Sunday, 6 May 2018

A Stroll Along Dolly Lane

It is probable that Dolly Lane takes its name from Dolly Pit, a small colliery near Ancoats Farm.
Alfred Goddard of Bugsworth, writing in the local press some years ago told the story of a young woman called Dorothy or Dolly who,through an ill fated love affair with one of the mine workers, committed suicide by jumping down the mine shaft. From that day, the mine was known as Dolly Pit. It's a romantic tale and might just be true.
In the early 18th century, Dolly Lane was known as Han Coat, Brierley Lane or Olliver Lane.

Remains of Lady Pit c 1960

We will start our journey at the corner of Lady Pit Road and Dolly Lane. The photograph from about 1960 shows the remains of The Beard and Bugsworth Colliery (or Lady Pit).  It had closed in 1903, unable to compete with better quality coal transported from Yorkshire. Look across the field and a low embankment can be seen. This carried the railway siding from Gowhole and enabled coal to be dispatched from the site. A tall brick chimney once stood near this corner until one night in 1949 when in a violent storm it was struck by a thunderbolt. Materials were scattered up to 300 metres away.  The large round structure remaining in the opposite field was an air shaft.
Opposite the site of Lady Pit is a building which may have been connected with the colliery but this is uncertain. It has more recently been known as the "sausage factory" Here, traditional sausage skins were made using natural animal products. This is now a private house

Before we venture any farther we will take a step back along Lady Pit Road to the junction with Marsh Lane. On the other side of Marsh Lane is a builder's yard. Here was the entrance to a tunnel dug in 1853 from the workings at Lady Pit. A horse drawn tramway emerged here and from an inclined plane, coal was loaded onto  carts for transportation. The tunnel was also used by miners as a short cut to the workings. The photo shows a wintry scene in 1920 with the yard on the right.

Back on Dolly Lane, look over the wall on the right as the road starts to climb and you might make out the turntable well of Gowhole Sidings.

Gowhole Sidings was an extensive railway yard on the eastern side of the valley. The "up" sidings on the left comprised of 10 parallel tracks as well as an extension to Lady Pit Colliery. In this photograph, a passenger train heads south on the "slow lines" passing the signal box. Beyond this train were a further 13 sidings and then the "fast lines" between New Mills and Chinley. Dolly Lane climbs up past Round Meadow Farm and Hillside Cottages towards Buxworth.

This railway yard had been an extremely busy place. It the summer of 1953 for instance, more than  60 goods trains were scheduled to arrive and depart each day. Gowhole was in operation throughout the night.

The next photograph shows the sidings overlooked by Round Meadow Farm and cottages.

Round Meadow Farm is the first building on the right hand side of Dolly Lane. The house is believed to date from 1750 although it was rebuilt in 1868. The barn appears to have been extended at various times since. The water supply cane from a well on the lane.

Round Meadow

In 1892, the farmer's son, Norman Ashton was crossing the nearby Midland Railway to fetch a load of hay. He was struck by a passing express train and dragged for 12 yards before being thrown clear. He sustained serious injuries to his head and face and his arm was broken. The cart was reduced to matchwood but the horse was unharmed. Sadly, Norman died five days later.
In 1957, Mrs Bowden, when feeding her hens was pecked in the leg by a cockerel. She suffered from varicose veins and despite help from railway workers from Gowhole Sidings, the flow of blood could not be stemmed. She was taken to Stockport Infirmary but died from loss of blood.

Hillcroft is opposite Round Meadow. It is now one large house but was originally two small farmworkers cottages known as Spring Bank and Broadhurst. They were converted and extended by Mr and Mrs Marcroft.

Big Tree Farm is on the right hand side of Dolly Lane. A window  facing across the valley bears an inscription on the lintel "Rebuilt in 1868 T & E Drinkwater. At the side of the house, a footpath leads downhill, and set into the wall are a number of pigeonholes. These are unusual being aout 5 or 6 feet above ground level. Some have projecting stones for the birds to rest on before entering. They would have been easy to catch at this height and were a common item on the menu in past times.
Big Tree Farm
The Tithe Map of 1851 quotes the locality as Lane Ends. It took the name Big Tree at a later date.
There were two Drinkwater brothers and according to local legend, one of them hung himself from a big tree at the farm. This left a mystery as he had over £300  in his hip pocket and no one knew why he should have done such a thing. Could it have been from then, that the farm became known as "Big Tree"?
You might like to follow this footpath along the side of the farm, down towards Peathills Farm and the little hamlet of Waterside.  Where the ground levels out is the site of the railway sidings which were once crossed by a long footbridge. Our path passes under the main line and ahead are the rooftops of Peathills. Until about eight years ago, the only access to the farmhouse was a muddy path across the fields. Peathills, a listed building, has changed little since being built in the late 19th century.
Peathills Farm photographed in1997
Nearby Waterside Cottage, also a listed building dates from the 17th century with 19th century additions. Wisteria around the door and a brook running through the garden create a picture postcard atmosphere.

Waterside Cottage

Just before  Dolly Lane makes a sharp left turn is Lower House Farm set back up a drive on the left. This had originally been two properties known as Green Head Cottages. During alterations, it was found that an extension had previously been built and beneath the roof was the original roof which had never been removed.
Lower House Farm

Disected by the corner of the road is Green Head Farm A converted barn is on the left hand side. It has its origins in the early 17th century when the location was known as Bugsworth Greene. The property was originally much larger and included a number of cottages within its boundaries. History Society archives record that wives of farm workers, when pregnant came here to give birth, the west wing of the house being put to their use.

The house possessed a cradle which had been handed down through previous owners. It was once a Derbyshire custom that when a house was built, a wooden cradle was also made. The cradle was supposed to remain in the house for ever, to take it away would bring bad luck. Another legend is that if the farmer's wife did not want a family, she would keep the cradle in the bedroom. It would only be taken to another room if she wanted a baby.
In 1812 farmer John Drinkwater's wife answered a knocking at the door at midnight, thinking that she was being called out to her midwifery duties. She was instead faced by a gang of ruffians who demanded £100 from her. Answering that there was very little in the house but that they might take what there was. The gang rushed in, their faces disguised, and proceeded to ransack the property. They took £20 in cash, ten cheeses, enough bedding for six beds and all of her husband's and children's clothing. They drank the ale and spirits from the cellar and trampled over butter, cream and other provisions. All of this time, one of the gang stood over the husband's bed threatening his life with a sword. John Drinkwater dared not stir, for beneath his bed was his life savings of £200 and the deeds of the property. The gang of 16 men left after stealing or damaging property to the value of £150.  Following the event a detatchmentof the Royal Horse Guards marched from Derby intent on capturing the offenders. Some 15 men were arrested at New Mills and stood trial at Derby. All but three were acquitted as the witnesses accounts were suspect. The remaining three were sentenced to death, despite claiming their innocence. Having been hanged at Derby in April 1813, the body of Paul Mason aged 33 was returned to New Mills. Upon examination, his body was found to still be warm and a gurgling sound was heard from his throat. He was clearly still alive and might have been saved had an attempt been made to resuscitate him.
Green Head Farm

Climbing the steep hill we next reach Barn Cottage on the right.  The road here was once known as Barn Level. To the left, a track leads to both The Hough and to Clough Head Farm, dividing after about 200 metres. Clough Head was once the location of a small coal mine, originally known as Mr. Drinkwater's Engine Pit. The mine seems to have been worked from about 1800 but it is not clear when these workings were abandoned. A tramway operated until at least 1820. It appears on the 1940 Ordnance Survey map and may still have been opeartional at that date. It followed the route of the present day farm track between Clough Head and Dolly Lane where it crossed the road at the side of Barn Cottage before heading across the fields towards the limekilns at Bugsworth. After a short distance it was joined by a similar tramway from Dolly Pit.

100 metres farther along Dolly Lane, a driveway on the left leads to an unusual looking house with a tall tower. This was the site of Dolly Pit (or Barn Pit)

The Barn Pit,  was first worked at about 1850 and may have been named after Barn Cottage nearby. The first shaft was worked by a horse gin but was soon abandoned because the coal was of poor quality. This was replaced by a second shaft which reached a lower seam of much better  coal.  The engine house still stands and is incorporated into the private residence. The engine man had been Thomas Hadfield, a Buxton man who founded Brierley Green Congregational Chapel.
A tramway was installed sometime after 1850 and probably continued working until the mine closure. It crossed Dolly Lane and ran downhill towards the limekilns at Bugsworth joining the route of the earlier tramway from Clough Head Pit.
Dolly Pit was owned by Levi and Elijah Hall who announced its closure in 1887.The pit was no longer able to cope with the amount of water draining into the workings. The coal would in future be cut from Lady Pit which was now connected underground.

After another 200 metres we reach Ancoats Farm. This is an interesting group of old buildings which has since been divided up into three separate cottages. Opposite Ancoats, a road climbs uphill towards Laneside Farm where there was yet another coal working "John Olliver's Coalpit". The mineshaft was in the field just across the road from Laneside farmhouse, a much altered group of buildings which dates from 1654.

The name "Ancoats" is likely to have been derived from the Old English "ana cots" meaning lonetly cottages.

Alfred Goddard had been told by his father who had lived at Ancoats, that at the time that Dolly Pit was worked, the lane was a rutty old road with carts travelling to and from the Bugsworth lime kilns. The council would come along now and again with loads of lump limestone. This was tipped at the roadside and broken up with a whip hammer by men who were unemployed or those who wished to earn a little extra money.

After Ancoats, the road descends downhill towards Buxworth.  Just before we reach the end of Dolly Lane at Brierley Green, we pass Merrill's Wood on the right.  This was the location for Bugsworth Colliery which was worked between approximately 1811 and 1899. Where the woodland comes to an end was an mine adit and an air shaft. Hidden behind the trees were a further adit and air shaft. The underground workings extended almost as far north as Ancoats Farm.

Our last photograph shows the end of Dolly Lane where it comes to the road junction at Brierley Green.

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