifle range opened on Market Street in 1907, again the Buxton Advertiser kept us updated on the fundraising progress and eventual opening of the Drill Hall.

The Buxton Advertiser in April 1910 confirmed that a new 30 yard safety rifle range was also to be constructed at Chapel-en-le-frith and the old stone butts from the first range would be demolished and used in the construction of the new range. The wall in the new range was not to carry targets but to stop stray  bullets and ricochet.

In 1991 an article appeared in the Buxton Advertiser where a few facts were mixed up and has been the source of some 'local legends' ever since.

The line of vision from the school steps to the original butts was not clear and therefore it would have been unsafe to take the shot. The 800yd marker of the old range was visible from the school steps and it could be possible that this marker was mistaken for a target by an onlooker but it is very unlikely that the designated range warden would sanction shooting other than from the rifleman's allocated marker and toward the target area. It would not count toward their drill and as ammunition was limited and the activity unsafe in terms of public safety I can only think there is little or no fact behind this tale.

The photographs on the website show the wall to consist of three sections initially but only two sections remained in the decades before it was demolished in 1991. I would be interested to know what happened to the third section which appears to have been removed by the 1950's?

There is a good amount of press coverage of the activities of the local Territorial Forces and the closure of rifle ranges and the amending of or building new ones during the 1900 to 1913 time period was regularly included.

The  town of Chapel-en-le-Frith has actually had three rifle ranges but from 1900 the volunteers had to travel to Edale, Bakewell and Combs for practise  on longer ranges in order to complete their musketry training

The  old-maps website has an extensive collection of maps and it is possible to see the progress of the Volunteer Rifle Range on the 1883 and 1899 maps. The OS maps of the 1920's show the 30 yard safety range as an oblong and has no reference to the old range".  

Liz is also researching the Chapel-en-le-Frith Drill hall and its ranges and would any help that readers might be able to provide. She may be contacted through this website and would also be happy to answer any queries on these subjects.

Our booklet "Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1940 caught the attention of one observant buyer, Pete Goddard.

A number of the photographs show a parade of volunteers taking place on the cricket ground in the summer of 1940. In the background, on three of these, can be seen albeit faintly, the target wall in the next field. It is just above the scorers hut.  Pete tells me that this was used by the old volunteer regiment who used to fire from the steps of the infant school 1000 yards away. The wall was over 200 years old and built by the Chapel Volunteers. They merged with the Sherwood Foresters in 1804 and the wall was used by soldiers who later served in the Boer War as well as two World Wars.
Despite attempts by the Parish Council to obtain a preservation order, the wall was demolished in 1991's by the landowner who deemed it unsafe.

The wall is barely visible in the original photograph. When we zoom in at high resolution it becomes a little clearer.

Thanks to Robin Sharp for allowing us to reproduce his photograph of the wall just before it was demolished. Robin can be seen in the picture, the young buy with a dog.

The booklet Chapel-en-le-Frith 1940: Photographs from the albums of Eric Young is available from the History Society price £2.00 plus postage.  An Kindle ebook version can be downloaded from Amazon price £2.00
A collection of photographs from the albums of Eric Young, formerly of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. The pictures depict the town suffering from a heavy fall of snow in January 1940. In the following summer, volunteers parade on the town's cricket ground.
This is a collection of over 40 historic photographs.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Living In The Furnace

We all know the story of how Bugsworth changed its name to something more respectable. A hundred years beforehand, a similar change took place in Furness Vale. We might otherwise have all been "Living in the Furnace"

Our community at the end of the 1700s was no more than a small hamlet called The Furnace. Within ten years, the canal, printworks and turnpike road had all opened and the village rapidly grew in size and population. 
We don't know when the name "Furness Vale" first came into use but it must have been around the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Maps published as late as 1831 still give the name of the village as "Furnace" or "The Furnace" and show the mill as "Furnace Print Works". Legal documents such as "Hansard" (the Parliamentary record) still quote the "Furnace" spelling in 1831.  "Furness Vale" was however, in use by 1821 for the name appears in a trade directory for that year.  There appears to be a gradual transition from one name to the other rather than an official change.

The first record of a furnace in the parish of Disley is in 1690.  A charcoal fired iron smelting furnace stood where the "beehive" kilns of Knowles Brickyard were later constructed. This must have been a reasonable sized operation for "Jodrell Pig" was sent to forges in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.  Small iron foundries were to be found in many parts of the country, wherever charcoal or coke, and iron ore were available. The mineral was probably mined locally among the coal seams of Furness Clough and charcoal produced in nearby woodland. Most of these small local furnaces had closed by the late 18th century, replaced by much larger and more profitable coke fired plants. The disused kiln was probably still in evidence in 1811 for John Farey, described its location in his book of that date.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Stroll Through Furness Vale

Join Mabel Townend on   "A Stroll Through  Furness Vale

Mabel has lived in the village all of her life, and for many years, taught at the local school.
In her talk at Furness Vale History Society, she describes the shops, businesses and other features that she so well remembers from the past.

Everybody is welcome at Furness Vale Community Centre on 
5th September to hear Mabel’s reminiscences.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Derek Cope of Buxworth

Sadly we have heard that Derek Cope died last week aged 90 years.
His account of his family's various businesses in Buxworth may be found on this site.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Growing Up In Buxworth

Jackie and Terry Prior, family relatives living nearby escorted me to my first day at Buxworth School. I didn't realise it at the time but this was the first day of my independence. So my early education started in the Infants Class under the watchful eye of Miss. Littlewood. With a well built human frame, knitted woollen skirts and jackets together with pince-nez glasses, the spitting image for Miss Prism, She cosseted,  cajoled and corrected  her little charges in equal measure.
Buxworth School

There were no pre-school groups in the late thirties and early forties, just common or garden infants under the buxom but gentle-womanly Miss. Littlewood. I was a late starter to a full school life in Buxworth because I had been in and out of school and had spent a few weeks in Manchester Royal Infirmary with a suspected mastoid.  I can pin point the date from an entry in the Buxworth School Logbook. 16-12-1941. Dr Bamber made a medical inspection of all pupils. At 1-20 pm she examined Keith Holford and ordered him to be sent home at once -- likelihood of a developing mastoid trouble.” No mastoid, but the hospital justified their existence by removing my tonsils. My stay too, left me with a  lifelong anathema to the smell of boiling cabbage and fish poached in milk. Christmas Eve brought horror rather than happiness when a fancy dressed monkey monkeyed his or her way through the children's wards. Since that day I have never knowingly found time to utter a good word regarding monkeys. The bonus however was Christmas presents at both the hospital and later at home.

The full story by Keith Holford, may be read here:

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Chinley 150, The Birth of a Station, the Growth of a Village

Chinley Railway Station celebrated its 150th anniversary in February of this year.  John Benson's book "Chinley 150, The Birth of a Station, the Growth of a Village" has just been published to commemorate the event.
Copies are available from Chinley Post Office, Green Lane; from the Chapel-en-le-Frith bookshop, Reading Matters of 48 Market Street and from the Brierlow Bar bookshop. The price is £4 .50.
The book can be obtained by mail order from Reading Matters for £6.00 including post and packing. Telephone 01298 938166 or email

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Coming Soon

Here is the programme of History Society meetings for the coming months:

lease note that we do not meet during July or August

Tuesday 5th Sept.     A Stroll Through Furness Vale by Mabel Townend

Tuesday 3rd Oct       The Stockport - Disley -Whaley Bridge Railway with Chris Makepeace

Tuesday 7th Nov       Life And Times Of A Farrier - told by Doug Bradbury

Tuesday 5th Dec       A Unique Lifestyle from Peter Burgess

All meetings are held at Furness Vale Community Centre, Yeardsley Lane (next to Imperial Palace Restaurant) Non members are always welcome, admission is £2 including refreshments.  Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Monday, 9 January 2017

A view of the Printworks.

This photograph has been digitally colourised from a black and white postcard titled "Bank View". This is the track leading from the Canal at Furness Vale down to the Printworks.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Cope Family Ventures in Buxworth.


Over a three day weekend in June 1992 the “Friends of Buxworth / Bugsworth School inaugurated the first “Bygone Buxworth”. It was to be held in Buxworth School. The turnout was something to write home about. The school was packed to the gunnel's with past and present villagers jostling to see both the historical displays and to meet up with long lost friends. The outcome at a post mortem meeting was that with the numerous offerings of more historical material and the interest generated, that a further 10 day exhibition would be staged when the school was not operational during the summer. This occurred in the summer of 1994.


A taste of what was on offer in 1992 follows. The Navigation Inn staged a “Canal Themed Weekend” Richard Hall, the then Chinley milkman brought his shire horses to the Bugsworth Basin. Opposite Buxworth School a slide show and lecture entitled “The Peak Forest Canal and the Bugsworth Basin” was held in the former Primitive Methodist Tabernacle Chapel  A display of old photographs and documents was mounted in the main schoolroom. Morris Dancers, Clog Dancers, Live Theatre and a Jazz and Blues Band filled in the gaps. I produced a 28 page booklet plainly entitled “Bugsworth” for the occasion. An amalgam of local residents recounted businesses and ventures that I edited into an article entitled “Shop-keeping in Bugsworth over 60 years.” Other villagers contributed various Bugsworth / Buxworth related articles.  The booklet sold well and feedback came back fast and furious, mostly landing into my possession as the historical editor. One of the families mentioned was the Cope family who had over many years ran three separate businesses in Bugsworth / Buxworth, ending in 1944. Derek Cope their son, unsolicited, furnished me with a 20 page account of their business dealings, plus a chronological list denoting the names of previous landlords who had kept either the Bull's Head or the Navigation Inn. The list of landlords spanned the years 1842—1941.

Keith Holford. November 2016

Running a business in Buxworth 1932- 1944

Derek's edited article reads --- My parents first commercial venture was the chip shop, which stood at the foot of “ The Dungeon ” the footpath that runs from the former Post Office on New Road, diagonally to the Navigation Inn, adjacent to the Bugsworth Basin. It was a dark wooden shack with a steeply sloping roof and a brick chimney at the side facing the Black Brook. There was a serving counter on the left with the frying fittings behind, a long table with a bench seat faced the counter. At the back, steps led down to the dank and dismal storage area for the fish, potatoes, oil and mineral waters, with a small extension at the rear for the empties.

The village Chip Shop is pictured left of centre
Now this occupation was the before the latter days of the redoubtable “Maude Stiles ” -- Chip Shopper Keeper Extraordinaire. In fact my earliest memories in life are connected with the “fip fop”. The chip cutter was on the serving counter. A long handled lever with a heavy metal block below forced down the potatoes into a mesh of blades, the square chips then fell into a basin below. No bags of ready made chips, you made your own. The fish was delivered to the Buxworth Station in wooden tubs packed with ice. One memory is going with my mother to collect the tub on a cold winter-day, the ground being covered in snow. The fish tub was lowered onto a small porter's trolley and I can still hear the crackle of the frozen snow under the iron wheels of the trolley as we left the station. After a year or two with the chip shop, my parents moved into the realms of higher commerce and took on the Navigation Inn, always known as “The Navvy”. Life was broadening and memories are now more plentiful.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Sketches By Artist Paul Gent

Paul Gent is a prolific artist from New Mills. Whilst many of his sketches are of local scenes, his portfolio also includes work from many parts of the world.  Originally from St.Albans, Paul studied art at Loughborough University.

We are presenting a small selection of Paul's sketches from High Peak and the North West of England.  We are sure that these scenes will all be recognised.  To view a much wider collection, take a look at the album page of Paul's Facebook account:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Pear Tree Cottage and the Middleton Family

Me and Mrs Middleton: A sidelight on my Family History

Written by Charlie Hulme

This fascinating history tells a story of the Middleton Family of Furness Vale and Whaley Bridge, Pear Tree Cottage and Joshua Rhodes Mineral Water Works.

The full story may be read on Charlie Hulme's web site:

Here are just a few extracts:

Not a member of my family, but someone who played a large part in my early life and deserves to be remembered, was Mrs Rachel Middleton of Whaley Bridge, our neighbour and long-time landlord. 

Behind our houses was a yard, formerly part of the mineral water factory  which was my personal playground, a place to hang washing, and in our early days a place where the 'dolly tub' and mangle were brought into use on washing day. The yard had, I believe, been roofed over at some time, and part of the roofed area remained with its wooden doors.

After Mrs Middleton died, Pear Tree Cottage was for a while the home of Fred Branson, retired landlord of the nearby Goyt Inn, and his wife Jessie, before eventually becoming a cafĂ© as it remains in 2016. The shop front on the Canal Street side of the building, has had various uses; I believe that before my time it was run as a haberdashery by a former resident of No.11.  All I recall from the 50s and 60s is a 'showroom' for Drinkwater's builders whose yard was nearby, with an uninspiring window display of plumbing fittings. 

Canal Street, c.1950, Pear Tree Cottage is the white building, with No.11 to the left, then nos. 12, 13 and the canal house. The Navigation Inn on the right. Picture by Agnes Hulme.

Street numbering in Canal Street is confusing for historians. Houses were numbered in the traditional way with 'evens' on one side and 'odds' on the other, but in both cases it was only physically possible to build on the 'odd' side, and at some time (1920s?) this was recognised and the houses were renumbered in a consecutive series. The situation in Canal Street is further complicated because the present No. 11 was at some time part of the adjacent white house, Pear Tree Cottage. 

John Goodwin Downs described his house in 1911 as no. 16 Canal Street, but oddly the Enumerator on his 1911 summary sheet called it no.21. It was a small house with just four rooms, possibly the one now know as No.13.

In 1915 Rachel Downs married Henry Fawcett Middleton, who in 1911 was working as a printworks labourer living with his father William Middleton in Grove House, Furness Vale, a village between Whaley Bridge and  New Mills. William Middleton was described as 'Gentleman living on own means' - in earlier years he had been the farmer at Diglee Farm, and before that a grocer. 

Pear Tree Cottage, the large white house - now no. 10 Canal Street - was for many years the home of Joshua Rhodes, whose mineral water manufactory occupied buildings behind the house, and obtained its water from a well in the cellar of the house. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Furness Vale School Photograph

Here is a photograph of pupils of our village school, early in the 20th century. The picture is not dated.
Most of the pupils have been identified. There is a hand written, accompanying note with the original image. The missing name from the back row looks like either Arnold Hill or Clifford Hill.
Thanks to Francis Footitt for the loan of the photo.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

1920s Buxton in Colour

Buxton in the 1920s

In the foreground is the Samuel Turner Memorial Drinking fountain erected in 1878 in memory of a local benefactor.

On the left are The Slopes, public gardens laid out in 1818 by Jeffry Wyatville for the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Joseph Paxton made a number of alterations in the 1850s. In front of the Slopes can be seen some bath chairs, at one time a popular conveyance in the town.

Behind the glass collonade on the right is the Thermal Baths, designed by Henry Currey architect to the Duke of Devonshire and opened in 1854. Since 1987, this has been the Cavendish Arcade, a shopping centre housing an array of independent retailers.

The bus is a Tilling Stevens of the North Western Road Car Company. This operator was formed in 1923 and took delivery of the first vehicles from that manufacturer the following year.

Prominent in the picture is The Crescent, finished in 1789 to the design of John Carr for the 5th Duke. The Crescent is currently undergoing a major renovation and on completion will re-open as an hotel. Opposite is the Pump Room where visitors to Buxton “Took The Waters”. In the background is the Old Hall Hotel. Originally a four storey tower, the Hall was built in 1573 by Bess of Hardwick. Mary, Queen of Scots was housed there on several occasions  in the 1570s on order of Elizabeth 1st. Rebuilt in 1670 by the first Duke, it became an hotel in 1727 and still serves that purpose.

Buxton Opera House in 1923.

 Built in 1903, it was designed by Britain’s most prolific theatre architect, Frank Matcham. It was converted in 1927 for cinema use and extensively refurbished in 1979.
In the left foreground is the entrance to The Conservatory, part of the complex of buildings that face the Pavillion Gardens. This structure was built in 1870 to the design of Edward Milner.

On the right hand side is The Old Clubhouse, a pub and restaurant. It was built in 1886 as a gentlemen’s club and continued in that role until the mid 1980s.

The tower in the background is that of St. John The Baptist Parish Church. Built in 1811 to the design of John White it was the final project of the 5th Duke of Devonshire who died just after its completion.

The Pump Room, Buxton c1920.

  This elegant building was opened in 188,9 a gift to the town from the Duke of Devonshire. Here, one could sample the mineral waters for a penny a glass.  The Pump Room is currently being restored and will re-open as a tea room where once again visitors will be able to “take the waters”.

These three photographs have all been digitally colourised from black and white originals.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A few memories of a boy who grew up in Furness Vale

A life long friend, Bill Jackson, who is connected with your Local History Society, just
sent me a copy of Edwin Bold's book entitled "Instigator of Mischief". It brought back so
many memories of people and places that I felt that perhaps I could also add a few comments
concerning the history of Furness Vale.

I was born in 1936 and lived at No.6, which became 140 Buxton Road, until I left in 1964
to work in Switzerland. This is the house on the corner of Yeardsley Lane opposite the Co-op.
It had a small barred window set  into its thick sidewall through which the wages had been paid to
the workers at the nearby coal mine. A large polished stone stood at the corner, which was said to
have served as an aid for people climbing onto their horses.

Edwin, in his book, gave many details concerning the pit and brick works but he forgot to
mention the tip situated in the hollow behind the Co-op. The dumping of hot waste from the
pit/brick works would often cause the tip to catch fire. This would smolder for days on end
before being brought under control. At night, one could see glowing red areas with flickering
flames and the smell was quite appalling. Down the dirt road at the side of the Co-op, beneath the
War Memorial, was a wooden shack which served as a blacksmith's smithy where machinery was
repaired, and horses shod.

I can remember 18 to 20 shops in the village as well as the Post Office. Percy Pearson, the
postman, delivered  the mail, going on his rounds twice a day. He went on foot and in all
weathers, carrying a big leather bag hanging from his shoulder. How the village has changed!
Does anyone remember the little shop which  sold knitting wool and reels of cotton and silks, that
belonged to two old spinsters called the Wilds, who lived up Yeardsley Lane?

The village school with its four teachers, Miss Turner, Hobson and Jeffries as well as
Mr Morris, was always well attended. Friday afternoon was reserved to tidy ones desk and to
wash out the inkwells, cleaning pen nibs at the same time. This was followed by an inspection.
Space in the school playground was rather limited, as a couple of air raid shelters had been
dug into the surface. Speaking of digging, we would be taken to the school allotment by the garage, to plant, hoe, water, and eventually,harvest our labours.

Furness Vale had a Boy Scout troop and we used to meet in a room on the first floor of a
wooden hut situated in the passage between the Station Inn and the railway station. On
Armistice Day, we would put on our uniforms and proudly march in the procession, either in
Whaley Bridge or Furness Vale, along with the Ambulance Brigade,war veterans and of course,
a brass band.  Camping out and cooking was always fun, but lying in your tent wide-awake at
2 o'clock in the morning listening to an owl hooting and rustling sounds nearby, rather
took the edge off things. I guess that I and other Scout friends like Peter Jennison and
Edward Evans still had something to learn about being brave.

My father was born in 1899 and served in the First World War. As an 18-year-old soldier he
was wounded in France and taken a prisoner of war by the Germans. With the outbreak of the
Second World War he was considered too old, so he became one of "Dad's Army". As a member of
the Home Guard he had his uniform, and in a corner of the kitchen, stood his Lee-Enfield rifle
 - not to be touched! Manoeuvres would be organised under the watchful eye of their officer
Mr. Finch and once a month shooting practise would take place in the quarry at Bank End.

Memories of the Institute go back a long time for as a boy, I was allowed inside without
having to be 18 years old since it never had a alcohol licence. On entering, the library was
on your left and the reading room on your right. Here people came to read the days papers and
often to play a game of dominoes. Ahead, down the steps, you entered the games room where the
two green baize covered tables would be brilliantly lit in the dim interior. To light up a
table you put coins into a slot machine on the wall. Both billiards and snooker were played
and the village snooker team took part in the Buxton league. We had some good players such as
the brothers Jack and Norman Ashton and, not quite as good, myself. Our  best player was
undoubtedly Eric Morton who was a Whaley Bridge farmer. He would arrive by tractor delivering
fresh eggs on the way. I also played for the village football team in the High Peak league before joining Mellor and playing in a Manchester league.

I would like to mention two unusual events in 1951 and which occurred some ten days apart.
Both concerned "Lightning balls", glowing "balls" of pure energy sometimes generated during
severe electric storms. Although we often see lightning, it is very rare that we get to see
this other phenomena. It was a very hot, sultry, late afternoon in summer when my father,
Adam, was walking home from his work at Gowhole railway sidings. A violent storm developed
and he took shelter under the railway bridge near the old and long disused Lady Pit. The tall
brick chimney and some derelict buildings were still standing. He saw a glowing ball
travelling slowly through the air and heading towards the chimney. It seemed to disappear
down the interior where, at the bottom, it disintigrated with a very loud explosion totally
demolishing the chimney. Bricks were thrown in all directions as far as 100 yards away and
the wall of the old barn on the opposite side of the road turned red from the dust as bricks
shattered against its side.

The second event concerned myself. Again, a sudden violent electric summer storm developed
forcing me to take shelter under the awning outside Mr Jackson's butchers shop. A bluish-white
glow, smaller than a football, was coming from the direction of the Soldier Dick, travelling
past the cottages towards the Co-op at roof height. It turned the corner and headed off up
Yeardsley Lane when it seemed to speed up and struck the upper part of Mr and Mrs Ashton's
house. This is the first house of a row of cottages on the left hand side of the road. The
explosion was huge and a large hole was blasted through the wall into a bedroom. It arrived
in he back of a fireplace which finished up against the opposite wall totally demolished. It
was quite an impressive sight.

It is at least twenty-five years since I was last in the village and it is hard to imagine
the changes that have taken place. Maybe one day I will have the pleasure of attending one
of your meetings and catching up on past events.
In the meantime, I wish your society every success.

Denis E. Hill

April 2016

Denis Hill was uncertain of the precise year of the lightning strikes. The newspaper records
show this to have been 1949.(editor)

This photograph shows 140 Buxton Road, Denis Hill's former home. The
light coloured rectangle of stone in the gable end was the small window
where miner's wages were once paid out.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Wild Sisters.

We have received the following comment on a recent post: 

Does anyone remember the Wild sisters, Nelly and Edith who had a ladies outfitters on Buxton Road in the 1940's? Their father owned a house on Marsh Lane opposite the signal box which we rented during the war. My mother used to buy silk stockings from their shop and they let me play behind the counter. We had no water, gas or electric. We had a well behind the house and used paraffin lamps and candles. Gow Hole Farm was where we got our milk from the Howards. Mr. Howard used to walk past our house on Sundays wearing a top hat on his way to church in New Mills. Just below the station next to the canal on Marsh Lane there was a lovely mansion type house and I always wondered who lived there and what the history of it was. I discovered recently that it was demolished long ago. One time I saw an elephant walking down Marsh Lane, it turned out to be a circus walking to their next showplace.

I am sure that many people will remember the Wild sisters who ran the wool shop at the corner of Buxton Road and Old Road. Here is a photograph of them.

The "Mansion House" which our correspondent refers to, is of course, Furness Lodge. This large house, just off of Station Road was built as the home of Mr Saxby, an early owner of Furness Vale Printworks. It subsequently came into the ownership of the CPA when they took over the mill and was rented out to a number of different people. It was finally demolished in the early 1970s

We have had a further reply which adds to the story of the Wild family and Marsh Lane:

Lovely photo of the Wild sisters, especially little Edith and the sterner Nellie. We paid 7/6d a week for the house on Marsh Lane opposite the signal both to Mr.Wild, their father and our landlord, who was always smoking a pipe. At last I know who lived in the big posh house! Thank you for the information. Now does anyone remember the Howards at Gow Hole Farm? When I was around 9 I lost my hat and I later saw Mr. Howard wearing it as he was making hay. Such happy days.

Here is a photograph from our archives of Carr View on Marsh Lane, the house referred to,  with Mr and Mrs Wild in the doorway. The picture is not dated.

Now does anyone have a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Howard and his brother Frank Howard of Gow Hole Farm? Frank was a regular at the Soldier Dick and evacuees from London lived in the front part of the farmhouse. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The WWII Evacuation to Derbyshire

Evacuation of children during the Second World War
by Gillian Mawson – August 2016

In the early hours of 1 September 1939, the British Government's plans for evacuation swung into operation and millions of children, teachers and mothers were moved to safety before war was declared on 3 September. Other waves of evacuation occurred from May 1940 onwards, when fears of the invasion of Britain became very real.  Since 2008 I have interviewed over 600 evacuated children and adults - from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar – to collect their wartime experiences, documents and photographs. I feel it is important that these stories are preserved for future generations. I have organised evacuee reunions and published two books, 'Guernsey Evacuees:The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War' and 'Evacuees: Children's Lives on the WW2 Home Front'. My third book will be published on 1 December 2016 and contains stories and documents from evacuees all over Britain, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar.

Families throughout Derbyshire and the High Peak received large numbers of evacuees from areas such as Manchester, Southend, Lowestoft and the Channel Islands.  Boys from Guernsey's Elizabeth College lived at 'Whitehall' on Long Hill between Buxton and Whaley Bridge whilst the senior boys lived at the Florence Nightingale Home in Great Hucklow.  Alan Boast lived in a Lowestoft children's home and remembers his journey to Derbyshire in great detail:
The sight that met my eyes when we arrived at the station was something I will never forget.There were children everywhere, hundreds of them – and I was one! We were told we were being evacuated for our safety, and would be going school by school, not as Home boys. We were taken to the front of the station where ladies were waiting for us. They had lots of labels and wrote our name, school and age on each one and tied or pinned it to our clothes.
            This must not be taken off, we were told. On to the platform where our train was being reversed
            in.   If needed – go to the toilet, as it would be some time before we could go again! We were
            then  lined up, and more ladies arrived, with a trolley-full of boxes. They gave us two sticks of
            barley sugar each. We were told to wait until we were on our way before sucking them, as they
            were to combat ‘travel sickness’ – whatever that was!  Into the carriages we were shown, 
            teachers and all, and off we went! Major Humphery (the Mayor)  told us that the honour of                    Lowestoft rested on our shoulders, and we had to be well-behaved.

Alan later found himself in the Co-Operative Stores hall in Glossop:
In came these people from the village to select which boy, or boys, they would take in and look after. ‘I’ll have him, I’ll take those two’ etc. I put on my best beaming smile but nobody picked me! Soon the hall was cleared and there were only two of us left, myself and a boy called Peter Harvey. He wasn’t a Home boy but I knew him from school. In came two ladies and after a lot of talking one said ‘I’ll take them as I have room for two.’ So off we went with these two ladies into what turned out to be a different world entirely – believe me! One of the ladies introduced herself as Mrs Townsend and said we would be living with her. We followed them out, under the railway bridge and into Clowne. I, as usual was chattering to Peter about where we were going. Mrs Townsend looked round and said in a broad Derbyshire accent, 'If thou don’t shut thee rattle. I’ll belt thee tabs!' I was taken aback – I will never forget it! 'What did she just say?' I asked Peter. He shrugged his shoulders, saying 'I couldn’t understand it.' It was our first experience of the local dialect, which took some understanding. I have often wondered since, what they thought of our Suffolk twang! For those of you who don’t know it meant, 'Stop talking or you’ll get a thick ear!'

The fate of pupils at Earl Hall School in Southend was decided on Sunday, 20 May 1940 when the BBC announced that East Anglian coastal towns were to be evacuated by 2 June, for fear of German invasion. During a bewildering week, parents had to decide whether to have their children evacuated and that their destination would be Derbyshire.  Doreen Acton (nee Mason) left Southend with Westcliffe High School:
I remember waving good-bye to my mother and was surprised to see her eyes fill with tears. There did not appear to be any immediate danger either to my parents or to us.  We had no idea where we were going and as the long train journey progressed, rumours began to circulate. Finally we were told it was to be Chapel-en-le-frith in Derbyshire. After a short drive in a chauffeur-driven car, my friends and I arrived at an impressive mansion, Bowden Hall, outside Chapel-en-le-Frith. We were greeted by a friendly looking elderly gentleman who shook our hands. Freda and Beryl were directed to bedrooms in the mansion to unpack. Audrey and I were taken to the chauffeur's cottage,  we did not know then that the chauffeur and his wife had hospitably given up their bed to us. We went back to the main house and again met our host, Mr Lauder. It appeared his wife was away visiting their daughter.
            Chrissie, the Scottish maid, was a very good cook and we were served up delicious meals. I had been used to breakfast, dinner, tea and supper - we now switched over to breakfast, lunch, evening dinner and a hot drink before bed. After about a week or two, Mrs Lauder returned home. At first I got the impression that she thought we had been allowed too much liberty. We were consigned to the kitchen for meals. Very soon however she realised we were quite house trained and not a threat to peace and good order. From then on she treated us as kindly and generously as her husband.

Another young girl, evacuated from Southend's Earls Hall school, enclosed some picture postcards in her first letter home:
Dear All, I hope you are all well at home. We arrived at Chinley at 3.30 Sunday afternoon and when we got out of the train some boy scouts gave us all a half pint bottle of milk. After waiting about twenty minutes we got on a bus to Whaley Bridge. We went to a hall and had a cup of tea and a piece of cake. After about one hour they started to put the children to their new homes. First the farmer came and said we could go there but the teacher would not let us. Then the vicar came and asked us to go to the rectory but then something happened. After all we were put with Mrs Bailey. As soon as we got home she got tea and when we had finished, Winifred and Yvonne took us to the post box. These postcards are some of the lovely places here, and my bedroom window looks out on a lovely hill. Please send my shorts and my music book. We are all very well. Give my love to grannie, Love Kathleen

The aim of evacuation was to send children and adults to safety until the war was over. However, many never returned home after the war. Evacuees died whilst being evacuated or within days or weeks of arriving in a 'safe' area. Some suffered accidents whilst exploring their new communities with friends. Others died because of the inherent dangers of wartime such as air raids, unexploded bombs and minefields. In addition to this, some children endured neglect, physical and mental cruelty and sexual abuse at the hands of their foster parents. These stories make very difficult reading but need to be shared in order to provide a full picture of the British evacuation experience.
Beryl Blake-Lawson's friend suffered a fatal accident whilst returning to her billet and Beryl recalls, 'There was one tragedy, one day running down the hill from Bank Hall for lunch at her billet, Christine Markham, tripped and fell against the stone wall and was found by two senior girls. It was a great shock to them as she had broken her neck and was dead.'

Faith and Stella Shoesmith, aged 6 and 9, were evacuated from Lowestoft to Glossop and  Faith remembers the harsh treatment received in their billet:
We were the last to be picked and grudgingly collected by a Mrs Jessie Woods. Our stay was very unhappy as she treated us like slaves. Every Saturday we had to clean all of the bedrooms from top to bottom and we also had to polish the hall floor on our hands and knees. Mrs Woods inspected our work thoroughly afterwards to make sure that we had done a good job. We were not allowed into the dining room, and if we wanted to go upstairs, we had to ask permission. I would say 'Please may I go upstairs?' or 'Can I please go upstairs?' but it was always wrong and Mrs Woods would stand and laugh at us. We had to mind our manners, stand with straight backs and walk a certain way! 
            Our Dad had joined the army. Mum was in Lowestoft and every now and then she would send us parcels of sweets but we never received them. She did visit us when she could, and always brought sweets and toys with her. Our one victory was that we found a large square tin of biscuits hidden behind Mrs Woods' wardrobe. Every week when we cleaned her bedroom we helped ourselves to one biscuit.  After about two years Mum found a place in Sherwood and took us there so we could all be together.

When the war was over, many children were delighted to be returning home. However, for some it was 'evacuation' all over again as they struggled to readjust to life with their own families. Younger children in particular had come to love their wartime foster parents. Their own parents, whom they had rarely or never seen since their evacuation, were a distant memory. One boy remembers that the little girl who had lived with them for five years did not want to return home to her parents, 'She had forgotten them completely and was dragged kicking and screaming out of our house by her father. It was very upsetting for us all.’ Doreen Holden did not enjoy leaving the Matlock countryside to return to Manchester, 'I felt very claustrophobic back home, there were noisy buses and trains and the smell of smoke in the air. Of course I didn't let Mum and Dad know how I felt. Mary and Vi Draper did not want to leave Derbyshire either and Mary recalls: 'When we had to leave Mr and Mrs Bacon to return to our Dad in Lowestoft, it broke our hearts as well as theirs. They had no children of their own and had practically become our Mum and Dad – our own Mum had died. The war really did us a favour because Mr and Mrs Bacon (Auntie Bee and Uncle Bob) were marvellous to us, treating us like little princesses. Luckily many of the children remained in contact with their wartime foster families, through letters and visits, for the rest of their lives. Many have attended evacuee reunions in the areas in which they lived during the war whilst villages and towns have unveiled plaques in memory of the evacuees they welcomed so many years ago.

Gilllian's new book will be published on 1 December by Frontline Books. The chapters include: Plans for Evacuation, The Parents' Decision, Finding Homes for evacuees, Wartime Letters Home, Evacuated adults and teachers, The kindness of strangers, Out of the Frying Pan, The return home and the Aftermath of evacuation.  For more information see Gillian's author page on Amazon:

Her Evacuation blog can be viewed at:

Mary and Vi Draper


Evacuee children from Southend arrive at Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1940

Children are met at Whaley Bridge