Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Britain From Above

This website features thousands of historical aerial photographs archived in a searchable database.  Although there are no images of Furness Vale, our neighbouring communities are well represented.

This is Waterside Mill in Disley taken in 1946. Some of the buildings are painted in camouflage colours to hide them from wartime bombers. In the background is Bowater's mill standing alongside the canal.

New Mills in 1952.  In the centre of the picture is the bus station. The railway to Hayfield disappears into the background. There are vehicles in Albion Road and Market Street but otherwise the roads are empty.

Taxal Lodge in 1937.  This house built in 1904 was the home of the Jodrells until 1950 when it became a special school. It was famed for the gardens which Mrs Cotton Jodrell regularly opened to the public.

Horwich End in 1937 with Botany Bleachworks in the right foreground and Macclesfield Road on the left. Behind the gasworks are the Shalcross railway sidings, full of wagons.

Here is the Rising Sun with St. Thomas's Church in the background. This is in 1927 long before the roundabout was constructed. A Stockport tram has just arrived  at the terminus as another can be seen leaving at the top of the picture. Torkington Lodge and Estate were still in private hands and were not purchased by the Council until1935.

This is just a small selection of images. It is well worth visiting the website and exploring the locations that interest you. Low resolution photos may be downloaded from the site or purchased as larger, high quality photos.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Beware the Ides of March

Is the black dog to be feared or is it a good omen?  This apparition has frequently been reported throughout Britain and according to legend has huge red eyes like glowing coals that can see right into ones soul. Other stories tell of black dogs that help farmers to round up sheep.

The dog at Cockyard appears from nowhere at dusk and follows one down the hill towards Combs where it vanishes just as mysteriously.
On the opposite hillside above Tunstead, along Eccles Road, The Black Dog of Ollerenshaw makes his appearance at the Ides of March. Not far away, at Barmoor Clough a black dog has been seen emerging from a culvert. In the long tradition of ghostly apparitions, this one carries his head tucked under his arm.  Whilst here we must mention the curious "ebbing and flowing" well. This natural spring would flow and then cease without any regular pattern but has dried up since work was carried out on the railway tunnel. Near Horwich End is Hob Croft, a name centuries old which refers to the presence of a hob or hobgoblin. These are benevolent yet supernatural creatures which usually make their appearance when the household is asleep. In return for a little food they will tidy up, do the dusting and sweeping and sometimes even the ironing. Take care not to upset a hob for then it will take great delight in mischief and practical jokes. They resemble small hairy men and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sleep Tight

Compiled by Flo Deems
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Where did some of these old English sayings come from that we've heard all of our lives, but maybe never really thought about their origins? After all, we do know what they mean, right?
"SLEEP TIGHT" - back in the 1500s and maybe even before then, some people could afford to sleep on wooden framed beds so they were off of the floor. These frames had heavy ropes tied from side to side that supported the mattress. Over time the ropes would stretch, so they'd have to tighten them. Hence the saying, "Sleep tight." Later added to that was: "Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite."
"PISS POOR" - They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in the same pot to collect as much urine as possible. Why? Because once a day, someone from the family took the pot to the tannery and sold the urine. If a family had to do this to survive financially, they were called "Piss poor."
"DIDN'T HAVE A POT TO PISS IN" - Worse than the above were some people who were too poor to buy even the pot to collect their urine. And so they were the poorest and lowest of the low.
BRIDAL BOUQUETS - Although not a saying, here's the origin of the wedding custom of having the bride carry a bouquet - Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May! So they still smelled somewhat good in June. However, since they were starting to smell again, brides carried a bouquet of flowers, hoping to hide their body odor.
"DON'T THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER!" - Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of bathing in the nice clean hot water. Then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children could take their turn in the big bath tub. Last of all came the babies! By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
"IT'S RAINING CATS AND DOGS!" - Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.
CANOPY BEDS - Related to this situation is how canopy beds were developed. With roofs like these, there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. So people constructed beds with tall posts over which a sheet could be hung to offer some protection.
"DIRT POOR" - Floors in many houses were simply the dirt that the house had been built upon. Only the wealthy could afford stone or slate floors.
THE NURSERY RHYME: "Pease porridge hot, Pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot Nine days old." - In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung on a long iron arm over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not have much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme.
"BRING HOME THE BACON" - Sometimes people could obtain pork and this would be a special occasion. So when they had guests, they would hang up their slab of bacon to show off. This was a sign of comparative wealth, when a man could "bring home the bacon."
"CHEW THE FAT" - Whenever a family did have some bacon and had guests, they would cut off some to share with their guests. They would sit around the fire and "chew the fat."
TOMATOES WERE CONSIDERED POISONOUS! - This delicious fruit that masquerades as a veggie was considered poisonous for about 400 years. Those with money had plates made of pewter, which in those days had a high lead content. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, eventually causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes.
"UPPER CRUST" - Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.
"HOLDING A WAKE" - Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
"SAVED BY THE BELL" - also "A DEAD RINGER" - and "THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT" - England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive! So they would tie a long string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.
Now, aren't you glad you know the origins of these sayings and customs? And aren't you glad we live in modern times? Even if bed bugs have made a come-back!
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Friday, 21 November 2014

The pubs of Manchester

This website will take you on a tour of hundreds of Manchester's pubs, many long since forgotten. Many entries are well illustrated with a brief history. There is a good list of useful links to related sites.

You will come across pub names such as the Engineers and Filecutters Arms,  the Greengrocers Arms and the Isonomy Inn, all three close together in Ancoats and the Bundle of Sticks in Boundary Street East. Visit the City's medieval pubs, most long demolished and read about some of the characters who ran or frequented these hostelries.

Learn also about some of the breweries that have long since gone our of business. Kay's of Ardwick, Cronshaw's of Hulme and Groves and Whitnall for exampe.

The Band On The Wall, an Historical Archive

One of Manchester's premier music venues, The Band On The Wall has operated as a jazz club since the mid 1970's. This was formerly a public house, The George and Dragon , Swan Street. The pub first opened its doors in 1803 although the building has undergone many changes since then.  As far back as the 1930's the pub boasted a stage on which musicians regularly performed and it was at that time the nickname "Band On The Wall" was first coined.  The adjoining building, now the venue's cafe bar "Picturehouse" has been in the same ownership as the pub since the early 20th century, if not longer. It has had many roles since it was built in 1865 including conversion to a picture house in 1915.

The George & Dragon as a Wilson's house.

The Band On The Wall website has a superb archive. This documents the meticulously researched history of the building and adjoining Picturehouse.
Early days as a music venue

Swan Street is in one of Manchester's oldest districts, an area with a fascinating history.  The archive tells the story of the neighbourhood. Smithfield Market, Little Italy, Ancoats and New Cross all feature as do violent gangs such as the Scuttlers. The music heritage of Manchester is a strong feature of this archive; "Broadsides", cheap song sheets were printed in the area and the Ancoats Brotherhood was founded by Charles Rowley to bring serious music to the streets.

Smithfield Market
This website is highly recommended, it makes fascinating reading. If jazz music is also to your taste then there is even more of interest.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Coming Home

Beth Kucera has an antique business in Madison, Wisconsin.  Visiting England six years ago, she and her husband came across a cup commemorating the hundredth anniversary of methodism in Furness Vale.

The cup itself is now more than a hundred years old and Beth is very kindly donating it to the History Society. We hope to be able to show this cup at a meeting in the near future.

Do take a look at Beth's own blog. Amongst her wide range of topics she often writes about Britain and our history and the pages of her website contain a great number of interesting stories.

Friday, 24 October 2014

I Vow To Thee Thy Country

Twenty one young men went away to war and never returned.  Their names appear on the War Memorial in Furness Vale and this book tells their story.  Their war records and where possible,  personal backgrounds have been carefully researched by Rowena Clarke for publication by the History Society.  

This volume is now available as an electronic book from Amazon Kindle:

The Diary of James Clegg 1679 - 1755

 James Clegg was a doctor and nonconformist preacher who lived at Ford near Chapel-en-le-Frith in the 18th century. He wrote every day in his diary and recorded many fascinating events from his life and from the neighbourhood. The diary was edited in the late 19th century and published as "Extract from the diary of James Clegg".

The book is out of copyright and in the public domain.
 It can be downloaded in a variety of formats to read on computer or Kindle from the California Digital Library

The following are a few extracts:

7 June 1711 Clegg recorded that after 6 or 7 very hot days the wind turned to the west bringing with it a great blac accompanied by continuously rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning. A violent wind arose, one of the greatest tempest ever known in these parts. Stones fell, 8 or 9 inches across, bluish in hue. Solid ice, very hard and irregular in shape accompanied by continual flashes of fire did an abundance of damage to houses crops and timber which lay in its course. It began in Macclesfield following a straight line through Hough and Heafield (Hayfield) . Ducks, hares, geese and pigeons were killed in multitudes. Trees were stripped of their bark and others ruined leaving a dismal site thereafter.

July 14 1730 I went to Buxton to meet Mrs Adcroft and some Manchester friends and thence with them to Tideswell where I dined ans settled some matters with Mr Eccles and Mrs Cresswell relating to ye Commission of Enquiry as to her daughter Alice's idiocy. July 16th the Commission was opened at Town Head. Mr Cheetham, Mr Parr and I were Commissioners (in lunacy). The jury were sworn, witnesses were examined and Alice Hill was found and presented an idiot. This was done to prevent her being stolen away and ruined by a worthless fellow who had attempted it, and to secure her estate for her use while she lives and for her right heirs after. Many censures pass on this proceeding but knowing my intention in it to be just and right I have no reason to regard em.

August 27th 1731 An horrid and barbarous murdering was committed near Dane Bridge in the road between Macclesfield and Leek some time ago; one Nadin murdered Mr Buck a grazier, at the instigation of Buck's wife it is supposed, with whom he had lived in adultery. And now the said Nadin is condemned and to be gibbeted. August 31st. I had promised to visit Madame Jackson at Ashford. My way thither (from Macclesfield) lay near Leek and this being ye day appointed for ye execution of Nadin, Mr Culcheth and Mr Eaton & etc went along with me that way. He was brought to Leek the night before; we met him on the common the gibbet was erected on. The Sheriff Mr Drakeford , whom I knew, came first with his men, then ye clergyman yt had assisted ye criminal , then the man who carried theirons he was to hang in; then came the prisoner, then the gaoler and last ye hangman. Ye curate of Leek spent an hour in praying and exhorting him then the 51 st psalm was sung, and after some time ye executioner did his office.

August 18th 1732 At home all day, began to reap ye wheat. One Ffurness came to me to desire my assistance in recovering a daughter lately perverted to the Romish religion, which I readily promised, leaving it to them to appoint the time and place. Nov 21st I met an emissary of ye church of Rome at Sheffield. Some of that persuasion had seduced ye daughter of Luke ffurness to that persuasion and at ye request of ye father I had promised to meet any of that party and debate ye matters in controversy before ye daughter and other witnesses. The debate lasted near 5 hours about 20 were present. Most of the company were fully satisfied but ye young woman seemed obstinate after all. I had my fears about this dispute, lest a good cause should suffer through bad management, but God assisted me and I had reason to be thankful.

 The abuse of Church money by the churchwardens seems to have created quite a scandal in the parish. Certainly the accounts rendered by them disclose some curious items of expenditure which could not with reason be debited as Church expenditure.

Their loyalty was superabundant to judge by the Royal birthdays it was thought necessary to celebrate. Look at the following items in the churchwardens account for 1731:-
June 11. Spent upon our bellringers and freeholders in our parish being the King's inaugurans £0.5.0  
July 17 spent at rush bearing £0. 4. 4
Oct 23 spent upon the King's Coronation Day £0. 5. 0
Oct 30 spent as usual being the King's birthday £0. 5. 0
Oct 28 spent as usual being the Princese Anne's birthday £0.5.0
Dec 7 spent as usual being Princess Louisa's birthday £0. 5. 0
Jan 19 spent as usual being Prince Frederick's birthday £0 .5. 0
Mar 1 spent as usual being Her Majesty's birthday £0 .5. 0
May 29 spent as usual being the King's restoration £0. 5. 0
May 30 spent as usual being Princess Chalolina's birthday £0. 5. 0
No.Date. Paid for a fox head £0. 1. 0
No.Date. Paid for 6 badger's heads £0. 6. 0
No.Date. Paid for hedgehogs and ravens £1. 4. 3
No.Date. Paid for 6 sacrament dinners as usual £0. 6. 0
Dec 30 Paid Geo. Bramwell the Saxon, one years wages £0.10.0

Jan 23 1741 rid to Fford. Dined with Mr. Bagshaw. We were treated with an ananas or pineapple, of a most delicious taste and flavour, the growth of the High Peak and ripe on the 23rd January in an hard winter.

Jan 25 1743 I set out for home ( from Buxton ) leaving son Benjamin to bath in ye well and drink the waters this week to cleanse him from ye itch and scorbutic humours.

 St.Anne's Well - 18th century

Nov 30 1745 sent two men to assist in making trenches to obstruct the roads around Waley but in my thought it could not Answer any good purpose but was very bad for travellers (to delay the advancing soldiers of the Jacobite Rebellion)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Marvellous Machines

Rowland Emett 1906 - 1990 was a draughtsman, artist, cartoonist and most famously a creator of "things" as he called his fanciful machines. 

 During the 40's; 50's and 60's his work appeared regularly in Punch magazine. He was to become famous in the United States after a feature in Life magazine and many examples of his work are to be found in museums and institutes in that country.  Many of his designs were for trains, often drawn by locomotives with odd names and exaggerated features. His Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway was re-created for the Festival of Britain of 1951. It continued to operate until 1975. 

Many of Emett's designs were actually built and some of these machines work today. One famous creation is the clock in Nottingham's Victoria Centre.

William Heath Robinson 1872 - 1944 was also a cartoonist although his early work was that of a book illustrator.

 The term "heath robinson" came to be used during the first world war to describe a makeshift device or repair. Like Emmet, Heath Robinson designed fanciful machines, often to conduct absurd operations such as rejuvinating stale scones or removing warts from the top of ones head. His work appeared in a varieety of magazines as well as being commissioned to illustrate advertising campaigns.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A regular visitor to our meetings is Alan Proctor. Alan was born and bred in Hawk Green, Marple and his article "Recollections of a village" tells his account of life in the community. This is a well illustrated and fascinating story and Alan talks of the shops, some of the characters, the cricket team and of wartime among many other topics.
Read this story on the website :