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Peak District Towns and Villages: Whaley Bridge
Villages around Whaley Bridge
|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. |
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.
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
|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.|
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 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
|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
|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.
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
|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.
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
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
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