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 cafĂ© 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.