Posts Tagged ‘Rock Cottage’

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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Numbers 23 – 25 Cocker Hill are pretty special. The cottages pre-date the Industrial Revolution and are among the oldest homes remaining in Stalybridge. I have not yet managed to find out exactly when they were built; 23 and 25 are recorded as being sold in 1750 and I’m guessing the others were in existence then too.

Forty five years later in 1795 the census recorded just thirty-four houses in the whole of Stalybridge

By 1831 this had risen to 2,357 houses

23 - 31 Cocker Hill September 2009

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1901



Relation to Head

Age Next


23 Cocker Hill Jesse Parkside Head 56 Cotton Yarn Merchant
Sarah C Parkside Wife 56
John K Parkside Son 19 Yarn Merchants Clerk
Geo Ed Parkside Son 14
25 Cocker Hill Robert W Saxon Head 41 General Property Repairer
Mary Saxon Wife 45
Harriet Saxon Dau 7
27 Cocker Hill Joseph Grims Head 52 Fitter, Cotton Machines
Elizabeth Grims Wife 52
Sarah Anne Grims Dau 25 Worker, Cotton Mill
Percy Stanley Grims Son 20 Hanson Driver (Groom)
29 Cocker Hill Fred Sinkinson Head 25 Drapers Assistant
Bertha Sinkinson Wife 25 Overlooker, Cotton Mill
31 Cocker Hill George W Newton Head 34 Railway Agent
Elizabeth Newton Wife 31
Norman Geo Newton Son 2

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1891

* Note there are two separate returns for 23 Cocker Hill on the 1891 Census



Relation to Head

Age Next


23 Cocker Hill* Edward Buckley Head 52 Mechanic
Betty Buckley Wife 52
James Buckley Son 23 Agent
23 Cocker Hill* James Cook Head 46 Mechanic
Eliza Ann Cook Wife 40
George Harry Cook Son 22 Mechanic
Elizabeth A Cook Dau 20 Cotton?
Roland Cook Son 18 Mechanic
Jane Cook Dau 16 Cotton yarn realer
Stanley Cook Son 15 Cotton Piecer
Edgar Cook Son 13 Cotton Piecer
Ernest Cook Son 11 Plate Printworks
Frederick Cook Son 7 Scholar
Clara Cook Dau 5 Scholar
Herbert Cook Son 2
Sarah Cook Mother 71
Hannah Cook Sister 50
25 Cocker Hill Robert W Saxon Head 31 Living on his own means
Mary Saxon Wife 31
27 Cocker Hill Jane Hawkins Head 49
John Hawkins Son 26 Blacksmiths
Harry Hawkins Son 22 Carter
George Hawkins Son 20 Steam Fitter (Apprentice)
James Hawkins Son 15 Cleaner/ locomotive
Emily Hawkins Dau 9 Scholar
Thomas Thompson Lodger 22 Corn Miller
29 Cocker Hill Alexander Robertson Head 44 Draper
Ann Robertson Wife 49
George E Petric Step Son 25 Draughtsman
Helena I Petric Step Dau 22
Richard Robertson Son 15 Clerk
Euphemia Robertson Dau 14
Alexander Robertson Son 9 Scholar
Elizabeth Dewhirst Mother in law 81
31 Cocker Hill Uninhabited

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1881



Relation to Head

Age Next


23 Cocker Hill Dan Woffinden Head 42 Draper
Delia Woffinden Wife 40
Annie Woffinden Dau 15 Scholar
Fanny Woffinden Dau 13 Scholar
Mary Woffinden Dau 11 Scholar
Mark Woffinden Son 9 Scholar
Charlotte Woffinden Dau 7 Scholar
Delia Woffinden Dau 5 Scholar
Lucy Woffinden Dau 3 Scholar
Hannah Woffinden Dau 1
25 Cocker Hill John W Marsland Head 31 Veterinary Surgeon
Louisa Marsland Wife 31
Gertrude Marland Sister in Law 24
27 Cocker Hill James Ellis Head 64 Agent
Harriet Ellis Wife 27
Annie Ellis Dau 4
Edward Son Son 2
Roshannah Ellis Dau 11
29 Cocker Hill Charles Baker Head 45 Alderman J.P. Linen Draper
Jayne Baker Wife 47
Bertha Baker Dau 21
Mary Baker Dau 20
Kenneth Mininak Apprentice 17 Drapers Apprentice
Fredrick Cooper Apprentice 16 Drapers Apprentice
Elizabeth Potts Servant 24 Domestic Servant
Mary A James Servant 21 Domestic Servant
31 Cocker Hill John Boradill Head 60 Lodge Keeper (Cotton Mill)
Jane Boradill Wife 45 Card room Cotton Mill
Elizabeth Boradill Dau 18 Card room Cotton Mill
Annie Sugden Niece 5 Scholar

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1871



Relation to Head

Age Next


23 Cocker Hill John Lawton Head 72 Corn Dealer
Mary Lawton Wife 72
Annie Lawton Dau 43
George Lawton Son 38 Corn Dealer
John Lawton Son 32 Bookkeeper
Margaret Lawton Dau 29
25 Cocker Hill Richard Batty Head 42 Cotton Spinner
Elizabeth Batty Wife 38 Housekeeper
John W Batty Son 13 Piecer in Cotton Mill
Harry Batty Son 11 Scholar
Edwin Batty Son 4 Scholar
Mary E Batty Dau 1
27 Cocker Hill Joseph Chadwick Head 51 Master Bobbin Turner – (Employing 9 men & 19 boys)
Grace Chadwick Wife 43 Wife
Joseph W Chadwick Son 16 Manager of Bobbin Shop
Luke Way Marsland Boarder 19 Solicitors Articled Clerk
29 Empty Uninhabited
31 Cocker Hill Joseph Conway Head 46 Manager of Cotton Mill
Jane Conway Wife 41
Mary Dean Relative 38
Elizabeth Sykes 16

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1861

House numbers not properly indexed – only number 31 available – others described as “Cocker Hill Brow” etc



Relation to Head

Age Next


31 Cocker Hill Matthew Lawton Head 58 Painter (Mill Machinery)
Sarah Lawton Sister 62
Henry Cook Lawton Nephew 21 Assistant Pawnbroker
Charles James Buckley Nephew 28 Waste Packer

Census Returns – Cocker Hill – 1851



Relation to Head

Age Next


23 Cocker Hill Edward Hunt Head 22 Cotton Spinner
Sarah Hunt Wife 30
25 Cocker Hill John (?Hatherford) Head 29 Tailor
Mary (?Hatherford) Wife 24
27 Cocker Hill Henry Heap Head 48 Auctioneer & Agent
Betty Heap Wife 48
Robert Heap Son 24 Auctioneer & Agent Assistant
Ann Heap Dau 22 Dress Maker
Edward Heap Son 21 Druggist Assistant
29 Cocker Hill Joseph Worsnip Head 33 Mechanic
Sarah Worsnip Wife 33
Ann Worsnip Dau 9 Scholar
James Worsnip Son 4 Scholar
Richard Worsnip Son 2
(Hamilton) Worsnip Son 1
31 Cocker Hill James Sidebottom Head 26 Cotton Masters Son
Margaret Sidebottom Wife 22
Mary A Wilkin Servant 24 House Servant

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A few photos of the area from our albums.

Old St Georges Churchyard, Cocker Hill from Rock Cottage September 2009


Rock Cottage gateposts to Shawmoor; September 2009


Cocker Hill cobbles September 2009


Old St Georges Churchyard, Cocker Hill; September 2009


Old St Georges Churchyard; October 2009


Rock Cottage, Cocker Hill; October 2009


Cocker Hill looking towards Holy Trinity Church and Stalybrige Civic Hall; January 2010


Bohemia Cottages; April 2010



Rock Cottage, rear view; July 2009


Rock Cottage, July 2009


Cocker Hill Churchyard May 2010


Cocker Hill Churchyard; May 2010


Stormy Weather; Shawmoor from Cocker Hill.

Full Moon; Mottram Road from Cocker Hill

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Rock Cottage was built prior to 1750 and as such is one of the earliest homes in Stalybridge. Detailed below is a list of the owners from 1750 to 2000.

Pre 1750

Most of the Land in this area was originally owned by the Earl of Stamford however in this case the land appears to have been owned by the Dukinfields.

1750 – Samuel Dukinfield

The earliest reference I can find for the house was 1750 when Samuel Dukinfield sold Rock Cottage and Rock House (then described as “…. a messe & tenement & several closes of land) to Joseph Hall of Cocker Hill in the parish of Ashton Under Lyne. The land was described as part of the Cocker Hill Estate.

1750 – 1764 Joseph Hall

Joseph Hall bought the property in November 1750. He was described as a Clothier. He died in 1764.

In his will Joseph Hall left the cottage to his sons. George Hall Clothier, Joseph Hall Publican and Neddy Shelmerdine Clothier. Why one of Joseph Hall’s son was a Shelmerdine rather than a Hall I don’t know (yet).

1764 – 1804 George Hall, Clothier, Joseph Hall, Publican and Neddy Shelmerdine, Clothier

From the book Stalybridge Pubs 1750-1990 Rob Magee I know that Joseph Hall (publican) was the innkeeper of the Pack Horse Inn, Cocker Hill from 1808 – 1828

Joseph Hall gets a further mention in this blog as it appears could have been a victim of the infamous Body snatchers. I’ve never seen a ghost; I’m not sure if I believe in them anyway; but if I did want to frighten anyone at Halloween I could dim the lights and talk of the body snatchers taking Joseph Hall off to the surgeons in Manchester………

In Bygone Stalybridge by Samuel Hill there is a reference to a Joseph Hall; born 1787 died 1864.  Could he have been a relation to the other Joseph Halls? It describes this Joseph Hall as being connected with the Staly Hunt and describes his burial in the Cocker Hill church yard “attended by upwards of a hundred devout followers of the chase, many of them dressed in their well-worn livery, and attended by their faithful hounds”.  Apparently the sight provided material for a Lancashire sketch entitled “The Huntsman’s Funeral” by Ben Brierey.  Joseph Hall’s gravestone is still in the Churchyard.

Joseph Hall, Huntsman

  1804 – John Hall?

This is where things get confusing…….from an Abstract of title of Thomas Walker 1873 it appears that the property was sold at auction to John Hall for £359. It then looks like John Hall planned to transfer the sale onward to Samuel Gartside (Publican) for £20, however although the £20 was paid it appears that sale did not go through and the property reverted back to previous owners.

Indenture of lease and release dated 15th/16th February 1811 confirms that the sale to Samuel Gartside did not go through & states that the property reverted back to the trustees. (George Hall, Joseph Hall, & Neddy Shelmerdine).

Next it states that James Hall (cotton manufacturer) was a part owner too and that “he produced documents to show that he was the owner of the largest and most profitable lot”.

The indenture then states that the three properties were to be sold to Rev John Cape Atty – Clerk in holy orders for £355.10/.

Rev Cape Atty also paid Samuel Gartside (publican) & Edward Gartside (cotton manufacturer) 5/- a piece to confirm that they had no claim on the land or 3 houses.

1811 – 1822 Rev. John Cape-Atty

Rev Cape Atty was curate of Old St Georges From April 1807 to his death in 1822.

Rev Cape Atty talks of the house in the “Articles of Enquiry” (a questionnaire, completed by Atty, for the Bishop of Chester). In the questionnaire he states “I reside in a house close to the Chapel, which House I bought at some inconvenience, by the Desire of my Congregation, …………………….It is a substantial Stone Building, with a stable and Cow-house on the premises. Also a garden.”  I think that the stable and cow house he refers to is actually Rock Cottage’s kitchen.  The reference to “some inconvenience” over the purchase probably relates to the uncertainty regarding the previous ownership.

Rev. Atty’s will dated 2/3/1818 left Rock Cottage to his sister Sarah, wife of John walker, in trust for her sole use and further trust that it should pass through her will to her kids and grandkids.

John Walker (coal merchant) (Sarah’s son & his nephew) and Ralph Hall (cotton spinner) (Sarah’s son in law) were appointed executors.

Rev John Cape Atty dies and is buried in the Cocker Hill graveyard 20 May 1822.

1822 – 1835 Sarah Walker

Sarah had 3 kids John Walker, Thomas Walker and Elizabeth Hall (wife of Ralph Hall.) Sarah Walker died and was buried on Cocker Hill 22 October 1835. It looks as though she did not make a will leaving the Cocker Hill Houses to her kids – it is not clear what happened next.

I think it was shared between her three children: John Walker (coal merchant), Thomas Walker (coal merchant) and Elizabeth Hall.

1835 – 1853 John Walker (coal merchant), Thomas Walker (coal merchant) and Elizabeth Hall.

Then it looks as though Ralph & Elizabeth Hall sold their share to Edward Appleton. The new owners were presumably John Walker, Thomas Walker and Edward Appleton

John Walker died 9/8/1853 & his will dated 6 May 1951 left an annuity of £500 to Barbara Walker his wife and left his share of the Houses to his brother Thomas Walker (Sarah’s other son possibly) along with other property.

Barbara Walker died 4/5/1872 without children.(buried in Maryport)

1853 – 1873 Thomas Walker – from Maryport in the County of Cumberland

Thomas Walker, Sold both properties at Auction in 1881, by Messrs Henry Heap & Son at Commercial Inn, Stalybridge

1873 – 1881 Thomas Alexander Skirvin Saxon – Manager of A Cotton Mill

Thomas Alexander Skirvin  Saxon bought the cottage at Auction on 19/11/1873 at The Commercial Inn. He  paid for & took ownership on 31 December 1873.

Thomas was married to Harriet Ann Saxon

Thomas is apparently pictured 3rd from the left on the picture below; doesn’t he look smart in his top hat!

Chapel Street Sunday School, built in 1815. From left to right; Allen Wilde, Robert Platt Whitworth, Thomas A. S. Saxon and James Moore (From: ‘United Methodist Centenary Souvenir’, 1915

Thomas Alexander Skirvin Saxon died 24/1/1881

1881 – 1888 Harriet Ann Saxon

Harriet Ann Saxon died 1 February 1888 and left the property to Robert Whitworth Saxon.

1888 – 1929 Robert Whitworth Saxon (Mechanic) & (Mrs) Mary Saxon

Robert Whitworth Saxon died 2 September 1929.

His will was dated 17/March 1914. He appointed his wife Mary as Executor.

1929 – 1936 Mary Saxon

Mary Saxon died 27/02/1936 and left the property to her daughter Harriet Shaw

1936 – 1960 (Mrs) Harriet Shaw

Harriet Shaw died 14/08/1960.

1960 – 1961 Executors of the Estate of Harriet Shaw

1961 – 1982 Noel Backhouse

(Green Grocer) & (Mrs) Elizabeth Backhouse

Noel Backhouse died 14/01/1982

1982 – 1989 (Mrs) Elizabeth Backhouse

Elizabeth Backhouse Sold the property in 1989 and moved into Blandford Court just behind Rock Cottage.

Rock Cottage, July 2009


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