Saturday, 4 January 2020

Our Next Two Meetings

The February meeting presented by Geoff Wild, tells the stories of three medal winners, a VAD volunteer of the first world war, a victorian policeman and a 14 year old bugle boy fighting the Indian Mutiny

In March, Debbie Bailey tells us about the wildlife that lives around us in High Peak and about the badger vaccination programme which prevents the spead of bovine tuberculosis.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Shallcross Hall

Shallcross Hall, the former home of the Shalcross family was built in the early 18th century, probably about 1728. The architect is unknown although there are good grounds for believing that it may have been James Gibbs, the builder of Derby Cathedral. Ten years after completion, the last of the family line, John Shalcross, died and the house was sold to the Jodrell family. It was let to Edward Hall in the 1850s and sold to Buxton Lime Firms in 1926. Although various tenants occupied the house for short periods, it remained empty for most of the time, until, after a fire, it was demolished in 1968.
This is a computer drawn image.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Meet The Artist

 Paul Gent, from New Mills is the speaker at our first meeting of 2020 on January 7th. In his presentation, "People and Places", Paul will talk about his life as an artist and about people he has met and the places that he has visited. He will describe many of his works and show some of his numerous sketch books.
Many of Paul's paintings and sketches feature local scenes which will be familiar to many people.

Monday, 25 November 2019

The Blind Man's Road

Two of our local routes were built as turnpike roads in the 18th century by a blind man !

John Metcalf was born in Knaresborough in 1717. Six years later he contracted smallpox which left him totally blind. Known locally as "Blind Jack", he was a man of great accomplishments, especially his expertise as a road builder.
Within a few months of losing his sight, John had gained the confidence to leave his home unaided and within a few years could find his way throughout the town. Making the acquaintance  of boys of his own age, he soon learned to climb trees, joining them in regular forays into local orchards. He learned to ride his father's horses and eventually took up hunting. At the age of 13 he was taught to play the violin, a skill which was to prove a ready means to earn a living.
The deep pools of the River Nidd were popular bathing places and aged 14, Metcalf became a strong swimmer and it was he who was called upon to rescue a drowning soldier who accidentally fell in the river. 
There are numerous anecdotes telling of Metcalf's adventurous life and a popular story relates to a wager with Colonel Liddell, MP for Berwick. Jack won  10 guineas when he walked from London to Harrogate in five and a half days, arriving before the colonel whose journey by coach was slowed by the state of the roads.
Obtaining a four wheeled chaise, he entered the trade of a carrier, initially on local journeys but later transporting fish from the Yorkshire coast to Leeds and Manchester.
Joining the army, he was sent to Scotland during the Jacobite rising of 1745. His duties involved moving guns and entertaining the troops with his music.
On leaving the army, he obtained a stagecoach and driving it himself made a twice weekly journey between Knaresborough and York. 

The Turnpike acts of the 18th century empowered trusts to build and maintain new roads financed by tolls. An act of 1752 authorised a road between Harrogate and Boroughbridge and Metcalf with his experience of the bad state of the roads tendered to construct this three mile section. Despite having no knowledge of roadbuilding, he was awarded the contract and completed the work ahead of schedule. He now embarked on a long career during which he built 180 miles of new roads, often employing innovative methods. He earned more than £40,000 in this enterprise continuing to work until the age of 75. He died at Spofforth near Harrogate in 1810 at the age of 92.
This extraordinary man is commemorated in his home town where a sculpted figure sitting on a bench, holding a surveyors wheel, graces the Market Place.

Fernilee Toll Bar

The road from Macclesfield to Chapel-en-le-Frith was built by Metcalf in 1770. One feature of the road "Blind Jack's Bridge" in Rainow is Grade 2 listed. This is met by another Metcalf road at Horwich End for he constructed the Long Hill route between Whaley Bridge and Buxton. 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Christie and Watts

Agatha Christie at Upper House, Hayfield in 1913. A digitally colourised photograph

James Watts was born in 1804 and baptised at Ardwick.  It is said that he began his working life at a small weaver's cottage in Didsbury. The rags to riches story seems however, to be a little fanciful. His family did indeed come from a small cottage and farm in Burnage and were gingham weavers who employed some of their neighbours in the enterprise. Longevity seemed to be a family trait; his father lived to be 93; his grandmother 92, and his grandfather 103. The young James was sent to a private school in Salford and then to London to learn the drapery business. On his return, he joined his elder brother in the cotton trade before setting up on his own in Ashton. He was to return to Manchester and join his brother John in a business opened on Deansgate in 1796 and known as "The Bazaar". Specialising in ginghams hand-woven by the family, this is now acknowledged as the first department store in the World. The Watts brothers moved to Brown Street in 1836 selling the Deansgate store to three employees, Thomas Kendal, James Milne and Adam Faulkner. Since the death of Faulkner in 1862, the business has been trading as Kendal Milne & Co. There has therefore been a department store on the site for 223 years.
Watts moved again in 1844, to Fountain Street. James and his brother Samuel were now running the business as warehousemen for finished goods ranging from carpets to flannels and boots to umbrellas. They engaged local architects Travis and Mangnall to build a new warehouse on Portland Street and construction commenced in 1855. When completed in 1858, this was the largest and most opulant of Manchester's grand warehouses in 1858 to Portland Street. Designed in the form of an Italian palazzo, each floor follows a different architectural style and is topped by gothic style pavillions. No visitor could fail to be impressed by the grand staircase rising through each of the five storeys. More than 600 staff looked after finished goods from a trade list 384 pages long. 

An architects model of Watts Warehouse on Portland Street. The model may be seen at the Museum of Science and Industry.

James Watts served as Lord Mayor of Manchester between 1855 and  1857 and was High Sheriff of Lancashire. 

Sir James Watts (centre)

Abney Hall at Cheadle was built in 1847 for Alfred Orell, a wealthy Stockport cotton magnate and politician. When he died in 1849 at the age of 33, his home was bought at auction by James Watts. Travis and Mangnall were engaged in 1850 to extend and modify Abney Hall and in the following year Pugin made further extensive alterations. 

Abney Hall

James Watts joined the executive committee of the Art Treasures Exhibition which was opened by Prince Albert in May 1857. The Prince Consort was the guest of Watts at Abney Hall which he describes as "one of the most princely mansions in the neighbourhood". This occasion was followed by the Queen granting James Watts,a knighthood. Other guests at Abney Halle included Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone and author E. M. Forster.

Upper House at Hayfield is a former farmhouse and later a hunting lodge, built in 1794. It was part of the Kinder Estate acquired by Watts in the mid 19th century. Much of the land was sold or compulsorily purchased for the construction of Kinder Reservoir although the house and woodland remained in his possession.

Upper House
Both Sir James Watts'  son and grandson were  called James. In in 1902, the  younger James married Margaret Frary Miller, sister of Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie nee Miller was born in 1890 at Torquay, Devon. Her father Frederick was described as "A gentleman of substance". She was largely educated at home by her mother, Clara although after her father's death in 1901 she was sent to school in Torquay and later Paris. She met Archibald Christie, a WWI pilot, at a dance given by Lord and Lady Clifford and they married in 1914.
Agatha Christie had an early ambition to become a writer but it was not until 1920 that her first book, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was published. She wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, becoming the best selling novelist of all time. Her works have been translated into a record 103 languages and have sold two billion copies.
In 1926, her husband, Archie, having begun an affair, asked for a divorce. After a quarrel on 3rd December, she disappeared from home. Her car was found above a quarry and inside were an old driving licence and clothing. A hue and cry ensued with more than 1000 police officers, 15,000 volunteers and a number of aeroplanes searching the countryside. The story filled the newspapers for the next 10 days and rewards were offered. Eventually she was traced to the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate where she was registered under an assumed name. She then sought refuge at Abney Hall, home of her sister and brother-in-law and her privacy closely guarded. It is bellieved that she had been suffering from either amnesia or a nervous breakdown. Public opinion however, assumed a publicity stunt or an attempt to embarass her husband. 

Max Mallowan and Agatha Christie

Divorced in 1928, she met archaeologist Max Mallowan on a trip to Baghdad and they married in 1930. She continued to write under the name of Agatha Christie. She was appointed CBE in 1956 and in 1968 her husband was knighted for his work as an archaeologist with his wife taking the title Lady Mallowan. She became Dame Agatha Christie in 1971.

Agatha Christie was a frequent guest from childhood at both Abney Hall and Upper House, the former being the inspiration for the country house settings of many of her novels and at least two of her stories are based there. Many of her characters took their names from Derbyshire locations and families. On her railway journeys to Hayfield, she passed through Marple and named her famous amateur detective after the town.

Today, the Upper House is in  private ownership and serves as a wedding venue. Abney Hall  is used as office space although the public can visit during the Heritage Open Weekend in September and the grounds are open all year. Watts Warehouse has, since its conversion in 1982 been known as the Britannia Hotel. Kendal Milne's Department Store now trades as House of Fraser, the building on the original Deansgate site is a vast Waterstone's bookshop. Agatha Christie's detective novels are ever popular and her play, "The Mousetrap", has been performed in London's West End, continuously since 1952.


Saturday, 16 November 2019

Flat Pack Churches

“You can buy anything from Harrod’s", so it was once said. You could certainly buy a church, or at least a Tin Tabernacle as these prefabricated, corrugated iron buildings came to be called. The parish church at Maesbury in Shropshire, illustrated here by Maggie Humphrys, was one such structure. Supplied by the Knightsbridge store in 1906, for just £120, it was delivered on the back of a lorry and assembled by two men.

Harrod’s catalogue offered a range of "flat-pack" buildings,; they were just one of a number of companies to supply them.

The technique of producing corrugated iron and galvanising with zinc to prevent corrosion was developed in the mid 19th century. A range of buildings was available including churches, sports pavilions, village halls, railway structures, warehouses and even a diminutive shepherd’s hut. The town of Oban, in Scotland had a Roman Catholic cathedral built of corrugated tin until it was replaced in 1932 with a stone building designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

This was a time of rapid growth in urban populations and led in turn to a demand for new places of worship. The availability of pre-fabricated churches and chapels was able to quickly fill this need. These structures were manufactured in their thousands, not only for the home market, but also for export, mostly to the colonies.

These churches and chapels were usually painted externally in bright colours; the interior walls being lined with good quality tongued and grooved boards of pine. They were generally finished to a high standard.

Although the tin tabernacle was seen as a temporary measure, many have survived and a few remain in use as places of worship. Others have found new uses, some having become homes. One fine example is St. Philip’s at Hassall Green near Sandbach, Cheshire. It dates from the early 1880s and was originally sited in Alsager. It was sold for £150 in 1894 and moved to the present site. It is still used for regular services and is described as being painted “candyfloss pink”.

We have had several examples in this locality. The Bridgemont Mission started life in a boat builder’s workshop before moving to a tin tabernacle on a permanent site. It was replaced in 1933 by the present stone building. The photograph below, dated 1919, has been digitally colourised.

Seen inside the Mission is the Minister, Mr. Downes, who was known as “The Rough Diamond”

Whaley Bridge still has its tin tabernacle, hidden away behind the School Garage. Holy Trinity Church, a little farther along Buxton Road was built in 1903 to replace this temporary structure. The building then became the Whaley Bridge Tea Rooms (or Derby Tea Rooms, named after its owner Mr. Robert Derby) and is seen in the colourised picture below. It is now used as a workshop.

Another location is at Higher Disley where the former Methodist Chapel has become a children’s nursery. To the rear is a little pre-fabricated building, perhaps used in the past as a church hall.

If you wish discover more about these delightful little buildings, an internet search will direct you to a number of interesting websites and numerous photographs. The Wikipedia article offers an extensive, illustrated list of many locations, past and present.

©2019 Furness Vale local History Society

Father Jamie Macleod of Whaley Hall has written about the "Pink Church" at Hassall Green. He has a personal interest for it was his grandparents who paid for it to be re-roofed.  It was constructed because  building work on the original church was abandoned when its benefactor, Mr Lowndes died. Although almost finished, no further work was carried out.

I have since learned of another fine example, St Paul's at Strines which was built in 1880 by the owners os Strines Print Works,

St Paul's Strines

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The House Of Wonders

Quaintly named, "The Stones" is an attractive street in the centre of Castleton village in Derbyshire. Here in 1926, Randolph Osborne Douglas, opened part of his home as The Douglas Museum, The House of Wonders.

The House of Wonders at The Stones, Castleton

On display was his vast collection of ephemera, including many miniatures that he himself had made including a working engine that would fit inside a thimble; The Lord's Prayer engraved on a thread and a greenhouse complete with plants, small enough to stand on a thumbnail. He had collected African weaponry, mineral samples, ships in bottles, locks and keys and many other items. For a small fee, visitors were shown around by torchlight. 

Randolph Douglas with a group of visitors

Douglas had been born in 1895, the son of a Sheffield silversmith. He worked himself, at Hadfield's steelworks, until joining the army in 1916.

At the age of 8, he had seen Harry Houdini, the great escapologist, perform at the Sheffield Empire and thereafter he aspired to emulate the star. He became a self taught locksmith and his skills became known to Houdini with whom he corresponded regularly. After a show at Nottingham, Houdini travelled to Sheffield, invited to witness a new act that Douglas had devised. His step-mother dressed him in a straight-jacket secured with chains and padlocks and he was then suspended upside-down from a beam in the attic of his home before proceeding to escape. This was soon to become one of Houdini's most popular acts.

Douglas performed on stage himself on a few occasions as The Great Randini but only at small local venues. His first appearance was at the age of 16 at Catholic Young Men's Smoking Concert. A heart condition led to an early discharge from the army and he was no longer strong enough to perform on stage. He returned to the steelworks, married his wife Hetty and in 1926 moved to Castleton.

Randolph Douglas died in 1956 and the museum continued to be run by Hetty until she passed away in 1978. The museum closed and became a private house, the collection passing to Buxton Museum where it is on occasional display together with the Houdini correspondence


 This article first appeared in our Newsletter, January 2017

Monday, 4 November 2019

Prepare For The Invasion

 We are grateful to Dr. Gaynor Andrew for providing a copy of this World War II information leaflet.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

On The Road In Furness Vale

Part 6 - The Thornsett Turnpike

A number of roads in and around New Mills were constructed and maintained by the Thornsett Turnpike Trust. These incuded Union Road - Spring Bank - Bridge Street; Albion Road - Church Road - Hayfield Road and Marsh Lane - Station Road, Furness Vale; a total of eight miles. There were six toll bars in New Mills; one in Furness Vale and another at BirchVale. The Thornsett Trust was established by an act of 1831 for "making and maintaining a Road from Thornset in the County of Derby to Furnace Colliery within Disley in the County of Chester, and for making and maintaining several Additions thereto." 
Income from tolls amounted to £474 by 1850  but in 1838, the trust had a total debt of £11093.
The turnpike was a considerable improvement on previous roads. In Furness Vale, Station Road, now crossed the canal by a bridge and took the present alignment replacing Old Road as the main route to New Mills. There were toll bars at Marsh Lane Head at at Joule Bridge over the River Goyt. It was from this bridge, where in 1851,  William Southern, son of the tollkeeper, fell to his death whilst playing on the parapet.

In 1843 a court found that the funds of the Turnpike Trust were "wholly insufficient for the repairs of the turnpike roads comprised therein, part whereof lay in the hamlet of Beard".  The income received from the tolls did not cover the expenses of repair or the interest on the mortgage that financed the building of the roads. The justices heard  that it was the practice of the inhabitants of the parish to repair the highways. The court directed that the parish surveyor make a payment of £88 from the rate levied under the general highway act to the trustees of the turnpike road. 
 The website of the Derbyshire Record Office gives a fascinating account of the exploits of one Matthew Goodden and his association with the Thornsett Turnpike. He had been a toll keeper in at least 17 different locations around the country and his name often appeared in news reports of his frequent court appearances accused of disputes with travellers. He was born the son of a tollkeeper inYeovil in Somerset. Married in 1846, he held the leases to many different West Country tolls. He re-married in 1862 after the death of his first wife and began to move to other parts of the country. The 1860s was him first living in London, then Dudley and Huddersfield before moving to Abergavenny in 1874. It was whilst living in South Wales that he invoiced the Thornsett Turnpike Trust for the supply of gas to one of its cottages.  His name frequently appeared in newspapers in connection with various railway journeys. He was on several occasions summoned to court for travelling without a ticket. In 1870, his home was searched after an inspector was suspicious of a ticket that Goodden presented. Printing equipment was discovered together with more than a thousand forged tickets. Despite serving two years imprisonment for the offence, he was again jailed for 12 months in 1890 for forging a ticket.  The full story may be read here:

 The Record Office website also tells the story of John Kenyon Winterbottom who caused the Turnpike Trust much concern in the 1840s. It was recorded in 1844 that there was "a hiatus" in the books of the preceeding four years, a period when Winterbottom served as clerk. A Stockport solicitor, he was employed in the roleby a number of local turnpikes. He was a local magistrate and clerk to Stockport Council as well as a founder and partner of a Stockport bank. 
 Financial difficulties placed him under threat of bankrupcy and he absconded. He was rumoured to have been seen on the quayside at Liverpool but also rumoured to have gone to France. It was found that he had forged signatures to obtain a payout of £5000 from a client's life insurance. On his return to Liverpool, four years later, he was arrested, convicted of forgery and sentenced to transportation for life. He served his time in Tasmania and his exemplary behaviour resulted in 1855 being granted a ticket of leave. He was appointed Town Clerk of Hobart but in 1867 when Winterbottom was 78, it was discovered that he had sold Council debentures and kept the £400 received. He was imprisoned for two years and evntually diedd aged 82.

November 1st 1886 saw the abolition of the turnpikes in New Mills and this was celebrated by a great procession which started in Newtown, proceeded along Albion Road, Church Road and Marsh Lane. At Furness Vale, it turned right and returned to Newtown where a tea was served to children and bandsmen with a dinner at the Queen's Arms for teamsters. A huge bonfire was lit at Eller Bank and at 8pm a cannon was fired. At midnight, events got out of hand and a large crowd proceeded to destroy the toll houses, six of which were left in ruins.

Part 5 - Ringstones Clough

There has long been a track from Ringstones, down through the Clough to Bridgemont.  For many years while the Ringstones Colliery was in operation, this was the main access route to the pit and the means by which  coal could be transported down to the canal. There was even an aerial ropeway from the mine to carry the tubs of coal downhill. The route may still be followed as a footpath which starts by the entrance to the caravan park goes downhill through the wooded clough, past the former Blandola Works and under the railway line, finishing by the Bridgemont recreation ground.
Studying the Ringstones Farm map of 1845  shows that the track even had a name which appears to be "Falls Lane"

The start of the track, now just a footpath from the caravan park

Part 4 - The Manchester to Derby Road

This map is an extract from  Ogilby's Strip Maps of 1675. The route at this time followed the old Roman Road between Disley and Whaley Bridge. Furness Vale didn't exist as a village and the only reference on this map is "Erdley Hall", presumably Yeardsley Hall although confusingly "Mr Jodrels" is also marked.  Note that on this map, north is at the bottom of the page so it is viewed from an unfamiliar direction. Numbers on the map represent the distances from Manchester in miles.

Part 3 - The Roman Road

The route of the old Roman Road between Manchester and Buxton can be clearly traced today by its characteristic straightness, especially between Ardwick and the Rising Sun. The modern day A6 makes a few diversions, especially through Disley where the old route is followed by Jackson's Edge Road. South of Disley the A6, when it became a turnpike road, followed a more easily graded line by following the contours of the valley.  
The map below shows the route of the Roman Road between Disley and Buxton.  The line is uncertain through Whaley Bridge although it does appear to run behind the old golf club. The road then approximately followed the line of the Toddbrook Dam before heading towards Elnor Lane. Once again it becomes relatively easy to follow aalong present day track past the Whitehall Centre.

Chris Wilman has commented on this post, as follows: 
That conjecture - from Stoneheads to Elnor lane - was what the early OS mapmakers hypothesised in the mid 19th C. They almost certainly never visited locations, and mostly tried to join up gaps between known roads, with a straight line (as in this case) without knowing the actual topography of the land.
I've been assessing this section of Roman road for years. It's entirely feasible the road followed the route from the top of Stoneheads (ancient route) as it does now... right down what's now Whaley Lane down to the river crossing (county boundary line for hundreds of years) and onto Old Road no1. From there it joined Old Road no2 at the top of Shallcross (trade route cross roads), went through the site of White Hall (site of a Roman villa), and onto the main road that we now call the A5004.

Part 2 - Shippon Street

Shippon Street
 Opposite the former post office and adjacent to Longhurst Farm is Shippon Street or Shippon Lane. This name does not appear on any maps nor is it signposted, it appears to be a local rather than official title.  The route can be traced on an 1831 map, to the old farmhouse at the top of Broadhey Hill following a similar line to the present day footpath.

Shippon Street and Old Road which is almost opposite may also have been part of an old pack horse route. A paragraph in our archives reads as follows: An old pack horse road started halway along Longside Road. People from Kettlehulme (via Stark Road) came down past Brownhough to Yeardley Hall. Thence down the old road where Burnside now stands, across Diglee Road, down the gulley above Matlock House, across the Brickyard (a metalled road was found when digging the foundations for one of the brickworks chimneys - 1901), up the foot of the field known as Longhurst, to the gateway at the top of the meadow. Then down Shippon Street across Buxton Road, down the Old Road and out at the large gate down Station Road. Then over the river as far as Gowhole Farm, round the hairpin bend, up the Ladypit Road, straight up the fields, and through the plantation on to the road known as the Roman Road, leading from Chinley to Birch Vale. 
"Stark Road" probably refers to Start Lane, the original road between Kettleshulme and Whaley Bridge before construction of the turnpike (Macclesfield Road)
The map below has been marked to show the section of this route between Longside and Station Road.

Part 1 - Old Road

Old Road

 Now a short cul-de-sacOld Road had once been part of the only route from Furness Vale to New Mills.  The map below, an extract from the 19th century Cheshire Tithe Map shows the route of Old Road before construction of the railway. The road passed under the canal,sharing the aqueduct with Furness Brook.  When the railway was built, the road was crossed by a bridge which it shared with the colliery tramway.
The re-building of Station Road and Marsh Lane as a turnpike, left Old Road largely redundant as a through route.

There was some contoversy in 1909 when Mr Knowles, owner of the brickyard wanted to carry out some work under the railway bridge.

The Old Road At Furness Vale
From the High Peak Reporter July 3rd 1909
 A Furness Vale Grievence
At a meeting of the Disley Rural District Council a plan submitted by Mr. Knowles, for dealing with the old underbridge at Furness Vale, was discussed. A councillor said that it seemed in keeping with alterations to which the council had agreed,another remarked that it was a long standing issue about the old tramway under the road at Furness Vale. Mr. Longden, member for Furness Vale, said they should be careful lest they parted with a public right. The road had been a public one for hundreds of years and it joined the old road from Manchester to Buxton which ran by Longside. When Halls had the coalpit etc. for over 50 years they operated without stopping the road. There was alot of feeling about it in Furness Vale, and the Council should see to it that they did not come to any agreement which vitually closed an old public road. The clerk said it was too narrow for a public road. Mr Longden said it was not too narrow for a carriage to go up, and he had seen loads of hay go up through the tunnel. Often carriages went that way when the gates were closed to the road across the railway, for sometimes the gates were closed for a quarter of an hour. Suppose there was an accident there, and the line was blocked, if the old road was closed people would have to go all the way round to New Mills to get to the other side of the road. Mr. Rodgers remarkedd it was a dangerous place, and the Council would be responsible if anyone got killed. Mr. Whitehouse moved that the clerk looked into the matter and saw the Act of Parliament authorising the construction of the railway, to ascertain how the Council stood. Mr. Longden said there was a lot of grumbling. He had brought the matter before the Council for the last five months, and he should have no more to do with it, and leave the Council to it if they did nothing.  Mr. Whitehouse - "Oh don't say that Mr. Longden", "but I do. I am getting tired of it". Mr. Rodgers sai there ought to be some agreement with Mr.Knowles about the sewer. "It is our footroad" continued Mr.Rodgers, and we shall not pay anything for permission to go that way. He only has the right to go on the top of the road, and not to the soil under. The clerk said "that is so", and in reply to a remark of Mr.Longden's said "I can do just what the Council wnat me to do. It willl be alright for me if you spend several hundreds of pounds in Parliamentary expenses".
Finally it was resolved that the Clerk consult the Act of Parliament authorising the making of the railway, and that Mr.Knowles be written instructing him not to proceed with concreting the road until he had seen Mr.Brady, the engineer to the Joint Sewage Board.


The route of Old Road can still be followed through the railway bridge but only on foot.  Look over the parapet of the aqueduct and a short section of roadway may still be seen alongside the brook.

Friday, 25 October 2019

On Yeardsley Lane

A row of three cottages was built on Yeardsley Lane in 1822. For the first eighteen years, the fledgling Methodist Chapel and Sunday School was located here. In this picture which has been digitally colourised, some motorists are visiting. The woman is believed to be Miss Webb who at one time, owned all three properties. A man stands at her side, hardly seen in the shadows of the doorway.
The car was registered in Manchester at a date between 1904 and 1913 and may be a Humber.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Chapel in colour

The 18th Century stocks still stand in Chapel-en-le-Frith's Market Place alongside the Market Cross. Behind is the Roebuck Hotel. A house was built here in the 13th century for the Duely family. Rebuilt in 1700, it became a beerhouse in 1720 known as the New Hall. Between 1750 and 1850 the building served as a court house until becoming the Roebuck

 On the road from Chapel to Hayfield. The winter of  1939 and 1940 was one of the most severe on record. On 23rd January, a temperature of -23.3C was recorded in mid-Wales. Snow started falling on 26th January and continued for three days. As can be seen in this photograph, the snow had receded from the hillsides but remained piled up at the roadside.

Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1944. Members of  the A. R. P. and St. John's Ambulance Brigade pose before their new ambulance.
 George Taylor's milk float passes the Hearse House in Chapel-en-le-Frith in the 1930s. This is a Grade II listed building and was formerly an undertaker's cart shed. The plaque reads "Hearse House/Erected 1818. Samuel Grundy, Minister. Stephen Bellott and Adam Fox, Martinside - Churchwardens"
Nurses of the V. A. D. and St.John's Ambulance head towards Chapel cricket ground in 1944 where they will parade before Lady Mountbatten.
Two men try the stocks for size.

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

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Taking the waters

Taking The Waters at St. Anne's Well, Buxton. Colourised from a black and white postcard. 

Monday, 14 October 2019

People and Places

Just three weeks until our next meeting when Pete Goddard presents an illustrated talk about Chapel-en-le-Frith's past.  Everybody is welcome at Furness Vale Community Centre.Admission is £2including refreshments.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Sir Joseph Paxton

Joseph Paxton was from a humble background. He was born in August 1803 at Milton Bryan in Bedfordshire. His father, William was a tenant farmer and Joseph was the youngest of nine children. At the age of 15, he left school to work on the farm of an elder brother. His interests however lay in gardening and within a few months he had found employment with Sir Gregory Osborne Page-Turner at Battlesden Park, Woburn.  He stayed  in this post for five years and during that time created his first lake.

In 1823 he applied for a post at Chiswick Gardens, a property leased by the Horticultural Society from the Duke of Devonshire. Still only 20, he lied about his age, claiming to have been born in 1801. Within a year, he was promoted to foreman and often met the 6th Duke, William George Spencer Cavendish who owned the nearby Chiswick House. At the age of 23, Paxton was offered the post of Head Gardener at Chatsworth, the Cavendish family seat. The gardens were considered to be one of the finest of the time and he immediately accepted. He took a coach to Derbyshire that evening, arriving at Chatsworth early next morning. By the start of the working day, he had explored the gardens, re-organised the 80 garden staff, sat down to breakfast and met Sarah Brown, neice of the housekeeper, whom he was to marry in 1827. He claimed that by 9am he had completed his first morning's work.

Paxton remained as head gardener until 1832 when he became the Estate Manager. He had a friendly relationship with the Duke and he remained at Chatsworth until William Cavendish died in 1858. During that time he was allowed to pursue his own interests and to undertake a number of private commissions. He brought about numerous changes and improvements to the estate. 

Construction of the Great Conservatory began in 1836. This structure of iron, timber and glass was 84m long and 37m wide and Paxton's design concepts were later to be employed in the Crystal Palace. He was assisted by architect Decimus Burton. This enormous building took  3 years to complete after which time it was ready to house numerous exotic plants.  Down the centre was a carriage drive and it was illuminated by 12000 lamps. The heating system was housed below ground and the eight boilers were maintained by a team of ten men. The vast quantities of coal were supplied by an underground tramway.  Coal and staff shortages in the First World War caused many of the plants to die and in 1920 the 9th Duke ordered it's demolition. It took several attempts before a charge powerful enough blew it up!

The Lily House was built in 1849 to house a single species, Victoria Regia which had been transported from the Amazon. The leaves were large enough to supportthe weight of a small child. This was housed in the heated main tank  which also contained wheels to give motion to the water. The Lily House also contained eight smaller tanks. This structure was also destroyed in 1920.

In anticipation of a visit by Tsar Nicholas I, Paxton was asked to construct the Emperor Fountain. Work started in 1843 and took  6 months. A reservoir was dug above the house to supply the water and the fountain stands at the north end of the Canal Pond also known as the Emperor Lake. The highest in the world, it seldom reaches it's full 90m due to shortage of water.

Paxton also built enormous rockeries, ponds, water features, a grotto, an arboretum, a ravine and several greenhouses.

The village of Edensor (pronounced Ensor) lies within the bounds of the Chatsworth estate. The village originally straddled the banks of the River Derwent and was in full view of the house. This displeased the 4th Duke who started to move the villlage to a new location "over the hill" where it would be out of sight. The 6th Duke completed this project by engaging the architect John Roberton of Derby who designed a number of villas and houses in a variety of different styles. The layout of Edensor was to Paxton's design. The walled and gated village surrounds a large green and St. Peter's Church stands high on a mound. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, this replaced an earlier, smaller church. Since the death of her husband, the 11th Duke in 2003, the Dowager Duchess now occupies part of the former viacarage.  Edensor churchyard contains the graves of most of the Dukes and their families as well as that of Joseph Paxton and Kathleen, the sister of John F. Kennedy. 

Paxton was to become wealthy, largely by astute investment in railway stocks and shares and he held directorship is both the Midland Railway and the London and North Western.  Both railways had adjacent stations in Buxton built to similar designs and Paxton was responsible for the great fan windows at the end of each, one of which may be seen today.  The village of Rowsley is only 3 miles from Chatsworth and in 1845 the Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway  of which Paxton was also a director asked him  to build their station. Five years later, he designed the company offices and some cottages nearby.  The Park in Buxton is Paxton's other great contribution to that town. He laid out a fashionable 19th century estate of villas lining a circular road. In the central open space is Buxton's cricket ground where famously "snow stopped play" in June 1975 when Derbyshire were playing Lancashire. 

It was away from Derbyshire that Paxton found his greatest fame.  In 1850 a Royal Commission was considering entries in a design competition for the Great Exhibition which was to be held in Hyde Park. Although over 200 designs were forthcoming, none were suitable. A fellow director of the Midland Railway suggested to Paxton that he might submilt a scheme although the deadline was only 9 days hence. Paxton had to attend a board meeting in Derby and was seen to be sketching throughout the proceedings. At the close of the meeting he displayed the design of his Crystal Palace. After some opposition, Paxton's scheme was accepted and construction took just 8 months. This enormous glass building was prefabrictaed in iron and glass and was based upon his work at Chatsworth. The exhibition hall was 563m long and 124m wide. The floors covered almost 72000 square metres.

"The Great Exhibition of 1851 of the works of industry of all nations" was conceived by Prince Albert whose aim was to stage the greatest exhibition of all time of inventions and art. More than 100000 xhibits were drawn from across the Empire.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert performed the opening ceemony on 1st May 1851.  By the closing date in mid October, more than 6 million people had visited the Crystal Palace. The profits of over £200000 were used to purchase the land in Kensington where  The V & A and many of London's other museums now stand.

Queen Victoria granted Paxton his knighthood in 1851 for his achievement.

In 1852 the building was dismantled and re-erected in Sydenham in South London. It continued to be used as an exhibition hall and for concerts until 1936 when it was destroyed by fire. 

Baron Mayer de Rothschild commissioned Paxton to build Mentmore Towers in 1850. This Buckinghamshire house was one of the greatest Victorian country homes. He was next asked by a cousin, Baron James de Rothschild to build Chateau de Ferrieres near Paris, a house in the style of Mentmore but twice as large. Proposals currently stand to renovate Mentmore for conversion to a luxury hotel and the Chateau has been donated to the University of Paris. Wilhelm I of Germany said of Ferrieres "No Kings could afford this. It could only belong to a Rothschild.

A further country house was built at Battlesden near Woburn, the place of his first empoyment at age 15. The Duke of Bedford purchased this after just 30 years and demolished it as he wanted no other mansion so close to his home at Woburn Abbey.

The first municipal cemetery was in London Road, Coventry designed in 1845 by Paxton. His connection with that city continued and he was elected as the Liberal M. P. in 1854, a seat which he held for 11 years.

The most ambitious project, one which never left the drawing board, was The Great Victorian Way. Paxton adapted his design for the Crystal Palace to a structure that would encircle Central London. This was to be a great glass arcade 22m wide and 33m high. The route, 10 miles long would have linked a number of main line stations passing through Westminster, The City, Hyde Park and crossing the River Thames in three places.  The streets were congested and polluted and a fast transport system, protected from the weather was projected. A roadway down the centre would be served by buses and cabs and would be lined with houses and shops. At the second floor there was to be a railway originally planned to carry 4 tracks but later revised to 8. The trains would be driven by compressed air carried in tubes alongside the tracks. There would have been both stopping and express trains, the latter completing half of the circuit in 15 minutes. The estimated cost was £34 million and income would come from property rental and transport fares. The scheme was presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Metropolitan Communications in 1855 and although it initially found favour, it was rejected on grounds of cost. 

The Great Victorian Way

Paxton undertook many other projects including the design of public parks and of private houses. He was consulted on improvements to Kew Gardens and he published and edited a number of horticultural magazines and books.

On the death of the 6th Duke in 1858, Paxton retired from Chatsworth but was to continue working independently. He died in June 1865 in Sydenham and his funeral was held at Edensor. His wife Sarah continued to live at their Chatsworth home until her death in 1871.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Ned Dickson

                                                             NED DICKSON

In the hamlet of Tunstead, one mile south of Whaley Bridge, is preserved an old skull, about which many  strange yarns have been related, the truth of which we cannot endorse, but the prestige of the skull still continues among the inhabitants of the neighbouring hamlet and farmhouses. If the country people may be believed, DICKY,(as the skull is called) has by no way declined in power, of good and evil influence. Everyone in the Combs Valley believed that it was by Dicky's influence and objection to new fangled ideas that the bridge which was being erected by the L.N.W.R railway company across the road, passing Dicky's residence was swallowed up in a quicksand. The railway company and contractors battled against the malignant influence for a long time, but were eventually compelled to give way, and not only remove the bridge to some distance away, but construct a new highway, at considerable expense, for over a quarter of a mile. Various traditions have been given, relating the skull, but the most faithful history of Dicky is found in the following ballad, which was written by the late William Bennett.

                                          Ned Dickson's a yeoman, right Derbyshire bred
                                        That's strong in the arm and awake in the head,
                                        He's gone for a soldier across the salt sea,
                                        To serve Henri quatre with Lord Willoughbie.

                                          And now a bold trooper Ned Dickson doth ride,
                                        with pistol in holster and sword by his side
                                        With breastplate and backplate of glistening steel,
                                        And a plume in his morion and a spur on his heel.

                                          At Ivry he fought in the Huguenot war,
                                        and followed the white plume of him at Navarre,
                                        Of Henri Le Roi, when he burst like a flood,
                                        through the ranks of the leaguers in glory and blood.
                                          Hurrah now for Henry, and Lord Willoughbie,
                                        Hurrah for old England, the pride of the sea
                                        For pikemen, for bowmen, for cavalry too
                                        Show the Leaguerers what Englishmen's prowess can do.

                                          When the battle was hottest Ned Dickson was there
                                       and spurred hard his charger the honour to share,
                                      Three times did he rescue, brave Lord Willoughbie,
                                       when struck from his horse in that famous melee.

                                         At length hte bold trooper was wounded so sore,
                                     that he fell from his charger,all covered ingore.
                                     All night on the field, in his blood did he lie,
                                     and thought of his home, and the summons to die.

                                        But death did not come, he was found yet alive,
                                     though his comrades believed he would never survive
                                     His wounds were examined, the surgeons best art,
                                     was exerted to save such a valourous heart.

                                       His life was preserved, but his strength was all gone,
                                     He rode not, he walkednot, he stood not alone;
                                     his battles were finished, his story was o'er
                                     All ended war's pageant, he must see it no more.

                                       Then homeward he wended across the blue sea,
                                     and stood on the shores of his native countree,
                                     But so wasted in body, so ghastly and wan,
                                     No friends would have known Ned, the winsome young man.

                                       He got to his homestead, at Tunstead Millton,
                                     where the Derbyshire hills, on the valleys looked down
                                     Old Kinder he saw in the distance appear,
                                     And Chinley and Southead and Coburn draw near.

                                       Eccles Pike too, and Combs, on whose bold rocky head
                                     the Romans his rampart in old times had spread,
                                     Now lay all around him, his eye glistning bright,
                                     as he slowly surveyed such familiar sight.

                                       Then he entered the house, his cousin was there,
                                    Who, if Ned should die, would become his sole heir;
                                    He stood, but no word of kind welcome had he
                                    and at last said, "It seems Jack thou knowest not me".

                                      "Who art thou?, I know thee not"answered the man
                                    While his dark eye,the soldier did hastily scan.
                                    "Why I am Ned Dickson your kinsman I throw,
                                    come back from the wars, to the flail and the plough".

                                      "My cousin, Ned Dickson thou liest", he cried,
                                    "He was killed in the wars as is well certified";
                                    "Moreover Ned Dickson was comely to view,
                                    and thou art a lat that wind would blow through".

                                      "Natheless I'm Ned Dickson, Jack Johnson", he said,
                                    "though wounded full sorely, thou'll find I'm not dead;
                                    and this is my homestead, and thou art my man,
                                    and these are my lands, deny it who can".

                                      "Sayest thou so, cousin Ned, well I think it be thee;
                                    after all that we've heard that thou'rt dead over sea,
                                    but alas thou art changed man, nay privee don't stand,
                                    just take thine own couch-chair, and give us thine hand".

                                      Then Johnson and wife were right fain of their 'cus',
                                    he shook Dickson's hand, and she gave him a 'bus'.
                                    And soon came good eating and drinking to boot,                                  
                                    'Til at last they had compassed, the length of Ned's foot.

                                       Night grew on apace, and they got him to bed,
                                     Jack carried his feet, and his wife held his head;
                                     he had the best chamber, with rushes all strewn,
                                    And through the closed casement,he gazed at the moon.

                                      Not long did he lie, ere he fell fast asleep,
                                    while his kinsfolk outside, close vigil did keep,
                                    They heard his loud snores, and entered his room,
                                    In silence and darkness and death was his doom.

                                      They strangled the soldier, as helpless he lay,                                                                                         and carried him outside before it was day;
                                    In the paddock hard by, they buried him deep,
                                    and thought how securely their cousin would sleep.

                                      And there cousin did sleep for a while,and no word,
                                    of his death or his absense, the murderers heard.
                                   All people believed he was killed in the fight,
                                   And Jack Jackson is heir to the land in his right.

                                     But a year had not passed when one wintry night
                                 That the storm rack was hiding the moon from their sight.
                                 Honest Jack and his helpmate cowered over the lumb
                                 His visage was sad and her clacker was dumb.

                                   "What's that in the nook, Jack", she suddenly cried,
                                 And shaking with terror, they clearly espied,
                                 The head of Ned Dickson upright on the stone,
                                 As wan and as ghastly, as when he was done.

                                   Many years passed away, and murderers fell,
                                 by just retribution as ancient folk tell.
                                 By a blow from her husband, the woman was killed,
                                 By a fall of an old, Jacl Johnson's blood spiklled.

                                   But the head of Ned Dickson, still stood in the nook,
                                 though they tried to remove it by bell and by book,
                                Though wasted of skin and of flesh, still the skull,
                                Will remain at its post 'til it's weird be full.