Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Monday, 30 September 2013

HMS Wrestler

A very interesting email came in last week from Peter Schofield, who is a registered volunteer fieldworker with the IWM assisting in populating their War Memorial Archive. Peter as a request for help which hopefully we can sort out for him..

 Over to Peter:
"Having visited the Hyde Cheshire Blog I notice the Town Hall holds the Wings for Victory and Salute the Soldier plaques which I can record for you.

What is missing is the Warship Week plaque for Hyde which adopted the destroyer HMS Wrestler in Dec 1941.  The plaque will take the form of a large black shield with the ships crest (Hercules wrestling a lion). There will also be a brass plate with the inscription 'Presented by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty etc.'  If you come across the plaque, possibly on display at the Town Hall could you provide me with an image and the full inscription.

There may also be a commemorative plaque presented to the ship from the people of Hyde, could you also send an image if you come across this item."
Peter Schofield MA

HMS Wrestler

HMS Wrestler (D35) was a W class destroyer launched by the Royal Navy in the latter stages of the First World War and active from 1939 to 1944 during the Second World War. She was the first Royal Navy ship to bear that name, and the only one to do so to date.
She was the tenth order in the 1916-1917 programme, ordered on 9 December 1916 from Swan Hunter. She was laid down at Wallsend during July 1917, launched on 25 February 1918 and commissioned on 15 May that year, too late to see active service in the war. In the month of Wrestler's commissioning the battleship HMS Hindustan collided with Wrestler and badly damaged her.
Her first deployment was in 1921, to the Atlantic Fleet's 5th Destroyer Flotilla, which also visited the Mediterranean in 1925. The Flotilla returned to the United Kingdom during the 1930s on the commissioning of new destroyers and Wrestler was placed in reserve. She then served as tender to the torpedo school at HMS Vernon from 1938 until the month before the outbreak of the Second World War, when she was put on station at Gibraltar.
From there she joined the 13th Destroyer Flotilla to defend convoys in the early stages of the Battle of the Atlantic. During 1940 she escorted Convoy OG-22F alongside HMS Bideford and Fowey through the Western Approaches on its way to Gibraltar in March. In July 1940 she was present at the attack on Mers-el-K├ębir (where she rescued crews from the British-sunk Strasbourg) then joined the destroyers HMS Faulknor, Foxhound, Fearless, Forester, Escort, Douglas, Active, Velox, and Vortigern as they screened the capital ships preparing for air attacks from Ark Royal on Italian targets on Cagliari in July 1940 - the operation was abandoned after the force came under heavy air attacks. Wrestler then sank the Adua class Italian submarine Durbo east of Gibraltar on 18 October 1940 alongside HMS Firedrake and two flying boats.
From July 1941 to April 1942 she was stationed at Freetown and was then transferred to the Malta Convoys as part of Force H and "Operation Harpoon", before serving as one of the naval escorts for "Operation Torch". She was adopted by Hyde in December 1941 after a successful "Warship Week" National Savings campaign. She, a flying boat and HMS Wishart sank the U-boat U-74 east of Cartagena on 2 May 1942, then on 15 November 1942 sank U-98 alone. In July 1942 Wrestler also boarded the Vichy French merchantman Mitidja (intercepted off Cape Palos, Spain by HMS P222) and escorted her into Gibraltar.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of "Operation Pedestal" also known as "Il-Convoy ta' Santa Marija", 1942-2012. 
Operation Pedestal: Saving Malta 

Operation Pedestal highlights one of the most difficult yet glorious moments in Maltese history and is today remembered as the "Il-Convoy ta' Santa Marija". 

Seventy years ago, in August 1942, Malta was facing the threat of starvation after two years of incessant bombing by Axis air forces in one of the most concentrated and prolonged aerial sieges of any war. 

At the time, the Island was the linchpin of the battle in the Mediterranean. The fortitude of its population and its defenders earned them the personal award of the George Cross for Gallantry from King George VI in April 1942.

Hopefully we can find a picture or two and help Peter to update the IWM records.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

View Down Newton Street

I am hoping that normal service and daily posting will be back in the next few days. This last week has been extremely difficult for me to devote my time here. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Maypole Dairy Wagon

Steam Powered WagonMade By Edwin Foden of Sandbach

I would have liked to have seen this making it's way through Hyde, a hundred years ago this would have been their 'White Van Man'.

This is a snippet from 

Concerning Steam Wagons Generally.
A Foden Log.

Mr. L. F. Haydock, Manager of the Motor Department of the Maypole Dairy Co., Ltd., Godley, near Manchester, under date the 11th inst., writes to us :—" We beg to give you the following figures about our Foden wagons: Motor No. 1.—Average weekly mileage, 215 miles; average load per run, 8 tons 7 cwt. ; cost of coal per mile, 1.23d., ; coal used per mile, 8.10 lb.; average miles per journey', 57. Motor No. 2.—Average weekly mileage, 245 miles ; average load per run, 8 tons 9 cwt.; cost of coal per, mile, 1.28d.; coal used per mile, 7.90 lb.; average miles per journey, 66. Motor No. 3.—Average weekly mileage, 242 miles ; average load per journey, 8 tons 13 cwt. ; cost of coal per mile. I.42d.; coal used per mile, 9.35 lb. ; average miles per journey, 63. Motor No. 4.—Average weekly mileage, 236 miles; average load per journey, 8 tons 10 cwt. ; cost of coal per mile, 1.34d.; coal used per mile, 8.83 lb. ; average miles per journey, 6.5. Motor No. 5.—Average weekly mileage, 249 miles; average load per journey, 9 tons ; cost -of coal per mile, 1.27d.; coal used per mile„ 8.37 lb. ; average miles per journey, 67.

" The. above figures a-re for the year 1910. The average weights of loads include empties on hack trip." Good Steamers.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Whit Walk 1970s

I've found these photographs taken during the Whit Walk of, I think, 1979 and featuring the Fellowship Church from Chapel Street.

These two photographs are taken from Market Street looking up Union Street, and below is an image from Google Street View showing how this junction now looks.

This is Ridling Lane at the junction with Lumn Road and below is the current Google Street View.

These two photographs were taken at the junction of Lumn Road and Orchard Street and the Google Street View version isn't necessary as it looks no different now to what it did then.
Market Street at the junction with Croft Street with the Google Street View version below.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Canal burst at Gee Cross

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View of the damage near Apethorn Lane

I have no idea what year this happened, I do recall that in the early 1960s the banking collapsed near to Captain Clarkes Bridge. I have memories of seeing a rusted motor bike in the mud.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Werneth Low 1952

Here's some more of the photographs that Keith Oldham gave me, this time of Werneth Low and Keith himself is in a couple of the photographs, albeit in a pram being pushed by his mother.
This is looking towards Windy Harbour and on the left you can see the bridge over the railway which now marks the start of the Hattersley estate, but of course in those days there were just fields. Below is yesterday's photograph of the scene.

This is lower down Werneth Low Road just before the junction with Joel Lane and the buildings in the picture are still there, although the white house on the left is hidden by the trees on yesterday's photo.

This one was a bit more difficult to pinpoint, but it appears to be on Higham Lane. You can see the War Memorial on the right, but it's a bit more difficult to spot on yesterday's photograph, so I've also cropped the picture and you can make out the War Memorial on that behind the cow parsley in the centre. The building on the extreme left of the picture is Higher Higham Farm, but again that's hidden behind the trees on yesterday's photograph. You can see on both photographs the change in the dry stone wall on the right from large stones to smaller stones.
The house in the centre of the 1952 photograph isn't there now, but it appears to have been on the triangular plot in the centre of the shot below from Google Earth. There seems to be a building shown there on the 1910 OS map. Yesterday's photograph was taken from just beyond the row of cottages shown at the bottom of the picture.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Hyde United FC

Whilst Tom's unable to put any posts on the blog I've found a couple of items which may interest some people and the first is some photographs which were passed to me by Keith Oldham and which he says were taken by Bob Murray at a Hyde United v Fleetwood game at Easter 1969. 
Jeff Fry (11) congratulates Kenny Hewitt (8) who scores Hyde's 1st goal
Ray Perry (1st left) rushes in to challenge Fleetwood keeper Cooper
Ian Blyth (4th from left) scoring Hyde's 4th goal

The first match that I saw at Ewen Fields was on New Year's Day in the late 1950s, 1958 I think. Hyde beat Northwich Victoria 6-0 or 6-1, but I don't suppose there's many people around now who would remember that game.

Thursday, 19 September 2013



The Legend Of War Hill

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 It was early autumn of the year 1138, and the Valley of Longdendale was a vast tract of desolation. True, the trees were still decked with verdure, and the mellow tint of autumn clothed nature with a lovely garb. The streams still murmured with silvery splashes as they wandered through the woodland, and the birds warbled among the branches. In all this the valley was as of old—lovely, radiant, fair. But the song of the reaper was never heard; the fields were tangled and untilled, the instruments of husbandry were destroyed or abandoned, and a grievous famine reigned. For the demon of war was abroad, and the blight of his shadow had fallen on the fair Cheshire vale.
King Stephen was seated on the throne which he had won by violence. As he had usurped the sovereign power without the pretence of a title, he was necessitated to tolerate in others, the same violence to which he himself had been beholden for his crown. Even in time of peace the nobles made sad havoc with the property of the people, but now that war was in the land, and the forces of the Lady Matilda, King Henry’s child, sought to drive the usurper from the throne,—now, indeed, the castles poured forth bands of licensed robbers, and the homesteads of Longdendale were burned, the people driven to the woods, and the flocks and herds of the yeomen were confiscated.
Had the reader been privileged to wander through the woodland glades near Mottram, he would, maybe, have seen a group of fugitives bargaining with a sturdy forester for leave to shelter themselves in the depths of the forest, without fear of molestation.
“Thou hast known me all my life,” said the leader of the party, “for a patient, God-fearing, and faithful husbandman. I have ever kept the forest laws, and seek not to work harm therein even now. But Mottram town is no place for me, for all my poor belongings have been seized by the King’s men, and my hut has been burned to the ground. And but yesterday there came a party of the other side, and their leader had me up, and soundly thrashed me, because he said I helped the King, and was disloyal to the Princess. Helped the King, forsooth, when the King helped himself to all I had, and turned me out o’ doors to shift for myself.”
“And I,” quoth another, “come from Tingetvisie (Tintwistle), and there the townsfolk are so scared they dare not seek their beds at night. Nothing have I left to call my own, not even arms with which to protect myself. Truly the forest is a heaven to all such poor people as we.”
“Well, well,” grumbled the bluff forester, “get into the woods and hide yourselves, but play not with the deer at your peril. A pest on these troubles. I would the great folk would settle their differences themselves, and allow the poor to live in peace. Get off, I say, and hide yourselves. Steer clear of both King’s men and Queen’s men, and be damned to both sides.”
So saying he went on his way whistling, and the fugitives hastily left the path, and were soon lost from view in the undergrowth. There, like beasts of the forest, they lay by day, and emerged when the night fell, to pick up such scraps of food as were to be had by the way. Little wonder there were robbers on the roads in those times.
Days passed on, and the wanderers in the woods beheld parties of rovers, riding with lance and sword, now north, now south, as the tide of war ebbed and flowed. Rumours had reached them of an invasion of the Scots under King David, and following the rumours came bands of wild Highland men, who laid waste with fire and sword what little the robber-bands of the English knighthood had spared. The King of Scotland came south to aid his niece, the Princess Matilda, and with the appearance of his army on this side the border, the nobles who favoured the Princess arose. There was a mustering of all the able-bodied men of the Vale of Longdendale, and, glad to strike a blow to bring the state of tumult to an end, the men took sides.
“Hast thou heard the news?” asked one fugitive of another.
“To what news dost thou refer, good man?” was the reply. “Is it more of evil?”
“Nay, that is as thou listest,” was the answer. “’Tis said the King of Scots rides hither with a great following of men at arms, and that King Stephen’s forces muster for the combat. In that case there may be a great struggle toward, and now, maybe, we shall see the ending of all this strife and misery.”
“In that case, good man, methinks I will strike a blow for one side, so that the matter may indeed be ended.”
“On what side art thou?”
“I am for the Princess.”
“And I for King Stephen.”
“Then we are enemies, but I bear thee no ill-will. Mayhap we shall meet again in the battle.”
“Maybe. At least it will be better than starving in the woods. I wish thee a good-morrow.”
“And I thee. Farewell.”
Upon which the speakers went their several ways to arrange themselves beneath the banners of the cause they favoured.
Soon there was a fair mustering of each faction, and with the trains of knights, who came from north and south, the rival forces grew from companies into armies. King Stephen sent a great body of horse and foot to strengthen the array of those who fought beneath his banner, whilst stray bands of Highland men swelled the ranks of the warriors of Matilda.

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Now the chief forester of Longdendale was a man with a kind heart, and to all those civil and respectable folk who took to the woods for a refuge, he showed such toleration and care as his position allowed; only upon the idle, thieves, and evildoers, was his anger bestowed. It was no new thing for him to meet with fugitives—particularly women—seeking shelter in the forest, and, accordingly, he gave little heed to a small band of riders in which were several females, who entered the forest of Longdendale upon a certain evening just before the hour of sunset.
“Another band of fugitives,” said he. “Poor souls; God have mercy on them.”
He would have passed on his way had not one of the band—a sturdy-looking young man, dressed in plain russet garb—thus accosted him:
“Ho there, fellow,” cried the youth. “Come thou hither, for I would have a word with thee.”
The tone in which the words were spoken was commanding, and to the forester it sounded insolent.
For answer he turned, and looking the horseman straight in the face said:
“Have a care, knave, what words thou usest to thy betters, or thou art likely to rue such speeches as that.”
The young man frowned, and, raising a light riding whip, made as though he would strike the forester. But the latter brought into position a stout oak staff which he carried, and, advancing boldly, said in a threatening voice:
“Take advice from an older man, and drop thy paltry weapon. Otherwise I shall be put to the necessity of cracking thy pate. One blast of this horn now dangling at my side will speedily summon some of the stoutest lads in Cheshire, and thou and thy followers will ere long be dangling from the nearest tree.”
So saying, the bold forester blew upon his horn, and scarcely had the echoes died away ere five stalwart men clad in green, each armed with yew-bow and quiver, and long knives at their girdle, burst from the thickets and ranged themselves by the forester’s side.
What the newcomers would have done with the old forester at their head, it is difficult to say; but a diversion was created by one of the female riders, chiding the horseman who had first spoken.
“Thou art over-hasty, and even rude,” said she; “where is thy discernment. Seest thou not that these men are honest, and wouldst thou set them against us?”.
Then, advancing alone, she bent in her saddle, and whispered something to the forester. The old man started, gazed at the speaker, for a moment, then doffed his cap, and bowed low. Next turning to the five who stood behind him, he cried:
“Uncover, and on your knees. It is the Queen.”
The Royal Matilda—for she it was, thus driven with her infant son, Henry, and a few faithful followers, to adopt the disguise of poor travellers, and to seek for a place of refuge until the coming battle should decide her fate—smiled graciously upon the old man and his companions.
“Methinks there is a likeness in all your faces,” said she. “Are these thy sons?”
“They are my sons,” answered the forester; “and withal thy loyal subjects, gracious lady, ready to give their lives for thee and thine.”
After a few further passages of speech, the chief forester led the way to his own dwelling—which was a strongly built and well concealed place, where, attended by his good wife, the Queen might rest secure until the battle had been fought and won.
Meanwhile the forester and his sons donned their war-gear, and when the time was ripe they took their stand with the rest of those who fought beneath the banner of the Queen.
It was in the gray dawning of an autumn day when the two armies met. The battle was fought on a hill in the Mottram township, where the ancient Church of Mottram now stands. But there was no sacred building there on that gray morning of long ago, when the clashing of arms awoke the echoes, and the air was heavy with the shrieks of dying men.
The army of Matilda was posted on the hill. Their position was strong and commanding. From it they could note the approach of the foe, and fight him with advantage. In the midst of their array rose the standard of the Princess—the royal banner of the great Henry—and by its side the bonnie flag of Scotland floated in the breeze.
As the gray light broke from the east, the watchers on the hill beheld the first line of Stephen’s forces emerge from the woods. The King’s army was a mighty host, the bright spears gleamed in the light of dawn, and the archers carried great quivers full of deadly goose-tipped shafts.
The royal force came on, and the leading ranks broke into a battle-chant as they neared the hill foot, and bent to meet the slope. The archers winged their shafts, the axes, bills, and pikes advanced; a rain of arrows beat whistling from the ranks upon the hill, and the great fight commenced.
Bit by bit the soldiers of Stephen advanced up the hill. They left many dead upon the slopes, but still the host went on. The army of Matilda hung thick and massive upon the crest, and waited with unbroken front for the closing of the foe; they rained down their flights of arrows, but kept their ranks unbroken, with bristling rows of pikes in front.
At length the advancing host drew near. The foremost men rushed bravely on, they clutched the wall of pikes with their hands, and strove to hew a way to victory. But the arrows fell among them, dealing death in full measure, and the brave men fell. Others took their places, and again the goose-shafts flew.
Now the advancing army remembered the trick of Norman William on the field of Senlac. At a given signal they turned and fled in apparent confusion. With a wild yell the unwary Highland men broke from their post upon the summit, and charged down to slay. Then, swift as lightning, the warriors of Stephen turned. Their archers met the onrush of the pursuers with a staggering volley of shafts. The pikes and bills charged up the slope. The axes hacked the brawny Scots, and the broken ranks upon the hill, opening wider yet to receive their retreating comrades, let in the charging body of the foe. After that there was a mingled mass of slaying men about the summit. The hosts of King Stephen girt the hill round, so that there was no escape for the men whostood upon it. Death was everywhere, death for the victors and the vanquished; for the soldiers of the Princess died as soldiers should, and they slew great numbers of the foe.

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That was the last stand for the Princess Matilda in that part of Cheshire, and the old chronicles say that the blood shed in the battle ran in a stream down the slopes, and formed a great pool at the foot of the hill.

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As the gray of the morrow’s dawn fell upon the scene of battle, the pale light fell also upon a group of living beings, who stood upon the summit of the hill among the hosts of the dead.
Matilda, the Queen, was there—beaten and dismayed, since all hope was lost. The chief forester of Longdendale stood there also, and he, too, sighed, as one whose heart is broken—he had just been groping among the corpses, and had found what he sought.
“Are thy fears well founded?” asked Matilda, anxiously.
The old man pointed to the inert forms of five dead men.
“They were all I had—and I am an old man. Now they are gone, my very name must perish.”
The royal lady looked at him for a moment, her whole being trembling with grief.
“My heart is broken,” she said. “Yet what is my loss to thine?”
The old man took her hand, and kissed it.
“I am a loyal man—and an Englishman. I gave them freely to the cause of my Queen. Who am I that I should complain?”
Royal lady and lowly-born forester gazed into each other’s eyes for a brief space—their looks conveying thoughts which were too sacred for words—and then the Queen’s train moved down the hill, and the old man was left alone—alone with his sorrow and his dead.
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The world is full of changes, and ever on the heels of war comes the angel form of peace. Men called the hill whereon the battle had been fought Warhill, and in after days the builders raised the sacred pile of Mottram Church, where the soldiers of Matilda and Stephen fought and died.
According to an old Longdendale tradition, the War Hill, Mottram, is the site of a battle which was fought in the twelfth century between the forces of the Princess Matilda and King Stephen.
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Today's post is from the above book by Thomas Middleton

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

St George's Rowing Club Memorial

I made a comment on the post about the boathouse a few days ago that we'd already done a post about the missing memorial some months ago, but I had been unable to find that post. This is the original article from The Reporter about the missing memorial, and you'll see from the photograph below of the old boathouse that it's dated September 24th, 1992.

The Post referred to is this one  http://hydonian.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/lost-memorials.html

The photograph below is one I took in March 2011 and appears to be the retaining wall behind the boathouse.

Dave Hamilton also sent in the link below.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

St. Michael & All Angels in Mottram

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Text from: http://www.mottramparish.org.uk/index.html

Sir Edmund Shaa, who lived locally but who rose to fame and fortune as the Lord Mayor of London, died in 1488 and left money for the building of the tower. It is possible that the whole church was rebuilt at the same time, perhaps as an enlargement of an earlier building. In 1855 the church had a major restoration, by local architect E. H. Shellard. The nave roof was raised, and the rather small upper (clerestory) windows replaced by the handsome ones we see today.
Apart from the Victorian restoration, the structure of the church remains much as it was when it was built 500 years ago. Each generation has left its mark, however, and this generation is no different.

Key Facts:

• Tower 20m high, with peel of 8 bells
• Two chapels: the Staveleigh Chapel and the Hollingworth Chapel
• Two life-size stone effigies of Sir Ralph and Lady Elizabeth Staveleigh, died about 1420
• Marble statue of Reginald Bretland, Sergeant-at-Law, died 1703
• 12th century ‘barrel’ font
• Alabaster pulpit in memory of E. H. Shellard
• Mottram village war memorial, inside the church
• In the churchyard are the Old Hearse House and Mottram Grammar School
• In the churchyard is the empty grave of Lewis Brierley, whose body was stolen by body snatchers in 1827

It's been a few years since I last visited this fine place... the church yard is excellent to explore and the views are glorious. The place is full of interest, and can be such a peaceful please to sit and rest.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Werneth Low ( View Of )

Werneth Low
George Lane Bredbury 
1900 to 1909

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View east over the Peak Forest Canal, High Lane farm in the centre of the picture


Do you have any pictures of Werneth Low, I intend doing a week of pictures on it's beauty... so please send them in by email.. If you let me know why you like the Low I will include your story's... I am dedicating this week long celebration to my favourite internet troll. (Anonymous) for the inspiration he gives me.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


By Eric Lancashire   Written in 1993

If you were to stop most people in Hyde today and ask them if they could direct you to the rowing club, they’d probably look at you as though you were stupid.

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“Rowing?  Don’t be daft!  There’s nowhere in Hyde that’s suitable for rowing!”

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However, if you’d asked that same question sixty or so years ago, most Hydonians would have directed you down Woodend Lane and across Captain Clarke’s Bridge.  There, adjoining Woodend Farm and built into landscaped gardens that sloped down to the canal, stood St Georges’ Rowing Club, an elegant single story building, housing sports and leisure facilities, plus a boathouse that accommodated three craft.

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In those days, before the war, all the churches had thriving ‘Young Mens Sections’, and it was from the ranks of these organisations that football, cricket, table tennis and billiards teams were raised to compete against each other in local leagues.  There was intense rivalry between the various teams and at St Georges, Harry Renshaw was one of the undisputed stars of the table tennis competitions.

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St Georges, however, also had an additional and unique attraction.  Their rowing club!

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I’ve read that the club had originally been founded in the 1880’s, but had been disbanded and re-formed in 1903.  By the early 1920’s they had managed to obtain land beside Captain Clarke’s Bridge and in 1922 they built their clubhouse and laid out the gardens.  In the middle of this well-tended terraced landscape they had erected a war memorial inscribed with the names of those young men from the rowing club who had fallen during the Great War.

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To be a member of the rowing club you also had to be a member of St Georges’ Church, and a condition of membership (as it was with all the sports teams) was that you attended Church or Sunday School at least twice every month.  The club was always well patronised and in my days it was organised and supervised by Mr Nicholas Warburton.

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The clubhouse incorporated a games room, which contained a table tennis table and billiards table.  There was also a smaller card room, plus a tuck shop where you could buy biscuits, snacks, cups of tea and soft drinks.

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War Memorial
 In remembrance and deep gratitude to their chums who fell in the World War 1914 - 1919. 
Private's T. H. Metcalfe, W. Whitehead, Corpral A. Robinson, Private's W. Wilson and H. W. Bancroft

Below the clubhouse, at canal level, were housed the boats.  Two of them, the ‘Grace Darling’ and ‘St George’ each had two pairs of oars and including the rowers could carry six people, one of whom acted as steersman.  A small skiff, the ‘Mary’ had room for one rower plus two passengers.  In addition there was also a canoe, but this was not a popular craft on account that it was prone to capsizing and depositing its occupants into the canal.

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I seem to recall that the fee to take out the boats was one penny per person and on summer evenings the members would perhaps row up to Woodley and back.  On Saturday afternoons, however, remember that most people worked Saturday mornings in those days; the favourite trip was to row from the clubhouse along the canal all the way up to the bottom lock at Marple and then back again.  This voyage would take up most of the afternoon with different people taking their turn at the oars and having to navigate through the narrow Woodley Long and Hyde Bank tunnels.  At Woodley someone would have to get out of the boat and pull it through the long, dark tunnel by a rope, usually stumbling into unseen puddles in the pitch black and managing to get their feet soaking wet in the process.  But to get through the ‘Leggin Tunnel’ at Hyde Bank, where there was no towpath, you had to ship oars and paddle the boat through as best you could.

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Apart from these minor difficulties the rowing was easy and uninterrupted, and we would glide past now long disappeared landmarks such as Gee Cross Mill and the old swing bridge.  The only other obstacle to smooth rowing on our voyage up to the locks was the aqueduct at Marple where the canal soars majestically across the Goyt Valley.  Here, yet again the canal became too narrow for rowing and one of the ‘crew’ had to disembark to tow the boat until the canal once again opened up.

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Laying Of The Foundation Stone 20th May 1922
Mr N. Warburton hold the trowel

I walked down to the site of the old clubhouse recently, probably for the first time since the war.  The building and the war memorial have gone and the gardens are all derelict and overgrown with weeds, brambles and trees now, but when I was there I saw something that I’d never seen before.  Set into the ground, on a small raised patio near the old entrance gate were two stone plaques.  They were covered with moss, but when I wiped this away I was able to read them:

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This land was given
Mr and Mrs N Warburton
as a memorial to their son
Harry Hurst Warburton
killed in Italy
February 23rd 1946
whilst on active service
with H.M. Forces

Also to those who fell
in the Second World War
1939 – 1945
Flight Sgt R.H. Nash
Flying Officer F. Plant
Trooper H.H. Warburton

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It’s all a long time ago, but the memory of those times spent rowing with friends along the peaceful canal, passing green fields with grazing cattle will always remain with me.  I left the club shortly before I was called up to the Navy early in 1940, and when I returned to Hyde after the war, well by then I was married and had a young family.

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That’s probably what happened to most of the members and I suppose the rowing club just faded out of use. Neglect, time and changing lifestyles did the rest.

Eric Lancashire

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On the 1875 map the boat house is on the Gee Cross side of Captan Clarkes bridge, more towards the bridge that led towards Foxholes.

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Now the 1910 maps shows the boathouse is on the opposite bank and on the Hyde side of Captain Clarkes Bridge. 

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The area is now overgrown but with care underfoot it can be explored and signs of it's former glory picked out.

My thanks to Bill Lancashire and his father Eric for today's post.