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.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Sketches By Artist Paul Gent

Paul Gent is a prolific artist from New Mills. Whilst many of his sketches are of local scenes, his portfolio also includes work from many parts of the world.  Originally from St.Albans, Paul studied art at Loughborough University.

We are presenting a small selection of Paul's sketches from High Peak and the North West of England.  We are sure that these scenes will all be recognised.  To view a much wider collection, take a look at the album page of Paul's Facebook account:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Pear Tree Cottage and the Middleton Family

Me and Mrs Middleton: A sidelight on my Family History

Written by Charlie Hulme

This fascinating history tells a story of the Middleton Family of Furness Vale and Whaley Bridge, Pear Tree Cottage and Joshua Rhodes Mineral Water Works.

The full story may be read on Charlie Hulme's web site:

Here are just a few extracts:

Not a member of my family, but someone who played a large part in my early life and deserves to be remembered, was Mrs Rachel Middleton of Whaley Bridge, our neighbour and long-time landlord. 

Behind our houses was a yard, formerly part of the mineral water factory  which was my personal playground, a place to hang washing, and in our early days a place where the 'dolly tub' and mangle were brought into use on washing day. The yard had, I believe, been roofed over at some time, and part of the roofed area remained with its wooden doors.

After Mrs Middleton died, Pear Tree Cottage was for a while the home of Fred Branson, retired landlord of the nearby Goyt Inn, and his wife Jessie, before eventually becoming a café as it remains in 2016. The shop front on the Canal Street side of the building, has had various uses; I believe that before my time it was run as a haberdashery by a former resident of No.11.  All I recall from the 50s and 60s is a 'showroom' for Drinkwater's builders whose yard was nearby, with an uninspiring window display of plumbing fittings. 

Canal Street, c.1950, Pear Tree Cottage is the white building, with No.11 to the left, then nos. 12, 13 and the canal house. The Navigation Inn on the right. Picture by Agnes Hulme.

Street numbering in Canal Street is confusing for historians. Houses were numbered in the traditional way with 'evens' on one side and 'odds' on the other, but in both cases it was only physically possible to build on the 'odd' side, and at some time (1920s?) this was recognised and the houses were renumbered in a consecutive series. The situation in Canal Street is further complicated because the present No. 11 was at some time part of the adjacent white house, Pear Tree Cottage. 

John Goodwin Downs described his house in 1911 as no. 16 Canal Street, but oddly the Enumerator on his 1911 summary sheet called it no.21. It was a small house with just four rooms, possibly the one now know as No.13.

In 1915 Rachel Downs married Henry Fawcett Middleton, who in 1911 was working as a printworks labourer living with his father William Middleton in Grove House, Furness Vale, a village between Whaley Bridge and  New Mills. William Middleton was described as 'Gentleman living on own means' - in earlier years he had been the farmer at Diglee Farm, and before that a grocer. 

Pear Tree Cottage, the large white house - now no. 10 Canal Street - was for many years the home of Joshua Rhodes, whose mineral water manufactory occupied buildings behind the house, and obtained its water from a well in the cellar of the house. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Furness Vale School Photograph

Here is a photograph of pupils of our village school, early in the 20th century. The picture is not dated.
Most of the pupils have been identified. There is a hand written, accompanying note with the original image. The missing name from the back row looks like either Arnold Hill or Clifford Hill.
Thanks to Francis Footitt for the loan of the photo.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

1920s Buxton in Colour

Buxton in the 1920s

In the foreground is the Samuel Turner Memorial Drinking fountain erected in 1878 in memory of a local benefactor.

On the left are The Slopes, public gardens laid out in 1818 by Jeffry Wyatville for the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Joseph Paxton made a number of alterations in the 1850s. In front of the Slopes can be seen some bath chairs, at one time a popular conveyance in the town.

Behind the glass collonade on the right is the Thermal Baths, designed by Henry Currey architect to the Duke of Devonshire and opened in 1854. Since 1987, this has been the Cavendish Arcade, a shopping centre housing an array of independent retailers.

The bus is a Tilling Stevens of the North Western Road Car Company. This operator was formed in 1923 and took delivery of the first vehicles from that manufacturer the following year.

Prominent in the picture is The Crescent, finished in 1789 to the design of John Carr for the 5th Duke. The Crescent is currently undergoing a major renovation and on completion will re-open as an hotel. Opposite is the Pump Room where visitors to Buxton “Took The Waters”. In the background is the Old Hall Hotel. Originally a four storey tower, the Hall was built in 1573 by Bess of Hardwick. Mary, Queen of Scots was housed there on several occasions  in the 1570s on order of Elizabeth 1st. Rebuilt in 1670 by the first Duke, it became an hotel in 1727 and still serves that purpose.

Buxton Opera House in 1923.

 Built in 1903, it was designed by Britain’s most prolific theatre architect, Frank Matcham. It was converted in 1927 for cinema use and extensively refurbished in 1979.
In the left foreground is the entrance to The Conservatory, part of the complex of buildings that face the Pavillion Gardens. This structure was built in 1870 to the design of Edward Milner.

On the right hand side is The Old Clubhouse, a pub and restaurant. It was built in 1886 as a gentlemen’s club and continued in that role until the mid 1980s.

The tower in the background is that of St. John The Baptist Parish Church. Built in 1811 to the design of John White it was the final project of the 5th Duke of Devonshire who died just after its completion.

The Pump Room, Buxton c1920.

  This elegant building was opened in 188,9 a gift to the town from the Duke of Devonshire. Here, one could sample the mineral waters for a penny a glass.  The Pump Room is currently being restored and will re-open as a tea room where once again visitors will be able to “take the waters”.

These three photographs have all been digitally colourised from black and white originals.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A few memories of a boy who grew up in Furness Vale

A life long friend, Bill Jackson, who is connected with your Local History Society, just
sent me a copy of Edwin Bold's book entitled "Instigator of Mischief". It brought back so
many memories of people and places that I felt that perhaps I could also add a few comments
concerning the history of Furness Vale.

I was born in 1936 and lived at No.6, which became 140 Buxton Road, until I left in 1964
to work in Switzerland. This is the house on the corner of Yeardsley Lane opposite the Co-op.
It had a small barred window set  into its thick sidewall through which the wages had been paid to
the workers at the nearby coal mine. A large polished stone stood at the corner, which was said to
have served as an aid for people climbing onto their horses.

Edwin, in his book, gave many details concerning the pit and brick works but he forgot to
mention the tip situated in the hollow behind the Co-op. The dumping of hot waste from the
pit/brick works would often cause the tip to catch fire. This would smolder for days on end
before being brought under control. At night, one could see glowing red areas with flickering
flames and the smell was quite appalling. Down the dirt road at the side of the Co-op, beneath the
War Memorial, was a wooden shack which served as a blacksmith's smithy where machinery was
repaired, and horses shod.

I can remember 18 to 20 shops in the village as well as the Post Office. Percy Pearson, the
postman, delivered  the mail, going on his rounds twice a day. He went on foot and in all
weathers, carrying a big leather bag hanging from his shoulder. How the village has changed!
Does anyone remember the little shop which  sold knitting wool and reels of cotton and silks, that
belonged to two old spinsters called the Wilds, who lived up Yeardsley Lane?

The village school with its four teachers, Miss Turner, Hobson and Jeffries as well as
Mr Morris, was always well attended. Friday afternoon was reserved to tidy ones desk and to
wash out the inkwells, cleaning pen nibs at the same time. This was followed by an inspection.
Space in the school playground was rather limited, as a couple of air raid shelters had been
dug into the surface. Speaking of digging, we would be taken to the school allotment by the garage, to plant, hoe, water, and eventually,harvest our labours.

Furness Vale had a Boy Scout troop and we used to meet in a room on the first floor of a
wooden hut situated in the passage between the Station Inn and the railway station. On
Armistice Day, we would put on our uniforms and proudly march in the procession, either in
Whaley Bridge or Furness Vale, along with the Ambulance Brigade,war veterans and of course,
a brass band.  Camping out and cooking was always fun, but lying in your tent wide-awake at
2 o'clock in the morning listening to an owl hooting and rustling sounds nearby, rather
took the edge off things. I guess that I and other Scout friends like Peter Jennison and
Edward Evans still had something to learn about being brave.

My father was born in 1899 and served in the First World War. As an 18-year-old soldier he
was wounded in France and taken a prisoner of war by the Germans. With the outbreak of the
Second World War he was considered too old, so he became one of "Dad's Army". As a member of
the Home Guard he had his uniform, and in a corner of the kitchen, stood his Lee-Enfield rifle
 - not to be touched! Manoeuvres would be organised under the watchful eye of their officer
Mr. Finch and once a month shooting practise would take place in the quarry at Bank End.

Memories of the Institute go back a long time for as a boy, I was allowed inside without
having to be 18 years old since it never had a alcohol licence. On entering, the library was
on your left and the reading room on your right. Here people came to read the days papers and
often to play a game of dominoes. Ahead, down the steps, you entered the games room where the
two green baize covered tables would be brilliantly lit in the dim interior. To light up a
table you put coins into a slot machine on the wall. Both billiards and snooker were played
and the village snooker team took part in the Buxton league. We had some good players such as
the brothers Jack and Norman Ashton and, not quite as good, myself. Our  best player was
undoubtedly Eric Morton who was a Whaley Bridge farmer. He would arrive by tractor delivering
fresh eggs on the way. I also played for the village football team in the High Peak league before joining Mellor and playing in a Manchester league.

I would like to mention two unusual events in 1951 and which occurred some ten days apart.
Both concerned "Lightning balls", glowing "balls" of pure energy sometimes generated during
severe electric storms. Although we often see lightning, it is very rare that we get to see
this other phenomena. It was a very hot, sultry, late afternoon in summer when my father,
Adam, was walking home from his work at Gowhole railway sidings. A violent storm developed
and he took shelter under the railway bridge near the old and long disused Lady Pit. The tall
brick chimney and some derelict buildings were still standing. He saw a glowing ball
travelling slowly through the air and heading towards the chimney. It seemed to disappear
down the interior where, at the bottom, it disintigrated with a very loud explosion totally
demolishing the chimney. Bricks were thrown in all directions as far as 100 yards away and
the wall of the old barn on the opposite side of the road turned red from the dust as bricks
shattered against its side.

The second event concerned myself. Again, a sudden violent electric summer storm developed
forcing me to take shelter under the awning outside Mr Jackson's butchers shop. A bluish-white
glow, smaller than a football, was coming from the direction of the Soldier Dick, travelling
past the cottages towards the Co-op at roof height. It turned the corner and headed off up
Yeardsley Lane when it seemed to speed up and struck the upper part of Mr and Mrs Ashton's
house. This is the first house of a row of cottages on the left hand side of the road. The
explosion was huge and a large hole was blasted through the wall into a bedroom. It arrived
in he back of a fireplace which finished up against the opposite wall totally demolished. It
was quite an impressive sight.

It is at least twenty-five years since I was last in the village and it is hard to imagine
the changes that have taken place. Maybe one day I will have the pleasure of attending one
of your meetings and catching up on past events.
In the meantime, I wish your society every success.

Denis E. Hill

April 2016

Denis Hill was uncertain of the precise year of the lightning strikes. The newspaper records
show this to have been 1949.(editor)

This photograph shows 140 Buxton Road, Denis Hill's former home. The
light coloured rectangle of stone in the gable end was the small window
where miner's wages were once paid out.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Wild Sisters.

We have received the following comment on a recent post: 

Does anyone remember the Wild sisters, Nelly and Edith who had a ladies outfitters on Buxton Road in the 1940's? Their father owned a house on Marsh Lane opposite the signal box which we rented during the war. My mother used to buy silk stockings from their shop and they let me play behind the counter. We had no water, gas or electric. We had a well behind the house and used paraffin lamps and candles. Gow Hole Farm was where we got our milk from the Howards. Mr. Howard used to walk past our house on Sundays wearing a top hat on his way to church in New Mills. Just below the station next to the canal on Marsh Lane there was a lovely mansion type house and I always wondered who lived there and what the history of it was. I discovered recently that it was demolished long ago. One time I saw an elephant walking down Marsh Lane, it turned out to be a circus walking to their next showplace.

I am sure that many people will remember the Wild sisters who ran the wool shop at the corner of Buxton Road and Old Road. Here is a photograph of them.

The "Mansion House" which our correspondent refers to, is of course, Furness Lodge. This large house, just off of Station Road was built as the home of Mr Saxby, an early owner of Furness Vale Printworks. It subsequently came into the ownership of the CPA when they took over the mill and was rented out to a number of different people. It was finally demolished in the early 1970s

We have had a further reply which adds to the story of the Wild family and Marsh Lane:

Lovely photo of the Wild sisters, especially little Edith and the sterner Nellie. We paid 7/6d a week for the house on Marsh Lane opposite the signal both to Mr.Wild, their father and our landlord, who was always smoking a pipe. At last I know who lived in the big posh house! Thank you for the information. Now does anyone remember the Howards at Gow Hole Farm? When I was around 9 I lost my hat and I later saw Mr. Howard wearing it as he was making hay. Such happy days.

Here is a photograph from our archives of Carr View on Marsh Lane, the house referred to,  with Mr and Mrs Wild in the doorway. The picture is not dated.

Now does anyone have a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Howard and his brother Frank Howard of Gow Hole Farm? Frank was a regular at the Soldier Dick and evacuees from London lived in the front part of the farmhouse. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The WWII Evacuation to Derbyshire

Evacuation of children during the Second World War
by Gillian Mawson – August 2016

In the early hours of 1 September 1939, the British Government's plans for evacuation swung into operation and millions of children, teachers and mothers were moved to safety before war was declared on 3 September. Other waves of evacuation occurred from May 1940 onwards, when fears of the invasion of Britain became very real.  Since 2008 I have interviewed over 600 evacuated children and adults - from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar – to collect their wartime experiences, documents and photographs. I feel it is important that these stories are preserved for future generations. I have organised evacuee reunions and published two books, 'Guernsey Evacuees:The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War' and 'Evacuees: Children's Lives on the WW2 Home Front'. My third book will be published on 1 December 2016 and contains stories and documents from evacuees all over Britain, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar.

Families throughout Derbyshire and the High Peak received large numbers of evacuees from areas such as Manchester, Southend, Lowestoft and the Channel Islands.  Boys from Guernsey's Elizabeth College lived at 'Whitehall' on Long Hill between Buxton and Whaley Bridge whilst the senior boys lived at the Florence Nightingale Home in Great Hucklow.  Alan Boast lived in a Lowestoft children's home and remembers his journey to Derbyshire in great detail:
The sight that met my eyes when we arrived at the station was something I will never forget.There were children everywhere, hundreds of them – and I was one! We were told we were being evacuated for our safety, and would be going school by school, not as Home boys. We were taken to the front of the station where ladies were waiting for us. They had lots of labels and wrote our name, school and age on each one and tied or pinned it to our clothes.
            This must not be taken off, we were told. On to the platform where our train was being reversed
            in.   If needed – go to the toilet, as it would be some time before we could go again! We were
            then  lined up, and more ladies arrived, with a trolley-full of boxes. They gave us two sticks of
            barley sugar each. We were told to wait until we were on our way before sucking them, as they
            were to combat ‘travel sickness’ – whatever that was!  Into the carriages we were shown, 
            teachers and all, and off we went! Major Humphery (the Mayor)  told us that the honour of                    Lowestoft rested on our shoulders, and we had to be well-behaved.

Alan later found himself in the Co-Operative Stores hall in Glossop:
In came these people from the village to select which boy, or boys, they would take in and look after. ‘I’ll have him, I’ll take those two’ etc. I put on my best beaming smile but nobody picked me! Soon the hall was cleared and there were only two of us left, myself and a boy called Peter Harvey. He wasn’t a Home boy but I knew him from school. In came two ladies and after a lot of talking one said ‘I’ll take them as I have room for two.’ So off we went with these two ladies into what turned out to be a different world entirely – believe me! One of the ladies introduced herself as Mrs Townsend and said we would be living with her. We followed them out, under the railway bridge and into Clowne. I, as usual was chattering to Peter about where we were going. Mrs Townsend looked round and said in a broad Derbyshire accent, 'If thou don’t shut thee rattle. I’ll belt thee tabs!' I was taken aback – I will never forget it! 'What did she just say?' I asked Peter. He shrugged his shoulders, saying 'I couldn’t understand it.' It was our first experience of the local dialect, which took some understanding. I have often wondered since, what they thought of our Suffolk twang! For those of you who don’t know it meant, 'Stop talking or you’ll get a thick ear!'

The fate of pupils at Earl Hall School in Southend was decided on Sunday, 20 May 1940 when the BBC announced that East Anglian coastal towns were to be evacuated by 2 June, for fear of German invasion. During a bewildering week, parents had to decide whether to have their children evacuated and that their destination would be Derbyshire.  Doreen Acton (nee Mason) left Southend with Westcliffe High School:
I remember waving good-bye to my mother and was surprised to see her eyes fill with tears. There did not appear to be any immediate danger either to my parents or to us.  We had no idea where we were going and as the long train journey progressed, rumours began to circulate. Finally we were told it was to be Chapel-en-le-frith in Derbyshire. After a short drive in a chauffeur-driven car, my friends and I arrived at an impressive mansion, Bowden Hall, outside Chapel-en-le-Frith. We were greeted by a friendly looking elderly gentleman who shook our hands. Freda and Beryl were directed to bedrooms in the mansion to unpack. Audrey and I were taken to the chauffeur's cottage,  we did not know then that the chauffeur and his wife had hospitably given up their bed to us. We went back to the main house and again met our host, Mr Lauder. It appeared his wife was away visiting their daughter.
            Chrissie, the Scottish maid, was a very good cook and we were served up delicious meals. I had been used to breakfast, dinner, tea and supper - we now switched over to breakfast, lunch, evening dinner and a hot drink before bed. After about a week or two, Mrs Lauder returned home. At first I got the impression that she thought we had been allowed too much liberty. We were consigned to the kitchen for meals. Very soon however she realised we were quite house trained and not a threat to peace and good order. From then on she treated us as kindly and generously as her husband.

Another young girl, evacuated from Southend's Earls Hall school, enclosed some picture postcards in her first letter home:
Dear All, I hope you are all well at home. We arrived at Chinley at 3.30 Sunday afternoon and when we got out of the train some boy scouts gave us all a half pint bottle of milk. After waiting about twenty minutes we got on a bus to Whaley Bridge. We went to a hall and had a cup of tea and a piece of cake. After about one hour they started to put the children to their new homes. First the farmer came and said we could go there but the teacher would not let us. Then the vicar came and asked us to go to the rectory but then something happened. After all we were put with Mrs Bailey. As soon as we got home she got tea and when we had finished, Winifred and Yvonne took us to the post box. These postcards are some of the lovely places here, and my bedroom window looks out on a lovely hill. Please send my shorts and my music book. We are all very well. Give my love to grannie, Love Kathleen

The aim of evacuation was to send children and adults to safety until the war was over. However, many never returned home after the war. Evacuees died whilst being evacuated or within days or weeks of arriving in a 'safe' area. Some suffered accidents whilst exploring their new communities with friends. Others died because of the inherent dangers of wartime such as air raids, unexploded bombs and minefields. In addition to this, some children endured neglect, physical and mental cruelty and sexual abuse at the hands of their foster parents. These stories make very difficult reading but need to be shared in order to provide a full picture of the British evacuation experience.
Beryl Blake-Lawson's friend suffered a fatal accident whilst returning to her billet and Beryl recalls, 'There was one tragedy, one day running down the hill from Bank Hall for lunch at her billet, Christine Markham, tripped and fell against the stone wall and was found by two senior girls. It was a great shock to them as she had broken her neck and was dead.'

Faith and Stella Shoesmith, aged 6 and 9, were evacuated from Lowestoft to Glossop and  Faith remembers the harsh treatment received in their billet:
We were the last to be picked and grudgingly collected by a Mrs Jessie Woods. Our stay was very unhappy as she treated us like slaves. Every Saturday we had to clean all of the bedrooms from top to bottom and we also had to polish the hall floor on our hands and knees. Mrs Woods inspected our work thoroughly afterwards to make sure that we had done a good job. We were not allowed into the dining room, and if we wanted to go upstairs, we had to ask permission. I would say 'Please may I go upstairs?' or 'Can I please go upstairs?' but it was always wrong and Mrs Woods would stand and laugh at us. We had to mind our manners, stand with straight backs and walk a certain way! 
            Our Dad had joined the army. Mum was in Lowestoft and every now and then she would send us parcels of sweets but we never received them. She did visit us when she could, and always brought sweets and toys with her. Our one victory was that we found a large square tin of biscuits hidden behind Mrs Woods' wardrobe. Every week when we cleaned her bedroom we helped ourselves to one biscuit.  After about two years Mum found a place in Sherwood and took us there so we could all be together.

When the war was over, many children were delighted to be returning home. However, for some it was 'evacuation' all over again as they struggled to readjust to life with their own families. Younger children in particular had come to love their wartime foster parents. Their own parents, whom they had rarely or never seen since their evacuation, were a distant memory. One boy remembers that the little girl who had lived with them for five years did not want to return home to her parents, 'She had forgotten them completely and was dragged kicking and screaming out of our house by her father. It was very upsetting for us all.’ Doreen Holden did not enjoy leaving the Matlock countryside to return to Manchester, 'I felt very claustrophobic back home, there were noisy buses and trains and the smell of smoke in the air. Of course I didn't let Mum and Dad know how I felt. Mary and Vi Draper did not want to leave Derbyshire either and Mary recalls: 'When we had to leave Mr and Mrs Bacon to return to our Dad in Lowestoft, it broke our hearts as well as theirs. They had no children of their own and had practically become our Mum and Dad – our own Mum had died. The war really did us a favour because Mr and Mrs Bacon (Auntie Bee and Uncle Bob) were marvellous to us, treating us like little princesses. Luckily many of the children remained in contact with their wartime foster families, through letters and visits, for the rest of their lives. Many have attended evacuee reunions in the areas in which they lived during the war whilst villages and towns have unveiled plaques in memory of the evacuees they welcomed so many years ago.

Gilllian's new book will be published on 1 December by Frontline Books. The chapters include: Plans for Evacuation, The Parents' Decision, Finding Homes for evacuees, Wartime Letters Home, Evacuated adults and teachers, The kindness of strangers, Out of the Frying Pan, The return home and the Aftermath of evacuation.  For more information see Gillian's author page on Amazon:

Her Evacuation blog can be viewed at:

Mary and Vi Draper


Evacuee children from Southend arrive at Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1940

Children are met at Whaley Bridge

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The David Frith Memorial Bridge

 A recent update on these proposals has been received and may be read by following the link below.

An imaginative proposal by Graham Aldred envisages a new footbridge at the head of Toddbrook Reservoir. This would give access to a footpath leading to Kishfield Bridge. The bridge will be dedicated to David Frith. A fitting memorial, as  David in his working and leisure time, was greatly concerned with Toddbrook Reservoir and with our local footpaths.

The fully detailed proposal may be found here: 

or by clicking the link above 

Monday, 12 September 2016

A Curious Occurrence at Hayfield

from Vivian Preston Dubé
7 September · Glenbrook, NSW, Australia

Hayfield, besides being the chief portal to Kinder, is not without some singular event to keep its
name in remembrance. Indeed, it seems to have had a resurrection on its own account in 1745.
Dr. James Clegg, a Presbyterian minister, who resided at Chapel-en-le-Frith in the middle of
the last century, gave an account of the extraordinary occurrence in a letter to his friend, the Rev.
Ebenezer Latham, then the principal of Findern Academy.
' I know,' he wrote, ' you are pleased with anything curious and uncommon by nature ; and if what
follows shall appear such, I can assure you from eye-witnesses of the truth of every particular. In a
church about three miles from us, the indecent custom still prevails of burying the dead in the place
set apart for the devotions of the living ; yet the parish not being very populous, we could scarce
imagine that the inhabitants of the grave could be straightened for want of room ; yet it should seem
so ; for on the last of August several hundreds of bodies rose out of the grave in the open day in the
church, to the great astonishment and terror of several spectators. They deserted the coffin, and
arising out of the grave, immediately ascended towards heaven, singing in concert all along, as they
mounted through the air. They had no winding-sheets about them, yet did not appear quite naked ;
their vesture seemed streaked with gold, interlaced with sable, skirted with white, yet thought to be
exceedingly light, by the agility of their motions, and the swiftness of their ascent. They left a most
fragrant and delicious odour behind them, but were quickly out of sight ; and what has become of them,
or in what distant regions of this vast system they have since fixed their residence, no mortal can tell.
The church is in Heafield, three miles from Chappelle-en-le-frith, 1745.' (Taken from The History of Derbyshire by John Pendleton 1886)

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Hear John Wesley Preach !

On Sunday 18th September the Rev John Wesley will preach a sermon upon the topic of ‘Awake, thou that sleepest’ in the New Chapel on High Street.  Hymns by Rev Charles Wesley will be sung.
The ‘New Chapel’ on High Street that is the home for Revive Church will be 250 years old this year and is the oldest place of worship in New Mills still in use for its original purpose. John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) preached there regularly and to celebrate the anniversary, history will be re-created. Come and hear Reverend Wesley preach and watch the multimedia story of the building to the present day.  18th Century dress encouraged!
10.00 – 11.00, Admission Free

Monday, 29 August 2016

Furness Vale Station in 1978

Neil Ferguson-Lee has kindly allowed us to publish his photographs of Furness Vale Station. These were taken in black and white in 1978.  We have added a little colour to two of them.

On the level crossing is a Vauxhall Chevette.

Raphael Tuck published a number of postcards on the theme of "Taking The Waters" featuring Buxton. Those released in 1909 were illustrated by Lance Thackeray, an artist who produced over 950 cartoons in his career.

A carriage passes The Slopes

Queuing at St Ann's Well
Sheltering from the typical Buxton weather on The Slopes. Devonshire Dome in the background

Also by Thackeray but from a different series is this card "Rivals For The Fare" with The Crescent in the background.
"Keep The Ball Rolling" by Thackeray.

In 1930, Tuck published postcards by Fred Buchanan, also on a theme of "Taking The Waters" and again featuring Buxton.

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Turnpike Roads

Much of our local road system was developed and improved under the Turnpike Acts. Trusts were set up under individual acts of parliament in order to construct and maintain roads through a system of tolls. The Manchester to Buxton Turnpike dates from 1759 and originally by-passed Furness Vale by following the old Roman road between Disley and Whaley Bridge across Whaley Moor (often known as Whaley Tops). Because this involved steep ascents, a new road was constructed through Newtown and Furness, opening in 1804.  Another system of roads was constructed by the Stockport and Marple Bridge (1801) and Thornsett (1831) Trusts. These linked New Mills with Hayfield, Marple and Mellor, Bugsworth and Furness Vale.

The turnpikes became increasingly unpopular, restricting travel and the movement of farm stock due to the fees  that were charged at the various tollbars. In some parts of the country, riots often broke out and tollhouses were burned down. An act of 1888 gave responsibility for these roads to the county councils and gradually the tollbars were removed, often leading to great local celebrations.

One local toll road which was not part of the system was New Road, between Bridgemont and Bugsworth. This had been built by the Carrington family, owners of the Britannia Wire Works. Tolls continued to be levied here until 1919 when the county took over responsibility for the road.

For more information on turnpike roads visit the website. Their map of Derbyshire roads shows every turnpike colour coded with dates of opening.
Explore the site for similar maps of the whole country and the history of these roads. There are also pages listing known tollbars and toll houses for each county.

Fernilee Toll Cottage in 1939.

Bugsworth Toll Bar.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Furness Vale from the Air

Thanks to Jim Oliver for the loan of this aerial view of the village. The date is believed to be in the mid 1970s. The brickyard is still busy judging by the stacks of finished products. The framework can be seen, partly erected for one of the new "Industrial Estate" buildings. The last remaining "beehive" kiln is still to be seen. The Charlesworth Crescent estate looks very new having been completed around this time. Riddick's office and builders yard is still in Charlesworth Crescent so the picture is perhaps just before they took over the former Co-op in about 1974.
There are open fields on Station Road where houses have since been built.
The photograph appears to be one of a series of aerial views taken by Whaley Bridge photographer Frank Armstrong although it is one which we have not seen before

Friday, 15 April 2016

View of the Printworks

 In the background of this photograph are the buildings of Furness Vale Printworks. This view is from the area of Lodge Farm which is just off of Station Road.  Wew can see one of the  mill lodges with asluice to control the flow of water. The man on the right appears to be operating a pump worked by a lever. In the foreground are a number of side tipper trucks and a section of narrow gauge contractors railway.  These were often employed on construction sites and could be quickly laid or re-located. It is not clear what work is being carried out  but it looks as if one of the ponds has been drained.
The photograph is undated.

Our thanks to New Mills Local History Society for allowing us to use this photograph.

Monday, 15 February 2016

A Dangerous Road

William Wood

The murder of William Wood in July 1823 is well recorded. He was killed at a lonely spot on Buxton Old Road at Longside on Whaley Moor. This is the old roman road between Disley and Whaley Bridge and at that time was in Cheshire. The spot is marked by a commemorative "Murder Stone".  

Wood, a cotton weaver from Eyam, was returning home from Manchester where he had sold his cloth and had received about £100 in payment. He travelled on foot and at Disley, called at a pub for refreshment. He got into conversation with three men and later continued on his way. After about ten minutes, the three left the pub and followed in Wood's direction catching up with him after a mile or two. Wood was beaten to death with stones and left at the roadside where his partly concealed body was later discovered. Wood's body was taken to the Cock Inn in Whaley Bridge where the coroners inquest was held a few days later.

The following day, three men appeared in Macclesfield where they bought new sets of clothes and gave away their old outfits. When news of the murder reached the town, suspicions were raised but the three had already left for Manchester by coach. When the old clothes were examined they were found to be stained with blood. The police followed to Manchester where one of the men was arrested in a public house. His companions had already left and there was no further trace of them.  The arrested assailant was Charles Taylor, 17 years of age. He committed suicide at the New Bailey Prison in Salford. His companions, of a similar age were known to the authorities, having only recently been released from a term of imprisonment. 

 The New Bailey Prison
Taylor had left prison just a day before the murder.  On 12th August of 1823 it was reported that Joseph Dale had been arrested in Liverpool whilst trying to enlist on a ship. On 24th April 1824, Dale was sentenced to death and was hanged on the following Wednesday. The third man was named as John Platt but it seems that he was never apprehended.

James (or John) Ellis

Just three years later, at almost the same spot, history was almost repeated. 

John Ellis of Parwich near Ashbourne was on his way  to visit his brother in Gorton to whom he was carrying a bundle of clothes. He spent the night at the White Horse in Horwich End.  

Another man, calling himself Michael Murray had also spent the night at the inn. Murray was described as being about 30 years of age with a thin face, dark hair and whiskers. Setting out the next day, Ellis saw that Murray was sitting on a wall at the roadside.. Murray changed the clogs that he wore for shoes and joined Ellis on the road towards Disley.  On reaching a lonely part of the road Ellis was hit with a blackthorn stick that Murray carried and beaten until defenceless. This assault took place at Longside on Whaley Moor very close to the spot where William Wood had been murdered in similar circumstances just three years before. His pockets were rifled for a silver watch and a few shillings and a bundle containing a waistcoat, shirt and stockings, tied in a plaid handkerchief was taken.

A description of the robber and of the stolen items was sent by Mr Newton, the Whaley Bridge magistrate to police in Liverpool and a notice was given to several pawnbrokers in the City. A few days later, a man answering the description of the robber presented a  silver watch to Mrs Fox, pawnbroker in St Thomas's buildings.  Mr Miller, the Superintendant of Police was immediately informed and Murray taken into custody.

Ellis had been taken to Disley where he lay in a state of imminent danger.  The prisoner was brought before him and unable to speak, he indicated by gestures that Murray was the perpetrator of the crime. Seeing no chance of escape, the prisoner said "Yes I am the man that did it and I am very sorry for it now"  He offered to shake Ellis by the hand but the gesture was declined.

The prisoner was taken to Stockport and later committed for trial at Chester Castle.  He gave his real name as Philip McGoveron, an Irishman

Crime in the High Peak


In 1905 William White appeared in court at Chapel-en-le-Frith, facing a charge of arson.  He had set fire to a haystack at Long Hill Farm.  He told Sergeant White that he had thought of going to Buxton to do a spot of housebreaking but had decided to set a haystack on fire instead.  He gave himself up to police at Buxton because he wanted to go to prison for 5 years !  The prisoner was remanded in custody; perhaps his wish came true.


October 1861.  At the door of Knutsford Jail, Joseph Hales was arrested on release from his last imprisonment.  He was committed for trial at the petty sessions for stealing 2 cwt of bones, the property of John Newton of Whaley Bridge. Now who would be in the market for a bag of stolen bones I wonder ?

 A Whaley Bridge butcher was in the habit of delivering meat to Buxton by train but in order to reduce his costs, resorted to rather unusual methods which in 1932 put him on the wrong side of the law.  A railway detective was travelling on a train and on it's arrival at Whaley Bridge was approached by the butcher who asked if he was going to Buxton.   A large piece of meat was placed on the seat opposite with the request that it be delivered to the bookstall at Buxton.  On proferring threepence, the butcher said "it's all right, I often send it like this".   On arrival at the destination, a bookstall assistant came to collect the meat which was soon picked up by a local butcher.

On hearing the case, under the old English Common Law offence of cheating and deceiving, Stockport Magistrates were told that the defendent had been sending parcels in this manner for somne time.   The magistrates agreed with the defence that there had been no intention to defraud.  It was suggested that the practice must occur daily throughout the Kingdom.  Although the practice was improper and irregular, it was not illegal and the case was dismissed.


May 1908 saw the appearance of an Italian named Soberti Diego before Stockport Police Court.  He was charged with being on enclosed premises for unlawful purposes and with assaulting a police officer in Whaley Bridge on April 27th.  Diego had been seen climbing from a waggon up into the rafters of the goods warehouse at the station. The prisoner had refused to descend and when the police constable arrived  he jumped onto a van and threw a stone at the officer and hit him in the chest.  Diego jumped over the waggons and  tried to escape but the pursuing policeman fell over him and a desperate struggle ensued.  The prisoner had a razor with which he attacked the officer, cutting his hand.  It was only when support arrived that the Italian was overpowered.  Speaking through an interpreter, Diego explained that he had arrived in England seven months previously and finding himself in Whaley Bridge without food or money, decided to head to London.  He thought he would be safe hiding in the rafters until a train should arrive.  He had only used the razor to prevent the police officer from choking him.   Soberti Diego was sentenced to 28 days in prison and advised to leave the country as soon as he was released.


Perhaps not a crime but even then, irregular behaviour

In 1837 a less conventional method was followed to dispose of a wife.
The wife of John Allen of Turnditch eloped with J Taylor of Shottle.  The injured husband heard that the couple were in lodgings at Whaley Bridge and resolved to settle the matter.  Finding them he demanded 3s for her clothes. Taylor said that he would pay this provided Allen would accompany them to Wirksworth next market day and deliver her according to the law. Arriving at Wirksworth, Allen purchased a halter, placed it around his wife and gave the end of the rope to Taylor saying "I, John  Allen, was bereaved of my wife by James Taylor of Shottle on 11th July last; I have brought her here to sell her for 3s 6d; will you buy her James?" Taylor answered "I will, here is the money, and you are witness Thomas Riley" calling to a potman who was appointed for the purpose.  The ring was delivered to Allen with three sovereigns and 3s 6d, when he shook hands with his wife and her paramour wishing them all the good luck in the world. She had been married to Allen at Kniveton about ten years ago and had lived together until then.


Surprisingly there existed a Victorian equivalent of today's trading standards officer.
Esther Ollerenshaw of Whaley Bridge was a milk dealer and sent her produce, presumably by train to Manchester.  In March 1883 a can of milk was intercepted at London Road Station by Inspector Edwards and sent for analysis. The milk was found to contain 41% water.  A fine of 40 shillings was imposed.

Esther Ollerenshaw however, did not learn her lesson.  Twelve months later, almost to the day, Inspector Edwards again took a sample of milk from one of Mrs Ollerenshaw's consignments of milk. The sample was forwarded to the city analyst, Mr C. Estcourt and was found to contain 30% water. Mrs Ollerenshaw, a widow and farmer was summoned but denied watering the milk.  As this was her second offence she was on this occassion fined £3 plus costs.