Robin Hoods Picking Pegs and Friends

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The rough moorland of the Pennine foothills is criss-crossed by tracks which were the main roads of early times when most people had to travel everywhere on foot, or if they were lucky, on horseback. These have become our public bridleways and let us walk and ride freely in the countryside, which has been doubly appreciated during these last few months. Nowadays junctions on these tracks are indicated by official signposts, but long ago most people couldn’t read so there had to be other kinds of markers.


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HatherlowJust beyond Chadkirk the A627 climbs the long steep hill towards Bredbury and passes through Hatherlow, described by James Butterworth in his 1827 book History and Description of the Towns and Parishes of Stockport as ‘a small hamlet within the Parish of Bredbury’. It may be small but its mix of both old and elegant buildings gives it an aesthetic coherence to justify being designated as a conservation area by Stockport MBC.

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Moated Houses

lake 1Broadoak Moated House

On the edge of Stockport Golf Club, next to Broadoak Farm, is a squarish platform of land, surrounded by a moat on all sides. Although it is private property and well away from any roads it is adjacent to a public footpath running from Torkington Road to the Middlewood Way. It is quite a sizeable feature in the landscape but what exactly is it? The usual description for anything old and of unknown origin is ‘Roman’ - Roman Bridge, Roman Lakes etc. and the tithe map of 1838 would seem to bear this out - ‘Site of Roman Camp’. Not only that but it lies close to one of the most likely routes for the Roman road between Stockport and Disley.

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Derbyshire or Cheshire

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There have been a number of times when county boundaries have been adjusted.

The biggest change locally, came about in 1936 when Furness Vale, most of Whaley Bridge and part of Newtown were transferred from Cheshire to Derbyshire. At the same time Mellor and Ludworth became part of Cheshire, becoming Marple Urban District Council’s responsibility. The original county boundary following the River Goyt had caused numerous administrative anomalies and duplications of offices.

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Spade Forge - Marple Bridge

Spade ForgeTake a walk along Town Street, Marple Bridge, cross the end of Hollins Lane, pass the little pay and display car park, and below the bridge, at the beginning of Longhurst Lane, lies one of the oldest industrial buildings in the area, Spade Forge, formally known as Forge Bank Mill. Its earliest record dates from 1776, but was probably operating before that. Although it has now been converted into a house, its past remains for all to see. The waterwheel which drove its machinery is still in situ, with the millpond dam, 40’ wide and 20’ high, sluice gate seating and head race adjacent.

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What Goes around Comes Around

Marple co-op openingOn December 4th, Marple’s new Co-operative Store opened on Church Lane, directly opposite Market Street; 146 years after the Compstall Industrial Co-operative Society opened its first Marple store in 1874. The first store was in Market Street, near the junction with Stockport Road. In 1898 a drapery store was built opposite the original store in the same architectural style. Today the drapery building is home to Helen Winterson Ltd.

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The Lost History of Cafés

The Lost History of Marple & District Cafés

riverside 12020 - the year the world had the rug pulled from under its feet. Marple endured two lockdowns between March and December, drastically reducing all cultural, social and entertainment facilities. All the cafés were closed together with the other virus casualties, Carver Theatre and the Regent Cinema.

It might seem that thereis a plethora of cafés and tearooms to satisfy the local need to meet friends or to “just drop in” for an Americano or a latte or a simple cup of tea. Do we really need so many establishments to minister this need? A quick count comes to at least a round dozen - All Things Nice, Asda, Cloudberry, Costa, Dutsons, Golden Plate, Libbys, Roc Community Café, Portabello, Red Pepper, Roman Lakes and The Locks are all needed. There may well be more.

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Chadkirk Printworks

Chad 3In September 1755 William Wright leased a plot of land from George Nicholson, the owner of the Chadkirk Estate, for a period of fifty years. He wanted to build a mill for textile finishing - bleaching, dyeing and printing. At the time, although Britain had a reputation for producing raw materials such as wool and flax it was still only a cottage industry when it came to producing finished textiles. If woven cloth was to be bleached and dyed it was sent to Holland and the finest printed cottons came from India - no local producer could match them for quality. But things were beginning to change. Although cotton would not come into its own until the technological developments of the 1760s and 70s, the production of cloth was becoming more sophisticated. Fulling mills were improving the quality of finished cloth, printing of textiles was spreading from the south of England and small bleachworks were experimenting with new chemicals.

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Norbury, Hazel Grove

Fiveways Public HouseThe ‘mystery picture’ in the MLHS August newsletter was an aerial view of the Fiveways Pub on the corner of the A523 Macclesfield Road and Dean Lane in the Norbury area of Hazel Grove. Picture 1 The Fiveways The pub was built in the late 1930s, the architectural style corroborates that period. However, Norbury goes back much further. From Medieval times scattered groups of settlers survived by subsistence farming. People would have been travelling through the area from Roman Times as the Roma road from London to Carlisle, forms part of the A6. It is easy to imagine businesses setting up along the way to attend to the needs of travellers: inns, blacksmiths and a variety of shops.

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Union Rooms

The Union Rooms Marple: From 1870s to 2020

union roomsMarple Union Rooms/Regent Cinema: a tale of temperance, coffee at penny a cup, a church army, a falling chimney, not to mention the ‘flicks’.

Dominating the centre of Marple for over 120 years, Hollins Mill and its owners lead us into the history of the Union Rooms. In 1863 the mill was sold, by Charles Walmsley to the Carver and Hodgkinson families. Staunch Congregationalists, they helped in the acquisition of land and the building of the Congregational Church on Hibbert Lane. But in 1876, when a disagreement arose, Thomas Carver parted company with the church...............

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Goyt Mill

goyt mill 001Goyt Mill at Hawk Green was the last cotton mill to be built in the Marple area, and is the only building of that kind left standing locally today. Set on rising ground on the east bank of the Macclesfield Canal just after Hibbert Lane crosses the canal on Eccles Bridge (Bridge 3), it can be seen from near and far 001 view of Goyt Mill. Once the steam engine was sufficiently developed to provide a reliable source of power for turning machinery, mills no longer had to rely on fast flowing streams to turn water wheels, and canal banks made attractive sites for cotton mills because the canal could be used to transport raw materials and finished goods, and to provide water for the boilers.

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Mounting Blocks

Jolly SailorHave you ever thought about how our ancestors moved around Marple and Mellor in the days before motor cars and public transport? Of course the rich would be alright. The Isherwoods or the Hudsons had their own coaches and, slightly down the social scale, the wealthy businessmen returning by train from Manchester each day would take a horse-drawn cab.

The vast majority of people would use that reliable vehicle of shanks’ pony. No, it doesn’t have a capital letter as ‘shanks’ does not refer to a person as I first thought. It refers to that part of the leg between the knee and the ankle, the shinbone or tibia if we want to be posh. People would walk extraordinary distances by our standards for quite normal purposes. Three or four miles in the morning to go to work in the mill and a similar distance after work. Walking to St Mary’s in Stockport in order to get married.

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Hawk Green Reading Room

Photo 1 822Hawk Green has a ‘Reading Room’. You will have seen it, on the right, as you reach the top of Upper Hibbert Lane, just before the Green comes into view. It is a simple dark red brick building (picture1 822) and the plaque above the door tells us that this is Hawk Green Reading Room and Social Club and that it dates from 1906.

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