Stockport’s Historic Weirs

Wrights Folly 1 640Weirs have played a key role in the history of Marple and Mellor, providing a reliable source of power to the early mills and a steady flow of of water for washing to the mills engaged in bleaching and printing. We have already looked at the more modern weir built in Brabyns Park by the Environment Agency LINK; now we should look at the rather more historic weirs which have played an important role in our heritage.

Weirs are a common feature worldwide as the technology is simple and there are many examples in the UK because of the early evolution of the industrial revolution in this country. The environment agency estimates that there are 16,725 on major rivers in England and Wales alone though this figure ignores the many small weirs on feeder streams such as Mellor Brook or Mill Brook. There are at least 18 weirs within the boundaries of Stockport MBC along the Goyt, the Tame and the Mersey..........

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St. Pauls, Strines: The Tin Tabarnacle

strines church 640For over a century, Strines was home to the Strines Calico Printing company, which became one of the leading companies printing not  merely calico, but any and every sort of fabric. In the 19th century the Company owned much of the land and employed many of the inhabitants of Strines and the neighbouring villages. Now, in 2021, the works has been closed, demolished and replaced by a housing estate. The village has turned into a dormitory suburb, but it still has its church which (until the present hiatus) continued to serve the neighbourhood and the adjoining areas of Marple and New Mills. Services will resume as soon as present restrictions on meetings are removed.

The initiative for a church in Strines came from the owners of Strines Calico Print Works, Thomas Henry Nevill and later by his son, Charles Henry Nevill. In a speech at the Christmas party in 1853 one of the partners of the works proposed a toast to the Bishops and Clergy. He said “it had long been in contemplation to establish a place of worship in Strines”. At first services were held on the works premises. One of the owners of the works, Thomas Henry Nevill, bought a patch of land on the Marple to New Mills road from the Egerton estate (who owned most of the area), and erected four houses for their senior employees together with a corrugated iron church. At the time,

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Station 69017 River Goyt at Marple Bridge

weir 2We don’t have floods like they used to!

"The river Goyt, which separates the counties of Derby and Chester, swelled to that degree at the confluence of three brooks, that it covered the highest battlements of Marple bridge, upwards of 22 feet from the surface of the water when at a common height. It washed away every thing on the Derbyshire side of the bridge, except the bare arch stones, which tho’ founded on a rock at each end, ’twas surprizing they were left, as much bigger were torn away.

The highway leading to the bridges guarded by a good wall upwards of three hundred feet in length, and founded on a rock nineteen feet higher than the river. The rock and wall for some roods were carried away and the roads rended impassable for any carriage. There was one stone torn away from the rock and carried several rood down the river that contained 169 cubital feet."

Gentleman’s Magazine 18 August 1748

Read more: Station 69017 River Goyt at Marple Bridge

Oldknows Seat

pid 10849Oldknow’s Seat is locally the stuff of legend, but it’s not a myth - it does still exist. Many of us will have heard of it, it is marked on old maps and over the years lots of locals have had their photo taken sat on it. Those that were children in the fifties and sixties remember it as the ‘Giants Chair’. Though it is now not easy to locate, some recent ‘intrepid explorers’ have managed to find their way to it.

It’s located on private land with no general public access, less than a kilometre to the south east of Mellor Mill on the side of the Goyt valley just below Mellor & Townscliffe Golf Club’s most westerly hole, the 14th which is appropriately named Oldknow’s Seat.

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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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