Memories of Local People
This collection of memories of local people was originally organised and recorded by Gladys Swindells, chairman of the Marple Antiquarian Society as it was then known. The original interviews took place in the 1960s at a time when the interviewees were over 80 so their memories stretch back to the late nineteenth century.
In recent years, Ruth Hargreaves, Louise Thistleton and Bill Beard have painstakingly transcribed audio recordings and handwritten notes of times past, notably four contributions by Tom Oldham, a stalwart of the Society until his death in 1998. Both mediums provided challenges including the quality of recordings, use of dialect and neatness of handwriting. Recently, we have also received memories from people who lived in Marple in their childhood / teenage years and who have brought to life what it was like to live here in the 1940s and 1950s.
A further resource........the British Library page of Accents & Dialects
Marple Memories, 1940-47
(Keith Denerley lived in Marple during the Second World War and his memories of that time cast a fascinating light on everyday life during a very difficult period. He went on to become a vicar and never returned to live in Marple.)
Reminiscing about Marple in the 1940’s with a friend recently, she thought I ought to set such things down, so here goes.
My parents, sister and I moved from Didsbury Road, Stockport, early in the war, as the house (Richmond Lodge) where we lived was next to some railway marshalling yards, a favorite target of enemy bombers. My father had a chemist’s shop on Brinksway, Stockport, and also one on Stockport Road, Marple, that I believe is still there. We lived above the shop. There was a post office next door (where the son rejoiced in an O gauge electric railway), and a garage opposite.
Three generations of a Marple family in whose lives
The Albert Schools played an integral part.
Built as a Sunday Schools for the Congregational Church on Hibbert Lane in 1866, just a year or so after the Church itself was built in 1865; The Albert Schools played a large part in the lives of my grandfather, my parents and my aunt, and myself, siblings and cousins.
About 1916, my maternal grandfather, Andrew Cochran, moved with his wife and two small daughters from Paisley in Scotland, to Marple.
He was an ‘engineer’s draftsman’, and worked for Campbell & Calderwood in Paisley. They designed and made boilers for steam engines, pumps and other machinery.
My father’s chief leisure occupations were golf and gardening. He made a beautiful garden of our plot at the front of the cottage with immaculate lawn and beds of rose bushes. We had no back garden and there was no space for vegetables. Consequently, about the year 1920, he took over the tenancy of quite a large allotment on some terracing near the Wallers’ mill site in Moor End. He worked this with enthusiasm and produced large quantities of fruit and vegetables, much of which he gave away to neighbours.
When I was about three my father got to know the Wilson family who lived at the stone- built detached house just up Gibb Lane which in later years we were to occupy. They had a son my age called Norman and it was arranged that I should play with him. Permission was granted for me to run across the meadow when the grass wasn’t long and enter their back garden by a hole in the hedge. This, my first friendship, was to last until we were eleven years’ old. I started at Mellor School below the Church when I was five. To keep the boy infants away from the big rough farm lads, of up to fourteen years old, who all wore clogs; they had to use the girls’ playground. I found this a bit scaring as some of the girls were also big and rough and wore clogs. Most of the games they played, and expected us to join in, were completely bewildering.
Mellor between the wars – utilities and services
Many amenities, now taken for granted, were completely lacking in those days. I am sure there was no telephone in Top Mellor so if there was an urgent need for a doctor a messenger had to dash down to the surgery in Marple Bridge. When I was born this is what my father had to do in the night and I believe he jokingly remarked that he only had time to put his bedroom slippers on. A phone box put by the Devonshire Arms (left) in early 1920s was much appreciated. Apart from a sewer, up Longhurst Lane and through Moor End, there were no public services then in top Mellor.
Mellor between the wars – a picture of the district
Top Mellor is that part above the Devonshire Arms, consisting mainly of old stone cottages, often spoken of as “the old village”. At the time I am going to talk about Mellor houses were not numbered so the names of the small groups, New House Hill, Sundial, Springbank, Richmond Hill and Moor End, were used for addresses. We lived at Springbank and never considered ourselves to belong to Moor End.
My grandfather came to live in Marple. They were natives of Tideswell and they came to live in Canal Row before the houses were finished off. There were sacks up to the windows, they hadn’t glazed them and they came to work at Bottoms Mill, Marple. There was a family came to live next door to them who had a grandfather clock and the ceilings were that low that they couldn’t get it in.....................
The original Marple Hall ……..llth century and was in the first instance the property of the Vernon Family. From the Vernons it passed by marriage to the Stanley’s from whom the family of Bradshaw purchased it, also Wybersley Hall in the year 1606. The Bradshaws came from near Bakewell in Derbyshire and they also purchased Bradshaw Hall nr Bolton in Lancashire from a much older branch of the Bradshaws who had owned it since Saxon times. Prior to the year 1606 the Bradshaws had rented Marple Hall and Wybersley from the Stanley Family. The grandson of the Bradshaw who purchased Marple Hall was the well-known judge, John Bradshaw, who sentenced King Charles I to death. He is supposed to have been born at Marple Hall in the year 1602 but is also said to have been born at Wybersley Hall or at the house called The Place in Marple, demolished about the year 1935 where the big garage now stands.
Transcript of cassette entitled: Jack Hadfield
Jack Hadfield was a native of Compstall, the eldest son of Sam Hadfield. Together with other members of this large family he worked at Compstall Mill where he started organising Trade Unions. He was also a member of Compstall Urban District Council—the smallest in the country.
Jack Hadfield tells us of the struggles of the workers of Compstall.
Mr. Pixton lived all his life at High Lane, and for the most part he was employed on the Lyme estate. He then kept the Grocer's shop in Windlehurst Road, High Lane. He was born in 1894 and died in 1973 aged 79.
Transcript from cassette entitled: Mr. (John) Pixton
Male voice: I suppose I should begin with early memories. My forebears on father’s side came from Runcorn, Cheshire. They had a fleet of canal barges, Bridgewater Canal, and settled on the Farm, Withington Hill. Mention of Buttercup and Owlclough Meadows is in the Deeds belonging to this property belonging to my great great grandfather.
Transcript from cassette entitled: Mrs Courtney
Mrs. Courtney made her tape when she was living at Thornsett, but had spent all her life in Marple, and her working life at Hollins Mill.
Voice: Mrs Courtney tells the story of a half timer.
I was one of a large family, thirteen in number, and my earliest remembrance is the cottage meetings in the house, a preacher coming to talk to us and mother making the cake and a cup of tea for the people. The preacher talked to the people and then he read the bible and a prayer. My sister, twenty years older than me, worked at Hollins Mill. She was 8 years old and they had to stand her on a stool, she was so small. If the inspector came round they had to hide her. And what about the other now? My sister was full of humour. She got teased with the boy and she kicked the stool from under him. Then there was the man over there. He annoyed her one day and she let him go down the hoist half way and stopped him until someone else released him. I myself went half- time at work.
Transcript of cassette entitled:Jack Bradbury
Jack Bradbury, also a native of Compstall, has always lived in the village. He began working in Compstall Mill, but went on to be a gardener, in which occupation he ended his working life. He was in his 80's, at the time of recording.
"Are ya ready? Well, I’ve just arrived here to you now. I’ve been across at (doctor?)Hastings. I’ve bin havin' a good bunfire. Now I’ll just tell you about St. Martin’s, the school. Course in them days...."