Sunday, 14 July 2019

Friday, 12 July 2019

A Postcard From Hayfield

These tinted postcards were published in a set of 6 by Raphael Tuck and Co. in November 1905

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Furness Vale Field Day

Don't miss the Furness Vale Field Day on Saturday 22nd June. The History Society will be present with a good selection of books and other products for sale. Do call and say hello.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

May Meeting

At our next meeting on Tuesday 7th May, geologist Dr. Pete Webb tells the story of Ecton Copper Mine in Staffordshire. This was the deepest mine in Britain and was worked for over 3,500 years. The mine ceased working in 1891 and by that time over 100,000 tonnes of ore had been extracted. Owned by the Dukes of Devonshire, the profits are said to have paid for construction of  Buxton Crescent.

Below Ecton Hill

Ecton Hill is in North Staffordshire, overlooking the Manifold Valley and was mined for copper and lead since the 16th century although minerals have been extracted for 3,500 years. The Ecton Copper Mines are the subject of the Furness Vale History Society meeting on 7th May when geologist Dr. Pete Webb will relate their history.

The hamlet of Ecton
Ecton Station

The Leek and Manifold Railway was constructed in 1904 and ran between Waterhouses and Hulme End. It was built to a narrow track guage of 2ft 6in / 762mm to reduce costs. It was said of the railway by one of its consrtuction workers: "It's a grand bit of line but they wunna mak a go on it for it starts nowhere and finishes up at the same place"   It was hoped that the railway might revive the mining industry but the last workings had closed in 1891 and the deposits were largely worked out. The railway operated a daily passenger service but the villages that it served were often some distance from the line and traffic was sparce. It was mainly at Bank Holiday weekends that the carriages were packed with day trippers attracted by the spectacular scenery. Mainstay of the railway was the Express Dairy Creamery. From a siding and loading bay at Ecton, wagons were filled with milk churns. These were again manhandled at Waterhouses where they were transferred to Standard gauge wagons for transport to London. The railway however, introduced transporter trucks which "piggybacked" standard gauge wagons through to Ecton. Eventually glass lined tank wagons were introduced. The line survived for only two years after losing the dairytraffic. The "Transports of Delight" website has some excellent illustrations of the railway:
Thor's Cave

After closure, the trackbed of the railway was handed over to Staffordshire County Council who converted it into a 13km long footpath.It is a popular walk alongside the River Manifold, through one of the most scenic valleys of the Peak District. One short section is shared with a minor road and passes through Swainsley Tunnel, constructed by Sir Thomas Wardley who didn't like to see trains passing through his land. The most spectacular sight in the valley is Thor's Cave, a natural cavern in the limestone rock face, 80 metres above the river.

Two milk tankers are carried on transporter trucks at Ecton Creamery

Ecton Creamery and Cheese Factory was built on the former dressing floor site of the copper mines and occupied buildings that included a former smelting house. The Creamery, owned by Express Dairies handled over 3 million litres of milk at its peak in 1922 and also produced stilton cheese. It closed in 1932 when operations were transferred to a new site at Rowsley in Derbyshire.

The Folly House

 The Folly House in Ecton was constructed between 1922 and 1939. A rather eccentric building, it features battlements and a  copper spire topped with a golden ball. It became known as "Ratcliffe's Folly", or "The Castle" having been built for Arthur Ratcliffe by his own building firm. He sat for a four year term of office in the 1930s as Conservative MP for Leek but did not stand again at the 1935 General Election. He did not have a distinguished parliamentary record and only spoke on five occasions when he asked questions concerning Leek's silk industry. .
The house was renovated in 2005 and one of its outbuildings now serves as a study centre for the Ecton Mines Educational Trust.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

229 Buxton Road and the Aspinall Family

  We were surprised to learn that there had been a hairdressing salon at 229 Buxton Road. Julie Walker (nee Aspinall) has described her childhood in Furness Vale.

  Renée and Peter Aspinall had moved there from Ashton, late in 1957 with their two young children,  Stephen then 1 year old and Julie 8 months old.  Peter Aspinall worked at Ferodo in Chapel, and Renée converted the large back room of their home into the salon. The family moved back to Ashton in 1965 when Renée bought a business there.
  The house at that time had a wall where a hedge now grows and large gates. The garage was painted black and white. In the back garden was an orchard of apple and pear trees and a gate led to the footpath at the rear.
  The children went to Furness Vale School and Julie remembers the teachers Miss Jeffries and Miss Banks. Stephen joined the cubs, and Julie, the Girl's Friendly Society at St.John's Church. Renée and the children were friendly with the Riddick family and often visited Yeardsley Hall for birthday parties and once for a seance.
  Renée employed Ann  to help her, the daughter of Herbert Fletcher of Bank End Farm. Ann had a sister Helen. Opposite the farm, were the railway cottages on the corner.The front doors were painted turquoise. The Taylor family lived there and the Aspinall children went to school with Michael and Ian.

  Julie now lives in Inverness and Stephen in Newquay.

This photograph from our archive shows 229 Buxton Road , the second dormer windowed house on the left.

The photographs below are from Julie Walker's collection

Renée Aspinall in the garden of 229 Buxton Road.

Renée with Julie and Stephen

Julie in the pram with Helen Fletcher at Bank End Farm

Julie Aspinall is among this group of girls dancing around the Maypole at St.John's Church.
Stephen in his cubs uniform
At school with Miss Banks
Many thanks to Julie Walker for telling us about her time in Furness Vale and for supplying these and many other fascinating photographs.

The Rose Queen

Furness Vale Rose Queen and her attendants aboard a Wade's lorry in the 1960s. Photograph courtesy of Julie Walker

The Rose Queen was Jean Ford, then aged 11 years. She was later to marry John Wheelan.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Celebrating the Coronation

  This photograph was taken in 1936 in the garden of Heatherby, Diglee Road, Furness Vale. This was the home of the Knowles-Bolton family, owners of Furness Clough Colliery and Furness Vale Brickyard. The coal mine was just behind Heatherby and could be reached through a gate in the garden.
  Leading the horse is William Cross who looked after the pit ponies at Furness Clough. Riding the pony Tommy, is young Edwin Knowles-Bolton. The motorcyclist is Harry Roberts who lived next door to Jackson's butchers shop on Buxton Road but his sidecar passenger is unknown..
  Everything is highly decorated, perhaps to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI. The whole village was bedecked with bunting for the occasion and most of the village will have turned out for the parade along Buxton Road.