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Peak District Towns and Villages: Whaley Bridge

Villages around Whaley Bridge

Slideshow

 Chapel-en-le-Frith


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Frith is an old-English word for forest, and Chapel-en-le-Frith is the settlement which grew up around the church which was erected here by Foresters from the Royal Forest of the Peak in 1225. The church was dedicated to St Thomas Becket, murdered in 1170. The site chosen was on a ridge of land overlooking the upper Blackbrook valley and close to the junction of the Buxton-Glossop road with the salt trail, which came from Cheshire and crossed Rushup Edge into Edale on its way to Sheffield and Yorkshire.

Chapel church
Chapel church
With its strategic location the settlement grew quickly, becoming one of the centres of government of the Royal Forest of the Peak. With the coming of the railways in the 19th century the town's expansion was rapid but it's influence and importance faded with its subsequent closure of the Midland line from Manchester to London. The south station (on the Buxton-Manchester line) remains and keeps Chapel linked to the rail network.

The town's current prosperity is due in the main to the local company, Ferodo, that is still based here. Its founder, Henry Ferodo, was a local man and one of the inventors of brake linings.

Parts of the old village survive around the church, which is situated on a knoll just north of the main road. Although initially it looks Georgian, this applies only to the tower and south front, which were erected in 1733. The rest of the church, including almost all the interior, was constructed in the 14th century and is a fine example of the architecture of the period, though less ornate or imposing than Tideswell church, for instance.

There are some fine box pews in the church and in the churchyard is a badly worn Saxon cross, which was brought here from nearby Ollerenshaw. Among the many gravestones there is one which is thought to be that of a 13th century forester. The most notable incident in the history of the church occurred in 1648 during the Civil war, when 1500 Scottish soldiers, taken prisoner after the battle of Ribbleton Moor, were incarcerated here by Cromwell's troops. When the church doors were reopened after two weeks, 44 soldiers had died.

Chapel Market place
Chapel Market place
The cobbled market square lies just 100 metres south-west of the church and is surrounded by pubs, though fewer than in the past, and most of the remaining old buildings of the town. It also contains a fine old market cross, the old town stocks, the war memorial and a horse trough placed here to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It is well worth taking a short walk around this area to sample the neat little cottages down Chapel Brow, for example, or down to the 'Hearse House' which is now the information centre.

Just to the west of the town lies Eccles Pike, a fine local viewpoint, and below it is Bradshaw Hall, one of the finest local examples of a 16th century manor house.

Nonconformism was a strong influence in the area in the 16th and 17th centuries - John Bennet, a powerful early Methodist preacher lived here and Wesley was a regular visitor. Links with Nonconformism also exist in several of the interesting little hamlets and old halls in the surrounding area, notably Chapel Milton with its fine early 18th century chapel, Wash with a Quaker burial ground, and Ford Hall, which was the home of William Bagshawe, the 'Apostle of the Peak' who was forced to resign his ministry in 1662 for refusing to accept the Book of Common Prayer. Despite this Bagshawe continued to hold secret Nonconformist services at his house for many years.

Though it lies just outside the Peak National Park, Chapel-en-le-Frith is strategically placed for easy access to most of the western and central areas of the National Park and there is good walking to be had locally, with both Eccles Pike and Castle Naze offering excellent views of the area. There is a well-dressing and carnival the first week in July.


 
Chapel-en-le-Frith Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Chinley Chapel
0 - Chinley Chapel
Chinley Chapel interior
1 - Chinley Chapel interior
Chestnut Centre otters
2 - Chestnut Centre otters
Chapel-en-le-Frith church
3 - Chapel-en-le-Frith church
Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
4 - Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
5 - Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
6 - Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
7 - Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
Chinley Farm
8 - Chinley Farm
Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
9 - Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
10 - Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
Chinley shops
11 - Chinley shops
Slideshow

 Chinley


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Modern Chinley is a large busy village with many stone-built Victorian buildings. It is situated just on the western edge of the Peak District National Park. It is a good base for exploration of the western side of the Peak District and for walks up onto Kinder and its outlying hills.

View of Chinley and Cracken Edge
View of Chinley and Cracken Edge
The area around the village was part of the Royal Forest of the Peak and there was probably little but a few isolated farms here until the 17th century. The oldest building in the area is the Elizabethan hall built at the nearby hamlet of Whitehough by the Kyrke family at the end of the 16th century and now the Old Hall Inn, but some farms along Stubbins Lane are also quite old and in 1711 Charles Wesley was entertained at Chinley End Farm, which still stands in Lower Lane.

In fact Wesley was a regular visitor here and preached often at nearby Chapel Milton, for the area was a hotbed of early Nonconformism. Perhaps one reason why he came was because Chinley was also the home of Grace Murray (later the wife of Charles Bennet, another famous preacher), who is said to be the only woman Wesley loved and would have wished to marry.

The New Chapel
The New Chapel
The industrial revolution came to the Chinley area and brought the construction of three mills along the Blackbrook which runs through the village. These were followed in 1799 by the Peak Forest tramway, a crude railway which used horse-drawn wagons to carry stone from the quarries at Dove Holes to the canal at nearby Bugsworth basin. The arrival of the railway in 1867 and its later extension in 1901 to carry trains to Sheffield saw Chinley grow rapidly and in the early years of the 20th century it was an important railway junction and a regular stopping-point for trainloads of ramblers at weekends. The modern village contains many houses from this era, built out of stone quarried from nearby Cracken Edge for wealthy commuters who took the train to Manchester every morning. The railway is still an important connection from Chinley to the wider rail network.

The centre of the village has some shops and there is a pub at nearby Whitehough. Chinley is beautifully situated with plenty of walking close at hand and a walk up Chinley Churn or Cracken Edge gives an excellent view across the area.
 
Chinley Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Chinley Chapel
0 - Chinley Chapel
Chinley Chapel interior
1 - Chinley Chapel interior
Chapel-en-le-Frith church
2 - Chapel-en-le-Frith church
Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
3 - Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
4 - Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
5 - Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
6 - Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
Chinley Farm
7 - Chinley Farm
Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
8 - Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
9 - Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
Chinley shops
10 - Chinley shops
Combs and Combs Edge view from Eccles Pike
11 - Combs and Combs Edge view from Eccles Pike
Chinley and Chinley Churn from Eccles Pike
12 - Chinley and Chinley Churn from Eccles Pike
Chapel-en-le-Frith from Eccles Pike
13 - Chapel-en-le-Frith from Eccles Pike
Slideshow

 Combs


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Combs is a small hamlet off the Chapel-en-le-Frith to Whaley Bridge road. It nestles in a sheltered valley between Ladder Hill and Combs Edge. Once largely a farming community, it is now a popular place for Manchester commuters because of its good road and rail communications.

The village centres around the Beehive Inn, while to the north of the village lies Combs reservoir, which supports a local sailing club. To the east the village is overshadowed by Castle Naze, a gritstone crag at the apex of Combs edge, which provides splendid views across Chapel-en-le-Frith and the surrounding area. This was also one of the crags where rock-climbing was pioneered and it is still popular with local climbers.

Castle Naze was the site of an Iron Age fortress and the ruins of the ramparts are probably the best preserved of any in the area. This and the view make it well worth a visit.
 
Combs Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Castle Naze
0 - Castle Naze
Castle Naze ramparts
1 - Castle Naze ramparts
Combs village
2 - Combs village
Slideshow

 Kettleshulme


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Kettleshulme is a pretty village lying in the valley of Todd Brook, which meanders its way from the western slopes of Shining Tor to join the Goyt at Whaley Bridge. The Swan Inn in the village dates from the 15th century.

Kettleshulme was once a centre for the manufacture of candlewick material, but this ceased in 1937. In the 19th century it was home to a character called Amos Broadhurst, whose beard grew to a length of seven feet.

Jenkin Chapel
Jenkin Chapel
The area around Kettleshulme offers fine walking. To the north it is quite easy to walk from the village over the Bowstones and into Lyme Park. The views from Bowstonegate are particularly fine on a clear day. To the west, the route over Taxal Edge leads into the Goyt valley. To the south lie Windgather Rocks, a gritstone edge popular as a training ground for rock climbers. The edge past the rocks leads to The Pym Chair and Cat Tor before eventually reaching Shining Tor. It is a superb day walk. There is a Youth Hostel along the narrow road to Windgather.

Dunge Valley gardens lie just to the west of Wingather Rocks and is well worth a visit, especially in the rhododendron season.

Higher up the valley of Todd Brook is Saltersford, a tiny hamlet on one of the old packhorse roads between Macclesfield and Buxton. Saltersford Hall farms a remote tract of moorland below Cat Tor and Shining Tor and is dated 1593. Just around the corner is a tiny parish church, called Jenkin Chapel, which was built by John Slack in 1733 and is named after a contemporary sheep drover.
 
Kettleshulme Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Goyt Valley - Grimshawe chapel
0 - Goyt Valley - Grimshawe chapel
Bowstones
1 - Bowstones
Kettleshulme - Windgather rocks
2 - Kettleshulme - Windgather rocks
Saltersford - Jenkin Chapel
3 - Saltersford - Jenkin Chapel
Slideshow

 New Mills


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New Mills is a former mill town which formed at the junction of the Rivers Goyt and Sett. It is located just outside the Peak District National Park and just inside the western boundary of Derbyshire. The town comprises several districts which merge into a conurbation - New Mills itself, Ollersett, Newtown and Low Leighton. Further up the Sett Valley are Thornsett and Birch Vale, which are separated from New Mills by some green spaces.

The whole area once formed part of the Royal Forest of the Peak and had a number of small scattered hamlets. The name 'New Mills' was first recorded in 1391 to refer to a corn mill on the River Goyt and by the 16th century this was in common usage as the name for the area around the hamlets of Beard, Ollersett, Thornsett and Whitle.

New Mills Torrs
New Mills Torrs
Where the Sett joins the Goyt is an area of hard sandstone called Woodhead Hill rock, and the combined river has carved a spectacular gorge, called The Torrs, 30m deep. The river offered ample water power to early industrialists and from the 1780s onwards a series of cotton mills were constructed alongside the river. The first of these was Torr Vale Mill, which still stands and only closed in 2000, having been used continuously for over 200 years. The ruins of several other mills can be seen in the gorge.

To service the new industries communications were improved, starting with the Peak Forest Canal, which was constructed between 1794 and 1804, linking the town with Manchester. In the 1860s the arrival of the London and North Western line between Manchester and Buxton saw New Mills Newtown station constructed, followed soon after by the Midland Railway between Manchester and London which created New Mills Central station. Both of these lines are still operational but the branch line between New Mills Central and Hayfield has closed and is now the Sett Valley Trail.

Until the 19th century New Mills was virtually cut in two by the deep gorge of the Goyt and the only crossing involved a tortuous descent down to a bridge just above the river level, followed by an equally hard ascent the other side. Church Road bridge was constructed in 1835 to carry the turnpike road from Newtown to Thornsett across the river, but this only partially solved the
Union Road Bridge
Union Road Bridge
problem, so in 1884 the 94 foot (29m) high Union Road Bridge was constructed across the centre of the gorge. Viewed from river level it looks very impressive and was constructed out of the rock from The Torrs itself.

Coal mining and printing were other local industries. The standard method of using engraving to print calico was invented in New Mills in 1821 and a large printing works was constructed at Thornsett. Poor quality coal was mined at several sites on the local moors, notably Ollersett Moor. These mines thrived in the 19th century and had all closed by the First World War, though some small-scale mining continued sporadically until 1947.

Modern New Mills looks like a typical mill town, perhaps owing more to Lancashire than Derbyshire, with the centre a warren of narrow streets and stone-built cottages. The town's post-industrial decline has been somewhat compensated for in it's growth as a home for Manchester commuters and there have been a lot of new houses built. A range of local industry still thrives - one former mill makes Swizzels 'Love Hearts' sweets, and other firms are involved in engineering, quarrying, textiles and computer software.

Recent developments include the opening of the stunning 'Millenium Walkway' above the Goyt and the Torrs Hydro - a community owned and funded hydropower scheme.
 
New Mills Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
New Mills Main Street
0 - New Mills Main Street
New Mills Torrs and Union Road Bridge
1 - New Mills Torrs and Union Road Bridge
New Mills Torrs - the Millenium Walkway
2 - New Mills Torrs - the Millenium Walkway
New Mills Torrs - Union Road Bridge and the Hydro
3 - New Mills Torrs - Union Road Bridge and the Hydro
New Mills Town Hall
4 - New Mills Town Hall
Birch Vale print workers cottages
5 - Birch Vale print workers cottages

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