OF BARDSLEY AND DISTRICT
By Joseph Isaac NEWTON
What a feeling of regard we have for the haunts of our
boyhood days! Having been a resident of Bardsley at a
time of prosperity, I venture some reminiscences of my
past acquaintance with it.
During our stay in the village
we resided in a dwelling of antique character, where the
wood work of its interior showed signs of the axe having
done duty for a joiner’s plane; yet the small hamlet
of Bank Top, surrounded with garden and serene foliage,
seemed both homely and pleasant. When seated in the garden
on the edge of the farm fold we could gaze down on the
busy valley of Fairbottom, with they river Medlock well
in view, over which Jos BARDSLEY was the caretaker.
To save inquiry in regard to
the nature of these duties, at this part of the river
there used to be a slop sluice which regulated the flow
of water through the goyt feeding the canal, and while
it was held on the part of the canal company that the
water was again returned into the river lower down its
course, the water was then in such a muddy condition that
it caused complaint at the printing works of Messrs WOOD
and WRIGHT, Clayton Bridge, which firm enjoyed a right
of clear water, and Jos BARDSLEY was employed by them
in order to check, where possible, any undue pollution
of the stream.
After the decease of his wife
in 1854 and a daughter in 1858 while residing at Bank
Top he removed in 1862 with his only daughter in a venture
of farming at Higher Alt Hill, but the farm being small
in acreage would not pasture many cattle, so in connection
with the same house he subsequently sought a beer licence.
This being granted, he opened the place as a public in
the name of Hunter’s Tavern; and held it until circumstances
pressed his retiring into private life, when he again
removed to Higher Hurst, where he eventually died in his
The people of Bardsley village
built the Primitive Methodist Chapel in the year 1852,
and in 1864 a larger building to use as a school. Holy
Trinity Church, a much larger building in 1844 to which
Mr Jonah HARROP, the owner of the estate, was a munificent
donor. His son-in-law, the Rev A H HULTON, of Hulton Park,
Lancashire, was the first minister of the church, later
succeeded — during the eighteen fifties —
by the Rev John WILSON, after whom the Rev H S BYRTH held
the incumbency for over thirty years.
The schools have always been
used for elementary education, and during my school days
I was under the tuition of Mr S MILLS and Miss GREAVES.
Since this time some new modern schools have been built,
and in order to give space for the building an old house
on elevated ground, which had long obstructed the view
of the schools, was removed.
This old house was perhaps
of the 16th or early 17th century, composed of thick rubble
walls, flag roof, and small lead diamond windows. It stood
about eight or ten feet above the level of the road, and
apparently as a thoughtful memento of the place there
is still a stone post left standing on the footpath opposite
the new schools, which no doubt was formerly the fate
post leading up to the house and grounds.
The winter of 1854-5 was long
and severe. There were said to be thirteen weeks of frost
and snow, while the ice on the canal was frozen to an
incredible thickness. The space of Crime Lake, about five
acres in extent, was often much used like a fair ground.
Here the snow was daily cleared to form a track for skaters,
and a rail pulled from the fence was passed in front to
leg down those who had not paid the toll. In the centre
of the ring were a number of hot coffee, pies, peas, and
other refreshment stalls.
The country around, even in
October 1854 — a date which I have an occasion to
remember — was thickly covered with snow, and often
were the roads made impassable with snowdrifts ranging
from to yards deep in sheltered places.
One morning in particular,
about January, the village of Bardsley was curious to
witness. The doors and bottom windows of some houses facing
the wall of the church were banked up with drifted snow,
and those houses where they had only one doorway there
was some sport through the drift to release the inmates,
Carts, etc, were busy opening a passage along the main
Opposite the church and adjoining
the Horseshoe Inn for many years there was a low smithy.
Mr Samuel YEARDLEY, the farrier, often drew the gaze of
the schoolboys from the peculiar manner he manipulated
a part of his work. In place of a man striker in nail
making he had a lever contrivance attached to a kind of
drop hammer, which he worked by his foot.
Heedless of radiating sparks,
he would twist the heated iron to and fro in one hand,
and, with a small hammer in the other, work alternately,
and in harmony with the lever, and thus beat the heated
iron till it dropped on the floor, a horse nail. The same
gentleman suffered a lamentable bereavement in the loss
of two sons in the Bardsley explosion of 1858.
A short distance from the church
towards Oldham there are a number of houses, and the only
colliery now working in the neighbourhood, known by the
name of the “Copperas House.” On the eastern
side of the road and opposite the colliery there used
to be some low premises, apparently of long standing,
in which Mr E NEWTON carried on the manufacture of copperas,
or sulphate of iron, from which presumably the name of
the place originated.
The said gentleman, prior to
his decease in 1840, was an ardent supporter of the church,
as his family are still, and many will remember the crystalised
model he annually prepared to give lustre to the holly
decorations at Christmas in the schools.
Turning our attention to other
local industries, the iron trades are still employed under
similar lines of working as in former years. The ironworks
in Keb-lane were first started by Messrs J and L GREAVES
for textile roller and shaft turning. The place is now
working under the name of DOBB and Co. in the same business.
The works of a much older firm
are yet situated in Knott-lane, where Mr Abel LEES and
his family for the most the past century added to the
welfare of Bardsley in the business of general textile
A part of the same building
used to be an iron foundry, for some years worked by Mr
Jos STAFFORD, who finally built a new shop at Lower Limehurst,
to which place he removed his business in 1869. Some years
later one or more of the LEES family at Bardsley worked
for a time an iron foundry in part of the building fronting
Ashton-road, the same place now being used in the waste
In the grocery trade were formerly
several dealers, including Mr Jonathan URMSON, who during
his time established an extensive business, and seemed
to do a better trade on the lurry in family weekly orders
than by daily custom. But of late years the Co-operative
Store higher up the village seems to have gained the most
Coming to Bardsley bridge,
we notice in the vale the ruins of an old stone-built
mill, where it is said, where it is said that its machinery
in ancient times was run by means of a water wheel, supplied
from the present goyt leading behind the mill in the river
weir a little higher up. Adjoining the old mill until
recent years, there was a fine brick mill, worked by Messrs
DODGSON and GRUNDY in cotton spinning. On the erection
of the latter the chimney was built in such a position
that it would answer for both of the mills.
The stone mill was afterwards
fully run by steam power, and for some years both mills
seemed to be working to the satisfaction of employer and
employee. In course of time the stone mill was burnt down,
and not rebuilt, and later, May 15th 1891, the brick mill
was partly burnt down, and ended as a cotton mill. Since
then, however, the place has been rebuilt in its present
form, and is again working by Messrs KERFOOT and Co, in
the saccharine business.
In a remote and shady corner
of the dale is situated Bardsley Brewery. The name of
the late owners, Messrs SHAW and Sons, is familiar to
the district, and will long be respected for the constant
benevolence to Bardsley and the church.
During the year 1862 the main
road crossing Bardsley Vale was more or less altered,
and raised several feet on the river bridge. But prior
to the alteration the walls bounding the road on the bridge
converged inwards, and contracted the road to about one-half
its present width. Anyone may ascertain this by noticing
the structure of the iron supports resting on the stone
work of the bridge.
In comparing the designs and
build of this river bridge with the canal aqueduct at
Waterhouses, their similarity suggests the idea that they
both were built at a time, and by the same company that
constructed the canals in 1793 to 1799. And owing to the
constant repairs and raising of the canal bank along the
path the arch of the bridge became too low to allow the
boat horses to travel under, through which for a time
the horses were unhooked from the boats and led over the
road to the path on the other side.
In order to amend this trouble
the bridge was ultimately raised and crossed with iron
girders. On one is the year 1862. And apparently this
alteration over the canal necessitated the raising of
the bridge over the river as mentioned, and though this
work increased the incline of the roads leading to the
adjoining works it took much of the steepness off, and
thus improved the ascent of Bardsley brew.
A little from the base of the
bridge, and close to the river, there was formerly a stone
quarry, from which much of the stone may have been got
in the erection of various buildings in the neighbourhood.
But from about 1864 the quarry between the road and the
new sewerage works has been covered with coal pit dirt.
There was another stone quarry off Bardsley brew, which
was used about the same time.
In directing our attention
to an ancient and now declining industry, let us consider
the present disused coal shafts where once there was a
colliery. We shall perceive that some have long submitted
to nature’s call, with little but bare vestige here
and there on its deserted mound to denote its past existence.
Some have crumbling rails around the mouth which is partly
concealed in vegetation. Others are bricked round to guard
from danger. A few are still mantled more or less with
Such a network of subterranean
mines found employment for many of our ancestors. During
that flush of prosperity in the coal trade and miners’
wages in a few years of 1870 there were upwards of twenty
shafts where coal was being raised in the parish of Ashton-under-Lyne
alone. Now in 1900 we may perhaps count three or four
(To be continued.)
Dramatic License.— Thomas OUSEY
applied at the Ashton County Police Court, on Wednesday,
for a dramatic license for the Taunton Sunday School.
— The application was granted.
On Wednesday evening the final heats of the members billiard
handicap at the Bardsley Liberal Club were brought to
a close, with the results: - 1st prize, F HEMINGWAY; 2nd,
F HORROBIN; 3rd, Tom HOWARD; 4th, W ASHWORTH.
Breaking the Peace
at Woodhouses.— On Wednesday Thomas MALLARKY
and John TOMLIN appeared before the county magistrates
(Dr HUGHES and Messrs Herbert JOHNSON and J Wade TAYLOR)
charged with committing a breach of the peace at Woodhouses
on the 31st of January. MALLARKY pleaded guilty, and TOMLIN
not guilty.— An officer proved the offence, and
said about a quarter to seven on the night in question
they were both fighting in the Dog and Partridge, Woodhouses.
They could be heard out on the road challenging each other.—
MULLARKEY’s version was that he was sat down, and
TOMLIN came in and commenced the bother.— They were
bound over for three months.
An Alleged Habitual
Drunkard at Woodhouses.— A somewhat unique
case — unique that id for the district — occupied
the attention of the county magistrates at Ashton on Wednesday,
when Joseph MURDEN, of Woodhouses, applied for a separation
order from his wife, Jane MURDEN, on the ground that she
was an habitual drunkard. She pleaded not guilty, although
she admitted she took drink at times.
Questioned by the Clerk, applicant
said she had been drinking for eight years, and pawned
the goods to obtain drink, although she alleged it was
for food.— The Clerk: How often has she been drunk?
— Applicant: She never gets fairly drunk, but takes
enough through the day to make her silly and neglect her
work. She was all right when she was sober, and he was
willing to try her again if the magistrates had no objection.
The Clerk: Oh, the magistrates
have no objection. (To the defendant): Will you be sober
if he takes you on again? Yes, sir.— The Chairman:
You know this is a very serious matter to you. It means
ruin and death to you. You cannot continue drinking without
feeling the effects.
Man Knocked Down and Injured
About 11.15 on Saturday night a rather startling cab accident
took place in Henry Square, Ashton. A hansom cab, belonging
to Mr Thomas LEACH, coach proprietor, was crossing the
square from the direction of Old-street to Chester Square,
when a man named Noah CLAYTON, collier, 20 Dean-street,
who was crossing the square from the direction of Stamford-street,
was knocked down.
There were two occupants of
the hansom at the time of the accident. According to a
statement of a man named Robert SMITH, he saw the man
crossing the square in front of the approaching hansom,
and he called out to him, warning him. He seemed to hesitate,
and went forward, and before the driver was able to pull
up the inner shaft of the hansom caught him in the breast
and knocked him down, his head coming violently in contact
with the pavement, rendering him unconscious.
He was picked up and carried
into the West End Police Station, where an examination
was made as to the extent of his injuries by Dr HAMILTON,
who said he was suffering from shock and probable internal
injuries. The doctor ordered his removal to the District
Infirmary, where he was conveyed in the horse ambulance
by Constables STOREY and ALFORD.
Sir,— The whole agitation for the reduction of licences
is based upon the theory that fewer licences mean less
drunkenness. The Royal Commission of Licensing, which
reported in 1899, stated that statistics showed “that
there is apparently no relation between the number of
licences and the amount of drunkenness,” and it
is interesting now to contrast teetotal theory and facts.
Three places during the past
few years have been specially prominent in the direction
of considerably reducing the number of licensed houses,
namely, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Farnham.
At Birmingham a reduction scheme
was inaugurated in 1897 and has each year resulted in
a further decrease of licences. Yet in October 1902, Mr
Arthur CHAMBERLAIN had to admit that “he had compared
the city’s record with that of eight other large
cities, and was shocked to find that Birmingham alone
had been going back.” Again, on February 4th last,
Mr CHANCE, presiding at the Brewster Sessions, stated
that drunkenness during 1903 had further increased to
the extent of 16 per cent per 1,000 of the population.
At Liverpool, which has been
held up as a splendid example of the results of reduction,
a worse state of things prevails. In 1891, it is true
that prosecutions for drunkenness stood as high as 11,343,
and the city has become known as the “Black Spot
on the Mersey,” but owing to proper police control
a better state of things had at that time already set
This continued down to 1899,
when the prosecutions numbered 4,069. Just at that time
the fullest benefit of the smaller number of licences
ought to have been permanently felt. But, notwithstanding
that licences have since been further reduced each year,
what has been the result? In 1900 drunkenness prosecutions
rose to 4,180, in 1901 to 4,329, in 1902 to 5,115, and
in 1903 they further increased to 7,507 — the highest
for ten years, and marking a rise of no less 84 per cent
on the figure of 1899.
At Farnham, too, a similar
result is seen. Mr Mowbray HOWARD, presiding at the licensing
sessions held on February 10th last, had to regret that
drunkenness prosecutions had increased to an extent which
the figures for 1903 as much as 69 per cent over and above
the average of the previous few years.
I venture to think, sir, that
the teetotal theory referred to can no longer be upheld
in the face of these practical results.— Your obedient