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1977 Walking guide to Cocker Hill and beyond.      

My husband found the Ridge Hill Trail guide in the library last week. The whole trail is about three miles long and makes a full circuit around the Tame Valley, including a trip up Cocker Hill. Not sure if the whole circuit is passable now as the guide was published in 1977.   

I enjoyed reading the section on Cocker Hill, and as it provides such a good introduction to the area, I have copied it out so that everyone can see it. Hopefully it doesn’t breach the copy right as it is a small excerpt from the whole guide and only really here as the guide is no longer generally available.     

   

The trail starts from Stalybridge Bus Station.   

“Leave Bus Station via King Street, walk up the steps, and turn right along Stamford Street, crossing the road at the pelican crossing. Walk down the hill and turn left up a cobbled path just before the stone bridge.   

On your left are Bohemia Cottages, dated 1721. The name “Bohemia” may have been adopted because the view along the Tame Valley at this point is similar to the views along the Elbe, a river flowing through Bohemia noted for its sheer hillsides. The Germanic style of Old St George’s may have enhanced this association.   

Note the lion and sun reliefs on the cottage walls. In Roman times these were symbols of the Persian sun-god Mithras, a favourite of the Roman legionaries. One Roman road to Melandra is thought to have crossed the river below these cottages.     

Go up the steps to the Churchyard     

Cocker Hill, from a photograph taken about 1910

 

This is Cocker Hill churchyard, the site of the first church in Stalybridge. Built in 1776, the first St George’s church collapsed only two years later. The foundations of the recently demolished church can be clearly seen. There have been three churches built on this site, all of which have been of an octagonal design known as the Galilee pattern.    

At the top of the churchyard, beside the foundations of the old church is the grave of Neddy Hall. In 1776 Neddy Hall built the first cotton mill in Lancashire. It stood in Wood Street, Stalybridge, near the Bus Station. At that time Ashton-Under-Lyne extended as far as the River Tame. Neddy Hall was the first to use steam power in a Lancashire mill. This small 6hp beam engine was probably of the design produced by James Watt, the most reliable at the time. The tall chimney needed to disperse the engine’s flue gases was nicknamed “Sootpoke” and was the first of many which would soon dominate the Stalybridge Skyline.   

On your left, overlooking the churchyard, you can see some of the weavers’ cottages. The top floor, with its mullioned windows designed to give an even light, was utilised for weaving and spinning, leaving the first floor free for treating fibres. The ground floor was used for domestic purposes.     

A Mullion is a vertical bar dividing lights in a window.

 

Before the Industrial Revolution the textile industry was worked on a small scale, with the whole family involved in  the production of clothes. Mother and daughter would be spinning while younger children and grandparents “carded” the raw material, and father wove the yarn. As weaving was the quickest of the processes, the father would have been left with time to farm a small plot of land. These people were known as yeoman clothiers.”…………………………………….   

The trail then continues up Ridge Hill.   

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Way before Micheal Gove and the Academies Bill there was the Cocker Hill Academy.

The Cocker Hill Academy was the only recorded school in Stalybridge back in the 1700’s.

John Bradbury the botanist was educated at the Cocker Hill Academy by John Taylor. Taylor was a keen botanist himself and encouraged Bradbury’s interest.

Below is an advert I found for the school from 1807.  James Knight was Principal and taught “reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, history, mensuration (The act, process, or art of measuring), drawing and penmanship” his wife looked after the girls department and taught “plain and useful sewing, knitting, embroidery etc”.  The address is given as Blandford Street, Stalybridge.  James Knight kept a diary from the mid 1850’s until 1862, some of them have survived and are available to view at Tameside Local Studies Library

Advertisement for the Cocker Hill Academy

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Listed below are the books about Stalybridge and surrounding areas and/or the Industrial Revolution that I have used for my research.

Two into One Will Go – Paul Denby ISBN 0 9515993 0 5

Two Into One Will Go by Paul Denby is a fantastic book containing the full history of both old and new  St Georges Church Stalybridge. The book is great, it details the history of both churches from the building of the original St Georges Church on Cocker Hill back in 1775 to the amalgamation of both congregations in the 1980’s. It is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the history of Cocker Hill or Stalybridge in general.

The book is out of print and difficult to obtain nationally, however, the Curate at New St Georges Church has confirmed that they have a number of copies for sale  at £2.95 and he suggested obtaining them from the Church after the Sunday Service at 12.15pm. (The service starts at 10.45  if you want to attend.) Paul Denby has also allowed New St Georges to put a link to his book on their website. Two Into One Will Go – Paul Denby

Stalybridge Pubs 1750 – 1990 – Rob Magee ISBN 1 85216 061 6

This lists all the pubs in Stalybridge, gives a brief history of each pub, and provides a full list of their licensees.

Reminiscences of a Chief Constable – William Chadwick ISBN?

William Chadwick was Chief Constable of Stalybridge 1862 – 1899. I got most of the information for my post on  body  snatching from his book. I can’t find an ISBN for it; the reprint I own was  produced by The Longdendale Amenity Society.

Bygone Stalybridge – Samuel Hill. ISBN?

I love this book. It is a fascinating read about Stalybridge from when records began until 1907 when it was written. It is probably this book that got me most interested in local history. Given that the book is now over 100 years old it is surprisingly easy to read. One of the things I find useful are the list of names the author provides; eg, names of the heads of Stalybridge families, various list of manufacturers, householders, special constables, members of institutions etc. It is great book to have a look at and see if you can find anyone listed you are researching. I can’t find an ISBN for this. The copy I own was published by the author himself; there have been later reprints.

I have just found a website with the full text of Bygone Stalybridge by Sam Hill.

Five Thousand Acres of old Ashton – Winifred Bowman – again no ISBN

No references to Cocker Hill at all which is surprising as it was inside the boundary covered by the book. Cocker Hill was then part of Ridgehill and the Lanes in the Hartshead district. The book goes back to Roman times and has great descriptions of  Parish Councils, the development of the roads, schools and early industries. Great if you are researching Ashton Under Lyne or Tameside in General; less use if you are only looking at Stalybridge.

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