Thursday, 21 May 2020

Bonus Sweatmore

Bonus Sweatmore started work at Knowles Brickyard in 1930, aged 16. 
49 years later, on 1st June 1979, he retired and was presented with a clock by his employers.
Bonus lived first in St George's Road in New Mills before moving to a newly built bungalow on Marsh Lane in the 1970s. He walked to and from work every day, come rain or shine. He was able to enjoy a long retirement before passing away in 2008.

Few  people spend all their working  days with one employer but having left school, Bonus Sweatmore found a "job for life".

 Bonus was born in December 1915 and married in March 1940.

 Bonus, photographed at the wedding of his daughter Ann in 1965

 Bonus and Ann in his garden in 2003

 The inscription on the clock reads: "Presented by Messrs R E Knowles Ltd to Bonus Sweatmore in recognition of his 49 years faithful service with the company 1st June 1979"

Knowles Brickyard, Furness Vale. Bonus Sweatmore's place of work for 49 years.

Death by Poisoning

A young lady (name not known) was in service at Brookfield House, on Reservoir Road, Whaley Bridge in 1930. Brookfield House was, in those days, the servants’ quarters for Whaley Hall.

Brookfield House, Reservoir Road

She was somehow ‘involved’ with a local police officer, Police Constable Gage from Bridgemont. She told other servants that she and Gage used to meet on Reservoir Road and go to the hen house for a drink.

One Saturday night she got off the Buxton train at Whaley Bridge and started to walk up Reservoir Road to Brookfield House where she was ‘in service’. She was followed by PC Gage from Bridgemont as witnessed by Frank Collier who was employed at Botany Bleach Works. PC Gage did not see Frank Collier.

It was rumoured locally that the girl was pregnant but if it was true it never came out officially.
The next day the young lady was found dead in William Eyre’s hen run and, not intended as a pun, foul play was immediately suspected. The hen run was in the field opposite Brookfield House. The field is now owned by Grant Ford and the hen house is still there after all these years.
A post mortem revealed that the girl had been poisoned with a very rare poison. The police made enquiries at all the local chemists and the only person who had acquired this type of poison was Police Constable Gage. Gage was suspected of murdering the girl and was summoned as a witness/suspect to the inquest held at the Mechanics Institute on Market Street in Whaley Bridge.

The number of people who wanted to attend the inquest was far too many than the building could cater for so seats were fixed on the pavement outside and loudspeakers were erected so that those people could at least hear the proceedings. Gage was very evasive with his answers to the Coroner. When asked why he had bought the very same poison that killed the girl he said he knew nothing about it and he had simply bought the poison to end his dog’s life as it was suffering from a medical condition. The Coroner asked Gage where he had buried the dog so that checks could be made on its body. Gage said he had thrown it in the fire-box at Blandola Riddle Works in Bridgemont close to where he lived. Asked where he had kept the remains of the poison so that could be also checked he said he had also thrown that in the fire-box.

The jury was ordered to return an open verdict and Gage was free to go. He was transferred the next day to take up duties in Northwich and nobody was ever charged with the poor girl’s murder.

Below is a photo of Grant Ford’s field before his house was built and the hen house is in the corner. You can see the Masonic Hall in the background at the entrance to the Park.

Tony Beswick

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Gerald Hallworth

We are sad to hear that Gerald Hallworth of Ringstones Farm passed away last week. 
Born in Stockport, in February 1928, Gerald was 92 years of age.
He had lived at Ringstones since 1953, mostly farming dairy cattle, with a herd of 50 at its largest. At times, he also kept pigs and poultry. 
Gerald was a good friend to the History Society and was often seen at our meetings and events. He will be very much missed in Furness Vale.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

An Anniversary Tale

On this day in 2001, Great Train robber, Ronnie Biggs was finally captured on arrival home from exile in Brasil.

Tony Beswick writes about his colleagues:
Another brief tale and this time about Bennetstone Hall.
After the Great Train Robbery some of the gang escaped from prison and obviously had quite a bit of money. One such person was Charles Wilson. He was rumoured very strongly to have stayed at the Hall. He would be right up Gerry Adshead's street. Gerry liked money and characters. It was said that Wilson used to sit quietly at one end of the bar drinking. Apparently even the police knew he was living there and spent some time drinking with him.
Don't forget there was a lot of sympathy for the robbers after their excessive sentences and they became sort of heroes. Wilson did get caught and I think he was the last man to be released. He was asassinated in Spain years later.  Others got away scott free.
 Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind, after he was finally released did one last job: he broke into a mansion in Macclesfield, opened the safe and stole £50,000.00 He thought he would have to go on the run again but the crime was never reported.
 Charles Wilson

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Historic Furness Vale in pictures

A selection of photographs of the village from the collection of Tony Beswick. He will be adding to this album in the coming days.

Carr Farm and the view across to New Mills. The spire of St. George's Church is prominent on the horizon. The white cottage between the railway line and Marsh Lane was known as Nob Hall.

A pre-war view of Bridgemont showing the War Memorial on the left. In the distance can be seen the hanging sign of the Dog and Partridge, opposite the Post Office.

 An early photograph showing three shops. The space between the two blocks was later occupied by a small house which was eventually incorporated into the Post Office. The shop in the centre was at the time of the photograph, Lowe's Confectioners. The nearest shop appears to be selling clothes or drapery. It later became a fish and chip shop and finally, a newsagents. 

 A procession passes the Corn Store. Members of the Foundation of Truth Lodge of the Oddfellows are on parade. The Oddfellows was a benevolent society, a forerunner of the Welfare State. The Lodge, which met at the Soldier Dick, included avery large number of the village's population in its membership.
 "Burnside" at the corner of Yeardsley Lane and Diglee Road. This was the home of one of the Saxby family, owners of Furness Vale Printworks. In the garden is the grave of "Spider", the dog which accompanied Mr Saxby to the Soldier Dick each evening, and guided him home.
 One of the outbuildings at Longhurst Farm.

Bridgemont in 1905, looking very much the same as today but without the traffic
 A procession passes Birch Wood. This may be part of the 1911 Coronation celebration in Furness Vale.
 The Post Office, Hills grocers, Smalley's newsagents and the Wool Shop. Posters advertise Double Diamond on the wall of Williamson's greengrocers shop.
 The bridge over the River Goyt at the foot of Station Road. Just to the right was the location of a toll cottage.
 The "Australian Bungalows" on Diglee Road and "Brookside" at the corner of Yeardlsey Lane. The field in the foreground is now the dite of several houses.
The village is decorated with flags and bunting,
 perhaps for the 1936 Coronation. A single car approaches

 Birch Wood. Although all of these houses remain, the scene today looks quite different.

 The 1911 Coronationof King GeorgeV and Queen Mary. A band leads the procession through the village.

 An early 20th century view, looking down Yeardsley Lane. A row of four houses was built in 1914 where we see the stone wall of the right. We can see the back of the building that wasto become the Garage but this is before extensions were added to the side and rear.
 A view of the Printworks from the canal towing path. The woman is Mrs Swindells

 Digging for victory. Furness Vale School Garden in wartime was given over to growing vegetables

 The teacher on the left is Walter Mason. In the background are two of the small bungalows which once stood on Yeardsley Lane
 Miss Hobson. A popular teacher still well remembered in the village. She was an enthusiastic historian and recorded much of our village's heritage

 The 1911 Coronation of King George V saw great celebrations in the village. It seems that most of the population took part in the procession along Buxton Road.
 Ladies in Edwardian dress parade past the Post Office and Lowe's confectionery shop. We don't know the occasion; it is not a celebratory event for there are no street decorations.

 The Soldier Dick and Buxton Road. The village is festooned with bunting, probably for the 1936 Coronation of King George VI. Note the telephone box on the right hand side. This is an example of the K1 style installed between 1927 and 1929. These were constructed from pre-cast concrete with metal doors and window frames. The two storey extension to the pub was, at this time, Ford's Ironmonger shop.

 Broadhey Farm above Furness Vale. The large stone barn on the left of the picture was converted a few years ago into four homes. The farmhouse on the left is a 19th century replacement of the original home, abandoned when the water supply failed. Its location can be seen at the top of the hill where a remaining barn still stands.

 Three photographs this morning from Tony Beswick. The first picture shows a group of children gathered at the gate of 59 Buxton Road.. On the left is the Wool Shop, then a haberdashers. 

Alongside the canal at Bridgemont was Mr Fox's boatbuilding workshop. The top floor was used by the Bridgemont Mission for several years after it was founded in 1893 by Mrs Fox. The business later moved to Furness Vale where Mr Fox continued to build and paint narrowboats and where he became a leading member of the Methodist Chapel. The building was demolished to make way for the by-pass.

More Edwardian children meet at the village bench. Note the wooden projection on the front of the Corn Store. This was a St John's Ambulance box and housed a stretcher and other first aid equipment.

 Yeardsley Lane in a severe winter. The poplar tree on the right still grows in the garden of Matlock House.

A rare visitor to Yeardsley Lane

 Cottages at 30 to 34 Yeardsley Lane. The date is 1960, the time when the street lighting changed from gas to electric. Built in 1822, they served as the first Methodist Chapel and school in the village

 Construction of the water Treatment Works. It opened in 1924

For many years I worked for Edward Hall's Botany bleach works. One of my main jobs was to protect the river from pollution. At one time e everything went into the river without question. But times changed and effluent was diverted into the sewer system.
The raw cotton had to be boiled for hours in Caustic to remove the linseed oil.
The caustic then had to be neutralised using an acid. There were two acids on site Sulphuric and Hydrochloric. One was used as the main agent and the other as a backup just in case somebody forgot to repeat the order, which was quite often.
When mixed with the backup acid it made the foul smelling hydrogen sulphide and they went in thousands of gallons daily down a 12 inch pipe from Whaley and emerged at the Sewage treatment plant. There was absolutely no problem apart from the dreadful smell. I remember a chap calling on me when I lived on Yeardsley Lane and asked me to sign a petition demanding improvements to the Sewage works. I told him the truth of the matter and that I couldn't sign something that was wrong.. He looked at me as though I had just come from outer space, used a bit of choice language and went off shaking his head.

Tony Beswick

                Buxton Road with the School in the background.

     The entrance to Knowles Brickyard. Behind the wall on the left   was the entrance to the tunnel under Buxton Road.

Thursday, 30 April 2020


Saturday evening and the streets were thronged with people out for a night's entertainment.  Thousands of youngsters, courting couples, even complete families, all seeking enjoyment at the end of a week's work. Shudehill was lined with market stalls, sideshows and street performers. Bargains were to be had towards midnight when unsold produce was offered. The vast Smithfield Market had been open since six that morning as had all of the pubs round about.

Shudehill was for long, the home to many of Manchester's markets:  The Hen Market, The Apple Market, The Potato Market.  As the city grew, so the markets expanded and stalls were to found selling every nature of produce. In 1822 it was given the name Smithfield.   In the mid 19th century glazed, iron framed halls were built covering an area of four and a half acres. 

Next to the Hen  Market was Ye Olde Rover's Return, built in 1306. Not always a public house, it had  originally been a manor house for the Wythin Grave family. 

                  The Hen Market and Rover's return in 1915

Shudehill was an ancient highway which until the 1820's was still on the edge of the countryside.  16th century Bradshaw Hall had extensive grounds and even a large orchard. Very soon however, the rapidly expanding city absorbed all of this open country.

In Medieval times, Manchester's growth was centred on the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk, around the Parish Church, which is now Manchester Cathedral and the Manor House, which is now Chetham's School of Music.

When the town expanded beyond its original boundary of Hanging Ditch and Todd Street, the Medieval street pattern, which surrounded the Cathedral area, extended up to Shudehill.

Although much is still in evidence today, the construction of Corporation Street in 1848 cut directly through this curving street pattern to make access to Ducie Bridge and the north easier.

The earliest recorded mention of Shudehill was in 1554 but it is probably older. The name of the street may derive from the word 'Shude' which means husks of oats, but this is uncertain.

                                  Withy Grove in 1967

'Wythengreave' or 'Withy Grove' meant a grove of willow trees which grew in the vicinity when Withy Grove was a country lane.

Wythengreave Hall, a country house at the upper end of Shudehill, was offered for sale in 1763 with eight and a half acres of land. It had been the residence of the Hulme family, and when William Hulme died in 1691 he left some of his land in trust to support poverty-stricken Bachelors of the Arts.

In 1881 Queen Victoria approved a scheme to re-settle the foundation so that new grammar schools could be built in Manchester, Oldham and Bury, and a hall of residence attached to Owens College (now Manchester University).

The Bradshaw family lived in Bradshaw Hall, a timber and stone house which stood from at least 1512 to 1910 on Shudehill between Bradshaw Street and Snow Hill. John Bradshaw was Magistrate and High Sheriff of Lancashire. With the aid of soldiers, he quelled the food riots of 1757.

The garden at Bradshaw Hall was a showpiece and gave rise to Garden Lane (now Garden Street) which ran alongside. Garden Street was also the site of Manchester's first infirmary which opened in 1752 with the professional assistance of the eminent surgeon, Charles White.

Hanover Street was named following the coronation of King George III and Queen Charlotte in 1761, as were George Street and Charlotte Street on the other side of town. Originally residential, Hanover Street was the site of an early Cotton Mill collapse in 1790 in which several people were killed.

Until the mid-18th century, the Shudehill area had been semi rural with limited residential development, but by 1793 the whole of Shudehill was built up and included commercial property.

In 1785 James Sadler made the first balloon ascent in Manchester from a recreation ground attached to a house in Long Millgate and the alley behind the recreation ground became known as Balloon Street. The property was later converted to a public house, the Manchester Arms, which survived until its demolition in 1980.

                          Manchester Arms, Balloon Street

Prior to 1838, the function of the Corporation was performed by the 'Court Leet'. One of its officers, Edward Mayes, died in 1621 and left money to purchase land to support the poor of the City. Almshouses were built in 1680 on Miller Lane (now Miller Street).

In 1794 however, the trustees secured an Act of Parliament which enabled them to demolish the almshouses, and in 1808 they sold the land on 99-year leases, for warehousing. Mayes Street, behind the almshouses, was named to commemorate the founder of the charity.

Springs in the Shudehill area were once Manchester's principal water supply, hence the names Well Street and Spring Alley. Pits which are now filled in, were used as water storage until Holt Town Reservoir was built in 1808. The Shudehill source ceased permanently when Gorton Reservoir was opened in 1826.

The early development on Shudehill and Withy Grove was, and still is in part, small scale with narrow frontages. By the 20th century large scale property was being developed along Corporation Street: first the headquarters of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, then the buildings on the corner of Withy Grove and Corporation Street to accommodate national newspaper publishers.

The Ye Olde Rovers Return Inn stood on Shude Hill. It’s exact location has been sadly lost to history, but it was said to have been next to the Hen Market and the original Burgess Bedding factory. It was built shortly after the execution of Scottish freedom fighter and hero, Sir William Wallace at Smithfield in London in August 1305.

At some time in it’s long history, it became a licensed house, but this had ceased from 1924, after which it became a cafe and antique shop. The building was subsequently demolished by Manchester City Council in 1958.

In the 19th Century the building appears to have originally been part of the Withingreave Hall, once owned by William Hulme, the 17th Century philanthropist. There is also suggestions that the building was built as a manor house for the Wythin Grave family, only becoming the Ye Old Rovers Return Inn, in the 19th Century.

The famous pub of the same name in the soap opera, Coronation Street ,was named after the Ye Olde Rovers Return Inn on Shudehill.

Furness Vale Shops, Pubs and Businesses

 Try our new interactive map. Zoom in and out, then click on each marker for more details and photographs

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The Libraries Of Manchester



  Few people realise the importance of Manchester's historic libraries. The collections exceed a total of two milllion volumes and a significant number of ancient works are of worldwide importance. The buildings themselves are among Manchester's greatest treasures.

Chetham's Library

The oldest library is Chetham's which has been a free public library since 1653, the oldest in Britain. The collection contains over 100,000 books, the majority published before the mid 19th century

The Chethams complex includes one of Manchester's oldest buildings dating from 1422. Built as a manor house, this became a priest's hostel, being alongside the Collegiate Church, now Manchester Cathedral. During the Civil War, it served first as a gunpowder factory and later a prison.

Sir Humphrey Chetham 1580 - 1653 was a successful cotton merchant. He had been educated at Manchester Free Grammar School which was then sited between the later Chetham's Hospital and the Church. He was offered a knighthood in 1631 due to his great wealth and was fined for refusing the honour. He was not able to refuse the post of High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1635 nor of General Treasurer in 1643. He feared that on his death, his wealth might be taken by the Crown and for this reason he bequested money for the establishment of Chetham's Hospital which was to support 40 poor boys and Chetham's Library together with funds for the purchase of books. 24 feoffees or trustees were appointed to manage and stock the library and their aim was to rival the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. The building was extended during the Victorian era as was the Grammar School, the latter moving to it's present site in Fallowfield in the 1930's. The books were originally chained although that practice ended in the mid 18th century.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were frequent visitors to Chetham's and a reference book and bench seat mark the spot where they used to meet.

Chetham's Library is open Monday to Friday and visitors are welcome. An appointment must be made in order to read any of the collection.

Further information :

                        Reading Room at Chetham's Library


John Ryland's Library

The John Ryland's Library on Deansgate forms part of the University of Manchester Library. The principal buildings are on Burlington Street within the University Campus although parts of the collection are housed at a number of other sites.
More than quarter of a million books are housed and over a million documents and archive items.

John Rylands was a textile manufacturer. He was Manchester's first multi- millionaire and employed 15000 at his 17 mills. His home was Longford Hall in Stretford. Rylands was a philanthropist supporting numerous charities including chapels, orphanages and retirement homes for ministers and gentlewomen. In Stretford he provided a library, baths, town hall and coffee house. He was generous in supporting the poor of Rome and in 1880, the King honoured him with the Order of the Crown of Italy. Rylands died in 1888 leaving the bulk of his estate to his wife Enriqueta, more than £2.5 million. He is buried in Southern Cemetery.

Enriqueta Augustina Rylands obtained a site on Deansgate in 1889 and commissioned Basil Champneys, a notable architect to design a library in memory of her husband. The Victorian Gothic building has an ecclesiastical style which refelcts it's original intention to house principally theological works. Construction was completed in 1899 and the library opened in October with a collection of some 40,000 books. Much of the collection is rare including more than 3000 books printed prior to 1501. On her death in 1908, Mrs Rylands bequeathed £200,000 to expand the collection, more than 180,000 books being acquired. The merger with the University Library was completed in 1972.

The Library is open daily and also houses a cafe. For more information :


The Portico Library

Situated on Mosley Street The Portico Library is a private subsciption library. The building in the Greek Revival style was designed by Thomas Harrison and opened in 1806. The library was initiated by a group of businessmen and financed by subscription. The collection of 25,000 books is mainly of 19th century literature. The Library and Gallery are on the upper floors, accessed through a doorway on Charlotte Street. The ground floor once housed the Bank of Athens and is currently occupied by the Bank public house.
The Gallery houses regular exhibitions, often of artistic works.

The Portico Prize for Literature is presented bi-ennially for works of fiction and non-fiction.

The Library is open Monday to Saturday although normally only the Gallery area is open to the public. Light
refreshments are available

The first secretary was Peter Mark Roget who started work on his Thesaurus whilst in Manchester. Famous members have included John Dalton, Richard Cobden, Sir Robert Peel, Thomas De Quincy, Elizabeth Gaskell and more recently Eric Cantona.


Manchester Central Library

Manchester's municipal library in St Peter's Square has recently re-opened following a major renovation

Manchester's first public library opened in 1852 at Campfield near Liverpool Road Station. When this building became unsafe, the Library moved to the old Town Hall which stood on King Street. The book collection had grown too large by 1912 and a further move was made to the redundant Infirmary buildings in Piccadilly Gardens. This was intended to be a temporary solution but progress on a replacement building was delayed by the First World War. A competition to design a Town Hall Extension and the new Library was held in 1926 and won by the architect Emanuel Vincent Harris.

The foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald in May 1930 and the large domed, rotunda in a neoclassical style, was completed in 1934 and opened by King George V on 17th July.

The basement housed the Library Theatre which is now to be relocated to new premises which it will share with the Cornerhouse cinema and gallery. Below the Great Hall are four floors of shelving able to store 1 million books in environmentally controlled conditions.

The collection includes many editions of historic importance including books printed before 1500 and the total stock is in the region of 2 million volumes..

                                 The Reading Room Clock


Manchester Law Library

The Law Library is one of the oldest in the country having been established in 1820. It offers a collection of books, lawreports and journals for members of the legal profession.

The first location, for the Law Library Society was above the Star Inn on Deansgate.  Amalgamation with the Law Library Association in 1844, saw a move to premises on King Street. There were further moves to Norfolk Street, then Cross Street before settling in a new building at 14 Kennedy Street. This was a four storey building designed by architect, Thomas Hartas, in a Venetian Gothic style, completed in 1885.
A rule prohibited solicitors and barristers using the same entrance !
Faced with increasing costs and falling patronage, the library moved to smaller premises in the Onward Building,  Deansgate in 2015.

                        The Reading Room at Kennedy Street