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 The building is no longer occupied however, having been superseded by a more modern house opposite.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.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Monday, 5 March 2018

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Murder At Furness Vale

A suspicious death with a hint of  murder at Furness Vale in 1879.
The circumstances of the untimely death of James Sparham,Gnat Hole, Bugsworth employed by Matthew Hall licensee of the Navigation Inn at Bugsworth was never satisfactorily explained. Sparham had worked for a number of years as the captain of Hall's narrowboat plying gritstone from Crist Quarry, Bugworth and limestone from Dove Holes over the Pennines to Huddersfield. The saga was reported in the High Peak News of the 8th August and 16th August 1879.

Keith Holford August 2017

Report in the High Peak News, August 19th 1879
A canal boat laden with stone, left Bugsworth Basin on Wednesday afternoon for Huddersfield, there were three men engaged for the trip, viz. James Sparham the captain, James Bennett, and a young man whose name we have not been able to ascertain. Sparham is a middle-aged man who has been in the employ of Matthew Hall, licensee of the Navigation Inn, Bugsworth for some 30 years.

The boat arrived at Furness Vale on Wednesday afternoon, when the three men appear to have gone to a publichouse where they remained until late in the evening. The first to leave were Sparham and the young man,  Bennett following on later, found the boat swinging in the middle of the canal, so he was unable to get aboard. He made his way to another boat where he slept all night.

On getting up early next morning, Bennett went, about half past seven, to his own boat and going into the cabin, he found old man Sparham dead. The young man who left with Sparham the previous night was seen on the Thursday morning, at about half past five making his way from Sparham's narrowboat. The night before it appears that this young man bought 6d worth of laudanum (a derivative of opium). This circumstance, coupled with his disappearance has caused suspicion against the young man.

The canal bridge in Furness Vale before it was rebuilt in 1925. The adjacent building was
the Traveller's Call beerhouse (often known as the Jolly Sailor) which closed in 1908

Report of the Inquest, High Peak News, August 16th 1879.
On Friday evening last an inquest was held before Mr. Lake, deputy -coroner, at the house of Samuel Hall, Station Hotel, Furness Vale, on the body of James Sparham, who came to his death in  mysterious  circumstances, as mentioned last week.

The first witness called was Ann Sparham of Stalybridge, who said: “ I am a single woman, I work as a weaver at Mr. John Leach's. The deceased is my father,his name is Sparham. He is a widower of 56 years of age, he has worked most of his life as a boatman. He lived at Gnat Hole, Bugsworth when he was at home. He worked for Matthew Hall, who keeps the Navigation Inn, Bugsworth. I last saw my father alive about eight or nine weeks ago. I saw him at Stalybridge. He was in his usual state of health, he was not a healthy man; he suffered from a very bad cough, indeed he was ill plagued with asthma. The only thing he used to a take for it was “cough mixture” not laudanum when I was with him. He was in the habit of getting cough mixture from a  druggist's shop in Bugsworth. I have seen him fetch it.. He used to take half a spoonful in a glass of water. He had liked to be chocked (choked ?) with it a time or two.  known as “Old Hod”his real name is John Clayton who worked with him at one time. The last time I saw my father was here dead at the Station Inn, Furness Vale.

Matthew Hall, Bugsworth said I am a carrier of lime and coal, the deceased worked for me as a  boatman. I last saw him alive on Wednesday at Bugsworth. He left Bugsworth between twelve and one o'clock in charge of a boat, which was full of lime. He was the captain and he had  two other men with him, who I knew by sight but not by name. I employed them to go to Huddersfield with a load of lime. I have known the deceased for some 20 years. He was in the usual health when he left last Wednesday; he suffered from asthma very badly at times. He was not a man who drank regularly; he used to take rum sometimes for his ailment. He was a steady man as a rule; I have seen him drunk but not for 2 months at least. I saw the deceased again on Thursday. He was dead.

The foreman. Before he set away from Bugsworth on Wednesday did he say anything about being indisposed. Witness. He did not. He had 4s 9d in his pocket when he left Bugsworth;it was to pay for stabling and wages. The Coroner : What money was found on him?  P.C. Bainbridge.* 11 pence and a half.

James Bennett,of Fairfield, Manchester, said: I am a boatman, and a I live in the boat. I started for Matthew Hall on Monday.. I have no settled address. I left Bugsworth on Wednesday last between  12 and 1 o'clock with the deceased and a young man I cannot tell you, he was a stranger to me. I do not know him. The first stopping place was Furness Vale and we got to Furness Vale about two o'clock.

The Coroner: You stopped then.  Bennett: The deceased did not complain about anything. We all three got out of the boat and went to the  Traveller's Call,* where we each had a glass of beer.  The three of us stopped drinking all afternoon at the public-house until half past seven o'clock.  At that time I took the deceased to the boat and on board, because I did not think that he could get there safely by himself. He was drunk so I took him into the cabin and left him with the other man and him in the cabin. The  deceased was leaning with his hands on the table, when I left him. I went to the beer-house again, and when came back again to the boat about 10 0'clock at night, I could not get on  board due to the boat swinging in the middle of the canal. I was drunk, but I could manage to walk. The boat was quite loose,not fastened at all. The wind was carrying the boat towards Bugsworth again. Somebody must have loosed the  boat. I slept on another boat which was close by. I went on board my own boat about nine  o'clock on Thursday morning. I went into the cabin and I found the deceased on the cabin floor, kneeling in the place where I had left him. His head was resting on the place where he was sitting when I had left him the previous evening. He was dead (cold) and alone. I did not notice any medicine bottles about. The man did not seem to have a cold, but he had “bad bouts”ever now and then. He did not ask me to fetch anything. I don't know why the other man went away. I have known Sparham for 2 years, but not to work with him. He used to have a bad cough which sometimes troubled him. He had nothing to drink, only beer, perhaps half a dozen glasses or more. I put him in the cabin about half past seven.
Foreman: What age is the  young man ?
Witness: I am not sure. I cannot tell . He looked about 18.
The Coroner: Were they on good terms /
Witness: Yes.
The Coroner: Who paid for the drinks ?
Witness: The young man and myself.
The Coroner  : Did the deceased pay ?
Witness : One  glass for me another for the youth.
The Coroner: Had he any money, did he show any ?
Witness: No he did not. He did not spend any money before we got there. He did not give me any money on account. I had money which I got in Manchester. I was not that drunk that I did not know what I was doing.
The Coroner: Do you mean to say that you paid for all the drink ?
Witness: Yes, the deceased only paid once. I never saw any money that the deceased had.
The Coroner:Then he was having his share at small cost. Did he ask for it ?
Witness: No, he kept having another glass when we paid for one. I only saw him pay three
halfpence the whole time.

The Foreman: Were you the first that found him dead ?
Witness: Yes. Directly I saw him I shouted to a man ( R. Ratcliffe ) in another boat which was passing. He promised to send a policeman and P. C. Bainbridge  came soon afterwards. I never heard any threats in he public-house. There was no quarrelling amongst us.

After some evidence given by P.C. Bainbridge, which the Coroner instructed the reporters not to publish, the jurors conferred together and on the recommendation of the latter the inquest was adjourned for the purpose of having post-mortem, and for the appearance of the young man who was left on board with the deceased and who has not been seen since half-past five o'clock on last Thursday morning by a man coming away from the canal where the boat was placed. It was decided that Dr. Allen should make the post-mortem examination and P. C. Bainbridge was instructed to bring forward what witnesses were necessary to elucidate the matter.

The Adjourned Inquest.
The adjourned inquest was held at the Station Hotel, Furness Vale, on Thursday evening. A chemist named Cheetham, residing in Furness Vale, gave evidence that on August 6th , between 4 and 5 o'clock, he sold half-an-ounce of laudanum to a young man who was connected with a boat. The  young man's name is Wood, and he belongs to Staffordshire. That quantity would not kill a  strong healthy man.

Dr. Allan said he made a post-mortem examination of the body of the deceased. There were no marks of violence on the body, nor nothing to indicate that the man had come to his death except by natural causes, or by excessive drinking. The pupils of his eyes were neither  dilated or contracted. He placed the stomach and its contents  in a sealed jar and sent them  to Dr. Raynor at Stockport. Dr. Raynor said there was no laudanum, or traces of laudanum or other poison in the stomach to cause death.

The  jury on  hearing this evidence, came to the conclusion that there was no necessity after hearing the evidence tom pursue the inquiry further and at once  brought in a verdict” that the death was caused by natural causes.”

The Coroner : said that in case the young man, who has disappeared was apprehended by the police, they could bring the man before the magistrates and get a dismissal.

Traveller Call. A publichouse along the Peak Forest Canal

**  There appears to be no explanation or further questioning as to where or how the 4s 9d  was according depleted to 11 and halfpence according to the evidence given of P. C. Bainbridge.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

In 1960, Marjorie Hobson, a local teacher presented her Pictorial History of  our village, at Furness Vale School.  

Our latest publication is a faithful reproduction of Miss Hobson's timeline, albeit in a smaller format. The many coloured illustrations were painted by Miss Hobson herself.

Available in paperback from Furness Vale History Society or from the Community Shop at £3.00.

An e-book edition is available from Amazon, Kindle at £1.99:

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Chapel-en-le-Frith Target Wall

Liz McCormick has written to us about her research into the target wall at Chapel-en-le-Frith.  This updates and corrects our original article which remains at the foot of this page and provides considerably more information about this interesting feature.

"The wall that was demolished in 1991 and is referred to as the target wall was not 200yrs old. All records and press items show the wall to be part of a 30 yard safety rifle range which was constructed mainly in 1910 with final adjustments in 1913. The old Volunteer Rifle Range that was built by the Volunteer Forces (which formed in 1859/60 and went on to become the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Sherwood Foresters) was closed by 1899 on the orders of the War Office. This earlier range had its target area in the same vicinity as the 30 yard safety range was to be built

The Chapel Volunteers of 1804 were disbanded in 1809 and became part of the local militia. William Braylesford Bunting covers the volunteer movement in reasonable detail in his book "CHAPEL-EN-LE-FRITH ITS HISTORY AND ITS PEOPLE" on pages 347 and 348.

From 1899 Chapel-en-le-Frith was without a rifle range until a Drill Hall was built. The Drill Hall with War Office approved miniature rifle range opened on Market Street in 1907, again the Buxton Advertiser kept us updated on the fundraising progress and eventual opening of the Drill Hall.

The Buxton Advertiser in April 1910 confirmed that a new 30 yard safety rifle range was also to be constructed at Chapel-en-le-frith and the old stone butts from the first range would be demolished and used in the construction of the new range. The wall in the new range was not to carry targets but to stop stray  bullets and ricochet.

In 1991 an article appeared in the Buxton Advertiser where a few facts were mixed up and has been the source of some 'local legends' ever since.

The line of vision from the school steps to the original butts was not clear and therefore it would have been unsafe to take the shot. The 800yd marker of the old range was visible from the school steps and it could be possible that this marker was mistaken for a target by an onlooker but it is very unlikely that the designated range warden would sanction shooting other than from the rifleman's allocated marker and toward the target area. It would not count toward their drill and as ammunition was limited and the activity unsafe in terms of public safety I can only think there is little or no fact behind this tale.

The photographs on the website show the wall to consist of three sections initially but only two sections remained in the decades before it was demolished in 1991. I would be interested to know what happened to the third section which appears to have been removed by the 1950's?

There is a good amount of press coverage of the activities of the local Territorial Forces and the closure of rifle ranges and the amending of or building new ones during the 1900 to 1913 time period was regularly included.

The  town of Chapel-en-le-Frith has actually had three rifle ranges but from 1900 the volunteers had to travel to Edale, Bakewell and Combs for practise  on longer ranges in order to complete their musketry training

The  old-maps website has an extensive collection of maps and it is possible to see the progress of the Volunteer Rifle Range on the 1883 and 1899 maps. The OS maps of the 1920's show the 30 yard safety range as an oblong and has no reference to the old range".  

Liz is also researching the Chapel-en-le-Frith Drill hall and its ranges and would any help that readers might be able to provide. She may be contacted through this website and would also be happy to answer any queries on these subjects.

Our booklet "Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1940 caught the attention of one observant buyer, Pete Goddard.

A number of the photographs show a parade of volunteers taking place on the cricket ground in the summer of 1940. In the background, on three of these, can be seen albeit faintly, the target wall in the next field. It is just above the scorers hut.  Pete tells me that this was used by the old volunteer regiment who used to fire from the steps of the infant school 1000 yards away. The wall was over 200 years old and built by the Chapel Volunteers. They merged with the Sherwood Foresters in 1804 and the wall was used by soldiers who later served in the Boer War as well as two World Wars.
Despite attempts by the Parish Council to obtain a preservation order, the wall was demolished in 1991's by the landowner who deemed it unsafe.

The wall is barely visible in the original photograph. When we zoom in at high resolution it becomes a little clearer.

Thanks to Robin Sharp for allowing us to reproduce his photograph of the wall just before it was demolished. Robin can be seen in the picture, the young buy with a dog.

The booklet Chapel-en-le-Frith 1940: Photographs from the albums of Eric Young is available from the History Society price £2.00 plus postage.  An Kindle ebook version can be downloaded from Amazon price £2.00
A collection of photographs from the albums of Eric Young, formerly of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. The pictures depict the town suffering from a heavy fall of snow in January 1940. In the following summer, volunteers parade on the town's cricket ground.
This is a collection of over 40 historic photographs.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Living In The Furnace

We all know the story of how Bugsworth changed its name to something more respectable. A hundred years beforehand, a similar change took place in Furness Vale. We might otherwise have all been "Living in the Furnace"

Our community at the end of the 1700s was no more than a small hamlet called The Furnace. Within ten years, the canal, printworks and turnpike road had all opened and the village rapidly grew in size and population. 
We don't know when the name "Furness Vale" first came into use but it must have been around the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Maps published as late as 1831 still give the name of the village as "Furnace" or "The Furnace" and show the mill as "Furnace Print Works". Legal documents such as "Hansard" (the Parliamentary record) still quote the "Furnace" spelling in 1831.  "Furness Vale" was however, in use by 1821 for the name appears in a trade directory for that year.  There appears to be a gradual transition from one name to the other rather than an official change.

The first record of a furnace in the parish of Disley is in 1690.  A charcoal fired iron smelting furnace stood where the "beehive" kilns of Knowles Brickyard were later constructed. This must have been a reasonable sized operation for "Jodrell Pig" was sent to forges in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.  Small iron foundries were to be found in many parts of the country, wherever charcoal or coke, and iron ore were available. The mineral was probably mined locally among the coal seams of Furness Clough and charcoal produced in nearby woodland. Most of these small local furnaces had closed by the late 18th century, replaced by much larger and more profitable coke fired plants. The disused kiln was probably still in evidence in 1811 for John Farey, described its location in his book of that date.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Stroll Through Furness Vale

Join Mabel Townend on   "A Stroll Through  Furness Vale

Mabel has lived in the village all of her life, and for many years, taught at the local school.
In her talk at Furness Vale History Society, she describes the shops, businesses and other features that she so well remembers from the past.

Everybody is welcome at Furness Vale Community Centre on 
5th September to hear Mabel’s reminiscences.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Derek Cope of Buxworth

Sadly we have heard that Derek Cope died last week aged 90 years.
His account of his family's various businesses in Buxworth may be found on this site.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Growing Up In Buxworth

Jackie and Terry Prior, family relatives living nearby escorted me to my first day at Buxworth School. I didn't realise it at the time but this was the first day of my independence. So my early education started in the Infants Class under the watchful eye of Miss. Littlewood. With a well built human frame, knitted woollen skirts and jackets together with pince-nez glasses, the spitting image for Miss Prism, She cosseted,  cajoled and corrected  her little charges in equal measure.
Buxworth School

There were no pre-school groups in the late thirties and early forties, just common or garden infants under the buxom but gentle-womanly Miss. Littlewood. I was a late starter to a full school life in Buxworth because I had been in and out of school and had spent a few weeks in Manchester Royal Infirmary with a suspected mastoid.  I can pin point the date from an entry in the Buxworth School Logbook. 16-12-1941. Dr Bamber made a medical inspection of all pupils. At 1-20 pm she examined Keith Holford and ordered him to be sent home at once -- likelihood of a developing mastoid trouble.” No mastoid, but the hospital justified their existence by removing my tonsils. My stay too, left me with a  lifelong anathema to the smell of boiling cabbage and fish poached in milk. Christmas Eve brought horror rather than happiness when a fancy dressed monkey monkeyed his or her way through the children's wards. Since that day I have never knowingly found time to utter a good word regarding monkeys. The bonus however was Christmas presents at both the hospital and later at home.

The full story by Keith Holford, may be read here:

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Chinley 150, The Birth of a Station, the Growth of a Village

Chinley Railway Station celebrated its 150th anniversary in February of this year.  John Benson's book "Chinley 150, The Birth of a Station, the Growth of a Village" has just been published to commemorate the event.
Copies are available from Chinley Post Office, Green Lane; from the Chapel-en-le-Frith bookshop, Reading Matters of 48 Market Street and from the Brierlow Bar bookshop. The price is £4 .50.
The book can be obtained by mail order from Reading Matters for £6.00 including post and packing. Telephone 01298 938166 or email

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Coming Soon

Here is the programme of History Society meetings for the coming months:

lease note that we do not meet during July or August

Tuesday 5th Sept.     A Stroll Through Furness Vale by Mabel Townend

Tuesday 3rd Oct       The Stockport - Disley -Whaley Bridge Railway with Chris Makepeace

Tuesday 7th Nov       Life And Times Of A Farrier - told by Doug Bradbury

Tuesday 5th Dec       A Unique Lifestyle from Peter Burgess

All meetings are held at Furness Vale Community Centre, Yeardsley Lane (next to Imperial Palace Restaurant) Non members are always welcome, admission is £2 including refreshments.  Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Monday, 9 January 2017

A view of the Printworks.

This photograph has been digitally colourised from a black and white postcard titled "Bank View". This is the track leading from the Canal at Furness Vale down to the Printworks.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Cope Family Ventures in Buxworth.


Over a three day weekend in June 1992 the “Friends of Buxworth / Bugsworth School inaugurated the first “Bygone Buxworth”. It was to be held in Buxworth School. The turnout was something to write home about. The school was packed to the gunnel's with past and present villagers jostling to see both the historical displays and to meet up with long lost friends. The outcome at a post mortem meeting was that with the numerous offerings of more historical material and the interest generated, that a further 10 day exhibition would be staged when the school was not operational during the summer. This occurred in the summer of 1994.


A taste of what was on offer in 1992 follows. The Navigation Inn staged a “Canal Themed Weekend” Richard Hall, the then Chinley milkman brought his shire horses to the Bugsworth Basin. Opposite Buxworth School a slide show and lecture entitled “The Peak Forest Canal and the Bugsworth Basin” was held in the former Primitive Methodist Tabernacle Chapel  A display of old photographs and documents was mounted in the main schoolroom. Morris Dancers, Clog Dancers, Live Theatre and a Jazz and Blues Band filled in the gaps. I produced a 28 page booklet plainly entitled “Bugsworth” for the occasion. An amalgam of local residents recounted businesses and ventures that I edited into an article entitled “Shop-keeping in Bugsworth over 60 years.” Other villagers contributed various Bugsworth / Buxworth related articles.  The booklet sold well and feedback came back fast and furious, mostly landing into my possession as the historical editor. One of the families mentioned was the Cope family who had over many years ran three separate businesses in Bugsworth / Buxworth, ending in 1944. Derek Cope their son, unsolicited, furnished me with a 20 page account of their business dealings, plus a chronological list denoting the names of previous landlords who had kept either the Bull's Head or the Navigation Inn. The list of landlords spanned the years 1842—1941.

Keith Holford. November 2016

Running a business in Buxworth 1932- 1944

Derek's edited article reads --- My parents first commercial venture was the chip shop, which stood at the foot of “ The Dungeon ” the footpath that runs from the former Post Office on New Road, diagonally to the Navigation Inn, adjacent to the Bugsworth Basin. It was a dark wooden shack with a steeply sloping roof and a brick chimney at the side facing the Black Brook. There was a serving counter on the left with the frying fittings behind, a long table with a bench seat faced the counter. At the back, steps led down to the dank and dismal storage area for the fish, potatoes, oil and mineral waters, with a small extension at the rear for the empties.

The village Chip Shop is pictured left of centre
Now this occupation was the before the latter days of the redoubtable “Maude Stiles ” -- Chip Shopper Keeper Extraordinaire. In fact my earliest memories in life are connected with the “fip fop”. The chip cutter was on the serving counter. A long handled lever with a heavy metal block below forced down the potatoes into a mesh of blades, the square chips then fell into a basin below. No bags of ready made chips, you made your own. The fish was delivered to the Buxworth Station in wooden tubs packed with ice. One memory is going with my mother to collect the tub on a cold winter-day, the ground being covered in snow. The fish tub was lowered onto a small porter's trolley and I can still hear the crackle of the frozen snow under the iron wheels of the trolley as we left the station. After a year or two with the chip shop, my parents moved into the realms of higher commerce and took on the Navigation Inn, always known as “The Navvy”. Life was broadening and memories are now more plentiful.