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.
Transcripts from the recorded Memories of Local People
These memories were recorded, organised and presided over by Mrs Gladys Swindells, then Chairman of Marple Antiquarian Society (now the Marple Local History Society). The original interviews took place after 1961, by which time the interviewees were over 80 years of age, their memories returning back to the late 19th. century.
Thanks must be given to Bill Beard, Ruth Hargreaves and Louise Thistleton for transcribing the memory recordings. Given the quality of these recordings, from the early 60's, with local accents and forgotten colloquialisms, an admirable achievement.
A further resource........the British Library page of Accents & Dialects
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...."
Transcript of Cassette entitled : Mr. Lenthall - Mr. Lenthall lived as a boy at Marple Lodge, and as a young man in Mellor Lodge. He left Marple for New Zealand, Australia and Norfolk returning in 1927. When he returned to this district, although he worked in Manchester, he lived in Marple for the rest of his life. He died in 1964 aged 80.
Marple Lodge & Mellor Lodge
My father came to live in Marple Lodge in the summer of 1890. There were at that time two houses, Marple Lodge and Mellor Lodge, both built by Samuel Oldknow in 1790 and the mill was also built at the same time. There was a section of the mill, the stone offices on the south end, where the plaque with SO 1815 on it, was obviously built in 1815.
Mrs. Rowbottom, now 97 years of age(1974), has always lived in the Marple district. Through her grandfather, Mr Sherwin, manager of Compstall Mill, she knew the district very well.
I remember as a little girl going up to All Saints Church and father saying,” Now this is the new church and we only have funerals held in the old church”. I was born 1877 and I went to school as a little girl of about five, with two other friends, to a house that was behind , above the Wesleyan Church in those days and then ladies gave it up. I went to another school held in the Albert Terrace, Church Lane from there I went to Macclesfield High School. All my brothers went to the grammar school.
(Above: Weavers at Compstall Mill c1900.)
Mrs Joseph Swindells
Mrs. Joseph Swindells, who died in 1965 at the age of 86, was Miss Fanny Thornley when she taught at Compstall School. She was a native of Compstall and lived in the district all her life. Her family were closely connected with Compstall Mill.
Memories of Compstall
In the early part of the last century George Andrew and sons founded and built the village of Compstall. George Andrew himself worked as a workman, travelling, with his meals tied up in a red cotton handkerchief slung over his shoulder.