Birch Vale Station Staff.
Birch Vale Station.
The Boiler House Gang Bate Mill c.1930 - Image Philip Marchington
|Boy at front centre with sailor suit is Bill Jackson. Sitting at front right Florrie Melling who became Mrs Ross fenton. Boy seated 3rd from right at front - dark clothes and large white collar is Leslie Wyne. Boy with no hat to front of sailor is Louis Blick seated front right with baby on lap is Mrs Howard. Directly behind Louis Blick is Mary Coverley. Second right from Mary Coverley with lacy white hat is Sarah Ellen Goddard. The two girls to her right are Lily and Lizzie Rowcroft. To left and slightly behind Mary Coverley with brimmed hat and long dark hair is Hilda Hill who became Mrs Mason. Old lady in black with black hat about fourth from left in second row from back is Mrs Wharmby. To her left is Marion Clayton.To her left is Miss Hibbert. To her left with dark jacket over white blouse with lacy collar is ? Blick. In front of Miss Hibbert is Dorothy Blick. To right of Mrs Wharmby at very back is Ada Beardwood. To her right is Mr Frank Hobson. Second to his right is Mrs Hobson. To right of Mrs Wharmby at her level is Susan Howard. To her right at a lower level is Beth Ratcliffe. Old lady with grey blouse behind Sarah Goddard is Mrs Redfern. To her right with white blouse is Mrs Bridge. At back between Mrs Redfern and Mrs Bridge is Mrs Ramwell. At front and slightly to left of Mrs Redferm is Mrs Blick. On right of second row from front above Florrie Melling is Dennis Hobson. To his left and slightly higher is Stanley Hobson his brother. Behind Stanley is Mrs Courtenay and to her left Miss Courtenay.|
Football Team c.1917-1918
Watford Bridge Engraving Works Studio Staff.
A Riverside Village
a cassette by Simeon Rogers:
Health and Safety at work was not a priority during the days of the 20s and 30s. Unions didnt fight for compensation with the same vigour and financial backing of todays unions, so my father was not compensated for his loss of earnings or the misery of his injury induced asthma. We had no cash to fight the case privately. Dad was employed by the CPA at Birch Vale at the time of the accident and I can remember, as a young boy, the sound his ex-workmates walking past wearing clogs in the early hours of the morning. They always gave a whistle as they went past, always the same notes so we knew it was the Smith Brothers from New Mills. Most workers wore clogs to work and at work too, as protection, in areas where chemicals or wet conditions were part of the working environment.
The CPA works at
Birch Vale was only one of many textile processing plants in the area
around New Mills, Hayfield, Birch Vale, Watford Bridge, Strines and,
of course, Bate Mill. All were thriving businesses and employed many
of the locals, often with complete families of working age working at
the same place. The CPA at Birch Vale was part of a large combine of
companies concerned with bleaching, dying and printing of fabrics of
various constructions. Textile processing requires large amounts of
water and most textile mills were found near rivers. The rivers were
a ready supply of water for the works lodges and, providing your
mill was not too far down stream, little treatment of the water was
The river from Rowarth
was dammed up regularly near the Bate Mill works area and swimming and
picnics were part of the summer scene here, giving pleasure to people
from all around the area. Bate Mill works was a busy place in the 20s
and 30s era and their business was bleaching of cotton yarn in
the hank form. The works buildings were typical of factory buildings
of the time with walls about two foot thick, all in stone. They were
designed to carry the heavy shafting and belt and pulley systems to
drive machinery and to carry the heavy pipework for water and steam
around the works. The works then covered a larger area then they do
today and originally fronted onto the main road with the boiler house
actually open to the road for easy access for unloading coal to feed
the boiler. During the times of unloading coal into the boiler house
the road would be blocked but as there was little traffic on the road
at the time, apart from the half hour bus service to and from New Mills,
it didnt create much of a problem.
Across the road,
also on the Thornsett side of the works, was the coal stock where a
supply of coal for the boilers was stored. Also in this area were the
filter beds beside the river. Nearer to the Thornsett end were allotments,
carefully tended by locals on a rented basis. At the bottom of the works
entrance roadway, at the start of the long row of terraced cottages,
was the works office. We would often call at this works
office to buy postage stamps or change coinage for the gas meters. I
used to clean the flagged area outside the office weekly for a small
amount of money. It was a sad day when the works eventually closed down.
We would miss all our friends and the atmosphere of the place we remembered
as a busy, happy workplace. The mill lay idle for some time with old
Jim Rowcroft acting as caretaker until the works was eventually stripped
of machinery and parts demolished, including the boiler house.
The family who lived
nextdoor-but-one to us, the Plummers, had only one son. He was older
than us. His dad, Jack, worked at the Garrison Works, as did Bert later,
and Mrs Plummer had a full time job in the home. She would often bake
bread and muffins and I remember the large earthenware bowls she used
to leave with a tea towel over the top in front of the hearth waiting
for it to rise. She made good bread and, as she often thought about
our condition, would always bring us a few muffins. They were great.
She was a caring women, Mrs Plummer. Emma was her first name. At holiday
times, the Wakes Week we called it, the family always went to Blackpool
for the week. They would catch the trip train at Birch Vale Station
and we would wave them off as they went down the line toward New Mills,
now the linear park. They would be at the carriage window, waving back
until they were out of sight. We could always rely on Mrs Plummer to
bring us back a stick of rock on their return and this was the nearest
we ever got to a holiday as kids.
Almost opposite the garage and the small wooden shop that was there, with the two cottages nearer to New Mills, were a few rather dark looking houses which were reached by a few steps down from the footpath. Legend had it that one of them had a ghost. This house always seemed emptier apart from the ghost of course. People said they had heard the ghost playing a piano but I never stayed there long enough to find out. Further along to New Mills stood a large building, Sam Marshalls yard, they called it. It was originally a garaging area for lorries but was used by Sam as a store place for his plumbing business and some of it as a farm building. These two have now gone and the area is now a wild life reserve. Near the white cottages opposite was Watford Lodge House, now owned by the Council and let as flats Originally an old lady resided there and we would take her newspapers for her, usually asking if we could pick up any windfall fruit in the orchard on the right hand side of the drive. She always agreed. I dont ever remember seeing her picking any herself as she was getting on in years.
Thornsett, once a busy place, has changed over the years. It looked so different when we were pupils at Thornsett school on Aspenshaw Road where it still functions, after three generations of our family attended. The building of the new band room, in place of the old barn type building they used, brought new activity to the area. Apart from the usual band practices each Sunday Morning and one night a week, whist drives and dances were held on a regular basis as a means of funding the band. Mum and Dad would attend the whist drive and often won prizes. There was always an inquest as to who should have done what and who should have played which card if they werent successful.
Dances were quite
an event, usually held at week-ends, attracting many dancers, all formally
dressed for the occasion, ladies in lovely dresses and fancy shoes,
men with their suits and patent leather shoes, all very posh. We, as
children, often looked in. During the early evening the doors were left
open for some cooling air during the hot weather. At that time dancing
was a contact thing, not like todays isolated twitching. It all
looked so graceful, couples dancing in complete harmony with coloured
light illuminating the sequins and the adornments on the ladies
attire. The band room still stands today but, alas, vandalism has meant
the bricking up of the windows on the roadside after so many glass replacements.
A new junior band is now developing to replace the famous Thornsett
prize band, a band which was quite famous and won many trophies in its
time. Funding now comes from karate and judo clubs and from the education
fund who use the school for PE activities for Thornsett school. Opposite
the band room, in Coxs field, stood an old barn. This has now
gone. Did it fall or was it pushed, who knows? Going up the hill at
Thornsett, on the left are several houses which at one time housed people
with strong connections with the band. Both houses and families have
long gone and the area is clear now up to the farm.
On the other side of the road from the Co-op stood a couple of houses and small holding called Mortons Farm, some farm, just a few hens and geese. Now both the farm and the cottages are gone leaving some untidy waste ground. Next door to the Co-op, up the hill near the long row of houses, was a small cottage where the band master lived. He could often be heard practising his instrument when you went in to the back room of the Co-op. The back room housed a chute arrangement where spuds and so on would be loaded from the room above. Also in this back room was a large coffee grinding machine The assistant would first of all make a paper cone from a cut piece of paper and then grind in the coffee beans to fill your order. The smell in that back room was great, freshly ground coffee and freshly baked bread delivered on large flat wooden trays. Later in the day the smell wasnt quite as fresh, with greengrocery not at its best, but it was a good clean shop with a great variety of groceries for sale. Like so many shops today it closed down when people became more mobile with private cars and shopping and Supermarkets became the in thing. Just a few doors up from the Co-op, at the start of the main houses on the road, Mrs Baxter used to make homemade ice cream. When we had the cash to spare we would take a basin and buy some to go with the tinned fruit. It was delicious and such a nice change from the Tommy Walls Stop me and buy one ice-cream.
Daisy Hadfield was an enterprising person at the time and she had a small wooden hut at the Thornsett end of Doctors End where she sold sweets and tobacco. It was a good area for business as the kids, eager to spend their coppers on the way to school, would always be welcomed. Later she also opened a chip shop in one of the properties higher up and did a steady trade there too. At the very top of Thornsett at the junction with Aspenshaw Road was a house that seemed triangular in shape. In it lived the Flories. He was a quiet man, she, supposedly a mystic meg of her day, a fortune teller. She would often be seen on the flag pathway to her door, done up like a dogs dinner with powder and paint, a real character of a quiet nature too, but a legend of her time. All the houses have gone and in their place a wooded area developed, dressed with daffodils planted by pupils from Thornsett Infant School. It looks much prettier now of course but the memories of the houses and occupants remain for those of us who still live In the area.
The churches and chapels of the time, around Thornsett and Birch Vale, are now all closed The Congregational recently was the last to close as a place of worship and sometime polling booth. Tin Church, as we once knew it at Birch Vale, has gone completely now, being a private area for the picnic site at the Sycamore Pub, I can still picture old Mr Towers, the white haired caretaker of the Tin Church, chasing us round as we played, before going into the service. The chapels were very active. They would have an annual sermons day when the congregation would parade around the area to sing hymns, accompanied by Thornsett band, stopping at the rows of houses en route and making collections towards the upkeep of the Chapel. My opinion was that this was more of a show off of ones new outfit rather than the sharing of a spiritual experience. The talk among the chapel goers a few weeks before the sermons was of what they were having new to wear. There were genuine Christian people of course among the flock but many were just Sunday Christians as we found out when we were kept apart due to our lack of decent clothes.
In the days of no television and few radios, sport of one kind or another was one way of spending ones leisure time and we had football, bowls and tennis clubs to choose from. We had one tennis club near the river on the private road to the Garrison Works where people from round about spent many hours playing tennis on the court. The tennis hut was a large black and white wooden structure and housed the equipment and the changing room. I believe there was many a love match result in the hut but not many scores were kept. Bowling, always popular around here, was played on the green opposite, belonging to the Printers Arms. Football was mainly played on a field on High Hill Road, now the New Mills Cemetery, but also at odd times on one or two other fields of Coxs. Many a Thornsett team played on the High Hill field over the years with limited spectator appeal, but what there was, was very enthusiastic. On the other side of the road from the field was Fred Broadbents cobblers hut. He was a craftsman at his trade and was always busy repairing shoes and clogs and actually making clogs out of old shoes with good uppers. Apart from the cobblers business, Fred would look after the footballs for the teams, keeping them in good repair at no cost to the club. He was also one of the best supporters, attending all the home matches, giving advice to players and suggestions on how to rectify poor eyesight of referees. They used to say he would trip opposing wingers with his stick but in truth I never saw him acting as twelfth man.
The football field
was also used for the annual May Queen celebrations and the annual carnival.
The May Queen was quite an elaborate affair with private cars bedecked
with flowers and the Queen and her retinue in purple velvet and white
lace outfits. The crowning ceremony took place on a field and there
were other activities too, very much like the Hayfield May Queen Day.
The Hayfield one survives, of course, but the Thornsett one has long
since ceased to be part of the calendar of events. We were fortunate
later to have our own National Cotton Queen selected from entrants from
far and wide and she used to work at the Garrison Works. The Thornsett
Carnival was a grand affair, with bands, dancers, decorated lorries
and individual comedy features, all trying to win prizes for their efforts.
People, like the Hazel Grove Twins, and all the participants, collected
en route with all the collection going to local medical charities.
by High Peak Community Arts in 1996.
Band. - Circa 1920|
Joseph Weston, at front right by the drum.
Back row: Jess Howard in trilby, Albert Arnfield, A Barber, F Baxter, Syd Wild, A Tinsley, A Harrop, H Bowden, S Bagshawe, T Bush, W Dunne, F Barber, H Swift, C Wyatt, G Swift Middle row: Joe C Favell, A Ollerenshaw, R Sides, S Ashworth,
H Sharkett, J Jackson, J Thorpe, T Swift Front row: Harold Bridge, Joe Weston
The original Thornsett Bandroom...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
Silver Prize Band outside bandroom. c1930|
Back row: A Tinsley S Bagshaw Syd Wild NK J Burton A Harrop
Middle: C McNee H Swift C Wyatt Mr Tinsley from Whaley Bridge B Jackson
Front: Squire Ashworth (drummer), Tom Swift J Grace H Sharkett Joe Storer
D Trickett J. Jackson Mr Harrop from Whaley Bridge Two boys on front: H Burton
Aspenshaw Road see image below same cottages,...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
The junction of Thornsett and Aspenshaw Road.,...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
Thornsett with a little winter snow...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
The Printers Arms,...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
The New Inn located just below the Printers Arms on the hill....From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
Thornsett School pupils 1932 - 1933,...From the Donald Ibbotson Collection..
Bank Head Farmhouse Birch Vale. c.1909
Below lifetime residents of Birch Vale Fred and Elsie Ibotson.
Fred Ibbotson Age 24 and Elsie Nichols age 23 - September 1915
Elsie Nichols Age 23 1913
Elsie Nichols 1908 age 19
Elsie and Fred
Fred Ibbotson RAMC.
Fred was born on 28/11/1890 in Birch Vale, Died 26/03/1974, worked all his life at the CPA Birch Vale.
Elsie Ibbotson (nee Nichols) born Chapel 20/10/1891, married Fred 29/08/1923 at St Georges New Mills, Died 22/11/1974.
Both Fred and Elsie are buried at St Georges.
These fine pictures are from Donald Ibbotson's collection, his son.
Birch Vale Printworks. c.1920
Bate Mill Bleach Works, Thornsett.
at Bate Mill Bleach Works. c.1908|
From left: Joseph Wild , boy at front is Arnold Hill aged 13/14, man with hands on hips is Philip Marchington, the man with white beard at centre rear is Peter Williamson died June 1919 aged 68 years. Other names include Bagshaw and Marsh.
Inside Bate Mill bleachworks. Workers at benches packing hanks of cotton after
of Birch Vale Printworks c.1905|
Mrs Clayton, landlady at the Printers Arms, is 4th from left on back row. The Riley sisters are 1st and 2nd from right on back row. Mrs Duckworth is 3rd from right in middle row. Mrs White (nee Gould) is at right on front row.
Outside the pay-office at Birch Vale Printworks
Lower Noon Sun Birch Vale
Tanpits Farm, Whitle. c.1970 With Thornsett in background.
Birch Vale Station
Terraced Houses at Spinner Bottom
The Coachman Watfrord House - John Watson
|Retiring employees, each with a clock, at Birch Vale Printworks. In the background Spinnerbottom and Crescent Row. Birch Vale - March 1948|
train on Hayfield line. New Mills signal box on right. |
Industrial premises - site of Dilworth and Morris - on left. St George's Road bridge and bridge near Wesleyan graveyard beyond.
|Isaac Hill, born March 1860, and his wife Annie, born 1870. Outside their general shop at the top of the hill in Thornsett. c1900|
Hadfield Ltd's Leyland Motor Lorry loaded with cloth. Probably in Manchester.|
Hadfield's works were at Birch Vale and Chinley.
|J. J. Hadfield vehicle outside Robin Hood Hotel in High Lane. Drivers Herbert Courtenay (right) and Bill Wyatt (left)|
Outside Mr Porritt's House on Oven Hill Birch Vale - See Hayfield page.
|Wedding party outside Thornsett Primitive Methodist Church. Groom, Joseph E Wyatt, for many years manager of Hunters Tea Stores in Market Street New Mills. Bride, Miss Martha Liddiard. - 1907|