Stories of People
Up to the age of 12, I had a happy childhood. My father, Henry Angus Milne, known as Harry, was the manager of the Leicester branch of Rayner & Keeler dispensing opticians. My mother, Ethel, was a full-time housewife, which was conventional in those days.
When I was 11, I passed the scholarship exam, which meant I could go to one of the girls’ secondary schools in Leicester (later called grammar schools). My parents chose The Newarke School which had recently moved to new premises. Like many girls’ schools then The Newarke had an all female staff. I started there in September 1939 when the war had just begun and for the first term we shared our premises with a city-centre school while their cellars were strengthened to make air raid shelters. Our shelters were built on and partly under one of the hockey pitches and we had an extra week’s holiday while this was done.
Fascinating stories from our past can come to light completely by happenstance. A lady called Eileen Pearson posted an old press cutting on the Friends of Brabyns Park Facebook page. By happy chance our member Jackie Collins came across it and drew it to our attention. It was a photo of a veteran car crossing over the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park but fortunately the press cutting gave a little more detail. It was one of the first cars built by Henry Royce and the picture was taken in 1905. There are four people in the car, two ladies in the front and a lady and a man in the back. The cutting describes them as members of the Hallam family and the man is Bill Hallam who worked for Royce at his Hulme factory. Not a lot to go on but certainly worth investigating.
A while back I was reading through some online resources of local history and archaeology, and came across the diary of a certain George Booth of Chisworth, which contained entries dated between 1832 and 1834. The diary is not perhaps what you would describe as the most riveting record of life in a small village; typical entries are very short, personal, and along the lines of “Today and yesterday I have been building a wall as a spur against the weir” (April 11th 1832) and “Daniel Thorneley’s wife died today” (April 28 1832), but these are recorded history, and for this it is invaluable. And whilst it is largely Charlesworth and Chisworth based, Mr Booth wanders all over the area, to Glossop, Gamesley, Chinley, Marple Bridge, Broadbottom, and beyond. It was one of these entries that caught my eye:
“I am not fond at all of writing…..”: The Letters of Petty Officer Thomas Leach, R.N., 1911-1916
On the 5th June,1916 the armoured cruiser H.M.S. Hampshire sailed from Scapa Flow bound for Archangel in Russia, carrying a high-level diplomatic team led by the Secretary for War, Horatio Lord Kitchener. The conditions were stormy and the sea so rough that Hampshire’s captain sent the two accompanying destroyers back to base as they could not keep up with cruiser. A little later the captain decided that the Hampshire should also return to port but on that fateful return journey the ship ran into a minefield, previously laid by a German submarine, and was sunk off the coast of Orkney. Kitchener and all his aides were drowned. Indeed, the loss of the Hampshire has been mainly remembered for this fact, attracting many legends and conspiracy theories around the death of a man who was still a national hero. It is sometimes overlooked that the sinking caused a huge loss of life amongst the Hampshire’s crew with only twelve survivors from a complement of some 750 men. Amongst those who lost their life was one of the ship’s Petty Officers, Thomas Leach, then aged 39, who had been serving in the Hampshire since January 1914.
More Than a Dance
When searching the Archives, I occasionally come across something unusual and seemingly unconnected to the Society, such as this invitation. Why is it there, and what is its connection to Marple? It is unlikely we will ever know for sure, but perhaps a clue is handwritten on the back: ‘Edmund Buckley Esq MP’. I shall come back to Mr Buckley but first, let’s consider this invitation from The Athenaeum Society of Manchester to attend a grand soireé in the Free Trade Hall under the chairmanship of Mr Benjamin Disraeli, MP.
THEY ALSO SERVE
Forewoman Sarah E Maddocks 9904 QMAAC
During the 18th and 19th centuries, soldiers’ wives often accompanied their husbands to the battlefield. A handful of women even disguised themselves as men to join up.
At the outbreak of WWI, women were eager to prove that they too could support the war effort. Initially, the British government was reluctant to involve women; the prevailing attitude was that they were not skilled or resilient enough for traditional military work.
The turning point came in 1916, when the Department of National Service considered calling up men in their 50s to release more soldiers for the front line. They soon realised this would not raise the number of men needed and so, in 1917, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was set up, with Dr Mona Chalmers Watson as its first Chief Controller. A noted suffragette, she was the first woman to receive an MD from the University of Edinburgh and she had been instrumental in proposing this corps.
When Britain entered the First World War in August 1914 the Chief Scout Sir Robert Baden Powell urged Scouts to get involved to support the war effort, not as combatants but rather filling useful roles at home thereby freeing men to enlist and go to the Front. His appeal was backed up by a poster campaign reinforcing the message of service, as can be seen in the example below. Thousands of boys and young men answered the call, with many joining the Scouts for the first time in the Autumn of 1914. One such local man who did so was Joe Braddock, who lived with his family in Stockport Road. Joe’s name will already be known to many local people through the researches of Peter Clarke and former colleagues, who have given details of all the Marple servicemen killed in the First War in their book Remembered, published in 1999. During his research, Peter was given a pocket Scouts’ Diary belonging to Joe Braddock which he has kindly donated to the Marple Local History Archive. The Diary forms the basis of the present article.
Organisations which flourish in a town (writes Judith Wilshaw) are just as much part of the ambiance and heritage of the place as more ‘concrete’ evidence of its qualities, and Marple is a prime example of this because it boasts the greatest number of clubs and societies of any township in the Stockport area! Very popular with young people are the various sections of the Scouts and Guides which provide all sorts of interesting activities from five years old to those in their late teens. In Marple they work in parallel, but come together to produce the ever-popular Gang Show in March, and to run the wonderful town Bonfire in Brabyns Park at the beginning of November.
Many members will have had experience of Scouts and Guides, either themselves or through their children, and hopefully cherish happy memories. MLHS Member Doreen Scotte was very directly involved when she ran the 2nd Marple Brownie Pack from 1977-1989, and gives this lively account of what went on.
Goyt Mill Engine
Since launching the website, enquiries from members of the public have steadily increased. In most cases, we are able to help people, whether it is about their personal family history or people and places in general. One such enquiry about a house on Longhurst Lane, Mellor, involved ‘proving’ that a kitchen extension was not a new addition, built without planning permission. This was achieved by means of a very old postcard image from Ann Hearle’s collection, probably taken in the first decade of the 20th century.
When we wrote an article about the Albert Schools a few months ago, one of the illustrations was of a group of a dozen people posing for a photograph. We knew nothing about the people or the date though we could make informed guesses about both. Judging from the clothes the group are wearing it was probably taken in the mid 1920s, assuming of course that Marple folk were keeping up with the fashions. As to who they were, we thought they could be either teachers or governors. The latter was much more likely as they were older, more self-satisfied and more predominantly male than a typical group of teachers. We were fairly sure it was a photo of the governors.
However, we did not know any names so we appealed to our readers and struck lucky. Richard Ebdon recognised the gentleman seated on the left as his 3x great uncle, Frederick Pennington, who was the headmaster of Albert Schools from 1901 to 1931. As the headmaster was sitting on one side of the group rather than in the centre of the row, it was obvious that this group held authority. They were not teachers; they were governors.
Putting together what we knew, with the family history supplied by Mr Ebdon, has enabled us to build a fascinating life story of a middle class Victorian, showing life’s vicissitudes in the days before the Welfare State. Both his parents were from Stockport and his father Samuel was a glass and china dealer but the family moved to Whitehaven in Cumberland to set up in business there shortly before Frederick was born in...........
A human handprint made about 30,000 years ago, on the wall of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. Somebody tried to say, “I was here!” but of course, with no written language, this person just made his Mark which the cave painters did more artistically.
The picture and text are taken from the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. We do not know the sex of this Homo Sapiens person but I am guessing that a man would be more probably engaged in wanting to make his Mark.
At this time our ancestors had developed language and I wonder whether they had their own names. I would like to give our hand printer a name and I have decided on Denis. The Neanderthals and Denisovans were two other human species who have left their DNA mark in Homo Sapiens today. The Denisovans (from the east) are not likely to be represented in our handprint man but I took my choice of a name from them. Just by chance I found that Denis was the first bishop of Paris and is the Patron Saint of France! Then, by another chance, I found that the name Denis is a derivation of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine and revelry - a good name then for a bishop!
Marple Parish Magazine 1892/3 gave extracts from reports of Court proceedings at Chester Assizes in 1824 detailing two crimes committed in Marple. The first was published in “The Morning Herald,” London, 16th April 1824 . A brief description can be seen on our website but below is a summarised account;
Before the Chief Justice Warren and Mr Justice Jervis
William Jones was indicted for sacrilegiously breaking into the Chapel of All Saints at Marple and stealing a quantity of bibles and prayer books. A chapel window had been broken. Mr Eccles and Mr Isherwood gave evidence of having lost such books.
This wonderful photograph, taken around 1902, records four generations of Margaret Davenport’s family. Margaret was born in Marple and recently celebrated her 90th birthday.
Her grandparents George and Ruth Close are standing at the back of the photograph (Ruth wearing a dark top). Sitting in front of them are Ruth’s parents, John and Julia Hartle. The two young ladies are Ruth’s sisters, Sarah Anne and Martha. Sitting on great great grandmother Hartle’s knee is Frederick, born in 1901, the eldest child of George and Ruth. Frederick (Margaret’s uncle) was the eldest of eleven children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. I suspect that this photograph was taken at his christening.