Betley in old picture postcards

Betley in old picture postcards

:   R. Speake
:   Betley
:   Staffordshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2939-8
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Betley in old picture postcards'

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Betley is essentially an agricultural community in the Cheshire dairy-farrning area. The postal address is Crewe, Cheshire, but politically the village is located in Staffordshire and in the district covered by the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. Betley can indeed claim some farm of borough status of its own. Sin ce 1227 it has held the right to a market on Thursdays and for a long period acted as a centre for the distribution of pro duce for the surrounding area. The parish is an ancient one and the registers date from 1538.

The population trends suggest that the village enjoyed a time of prosperity and growth in the period around 1600 when a significant number of the timber-framed houses, which are a distinctive feature of the village, were built. After a slump in population during the middle of the seventeenth century a rise occurred in the eighteenth century and in many respects this may be regarded as the golden age of Betley when more houses, including Betley Hall, now demolished, and Betley Court, were built. The middle of the nineteenth century saw the highest population totals, even though in the latter part of the century they were affected by migration out of the parish. The attraction was the industrial development, particular-

ly coalmining around Leycett, Audley, Newcastleunder-Lyrne and in the Pottery towns. Many men walked daily from the villages of Wrinehill and Betley to their work in the nearby collieries.

Throughout the period of this collection of picture postcards (1880-1930) the village was greatly influenced by the families in the two large houses, TolletsjWicksteds at Betley Hall and the FletcherTwemlows at Betley Court. They were bath important village landowners and as such exercised considerable patronage. Wrinehill was 1ess affected by this pattern. The principal landowner there was the Earl of Wilt on who sold his estates in 1918. Checkleycum-Wrinehill was for many years in the parish of Wybunbury in Cheshire.

Because of the tightly-knit character and the persistent paternalism which existed at least until the end of the period, many postcards were concerned with the properties and activities of the squires. Village social events form part of the collection and a smal1 but significant number are concerned with the responses of the local people to national events such as the jubilee of Queen Victoria, with coronations, and with a visit from King George V and Queen Mary. Sport, suprisingly those games associated with the

industrial areas, took a hold and both Bet1ey and Wrinehill had cricket and soccer teams.

In 1918 the Earl of Wilton sold much of the property in Wrinehill; in 192 5 the Betley Hall estate was sold, together with 'a num ber of cottages including a greater part of the village of Betley'. It was about this time that the famous Betley Morris Dance window was transferred to Leigh Manor in Shropshire. It has since been placed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

A few years ago the last of the Fletcher- Twemlow squires died and a long-standing conneetion with the old families was severed. Through the Tollets at Betley Hall, Betley was known to such eminent Victorians as Mrs. Gaskell, Florence Nightingale and Charles Darwin.

Today the village retains much of its character and many inhabitants are of the old stock; however, housing development has caused changes both in the appearance and size of the village and in the make-up of the population. New surnames have been added to the roils. The black and white style of its buildings; its position on the boundaries, political and ecclesiastical, and the new and old families make it distinctive. Indeed with these different social patterns it is

appropriate to claim th at it is a village of contrasts. This col1ection has been made possible by the generosity of people who have come forward with photographs, notably Edward Watkin and the Johnson family. This family is descended from Samuel Johnson who carried on business at the Medicine House, the old Summer House and at Wrinehill Post Office. Clifford and Percy Johnson have been very helpful. Leslie Bradshaw, a churchwarden at Betley, has collected postcards and sought information in a most co-operative fashion. I am grateful to Professor Godfrey Brown of Betley Court for the use of some of his postcards and photographs and his advice on details concerning the house. Mrs. Phyllis Bowers has helped by loaning collections made by her family. Many of the postcards reproduced are from the collection of Louisa M. Warham, whose father, Thomas Warham, was born in Betley and set up in business as a professional photographer in nearby Audley in the 1880s. It is apparent that he returned to his native village to record for posterity some of the important events.

1. Main Road, Betlev. Looking north towards Balterley the appearance is one of a quiet road fronted by a variety of buildings: Sadler's cottage, Bowhill Farm, The Swan Inn, the old school house later a reading room and a savings bank, The Black Horse Inn and a fine selection of timber-framed buildings. The round wall on the right is the estate wall of Betley Hall at a point near the entrance gate (see no. 3). In 1925 the Reading Room formed part of Betley Hall Estate, the tenants being the Reading Room Committee. The plaque 'Savings Bank' goes back to the period when it was used by the Newcastle and Betley Savings Bank.



2. This postcard was published by W. Shaw of Burslem. The variety of timber-frame and brick (nogging or encased) and briek-built structures fronting the main road is very apparent. The girl stands against the estate wall near the gates of Betley Hall. The horse-drawn cart is carrying boxes, possibly of mineral water. Beyoud the old school house is the Black Horse Inn. On the left is The Swan,

3. Betley main road at this point leads towards the site of Betley Hall. The walnut tree stood in front of the oid blacksmith's workshop, now a garage. The tree was felled when Wilmot Taylor, the blacksmith, turned to selling petrol and installed pumps.

4. The well-clad boys and the horse and cart are in the middle of the main road at Betley. A group of women are interested in observing what is going on. Behind the wall on the left were the onee famous East Lawns of Betley Hall. Note the timber-framed buildings, the thatch and the dormer windows. Here also is another example of briek eneasing. The tall free-standing detached house is now Carter's garage. The middle terrace of white buildings has been demolished and a detaehed house now stands on the site, next to the present-day garage.

5. The buildings from right to left are, The Swan, Bowhill Farm, the saddler's shop and cottage and Place, the grocer's shop. Bowhill Farm is a particularly elegant structure. It was part of Betley Hall estate until it was sold in 1925. Bowhill Farm was described as a cornmodious brick and tiled farmhouse containing a room with carved wood mantel and an old oak staircase. It had four attics, a paved yard and a pump. The grocer's shop is clearly a free-standing seventeenth century building. The buildings to the left of the tree are former estate properties of the Fletcher-Twemlows.

6. Main Road, Betley. The cottages shown in no. 7 were standing when this postcard was produced in the 1870s. A feature of the village at this time was the number of trees fronting the main road, Betley market was estabJished in 1227 and was a feature of the village's activity in the Middie Ages. The widening out of the road to accommodate the market is discernibie from this picture. The road closes in again towards the oid blacksmith's workshop, now a garage.

7. This postcard of the 1870s clearly shows the dilapidated state of some of the old wattle and daub property. The plinth of the old thatched building may be seen and patches of the wattle and daub are visible. Nevertheless it is the abode of the old gentleman. The first Methodist Chapel in Betley with its gates is to be seen at the rear. The substantial brick property shown on the right carries a signboard 'Webb, Cooper etc'. The old properties were demolished before 1880, when the pair of houses which now occupy the site were built.

8. In this scene Bowhill Lane is to the left. The cottages demolishedjust prior to 1880 are to the right. The significanee of this picture is in the tree by which the lady is standing. It was struck and destroyed by Iightning in 1876. This must be one of the earliest photographs taken in Betley.

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