OLD NEWS 1800 to 1900
A Tragic Accident 1st April 1816
On the 25th ult. an inquest was taken by James Mander esq. one of the coroners for Derbyshire, at Ladyshaw-bottom, in the parish of Glossop, on the bodies of Mary, Daniel, Elizabeth, and Rachel Bradbury: the eldest aged 18, Daniel and Elizabeth (twins) 14, and Rachel 11, the children of Peter Bradbury, of Ladyshaw-bottom, labourer, who, at eight o'clock on the 24th ult. gave to each of his children a strong dose of white arsenic, thinking it was cream of tartar; the three youngest died about noon the same day, and the eldest at midnight following, after every exertion had been used, but in vain, to counteract the fatal effects of the poison, when the discovery was made: the father had also taken a quantity of the poison himself along with his children, but is expected to recover.
A New Works. August 1825
Messrs Potts, Oliver, and Potts, of New Mills, engravers to Calico Printers, on Monday last, gave a treat to their friends and the mechanics in their employment, upon the occasion of laying the foundation of their new works in the Hamlet of Beard. At three in the afternoon the first stone was laid; and a brass plate , bearing a suitable inscription deposited with requisite formality. The worthy proprietors were then complimented by a friend upon the occasion; and the operatives congratulated, that’- As Englishmen had fought a long and hard fight with the bayonet and at the capstern, so now they were pursuing their callings amidst the emblems and works of peace; and the hand which had borne the sword, might more propitiously guide the steel in the operations of useful art, for the advancement of the national character and interest.’ after this brief address, the health of the individuals who compose the firm, and success to the engraving art and its members, was drunk amidst the cheers of the people assembled upon the site. The company then adjourned to their respective apartments; in which the good fellowship of social hilarity formed the usual conclusion of the ceremony. The health of the Founders, with their respective families and hopes, having been repeated, the public characters of the nation received their tribute of merited commemoration; and the pledge for the King was redeemed by a toast to the King’s Deputy, the Duke of Devonshire, the Lord Lieutenant, and success to the county of Derbyshire.
Thomas Crowther April 1826
On Thursday the 13th, a numerous and highly respectable meeting was held at the Bay Horse Inn, New Mills, for the purpose of presenting Mr Thomas Crowther, a Silver Cup, as a testimonial of the sense entertained by the inhabitants, of his service as Constable or Headborough of the place, during the years 1822-3. About twenty sat down to dinner, which consisted of everything seasonable, served up in a style that reflects the greatest credit on Mrs. Ward.
Thomas Barnes, Esq. Was called to the Chair. After the health’s of his Majesty and the Royal Family had been drunk, the Cup was introduced, and placed before the Chairman, who immediately rose and addressed Mr Crowther as follows-
‘Mr Crowther, I rise with pleasure to perform this part of my duty: though my wish is, that it had fallen to the lot of some gentleman better qualified for it. - Before you were appointed constable, the office was of little or no use, and vice and disorder had attained the highest pitch; but you, Sir, boldly stemmed the torrent which threatened to overwhelm us. The vicious, finding your office was not a nominal one, were checked in their career, and order was, in some measure, given to the place. When your first year had expired, it was the unanimous wish of the in habitants, that you should fill the office another year. That wish was no sooner communicated to you than you accepted it, though at a considerable personal sacrifice, and for another year, you followed the same determined course. You set an example, which I hope will not be forgot, but improved upon, till this town shall vie with the most orderly in the kingdom. Sir, shortly after you finished your second year, the principal inhabitants determined thus to testify their approbation of your conduct. Why the subject has slept so long I cannot tell. However, I am convinced from the names I see attached to the list of subscribers to the cup I am about to present you, and the respectability of those here assembled to give additional effect to the presentation, that your services are neither forgotten nor disregarded. Sir, in the name and on behalf of the inhabitants of this township, I present you with this cup; sincerely wishing you life, health, and happiness: and when your course shall be finished, may it be handed to your prosperity, and stimulate them to follow your example, whenever they may be called to fill any public office.’
Mr Crowther rose, and addressed the meeting to the following effect - Mr Chairman, and Gentlemen - I cannot find words adequately to express my feelings, for this testimonial of your approbation of my services. You may rely on it, it will not be forgotten by me, and I trust not by my posterity. Gentlemen, your kindness overpowers me, and I cannot say more than express my earnest wishes for the health and happiness of you all.
On each side of the cup are two Bacchanalian figures, encircled by the Grape, elegantly executed, having the following inscription in an oval space betwixt them: - ‘Presented to Thomas Crowther, for his exertions as Constable of New Mills. In 1822-3.’
The health of Mr Crowther, and many loyal and appropriate toasts were drunk. Songs enlivened the company who did not separate until a late hour.
Both, Thomas Crowther and Thomas Barnes, were important men in New Mill. Both were cotton spinners and mill owners. Thomas Crowther was the proprietor of Rock Mill also known as Crowther Mill and lived at Rock Villa, on St. Mary’s road. Thomas Barnes and his family operated Torr Top Mill, known as Barnes Top Shop, which stood by the remains of the Chainhorse house, and Grove Mill, sometimes called Barnes Mill. The Barnes family particularly Thomas owned large amounts of land in and around the town centre.
Disquiet at the Mills. October 1826
Thomas Small was indicted for a riot and assault at Disley, on the 9th of June 1825.
Joseph Platt, the prosecutor, stated that he was in the employ of Messrs Barnes, of Disley, and that the prisoner was also in their employ; that there was a reduction in the spinners wages, which witness submitted to; that the reduction did not affect the prisoner; that on the morning of the 9th June last, between twelve and one o’clock, he and his family, were awoke by a noise occasioned by the breaking of windows; that he dared not stir out of his bed until the neighbours came to his house and shouted to him; that he then got up and found the frames, shutters and glass of the windows completely destroyed, and a quantity of stones lying on the chamber floors and the rooms below.
William Whittaker corroborated the last witness, and said that he had a conversation with the prisoner, who admitted that he was one of the party that broke the prosecutors windows, and that they had assembled at a public house, in New Mills, where it was agreed that they should break Platt’s windows and furniture, for going to work at the new prices; that before they went , they agreed to kill anyone who should obstruct them; that they took a quantity of stones with them; and either he (prisoner) of Daniel Bradbury threw the first stone, and that the rest threw theirs; and that on prisoner hearing that he had told what he had said to him; prisoner said ‘if witness told it anymore, and he could not get money without, he would pawn his coat to buy a pistol, and shoot the witness.’
Mr Thomas Barnes corroborated the above. The prisoner was found guilty, but the judgement respited to the next Sessions.
The incident referred to above relates to Grove Mill which in the 1820s was on the Cheshire side of the River Goyt and therefore in Disley as was Torr Vale Mill. The workforce though would have been predominantly from New Mills as were the mills owners.
The cotton trade was a volatile one and it appears that in the 1820s many employers found it necessary to impose a reduction in wages to reduce costs. This of course led to bitter disputes and ill feeling. Strikes or turnouts were not unknown, but such was the nature of the labour market that employers could simply recruit new workers. Incidents and reprisals were widespread and dealt with harshly.
Rabies. October 1827.
On Monday the 20th of August, two children were severely bitten at New Mills, by a dog supposed to be mad; the wounds were immediately cauterised, and the usual methods resorted to, to prevent any ill effects arising, but unfortunately without effect. One of the children named Harrison, a boy about five years of age, who had been bitten in the arm, exhibited symptoms of hydrophobia on Friday morning last; medical assistance was immediately called in, but the paroxysms became so violent, as to remove the slightest hope of recovery, and on Saturday night, after suffering the most excruciating torments, the child died. What is rather singular, the other child is at present in good health, though its parents, as may naturally be supposed, are in consequence of the death of Harrison, much afraid; but it is thought likely that it will have escaped the effects of this dreadful malady. We have been informed that a great number of useless dogs are kept at New Mills and the neighbourhood, and are suffered to run at large. After such an event as the above, we trust the proper authorities will order all dogs to be confined or otherwise destroy them, and thus secure the inhabitants from any further danger.
St. George’s Church. September 1829
Monday last, being the day appointed for laying the foundation stone of the new church in New Mills, at an early hour every body appeared on the qui vive, and seemed desirous, on an occasions truly important, to contribute every aid in their power, towards rendering the ceremony as impressive as possible. Fortunately the day was beautifully fine, and , as had been anticipated, a great influx of visitors came to witness the scene. At about twelve o’clock, a very numerous and well regulated body of odd fellows (about 300) with the New Mills amateur band preceding them, led the procession; they consisted of the New Mills, Marple Bridge, and Vernon Arms, (Stockport) Lodges, after these, a brass band lent their powerful aid to the pleasing pageant, and preceded by a group of ladies of New Mills;- to these succeeded the Committee for managing the business of the day. G. W. Newton, Esq. on whom devolved the pleasing task, as the representative of Lord George Henry Cavendish, for the laying of the first stone of the sacred edifice, came next, supported by P. Heacock,, Esq. and R. D. Chantrell, Esq. The architect; who were followed by a person bearing the heavy maul, two youths carrying the level and the plumb rule, and Mr Foster, the clerk of the town followed next; and after them came the Sunday female scholars with their instructors, followed by the institutions of the same description from Hayfield. The whole procession, as it moved to the appointed spot, presented a most animated spectacle. After parading the whole length of the town, it preceded to the site of the intended building, which was thronged with a numerous assemblage of spectators collected from many miles around. Immediately facing the north-east corner an extensive platform was erected for the accommodation of the ladies and scholars. The persons in the procession having taken their allotted situations, a hymn was sung by the children accompanied by the bands.
The architect having read the inscription aloud deposited various coins of his present majesty in a chamber cut in the stone for that purpose, then the corner stone was lowered into its proper place. G. W. Newton, Esq. Then, in a neat and appropriate speech, addressed the spectators:- He regretted , he said that circumstances had interfered to prevent the Noble Lord from honouring the ceremony with his presence; at the same time he expressed a heartfelt pride in being deputed to act as the proxy of that noble and munificent individual, on the present most interesting occasion. He paid a just compliment to the talent, industry and growing opulence of the inhabitants, and earnestly congratulated them on the time arriving when his Majesty’s commissioners had given them one of the greatest blessings a town could possess, namely, a church, under establishment. The national anthem of ‘god save the King’ was then sung, in which the whole assembly most cordially joined in chorus; and three times three loud and hearty huzzas closed this impressive ceremony.
The gentlemen retired to the Hare and Hounds Inn, and partook of an elegant cold collation, the remainder of the day being spent in the most uninterrupted harmony and good humour, and it is but justice to add that during the whole proceeding there was not the least show of disorder or tumult among the populace, and when it is considered that the festivity of the wakes was at its very height at the time of the above transaction, it is of no trifling compliment to the good conduct of the persons who composed the numerous assembly.
The inscription was not, as is usual, engraven on a plate of brass, but was enamelled on a fine China tile, executed at the establishment of Messrs Potts, Oliver and Potts. It was extremely handsome and greatly admired; it is perhaps the first instance of the adoption of porcelain in lieu of metal on such an occasion.
A New Mills Runner 1831
Running races seems to have been very popular among the mill workers and there are quite a few examples.
A foot race, for five pounds a side came off on Wellington Road, between Merone of Manchester, and a youth named W. Stretch, an engraver from New Mills, over a distance of 100yards. It was an excellent race, the youth winning by 15 inches. The length was run in ten seconds and a half. The New Mills youth could be backed to any amount; his height being 5ft. 4 inches. Heavy betting took place against the youth previous to his stripping, but afterwards it was 6 to 4 on him.
On Saturday James Dunster, the Lancashire pedestrian, ran nine miles in a minute and a quarter under an hour, for a wager; and on Monday he ran five miles in thirty one minutes. On both occasions he started from the Swan Inn, New Mills. He challenges to run any man in England twenty miles, for a sum of money.
Destructive Fire at New Mills. Stockport Advertiser, 27th April 1832
On Thursday , an alarming fire broke out at Beard Mill, a cotton factory in the occupation of Mr W. Ward , in the above named place, at about a quarter before two in the afternoon, with a rapidity scarcely credible, the ungovernable element showed itself bursting from every part of the principle building. Every hand was busied in the works, and the utmost alarm persisted for all who were within its walls. The parents of the children ran with terror in their looks, and rent the air with shrieks; the little creatures, however, were rescued, some by jumping through the windows, and others by ladders. A little before three, the eastern end of the main building gave way and fell with a tremendous crash and threw aloft immense showers of burning cotton, accompanied by clouds of thick smoke, which rose in stupendous volumes and for a few moments darkened the air, immediately afterwards, the whole building became enveloped in one blaze and a short moment only elapsed ere it lay in smoking ruins. The origin of the misfortune was attributable to some cotton dust taking by coming into contact with a new blowing machine, which from the immense rapidity of its revolutions and not having been sufficiently oiled, became heated by its friction to a degree sufficient to ignite anything susceptible of ready combustion. It is understood the property was not insured.
A New Road from Disley to Hayfield. Stockport Advertiser, August 1835.
An excellent new line of road connecting the above two places was formally opened to the public on Monday last week. A meeting of the commissioners of the road took place in the morning at the Hare and Hounds, in Ollersett. After transacting necessary business, the commissioners, accompanied by a large body of gentlemen on horseback and in carriages, perambulated the road preceded by a band of music. About fifty gentlemen subsequently sat down in the school room at Hayfield, to partake of an excellent dinner provided by the worthy hostess of the George Inn. Richard Simpson Esq. Presided on the occasion, Mr Potts, of New Mills, officiating as vice-president. A variety of loyal, patriotic and complimentary toasts were given and duly honoured, and the evening was spent in the utmost cordiality and good humour. We congratulate the populous and improving neighbourhood, and those whose business may lead them thither, on the formation of this excellent line of road, which was much wanted.
The Poor of New Mills. Stockport Advertiser, 6th December 1838
A meeting of a few friends of the poor of New Mills was held on Tuesday evening, for the purpose of entering to a subscription, for the relief of the poor at that place and neighbourhood. A very handsome sum was subscribed by the gentlemen present, and a committee appointed to collect subscriptions and to carry these benevolent intentions into effect. The trade of this district has been more deplorable for the last two years; and a great portion of the spinning establishment being at present unemployed. In addition to this, the late calamitous and destructive fire, which took place a few weeks ago, at Mr Sheldon’s mill has thrown many industrious families out of work and reduced them to great distress and want. The praiseworthy exertions of these benevolent gentlemen and other inhabitants will, it is hoped, bring comfort and relief in some degree to their unfortunate fellow creatures; and will display those feelings of charity and goodwill which have ever been characteristics of Englishmen.
The fire mentioned above occurred at Torr Mill on the 22nd of October 1838. It started in the attic and completely destroyed the mill buildings and machinery. The mill was rebuilt with steam rather than water power and stood until it was again destroyed by fire and abandoned in 1912, leaving only the ruins we see today.
The Hungry Forties.
The 1840s were characterized by poor harvests and widespread economic distress which made the country a fertile ground for the message of the Chartists. Supporters of the People's Charter, which was drawn up in London in 1838 and which made six specific demands for political reform. The hard economic conditions of the following ten years caused Chartism to develop into the first nationwide working-class political movement. But agitation, occasional violence and a petition with 3 million signatures failed to move parliament to action, and after the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 the immediate pressure for reform dwindled. Nevertheless only one of the six demands in the Charter (for a general election every year) has not since been met. The others all now seem an indispensable part of democracy: a vote for all adults (males only in the Charter), constituencies of roughly equal size, a secret ballot, payment for MPs and no property qualification to become an MP.
New Mills in the 1840’s had an economy based heavily on the cotton trade. The local economy began to decline in the late 1830’s. Mill owner Thomas Barnes had felt financially secure enough in the early 1830’s to build High Lea Hall. But it seems that he and his influential family, owners of two large mills in New Mills and large amounts of property, decided to sell up their assets, retire and leave the town. Other employers were rapidly laying off staff.
Against this background of unemployment and growing poverty local support for the Chartist movement appears to have been quite strong. Many of the local Gentry however were prepared to stand against the values of the Chartist movement and went so far as to publish their some what fearful thoughts, in the papers of the day. The atmosphere locally was very volatile and reached a pitch of violence at Glossop resulting in the beating to death of one man by a mob of angry workers and the shooting down four others.
Arms in New Mills 19th April 1839
We are creditably informed by an authority on which we can rely, that arms are openly exhibited for sale, in a public situation in this village. The weapon is one of formidable and deadly construction, in the shape of a gun, intended to act against the police or military, should the deluded possessors of them ever attempt to make use of them. The law has provided a remedy against both the purchaser and seller of these un-English and cowardly instruments of destruction, and we call the attention of the Magistrates of the Division to this subject, that they may at once put down such assassin like depots, for the sale or exhibition of such instruments of death or injury to her majesty’s peaceful subjects. The place, moreover, where these weapons are exhibited, is a beer shop, which has long been the resort of characters of a seditious and restless description. We have no doubt but that the neighbouring magistrates will, when their attention has been called to the subject , take such steps as will effectively suppress such a shameful mode of obtaining a livelihood, and punish, as they deserve, both seller and the purchaser, by enforcing the law and protecting the laws and property of the country
Unparalleled Stoppage.17th May 1839.
There is a common saying; ‘Give a dog a bad name and then hang him.’ So it is with this village. That paragon of sedition and blarney, Feargus O’Connor, stated in his newspaper that 4,000 chartists joined the late foolish gathering at Marple Bridge. It is due to the industrious inhabitants of this place to contradict most flatly that assertion. It is true that there are some loose and disreputable characters in this place, who prefer to attend meetings of Owenism, sedition and blasphemy; but their numbers are so small , and their reputations so contemptible, that they are the laughing stock of all their neighbours.
Perhaps no place in England labours under more intense and heartrending suffering than in New Mills, owing to the unparalleled stoppage of almost all commercial operation. The well disposed, industrious classes, know very well that their suffering cannot be alleviated, or their families relieved by such demagogues as have lately perambulated the country, and whose movements ought long ago to have consigned them to banishment or the treadmill. We hope that trade ere long will assume its activity and will enable the workmen to maintain themselves and their families by attending to their employment.
New Mills ‘Over Run with Vagrants’ 1845
New Mills was so over-run with vagrants in 1845 that a petition was sent to the County of Derby Magistrates Quarter Sessions asking for the provision of a lock-up. The petition, was signed by 42 officials and prominent inhabitants of the town. The document accompanying the petition makes plain the state of affairs that prompted the petition.
We, the undersigned Guardians of the Poor, Parish Officers and inhabitants of New Mills and neighbourhood, respectfully beg leave to call to your attention the propriety of erecting a lock up at New Mills similar to those at Glossop (distant eight miles) and Chapel-en-le-frith (distant seven miles).
New Mills and neighbourhood is over-run with vagrants who, after begging all day, seek a nights lodging in the Workhouse, where their behaviour is of the worst description. They frequently break the Workhouse windows; and destroy their clothes in the night, in order to compel the officers to furnish them with others before they can be discharged the following morning. The number of the above named characters has greatly increased at New Mills since the erection of lock ups at Glossop. Chapel-en-le-frith, and the adjoining township of Disley: and we are firmly of the opinion that, if New Mills were equally provided for, these audacious pests of society would be deterred from their illegal practices, and the ratepayers released from a very serious burden. During the Quarter ending Lady-day last, upwards upward of a pound a week was paid by the Guardians for expenses attending the commitment of vagrants for destroying their clothes and breaking the Workhouse windows; and the cost to the County must be very much more, we should say not less than forty pounds.
The erection of suitable Lock-ups in the places above named has been beneficial to them, and we doubt not would also be too New Mills and the neighbourhood, the population of which is considerably greater than that of Chapel-en-le-frith. We therefore earnestly and respectfully urge upon your kind consideration the present situation of this township, which is very heavily assessed to the County Rate; and does not enjoy the advantages of the places above named and on that account numbers of the worst characters are making it their rendezvous.
A Frightful Accident 1860
A young man in the employ of Messrs John and Charles Yates, calico printers, Rock Mill, New Mills, on Saturday week. He was engaged at his work when some part of his dress caught on a new shaft that had been recently put up, and his arm was drawn round the shaft several times and smashed to pieces, at the same time breaking the shaft and stopping the machinery. He was conveyed home and lay in a dreadful state for some time. When he was a little recovered it was found necessary to amputate the arm, the man was unwilling to have his arm took off, and before he would suffer it he requested them to send to his master to know what he was to do for a living when his arm was cut off; ‘tell him’ says Mr Yates, ‘that he shall never want a living.’ He then submitted quietly to the operation which was performed by Mr T. Jackson, of New Mills, and Mr Robinson, of Stockport, and, wonderful to render, he is now going on favourably.
Mechanics Institute 18th June 1870
On Saturday afternoon, Sir Edward W. Watkin laid the foundation stone of a mechanics institute, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. The building, which is being erected by public subscription, is intended to contain a newsroom, library, committee room, and also a large hall suitable for public meetings, lectures, and entertainments. The ground for the site has in the most generous manner being given by Mt Turner and Miss Cresswell, the joint owners. The total estimated cost is eighteen hundred pounds, and of this over thirteen hundred had been promised up to Saturday morning. A paper enclosed in a bottle narrated the history of the undertaking, copies of newspapers of the day, and specimens of the varieties of coin in use. The bottle having been placed in the cavity prepared to receive it, the president, Mr John Taylor, presented to Sir Edward a silver trowel and ornamental mallet with which to perform the ceremony.
A little over a year later on the 16th of September 1871, the completed building was opened.
The Duke of Devonshire opened a public hall at New Mills on Saturday. The ceremony was made the occasion of a holiday in the town, and at the formal opening of the hall, in addition to an address by the Duke of Devonshire, speeches were delivered by Lord George Cavendish, M.P., Sir Edward Watkin and Mr Hugh Maeon.
The Three Trowels 1870 & 1884
Three silver trowels on display at the Town Hall were used and engraved to mark important moments in the history of New Mills. The largest of the three is engraved 'Presented to Mrs John Mackie on the occasion of the laying of the memorial stone of the New Mills Public Hall Sept 27th 1870.
The set of two slightly smaller trowels commemorate the building of the High Level Union Bridge. One commemorates the laying of the 'Keystone' on the 21st of February 1884; the other was engraved to mark the laying of the 'Last Corner Stone' on June 7th 1884.
‘The Mayor’ August 1873
Joseph Arnfield, and James Bagshaw, with Richard Kelly who had absconded, were summoned for having been drunk and riotous at New Mills. The defendant Bagshaw was better known in Low Leighton as ‘The Mayor,’ where he pretends to exercise certain authority. – Police sergeant Carter stated (amid much merriment) that at half past three o’clock, on Monday, the 11th, he was on duty in Market street, when he saw the defendants, who were all drunk. They had a donkey cart with them. Arnfield was pulling the cart whilst Bagshaw was sat in it, with a red coat on, and held a trumpet in his hand, whilst Kelly was pushing behind. They all stopped at the Market Street Tavern, where the defendant Bagshaw blew his trumpet and read a sort of nonsense about someone thrashing his wife.
Sergeant Carter told them to desist from it, but they went forward and stopped again at the Dog and Partridge, when they were refused permission. Witness followed them down the hill through High street, and when they were opposite the Bull’s Head Bagshaw fell out head first, he was so drunk. Sergeant Carter told them he should summon them. They were followed by a crowd of children. Defendants afterwards took the cart away. Bagshaw, in defence, said a man had been beating his wife in Torr Top, and as he was ‘mayor’ there too. He had got some drink, but he was not drunk. He had been mayor for thirteen years, and kept the peace very well. - Both were fined five shillings each and the costs.
Great fall of Rock August 1873
During the night of Sunday last or early on the following morning, a loud noise was heard from the Torrs, as of a great fall of something. Upon investigation it was found that a large mass of rock, of several tons weight, had fallen down from the crags, near the private bridge leading from the works lately worked by Messrs Alcock to the high road to Newtown, and besides blocking up the road had knocked down the wall for 3 or 4 yards, and almost made a dam by blocking up the river bed. A large mass still overhangs and threatens to fall at no distant date.
Fatal Fall. April 1875
At about eleven o’clock on Saturday evening an accident of the most shocking character occurred to a man named John Stenton Handley, aged 45 years. The deceased had been to New Mills and was returning home to Newtown, a village on the other side of the river Goyt. He had to pass between some rocks known as the “Torrs.” He was accompanied by a man called Thomas Wood, a candlewick manufacturer. In attempting to cross over a bridge, the two men missed their footing, and fell headlong over a wall into the river. The splash was heard by a young man named Charles Deakin, who at once obtained assistance. Wood, who escaped with some bruises, was first found, and at once taken home. Handley was afterwards found, his skull smashed, and quite dead. The body was conveyed to the Railway Hotel to await an inquest. The deceased has left a wife and four children. The thoroughfare between the Torrs is in a most dangerous state, and several accidents have occurred by persons falling in the river, some of which have terminated fatally. A man named Henry Allen fell over the rocks about a month ago and at present lies at the Stockport Infirmary in a precarious position.
The Storm 12th October 1881
A storm of unusual violence was experienced in this neighbourhood. The force of the wind was extraordinary, and occasionally it came in such sudden gusts that it made the very houses shake. Rain fell in torrents and all the streams and rivers in the district were swollen to an unusual extent. The full force of the gale seems to have been experienced at High Lee, which of course is much exposed, and where several casualties took place. Mr Joseph Hyde had a stack blown over and the bulk of it scattered in all directions; while Mr Arnfield sustained damage to his shippon. Part of the shed was blown away at the brickyard of Mr Wright, and not far distant several trees were blown down. Roofs were damaged and chimney pots blown down in various parts of New Mills, and one of the places that suffered in this way was the North Western Hotel, at Newtown, where several slates were blown of the roof. It was reported that Mr Brunt had one of his stirks conveyed down the Goyt, the river been swollen to such an extent that it carried away the animal in question out of the cricket field at New Mills.
The cricket field was originally at Goytside on the field below the viaduct.
Electric Lights 4th November 1881
New Mills will witness a revolution with regard to lighting its streets and dwellings. Chesterfield has shown the way by coming to the decision to try the electric light for twelve months. This subject should have been introduced at the last meeting of the Local Board. The Chairman (Mr. Berry) has had a newspaper forwarded to him, containing the results of the efforts of the Chesterfield Corporation in this matter. Mr Berry purposed introducing the subject to the members of the Board, but somehow or another it was overlooked.
New Mills is one of the worst lighted towns in the district. With the absence of lamps in certain quarters, and the long distance the lights are placed from one another, it is very disagreeable and dangerous for pedestrians, and other persons who are obliged to travel in vehicles in this hilly and tortuous district. Add to this that the price of gas is high and it will be seen that there is cause for complaint. I anticipate that the subject will be introduced at the next meeting of the local board.
A Steeplechase. 1st January 1883
‘Steeplechases were very common sporting events in the New Mills area around this time. The races were sometimes run on horseback, but more commonly by athletes on foot.
The competitors usually worked in the local mills or were employed in allied trades. Competition was fierce with men from different districts competing against one another for prize money, which was often for the time, very generous. Large crowds would gather, to support their local runner and gambling on the result was common.’
On New Years Day a large concourse of people assembled at the bottom of New Mills to witness a steeplechase on foot, which it was arranged should start from the house of Mr John Richardson, the Grapes Inn, the residence of the gentleman who got up this athletic contest. There were seven competitors, who were required to run from the bottom of New Mills to the Gap, near Mr Hall’s new pit, Ollersett Moor, and back again – a distance of about three miles.
Some objection was raised to the men starting from the Grapes Inn, and eventually it was arranged that they should commence their spin in a field of Mr Hodson’s just across the M. S. & L Railway. The various coigns of vantage were taken possession of by large crowds of people, who, however, on account of the uneven nature of the ground, could not see the competitors far away.
The first pair of athletes who went off the mark were T. Mason and J. Berry, both of New Mills, and each of whom had 2min. 30secs. start each. The next pair were W. Harrop, of Marple Bridge, and Gill, of Charlesworth, with 1min. 30secs. start each. C Hinchcliffe and Lee Shaw followed next and finally W. Shaw off scratch.
Considering the nature of the ground, the race was run in a good time, and there was quite a scene of excitement when the men were seen travelling on their journey. The pace was rather too quick for Mason, Gill and Hinchcliffe, and eventually they retired from the contest, leaving the other four to compete for the primary honours. Harrop has a nice light style of going, and there was some grumbling that he had been handicapped on such favourable terms. Though he was ignorant of the course, he made the pace warm for his opponents, and eventually won easily (by some 50 or 60 yards) the first prize, one pound; Lee Shaw took second prize, a watch; and J. Berry and W. Shaw divided the entrance money between them. The race was run in 25 minutes. There was a little betting on the result, but backers were very shy.
A Steeplechase. 1883
A very exciting steeplechase took place on Saturday afternoon from the house of Mr E. Marsland, the Rock Tavern. The distance was three miles, and six competitors entered, viz., Gill and Buckley, Charlesworth; Shaw, Rowarth; Berry, New Mills; J. Wood and Ralph Higginbottom, Newtown. The prizes were 15s, 10s and 5shillings, and were won by Gill, Buckley and Shaw. The time was 12 minutes.
A Mad Dog in High Street. 7th December 1883
It is easy to forget that before its eradication from Britain, the danger of Rabies was ever present. Infection was passed in the bite of an infected animal; the symptoms were horrific and almost always followed by an agonising death.
Considerable alarm was manifested in High Street on Monday afternoon when it became known that a dog belonging to Mr Mottershead, butcher, had gone mad, and a person had and a person had narrowly escaped been severely bitten by it. On the afternoon in question a woman was entering Mr Mottershead’s shop to make a purchase, when the dog, which was only six months old, flew at her, but fortunately did not succeed in biting her. Her screams brought the owner to the spot, and Mr J. A. Ingham, a neighbour, ran to the rescue, the result being that the gentlemen managed to get a rope round the dog’s neck and hold it until the arrival of one of the assistants from the establishment of Mr Brayne, chemist, who bought with him some prussic acid. With much difficulty some of the poison was administer to the brute, which was soon dead. The animal was raging mad, and had it not been for the presence of mind displayed by Mr Mottershead and Mr Ingham, the effects might have been disastrous.
Brunswick Mill. March 7th 1884.
Work on refurbishing the extensively rebuilt mill of the Brunswick Cotton Spinning Company with machinery is being pushed forward rapidly, and ere the month of March expires, it is very probable that a portion of the machinery in every department will be at work. The premises are being fitted with the latest improved machinery. The carding and spinning machinery has been supplied by Messrs. Asa Lees and Co. of Oldham; the doubling frames by Mr S. Brooks of West Gorton; and other machinery by Messrs Taylor Lang and Co. of Stalybridge. The powerful engine is of 220-horse power, and has been fitted up by Messrs. John Hawthorn and Co., of Canal Foundry. The engine was turned for the first time on Saturday last by Mr Edward Godward, chairman of the directors, and among those present Messrs. Joseph Turner, (Hayfield); James Derbyshire (Marple); John Hawthorn, R. Thornley, and W. F. Hill, directors; and J. P. Liddell.
A Steeplechase. March 1884
A good deal of excitement was caused by a steeplechase, which started from the Bulls Head Inn. At the appointed hour of 4 o’clock, the number of people, mostly of the sporting fraternity, was five or six hundred, gathered to witness a foot race between J. Berry, of New Mills, and J. Gill of Charlesworth, for £7 a side. The distance was to the old coal pit and back, about five miles, which was accomplished in about twenty minutes. Gill winning easily.
Caught at Last. April 1884
About three months ago, a woman named Mary Stafford, of Torr Top, was fined 10shillings and costs by the New Mills bench for keeping a dog without a license, and in the default of payment was ordered to be imprisoned for fourteen days. The fine has not yet been paid. Consequently, inspector Johnson apprehended the woman on Wednesday, and yesterday morning she was conveyed to Knutsford Gaol.
Fire in Market Street. April 1884
On Monday morning the Royal Oak Inn, Market Street, was the scene of a serious fire, which caused great excitement in the town. At nine o’clock, Mr Joseph Stafford was walking along Torr Top lane, which runs along the back of Market Street, when he noticed smoke issuing from the roof and upper windows at the back of the Royal Oak Inn, occupied by Joseph Swindells. Mr Stafford at once proceeded to the house and found the family seated at breakfast and utterly unconscious of the great danger in which they were placed. On inquiring whether they had something on fire and receiving a reply in the negative, Mr Stafford and the proprietor immediately rushed upstairs and attempted to open the door of one of the back bedrooms, but an entrance was impossible as the room and its contents were evidently one burning mass. Not being able to enter this room, attention was directed to the attic above, as it was thought this might be on fire in consequence of the smoke issuing from the roof, but happily this was found not to be the case. Ladders were procured, slates pulled off, and buckets of water poured on the building by numbers of willing workers, as it was thought that the whole block of property was in danger of immediate destruction. After the fire had been thoroughly got under, an examination of the place proved that it had been most destructive.
It appears that early in the morning the chimney was fired, and some of the burning soot seems to have fallen down the chimney of the back bedroom and set fire to a piece of paper in the fire place. The flames then took hold of a table standing near, which was destroyed, and a valuable sewing machine was utterly wrecked. A short distance away stood a very large and handsome carved oak chest, which continued valuable drapery goods and clothing, valued at nearly £50. The chest was burnt to a cinder and its contents destroyed. The whole of the bedding was burnt and a number of valuable pictures with which the room was adorned, were also destroyed, and the windows broken. The cupboards were burnt and several pounds worth of cigars, which were stored in the room in account of it being kept dry, also perished. On the fire being extinguished, the place presented a pitiable sight with the destructive effects of the fire and water combined. The building is not much damaged, but the tenant will suffer to the extent of at least £100.
Walking Feat January 1885
On Friday and Saturday a pedestrian named Robert Carlisle, of Stockport, undertook to walk a distance of sixty miles in a given time, at the same time wheeling a barrow before him. The journey was to be backward and forward between New Mills and Hayfield. The man commenced his journey about half-past twelve on Friday and retired at seven o’clock, having walked a distance of twenty-one miles. Again starting at 8-10 on Saturday morning he accomplished 39 miles before 8-35pm. , or a total of 60 miles. Carlisle, who has been a sailor, was for five years a lion tamer in Wombwell’s menagerie.
Abolition of Toll Bars November 1886
At midnight on Monday the first of November the Thornsett Turnpike Trust expired. It was the occasion for a singular outburst of feeling throughout the district. The Trust had five toll bars near New Mills. As early as eight o’clock on Monday night cannons were fired in various parts of the district. One of the toll-bars was situated close to an iron foundry on Albion road, and the gate keeper, fearing, what would happen, left the house early in the day. When the hour of twelve struck on Monday night, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the toll-house, and with bars of iron from the adjoining foundry, smashed the windows of the toll-keepers house. They also broke open the door, ripped up the posts, pulled down a wooden shed largely used as a coal house, and set fire to the material. Having completely ransacked the premises and demolished everything, the mob proceeded to Hyde Bank Bar, where a wooden office for the toll-keeper stood. This was a valuable building. They at once smashed in the windows and door, lighted a fire inside, and burnt the structure to the ground. These proceedings continued all night, and on Tuesday the toll-houses which were completely destroyed, were visited by many anxious to see the ruins.
Result of a Derbyshire custom April 1887
In many parts of Derbyshire it is the custom at weddings for the people to turn out in crowds, and, stretching a long rope across the road, prevent the wedding party from passing until the bridegroom has given them a sum of money, which is generally spent at the nearest public house. This was the case on the occasion of the marriage of Mr Thomas Glodwin, of Taddington, to Miss Bowden of New Mills. Several women had hold of one end of the rope and a man called Joseph Bardsley was at the other. The driver of the coach shouted to them to remove the rope, but they refused and the rope being wrapped around Bardsley’s hand several times, he was dragged some distance down the hill, and finally knocked down, one of the wheels passing over his body. He was badly hurt and at once sent by train to Manchester Infirmary.
Jack the Ripper Scare in New Mills 1889
The height of absurdity was reached on Wednesday night, when a ‘Jack the Ripper’ scare was caused in New Mills.
About eleven o’clock screams of a woman were heard proceeding from the direction of the Torrs crying ‘Murder’ and ‘Jack the Ripper.’ The denizens of the locality were soon on the spot, as were the police. The woman who had caused this hubbub informed the police that a man who had ran away had attacked her and violently assaulted her. She said she was the wife of a man who had for sometime been working on the Dore and Chinley Railway, and they had been staying at Goddard’s lodging-house, Chapel-en le-Frith. The police had good reason not to attach not too much importance to her statement, but things were rather more mysterious when they found a mans boots and cap near the spot. About one o’clock next morning Inspector Eyre was walking in the fields near Goytside farm when he saw a dark object lying in the hedge bottom. On going up he found a man apparently asleep without boots or cap. From a statement made by him the police had good (unexplained) grounds for not detaining him.
Destructive Fire on High Street December 1890
A destructive fire broke out a little before 7 p.m. in the premises of Mr. Livesley, druggist of High Street. The fire originated in the oil cellar, and was caused by ignition of flames arising from some benzine. Mr. Livesley was at his Hayfield branch establishment, but being at once summoned by telegram came on the next train. The fire spread quickly, and though many persons worked hard they could not master the fire by merely throwing buckets of water on it. A hosepipe was quickly obtained from Beard Mill, but this was burst several times by the force of the water pumped through it. Mr. Rowbottom’s fire brigade was on the scene first and did good service, but Birch Vale and Watford Bridge Work’s brigades, which arrived soon after, were not of the use they might have been had there been a plentiful supply of water. The supply was shamefully inadequate, and the fire was not got under control until Mr. Livesley’s shop was entirely gutted. The fire spread to Mr Berry’s shop (a grocer’s) next door, but fortunately most of the stock had been got out. It was not until nearly eleven o’clock that the fire brigades ceased to play on the buildings. Messrs. James and Wm. Hill, J. T. Gee, H. Salisbury, T. Rowbottom, Geo. Higginbottom and other gentlemen were present and rendered every help possible.
A number of families living in adjacent cottages were directed to leave their houses by the police, who rendered much assistance, and those who could not be accommodated elsewhere were entertained at the Union Workhouse. It is stated that Mr Berry is wholly insured and Mr Livesley partially.
The Café Chantant entertainment which was to have been held in the Wesleyan Sunday School, was postponed owing to the fire, until Friday evening, all artistes having consented very kindly to attend the following evening.
Alarming carriage accident May 1892
A most terrible accident occurred at Torr Top Fair Ground. On Saturday afternoon a horse and waggon belonging to John Hastings, proprietor of one of the shows was being driven along the field at the top of the rocks immediately over the face of the tunnel, when the animal was startled by the music from a merry-go-round to such an extent that the driver had no control over it. it backed with the cart through the fence which surrounds the fair ground, and both horse and cart rolled down the embankment and from thence down the face of the tunnel, falling down onto the railway fully seventy feet. The horse was killed and the waggon smashed almost to splinters.
An eye witness had the presence of mind to run to the signal box and both lines were blocked against approaching trains. Railway officials were speedily on the scene, and the lines were cleared. It is said that the owner had fifty pounds offered for the horse a few days previously, so it was a serious loss to him
It seems the fair was held on a field around the area of Back Union road.
Birch Vale Chimney. August 18th 1893
Mr. John Faulkner, the well-known steeplejack of Manchester, is now engaged repairing the tall chimney belonging to Messrs. John Bennett and Sons Printworks, Birch Vale.
The chimney, he tells me, is 216 feet high, and was laddered in two and a half hours. On examination, the cramps, which secured the stonework, were found to be greatly the worse for wear, and it is necessary to replace them with new copper cramps; the joints of this stonecap will be pointed up, also the brickwork for 10 yards underneath will be pointed with boiled linseed oil mastic cement. This mastic cement which he uses, he finds to be better than any other cement or mortar for his class of work. It resists the sulphur and weather, and at the same time is absolutely waterproof, and when set is as hard as rock, almost unbreakable. Mr. Faulkner tells me he does not confine himself to tall mill chimneys, but can proudly say he has operated on most of the loftiest spires in the United Kingdom. Of course, the system of laddering a chimney or spire is not the original process; in fact it has only been in operation 17 or 18 years. Before then, kite flying was the modus operandi. Mr. Faulkner has the proud distinction of having been the first man to gain access to the top of a chimney by this means some forty years ago, and since then up to the present he has repaired some thousands of spires and chimneys; in fact, he can safely say he has been on more chimneys than any other man in the world.
This is by no means his first visit to this district, for he has recently repaired chimneys for Messrs. Slack, the Kinder Printing Company, Hayfield Printing Company, Woods', Glossop, Sumner and Company, Sidebottom's, Hadfield, Platts and Company, Rhodes' and Company, Potter and Company, Dinting Church, Whitfield Church, Old Glossop Church, Woods' Baths and Hospital, Strines Printworks, etc.
At the present time he is erecting lightning conductors and repairing chimneys and spires at Royal Exchange and Owen's College, Manchester, Accrington several chimneys, Brackley Church, Northamptonshire, and has just been chosen by the directors of the Dukinfield Coal Company as the most suitable person (and deservedly too) to repair their chimney at Astley Pit, which was struck by lightning during the recent storms.
This chimney is 42 yards high, and was shattered about one-third its length. It is a wonder to me that such a stroke of lightning (which displace such a quantity of brickwork) did not level the whole chimney to the ground. Had there been an efficient lightning-conductor fixed on the chimney, this catastrophe would not have occurred, lightning conductors carry away the electric fluid silently and unseen to the ground. In all his experience he has never known a single case in which an efficient lightning conductor has ever failed to do its allotted duty.
Mr. Faulkner recommends all persons using lightning conductors on their buildings to keep them in good repair, and tested electrically to ascertain if they are in proper working order. During his career he has straightened some scores of chimneys, some of which had been out of perpendicular from 1 foot to the alarming extent of 6 feet.
On the 10th of March, 1863, the day of the celebration of the Prince of Wales' wedding, he baked an immense potato pie (which weighed over 60Ibs.) on the cool side of the chimney belonging to the Manchester Corporation Gas works, Rochdale road. This chimney was 303 feet high, into which the heat from no less than 120 different fires was constantly ascending. During the whole of the time the chimney was thus working he contrived to remove the large stone cap of the chimney, weighing 40 tons, and 48 feet of the brickwork of the chimney.
I may mention that the Birch Vale chimney from the ground level to the summit is 216 feet high, and the foundation is 24 feet below ground level. It was built in 1851 by Clayton, of Hazel Grove, at a cost of £1,500. The bricks were made close by, the exact spot being across the reservoir bank, and were conveyed along a temporary tramway by means of a pony and wagons, the pony-driver at the time being, Mr. Thomas Ashton, now of Beard Wood, New Mills.
The Masonic Hall, Union Road. 13th June 1894
Hundreds of spectators were assembled on Union road; on an erected platform were the lady wives and daughters of the brethren. The band played and then the Worshipful Master addressed the spectators according to the ancient custom. Next Brother Jackson handed him the trowel. The stone having been raised, the Prov. Grand Chaplain offered prayer and the stone was lowered nine inches before the following lines were sung;-
When the Temple’s first stone was slowly descending.
A stillness like death the scene reigned around.
There thousands of gazers in silence were bending.
Till rested the ponderous mass on the ground.
Underneath the memorial stone a cavity was formed, and in it were placed by the treasurer, brother Jackson, several current coins of the British realm, also a silver plate, upon which was engraved by Messrs Salisbury and Campbell the following:- ‘Peveril of the Peak lodge of Freemasons, No 654. New Mills. Memorial stone of Masonic Hall, June 13, 1894.’ the inscription was read to the spectators by the secretary Brother Thornley, after which the cement was spread by the builder Brother Hudson, and the stone lowered to its bed. This having been done, the Worshipful Master then said ‘Brother Junior Warden, what is the proper jewel of your office?’ J.W.: ‘The plumb rule.’ - W.M.: Have you applied the plumb rule to the external edges of the stone?’ J.W. I have Right Worshipful Master, and the craftsmen have done their duty.’ - W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, what is the proper jewel of your office?’ S.W.: ‘The level.’ - W.M. : Have you applied the level to the stone?’ S.W. : ‘I have Right Worshipful Master, and the craftsmen have done their duty.’ W.M. : Brother Deputy Master, what is the proper jewel of your office?’ D.M. : ‘The square.’ - W.M. : Have you applied the square to those parts of the stone that should be square?’ D.M. : ‘I have Right Worshipful Master, and the craftsmen have done their duty.’ - W.M. : ‘Having full confidence in your skill in the Royal art, it now remains with me to request you to finish the work.’ The architect Mr Godward, next delivered the plans to the Worshipful Master, to whom a mallet was presented by the secretary. The stone was then blessed with corn, oil, wine and salt and the Worshipful Master, receiving the Cornucopia, &c., proceeded to spread the corn saturated with the wine and oil, over the stone, at the same time saying; ‘ I strew this wheat as the emblem of plenty; I pour this wine as the emblem of joy and gladness; I pour this oil as the emblem of prosperity and happiness; I sprinkle this salt as the emblem of wisdom, fidelity and perpetuity. Following prayers the 100th Psalm was sung and the Masonic version of the National Anthem.
Destitution in New Mills. 3rd December 1890
Winter has now set in, and with it a deal of suffering on account of destitution, particularly among women and children, many of whom have not sufficient clothing to protect them from the inclemency of the weather, or to enable them to secure the decencies of life. A number of sad cases have been reported to the committee of the New Mills Bible Christian Mission and this is made to ladies and gentlemen who have any cast off body linen, bedding, or clothing of any description. If they will send them to Mrs Morris, the missionary or to Miss Casson, the secretary, they will be carefully distributed, every case being personally enquired into, so that only people in destitute circumstances may get them.
Death of Mr. Joseph Bagshaw January 1897
Another link connecting New Mills past with New Mills present was snapped shortly after ten o’clock on Sunday evening, when the death took place of Joseph Bagshaw, ironmonger, Market Street. Mr. Bagshaw, who was in his 77th year, was a native of New Mills, and many years ago was a well known vocalist and a member of the Wesleyan chapel choir; indeed Mr. Bagshaw and his late wife were, in their younger days, considered to be the leading vocalists of the district. Many years ago he was one of the Guardians for New Mills, and up to his death was officially connected with the New Mills Savings Bank. He was one of the oldest tradesmen in the town, and in days gone by was an employer of labour, carrying on a business as a bump spinner and candlewick manufacturer at Torr Top Mill, and also as a nailmaker in Market Street. He leaves two sons and two daughters all married. The funeral took place at the Wesleyan Chapel and the body was interred in the family vault there. The coffin of polished oak with nickel silver mountings was made by Mr Charles Baker.
Band Leader Stephen Beard composed a tune called "Ransom". It may have been a rearrangment of the methodist hymn 'Thou Sheperd of Israel, and Mine', by Charles Wesley. The tune was known and loved throughout the district and played on request at many gatherings. it became in many ways the anthem of the town. Referred to as a lovely broad flowing melody that many of the towns people had known since childhood.
A Remarkable Pigeon 1900
Messrs. Wright, Howarth, and Co., of the Albert Bleachworks, New Mills, are the owners of one of the most remarkable pigeons known.
Bred in 1897, it has since March, 1898, been engaged carrying messages between Manchester and New Mills, and in 2,080 journeys has travelled 29,180 miles. The messages contained110,240 words, which, if sent by telegram, would have cost the firm £229.13s.4d.