Monday, 11 February 2019

Bullock's Garage, Cheadle

This digitally colourised photograph shows Bullock's Garage  at 6 Manchester Road, Cheadle.  The building behind, is the Cheadle Institute.  The date is the early 1920s. Garage staff pose for the camera while an inidentified car is filled with petrol from the Pratt's pump. Parked by the kerb is a Renault taxi, a model that was popular in the UK at the time. The showroom on the right has a display of tyres and car lamps. Enamel signs advertise Pratt's Perfection Spirit and Austin Cars. Signage on the windows advertises Spencer Moulton Tyres, Lodge plugs, CAV Lamps and Daimler cars.
Today, there is still a used car dealer at this site.

The Anglo-American Oil Company, established in 1888 was an affiliate of Standard Oil of the USA. The company began supplying petrol in 1889 and in 1896 introduced the Pratt's brand, named after a founder of Standard Oil. By 1900 petrol was supplied on a nationwide scale, delivered in 2 gallon cans by horse drawn carts. They employed 1000 horses for this work. After World War I, Pratt's installed the UK's first petrol pump, at Hale in Cheshire.  Pratt's was re-branded as Esso in 1934 although lubricating oil was sold under its original name until the 1950s.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Hello Dolly Lane !

In this article we will follow a route from from Furness Vale to Bugsworth.  We will start at the bottom Station Road and as we cross the bridge  we pass over the River Goyt, the original boundary between Cheshire and Derbyshire. Look at the change in the masonry of the bridge parapet and you will see where the Toll Cottage once stood.  The bridge is known as Joule Bridge or sometimes Jolly Bridge and this was part of the Thronsett Turnpike . Turnpikes were abolished by Local Government Act of 1888 to much local rejoicing.

The name of this little hamlet of Gow Hole was recorded in 1587 as Jawhill, the earliest record. Various spellings are subsequently found, no doubt, as the name became corrupted: Joliehole; Jollyhole; Jowhole and finally Gow Hole and as we have seen Joule in reference to the bridge. 

The junction of Marsh Lane and Ladypit Road in the 1920s.  The coal wharf is behind the wall onthe right.

Just around the corner on the left hand side of Marsh Lane is the builders yard of Nick Rowley.  This was once the coal wharf for Lady Pit Colliery. A tunnel was dug in 1853 from the mine, emerging in this yard with a tramway that opened out here into a number of sidings. The coal would then be loaded on to carts to be transported away.  The tunnel was used by miners as a short cut to work. After the mine was abandoned, the tunnel was used by New Mills Waterworks, presumably to carry a water main. 


Before we go any farther, we'll look at some of the background to the coal mining industry that we will encounter along our way. 

The coal mining business of L & E Hall played an  important role in the industry of this area.  Joseph Hall,born in 1777 obtained mineral leases on Ollerset Moor and was soon to become a coal master.  He died in 1843 and left his coal business to his three sons Levi, Amos and Elijah. Amos didn't take any future part in running the business but Levi and Elijah, forming a partnership called L & E Hall Bros embarked on a considerable expansion. Their interests included Lady Pit, Barn Pit ( also known as Dolly Pit) Shalcross Mine, Wharf Pit in Whaley Bridge, Bank End and Furness Collieries as well as mines farther afield.  Much of the output of low grade coal was sold to fire the limekilns of Bugsworth.

Levi and Elijah soon built a new home, Morland House which stands on the hillside above Birch Vale. Levi, a lifelong bachelor and Elijah with his young family were soon to move in. Large families were common at that time but it was unusual that Elijah and Mary's 10 children born between 1832 and 1853, all survived to adulthood. What was also unusual was that all but one were girls. Three of these daughters remained unmarried and became known as the Spinsters of Morland House. They all took an interest in the business and having received an inheritance from their grandfather, Joseph, invested their money in coal.  The success of the business is evident from the fact that  by the time of the deaths of the three spinster, each had amassed a wealth of over £11,000, a not inconsiderable sum in those days.

Elijah died at Morland House in 1866 and Levi in 1872.  Management of the business passed to Elijah's only son, Levi Joseph Hall. He was only 17 at the time and the business was managed by trustees until his coming of age in 1880. By this time, the coal seams were beginning to be worked out. Better quality coal was coming over the Pennines from South Yorkshire and demand from the limekilns at Bugsworth was diminishing.  With the closure of Lady Pit in 1903, the company was wound up.

John Nall, stationer and postmaster from Whaley Bridge; Levi Hall; Elijah Bridge, farmer from Gow Hole
You will hear several references to the name Drinkwater.  Whilst the Jodrells owned much of the land to the west of the River Goyt, the Drinkwaters were the largest landowners on the eastern side of the valley owning proerty from Chinley to Disley. 

The Wild Sisters, owners of the wool shop, Furness Vale with their uncle Luke Carter who lived on Yeardsley Lane

We will turn now on to Lady Pit Road.  Just before we pass under the railway bridge, notice the grazing land at the side of the two houses.  Here was Furness Vale Tennis Club. The land was laid out with courts and included a small wooden building, probably to house equipment or maybe to change in.  When the municipal courts were opened on Coachmans Lane, these reverted to farming land.
Dolly Lane begins at the following T junction. The track to the left leads to farms and a path continues uphill to eventually join Laneside Road.

The site of Lady Pit c 1960

 This photograph from about 1960 shows the remains of The Beard and Bugsworth Colliery (or Lady Pit).  Just behind the ruins, can be seen the colliery spoil tips. Alan Chorlton remembers when these were home to hundreds of rabbits. Out of view to the left, but still in evidence is a low embankment that carried a 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

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. 

45203 in 1965

Gowhole Sidings was an extensive railway yard on the eastern side of the valley. It had been constructed in 1903 as an extension to Hall's siding which served Lady Pit.  Despite its rural location, it was strategically placed being between junctions at New Mills and Chinley which offered direct routes to Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Derby and London. 

Gowhole Sidings

 In this photograph, a passenger train heads south on the "slow lines" passing a signal box. The "up" sidings on the left comprised of 10 parallel tracks as well as the extension to Lady Pit Colliery. 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.  You can just make out the footbridge in the distance which once crossed the sidings

This railway yard had been an extremely busy place. It the summer of 1953 for instance, more than 70 goods trains were scheduled to arrive and depart each day. Gowhole was in operation throughout the night. It finally closed in 1969 and was dismantled the following year.

Gowhole Sidings

The next photograph shows the sidings overlooked by Round Meadow Farm and to its right, the cottages.

A goods train passes Gowhole Sidings 

 The photograph above shows the footbridge which spanned the sidings and slow lines. This was known as Shirt's Bridge and carried a footpath from Round Meadow Farm to Peathill.

Many of the goods trains carried coal, often piled high in open trucks. Inevitably some spilled out, especially when the trucks were being shunted.Some people thought that "coal picking" was fair game, but not the police. 

 In 1926, Mr. Littlewood, a calico machine printer admitted to magistrates to taking 140lb of coal from a heap at Gowhole at 6.0am. Asked why he did not take it in daytime, he replied "well, that would not be legal.  I thought it was a refuse tip. People have taken coal away in all sorts of vehicles from a bassinet to a motor car. If you don't pick coalk when there's a strike on, people say that you are too lazy to do it".  He was fined 15s.

Edward Higgins, a shunter denied stealing 3 cwt of coal despite the police having caught him tying three bags.  He was fined 15s but the magistrates sympathising with his struggle to survive the general strike, tried to ensure that he would not lose his job. 

Round Meadow Farmhouse

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 came from a well on the lane.

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 went out to feeding her hens. She 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 farmworker’s cottages known as Spring Bank and Broadhurst. They were converted and extended by Mr and Mrs Marcroft.

Big Tree Farm

Big Tree Farm is on the right hand side of Dolly Lane when   facing towards Buxworth. The left hand side window on the elevation 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 less than 2 metres 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.

The Tithe Map of 1851 quotes the locality as Lane Ends. It took the name Big Tree at a later date.

Pigeonholes and the footpath to Peathills

 There were two Drinkwater brothers and according to local legend, one of them hanged 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".

Lower House

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 tiling,  the earlier roof  had never been removed.

We’ll just take a right turn  now and head down to Waterside. In the field along side you might see a pony and an elderly ram called Bertie. Stand by the gate and the old fellow might wander up in the hope that you will scratch the top of his head, a particular pleasure.  Bertie was long since been retired from his job at a Pet’s Corner..

Until recent times he was accompanied by Robbie the Llama, numerous hens rescued from battery cages,  nubian goats with their characteristic long ears, pigs and several cats which patrolled the fences making sure that all was well. .  Most of the menagerie has now moved to Higher Disley where there are more spacious paddocks and proper housing.

After passing under the railway bridges these are low parapets at the side of the road. This was a bridge under which a railway branch was intended to pass on its way to Whaley Bridge.  The work was abandoned once it had reached this point.

Waterside is an attractive little hamlet.  Waterside Cottage, draped in wisteria,  was originally two dwellings dating from the 17th and 19th centuries.  Set back is a row of three cottages, one is now derelict. These were built in 1808. The larger building at right angles was once a barn.  

Peathill Farm

Not far away is Peathills Farm. It was built in the late 18th century as a farmhouse and barn under the same roof. Until about 10 years ago there was neither a road nor farm track. Access was solely by a rough footpath to the front door.  It has now been extensively modernised but retains its original appearance.

In this 1997 photograph are Mr Mellor, then the owner and on his right, George Tomlinson, our past chairman and founder.

Green Head Farm

We will return to Dolly Lane and bisected by the corner of the road is Green Head Farm, a converted barn being 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 that 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 to become pregnant.

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 faced by a gang of ruffians, who demanded £100 from her. Answering that there was very little in the house she said 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, all of her husband and children's clothing. They drank of 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 detachment of 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.

Climbing the steep hill we next reach Barn Cottage on the right and opposite, a track leads to both The Hough and to Clough Head Farm, dividing after about 200 metres. The road here was once known as Barn Level.

The Haugh

Stone head found at The Haugh

The Haugh is an extensive and ancient farm. The earliest record is from 1381 when it was known as Hag. It has since gone by other names:  The Hauge 1569; The Haghe 1603 and The Hagh 1611.

The old farm house dates from 1640. Barns are from the 17th and 18th century.  It was here that the large stone head was unearthed during renovations, its age unknown.  Mr Bradbury of Furness Vale  said that this was one of the last places where druid worship (and sacrifice) took place. He does not tell us what was sacrificed though. The stone head, of unknown age and origin was discovered during renovation work.

Clough Head Farm in 2011

Clough Head Farmhouse dates from 1842 although the farm may be much older.  A large modern barn doubles as an arena each summer when Clough Head is home of a weekend music festival.  Around the farm is a collection of industrial and trade implements.

Unusual wheel arrangement on these trucks

Clough Head was once the location of a small coal pit, 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 1840 Ordnance Survey map and may still have been operational 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. 

Barn Cottage wher the tramway crossed Dolly Lane on its way to Bugsworth Basin.

After 100 metres or so, 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 Engine House in 1975
A modern home incorporating the old engine house

 The Barn Pit, the original name, 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 that reached a lower seam of much better quality 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 1889.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.

The engine house remained derilict until in 1975 the local council proposed its demolition.  It was saved after the intervention of Keith Holford and Gerald Haythornthwaite and the following year, converted into a modern home.

Alfred Goddard was 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.

It is probable that the road 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.


After another 200 metres we reach Ancoats Farm. This is an interesting group of old farm buildings, which have 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 date from 1629.

The name of Ancoats in Manchester possibly derives from the Old English ana cots meaning “lonely cottages” and it would seem appropriate if this farm’s had the same origin.   There was in 14th century Lancashire, a landowner, Henry de Ancotes so there’s another possible source.

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 adit and an air shaft. Hidden behind the trees was a further adit and air shaft. The underground workings extended almost as far north as Ancoats Farm. 

Brierley Green
 This last photograph shows the end of Dollly Lane where it comes to the T-junction at Brierley Green

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Wartime Evacuees in Furness Vale

  On 2nd June 1940 a train arrived at Whaley Bridge from Southend on Sea in Essex. On board were 240 children evacuated due to the war.  They were accompanied by 12 teachers and 11 voluntary helpers.
   Met at Whaley Bridge, the children were first of all given tea, then medically examined and then allocated to their billets. The operation took a considerable time and caused a few tears.  Some billetors refused boys, others would not take girls. Some, confronted with brother and sister wanted to take one but not the other. Some children, boys in particular were hawked around several billets until kindly souls at last gave them shelter.
   Schoolrooms were established at the Mechanics Institute, at Whaley Bridge Church Hall and one classroom was made available at Furness Vale School.

  Wendy Brown is trying to find information about her mother's evacuation to Furness Vale.  Her name was Jean Hill (Rosenberg) and she was just six years old at the time.  She stayed with the Palmers who lived in Park Crescent.

  Val Stenson has added the following information:
"The Palmers were Percy Holmes Palmer (born in Bredbury but had lived in Chapel) & Lillian Gertrude Palmer nee Hodgkinson (from Lancashire) the couple married in Stockport in 1925 & lived at Woodlea off Yeardsley Lane which came under Whaley Bridge UDC in the 1939 National Registration. The couple had no children of their own, Percy worked as a Railway Signalman Heavy Works & Lillian stayed at home. Percy died in 1949 & by then the couple had moved to Melton Mowbury."

  The only "Woodlea" in Furness Vale is currently 236 Buxton Road and some distance from Park Crescent.

  If anybody remembers or knows of the Palmers, or Jean, then Wendy Brown would be delighted to hear from you.

Wendy Brown's niece chatted to here gran about her experiences for a school project and wrote down the conversation|:  

My Nana being Evacuated in World War II
During the War, my Nana was 6 ½ years old.  She had to be evacuated at the start of 1940.  She used to live on the South Coast at a place called Westcliff on Sea.
She was brought up on a steam train.  On this journey she remembers having no food or little and having some water, but the problem was the water tasted of soot because of the steam from the train.  The steam train dropped a lot of children off at Chinley.  When they got there, people either went to a home which made them clean or they went to homes where they were used as cheap labour, specially on farms or if they were lucky, they went to a nice family.  My Nana was lucky, she went to a Mr and Mrs Palmer.
My Nana was never short on food because they grew their own vegetables and kept hens.  The one food she disliked were runner beans because they salted them and kept them for winter.  She disliked them because they had them every day.
She can remember getting to their home in Furness Vale and them giving her a bath.  They kept scrubbing at her.  She remembers them saying “what have they sent us?”  They were saying this because she was very brown (because of a hot summer) and her accent.
When the war was over her mother came up to Furness Vale and Nana went to live with her.  Nana’s mum married a man called Sam Kitchen.  They lived together but my Nana never forgot Mr and Mrs Palmer.

  The photographs show the evacuee children  at Furness Vale School

Friday, 1 February 2019

Britannia Mill Buxworth

This is Google's satellite view of the Britannia Mill at Buxworth. Little remains of the four storey mill destroyed by fire in August 2005 and the site is described by many, as an eyesore.  

The mill was built in the late 18th or early 19th century for the manufacture of fustian, a coarse cotton fabric. It was originally powered by water drawn from the Black Brook. The water wheel was fed from two mill ponds. Landed at Liverpool, the raw cotton  was carried by canal to Buxworth and the finished goods were despatched by boat to Manchester. The mill had its own canal wharf next to teapot row. There was some rebuilding in 1851 and the site became part of the Bugsworth Hall Estate.

Fustian manufacture ceased in 1900 and the newly formed Britannia Wire Works Company moved into the now empty mill. Britannia manufactured a range of seating for the furniture, railway, aviation and motor trades as well as  matresses. The wire formed the sprung interiors. The company built up a considerable export business, the mill was extended and theponds filled in. Production ceased in May 1969 and the mill was occupied by PVC Group until the time of the fire.

There are now proposals to redevelop the site for housing. Rivertown Developments based in Buxworth hopes to build up to 110 homes in a mix of styles and size.

The websites of TPM Landscapes and Crowley Associates, planning consultants, not only detail the proposed developments but also provide considerable historical and site information with detailed maps showing how the mill developed. : 

Trevor Walmsley has recently contacted the History Society. He left New Mills in 1973 and now lives in New Zealand. His father in law, Lawrence Devine, was at Britannia all of his working life and was works manager until it closed in 1969. The photographs are of Mr Lawrence with his daughter Patricia; A calendar from the office and extracts from a patent deposited in 1945 for Ford car seats.

 The following photographs show the blaze being tackled by the fire brigade, the derelict building and the former Britannia road vehicles.