Monday, 7 January 2019



The area affected by the Peak caterpillar plague is reported to be extending. From theKinder moorlands they are marching in the direction of Glossop and Hayfield, and near thelatter place they have invaded and spoiled the crops on some of the fields which farmers have setfireto prevent further ravages. A field of oats near Chinley has been completely ruined by the pests. They are swooping down the moors into the Goyt Valley in the direction of New Mills and Whaley Bridge and have already made their appearance on some of the farms there.
Mr H. P. Huss, the manager of Parr's Bank at Chapel-en-le-Frith, who first called attention to the plague, suggests that the gorse on the edges of the moors right along the roadsides in all directions from manchester to Sheffield, through all these places, be fired, and that tar be sprayed on each side of the affected roads two feet wide, on the Castleton road for three and a half miles long, and that the fields be heavily limed. He has also suggested that sanction be soughtfor the services, for, say, three weeks, of the local volunteers for this work.
He points out that tghe caterpillar will change in a few days into a moth, and each femal moth will in Autumn lay up to 100,000 eggs,so that the country is threatened with a far more serious plague unless serious and energetic action is taken.
Those best to judge consider that the alarming invasion is owing partly to the non-firing of the moors recently and partly to the orders for slaughtering birds that have heretofore fed on these pests and destroyed many of them, and they declare that until this ban is removed, crops wil be seriously diminished all ove the land at a time when every ounce of food is needed.
The Board of Agriculture has wired to Mr.Huss, to Mr.Boycott  (clerk to the Chapel-en-le-Frith District Council), and the superintendant of police at Chapel-en-le-Frith saying that they had instructed an inspector to visit the district and advis of the caterpillar attack. They asked to be supplied at once with particulars as to the area affected, whether pasture or arable lands, and any other details obtainable.
The police authorities replied that the first they heard of the matter was on the 11th inst. It was then reported that the caterpillars existed in swarmson the moorland between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Edale, and that they were moving along the main road in the direction of Peak Forest.Inquiries made since show that practically the whole of the division if affected, chielfly on the moors.
The general opinion is that the only effective means of stamping out what is undoubtably a rapidly spreading plague over the whole country from Sheffield to Manchester is to burn up all the moors, and so destroy the pests and their nests. In the meantime, precautionary measures should be taken to prevent these vast armies from getting into the water reservoirs at Derwent, from which Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester derive their supply; those in Woodhead Valley that supply Manchester; and those in Kinder Valley from which Stockport derives its supply,as well as the supplies to the smaller towns and villages in the area.

Burton Daily Mail 20th June 1917

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Furness From The Air

Here's a high quality aerial view of the village from 1974. The butcher's shop, at this time owned by James Lavin looks open for business as the shop blind is drawn. On the other corner of Station Road is Barbara Griffith's shop. The building that was to become the Imperial Palace restaurant was at that time, the offices of Riddick's Builders. There are a number of cars parked at the back of the office but note how quiet the roads are. The buildings of Riddick's yard may be seen on Charlesworth Road. This is the land, like a small wood, that became Charlesworth Close.
A train is approaching from Buxton, a three coach diesel unit. The fields beyond the station are still to be built on.There on the other side of Station Road is the Scout's hut.
In the brickyard is the old "bottle" kiln. Bricks and firebacks are still in production and stacks of them await despatch. The foundations can be seen for the first of the newindustrial sheds.
The Football Field looks in a very poor condition but the bowling green and tennis court are well maintained.

Take a close look at this photograph, there is so much to be seen
Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Chinley Tales




Hidden away behind the high hills of North Derbyshire and served only along a by-road, Chinley feels remote.  The fact that one can be in Manchester in 30 minutes by a fast train has turned Chinley into something of a commuter village. It is the presence of the railway that caused this community to grow from a small hamlet, for this was once a major railway junction with a station of six platforms. London trains regularly called here as did services to Sheffield, Derby, Buxton, Manchester and beyond. The station once boasted a refreshment room and bookstall as well as the usual waiting rooms and booking offices. There was a large goods yard, a turntable and two signal boxes. The station now has a train every two hours and passengers wait in a glazed shelter on the single island platform.

On the train  from Manchester Central to Chinley

Sleep descended upon the ruddy gentleman who had been with friends and when the train stopped at Withington a "good samaritan" joggled him and shouted "Withington, D'y' want to ger out 'ere?. The dreamy one shook his head in sleepy denial and snored again until awakened at Didsbury by the same kind hand and voice. . At Heaton Mersey the voluntary knocker-up repeated his dose of questions, accompanied by the usual shaking, and finally, at Stockport, really aroused his patient and harangued him thus: "I'm gerrin' out 'ere myself. This is Stockport!  See Stockport!.  D'y want to ger out 'ere?  "No" said the patient. "Where d'y' want to ger out then?"  "Chinley". "Oh!" muttered the good man as he banged the door. "An' now" murmured his protege, settling himself in comfort, "now p'raps I can get a wink o' sleep."

February 1912

A Sleepy Stranger

On Easter Monday 1913, a stranger turned up in Chinley. Despite never having seen the man before, a railway official and his wife took him in. He immediately fell asleep and despite the efforts of doctors did not awake for a week. He stated his intention to walk to Bakewell but he got no further than Buxton where he was found sleeping at the roadside. He was carried into a house and then to Buxton Cottage Hospital where he remained for three days. Still asleep he was transferred to the infirmary at Chapel-en-le-Frith Union Workhouse where he slept for another five days.45 years old he had arrived in Englad after spending 25 years in the United States. He said that he could feel the coma coming on and had at times walked the streets of New York, all night long in order to stay awake. He carried papers which gave his case history in America. He was treated for neurasthenia in a Californian sanitorium. He had been found in October 1910 in an old log cabin in Canada. Barely alive, a number of men had assembled to hold an inquest on him but they were able to nurse him back to health. A New York charity had supported him and his relatives had spent a great deal of money on his treatment.

A Horrible Nuisance

In March 1926 the Parish Council received a complaint about open air religious services.  Councillor Murray asked if the Council had the power to stop these services which he described as a horrible nuisance. Chinley had plenty of churches and chapels and there was no need for "Salvation Army" tactics. The services were held by people who shouted at the top of their voices while children "lolled on walls and joked".  Mr Green said that the services were a damned nuisance and that personal remarks were made.  The Council chairman thought that this was a matter for the police and would see what could be done.

A Gruesome Event

As the 12.47 train from Chinley passed through Edale, a railwayman noticed two men throw a parcel onto the platform. On examining the package he found that it contained a child's decomposed body. He telephoned ahead to the next station where the two men were interviewed. On boarding the train at Chinley, they found a parcel in the compartment. On reaching Edale, they could no longer stand the smell and threw it out of the window.

An Electricity Boycott.

Electricity was arriving in Chinley in July 1929 supplied through overheard cables along the roadside. Such was the objection to this eyesore that a petition of 120 names demanded the immediate removal and burial of the cables. The Chinley Women's Institute also objected to the cutting of trees that were in the way of the power lines.  Unless immediate action was taken by the electricity company, the petitioners would refues to use the power supply. The Paris Council endorsed the petition and resolved to submit it to the electricity company.

Let Parliament Decide

An argument over a footpath reached Parliament in 1930. The L.M.S.Railway had sought to close a footpath which crossed it's tracks in Chinley and which they considerd dangerous. Local magistrates had granted an order stopping the footpath but this had been overturned on appeal to the Derby Quarter Sessions. The railway company was having to resort to a parliamentary bill in order to achive their aims. The Peak District and Northern Counties Footpaths Association was fighting the closure which they stated was used by thousands of people each year.

Pull The Other One

A Chinley doctor appeared before Salford magistrates in November 1934 charged with driving under the influence of drink and of driving without due care and attention. He had been observed by a police superintendent, holding onto his car following a collision with a taxi. He was unsteady on his feet and smelled of drink. He was later seen by the police doctor and by an inspector both of whom wer of the same opinion. In his defence, itwas said that his slurred speech was due to bad teeth and his unsteady gait due to one leg being shorter than the other. Consultation with another doctor had caused the police surgeon to change his opinion. He had learned that the accused suffered from a complaint that always gave the impression of being under the influence.
The magistrates believed the defence and found the Chinley man guilty only of the lesser charge.

Not Chinley's Turn

A squabble over which village should host the 1937 Coronation celebration lasted for two months. It was Chinley that held the Jubilee celebrations, now it's our turn said Bugsworth.  Every resident on Brownside was on their committee so they rsolved to hold their own event. The row started when the vicar said that Bugsworth was being "left out in the cold". The Parish Council eventually agreed that Bugsworth should be the venue and that beacons should be lit on the peaks of Cracken Edge and Eccles Pike

Another Chinley motorist acused of drink driving gave the excuse that he was a beekeeper and having been stung, drank two double whiskies as he felt ill. The magistrates were not sympathetic and suspended his licence for two years. He was also fined £40, rather a large sum in 1939.

An Aeroplane Crash

Seven year old George, from a farm near Chinley reported seeing a plane crash at the top of Jacob's Ladder, a path leading up Kinder Scout. He ran home to tell his mother. His sister ran down the hill to tell the railway signalman at Cowburn Tunnel. He sent a telegraph to the Station Master at Edale Station who passed the message to Police Sergeant Birch at Castleton.  The police called out the R.A.F., the Fire Brigade and Ambulance and jeeps with wireless transmitters. The moorland was frost and ice bound but visibility was very good. At last, at dusk, the Flight Lieutenant in charge decided to call off the search thinking that a crash had been unlikely. It was thought that George had seen a plane disappearing behind a bank of cloud and hearing a loud noise had come to the wrong conclusion.

Cracken Edge

Crichton Porteous, writing in September 1951, tells of the stone quarries and mines, high up on Cracken Edge.

"Stone for floors and roofs came out of special quarries. On Cracken Egde, over Chinley, the stone was got from underground, as out of a pit.  The orad to this quarry was so bad that my father-in-law's father after going up once with a horse and cart swore he would never do so again. But soe men went up regularly and having no brakes, would chain a greatheap of slates behind - as many as they had in their carts- and let them drag. At the bottom the chains were undone, the load in the cart was delivered, and then the secod load waiting at the foot of the Edge was returned for. The floor in my father-in-law's father's kitchen consisted of two slabs only, out of this quarry, each six feet square. They must have weighed half a tom apiece. Before the quarry shut down, flagstones could be had for very little indeed. Next they could not be got rid of. Concreting had killed the trade"

A Tourist Attraction

For 40 years Chinley had campaigned for the provision of a public lavatory. Now,  this new facility, was causing great controversy. Some local residents and the Women's Co-operative Guild went so far as to accuse the Parish Council of treating the matter frivolously.
There was criticism of the siting and type of signs indicating the convenience. A councillor stated that if they were not removed, the village was in danger of becoming a rendezvous for busloads of tourists, revellers and bottle parties. A colleague pointed out that it was no good building a convenience and then hiding it away.
A letter had been received by the council compaining that "All dignity and peace had been destroyed. There was aconstant banging of car and lavatory doors, even in the early hours of the morning. It is a sorry state of affairs in a bit of rural England."
The council resolved to plant a hedge around the building.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The Australian Bungalows.

Furness Vale in Derbyshire takes pride in it's three "Australian" bungalows.  These were built, according to which version you hear, either by a retired sea captain or by a returning emigree. Whichever story is true, it seems that the builder was nostalgic for the architectural styles of New South Wales or Victoria.  

Originally these homes all had Australian names.  The nearest in the photo above was called  "Tarramia" and was probably built in 1898. The farthest, built at the same time still retains it's name "Yarrawonga". "Boominoomina" in the middle wasn't built until 1904. 

The three properties were offered for sale at auction in 1911. The owner then lived at "Yarrawonga" and Boominoomina was rented, furnished for £1 per week; probably quite a high price at that time.

The middle bungalow had at first been occupied by Mr Knowles, owner of the local coal mine and brickyard. This was at the time that his new house further up the road was being built. The mine was at the rear of these homes. Although it was worked for a period of more than two centuries, it would never have been much in evidence. At it's peak only 30 men worked underground. All that existed on the surface was a small brick building which also housed the adit and alongside, a small wooden pithead over a shaft.

"Tarramia", later re-named "Garswood"

1927  - The cast of the Methodist Sunday School play gather in the garden.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

All The Fun Of The Fair

Chris Sizeland tells the story of how in 1951, Chapel-en-le-Frith shoemaker,  Herbert Slack built a one fifth scale model of a fairground ride.  The model still exists and is in the care of our speaker.

February 2019

For our meeting in  February, Geoff Wild will tell the story of three medals awarded in the Peninsular War, the Indian Mutiny and World War I.

Monday, 3 December 2018

A programme for the New Year

Here are details of our first six meetings of 2019.  Remember that we don't meet in July or August and please note that our January meeting is on the 8th of the month rather than the usual first Tuesday.

Mary Queen of Scots' final visit to Buxton was in 1584 after which she journeyed to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire to await her fate. Mary Stuart was tried whilst at Fotheringhay and executed in February 1587.
Hear David Templeman's chilling account of her final journey at the History Society meeting tomorrow night 4th December.
Everybody is welcome at the Community Centre, Yeardsley Lane at 7.30pm. Admission is £2.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Walk Along The Towpath

We will start our walk along the towpath at Bank End Bridge. We're in New Mills here but it is an appropriate place to begin.

A track leads down from the A6, crosses the railway and then the canal bridge No 29.  This was an old pack horse route from Higher Disley to Goytside and Low Leighton. On the Newtown sidee of the Bridge, opposite the towpath was Bank End Wharf. This served the quarries which were on the other side of Buxton Road. If the footpath is followed downhill, it reaches the River Goyt and Goytside footbridge. This has long since been been a crossing point.  Just through the gate on the left is the outlet from a sough. This tunnel drained water from the Bank End Colliery workings which were mostly located around the area of the quarry. Until a few years ago, there was no protective grille and the tunnel was often used to access the mine.

Follow the towpath towards Furness Vale and after about 300 metres we reach the site of Bank End Colliery Engine House on the opposite bank. There was an 80ft deep shaft here a little distance from the canal. Tubs of coal would be raised from the workings and taken on a short track to a canal side tippler where narrowboats were loaded. The colliery closed in 1921.  Maps of the local colliery working show a lengthy tunnel from the field opposite Yeardsley Hall Barns to Bank End Engine house. This is marked on some maps as a roadway but is more likely to have been a drainage sough and probably continued down to the River Goyt.

We soon reach Bridge 30 known as Carr Bridge or Mellors (after the 19th Century residents of Carr Farm). The swing bridge has been renovated on several occasions and looks quite different on old photographs. The track whcih starts opposite St.John's Church, leads downhill to Carr Farm which dates back to at least the 16th Century. The name Carr comes from the Norse word kjarr meaning brushwood marsh or swamp. Two escaped German prisoners were found at the farm during World War I.

On the west bank of the canal is Furness Vale Marina which stretches as far as Station Road. There are moorings for about 100 boats. About mid way along is the site of a lime kiln.  The marina was first developed by Joe Bratt in the mid 1970s and extended towards Carr Bridge in 1993. There are plans to further extend to marina on the Newtown side of the bridge.

Heading towards Furness Vale we approach a row of cottages on the left. This was originally known as Furness Row or Canal Row but is now called Lake View. There were about 20 homes here but the number has reduced to 14 through conversions. Just before the row of houses was a wharf which served Furness Vale Printworks. The business had been established in 1794, just two years before the opening of the canal.

After passing the last house, take a look at the stone wall. The builders left their mark in the form of the words OXO and BASS set in the stonework.

The dry dock which is now covered by a shed is used by a boat painter. A stone building which still stood in 1960, spanned the dock and Richard Fox had his 19th century boatbuilding business here. He had moved to Furness Vale from a small canalside building in Bridgemont. Fox was a leading methodist and played an important role in the local congregation for much of his life.
Alongside was a wharf serving Furness Vale Colliery and Brickworks. A 19 inch gauge tramway ran from the mine, through the brickyard where there were several sidings, down to the canal bank. The photograph of the wharf shows loading chutes between the tracks and waterside.

Just before the road bridge, the canal crosses a small aqueduct. This is a listed structure and crosses the Furness Brook as well as a narrow roadway. This road which appears on the mid 19th century Tithe Map, is believed to have been the original route to New Mills.It would have extended from Old Road and joined the present Station Road near Calico Lane.

Furness Bridge was rebuilt in 1924/1925. The original stone structure was demolished and replaced by the current cast concrete bridge. During rebuilding, a wooden footbridge stood alongside. Alongside the bridge was a small coal wharf and chute owned by L. Hall & Sons.

The building next to the bridge was built in 1839 as a beer house. It had two names: The Traveller's Call or the Jolly Sailor. It was closed in 1908 when the license was refused on the grounds of disorderly conduct. This was a common reason given by the police when a pub was chosen for closure under the 1904 Licensing Act. This legislation sought to reduce by several thousand, the number of beerhouses and hopefully reduce consumption of alcohol. Licensees were compensated for loss of earnings and Mrs Roberts who owned the pub continued to live there for some years after closure. It was eventually occupied by Reuben Wharmby who moved his greengrocery business here from Furness Row. The extension to the rear was originally of two storeys. It has now lost its upper floor and is a holiday let. At the side of this building was Albert McKiernon's coal yard.

Back on the canal towpath, we'll head in the direction of Bridgemont. We soon reach bridge 32 known as Bongs, Bangs or Yeardsley Bank Bridge. Here  a footbridge links a route down to Waterside with two footpaths leading up to Buxton Road. The path on the left leads to a level crossing over the railway.  The right hand path leads to the tunnel under Buxton Road. There was once  a short tramway from the Furness Vale Quarry, through the tunnel to two canal wharves owned by Johnson's enabling stone to be transported by narrowboat. There was a swing bridge here and its semi-circular base is still evident. This would have allowed access to the fields beyond the canal.

The next bridge (No 33 Greensdeep) carries New Road over the canal. The road between Bridgemont and Bugsworth was privately built by the owners of the Britannia Mill and Carrington House. This was the last toll road in the area and the gates in Bugsworth did not come down until 1919 when the Council took ownership.

Next to the bridge is "Bankside". Beside the house were Atkin's Tea Rooms, a popular destination for Edwardian day trippers. A combined ticket from Manchester would bring passengers by train to Furness Vale where they would board a passenger boat for the final part of the journey.

This was not the only passenger service on the canal. Before the coming of the railway, The Ashton Packet provided a weekly boat to Whaley Bridge. Here is a newspaper story from those days:
  "Having very much enjoyed an excursion to Lyme Hall by the Ashton Packet, I would recommend it through the medium of you paper, to the attention of those who wis to take a pleasant trip at light expense.  The packet leaves the Dukinfield Station, on the Sheffield Railway, every Wednesday morning, on the arrival of the first train from Manchester; passes through Hyde, Atherlow, Marple and Disley, and goes forward to Whaley Bridge.  It reaches Marple about eleven o'clock, and the hour occupied in getting it through the locks may be very agreeably spent in going to see the beautiful prospect from the church.  Those who intend to visit the hall, leave the packet at Disley about noon, and meeti it on it's return from Whaley Bridge at 4 1/2 o'clock pm.  The delay of the boat at Marple affording the opportunity of taking tea, everything is comfortably provided, at a very moderate charge, at an inn near the locks.  The arrival at Ashton is in time for the last train at Manchester.
To parties of pleasure and lovers of nature, the pleasantness of the sail, and the delightfully picturesque scenery with which the neighbourhood of some of the above named villages abounds, render the trip exceedingly attractive.  And even persons on business, who wish to visit Compstall, Ludworth, Mellor, New Mills, Hayfield, Chapel-En-Le-Frith and Buxton will find it a convenient and agreeable mode of conveyance."

At Bridgemont is a footbridge and alongside, the base of a former swing bridge. In later years a lifting had taken its place. The bridge carried the main drive from Buxton Road to Bothomes Hall; the gate pillars still stand next to the footbridge.

 Bothomes was built in 1670 as a dower house by the Legh family of Lyme Hall although for much of its life, the Kirk family were the owners. It passed into the ownership of a farmer, John Robinson in the 1840s. Racehorses were kept and it is reputed that a Derby winner is buried in the grounds. Here the story becomes confused. George, Prince of Wales, visited Bothomes in 1805, reputedly to see the Derby horse, Elias. This however, was long before the stud farm and there was never a runner at Epsom by that name. The Jockey Club can find no trace of any such horse. The Kirks returned to Bothomes in 1910 when it came up for sale and they and their successors lived there until at least 1952.

  The house and land were compulsorily purchased by the Department of Transport during construction of the by-pass and quickly fell into ruin. 

Ringstones Colliery closed in 1896. The site is now occupied by the caravan park.  An aerial ropeway carried the coal down to Bridgemont where it was loaded into narrowboats for transportation. The ropeway, through Ringstones Clough, passed the Blandola Works. A stone pillar is the only remaining evidence of its existance.

The building of the by-pass has altered the appearance of canal-side Bridgemont. The former boat dock has been obliterated and a bridge crosses where Mr Fox's paint shop once stood. This is the same Mr Fox whom we met at Furness Dock. He was a builder and painter of narrowboats and it was here that his business started. His wife established the Bridgemont Mission. For many years, the top floor of her husband's workshop served as the Mission Hall.

Both of Bridgemont's pubs were popular with boatmen. It is said that narrowboat captains would often leave the horse to pull the boat around the perimeter of the village whilst enjoying some refreshment. Timed right, the boat would just be passing on leaving the hostelry.

Alas, we can no longer enjoy a pint at the Dog and Partridge so now we must either walk on to Buxworth or return home to Furness.

This article first appeared on the History Society Facebook Page. Photos of Bank End Engine House courtesy of New Mills Local History Society; Canal Basin courtesy of Chris Simpson; Marina Excavation by Jack Ford

Bank End Bridge

Bank End Colliery Engine House

Carr Bridge

Excavating The Marina

Canal Row


Furness Vale Canal Basin

The Aqueduct over Furness Brook

The Old Bridge and Temporary Footbridge

Bangs Bridge before construction of the treatment works

Bankside and Atkin's Tea Rooms

Excursion to Bankside

Bridgemont Lifting Bridge and Bothomes Hall Gates

Mr Fox's Workshop and upstairs, the original Bridgemont Mission

Saturday, 1 September 2018

The Buxton Train

This digitally coloured photograph shows a Buxton train arriving at Furness Vale in 1959. At this time, diesels had taken over most services although a few steam trains survived.  The locomotive is No 42365
Despite the nostalgia for "better times" we have to remember that until the coming of the diesel railcars, services were much poorer than today.  The 1947 timetable below shows a 4 hour period between afternoon trains to Buxton and only a two hourly service to London Road.

The Lightning Tree

Diglee Farm stands on the hillside, high above Furness Vale. It's the oldest farm in the village and the original farmhouse, which had accommodation for animals on the lower floor, still stands. The building is no longer occupied however, having been superseded by a more modern house opposite.

This early photograph shows the Trueman Family outside the farmhouse.

In the field below the farmhouse,  a dead tree appears to have been hit by lightning.  The cart too, has seen better days.
A watercolour painting.


Just below Ringstones Farm in Furness Vale and close to the caravan park, is this dilapidated farm hut.  Despite having lost most of its roof, it still manages to survive in an exposed location.
This is a watercolour painting.

Marple Locks

The flight of 16 locks at Marple raise the level of the Peak Forest Canal by 64 metres. The canal was opened in 1796 but the locks were not completed until several years later due to lack of funds. A temporary tramway connected the two sections of canal.

This watercolour painting depicts a lock on the lower part of the flight.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Providence Chapel

Providence Chapel in Mellor Road, New Mills was built in 1823. Due to lack of funds, having purchased the land, members of the congregation built the chapel themselves. At first it was too large and a section of the building was used for a time as a barn. It is pictured in this watercolour in the early 20th century

The Mechanics

The Mechanics Institute, Whaley Bridge is home to the Public Library, Town Council, Reading Room and Function Rooms.
A watercolour painting.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A Tour of The Torrs

Join geologist, Dr Pete Webb who describes a visit to this spectacular New Mills feature.

Please not that the large (Rotational Mouldings) car park is now open each evening from 7pm.  Access is alongside the Soldier Dick public house.  The small car park alongside the Community Centre will also soon be available for visitor's use. 

Wildlife in Folk

Brian Hallworth tells of the folklore and superstitions surrounding our wildlife.  An entertaining story of  animals, birds, fish and insects. 

A 1920s Bleaching, Dyeing and Weaving Mill

Our November meeting sees the return of popular speaker, Judith Atkinson.  She tells the fascinating story of a Salford cotton  mill. This talk is highly recommended.

Mary Queen of Scots - The Final Journey

At our December meeting, David Templeman tells the story of Mary Queen of Scot's final journey from Buxton to Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. Mary had visited Buxton on a number of occasions where she stayed at The Old Hall. She was found guilty in 1586, of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and executed at Fotheringhay the following year.

Thursday, 5 July 2018


Marie Cunningham has been researching a footpath leading westwards from Neighbourway Farm in Kettleshulme and in doing so has discovered some fascinating local history. 

Turn down Side End Lane, alongside St.James Primary School, and after about 150 metres a narrow road leads off to the right. This road only serves a few farms and eventually peters out. About half way along is Neighbourway Farm which is also known as Green Low Heath. Opposite the farmhouse is a short track leading across the field and this is the start of an alleged footpath leading westwards across Todd Brook, towards Charleshead Farm. Although the path appears on some maps, its route is uncertain and the right of way has never been enforced. This little road is just over 150 metres long and at the end is a small windowless brick built structure which had a slate roof which has fallen in but the walls are still standing. Not much is known about the hut but Peter Garlick of Neighbourway has always known it as the Gunpowder Hut. The Garlick family has lived at Neighbourway since c1930.  Jim Etchells who lived close by at Near Carr told Peter that a member of the Hewitt Family lived at Charleshead and collected gunpowder from the hut. He stated in 1993 that the gunpowder hut was used up to the time of the first World War.
 The Hewitt family were involved in mining in the area. 
 Jas Hewitt lived at Green Low Heath (Neighbourway farm)  Kettleshulme. (Kelly's Directory of Cheshire 1892, the 1901 census and the Finance Act (1910) record of 1913.  
 John Hewitt lived at Winters Close, Rainow. (The 1910 Finance Act records)
 Margaret Hewitt was at Dales Farm c1913
 Sydney Hewitt was an agricultural implement dealer in Kettleshulme - no location given (Kelly's directory of Cheshire 1914)
 William Hewitt was an iron steel and implement merchant and in 1906 was Kettleshulme sub-postmaster (Kelly's directory 1906) 
Dales farm, as well as being the post office, is the location of the shop which Marie believes was where the gunpowder was sold. It's a stone built low level building at the end of the house which fronts the main road opposite the school but it is two storey at the rear. Raymond Lomas can remember c1950 the paraffin cans etc which had been left behind when the shop closed 
Could Mr Hewitt have lived at Greenlow Heath and built the gunpowder hut because he was an agent for the Nobel Dynamite Company ?

Marie has found a snippet of information in a book "Rainow Caught in Time" written by the Rainow History Group it reads 
"In June 1878 there was an experiment with dynamite at the home of Mr Sutton in Tower Hill.  Several unsuccessful attempts had been made by a local miner to blow up a very large tree root with ordinary blasting powder. 
Mr Hewitt of Kettleshulme, agent for the Nobel Dynamite Company experimented with the use of dynamite and successfully blew it to pieces"

On the other side of Todd Brook is an area of marshy land which was used to grow willow for basket making. The man-made clay pans and drainage channels used for growing the willow can still be seen on the ground but once again more detail is not known

The Hewitt family were long associated with Furness Clough Colliery as well as managing Castedge Mine in the Goyt Valley and the pits at Charleshead.

Dynamite was the invention in 1867 of Swedish chemist and inventor, Alfred Nobel (1833 - 1896), just one of his 355 patents. On his death, most of his wealth was left in trust to fund the Nobel Prize. 
The British Dynamite Company was established by Nobel in Ayrshire in 1871. At its peak it employed nearly 13,000 workers. The name changed to Nobel's Explosives Ltd in 1877 but the name disappeared through mergers at the time of the First World War although it was resurrected in 1920.

Marie is still researching the subject of both the Gunpowder Hut and the footpath and would appreciate any further information. Please write to

from a Macclesfield newspaper of June 1878

Location of Neighbourway and the Gunpowder Hut

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Canal Bridge and A Beerhouse

A newly acquired photograph ( copies are available on Ebay).  
The picture is undated although it is earlier than 1924, the year when the bridge was rebuilt. Reconstruction took over a year during which time the road was closed. A  rickety footbridge allowed pedestrians to cross. 

The building next to the bridge had been a beerhouse. Strangely it had two names both of which were in official use at the same time. The pub, The Jolly Sailor/Traveller's Call had closed in  1908, the license renewal having been refused on grounds of disorderly conduct.  This was a common reason given by the police when  a  pub was closed under the 1904 Licensing Act. This was a measure to reduce the number of pubs and beerhouses in Britain and hopefully reduce drunkenness. Also known as the Compensation Act because it provided for a payment to the licensee for loss of earnings. Note that the extension to the side of the house is of 2 storeys and much longer than at present. It is not known when it was rebuilt. It is now the White Cottage,a holiday home.

In the foreground is the stone parapet  of the Furness Vale Aqueduct.  This carries the canal across Furness Brook and also over an abandoned road. Look under the bridge and you will clearly see the roadway at the side of the brook. The Mid 19th century tithe maps show that this was a continuation of Old Road and passed under the canal before joining present day Station Road in the vicinity of Calico Lane. It was probably abandoned when the present alignment of Station Road was constructed.  This, together with Marsh Lane,had been a turnpike road managed by the Thornsett Turnpike Trust.  The tollbar was at the bridge over the Goyt. Look at the parapet and you will see a variation in the masonry where the toll cottage once stood.   John Warren's diary records an occasion when the son of the tollkeepers, the Southern Family, fell from the "battlements" of the bridge onto the rocks below.

The ground to the right of the parapet, where a modern house now stands is said to have been at one time a village tip.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

A Stroll Along Dolly Lane

It is probable that Dolly Lane takes its name from Dolly Pit, a small colliery near Ancoats Farm.
Alfred Goddard of Bugsworth, writing in the local press some years ago told the story of a young woman called Dorothy or Dolly who,through an ill fated love affair with one of the mine workers, committed suicide by jumping down the mine shaft. From that day, the mine was known as Dolly Pit. It's a romantic tale and might just be true.
In the early 18th century, Dolly Lane was known as Han Coat, Brierley Lane or Olliver Lane.

Remains of Lady Pit c 1960

We will start our journey at the corner of Lady Pit Road and Dolly Lane. The photograph from about 1960 shows the remains of The Beard and Bugsworth Colliery (or Lady Pit).  It had closed in 1903, unable to compete with better quality coal transported from Yorkshire. Look across the field and a low embankment can be seen. This carried the railway siding from Gowhole and enabled coal to be dispatched from the site. A tall brick chimney once stood near this corner until one night in 1949 when in a violent storm it was struck by a thunderbolt. Materials were scattered up to 300 metres away.  The large round structure remaining in the opposite field was an air shaft.
Opposite the site of Lady Pit is a building which may have been connected with the colliery but this is uncertain. It has more recently been known as the "sausage factory" Here, traditional sausage skins were made using natural animal products. This is now a private house

Before we venture any farther we will take a step back along Lady Pit Road to the junction with Marsh Lane. On the other side of Marsh Lane is a builder's yard. Here was the entrance to a tunnel dug in 1853 from the workings at Lady Pit. A horse drawn tramway emerged here and from an inclined plane, coal was loaded onto  carts for transportation. The tunnel was also used by miners as a short cut to the workings. The photo shows a wintry scene in 1920 with the yard on the right.

Back on Dolly Lane, look over the wall on the right as the road starts to climb and you might make out the turntable well of Gowhole Sidings.

Gowhole Sidings was an extensive railway yard on the eastern side of the valley. The "up" sidings on the left comprised of 10 parallel tracks as well as an extension to Lady Pit Colliery. In this photograph, a passenger train heads south on the "slow lines" passing the signal box. Beyond this train were a further 13 sidings and then the "fast lines" between New Mills and Chinley. Dolly Lane climbs up past Round Meadow Farm and Hillside Cottages towards Buxworth.

This railway yard had been an extremely busy place. It the summer of 1953 for instance, more than  60 goods trains were scheduled to arrive and depart each day. Gowhole was in operation throughout the night.

The next photograph shows the sidings overlooked by Round Meadow Farm and cottages.

Round Meadow Farm is the first building on the right hand side of Dolly Lane. The house is believed to date from 1750 although it was rebuilt in 1868. The barn appears to have been extended at various times since. The water supply cane from a well on the lane.

Round Meadow

In 1892, the farmer's son, Norman Ashton was crossing the nearby Midland Railway to fetch a load of hay. He was struck by a passing express train and dragged for 12 yards before being thrown clear. He sustained serious injuries to his head and face and his arm was broken. The cart was reduced to matchwood but the horse was unharmed. Sadly, Norman died five days later.
In 1957, Mrs Bowden, when feeding her hens was pecked in the leg by a cockerel. She suffered from varicose veins and despite help from railway workers from Gowhole Sidings, the flow of blood could not be stemmed. She was taken to Stockport Infirmary but died from loss of blood.

Hillcroft is opposite Round Meadow. It is now one large house but was originally two small farmworkers cottages known as Spring Bank and Broadhurst. They were converted and extended by Mr and Mrs Marcroft.

Big Tree Farm is on the right hand side of Dolly Lane. A window  facing across the valley bears an inscription on the lintel "Rebuilt in 1868 T & E Drinkwater. At the side of the house, a footpath leads downhill, and set into the wall are a number of pigeonholes. These are unusual being aout 5 or 6 feet above ground level. Some have projecting stones for the birds to rest on before entering. They would have been easy to catch at this height and were a common item on the menu in past times.
Big Tree Farm
The Tithe Map of 1851 quotes the locality as Lane Ends. It took the name Big Tree at a later date.
There were two Drinkwater brothers and according to local legend, one of them hung himself from a big tree at the farm. This left a mystery as he had over £300  in his hip pocket and no one knew why he should have done such a thing. Could it have been from then, that the farm became known as "Big Tree"?
You might like to follow this footpath along the side of the farm, down towards Peathills Farm and the little hamlet of Waterside.  Where the ground levels out is the site of the railway sidings which were once crossed by a long footbridge. Our path passes under the main line and ahead are the rooftops of Peathills. Until about eight years ago, the only access to the farmhouse was a muddy path across the fields. Peathills, a listed building, has changed little since being built in the late 19th century.
Peathills Farm photographed in1997
Nearby Waterside Cottage, also a listed building dates from the 17th century with 19th century additions. Wisteria around the door and a brook running through the garden create a picture postcard atmosphere.

Waterside Cottage

Just before  Dolly Lane makes a sharp left turn is Lower House Farm set back up a drive on the left. This had originally been two properties known as Green Head Cottages. During alterations, it was found that an extension had previously been built and beneath the roof was the original roof which had never been removed.
Lower House Farm

Disected by the corner of the road is Green Head Farm A converted barn is on the left hand side. It has its origins in the early 17th century when the location was known as Bugsworth Greene. The property was originally much larger and included a number of cottages within its boundaries. History Society archives record that wives of farm workers, when pregnant came here to give birth, the west wing of the house being put to their use.

The house possessed a cradle which had been handed down through previous owners. It was once a Derbyshire custom that when a house was built, a wooden cradle was also made. The cradle was supposed to remain in the house for ever, to take it away would bring bad luck. Another legend is that if the farmer's wife did not want a family, she would keep the cradle in the bedroom. It would only be taken to another room if she wanted a baby.
In 1812 farmer John Drinkwater's wife answered a knocking at the door at midnight, thinking that she was being called out to her midwifery duties. She was instead faced by a gang of ruffians who demanded £100 from her. Answering that there was very little in the house but that they might take what there was. The gang rushed in, their faces disguised, and proceeded to ransack the property. They took £20 in cash, ten cheeses, enough bedding for six beds and all of her husband's and children's clothing. They drank the ale and spirits from the cellar and trampled over butter, cream and other provisions. All of this time, one of the gang stood over the husband's bed threatening his life with a sword. John Drinkwater dared not stir, for beneath his bed was his life savings of £200 and the deeds of the property. The gang of 16 men left after stealing or damaging property to the value of £150.  Following the event a detatchmentof the Royal Horse Guards marched from Derby intent on capturing the offenders. Some 15 men were arrested at New Mills and stood trial at Derby. All but three were acquitted as the witnesses accounts were suspect. The remaining three were sentenced to death, despite claiming their innocence. Having been hanged at Derby in April 1813, the body of Paul Mason aged 33 was returned to New Mills. Upon examination, his body was found to still be warm and a gurgling sound was heard from his throat. He was clearly still alive and might have been saved had an attempt been made to resuscitate him.
Green Head Farm

Climbing the steep hill we next reach Barn Cottage on the right.  The road here was once known as Barn Level. To the left, a track leads to both The Hough and to Clough Head Farm, dividing after about 200 metres. Clough Head was once the location of a small coal mine, originally known as Mr. Drinkwater's Engine Pit. The mine seems to have been worked from about 1800 but it is not clear when these workings were abandoned. A tramway operated until at least 1820. It appears on the 1940 Ordnance Survey map and may still have been opeartional at that date. It followed the route of the present day farm track between Clough Head and Dolly Lane where it crossed the road at the side of Barn Cottage before heading across the fields towards the limekilns at Bugsworth. After a short distance it was joined by a similar tramway from Dolly Pit.

100 metres farther along Dolly Lane, a driveway on the left leads to an unusual looking house with a tall tower. This was the site of Dolly Pit (or Barn Pit)

The Barn Pit,  was first worked at about 1850 and may have been named after Barn Cottage nearby. The first shaft was worked by a horse gin but was soon abandoned because the coal was of poor quality. This was replaced by a second shaft which reached a lower seam of much better  coal.  The engine house still stands and is incorporated into the private residence. The engine man had been Thomas Hadfield, a Buxton man who founded Brierley Green Congregational Chapel.
A tramway was installed sometime after 1850 and probably continued working until the mine closure. It crossed Dolly Lane and ran downhill towards the limekilns at Bugsworth joining the route of the earlier tramway from Clough Head Pit.
Dolly Pit was owned by Levi and Elijah Hall who announced its closure in 1887.The pit was no longer able to cope with the amount of water draining into the workings. The coal would in future be cut from Lady Pit which was now connected underground.

After another 200 metres we reach Ancoats Farm. This is an interesting group of old buildings which has since been divided up into three separate cottages. Opposite Ancoats, a road climbs uphill towards Laneside Farm where there was yet another coal working "John Olliver's Coalpit". The mineshaft was in the field just across the road from Laneside farmhouse, a much altered group of buildings which dates from 1654.

The name "Ancoats" is likely to have been derived from the Old English "ana cots" meaning lonetly cottages.

Alfred Goddard had been told by his father who had lived at Ancoats, that at the time that Dolly Pit was worked, the lane was a rutty old road with carts travelling to and from the Bugsworth lime kilns. The council would come along now and again with loads of lump limestone. This was tipped at the roadside and broken up with a whip hammer by men who were unemployed or those who wished to earn a little extra money.

After Ancoats, the road descends downhill towards Buxworth.  Just before we reach the end of Dolly Lane at Brierley Green, we pass Merrill's Wood on the right.  This was the location for Bugsworth Colliery which was worked between approximately 1811 and 1899. Where the woodland comes to an end was an mine adit and an air shaft. Hidden behind the trees were a further adit and air shaft. The underground workings extended almost as far north as Ancoats Farm.

Our last photograph shows the end of Dolly Lane where it comes to the road junction at Brierley Green.