Marple Local History Society Meetings


The Society generally meets on the third Monday of the month from September to April, apart from December. the meeting is then  held on the second Monday of the month.

Doors open 7:15pm ready for the meeting at 7:45. Access is via the main entrance on Church Lane (opposite Mount Drive) and the meetings will be held in the church itself on the ground floor.

The church includes a hearing aid loop system which is most effective for people sitting near the side walls and in the rear pews of the church.

Venue and Location

The meetings take place in Marple Methodist Church on Church Lane in Marple.  Postcode: SK6 7AY

Visitors are welcome to attend at a cost of £3. But look below for details of our Membership bargains!


The annual subscription for the Society is £10 for 8 meetings,so there's a bargain you can take up !

This also allows participation in the Society's trips.

Membership is available at all meetings.

Use the menus on the right to browse our past and present meeting topics.

To park near to Marple Methodist Church

There are double yellow lines immediately outside the church, but there is limited on street parking further up Church Lane on the right hand side, down Empress Avenue and on Mount Drive.

There is a large car park, Chadwick Street Car Park, (SK6 6BY) between Trinity Street  and Chadwick Street, Marple. Access is from Stockport Road onto Trinity Street and from Church Lane onto Chadwick Street, exit is made via Trinity Street, in the direction of Church Lane. It is a pay and display car park, however, at the time of writing, October 2014, parking is free after 6pm.

The location of the Methodist Church  on Church Lane (red marker) is shown on the map below and you can enter your postcode to get directions there, or to the car park Chadwick Street) nearby (blue marker):


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October 20th 2014: Congleton, a textile town

In 2013 Judith arranged a visit to Congleton and Ian acted as our host and guide. As well as showing us around the little gem of a museum, of which he is the curator, he also led us on a fascinating walk around the town. This time Ian returned the compliment by visiting Marple but he still had to sing for his supper. Rather than covering the complete history of Congleton he elected to concentrate on the last 250 years and show how the textile industry has shaped the town.

Read more: October 20th 2014: Congleton, a textile town

November 17th 2014: Oh! What a Lovely War?

2014 has seen the commemoration of a century passing since the inception of the First World War. Our speaker in November our Steve Williams  delivered a talk on WW1, ‘Oh! What a Lovely War?’.

Oh what a lovely war?

The question mark was important, Steve Williams, our speaker for the evening, assured us. Steve is an expert on the First World War and leads tours there but his object this evening was to put the conflicts of the war into an overall context and to show some of the realities of the “War to end all wars.” - Quite a challenge to cover four years in just over an hour.

Read more: November 17th 2014: Oh! What a Lovely War?

December 8th 2014: Where are we now ?

Our December meeting broke new ground. We had three of our members giving short introductory talks on subjects that interested them.

 Anthony Burton began proceedings with a novel approach to a familiar subject – Samuel Oldknow as an architect. His thesis was that, although there was no architectural style associated with Oldknow there were certain design features that were commonly used across many of the buildings. The only building that we know had an architect was All Saints church where Robert Goldsmith was in charge but there is a continuity of design across all Oldknow’s buildings in Marple that would suggest a clerk of works or a master mason working closely with Samuel.

Read more: December 8th 2014: Where are we now ? 

January 19th. 2015 Hollins Mill, who owned it ?

Work in progress, in Hollins Mill.

Hollins Mill, four storeys high, 30m long and 15m wide, stood on the site that is now occupied by Hollins Parade and the Co-Op store, soon to be Asda.

For our first meeting in 2015, Ann Hearle, author of our latest publication, ‘Hollins Mill, The heart of Marple for over one hundred years’, will took us on journey through the history of this lost landmark. During our travel through that evening, Ann enlightened us on the workings of the mill, its impact on the history of Marple, how workers and the mill were managed, the owners of the mill, and the fate of these owners and the mill.

Read more: January 19th. 2015 Hollins Mill, who owned it ? 

February 16th 2015: Longdendale Valley in Retrospect

Commercial INNWhat a choice! What was it to be? United versus Preston North End in the Fifth Round of the Cup or David Frith talking about his native Longdendale? For 101 members and visitors to Marple History there was no contest. David Frith, of course. And David did us proud. It was not so much a lecture as a love poem, conducting us from Woodhead to Mottram with many side excursions on the way.

This many-faceted transport corridor has seen huge changes over time but particularly in the last two hundred years. Historically the valley formed the panhandle of Cheshire - the thin piece of land that projects towards Yorkshire.To prove the point, the upper reaches of the Etherow is known as Salter’s Brook.

Read more: February 16th 2015: Longdendale Valley in Retrospect

16th March 2015: The Big Ditch: The Building of Manchester Ship Canal

gmiii mcag 1991 59 largeJudith Atkinson began the talk with a health warning - disciples of Health and Safety might find some of the scenes disturbing. In the event no one chose to leave the auditorium and it was just as well because they would have missed a fascinating description of an engineering marvel. When it was opened on 1st January 1894 it was the largest river navigation in the world and even today it is still the eighth longest ship canal in the world.There are plenty of superlatives to attach to the project including the cost overrun from £6.5 million to £14.5 million but Judith concentrated on describing the actual building of the canal with the benefit of an engineer’s eye.

Read more: 16th March 2015: The Big Ditch: The Building of Manchester Ship Canal

April 20th 2015: AGM & Marple Hall - The Inside Story

Marple Hall Fireside Scene

As the curtain came down on the History season at the April meeting, following a brief AGM section, we went behind the curtains – the curtains of Marple Hall. Although the Hall is long gone, Neil Mullineux took us on a visit to the hall. He guided us through the main rooms, revealing the richness of the lost interior. A local version of the Antiques Roadshow. Not only that but sale prices as well! How much was paid for a suit of armour or the bed that John Bradshaw actually slept in? And is it all truly lost? Where are these items now? What happened to the stained glass? And the unique French tapestries? If that is not enough to whet your appetite there may be one or two tales about the people who lived there. What happened to the girls who were rude to their new stepmother? Who was the man who married for money and got his comeuppance?

Read more: April 20th 2015: AGM & Marple Hall - The Inside Story

At a glance: Speakers 2015 - 16 Season

Date, Speaker and Subject

  • 21st September 2015: Bernard Dennis – History of the English Longbow
  • 19th October: Donald Reid – Along the Packhorse Trails
  • 16th November: Ian Morison – The Story of Jodrell Bank
  • 14th December: Norman Redhead – Marple Lime Kilns
  • 18th January 2016: Judith Wilshaw – Compstall Retrospective
  • 15th February: Mike Nevell – Housing in 19C Manchester
  • 21st March: Ruth Colton – Whitworth Park: Pleasure, Play & Politics
  • 18th April: AGM & Michael Lambert - Brentwood Recuperative Centre, 1937-70

September 21st 2015: The History of the English Longbow

TheLongbow 640x302The new season of talks will begin with a presentation, on the history of the English Longbow, by Bernard Dennis.The first meeting of the year is always busy with new members signing up, current members (I nearly said “old members” but that wouldn’t be right) renewing their subs and a crowd around the bookstall looking at the latest publication. However, what were we to make of a stranger bringing a couple of fearsome-looking bows and a quiver full of vicious sharp pointed instruments? We were about to call the police but he then introduced himself as the speaker for the evening - Bernard Dennis.

The vicious weapons were used to illustrate his talk and Bernard brought them out one by one, sometimes passing them round the audience. He took us through ten thousand years of history with ease, from pictures on cave walls and a demonstration of a .........

Read more: September 21st 2015: The History of the English Longbow 

October 19th: Donald Reid – Along the Packhorse Trails

Old Lower Hoddle Bridge, ClitheroeThe only experience most of us have have ever had of a load-bearing equine would have been donkey rides on Blackpool beach so it was with some fascination that we listened to Donald Reid talking about packhorses. They were virtually the only means for transporting goods in bulk from mediaeval times until the Industrial Revolution when the development, first of turnpikes, then canals and finally railways, gradually put them out of business.

The original packhorses were operated singly by peddlers, using these horses to carry their wares but this soon developed into trains of horses and they became essential for such early industries as mining, textiles and salt. Many of the routes crossed or ran alongside the Pennines because they were particularly useful in rough, steep and difficult terrains. Many of the packhorses were originally Galloways, a breed that was mentioned by Shakespeare, because they were strong, nimble and patient and tolerant to working in close proximity to other horses. Each packhorse could carry over 200 pounds in weight - roughly two hundredweight - but the load had to be as evenly balanced as possible. There were special saddles designed to support panniers or to hook on bales and some of the horses wore bells to give warning of their approach.

Read more: October 19th: Donald Reid – Along the Packhorse Trails 

16th November: Ian Morison – The Story of Jodrell Bank

Early Days at Jodrell Bank

Neil Mullineux reports:

There are certain markers to show that you are getting old. The age of policemen; when a new arrangement of a pop song becomes a hit but you remember the first version; the procession of decennial birthdays - twenty, thirty, forty etc. Tonight we discovered a new marker – when the guest speaker at the History Society gives a talk on something you remember quite distinctly from your youth. Ian Morison related the story of Jodrell Bank and for many of us it was a journey down Memory Lane.

It all started in 1939. Bernard Lovell was asked to advise on radar at Staxton Wold, near Scarborough and he noticed some unexplained noise on the equipment. Thinking it might be cosmic rays he investigated them as soon as the war was over but quickly realised that these were radio signals from space.As with all classic academic investigations, the research was done......

(Photo:The first day at Jodrell Bank, with ex-WW2 radar kit)

Read more: 16th November: Ian Morison – The Story of Jodrell Bank 

14th December: Norman Redhead – Marple Lime Kilns

Strines Road Canal ArmThere are three main elements in the project for Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy - Marple Aqueduct, Mellor Mill and the Lime Kilns. The aqueduct is well-known and has just been repaired; excavations at Mellor Mill are well under way; but what about the Lime Kilns? Do they deserve more prominence and is anything happening to make them more accessible? Who better than the County Archaeologist for Greater Manchester, Norman Redhead.
He began by explaining just what a unique asset we had in the community. It was, and still is, one of the largest complexes in the country. It was notable for its gothic architecture, a statement of confidence and grandeur as it stared across the Goyt valley towards Mellor. And, uniquely, it incorporated housing in its design from the start. (Above:The Strines Road arm of the canal, now filled in, which used to run from Possett Bridge to the Lime Kilns.)

Read more: 14th December: Norman Redhead – Marple Lime Kilns

18th January 2016: Judith Wilshaw – Compstall and Cooperation

The first calico printing works was opened by Thomas Andrew downstream of the bridge.Our own local historian, Judith Wilshaw, gave us the first talk of 2016. Appropriately for a local historian, it was a local subject - Compstall - and she managed to distill the essence of this neighbourhood in her talk. Compstall pointed the way to an industry-wide developments in cotton manufacturing. It was created from scratch as an integrated concept where one company carried out all stages of the process from spinning through to dyeing and printing.

Although it was a rural backwater it had some key advantages for a new industry - water power from the Etherow, coal from local mines and good transport links via the Peak Forest Canal and the network of new turnpikes to Stockport, Glossop, New Mills and Buxton.

The Andrew family had built a textile printing works in Harpurhey and had sufficient capital to expand. Thomas Andrew started by building facilities for dyeing and printing cloth, a building which still survives. However, he and his son, George, saw....

Read more: 18th January 2016: Judith Wilshaw – Compstall and Cooperation