The final walk of the season took us to the opposite side of the valley from our first; our three summer walks comprise a trio of locations that demonstrate the importance of rivers and streams in the history of Mill Brow, New Mills and our final destination, Mellor Hilltop.
On what was for the remarkable summer of ’18, a grey evening, we gathered by dribs and drabs, around Ann resting on the wall of the Vicarage. The party of 32 was brought to order, shortly after seven o’clock, the 18,664th episode of the Archers would just have to be missed!
“No Torrs on this tour " was the promise of this evening. Apparently there was a rival attraction in Russia, of all places but we were historians, not football fans. We swept through a near-deserted New Mills, covering 25,000 years of history in two hours of enlightenment. And Neil kept to his promise about the Torrs though we still had some steep hills to climb.
His preamble covered the theme of the evening – a town that emerged from obscurity to become an important cotton town despite a number of handicaps. This involved a move away from a textile-based description of the town's history to one encompassing many aspects, - communications, housing, religion and drinking.
A small crowd of 27 forgo the chance of catching the 18,615th episode of the Archers, to hear of and explore the everyday story of other country folk, who experienced the first rumblings of the Industrial Revolution, and whose descendants lived through its high point and beyond.
Before the gathering broke into two groups, Anne O’Mara, the Blue Badge Guide for the evening, gave an outline of the history of the area that lay in the view before us. The 10,000 year old hilltop site of a Mesolithic Age fort on the opposite side of the valley; the 13th century Corn Mill that gave the area its name, in the depths of the valley; how the area was part of the Royal Hunting Grounds of Peak Forest, during the Medieval era; Ludworth Corn Mill serving the needs of the scattered farms in the area.
On a glorious summer day I was pleased to be one of 22 members of the Society who boarded the coach for the drive to Ashbourne. I have driven through the town on a number of occasions and thought of it as a pretty market town that I should visit and find out more about. The elevated position of seating in the coach allowed for wonderful views of the Peak District with its miles of dry stone walls as we drove along the A515 from Buxton to Ashbourne. On arrival the party was met by Geoff Cole, a local guide who first took us into St Oswald’s church to see the tribute to the local football game. This game has been played on Shrove Tuesday since medieval times and the whole town can take part in a game that lasts all day. Local people had made hundreds of terracotta figures and these were displayed in the chancel to depict the way the game is played with everyone joining in.
St Oswald’s church in mentioned in the Doomsday book and is well worth a visit which must include seeing the Boothby chapel and tombs.
In view of the current prominence of Samuel Oldknow and all his works shown up by ‘Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy’ in Marple, the main focus of our visit was to see the original portrait of Samuel Oldknow as a young man in his yellow trousers, by Joseph Wright of Derby, which is part of the art collection of Leeds City Council and hangs in Temple Newsam House. But having discovered one of the most beautiful churches anywhere with St Wilfrid’s in the nearby Leeds suburb of Halton, we started our day there. We were warmly welcomed by members of the congregation who provided much appreciated morning refreshments and then guided us round the wonderful church.
The winter visit of the Society comprised of guided tours of two venues, the Greater Manchester police station and Manchester Cathedral, last visited by in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The Police Museum is the former Newton Street Police Station, the building from 1879 houses the original Victorian cells with their wooden pillows and the Charge office of Newton Street Police Station where time has stood still for over 120 years. Amongst the other attractions are historic police equipment and uniforms from the region. Uncover the fascinating world of forgery and forensic science.
Manchester Cathedral gained status in 1847, though its history dates from 1421. In 1940 a German bomb destroyed most of the north-east of the Cathedral and causes extensive damage to the rest of the building. All was not lost, the Cathedral still boast 17th century wood carvings, together with modern stained glass.
‘Ancoats ... is to Manchester what Manchester is to England’
Morning Chronicle, 21 December 1849
Manchester’s Ancoats area formed the destination of the second al-fresco autumn outing for the society members. Led by Mark Watson, of the Manchester Victorian Society, we enjoyed a two hour Ancoats tour, in the morning, with thirty one participants; the afternoon optional walk drew seven of the thirty one.
The first visit of the season to Eyam in Derbyshire took place on a misty, wet day in October. However, our members are a hardy bunch and we all gathered in the courtyard at Eyam Hall at 10.00.a.m. as Hilary climbed some stone steps, all the better to be seen and briefly explained the order of the day.
First, we enjoyed a welcoming hot drink and biscuits in the café before splitting into two groups to begin a day of two halves: one group to join the morning tour of the Hall and the other the guided walk, which was repeated in reverse in the afternoon.