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.

The Driven Gipsies

I don't know where the German Gipsies started their journey nor where it finished but in 1906 they weren't given a very friendly welcome by either the Derbyshire or Cheshire police.
One Friday night in October the Sheffield police tried to drive them across the border into Derbyshire; the Derbys police sent them back. Eventually the police tired of this game and the gipsies, 60 of them with horses and caravans were allowed to camp in a field a few miles from Sheffield.

Saturday morning and 20 or so Derbyshire police  were ready to drive them over the moors through Hathersage, Hope, Castleton and Chapel-en-le-Frith.  It was late at night by the time they crossed the river at Whaley Bridge and so into Cheshire.  At that time the Cheshire Police didn't know of their progress so they were able to set up camp at the roadside.  The bridge was guarded on the Derbyshire side to prevent their return and it was reported that the encampment looked like  a fair.  The people of Whaley made them welcome and feeling sorry for their treatment even gave them money.  The gipsies even did some trade in cheap jewellery.  They declared that they liked the country and intended to stay for two years.

The Cheshire police however, got wind of their presence and a contingent from the Macclesfield force, 30 officers strong, led them through Bollington and Adlington and so on to the Stockport Road.  There was some disorder here. One of the gipsies threw his hat into a field and was prevented from going after it. The gipsies then threw sticks at the police to show their resentment but were soon persuaded to continue their journey.  The Stockport police joined the Macclesfield contingent on reaching Hazel Grove and the band was kept on the move along Buxton Road. At the Stockport boundary, 2 inspectors and 25 officers took charge.  They were not allowed to go into shops but occassionally dashed in to beg but were quickly brought out again.

The group were disappointed at not being allowed to stop in Stockport. At Heaton Lane, they were turned off of the main road towards Heaton Mersey where the Lancashire police were telephoned and a force of 20 were sent to meet them .  As darkness fell, the gipsy leader pointed to the children and indicated that they were becoming tired and needed sleep. Inspector Moore of Stockport insisted that they continue.  "You bad inspector" shouted the gipsy leader, "we come back when you gone". The inspector replied "if you come back, we shall lock you up" The Stockport men escorted them along the Didsbury Road until a little way beyond Barnes Homes, the body sent out from Old Trafford took charge. They were allowed to turn into a field for the night, very glad to get some rest.

This is the last we hear of them, presumably they were allowed to settle at some stage or they would be wandering still.




 For several weeks back, the neighbourhoods of New Mills, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge have been infested with a number of able-bodied individuals, who, under pretence of being destitute, have committed serious outrages upon the shopkeepers and other inhabitants there.  And yet it is remarkable how very indifferently, or rather very inadequately these offences have been entertained by the administrators of the law in that district; as the following cases will illustrate.  On Tuesday evening, three stout looking young men, natives of Manchester, but who had been to Sheffield, applied at the Chapel-en-le-Frith workhouse for shelter for the night and obtained it.  No sooner, however, had they been admitted within the walls of the night asylum, than they began to destroy their clothing by burning them (their own being ragged and wet), calculating that in the morning they would each be supplied with new and better clothng at the Union expense.  In this latter instance, they were mistaken, for the only habitaments provided for them were made from wrappering, and the appearance not being very complimentary, they became very disorderly and refused to put them on.  The Governor insisted; a riot ensued; and the tramps threatened to commit some outrage in the village if they were turned out in the clothing tendered to them.  In this dilemma, a resident magistrate was consulted; but he declined to interfere. The Governoer then on his own responsibility, got assistance; the tramps were clothed by force, and they were turned out of the workhouse early in the afternoon.  About three o'clock,  being on their way from Chapel-en-le-Frith to Stockport, they broke the windows of Mr T C Mosley, and stole several currant cakes thereout, and were apprehended by the constable while they were eating the cakes near to the shop.  The next day they were taken before a resident magistrate; but, after hearing the case, he declined to commit them fot the felony, because the property stolen was so trifling.  On the other hand, he would not discharge them, because they had threatened the constable that if he did not take them into custody, they would commit another outrage before dark.  They were accordingly committed to Derby house of correction for two months, with an intimation to Mr Mosley that the expenses of £1. 4s must be paid by him.  Mr Mosley complained that the defendents had not been committed on his charge; and, therefore he had no right to be called upon, not only to repair the damage to his broken window, the loss of his cakes, but the additional costs of their commitment, for using improper language to the constable. He submitted that as the felony having been proved, the magistrate had no alternative but to commit for felony; and moreover mutated the injured and robbed shopkeeper in the amount of cost of £1. 4s.  This, upon the face of it, appears a very cruel proceeding; and if it be Derbyshire law or Derbyshire equity, we shall much prefer being governed by our system of Cheshire justice.  Our correspondent further complains that the same magistrate seems to have an insuperable objection to committing for trial in trivial cases of felony. A few weeks since, two men went into the shop of Mr Collier near Whaley, and asked for 3lb of bread; and when given to them they began to eat it, but refused to pay for it.  The parties were apprehended, but no committal followed. In consequence of this systematic indisposition to administer the law fully, the shopkeepers and licenses victuallers in that vicinity have determined upon sending a protest with their names attached, to the proper authorities on the subject, intimating that  if any further depredations are committed upon their property by tramps and latitudinarians, they will deal summarily with the case, without troubling the resident magistrate.

A Benighted Parish.

Until recently I was under the impression that all vehicles were obliged by law to  carry lights after nightfall, but it appears that such is not the case. It seems to me that all the grandmotherly care and attention of the various public bodies and authorities has latterly been bestowed upon the cyclists, while other equally dangerous offenders are allowed to go scot free.  I have the misfortune to live in one of the most benighted parishes in the three kingdoms.  We have several churches, chapels and schools and a plethora of public houses but no lamps. 
Our good, easy ,old fashioned parishoners have recently canvassed with the object of getting a few introduced, but in vain.  Drivers of all sorts, trusting to their own knowledge of the tortuous and winding roads and the their horses' instinct, go about at high speeds and in the most reckless manner.  It is the exeption to see one with a light.  Meanwhile, as usual, it is the old and infirm, the women and children, who run the greatest risks.  Only last week a woman was knocked down, and narrow escapes are of frequent occurrence.  If any of your readers love the quaint and antiquated, let them, on the first dark night, take a ticket for Whaley Bridge on the Buxton line; let them grope their way from the main street of the village into the parish of Fernilee.  They will not have bruised themselves above once or twice against stone walls before they will be startled by erratic and mysterious will-o'-the-wisp-like glimmerings in the distance.  On a nearer approach they will discover worthy natives perambulating in true seventeenth century fashion, with horn lanterns, like philosophers seeking for truth.  Hoping these letters may draw the attention of public bodies generally to the matter.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Tin Bath

Chris Wilman braved the cold of Eccles Pike this morning to photograph the steam special "The Tin Bath"  Here is her photo of the train hauled by locomotives44871 and 45699 "Galatea" passing Buxworth.

Reckless Motoring and other stories

Reckless Motoring 
 Summer has at last arrived and living as I do in Whaley Bridge, within half a mile of Taxal Church, in good air and good company, I ought, you would think, to be as happy as the days just now are long. Not so. Motor cars run through our pretty village to and from Buxton at the rate of from 25 to 40 miles an hour. Some - I do not say all - are careless of everybody and everything but themselves. They think they have the complete right of the road. Everyone must make way for a high powered motor car. Dogs and cats they run over, and occasionally old men. The dust they create in running at the speed they do is most injurious to pedestrians, crops, and dwellings. Should you open your bedroom windows your rooms are soon covered, and make extra work for the already hard worked maids and assistants. Shopkeepers have to shut their doors, or their goods would be spoiled. A butcher told me that on a Saturday afternoon in fine weather, after his shop had been open all day, anything sold after 4 to 5pm wanted washing before being fit to eat.
July 17th 1907

Poor Fellow

Buxton  September 1927

When one of their guests started to behave a little strangely, the management of a Buxton hotel wasted little time in calling the police.  When questioned, he seemed to be suffering from loss of memory.  He thought that his name was Arden and believed that he worked for a cable company in Buenos Aries. He had no idea of how he came to be in Buxton nor of his friends or relatives. He was described as 35 to 40 years of age, 5ft 10in tall, and clean shaven.  He appeared to be well educated and of good appearance.  The response of the police was to incarcerate him in the Chapel-en-leFrith Union Workhouse !

The Crime of the Whaley Bridge Postmaster

Robert Jackson was postmaster at Whaley Bridge, a position he had held for 16 years. He also held the post of assistant overseer where his responsibilities would include collection of rates and administering the poor law.  He also acted as collector of tithes for the parish of Taxal and as treasurer of the church restoration fund.

Jackson had received £55 from the ladies who managed the Provident Club to be invested in a Post Office savings account. They had little knowledge of the methods of the Savings Bank and did not ask for a receipt, relying instead upon the honestly of the postmaster. Jackson  received £20 from the Senior Overseer, also for investment.  The anticipated interest on these investments was paid regularly.

In July 1889, Jackson suddenly disappeared. On the investigations of the Charity Commissioners and the Paot Office Authorities, it was found that not only these sums were missing but a total of £275 including moneys from the poor rates. A warrant was issued for arrest and he was discovered in Manchester where he was furnishing a house. The prisoner was conveyed to Whaley Bridge where he was handed over to Constable Hunt. He was then remanded at Stockport and in December 1889 was tried for embezzlement. In his defence, it was stated that Jackson and his wife also ran a stationery business, the stock of which amounted in value to more than the missing funds. Had repayment been demanded, Jackson would have had little difficulty in raising the money. The auditor had found that much of the money could be recovered and the Post Office had refunded £20 leaving a deficiency of only £45. Jackson had a wife and young family and in his support the Rev. Sam Evans, vicar of Taxal and Mrs Johnson and Mrs Shalcross, managers of the Provident Club spoke of his excellent character despite his having made off with the money which they had entrusted to him.

The defendent pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months hard labour.
Jackson was clearly popular in Whaley Bridge for he had only been in jail for a month when the Home Secretary received a petition signed by a large number of Whaley Bridge citizens praying for Jackson's early release. The signatories included local magistrates, clergy and ministers and nearly all the ladies of the Provident Society from whom he had embezzled the funds!

Sheep Rustling

In December 1850 Samuel Taylor of Hulme left 9 sheep in a field in Hodge Lane in Salford. He had left them in the charge of a young man named Richard Warren but the following day, neither man nor sheep were to be found. The loss was reported to the police at Chorlton upon Medlock who soon tracked down the culprit. Warren was found to have sold a sheep to a butcher at  Heaton Lane, Stockport, another to a butcher at Hazel Grove and a third in Whaley Bridge.
The police caught up with Warren in a Whaley Bridge pub where he was found with the remaining 6 sheep in his possession.

The Sale of a Wife at Market

In 1837 an unconventional 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. 

An Artful Trick

The other day, as one of the coaches which plies between Buxton and Manchester was ascending the hill near Taxal, the coachman was accosted by an Irish woman with a child in her arms, requesting him to "give her a ride". He replied, "that the proprietors employed him to receive fares, not to give rides." upon which she, pretending to find her pocket among the folds of her ragged dress said, "Sure and have you change for a sovereign?". The coachman, elated with the prospect of receiving his short fare, ordered her to get on and he would furnish the change at Buxton. On arrival at the destination, the woman alighted and was proceeding apace without producing the coloured material, when the coachman, in a stentorian voice exclaimed, "Hallo, you have not paid your fare."  "Fare do you mean, sir, sure and I have only a penny in my pocket." "Then why did you ask me for change?" replied the coachman. "Sure and it was the change that I wanted; the devil of a sovereign had I." The coachman, much chagrined at the loss of his anticipated fare, at the request of a passenger, alloed the woman for her craft, to proceed on her journey.

The Blackburn Standard 3rd December 1845

Whaley Bridge Living History Society

            Whaley Bridge Living History Society
 Spring Programme 2016

Meets Mondays 1.30 p.m. at Footsteps Market Street Whaley Bridge

February 8      Whaley's Old Buildings Part 2 - Jonathon Davies

February 15    The sory of Manchester's hospitals - Chris Makepeace

February 22    Edward Elgar, The man and his music - Geoff Scargill

February 29    Lyme Park House - Guided by Neil Mullineux

March 7          St Martin's Church, Marple and other arts and crafts churches - Anthony Burton

March 15         (Tuesday) Guided walk including St Mary's Church, Stockport Dungeon and
                         Market Place - Led by Kevin Dranfield

March 21         My life in journalism - James Middleton

April 4             The elphant never forgets - Geoff Morten

April 11            Lead mining in the Peak District - Judith Wilshawe

April 18            Gardens in the French Riviera - Bob Kellock

April 25            What the papers said. Local news from the 19th and 20th centuries - David Easton

Saturday, 13 February 2016

What The Papers Said

John Allen sold his wife for 3s 6d; the electric fluid entered a cottage and smashed the furniture; a bear and a deer absconded from a boat and The Bugsworth Nick Club terrified local women. 

One Saturday evening, not long ago, a man who had been making a little too free with "John Barleycorn", had to pass through Taxal churchyard where a deep grave had been dug (for an interment on the morrow), close to the footpath over which the jolly fellow had to pass on his way home; and being rather unsteady in his gait, and not quite able to maintain his true perpendicular, he unfortunately fell into the grave; and being unable to get out again, he quietly resigned himself to his fate and went to sleep. Shortly afterwards, one of his boon companions, in passing the same way, had the misfortune to fall into the same grave and rouse the first occupant from his sleep, who feeling himself offended at the intruders visit, muttered out in an angry growl "It's strange one cannot lie quietly in the grave". 
Read about these and other curious stories in "What The Papers Said" a selection of news reports from the 19th and 20th centuries about the Derbyshire villages of Bugsworth, Furness Vale and Whaley Bridge.price £2.40.  Follow the link below to download your copy.

A printed version of the book is available from the History Society