Friday 8 December 2023

Keith Holford's Buxworth

 Our meeting on 5th December 2023 featured a selection of photographs, stories and anecdotes from the archive of the late Keith Holford of Buxworth.

  This video includes  the text of the meeting with additional images.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Found Dead On The Railway

 Unknown Lady's Death

An inquest was held last evening at Furness Vale touching the death of a well-dressed unknown woman who was found dead on the Buxton branch of the London and North Western Railway between New Mills and Furness Vale, early on Tuesday morning.
Frank Wm. Green, son of the Furness Vale Station Master, and a porter at Disley, said he was walking along the line to work when he found a lady's hat in the six footway about 150 yards from Bank End Bridge. Twenty yards lower down he noticed what he took to be a bundle of rags, but which proved to be the dead body of a woman which he lifted into the six-foot. He did not notice whether there was any sign of a struggle. There was no public footpath or crossing near the spot, and he did not see much blood about.
Joseph Wood, who went to see the body, said the grass in a meadow between Buxton Road and the railway had been trampled down and the woman must have climbed a wall four feet high separating the meadow from the railway. Some coping stones had been thrown off at the end of the track. Witness's wife found two artificial roses near the wall.
Police Sergeant Sandbach, said the woman had been dead several hours. There was nothing on the body that would lead to identity. The woman wore a wedding ring and carried a satchel purse containing 5s 2½d, a latch key and some hair pins. She was about 30 years old. She had wounds on the head, her back was broken, and the toes of the right foot were cut off. No blood had been found on any of the engines that had passed that way.  There were blood spots for a distance of about twenty yards along the line.  He thought it was impossible for her to have fallen out of a train. She had no ticket on her. A photograph of her had been taken.
The Coroner said if the woman was identified the witnesses could got to his office and make their statements to him. He was of the opinion that she had either deliberately taken her life , or come by her death accidentally. He advised an open verdict, so that the police could prosecute their inquiries, and the jury returned a verdict of "Found dead on the railway"

Sheffield Evening Telegraph  6th August 1908

A Strange Funeral

The mystery attending the finding of the dead body of a well-dressed woman on the London and North-Western Railway between New Mills and Furness Vale is as great as ever, and the prospect of unravelling it is made more and more remote by the burial of the body.
After lying five days, the interment took place on Saturday, and as no one came forward to identify the unfortunate lady, the interment had to be taken in hnad by the relieving officer of the Hayfield Union, Mr James Taylor, New Mills, but this could not be done until the body had been brought back from the Furness Vale Station waiting room on another union. It was accordingly taken back and placed in a workman's hut on the line near the spot where it was found, and from this place, the funeral took place. The only persons present were the relieving officer, the Union undertaker, the assistant overseer, the sexton and the driver of the dog-cart that conveyed the coffin, and for a distance of two miles this little party accompanied the corpse to Disley Church, where Canon Slatterthwaite, the Vicar, officiated.
The theories of suicide or accident are not shared by everybody.  Several policemen who were on Bank End Bridge at four o'clock on Tuesday morning declare there was nothing on the line at that hour, and the body was found shortly after six o'clock. There was no trace of blood or anything else on the wheels of any engines, and close to the wall separating the railway from a field near the spot where the body was found were two artificial roses-one pink and the other white-from the lady's hat.

Yorkshire Telegraph and Star 10th August 1908




Monday 23 October 2023

The Methodist Church - a 150 year history.

 The Methodist Church held a Spring Fair in April 1961 and at its opening, local historian, Marjorie Hobson, told of the church's history.

 Miss Hobson said the Methodist Church was an integral part of Furness Vale and had been for almost 150 years.
She spoke of the time, over 200 years ago, when the village had no main road,no canal, no railway, no printworks - a small place with Yeardsley Hall and a few houses.
Added Miss Hobson, There was no place of worship here in those days, apart from a small chapel, probably at Yeardsley Hall. People had to walk to church at Disley, Whaley Bridge or New Mills.
At that time there was a great Christian revival. Methodism in the area started at Bongs, between New Mills and Mellor. John Wesley visited Bongs about 1740, and probably some Furness people went to hear him.
Wesley visited the district many times afterwards until 1788 when he was 85. From those visits, Methodism started in Furness Vale.
By 1797 Furness Vale had a printworks, and two years later a canal, after which the village began to grow. There was work in the printworks and on the canal, and houses were built.
The people wanted their own place of worship. One was started in 1812-no one seemed to know for sure where it was, but it was probably at  Gow Hole Farm, and had 11 members.
Membership grew and in 1822 a chapel was built in Yeardsley Lane by Mr James Mellor of Diglee who rented it to his fellow members for £5 a year.. This might not seem much but in those days the annual collection was 5s, so £5 needed a lot of finding.
In 1835, said Miss Hobson, New Mills Circuit was formed and a Mr William Ince, first minister was appointed in  1837. There was great activity in the Yeardsley Lane Chapel, where there were not only services on Sunday but school on many weeknights.
There was no other school in the village, except perhaps a dame school where people had to pay one penny or twopence a week, which was difficult to find. In addition, children started work at six or seven years and had no chance to learn.
So the Yeardsley Lane Chapel taught reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic, not only to children but to grown-ups.
She added: "This chapel was fulfilling a great need in the village-educating the people. Throughout the history of this chapel it has been helping people to educate themselves.
Miss Hobson said that in 1838 the scholars from Yeardsley Lane Chapel walked in procession to New Mills to join in celebrating Queen Victoria's Coronation and were regaled with buns and ale.
Their next procession was in 1840 when the first church on the present site was built. They walked from Yeardsley Lane carrying bibles, spelling books, copy books and slates. Among them were John Gregory, Richard Fox and William Bradbury. She could not mention all who had played their part in the church's life but John Gregory and Richard Fox celebrated 50 years selfless work in 1889.  Fox was a boatbuilder whose wife started Bridgemont Mission.
There were James and Denis Johnson, members and local preachers for  over 50 years. William Bradbury had two sons, Benjamin and William, who worked for the church for over half a century.
Miss Hobson related that in 1847 at a revival meeting, the church was so crowded that people had to climb over the seats to reach the penitent form. In 1857 the church left the United Methodist Association and became the United Methodist Free Church.
She added: There were few wealthy members in  those days. Most people were employed in the printworks and in pits, but they gave what they could.
In the 1860s came the cotton famine, which caused people to be in great need. I am not going to mention names-there are probably relatives still in Furness Vale-but, according to Disley rate book, a man, with a wife and child, had 3s 6d a week wages. Another with a wife and three children,got 7s.
But these people gave what they could, If they had not got the money, they gave their time, and this church was enlarged and a harmonium bought. This seemed a pity, because, until then, there was an orchestra of trombones, violins, cellos, a double bass, clarinet, cornet and ophicleide, and the orchestra probably played in the singing gallery. The church was lit by tallow candles, and that was Richard Fox's job to go round and snuff them out.
Miss Hobson said that exactly 95 years ago to the day in April 15th 1866, was the first recorded baptism of John Smith, In 1867 the church bought a second-hand organ from Sheffield.
There was a bazaar in 1884 to raise money for the building fund, and money making events continued. In 1884-5 the school and church were remodelled at a cost of £1050 and all was paid except £450, the debt being cleared later.
Other interesting points mentioned by Miss Hobson were a team meeting for cleaners and lighters-up in 1891, and the licensing of the church for marriages in 1909.
To celebrate the centenary in 1912, a new organ was bought, and there was a procession of 400 people through the village.



Tuesday 12 September 2023

A Story of growing up in Buxworth in the 1940s by Sheila Rogers


The blackberries were big and ripe and very juicy, some had fallen from the branches and were lying squashed and glittering in the sunshine.

                                      Rev Towers cycles past Rosey Bank in the 1930s

In the stone quarry it was warm and quiet and peacefully lazy, not a whisper of breeze stirred the grass or disturbed the branches of the bushes dotted here and there among the fallen rocks.  It was a wondrous place, peaceful and languid in the summer sun, with a myriad of wild flowers to delight the eyes. Elderberries hanging in flat bunches on the bushes and squabbling birds darting here and there to peck at the ripe fruit. If you sat quietly and waited, you would see rabbits peep hesitantly from their burrows in the mounds of stone and mossy hillocks.

At one time the quarry had been a thriving industry with a small railway to take the hewed stone to the canal basin and from there to be loaded on to barges and taken to Manchester and other places beyond, but now it was a wonderland for children of the surrounding village to play in. The marks of the hammer and pick long since gone, with the remaining rock and stone rising from the lush green undergrowth to form Highland castles or Indian wigwams or whatever you could conjure up in your imagination, the combinations wee endless.  The sunshine never dulled by cloud, the flowers never spoiled by careless feet, the rabbits never startled by raucous voices, the children who played in the quarry were gentle and quiet and preoccupied with picking the fruit or collecting coloured pebbles from the small stream that ran through the quarry or choosing yet another selection of flowers or leaves for their presses. Watching for frogs was another favourite pastime of the children, sometimes taking frogspawn home in a jar to see the little black legs begin to grow and finally to have some baby frogs which would then be taken back to the stream to live their lives in peace.

The blackberries which grew in great profusion would be picked and taken home where they would be made into delicious pies to be eaten straight away with creamy yellow custard or they would be preserved in big jars to be eaten in the winter months when fruit was short or boiled into wonderful thick dark jam which was stored in jars with little white labels stuck on the side which said “Blackberry September 1942".  The jars were sealed  and covered with frilly paper lids held on with elastic bands.  It was  a lovely sight to see the bottled fruits and jam stacked neatly on the shelves, glowing like monster jewels in the cool half light of the larder.

The harvesting was always my favourite time of year, the fruits and nuts were gathered and of course the haymaking, I will never forget the absolute peace and tranquillity of lying in bed after a long hard day in the fields, with the window thrown open to allow the cooler air to waft in, bringing with it the sweet, warm earthy smell of the freshly cut and dried grass and the lovely mellow glow of the huge golden harvest moon which hung low in the sky and bather the fields in soft light which allowed the grown-ups to carry on working the hay until quite late, their happy voices calling to one another until the jugs of cocoa were taken to them and they would sit under the stacks with mugs of the milky chocolate brew until it was time for bed.

During the day, when the bright sun was beaming down, the big jugs would be filled with home made lemonade, sweet and cool with slices of lemon floating on top, just right to sooth dry, dusty throats. Neighbour would work alongside neighbour, chatting an teasing in an easy  friendly relationship until all had been gathered in and stored away. By far the most thrilling and enjoyable part of the ritual of the gathering in of the hay was to ride to the bar on the huge dray which was pulled by the largest of the farm horses. These beautiful creatures were a truly treasured asset to any farmer, they were usually very placid and hardworking, tramping backwards and forwards from field to barn often quite a long walk, on their large, spreading feet which were often covered from ankle to shoe in course feathery hair.

The children of the village who helped in the fields would be hoisted on to the top of the huge pile of hay on the dray. The journey to the barn would then begin and you would have to cling to each other with all your might in order not to fall down from the jogging, swaying mass of hay. On arrival at the barn we would climb through the door high up in the wall and as men threw in the hay from their pitchforks we would trample it down in order that there would be room for the next load to be piled on top. It was very dirty, dusty work but we loved every moment in the dark high barns. Often in the winter we would sit in the hay in the barns to giggle and chat, it was one place where you could be sure of keeping warm.

It would gradually become cooler, fresh mornings growing into autumn days and then cooling again in the evenings. Days filled with gentle hovering sunshine while the leaves on the trees turned from  green into pale gold, deep bronze, amber and russet, turning the landscape into a backcloth of beautiful, gently rustling, glowing colours. It did a young heart good to walk to school on mornings such as these, the sight of which is etched in my memory for ever.

The lovely autumn days would fade, leaves would fall from the trees and form mounds on the ground, which we would run through, kicking, swishing and trunching. By now there would have been much gathering of conkers, beechnuts and acorns and the precious pine cones which would predict the weather for us, closing if it was going to rain and opening wide, spilling their flat little seeds, if it was going to be dry.

The battle of the conkers would begin. The rushing search for a length of string on which to thread your biggest and best conker and then the contest among friends and school mates to find the bravest and hardest conker that would beat all comers and remain supremely intact, victorious, while others lay shattered in lumps, everywhere and anywhere a contest had taken place. What marvellously innocent and invigorating days they were, so much fun and laughter while summer shut up shop and before we realised what was happening the deep frost and icy cold of winter rushed in to send us hurrying pell mell into woollen vests and long warm stockings. The boys still wore their knee length trousers through the winter but they wore much thicker socks to protect their legs from the cold. Out came the gabardine macs and wellingtons, long woollen scarves which were stitched into a hood in the middle to keep the icy blast from our ears and gloves which were attached to the sleeves of our macs in case lost one of the precious commodities, money was very scarce and you could not afford to replace lost gloves.

The snow and ice was relentless. The blizzards would rage all night and all day too sometimes, piling the snow into huge drifts which made it almost impossible for us to move from our firesides. Many of us having to be dug out before we could even attend the privy that was usually at the bottom of the garden. But always we set to with shovel and spade to dig our way through so that we could attend school and go to work, walking along narrow lanes cut out of the snow which was chest high on either side of us, or sometimes walking along the wall tops in order to avoid the deep drifts.

Snowball fights would ensue and pitched battles would rage for days until the snow had hardened and then we would set to with a will to make a toboggan run. At first it would be quite slow and sluggish but would gain speed as the days passed and the snow packed down and hardened and became topped with ice. As you walked slowly to the beginning of the run you hugged the excitement of the ride to your heart, never wanting the moment to leave you, You would wait in line with your friends until it was your turn yet again to throw yourself full length on your toboggan and, guiding it with your feet, would hurtle down the icy track at great speed, the wind whipping tears from your eyes and the spray from the snow and ice drenching your clothes until you would have to go home to take off the stiff, wet, frozen clothes and dry and warm your numb, shivering body before the fire. As soon as you were warm right through and providing you had another set of clothes - many of us had just the one -  you rushed out again to join the waiting children for yet one more thrill on the icy ribbon of snow. How easily we were entertained, what enthusiasm and excitement there was and it stayed with us for weeks until the snow finally melted and the toboggans would run no more.

It was wartime and we were always hungry, a natural state for healthy young people, but there was always a pot full of lovely, thick brown stew and a milk pudding with a spoonful of jam in it. We did not starve but food was not plentiful even in the heart of the country. Our lives were very simple, our food was very simple too and mostly home grown. There was nothing to worry our young minds, even the fact of war was too distant to contemplate, even when we were asked to take in evacuees from the towns which were being bombed nightly it still did not detract from the peace and tranquillity of our little sleepy village.  We could see what effect the war was having on other people from the shocked and haggard faces of the visitors from the towns who came to stay with us and we did our best to welcome them and to soothe their worry and fears. Many of them were ill with nervous diseases and the was had affected the children and made them disagreeable and irritable and always on the defensive. The war dragged on for a long time and our visitors did well and became our friends.

On the day that war ended in Europe there was much excitement. Bonfires were built on the highest parts surrounding the village. Trestle tables were brought out on to the street and everyone contributed some food for the celebration. A piano was brought out onto the doorstep of one of our neighbours and, as it grew dark, lanterns were lit and the bonfires set ablaze. We all sang and danced to the tunes from the piano feeling so very happy that at least part of the horrific war was over although the Japanese were still fighting and many of our loved ones would never come back to us. When the bonfires died down and the food had been eaten we sat around in the lamplight, laughing and talking and for once in our young lives there were no orders for us to go to bed, we all felt so grown up sitting and joining in the conversation and the laughter until the early hours of the morning, when we all helped to tidy away the remnants of food and put away the tables and chairs and reluctantly went indoors to sleep.

The years passed slowly, as they do in youth, and eventually we all had to put our minds to the prospect of going forth into the big wide world to earn our living. Some of us went to the grammar school, which seemed very grand and remote to the ones who were not so fortunate. Some of us took courses in business studies, shorthand and typing and the like, and took up office work.  One of our smaller friends, who loved horses, eventually became a jockey. Many of the young boys took up farming or carpentry or in some cases, both. The happy carefree schooldays were over. Now instead of conker fights we had to begin the struggle of finding our way into the small surrounding towns to attend our place of work.

We all had to travel many miles, on foot, bus or train, or all three in some cases. The idyll of living in the heart of the countryside had now become a problem. We were all subdued and dispirited with our working days in the towns which were the only places in which a lot of us could find employment. We were so happy to jump off the train at our pretty, tiny station at the end of the day and tramp the long miles home to our warm and peaceful firesides.  Looking back on our lives then, we must have walked for miles to attend work or local dances or slide shown in the village schoolroom. The school had huge sliding doors to divide the classrooms. During the nights of entertainment they were all opened up and chairs and desks pushed to one side to make room for whatever we wanted to do. There were dances and jumble sales. Christmas sales of work, which everyone worked madly for in order for it all to be properly organised. There were school plays and religious lectures, whist drives and beetle drives, it was the centre of our lives and we felt so safe and free and happy.  Even after we started our working lives and we had pocket  money which allowed us to visit the cinema in the nearby towns, we still loved our evenings in the school.


Many of us would go to the nearest cinema once a week. It did not matter what the film was, we went anyway, and on the walk back home would act out some of the scenes from the film, tough guy James Cagney or wonderfully glamorous Betty Grable. We would sing and talk and laugh and the long walk would be over far too quickly, we would be reluctant to part and go to our separate homes, for the magic of the moment would be lost and tomorrow was work again.

As time went by we became more accustomed to the long hours away from the village, it was a time of change and adjustment. Some of us found it easy and some of us did not but we were all moulded for good or bad by our lives in the village.

The blackberries are long since gone. The lovely quarry where we played and the blackberries grew in such profusion has been filled in with rubbish and rubble brought into the village in great lorries and tipped on top of all the rabbits and foxes and wild cats, mice and frogs and myriads of other tiny creatures who lived there.  On top of all the wondrous flowers and berries, mosses and ferns and lovely rocks and pebbles.

Gradually, bit by disastrous bit, the castles and wigwams and stately mansions, the hanging weeping trees and the shimmering running stream with its clear champagne water and all the other magical qualities of that wonderful place have been destroyed. Where the quarry once was is now a mound of grass connected to another mound of grass by  a motorway. The lovely village and its adjoining sisters rent in two, to provide a path for monster lorries and cars driven at speed. Even if any beauty was left they have no time to see it. If a hedgehog or a rabbit or any of the tiny creatures who lived there have survived they would be crushed beneath rushing wheels.

As for us, the children of the village, now scattered abroad by work and families and time, we remember it as it was, a place of beauty and happiness and wonderful blackberries.


Sheila Mary Rogers


Sunday 10 September 2023


This letter, from the Buxworth Archive was written to the late Keith Holford  by Alfred Goddard.. 

                                               Ancoats Farm, Dolly Lane in 1915

Saturday 12 August 2023

The Soldier Dick Murals

The top floor of the Soldier Dick was used by the Oddfellows who established their "Foundation Stone Of Truth Lodge" in 1829. A mutual society, the Oddfellows provided financial benefits to their members in times of sickness, hardship or death. They came to have a very large membership in Furness Vale. In 1840, they commissioned an artist, F. W. Roche to paint murals on the walls of their "Lodge House". These represented English armies in battle: In the Civil War; at the Battle of Crecy; in the Napoleonic Wars; and a portrait of the pub's landlord, either Joseph Gould or William Travis at the time. There was another mural in the Snug but that was much more recent. The photographs which are of poor quality show the murals. Presumably the strange seating was for the officials of the Oddfellows. When the upper floor of the pub was converted to letting accommodation, the murals were carefully panelled over and still exist, carefully preserved.


 A further mural was painted in the pub's "snug" in the 1970s by a New Mills artist. This was lost during modernisation of the pub.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

George Tomlinson


George Tomlinson passed away on 11th July 2023 at the Hawthorne Nursing Home in Buxton at the age of 98.  His funeral is at Macclesfield Crematorium on 3rd August.

George Tomlinson was a Yorkshireman, originally from the village of East Bowling, now a suburb of Bradford.

George had lived in Furness Vale for many years, making his home in Park Avenue. He was employed in Manchester, commuting daily by train.

For many people, their best memory of George is of his long association with Furness Vale Scouts of which he was General Scout Leader.

George had long been a member of the Methodist Church and continued to worship at St.John's when the village chapel closed.

Furness Vale History Society was formally constituted in the early 21st century but had been meeting at Carr Farm for many years previously. It was founded by George  who became the first Chairman.  For a long time,  George had been researching our local history and it was through his efforts that we now have a considerable archive. He retired from the Society in 2013.

George is photographed with Dr. Andrew at the re-opening of the Scout Hut in January 1976

                                                     Instructing the Sea Scouts

George researched the history of most of our local farms and is seen here with Mr Mellor at Peathills.

In 2013, George was recognised by Whaley Bridge Town Council for his work in the community and presented with the Community Award. He is pictured here with his wife, Murial.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Old Mother Riley Retires

Philip Hadfield's grandfather spent his entire working life as a railwayman at Whaley Bridge and New Mills. Arthur Hadfield was well known for his appearances at local carnivals where, having dressed the floats, he would join the parade in comic fancy dress, collecting money for charity. One of his most popular roles was that of a famous music hall character, "Old Mother Riley". Arthur was awarded numerous prize certificates, a few of which we reproduce below. The newspaper cuttings mark his retirement and participation in a carnival. 

Carrie passed away in April 1964, Arthur in April 1976.

Our thanks to Philip Hadfield for the loan of this material.

Arthur Hadfield in costume, collects for charity

Friday 26 May 2023

History Of Furness Vale


The lands where Furness Vale stands were once royal hunting preserves. West of the River Goyt was Macclesfield Forest and to the East, the Forest of High Peak. These were not necessarily woodlands but game reserves where wild boar and wolves once roamed. A country familiar to the royalty and aristocracy of the day.

Kiln Knoll

Furness Vale is very much a product of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to 1794 when Mr. Gratrix opened his printworks, there was little here apart from Yeardsley Hall and a few scattered farms. The history of the area does however go back a little farther. If we follow the footpath from

Furness Vale, over Broadhey Hill heading towards Higher Disley, we pass two mounds on the left, just before reaching Redmoor Farm. This feature is known as Kiln Knoll and is marked on some older maps as a barrow. There is some disagreement about this. The Derbyshire Historic Environment Record (DCC) describes this as a Bronze Age barrow, c2000 years of age. Historic England however, suggests that it is either a medieval quarry or a lime kiln from the period 1500 to 1750 AD. We have several members and friends who are professional archaeologists and we sought their opinions. Their view is that this is indeed a barrow and that it has at some time been robbed of either treasures or of the stone that lined the tombs leaving the hollowed out mounds seen today. Bronze Age barrows are common, there are thousands in England. The hollow mounds left after tomb robbing were often used for localised lime burning. This would give an explanation for the name Kiln Knoll and for the claim that it was a lime kiln, Without an archaeological exploration, its origin must remain a mystery.

In sight of Kiln Knoll and just 400 metres away is Buxton Old Road, part of the one time Roman Road between Manchester and Buxton. Most of this route follows the familiar straight line except for the section between Disley and Whaley Bridge. The original Roman alignment has been largely obscured by the construction of the turnpike road in 1725.

Beyond the Roma Road and outside the area of Furness Vale is the Dipping Stone, high up on Whaley Moor. This is a wayside or boundary cross from the Saxon or Medieval period. Its age is uncertain but will be between 500 and 1200 years.

From the Roman Road, a number of tracks led down into the valley to serve Yeardsley Hall and various farms. Until construction of Buxton Road, now the A6 in 1804, this was the only access.

Yeardsley Hall was the ancestral home of the Jodrell family, local landowners. The present building is of various periods but does incorporate a number of Elizabethan features. The first mention of a hoouse on this site is from the 13th century when the King gave two oak trees for its repair. The house may be older but its origin is unknown. Yeardsley Hall was partly dismantled in the 17th century. The intention was to rebuild a grander house but this never happened. The history of the Jodrell family has been documented and the most detailed period was that of the Civil War.

Edmund Jodrell leaned towards the Royalist cause but refused to contribute £40 to their war chest. When the Parliamentarians arrived at Yeardsley in 1642, the demanded a £100 tribute but this too was declined. As a result, Edmund was imprisoned at Stockport Castle and later moved to “gentlemen’s quarters” at Nantwich. Eventually he relented and was released on payment of £60 and a commitment towards Cromwell. During his absence, Captain Zanchie (Sankey) occupied Yeardsley Hall and billeted his troops in one of the barns. The house was ransacked and among the goods removed were: one drum, a musket, a suit of armour, two rapiers, two great saddles, a book, a pair of gloves and six silver spoons. Altogether goods valued at almost £100 had been taken, worth about £18,000 today. Jodrell was successful in claiming compensation which was paid in full.

It is interesting that and inventory of the property was taken at about the same time and this shows that Yeardsley Hall was already a working farm. There was a corn barn, a hay barn, a kiln with a malt chamber, an ox house and a calf house. There was a slaughterhouse, a stable, a cockhouse, henhouse and duckhouse and a swinhouse. A piec of building adjoined the cockhouse for the mewing of hawks and keeping of spaniels. Large stone buildings remain today, converted to homes but Yeardsley must have been a much more substantial property in the 17th century. Mewing by the way, simply means housing.

The Jodrell family owned considerable lands but in later times these were gradually sold off. The Grimshaws took a large part of the estate when establishing themselves at Errwood Hall in the 19th century. Further sales in the early 20th century was the remainder of the Jodrell lands sold in lots at auction, often to the existing tenant farmers. In 1904, the Jodrells retreated to the newly built Taxal Lodge at Whaley Bridge and Yeardsley Hall became two separate residences.

Some of the farms have long histories. Ringstones was recorded in the 16th century. The origin of its name is unknown. A stone circle might be expected but has never been recorded.

Diglee is first mentioned in Jodrell deeds of 1635 although it is 1745 before there is a record of a farmhouse. The original building replaced in the late 19th century, still stands. It is an unusual building which clings to the hillside and combines barns, livestock housing and family accommodation on different levels.

Nearby Broadhey Farm dates from the 17th century although only a small stone barn remains of the original buildings. The framhouse was high up on Broadhey Hill but mining activity lower down the valley diverted its water supply. No longer sustainable, a new farmhouse was built at a lower level in 1870. The large stone barns alongside have now been converted to housing.

The nearest farm to Yeardsley Hall was Brownhough, pronounced “Brannock”. Another 17th century farm, it’s interesting to see how its name has been corrupted over time. There are references in 1611 to The Browne Hough and to Brannough; Brounough in 1620 and at other times to Brown Oak and Bran Oak.

At the northern end of the village is Carr Farm. This was recorded ass early as 1583. The name incidentally is Old English Kjarr meaning a brushwood marsh. It is situated alongside the River Goyt. Tragedy struck in 1663 when the family was struck down by the plague: “Joan, wife of Nicholas Hadfield of Carr in Disley was buried on 2nd June. Nicholas of Carr in Disley was buried on the 8th. Nicholas Hadfield son of Nicholas Hadfield last buried was buried on the 13th” Carr Farm found a little fame during World War I when two escaped German prisoners were found hiding on the farm.

Within the Jodrell estate, the coal mine at Furness Clough was the longest worked in the Cheshire Coalfield. There is evidence of mining as early asa the mid 17th century. A cache of gold was found in an outbuilding at Yeardsley Hall, hidden by one of the estate workers. It had been stolen from the mine. It was of course, iron pyrites or fool’s gold and worthless. Roger Jodrell declined to take any action against his employee saying that his “crime” was insignificant.

The area of Furness Clough makes an interesting study of industrial history. The mine wasn’t worked consistently until 1804 when the first lease was signed

Throughout the 18th century, an iron furnace was worked. This was on Jodrell land. We don’t know the precise location but it was probably just to the rear of the present day War Memorial. Small local furnaces or bloomers were common throughout Britain at the time and had been since Roman times. These were usually small, no more than about 1½ metres high and supplied the needs of their locality. That at Furness Vale was probably much larger as “Jodrell Pig” as its output was known was supplied to foundries in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands. The iron ore was probably extracted from within the coal mine which would have also produced a ready supply of fuel to fire the furnace.

It was this furnace that gave the village its name. “Furnace” or “The Furnace” appears on early maps and the last record of its usage was in 1842. The name “Furness Vale” appears to have been gradually adopted from about 1810.

The names of the first lessees of the mine are not known although by 1830 it was being worked by Mr Boothman of Bothams Hall, The underground workings were laid with 19 inch gauge tracks and these were extended down to a wharf on the newly opened Peak Forest Canal where coal was transferred to narrowboats for shipment, probably to the limekilns at Bugsworth This tramway was operating as early as 1808 and passed beneath the newly constructed Buxton Road Turnpike through a tunnel.

A limekiln was also worked during the 19th century although little is known of this, not even its location although it was possibly on the site of the earlier iron furnace.

The colliery was also owned for a period by Levi and Elijah Hall, who operated a number of mines in this area. In 1890 in conjunction with a partner called Hurley, a brick and tile works was founded. This was offered for sale in 1904 and eventually Mr R. E. Knowles purchased both brickyard and mine.

Like the furnace beforehand, the brickyard was largely self sufficient for a large quantity of fireclay was found between the coal seams. Knowles specialised in firebricks and firebacks. Demand for coal declined, especially as the lime kilns at Bugsworth fell out of use so the tramway to the canal was diverted to a new exchange siding on the railway and mechanised with a cable haulage system. This allowed for the dispatch of finished goods by rail.

The mine closed in 1963 by which time much of the coal had been worked out and it needed to be constantly pumped to keep water at bay. The brickyard continued to operate using imported raw materials and only ceased operation about ten years ago.

Furness Clough wasn’t the only coal mine. Beard and Bugsworth Colliery, usually known as Lady Pit was the largest. It was actually in Buxworth although its offices were in the village. Operated by Levi and Elijah Hall, it closed in 1903 when it had been largely worked out. All that remains today is a large ventilation shaft at the end of Dolly Lane.

There were two mines at Bank End. One of these was accessed by a number of shafts just north of St.John’s Church. There was an incident just a few years ago when a digger, excavating a garden, nearly fell into one of the shafts. It was safely capped by the Coal Authority. The other mine was farther north, alongside the canal. A small local working was at one time marked by an engine house on the canal bank.

The other local mine was at Ringstones, close to the farm of the same name. There were two vertical shafts linked by a tramway and coal was transported down to Bridgemont by a continuous cable, perhaps an aerial ropeway. There is a stone tower in Ringstones Clough, a relic of this system. The mine closed in 1898 and the equipment sold off. The capped main shaft may still be seen in the middle of the present day caravan site

Furness Vale had two stone quarries which provided the building materials for construction of the village. The large one at Bank End was in two parts but had closed by 1930. The other at the southern end of the village continued to operate until the 1960s. It must have also supplied stone for use farther afield as it had two canal wharves, both linked by tunnel beneath the road and railway

The other major industry in Furness Vale was the Printworks. This was founded by Samuel Gratrix in 1794. We don’t know why he chose what was a then a very isolated location without a readily available labour force. It was however, alongside the River Goyt so it had a good water supply and the Peak Forest Canal was under construction. This opened two years later and provided transport between the Printworks and Manchester. Poor road access ceased to be a problem with the opening of the turnpike in 1804. Gratrix built a row of workers houses facing the new canal and within a few minutes walk of his works. It was his enterprise that was the catalyst for the growth of the village.

The Peak Forest Canal gained its Act of Parliament in 1792 and construction began immediately. The work was carried out by the manual labour of teams of itinerant “navvies” and the waterway opened just four years later. Construction of the locks at Marple took a little longer but temporary rail tracks allowed for through traffic to commence. Furness Vale had direct transport to Manchester. Much of the canal’s traffic was from the lime kilns at Bugsworth and coal to supply them. At its peak 40 boats a day passed through Furness Vale. The canal also carried general goods, especially prior to the opening of the railway and for a year or two a passenger service between Dukinfield and Whaley Bridge.

The Manchester and Buxton Turnpike was constructed in 1725 but between Disley and Whaley Bridge presented a long climb over Whaley Moor. This was a challenge for the developing stage coach services and in 1804, a new route following a level contour opened. Passing through Furness Vale, this opened up the new community to the outside world. The village developed quickly as houses and shops were built alongside the new road together with the Soldier Dick public house which opened in 1805. The pub wasn’t a coaching house but it was a point where stage coaches would pick up and set down passengers. Not many of the 15 daily services would call here however, for the fares were well beyond the means of all but a few residents.

Another link was established in 1731 when the Thornsett Turnpike Trust built a new road between New Mills and Furness Vale. This largely followed Marsh Lane, an ancient route which continued towards Bugsworth. This was extended to cross the River Goyt and followed the route that eventually became known as Station Road.

The railway opened in 1857 and like the canal beforehand, was built by manual labour in only four years. The station never had goods facilities, the later siding being for the sole use of the Brickyard.

As the village grew, so too did the businesses that served its population. Most people worked in the locality or at least within walking distance and all of their everyday needs were met by local tradesmen. It was normal for communities such as this to be virtually self sufficient, with only such items as furniture or clothing having to be sought elsewhere. We know of thirty addresses that at one time or another have been shops. A number of shops supplied food including the village’s own co-operative Society. In addition we had blacksmiths, drapers, hairdressers, ironmongers, toyshop, a cobbler, tailor, newsagent and a cycle maker; even a yeast merchant. There was a cafe, a bank, post office and a doctor’s surgery and of course, a fish and chip shop. Three pubs refreshed the villagers. All three were unique in their own right but one in particular was unusual. The Traveller’s Call had a second name ; The Jolly Sailor and both seemed to be in official use at the same time. This was a small beerhouse next to the canal bridge built in 1839 by Joseph Wild of Disley. The building also included a shop, and a cottage and an engraving shop above. In 1864, it was bought by Joseph Holt of Cheetham Hill. Now a well known Manchester brewery, Holt’s only owned 20 houses at the time and it’s surprising to find such a remote outpost. Perhaps the beer was transported by canal. The licensing Act of 1904 was an attempt by the Government to reduce the number of beerhouses and pubs (and drunkeness). It was often known as the Compensation Act as licensees were compensated for loss of livelihood. In 1908 magistrates refused to renew the license of the Traveller’s Call on the grounds that it was a disorderly house. This was a common ploy and the pub closed. The then owner, Mrs Roberts continued to live there until it was sold in 1922 to Mrs Wharmby who re-opened it as a greengrocery business.

The Soldier Dick replaced a pub at Stoneheads that lost most of its trade when the turnpike was diverted and the license was transferred. The name of the early inn is uncertain but it was said to have stood for 300 years. There is a legend that it was transported stone by stone but strangely the original building still stood long afterwards. This may have arisen because John Warren wrote in his diary that Sam Bowers came down from the Posting House with a cart full of stone. Mr Bowers was licensee of the Soldier Dick but not until 1850.

The origin of the Soldier Dick’s name is a well known legend which I won’t repeat. We will probably never know how much truth there is in the romantic story.

In 1829, the Oddfellows, a mutual society and a forerunner of the welfare state, founded the Foundation Stone of Truth Lodge in Furness Vale. They established themselves in the top floor of the Soldier Dick which was converted for their use. A concave dome was created in the ceiling and housed a bell which would be rung to summon members to meetings. A sliding hatch in the doorway allowed officers to verify who was seeking admission and in 1840, an artist was commissioned to paint murals on the walls. These depicted scenes of English armies at battles of the Civil War, at Crecy and fighting Napoleon. The Oddfellows provided benefits for its members at time of sickness or other distress but was a very formal organisation. Wearing sashes and other regalia, they would often march in procession at times of Coronations, Jubilees or other occasions. At its height, two thirds of the village population were members. Although they were largely superseded by social welfare after the War, they did continue to meet for a while, transferring to the Institute in 1961.

The Soldier Dick was eventually modernised and the top floor converted to letting bedrooms. The murals still exist, carefully covered and conserved. We don’t know what will become of them now that the pub has closed with planning application for conversion to apartments outstanding.

The third pub, The Crossings, started life in 1868 as the Station Inn, a two storey building incorporating a lock-up shop. It was built for Samuel Hall, a relative of Levi and Elijah Hall, coal owners. The pub remained in that family until 1907. It was rebuilt in the late 19th century with a large function room added in a third floor. It became the Station Hotel.

The pub was offered for sale in 1920 in auction at the Macclesfield Arms. The sale included the pub and shop. The shop was let at £14 6s per annum with the tenant paying the rates. The 999 year lease had begin on 29th September 1864; the ground rent was still £4 1s. An annual payment was made to the London & North Western Railway “for the right to light”.

One early licensee by the name of Jackson was grandfather of John Jackson, the village butcher. He had a brother who also lived at the pub. Every decent hostelry has a ghost and the Station Hotel was no exception. The spectre was described as a hunchback, just like Mr Jackson’s brother.

Jackson ran a “station wagon” to transport people to dances held in the function room.

The churches played a major role in the lives of the people and in the development of the community. In Furness Vale, there was no regular religious activity until 1812 when Methodists started meeting in private homes. In 1822, Mr Mellor of Diglee Farm built a row of three cottages on Yeardsley Lane and rented one to the Methodist congregation for £5 per year. This is now my home. At first the Furnace Methodist Chapel had just thirteen members although this number was to gradually grow. Besides regular worship, there was a Sunday School and an evening class for adult education. For many children, this was their only opportunity to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. By 1840, the congregation had outgrown their modest premises and the first purpose built Chapel and Sunday School opened on Station Road. As the village population expanded, so the chapel was twice rebuilt, the present building dating from 1885. Sadly, the church closed in August 2002, unable to meet legal requirements for disabled access.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church followed a similar pattern although this was many years later. In 1865, Mr Saxby owner of the Printworks converted a barn at Lodge Farm for use by St. John's Mission and Sunday School. Education played a major role in the Mission's activities and its day school served the village until Furness Vale Board School opened in 1876. More than 100 pupils transferred from Lodge Farm as well as a number from the Methodist school. . The Church had long desired permanent premises and a building fund was launched. Mr Jodrell contributed £500 as well as the land. St.John's Church opened in March 1912. It was designed to have a tower but was modified when funds ran short.

In 1929 Furness Vale and parts of Whaley Bridge were within Cheshire. As moves were afoot to resolve the anomalies that this created, the press enjoyed describing the situation.

The area with a population of around 3000 was governed by two county councils, one urban district council and two rural district councils.  There were three parish councils, two boards of guardians and a joint parks committee. There were three separate water supply schemes and although there was a joint sewage authority, three councils were responsible for the actual sewers. Rates differed between each of the four parishes and there were two assessment authorities. There were two elementary schools but both were in Derbyshire.

 Furness Vale with a population of about 750 had neither its own council nor parish. A brook divided the village between the parishes of Disley and Yeardsley-cum-Whaley hence the public services were provided by two authorities.

 Whaley Bridge was also divided ecclesiastically between three parishes, two dioceses, two archdeaconries, and two rural deaneries and also between the provinces of Canterbury and York.

There were two licensing authorities and pubs kept different hours on opposite sides of the River Goyt. Whaley Bridge had two policemen, one for each side of the river.

100 years ago Furness Vale was situated in four Parishes: Disley, Taxal, New Mills and Glossop - and in two Dioceses: Chester and Southwell!

These divisions resulted in the duplication of many official posts with some officers having very light duties indeed. This farcical situation was largely resolved when Whaley Bridge and Furness Vale were transferred from Cheshire to Derbyshire in 1936.

These boundary changes, and those of 1974 that created the Metropolitan Counties were largely administrative. The traditional county boundaries have never been fully abolished so although we refer to Furness Vale as being in Derbyshire, we might still use a Cheshire address if we wish.

Furness Vale’s football club was first recorded in 1883 when they drew 1-1 in a match against Greenheys, a team from Chorlton on Medlock. They have had many successes in their 140 year history and currently play in the Hope Valley League. This year they are league champions and have won two cup competitions. The club has been in existence longer that the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle.

James Hastings worked at Furness Vale Printworks and was a pioneering cyclist. In 1867 he was a founder member of the High Peak Velocipede Club, Britain’s first cycling club. He gained fame by writing for specialist magazines and presenting his own designs and modifications. Members often built their own machines.

Another Printworks employee was William McBride. In 1900 he left to join the police in London where he soon transferred to the CID. Rising to the rank of Inspector, he was in charge of the photographic department at Scotland Yard and became an expert in the development of fingerprinting. McBride was also skilled in the art of disguise and photographs show him in some very disreputable looking guises. He retired in 1930 due to ill health from the rank of Sub Divisional Inspector.

The above article is the text from a presentation given to Disley Local History Society on 25th May 2023 by David Easton