Whaley Bridge in old picture postcards

Whaley Bridge in old picture postcards

:   P. Pierce
:   Derbyshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4881-8
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Whaley Bridge in old picture postcards'

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'You have no idea how lucky you are to live in a beautiful place like this!' the young visitor to Whaley Bridge said wistfuHy. He had paused to ask for directions and his almost accusing observation was made as he disclosed his love for the surrounding district, living, as he did, in a city centre. Perhaps he was right. Many inhabitants may fai! to realise the potentialof the town as a tourists' base, capable of providing a country-lover's dream holiday. It is a walkers' paradise; from almost any point in Whaley Bridge open countryside, with breathtaking views, can be reached on foot within ten minutes. For those with motor transport at their disposal the potential is even greater, nestling, as the town does, among the hills of the HighPeak.

Reverend John Wesley, however, had scant regard for the natural beauty of this part of the Peak District, observing in his Journalof 1786 that it was 'a drear place', and likening the people hereabouts to mountain goats! !

The River Goyt flows through the centre of the town, which unti!1936 was partly in Cheshire and partly in Derbyshire, with the boundary foHowing the river. In that year various Urban Distriets and Parishes amalgamated to form the Whaley Bridge Urban District, which was eventually swaHowed up by the High Peak Borough in the 1970s. Throughout the period of our old picture postcards, however, the local administration was known as Yeardsley-cum-Whaley Urban District Council, pre-

ceded from 1863 to 1894 by the Yeardsley-cum-Whaley Local Board.

At the turn of the century farming, cotton and coal were the main industries. Coalmining, having been wellestablished in the 16th century, had ceased by the outbreak of the Second World War. Whaley Bridge's coal output between 1891 and 1895 was 276,771 tons, for example, a number of pits existing in and around the town. Whaley Bridge, population today 5,600, in 1871 boasted a population of some 2,300, having risen from slightly more that 850 in 1841. Some livedin isolated farms and houses, others in terraces and cottages. A number of churches, public houses and manorial residences have since disappeared along with some smaller properties, others converted to different uses, Surrounding the whole was a vast acreage of open land.

Although still a comparatively small town Whaley Bridge now has many more roads and housing developments than those illustrated in these postcards. With diversified lighter industry superceding the mining and cotton of past decades, it now represents a thriving blend of original and immigrant families. Close proximity to Manchester makes it ideal for commuters following professions in that city.

In 1947, a gentleman gave his ten-year old daughter an album of old picture postcards, He could not have foreseen this would be the beginning of a life-long hobby, or that it

would lead to the publishing of this book. Included were a few views of Whaley Bridge which, added to over the years, form the main body of this publication.

Meanwhile, the collecting of picture postcards once popular, has increased in popularity again, providing the foundations for a vast business.

The picture postcard, popular on the Continent for some years, was not allowed to be posted in Britain without an envelope or impressed stamp until 1894. It was a further five years, 1899, before the size of cards was standardised to that which we know now. Previous cards were more square, 4V2 by 3112 inches.

View cards were not always available everywhere. In 1903, a visitor posted a view of Chester from Whaley Bridge because none of the latter was readily available. Picture postcards were used extensively between 1900 and 1918 for 'snippers' of correspondence. They were cheap and they were reliable. A card posted in the moming would be delivered at lunch-time. Today these old cards provide a nostalgie look 'over the shoulder' at the way things were before war, the march of progress and property development altered landscapes, sometimes beyond recognition.

'Whaley Bridge in old picture postcards' is not intended to be a eomprehensive, or even a 'potted' history. Indeed, as we have researched and questioned and listened we have become inereasingly aware of a plaee vibrant with

history on a scale impossible to contain in a book of this size. A larger, more comprehensive volume must be for the future. All this book ean attempt is to render a concise account of Whaley Bridge in the 'good old days', with a pictorial record of the years from 1880 to 1930. With this we hope partIy to satisfy an insatiable thirst for the past in an increasing number of our fellow townsfolk, resident or in exile, and to introduce a lovely town to many who might otherwise be unaware of its existence. We have sought to arrange these pages to allow the subject matter to lead quite naturally from one card to the next.

It has been an exciting experience to have had revealed to us the knowledge and recollections of so many persons, not only historians but people whose parents, with their contemporaries, worked in local industries or farmed the land, who remember the wars and the depression, whose ancestors are buried within the parish. These were the people whose lives and living conditions are depicted here.

Finally we wish to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Paul Piekford who has generously allowed us access to his valued postcards to augment our own collection, to Mr. F. Hulse and Mrs. M. Dignan for the loan of the four photographs, included for their rarity with these posteards, and to Mr. A. Eccles, without whose help and adviee this book would not have been possible.

Gap Hou e, Whaley d. ,Bridge .. " q


~ ~.

~J ~~


1. Gap House on the B5470 Macclesfield Road, as it appeared in 1904, clearly featuring the mounting-block in the bottom right corner of the card. In the era of horse traffic no well-to-do residence would be without such a block, enabling ladies with voluminous clothing, and also portly gentlemen, to mount their quadrupeds with ease. It is believed that Brocklehurst and Whister first began weaving at Gap House. The drive belonging to the house opened, until recently, on to the sharp bend of Macclesfield Road, adjacent to Gap Lodge. Around that bend, the vista of the Toddbrook Reservoir, with the tiering hills above and beyond, presented a most attractive welcome to Whaley Bridge. At the present time, the town boundary coincides here with the border of Derbyshire and Cheshire, in which county Gap House is stilliocated.



2. Toddbrook Reservoir, above the viUage to the west, covering 39 acres, fed by the Todd brook which flows through the vale of Kettleshulme. Constructed to provide water for the Peak Forest Canal, it was commenced 1831 and completed 1843. Over 50 feet at its deepest, the reservoir has twice been bereft of water. The first occasion in June 1930, when a leak developed into old minewerkings beneath its bed. The second nearly fifty years later, when a similar occurrence caused it to be drained in the interests of safety. The lake was dry for five years while repairs were carried out, prior to this Toddbrook was popular as a yachting centre. This view, chosen from many similar, features the undulating ground to the fore, thought to he an aftermath of mining activities in the past. A postcard from approximately 1900.

3. A most attractive 'olde worlde' picture. Reddish Farm, taken sometime before 1905, situated at the end of Reddish Lane, having as a close neighbour to the north, the Toddbrook Reservoir. In the First World War a German airship flew up the centre of the reservoir. Some are convineed its mission was to bomb the gunpowder works in the Goyt Valley, since the reservoir merely stretches back toward Kishfield, a popular venue for picnics. Once surrounded by open farmland, this working farm is now bounded on two sides by housing, while nearby, the third is occupied by the Whaley Bridge Football Club's ground offPark Road. The shippon, a farmer cottage, was converred circa 1930 but an older shippon had the date 162517 inscribed in its fabric, another outhouse bears the date 1896.

4. One of numerous detached houses built in Whaley Bridge between the mid-19th and early 20th century, Sunnybank, off Macclesfield Road, shown in 1918, now overlooks the council-owned Allotment site. This ground was originally designated as a childrens playground, but was reappropriated in the Second World War. Built in 1868, Sunnybank's situation has since changed due to neighbouring houses becoming established. When the photograph was taken, it stood somewhat below Reddish Farm, facing downhilI towards the river and the Horwich End gasworks, which although now dismantled, was very prosperous at the turn of the century, accommodating the surge of customers who were attracted by an offer of 'piping free of charge' made by the trio owning the newlyforrned Amalgamated Gas Company.

5. Downhill from Sunnybank, this quiet row, Goyt Road, built in 1907, occupies the west bank of the river Goyt from Macclesfield Road to the Memorial Park. A cross just visible above the central block indicates 'Mothers house'. In September 1930 tremendous floods wrought havoc with the cottages on Lower Macclesfield Road, across the river from the above houses, the swollen waters rushing through their hornes. The Botany Bleach Works upstream from these, the first cotton mill in Whaley Bridge, enjoying its centenary year was so flooded that workers sought refuge on its roof. The Memorial Park and many other parts of the town suffered woefully before the deluge finally subsided leaving a trail of debris in its wake. The houses in our photograph of 1915, however, fortunately escaped unharmed.

6. West over Chapel Road houses we see Macclesfield Road climbing into the distance prior to 1905. Bebind the White Horse public house, in the centre of the view, the building of The Owlers is nearing completion. The newly-glazed windows marked with whitening, the finishing touches are being put to the roofs - witness the man atop a ladder. Beyond the tree in the left foreground is the wide open space which later was occupied by two gas holders. The small terrace of cottages on the left of Macclesfield Road, facing down the hili, was known as Taxal Club Cottages, built approximately 1880 as an investment for the Taxal Burial Club. Their meetings were held regularly at the Royal Oak, Taxal, where all monies were held in trust. Formerly Oak Terrace, the cottages are now addressed as 50-54 Macclesfield Road.

7. This study of Horwich End was posted frorn Taxal Lodge in 1913; Florrie wrote to advise her sister of her whereabouts. The fields on the right are now filled with houses and a school, The track to the left, indicated with a cross, leads to Taxal Lodge. The hill, is Macclesfield Raad. At the terrace at right angles to the road, an ordnance survey beneh-mark reveals that these cottages are 60รป feet above se a-level. Many dwellings were built at that height in the 19th century because water was available around 600 feet. In the case of these cottages, water was obtained from a well behind number 54, while a stone trough at number 50 also provided a welcome drink for horses travelling this road. Bottom right is seen the vet's premises on Chapel Raad, now flats entered from Old Road.

8. This view toward Eccles Pike, which rises to over 1,200 feet above sea-level, the site of an old signal beacon, is taken from Macclesfield Raad near its junction with Reddish Lane. Macclesfield Raad formed part of an old turnpike raad. A Rector of Taxal, Reverend John Gees, who died in 1786, gave to trustees a iSO security on this raad, the interest from which was to be given to the paar of the parish. When the turnpike was abolished in 1877 the church-warden, Thomas Wilson was entrusted with a share of this charity on behalf of the parishioners. He died soon after in paar circumstances. It may be coincidental that a man with the same surname was loaned manies from a charity bestowed by E. Wood, of Errwood. He toa became a victim of circumstance, losing all he possessed, includingthe Wood Charity's money.

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